Think Airdrie Networking would like to thank the Executive Members of our 2015-2016 session. They did an amazing job! This year TAN has:
- Sponsored the Airdrie Angel Program
- Sponsored an Entrepreneur with this year's SMARTStart program
- Hosted several FUNtastic, Off The Clock Networking events at some stellar venues throughout Airdrie.
- Participated, Donated or Assisted in various Local Fundraisers & Events.
We've learned about:
- Health Spending Accounts
- How to optimize your credit rating if you're self employed and seeking a Mortgage
- Demystifying SEO
- Marketing Strategies
- Mental Health Resources
- Networking Do's & Don'ts
- Small Business Lobbying... just to name a few.
We've brainstormed and collaborated on various topics like:
- Managing a Bad Review on Social Media
- How to avoid Client Cancellations
- Work/Life Balance
- Employee Recruitment & Retention
- Business Development... etc.
It's been a great year with an amazing and fun group. Thank you to everyone who presented and/or contributed. The gift of your time and expertise is what makes our lunches so informative and enjoyable.
*Don't forget that we have 1 session left for the Health Foundation before we break for the summer. After that, we look forward to seeing everyone again in the fall.
The 2015-2016 TAN Group
This past week we had Clayton Falk with Effective Solutions presenting on "How to choose the right Mental Health Practitioner". To help navigate and better understand all the options out there we've included a PDF of his presentation. If you have any questions (whether for yourself or on behalf of a loved one) please remember that it never hurts to ask.
Contact: Clayton Falk
Airdrie Counselling Centre
#5, 620 1st Ave N.W.
Airdrie, AB T4B2R3
Phone: (403) 703-7025
Business Continuity Planning – Are you ready?
By Michael Curtis – President of The Response Team Inc.
Why is it that your business should be thinking about a business continuity plan? Well quite simply – “stuff” happens. Sometimes that “stuff” is within our control but some of the time it is not. First of all I think that we should define a couple of terms:
A Business Continuity Plan enables critical services or products to be continually delivered to clients and endeavors to ensure that critical operations continue to be available.
The Disaster Recovery Plan is a subset, a small part of overall business continuity. It is the process of saving data with the sole purpose of being able to recover it in the event of a disaster.
A Business Resumption Plan describes how to resume business after a disruption.
These three plans are quite different from one and other. If you have questions about them please get in touch with me and I would be happy to walk you through them and the processes involved in them.
So what is this “Stuff” that I refer to? These are the hazards that we face every day and how they could impact our businesses. Generally these hazards are identified in the risk analysis (Which I will talk about later). These risks are generally broken down into two distinct groups and are identified as either natural or human caused.
Natural hazards may include the severe weather phenomenon that we are aware of, such as: severe bad weather including high winds, hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, forest fires, earthquakes, epidemics, and tsunamis.
Human caused hazards can be broken down into two categories as well: intentional and non-intentional.
Non-intentional human caused hazards include: construction of failures (roads, bridges, water systems, etc.), Power or energy failures, explosions and fires, hazardous materials spills, financial issues, etc.
Intentionally caused human hazards include: civil disobedience, work action or stoppages, sabotage, terrorism, etc.
While this is just a short list, and any incident, emergency, or disaster may provide minor or significant impacts to any organization and their ability to continue business. This is why we need to have a plan in place ahead of time.
Business continuity management is not a new topic. However many people misunderstand what’s involved in business continuity management. My experience has taught me that business continuity management can actually be thought of as an umbrella. The umbrella can be thought of as the overarching and encompassing combination of the following components:
1. Risk management
2. Disaster Recovery
3. Facilities Management
4. Supply Chain Management
5. Quality Management
6. Health and Safety
7. Knowledge Management
8. Emergency Management
10. Crisis Communication and Public Relations
Do not let this list overwhelm you. The vast majority of companies do not have a solid grasp on all 10 components. So what steps can you take? What’s involved you may ask? While there are six steps in completing a business continuity plan. They include:
1. Risk Management (or Risk Assessment)
2. Business Impact Analysis
3. Business Continuity Strategy Development
4. Business Continuity Plan Development
5. Business Continuity Plan Testing
6. Business Continuity Plan Maintenance
I will go through the steps of a couple of these in this blog. The risk management staff or risk assessment enables your organization to determine:
a) What incidents can occur
b) How often they are likely to occur
c) The damage and incident is likely to cause
d) How will an incident likely affect the organization
e) How vulnerable the organization is to the hazard
Once the risk assessment is completed and we have a better understanding of the hazards that the organization may face we need to turn to the business impact analysis. The business impact analysis (BIA) is the assessment of the impact of a disruptive event on the business and the importance of that business function as it applies to your mission. In other words it will identify:
• Which business areas are critical to the your business survival
• Time imperatives on the delivery of products and services
• RTO – Recovery Time Objectives
• MTO – Maximum Tolerable Outages
• Who is involved both internally and externally in the achievement of the business objective (Dependencies)
• Minimum Resource requirements.
The BIA will assist in identifying the quantitative and qualitative impacts of a negative event:
Quantitative: Financial in nature (Sales, property loss, penalties, unexpected expenses
Qualitative: Operational or Non-Financial (Loss of Staff from this point in the process, low morale, reputation or credibility, customer relations etc.
From this point in the process we will begin to develop the strategies necessary to combat the effects of the most likely incidents to affect your organization. Once those strategies are in place we can begin to put together the plan which will help drive how you will implement these strategies if an incident were to occur in your organization.
Once the plan is in place it is important to test the plan. Testing can occur on small or large scales depending on the needs of the organization. As testing of the plan occurs your organization will soon determine what levels of maintenance need to occur on the plan.
Maintenance should occur on a yearly basis at minimum, so as to incorporate changes in your business as they occur including personnel, location, buildings affected, expansion, contraction, or changes in significant business processes.
One of the significant steps that you will notice in the process is that as you move outside your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.
Our Vision: Providing you peace of mind – A sense of calm.
It is normal to be concerned and in some cases afraid of the unknowing certainties that lie ahead. With the assistance of professionals in the field of business continuity management and emergency management response, we can help bring those concerns to a manageable level. At the response team Inc. our mission is to provide you with timely, professional, and responsible direction and manpower before, during, and after an incident. It is our vision to provide you peace of mind - a sense of calm.
The challenges of finding and retaining great employees is the same whether you are a small business owner or you run a large corporation. The good news is that the same principles and practices apply, and if you put the work in up front, you will save time and money in the long run. The four crucial areas to this process are:
1) Identifying the need to hire
2) Writing a comprehensive job description
4) Training/Orientation upon hiring
How do you know you need to hire someone? This may seem like a simple question but many small business owners are so busy that they may not even recognize that they should consider bringing in a new employee. You may be spending way too many hours working on tasks that someone else could be doing e.g. administrative duties, instead of focusing on running your business, or you could be missing important deadlines because you are overwhelmed with the day-to-day functioning of your business.
Once the need is recognized, the most important step is to write up a detailed job description. This becomes a tool that will assist you and your new employee every step of the way.
“A well put together job description is a good business investment because it can be used to support most HR functions: recruitment, selection, orientation, training, work plans, compensation, performance reviews and legal defence.” (Service Canada Job Analysis 2011-11-30).
This can seem like a daunting task if you have never written a job description, however there are lots of great templates to guide you in the process, including one in Microsoft Word. Another great resource is the HR Council of Canada (http://hrcouncil.ca/hr-toolkit/right-people-job-descriptions.cfm) which provides a template and samples (NOTE: This website is for non-profit organizations, but the examples are still useful).
Recruitment is your next step, and there are several ways to go about this:
- Referrals (friends, colleagues, peers, family)
- Posting on your company website
- Online Job Boards (Kijiji, Job Bank which are free; Workopolis or Monster for a fee)
- Industry or Professional Associations
The job description can be used to write up your job posting, and once again, there are lots of great templates available to guide you through the process (Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses is a comprehensive resource for the whole recruitment process along with samples, templates and links).
Once you have hired your new employee, the last and often overlooked step is a good orientation and training plan. It can be as simple as spending time going over the job description, discussing your company goals, values, and standards, introductions to other staff members, and training on equipment and processes.
Hiring the right employee and retaining them is critical to the success of your business. The cost of hiring the wrong person can be massive; some statistics indicate that it can be as high as 30% of the employee’s annual salary; other statistics show that recruiting and training a new employee can cost up to 2.5 times their annual salary. Putting in the time and effort at the beginning of the process will contribute to success for your business and for the new employee.
1) Alberta Human Rights Commission (Provides information on the Alberta Human Rights Act)
2) Service Canada (Screening and Interviewing Job Applicants)
3) Government of Canada (National Occupation Codes)
4) HR Council (Selection and Hiring Tips)
5) Alberta Government (Hiring and Keeping Employees, Business Tax, and Payroll)
6) Alberta Employment and Labour Relations (Employment Standards and Labour Code; Employment Equity and Human Rights)
7) Canada One (Effective Hiring for Small Businesses)
8) Law Depot (Legal Forms and Documents for Canadian Businesses)
Author: Loanne Benner - Benner Database Designs firstname.lastname@example.org
Most of us have our websites which are great, but they’re usually pretty static. There’s our Facebook pages, which are definitely more interactive but the only people following them are those that took the time to find and like them. Then there’s our LinkedIn accounts with vast networking potential, but are designed to showcase the person, not so much a business. So what do you do if you want to attract new clientele but you’re trying to reach people who may not even know what they’re looking for?...
Shilo Storey with Re/Max Central – Shilo Storey Real Estate, is an advertising pioneer blazing a trail through Airdrie with a new and exciting online marketing tool called, “Parkbench”! She has extended an open invitation to the business community to join her in a truly unique and revolutionary marketing campaign.
Parkbench takes only the best of the other conventional networking and advertising mediums and combines it into a powerful database, custom built for local businesses to take advantage of. It links businesses, customer reviews, upcoming events, deals, groups, websites, other social media accounts, blogs and so much more into a neighbourhood based, information hub. Real time, local demographics are now available to businesses who wish to market their companies more effectively.
Parkbench is able to find who and where your customers are and can tell you what it is they’re looking for. Not only that but when you wish to say something, you now have a captive audience ready and willing to listen. Compare and analyze response to different marketing techniques. Get feedback about your services. Collaborate and partner with other complimentary industries. It’s a one stop shop for businesses trying to get their message out there to just the right people.
What’s the catch you say? How much? It must be hard to do... No catch. It’s Free. All you have to do is go to www.parkbench.com and create an account. You either claim your business if it’s in there already or simply start a new business profile if it’s not. (Answer some questions and upload your logo.) Oh! Did I mention it was FREE!!!!
The only downside with Parkbench is also its greatest advantage, and that is that it’s LOCAL. So yes this does not mean you’re going to get a million hits like on YouTube, but if you’re a local business do you really care if your page is viewed by the thousands in India? This will be exclusive to local businesses and local residents only… aka your ideal clientele.
Like with anything in life you will get out of it what you put in, so Shilo is encouraging everyone to check it out as soon as possible and stake your piece of the advertising pie. Even if you don’t wish to join just yet you can still show your support for your fellow entrepreneurs by writing reviews or providing referrals. Want to spark interest in your own business profile? Try an incentive or reward program for customers and colleagues. If nothing else at least take a few moments to have a look around at the hottest new trend in business networking.
Insurance coverage is something that most of us have - whether it's personal or business, the question that we should be asking is do we have the right coverage to protect us and our families in times of trouble?
Charlene Gize, a broker from AWI Insurance, provided a very informative presentation on this topic at a recent TAN meeting. AWI’s motto, “Insurance Tailored to your Individual Needs” is an important one, as each one of us as small business owners will have different requirements for insurance. However, insurance coverage can be confusing, and there are a lot of scenarios to consider.
As an example, if you are a small business owner who uses your vehicle to deliver products to customers, you will need different coverage than the small business owner who only uses their vehicle to drive to client appointments. After a fender bender or a serious accident is not the time to find out that you have the wrong policy.
Another scenario Charlene told us to consider involves Canada’s new Anti-Spam legislation (CASL). As of July 1, 2014, small business owners need to be aware of what they can and cannot do in terms of contacting clients and/or potential clients. This applies to everything from e-mails to tweeting, and with costs ranging in the millions of dollars, having the right kind of coverage in your business insurance as it relates to anti-spam is extremely important.
Do you run your business out of your home? If you do, crucial coverage would be CGL (Commercial General Liability) insurance. Included in this policy is liability for negligence, bodily injury to clients and business owned property, and with the norm of clients suing for $2-5 million for slip and falls, it is obvious to see that you wouldn’t want to pay for this out of your own pocket.
The bottom line is that as a Business Owner we have the responsibility of figuring out ALL possible worst case scenarios (granted that may not include a Zombie apocalypse but you never know…) and what you can or cannot afford to cover. A qualified insurance broker can do this effectively and efficiently and can easily help you determine if you need to augment your current policy.
What is the next step if you find yourself wondering if you have the right policy and/or a sufficient amount of coverage? AWI Insurance has a useful checklist and FAQ’s page for small business owners; or you could make an appointment to discuss your insurance needs with your broker or with Charlene.
With her wealth of insurance knowledge for small business owners at your disposal, Charlene can be contacted anytime at email@example.com
She would be more than happy set up an appointment with you to make sure that your coverage is appropriate and zombie proof!
Last week we had Sylvia Shultz from Jetwash Autospa presenting during our weekly luncheon meeting. Sylvia has a unique talent for managing people by understanding what motivates them and being deftly responsive to their needs. This empathy, in our opinion makes her a great manager and she is a fantastic resource for team building ideas and customer service benchmarks.
Her topic last week was on Fear. What is it, as business owners/entrepreneurs, are we fearful of? We were asked to each write out our fears on a piece of paper and toss it in a hat. Then each member would pull a slip and read the fear anonymously. For such an open topic it was surprising to find out that there were basically 3 fears we ALL shared.
Fear of Losing Good Employees
Fear of Not Being Able to Find Balance
Fear of FAILURE!!!
First and foremost it was reassuring to find out we weren’t alone in our neurotic hang ups. We all seem to worry endlessly about the same things and perhaps even let those worries hinder our success. As we read the fears out loud we were asked to address them as best we could. Our fears were out in the open, now it was time to put them in their place.
With employees if you’re clear about what you want and what you expect ahead of time, it makes it easier to find the right people and retain them. When you already have these great employees what drives them? Does your management or their job foster their personal ideas of success? If not, is there something that can be changed to encourage their growth? In the end people are people and we can’t please everyone all the time. Finding and retaining great staff is an endless struggle, one many of us are familiar with. The best you can do is never stop hunting for unicorns.
Do you close the tool box or do you take everything home with you at the end of the day? Learning to keep things separate and making sure you prioritize finding time when you do not mix business with your personal life is critical for finding balance. Find outlets so you can decompress. An activity that keeps you engaged and not obsessing over problems at work. Taking a break can sometimes be the best way of finding solutions to problems. We all like to think that the world will stop revolving if we’re not there but in fact, this is hardly ever true. Try to keep in mind why you work so hard in the first place, not the work itself. No one can do this but you and if you don’t value your time no one else will either.
Then there’s the big one – FAILURE. This is the one we fear most of all. No one wants to see their investment of time and energy go to waste. However the only true failure is never starting in the first place. Take some comfort in the fact that just by trying you’ve already accomplished more than most. Thomas Edison had nearly a 1000 unsuccessful attempts at building a working (commercial) light bulb. To most this would seem like a failure. When asked why he didn’t just call it quits, he’s quoted as saying, “Why? Now we know a 1000 ways not to make a lightbulb.” Everyone makes mistakes. As long as we can learn from them we can still find success.
So cheers to all you hardy and independent entrepreneurs out there. Keep Calm and Carry On!
In light of Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” day, we thought we’d post on the issue of Mental Health in the work place. Last week we had Clayton Falk with Effective Solutions Counselling presenting to our TAN group and there are a few simple steps we can all take to ensure that we are in fact, “Talking” about mental health.
Statistics from the World Health Organization indicate that by the year 2020, depression will be the 2nd leading cause of disability worldwide. Mental problems and illness are among the common causes of workplace absenteeism. Having employees that are unable to work does not benefit anyone. However the majority of us do not know how to properly deal with various mental health issues including depression. Often our response (either going through it personally or addressing someone else that is), is that depression is something that you can simply snap out of, if you really wanted to.
To clarify, no one really knows what causes depression but they have identified a few factors that definitely contribute. One is genetics and another is brain chemistry. These are not imaginary and cannot be treated by simply wishing them away. You can’t “snap” out of cancer, so why do we think you can “snap” out of depression? Once you realize that depression is real, and a problem then you can move forward and begin to plan ahead. Our attitudes about mental health issues really determine how successful we are in overcoming them.
Clayton suggested 3 easy steps to ensure your work place is an environment that encourages mental health.
1. Have an Open Door Policy – Let people know that if they’re struggling you are willing to listen. Stating that upfront and reminding them often when there’s not a problem, makes it much easier to talk about when there is one. Sometimes all it takes is asking, “How can I help?”
2. Have Standard Procedures – If you have a structure for employees to follow when bringing their concerns forward it lends a sense of legitimacy and purpose in how your company deals with an out of the box situation. Perhaps when conducting employee reviews you dedicate a segment for mental health. If it’s standard for everyone, then it may not be as embarrassing or uncomfortable to bring up if something is wrong.
3. Have Resources Available – How does the old saying go? “It’s better to have something and not need it, than to need something and not have it.” Obviously the majority of us are not qualified to address a mental health issue. However there are people, programs and websites that are. Once you open the dialogue for mental health make sure you can suggest some options to help. It’s important to know what they are and how to find them.
For example Mental Health Works is a great resource for mental health in the work place. Or you can always check out Depression Hurts for Friends and Family Members
For more information you can also go to Clayton’s website at: www.effectivesolutionscounselling.com or to the Airdrie Counselling Centre at: www.airdriecounsellingcenter.com
With our stressful, busy lives it’s never been more critical to take a moment and reflect on our own well-being and others’. Conversation is the first step to ensuring our success… Are you ready to start?
Our Events page is created by the members of the TAN Group to promote our upcoming Luncheon Seminars and our commitment to various Community Events in Airdrie.