Business Continuity Planning: Your Company’s "Safety Net"

The Importance of Business Continuity Planning

Business Continuity Planning can offer protection from many potential risks that can threaten your company by disrupting critical business processes. These risks include traditional disasters like earthquakes, fires, floods, and tornados, as well as risks from terrorism (both physical and cyberterrorism), cybercrime, computer failures, theft and employee sabotage. Any one of these events can be extremely disruptive and detrimental to your business, yet all of the potential damage from each of them can be substantially minimized through business continuity management.

A business continuity management program is likely to increase your company’s profitability as the primary focus of business continuity management is to minimize business process disruptions and financial loss during major and minor events. This translates into improved reliability and productivity for your company and consequently, a competitive advantage and increased market share.

Business continuity management is a relatively new term that is often thought of as interchangeable with “disaster recovery”. In fact, business continuity management entails so much more. Business continuity management includes disaster recovery, business recovery, business resumption, contingency planning, emergency and crisis management.

The Benefits of Business Continuity Planning

  • Identify and resolve structural problems within an organization.
  • Gain a clearer understanding of your business processes.
  • Address the “Backlog Trap” scenario before it occurs.
  • Streamline business processes to insure easy recovery in the event of a crisis.
  • Identify bureaucratic and inefficient structures.
  • Create fast and effective communications systems.
  • Establish minimum service levels for mission critical activities.
  • Cost effectively focus your IT budgets for maximum resilience.
  • Identify and prioritize critical business data and storage requirements.

Telemarketing Tips on Appointment Setting for Small Business Owners to Get More Customers

Telemarketing tips to help self-employed people and small business owners to get more customer by making sales appointment cold calls.

Many small business owners haven’t had access to training on appointment setting.

To get more customers they may want to make cold calls to arrange meetings to present their sales offers, but without training they can get a lot of rejection and soon become de-motivated.

One of the biggest mistakes is not knowing how to use benefits and features effectively. These telemarketing tips will show you how and where to add benefits and features to your cold calls for appointments and get in front of more potential customers.

Telemarketing Tips on Making Great Sales Appointment Calls

What makes a great sales appointment cold call is understanding how and when to use benefits and features in your call script.

The reason you should use them is because benefits are what your customers get, so for the prospects you call it tells them what they could potentially gain by listening to you.

Benefits are about the prospect you cold call. It’s what they gain from being your customer. It’s the savings on time or money that you can offer. It’s how their life or business will be easier. It might be something they must have, or something they want to have, but it’s not how they get it, that’s the feature that supplies the benefit.

Benefits are often feelings or emotions. Feelings of safety or security, being happy, satisfaction, success, or whatever else they will feel when they become your customer and the features of your service give them the benefits.

Poor telemarketing calls for appointments often include lots of features and few, or even no, benefits. Features are all about you and your products or services.

Benefits are what the features do for the customer, they are what the customer gets by using what you supply, and it gives you a chance to talk about the customer and the changes your sales offer will make for them. You may have to mention features as you explain how they get the benefits, but keep it brief.

Where on Your Calls to Use Benefits and Features

You want to get more customer by making appointment calls, so one of your aims is to keep prospects listening to you. You want to get past the first few lines of introduction and into a conversation about them or their business.

To do that you should use benefits in your call introduction, supported where necessary by features. What will, or potentially could, give the prospect a benefit. Maybe you are the best, the cheapest, the most experienced, the fastest, the most caring, the most qualified, at what you do. Those are all features so you then have to state what the feature you select will do for your potential customer in terms of a benefit to them.

The Reason You’re Calling

The next telemarketing tip is to use your best benefit, and supporting feature, as the reason why you’re calling the prospect.

What many self-employed people and small business owners don’t know is that the reason for calling is again all about the prospect. You might think that your experience and credentials, qualifications, and a list of existing customers are really good reasons for calling a prospect to arrange a sales appointment, but they’re not.

When you tell your prospect why you are calling, select a benefit you think will grab their interest and explain what it could potentially do for them.

Gaining Agreement to a Meeting

When you’ve qualified the prospect as a potential customer that you want to meet you need to gain agreement from them to the meeting. Here again is a great place to use a benefit to influence them to take that next step.

You explain to the prospect that they could gain a benefit, and by meeting with you they will have the opportunity to see exactly what the benefit could do for them. You can use the same benefit that you used earlier as your reason for calling. You started by saying that was why you called, so here you’re saying it’s why you should meet.

Small Businesses Should Use Benefits to Get More Customers

That’s 3 places where you can add benefits to make your telemarketing calls more successful.

The more effective your calls, the more opportunities you get to get more customers.

Look at what you’re currently saying on your cold calls. Are you using features that tell the prospect all about you, your business, or what you do.

It only takes a small reframing of your viewpoint to change those features into benefits and talk more about the prospect than about you. This simple change will make a big difference to your calls. It will increase the number of meetings you get, and you will get less rejection and fewer objections, so you’ll enjoy making more cold calls.

Shared Parenting Business – 6 Top Tips to Support Shared Parenting After Separation

‘He doesn’t really want to share the care of the kids; he just wants to get at me!’

‘She doesn’t see what this is doing to the kids; we don’t communicate any more…’

‘We were doing fine with sharing the kids’ care till I re-partnered…’

Familiar words from separated or divorced parents – as a family dispute resolution practitioner, I hear stories of bitter disputes over shared care, child support and post-separation parenting issues. Parents may be caught up in their own pain, and anger with each other, when the separation is still raw and recent. Or perhaps parents made relatively amicable parenting arrangements, which worked well for years until one parent began a new relationship. Suddenly all hell broke loose and now the separated parents can’t seem to ‘go along to get along’ any more.

Reframe the picture

If this picture looks all too familiar to you as a separated parent, it might help if you reframe it. Instead of grappling with the idea of managing a personal relationship gone sour, picture this: your post-separation parenting is a business, in which you and your former partner are job-sharing the manager’s position.

Assets or liabilities on a balance sheet may not seem to have much in common with your toddler’s tantrums, or your teenager’s demands to go to that all-night party. How can a business model help you with the emotional highs and lows of day-to-day life as a separated parent? Lynn Grodzki, a business coach for therapists in private practice, talks about ‘nurturing’ your business like a parent. Well, I’m suggesting that you nurture your parenting like a business. To do that, you have to do some forward planning!

The importance of planning

It is often said that when we fail to plan, we plan to fail — and in an economic downturn, businesses must plan carefully to manage risk. Lynn Grodzki describes ‘risk reduction’ as the process of evaluating the dangers and then taking steps to minimise the losses or potential losses to your business. As a separated parent, you can do the same, and here’s how to set about it. (The following tips are loosely based on Lynn Grodzki’s advice to business owners.)

Six Top Tips to Reduce Your Parenting Risks after Separation

1. A written ‘business plan’ – having a written parenting plan or agreement can help you to co-manage the business of parenting after a separation. A business plan allows you to review your business practices and goals. A parenting plan allows you to track what you have both agreed to do as parents.

2. Maintain a cash reserve for operating expenses – this is often easier said than done in difficult economic times, both for businesses and for parents. However, in both cases it pays to save when you can. And just as ‘goodwill’ is important in business, it is also important in parenting. Business owners can put a dollar value on ‘goodwill’, and know how important it is for long-term sustainability. As co-managers of parenting, both parents can build up shared reserves of ‘goodwill’ in how they co-operate as parents. That may give you both some ’emotional capital’ to draw on in the tough times (see Tip 4).

3. Good record keeping – many a business has come to grief through poor record-keeping. Your co-parenting business will benefit from good written records. Many parents find it useful to use a communication book that passes back and forth as children move from one household to the other. (This avoids the risk of passing messages via your children. Remember, the children are not the managers in this business!)

4. Contingency planning: average your profit and loss over time – you may have heard of amortizing or depreciating a business cost. That happens when the cost of an actual or intangible asset is averaged, or written off, over a period of time. As co-managers of parenting, you and the other parent may have many years of co-parenting ahead of you, until your children are independent adults. It takes stamina to sit with the discomfort of the difficult times, when you may feel that you are ‘trading’ in a hostile environment. It is worth remembering that times can and will change.

5. Self care when the business depends on you – the business of co-parenting relies on the ability of each parent to give time and energy to their responsibilities. To do that, and to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. A healthy diet, appropriate exercise, enough sleep, and keeping in touch with your doctor for regular check-ups as required; these steps will help you to manage the risks of ill health.

6. Keep up your insurance – some business partners maintain ‘key person’ life insurance on each other, if the loss of a business partner could affect the financial security of the business. You can also view your ability to co-operate as parents as ‘insurance’ for your business. The more effectively you can co-parent, the less risk there is of your co-parenting business ceasing to trade.

Of course, you should also take legal and financial advice on your individual situation, as necessary. However, these business tips might help you to keep your co-parenting business afloat in troubled times, and protect your children from exposure to conflict between their parents.

How to make these tips work for you!

*Family dispute resolution is a mediation process that can assist you and the other parent to talk about your parenting issues and to make a written parenting agreement. A family dispute resolution practitioner can help you both to identify the issues and to focus on the best interests of your children.

*A parenting agreement might include issues such as the time spent with the children by each parent; communication; transport arrangements; school holiday arrangements; special days such as Christmas, Easter and other significant family or religious occasions.

*Emails and text messages are useful as written records. If you make verbal arrangements with the other parent, confirm them in a polite text message or email, just as you would do in a business setting. It all helps to avoid costly last-minute misunderstandings.

*’Write off’ some emotional costs over time. If you could enter all the ‘intangible assets’ of co-parenting over the next five years, as your children grow, your parenting balance sheet might show a profit for your children over time. Try keeping a journal, or use the expressive writing exercises described by Dr James W. Pennebaker in his book ‘Opening up: The healing power of expressing emotions’.

*Self care: enroll in a new activity group, or take an adult education class. The ‘down time’ from parenting may replenish your spirits and give you more energy. If you are feeling depressed, anxious or angry, talk to your doctor, who may recommend other supports such as counseling or medication.

Home and Business Video Surveillance Systems for Peace of Mind and Security

Technology has brought us some ingenious inventions that may have seemed like science fiction a few decades ago, and one of the most highly influenced areas has been security. Advances in miniaturization have led to some amazing technologies, but one of the most versatile and wide-spread applications is the use of video surveillance cameras. Cameras have become smaller and more durable, making them applicable in just about any situation. Cameras also offer some distinct advantages over other systems in terms of cost, simplicity, and effectiveness.

Why Should You Employ a Security System?

Crime is an ever present problem that evolves and changes along with technology, and combating the constant threat, whether it be at home or in a commercial setting, can be a daunting challenge. Utilizing a CCTV security camera system is one of the best ways to protect your family and your investments with an active system that does not cost tens of thousands of dollars and can even be set by those with the most rudimentary of craftsman skills. CCTV video cameras never sleep, consume very little power, and are very reliable. The vast majority of robberies and other violent crimes would most likely have gone unsolved if were not for the placement of video cameras in more and more homes and businesses. Often times, the mere knowledge of an active surveillance system is enough to deter potential criminal activity.

Video Surveillance as a Work from Home Business Idea?

With the rise in applications and smaller, cheaper systems, video security has become quite a booming industry, and not just for those larger and more commonly recognized security companies. Many enterprising individuals have learned that video surveillance is one of the best work from home business ideas out there. The majority of systems in today’s modern video arena are more compatible with each other, basically only requiring plugging colored connectors into matching receptacles, and require very little start up costs. Just about everyone in the country would love the peace of mind and security that video monitoring provides, and with the simplicity of modern systems, it is quite simple to install and manage a live monitoring system using the power of the Internet. Work from homebusiness ideas may come and go, but security is something that will always be in demand.

You Can Set Up Your Own Video Security System

Setting up a surveillance system may sound intimidating at first, but with some advice and background on the basics of video systems, you can design and implement your own system for much less than a major company would charge. Regardless of whether you intend to make a career out of surveillance systems or just want to protect your family and belongings, be sure to check out equipment and business reviews online at several trusted websites. The Internet can help you educate yourself on the general functions and limits of modern systems, what the price ranges are, and what skill levels are needed, as well as helping you to decide what system is the best for your particular application.

Video is one of the most powerful of all the security tools, and with the right direction and the proper equipment, just about anyone can take charge of their own security and gain real peace of mind.