Tag: business

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has launched a new stand-alone app, called WhatsApp Business, designed to help small businesses easily connect with their customers, the company announced on Thursday.

WhatsApp Business can be downloaded on the Google Play Store in select markets including the US, UK, Indonesia, Italy, and Mexico, and will roll out worldwide in the coming weeks. Facebook has not yet stated when the app will be available on iOS.

The app adds several new features including verified business profiles, smart messaging tools like quick replies, greeting messages and away messages, and messaging metrics. As of now, WhatsApp Business is aimed at smaller companies, but it plans to add an enterprise solution geared toward larger businesses, like airlines and banks, with a global customer base. The move to launch an app dedicated to businesses represents the fruition of several months of work by Facebook to monetize WhatsApp.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) communication via messaging apps is a budding trend, and Facebook wants to be at the center of it.Having a presence on chat apps is more important than ever for businesses.

Already, more than half of consumers would rather message a business than call customer service, according to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielson. Here’s why WhatsApp is poised to lead the evolution of B2C interactions:

WhatsApp has a massive global reach. WhatsApp’s global user base of 1.3 billion monthly active users makes the chat app an ideal ground for Facebook to establish a footprint in the B2C space.

WhatsApp is also the second most used messaging app globally, and the leading messaging app in a majority of emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and Russia as well as in developed markets like the UK, Spain, and Germany. In India, for instance, consumers spent over 36 billion hours on WhatsApp in 2017.

Already, consumers worldwide use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses.Over 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil have said WhatsApp helps to facilitate B2C communication and, as a result, grow their businesses’ reach.

WhatsApp is entering an increasingly competitive space. Facebook Messenger, Apple, WeChat, and Skype are all striving to be the go-to interface for B2C interaction.

For instance, Apple is introducing an update to iMessage that includes iOS Business Chat, a “powerful new way for businesses to connect with customers directly from within Messages,” according to Apple. Meanwhile, WhatsApp will go up against WeChat, which already hosts 10 million official business accounts for WeChat’s 980 million monthly active users to interact with.

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By Rayna Hollander for Business Insider

Starting your own business? Here’s some advice

Here’s the irony: it’s never been easier to start a business, which is why it’s never been harder to start a business.

In the “old days”, when a big company had 5 00 staff, it had 5 000 horsepower which is why back then, big companies and governments were the only entities that could get the big jobs done and move the world forward. But thanks to digitisation, the world has changed drastically in the last decade or two. Now, a small company of 10 bright people equipped with the enabling technology become an army that has the equivalent 5 000 horsepower.

This is why starting a business has never been more alluring. Small groups of people can disrupt massive industries just like Uber and Airbnb did to their respective industries. The really big problem for most established industries is that it’s hard to see where new competition is coming from. The entire taxi industry could never have predicted that two entrepreneurs and a few software engineers could change their lives forever.

Things are heating up

For the first time in the world, you can impact the world from your bedroom while chilling in your underpants. That said, big companies aren’t standing still and they are equally using the same technology to ring out efficiencies in their businesses. I believe we are at the point where we will see technology replace people in big companies at an unprecedented rate.

A small example of this is Nu Metro and Ster-Kinekor. Just two years ago, you actually bought your movie tickets from a human being at the ticket kiosk. The other night, I went to the movies and counted a total of three staff working. All tickets and refreshments were bought using a tablet at the front desk. The only people working were the ones pouring my Slush Puppy and dishing my popcorn for me.

With this in mind, being an entrepreneur is a great idea with just one caveat: the easier it gets to become an entrepreneur, the more other people are going to do it. Competition drives innovation which means it will get harder and harder for startups to succeed unless they are absolutely excellent. With this in mind, the following advice is critical to you starting a business:

  • You have to be absolutely passionate about the business you want to start, but your business also has to also solve a big problem for society (there must be an appropriate market for what you want to do).
  • Conscious capitalism is the way forward. Doing the right thing isn’t a nice to have anymore. It’s the only way to do business.
  • You have to have the energy of a 1 000 men when you start because every little detail becomes your responsibility.
  • That said, you have to become a master of technology so that you can scale your business. Technology enables small groups of people to act like an army. The days of linear improvement won’t do.
  • You have to become forever educated because the world is changing so fast and you need to know what’s going on in order to understand how approaching trends will affect your business. YouTube, daily reading and podcasts: informal education is key.
  • Finally, play the long game. Create a 30-year plan and work backward. Chase excellence and not money. Money is the result of doing something well. When you put this all together, you have a sustainable business.

By Mark Sham, founder and CEO of Suits & Sneakers and Impello incubation hub

How businesses contribute to SA

A report by Quantec Research, a leading South African economic consultancy, on Monday revealed the significant contribution made by South African business to the wealth of the country. The report notes, amongst other things, the significant contribution of business to the South African economy.

The study was commissioned earlier this year by Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) to better understand the national footprint of its membership. Quantec Research was asked to conduct empirical research on the scope and magnitude of BLSA’s members’ activities and their contribution to the economy.

The study revealed several striking findings over the role of business in society; business is the most significant direct contributor to the South African economy. The direct output created by BLSA members was R1.9 trillion in 2016; 1.2 times the value of total budgeted expenditure by government in 2016.

Nearly R1 trillion in expenditure was paid to suppliers, enabling them to employ people, pay taxes, purchase supplies and make investments. BLSA collectively received 34.4 points out of 40 for black enterprise development as prescribed by BEE Codes.

Business employs 6.9 times the number of public sector employees. BLSA members themselves employ 1.29 million people, with another 1.97 million jobs supported in the supply chain. 596,719 people are dependent on BLSA employees. The 57 member companies in the study contribute 23.5% of total private sector employment, and pay full-time and part-time employees just under R2 trillion.

Business contributes to the public sector and supports the most important institutions of state through taxation. Taxation to government from BLSA members alone amounted to over R431 billion in 2016, 35.9% of total taxes collected. That’s the equivalent of more than one million teacher’s salaries, or almost two million police officers, or almost 1.5 million low-cost housing units.

Bonang Mohale, Chief Executive of BLSA, commenting on the findings of the report said: “This report confirms that business is a vibrant part of South African economy and society and a significant national asset. The footprint of BLSA’s members alone is notable – often bigger than that of Government itself. It’s a reminder that business touches every part of South African life and has a positive role and voice to play in the success of the nation.”

Source: IOL 

Digital transformation: why should you care?

Digital transformation is more than a mere buzzword. Modern businesses must evolve as the digital age continues to overtake lives, both personally and professionally. To maintain the capability to leverage intricate market changes, businesses must undergo an in-depth metamorphosis.

This digital transformation must bring the business and its organisational activities in line with the fourth industrial revolution and all of the opportunities it holds. According to iScoop’s online guide to digital business transformation, digital transformation brings business processes, competencies and models up-to-date, to empower the organisation to adjust to changes and embrace the “opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritised way, with present and future shifts in mind.” This profound transformation requires an awareness of the latest innovations across a variety of key processes and industry sectors – but it also requires a real interaction with new technology, delivering an understanding that can come only from personal experience.

This is the theme of the Infor Next 2017 conference, to be held at Montecasino, Fourways, on the 21st of September. With key sessions led by Infor global experts, digital transformation, its importance, and its relevance in South Africa will be unpacked, offering leading-edge insights. “In this glorious world of innovation and constant development, true transformation is required to ensure the enterprise workplace remains competitive. This dovetails with the understanding of how to maximise value in the cloud,” says Tarik Taman, Infor’s Vice President and General Manager: Sales for India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA).

“Attend Infor Next Johannesburg to experience how innovative, beautiful applications are being designed for progress, transforming the way people work.” By employing user-centric development, organisations are empowered to dive deeper into solutions to solve high-value, real-world challenges and expand overall proficiency. “By honing the techniques needed to aid organisation-wide digital transformation, key education, strategic direction, and the latest innovations in enterprise systems are leveraged,” adds Taman.

“At Infor Next 2017, we’ll bring to life both innovation and technology to address specific industry needs by extending existing solutions to improve productivity and lower costs.”

Topics under discussion at the event include a regional overview, a glimpse into Infor’s future plans, and a comprehensive view of the value of Infor CloudSuite, the pivotal elements to talent transformation and the power of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). From social collaboration at work to cloud in the public sector, healthcare, manufacturing and hospitality, expert knowledge will be shared, driving greater digital transformation in every industry. The event will also highlight the Infor Education Alliance Programme (EAP), which delivers next-generation tools for future leaders, and works with local universities in South Africa. Participants in the programme get access to specialised software packages, training materials, and customised learning experiences, using groundbreaking technology that is already transforming work for more than 90 000 organisations worldwide.

“Succeeding in business is tougher than ever before. The Alliance Programme helps talented students and professionals get an edge on the competition,” confirms Taman. With these industry-specific business tools, proficiency is developed, offering students and professionals at every level the critical skills that will set them apart in the job market. “Software solutions should have the necessary capabilities built in, not bolted on. Contemporary solutions deliver lasting return on investment, long-term sustainability, and the flexibility to adapt and grow,” concludes Jane Thomson, Managing Director at Softworx, an Infor partner and event sponsor. “These are the cornerstones of effective digital transformation.”

The best bank accounts for small cash businesses

Q: I have a business account with FNB. It’s a cheque account that has operational capital of about R70,000 in it. However, this account doesn’t pay interest on a positive balance. What type of account at FNB should I use to keep such extra funds? I need to be able to access the money on 14 days’ notice, should the need arise. – EB

A: Stephanus Buys, the head of strategic business development at FNB cash investments, recommends either the FNB savings account or the seven-day notice account. The FNB savings account, which gives the customer unfettered access to their money, pays 5.25% interest on balances of between R25,000 and R74,999, but this account is exclusive to customers with an Easy Account with FNB.

Buys says that if FNB is not the customer’s primary bank, the Money on Call product can be used instead: it pays interest of 5.10% on balances of between R70,000 and R79,999.

The customer would get the best rates if invested in a seven-day notice account. A sum of R70,000 would attract interest of between 6.35% and 6.45%, depending on how long it was invested (1-32 days, 33-63 days, or more than 65 days).

Charl Nel, the head of strategic communications at Capitec Bank, says Capitec pays interest of 5.40% on positive balances of between R25,000 and R99,999, and the customer need not use Capitec as their primary bank.

While Capitec does not offer business banking, many of its clients who are small-business owners opt to use its Global One account as a business account because of the competitive interest rate offered on a positive balance, as well as the low monthly fees.

Source: BusinessLive


Dimension Data has released its latest digital workplace report, highlighting which technologies South African companies are currently developing and working with.

In South Africa, Dimension Data spoke to 73 respondents of companies with at least 1 000 employees, from large businesses with headquarters in the region.

The companies surveyed reported that mobility was still the most important area for supporting broader digital workplace initiatives.

27% of organisations said that embracing multiple-device-ownership models (BYOD, COPE, company-liable) is the most important technology trend, and 89% identify mobile devices and business applications as being technologies that support business process improvement.

This was followed by an embracing of the consumerisation of IT (25%) as well as an increasing demand to make video communication more pervasive (21%), said the report.

“Ensuring that employees are well-connected and empowered with mobile technologies and applications has resulted in enterprise mobility becoming a key theme of broader digital transformation efforts,” said Dimension Data.

“Those leading on enterprise mobility strategy development and implementation should therefore ensure that mobility initiatives map well against broader digital transformation business objectives.”


South African organisations are also turning to the cloud as an alternative to traditional on-premise deployments of workplace technologies.

For communications tools, such as WebEx and desktop video conferencing, 34% of South African organisations have deployed these in their own private cloud environments.
For collaboration applications, such as SharePoint and enterprise social, 22% of South African organisations have deployed these in their own private cloud environments.
For business applications, such as ERP, 18% of South African organisations have deployed these in their own private cloud environments.
“A better cost model is the top reason South African organisations are moving to cloud applications,” said Dimension Data.

“In time, organisations will rely more on fully hosted services for a wide range of digital workplace technology. The opex model is attractive to companies trying to rein in capital expenses, and cloud-based applications are considerably easier to keep up to date.”

However, it noted that many cloud-based applications do not yet meet the security and compliance requirements of many organisations.

Organisations also have existing assets that they own, that work well, and that do not need to be retired, it said.

“For example, 62% of South African organisations host business telephony applications on-premise, with only 5% being deployed in a private cloud environment. For this reason, managed services remain attractive for large organisations, which rely on them heavily as a way of keeping IT costs to a minimum.”

Enterprises are also turning to hybrid deployment models to keep one foot firmly planted in the current world of premise based technology whilst taking their first steps toward the cloud.

Hybrid deployments let organisations move some workloads to the cloud whilst retaining others on premise.

“Organisations with security or compliance concerns can keep applications on site or in private data centres under their own management whilst moving other, less sensitive applications to the cloud. Enterprises with significant investments in systems and applications deployed on premise can transition them to the cloud over a period of years, retiring legacy technology slowly as it becomes obsolete.”

Looking forward

Consumerisation and migrating to the cloud may occupy the minds of CIOs focused on here-and-now issues around digital transformation. However, those keeping an eye to the future see the dawn of a whole new set of technologies that will shape the digital workplace for years to come.

These primarily take the form of augmented reality which has practical uses for field technicians and other specialists needing instant access to information and AI/machine learning which are helping organisations derive insight from vast quantities of data and helping get the right information to the right people at the right time.

Unsurprisingly, the Internet of Things is also dovetailing with – and increasingly driving – a greater reliance on automation in the enterprise, as sensors variously monitor and control lighting, door locks, vehicles, medical equipment, manufacturing machinery, surveillance cameras, and other systems.

75% of South African organisations say they will have a practical use case for augmented reality technologies within the next two years.

The percentage of South African organisations (26%) that say they will never have a practical use for augmented reality technologies aligns quite closely with the global findings, which show that 34% of organisations see no value in this technology.

“It is still very early days for augmented reality technologies, especially in the enterprise context,” the group said.

“The focus is still very much on the hardware, as opposed to the new business outcomes that the hardware could potentially help support. The value of augmented reality technologies needs to be better communicated and in contexts that resonate with enterprises. A more enriched app ecosystem that supports the core technology will be vital to its enterprise success.”

“As this develops, and as the use cases for the technology become better contextualised, the value proposition of AR will be better understood by organisations across industries.”

21% of South African organisations are investing in intelligent agents now, and 18% are investing in IoT, but investment will increase significantly in those
areas over the next 24 months.

“Undoubtedly, however, it is analytics tools that interest South African organisations the most. Strong investment is planned in the area of workplace analytics, with 94% identifying that some form of investment will be made in this area over the next two years.”

“The most important use case for these analytics tools will be in managing the employee lifecycle and improving the customers experience.”

Source: Business Tech

A growing group of South Africans are increasingly eyeing obtaining the UK’s £200 000 Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa as political and economic woes continue to pummel their homeland.

This is according to Gary Kockott, MD for SA at Sable International, who says he’s seen an uptick in local demand for the visa. The visa offers a way for entrepreneurs to invest their way to citizenship in the UK for themselves and their families.

Q: Gary, SA is going through a turbulent time at the moment. Have you noticed an increase in clients coming to Sable International to enquire and seek UK business visas?

A: Absolutely. I think there’s a lot of individuals who are disillusioned at where we will be in the next few years. I think that with the rampant corruption, state capture, further downgrades, and our imminent recession, people are very disillusioned. So we’ve seen a big increase in client interest.

Q: Can you tell me about the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Investment Program that Sable International offers?

A: Yes. It’s a bespoke UK citizenship by investment program where, through a £200 000 investment into the UK, you can obtain UK residency for you and your family and ultimately citizenship – if all the requirements are met. In short, we match investor skills and experience with a range of pre-approved business investment opportunities whilst meeting the UK Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa qualifying criteria.

Q: You said it costs about £200 000?

A: Yes. That’s the capital investment you have to make into either a new or an existing UK business.

Q: How long is the visa valid for? You can basically qualify for UK citizenship afterwards, so can your whole family then also qualify for that?

A: Yes, absolutely. You can take your entire family, as long as they are dependents, with you. Your initial visa is granted for 3 years and 2 months, at which stage you would extend. If you meet those requirements, that extension is to 5 years. You then get indefinite leave to remain and once you’ve been a permanent resident for 5 years and you’ve held your indefinite leave to remain for 12 months, you’re able to apply for citizenship.

Q: You said that Sable International matches up the applicants with businesses. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that process works?

A: We’ve partnered with a private equity firm and they specialise in obtaining foreign direct investment into the UK. They have a number of businesses – investee businesses – that are actively seeking foreign direct investment. What we then do (together with our partners) is we match an individual’s skills and their experience with those businesses’ needs, because you have to match your skills with the business in order to qualify for the visa.

Q: How easy or difficult is it to get this visa compared to other, similar European visas, for example?

A: My recommendation would be to use a skilled immigration advisor. You do have to jump through some hoops in order to achieve it as it’s not straightforward. You have to apply a genuine test etc., but if you meet the capital amount and you’ve got a decent advisor, you’ll be able to get your visa.

Q: What is the rationale from the UK side to dole out visas like this? What is their main motivation behind it?

A: They’re looking for foreign direct investment into the United Kingdom, so they have a number of different Tier 1 investor visas, of which the entrepreneur visa is one of them.

Q: Is this one way in which the UK brings in a lot of foreign expertise, despite the advent of Brexit?

A: Absolutely, they’re bringing in the investment and they’re bringing in the skills.

Q: What has the reception been like from South African citizens?

A: The interest has been big. This visa has been around for quite some time, since 2008, but in the last few months the last 8 or 9 months, given our political climate and our economic instability, there’s been a huge increase in interest across all our visa categories. Generally, people are looking to emigrate.

Q: Can you maybe tell me about some of your other visa categories as well then?

A: Obviously within the Tier 1 category there’s the entrepreneur visa, there’s also the investment visa or the investor visa, that’s more of a passive opportunity where you invest £2m into the UK, that’s into a UK bank account which you then invest into UK government bonds loan capital or share capital and you are able to go over. The visa is granted for 5 years and you are able to go, live and work in the UK with your family. Then, there are a whole bunch of other categories. e.g. Married partner visas, ancestry visas, and other types of immigration visas.

Q: For our readers out there who are interested in obtaining one of these visas, what kind of advice would you give them, just in terms of going about this process?

A: Well, all of these services you can do yourself but my recommendation is if you are serious about emigrating, you get the right advice. Whether it’s through us or through other emigration advisors. getting the right advice of which category to go through and how to achieve it is the best way forward.

Q: Once an applicant is through to the other side in the UK, do you at Sable International still keep in touch with them? How does that work?

A: Absolutely, so we assist throughout the process. When we do the entrepreneur visa for example, as far as we’re concerned we’re in the process with you for the 6 years, until you get your citizenship. So we’re able to advise you, do all your extensions for you, we’ll ensure that you meet the various requirements in obtaining those extensions so that you’ll eventually get your citizenship.

Q: Gary, and just looking at this year so far, can you maybe give me numbers on how many people have approached you to date or how many you’re expecting to approach you regarding business visas for the UK?

A: Yes, I’m probably getting between 5 and 10 interested clients a week but it’s a long sale cycle, the individuals take a bit of time to make the decision. It’s a very big decision, emigrating, a lot of these guys are having to sell up their assets, if they’re emigrating permanently because of the fee of £200 000, which is about R3.5m in today’s money, so a lot of people are selling up in order to do that. the interest is massive and it’s also massive in terms of individuals looking to take their wealth offshore, and looking for second citizenships.

Q: Talking about second citizenships, so once you’ve perhaps got one of these visas and you get UK citizenship ultimately, can you still hang onto your South African citizenship then? How does that process work?

A: Yes, as long as you do it in the right manner, so you have to notify the South African government that you’re applying for UK citizenship. We (South Africans) are allowed to hold dual citizenship, so you certainly are able to keep your South African citizenship and take on the UK citizenship, as long as you go through the right process beforehand, before you make the application.

Q: Gary, and looking at visas like this. Is it a key strategy of Sable International’s? How does this fit into your broader business strategy?

A: Absolutely, we assist individuals who want to internationalise themselves, their wealth, or their businesses, so we’re constantly looking at ways in which we can assist individuals, who are looking to get second citizenships or emigrate or move, particularly to the United Kingdom or Australia. Putting together this program was just one of those bespoke options in being able to assist our clients better.

Q: Gary, it’s been an absolute pleasure talking to you today. Thanks very much for giving us more information on this.

A: Not a problem. Thanks very much, Gareth, I appreciate your time.

By Gareth van Zyl for BizNews 

See your business through 2017

The beginning of the year is the perfect opportunity to give your business insurance portfolio a good review and clean-up. When you’re in the thick of running your business, and tending to day-to-day work responsibilities, it’s easy to leave aspects such as insurance simply to ‘tick’ over, but that could leave you compromised as your business evolves and its needs and exposures change.

Here are 10 important considerations to help get your insurance cover into top shape to take on any challenge that may happen along its path during 2017:

Get cyber savvy
Cybercrime is a very real threat to any business or institution, regardless of size or nature of business. If your business has a network, an internet connection and holds sensitive or personally identifiable data, then your business is at risk. Talk to your professional broker about how to protect your business against cyber hacks.

Vehicle insurance
Whether you run a handful of cars or a fleet network, make sure your vehicle insurance is fit for purpose with sufficient liability cover. From an asset replacement perspective, your business vehicles should be insured at no less than retail value, which is what a car dealer would sell it for taking into consideration age, mileage and condition. Don’t forget to add extras such as tracking systems, tow bars and so on. The inclusion of car hire can also be beneficial.

Business interruption
If your business premises burned down, your assets cover will take care of replacing the lost items, but what happens if you are unable to trade for weeks, even months and your income stops coming in as a result? Business interruption insurance is vitally important to tide your business over in terms of lost income as a result of physical damage, until your business is back to operating as usual. Talk to your broker about this very important cover.

Directors and officers insurance
The main purpose of a D&O policy is to offer financial protection for company executives in addition to providing legal coverage in the event of a claim. The cover that a D&O liability insurance policy provides is an absolute necessity when it comes to the protection of the personal interests of directors, officers and other employees that are charged with supervisory and managerial responsibilities, and who can be held liable for wrongful acts which may occur in their day to day management activities.

White collar fraud
In the current tough economic environment, fraudsters are becoming ever more creative and syndicates are also at play, which means companies are facing ever increasing risk from white collar crimes in areas such as credit payments, EFT transfers, debtors, petty cash abuse, cash theft, international transfers, payroll fraud (ghost employees) and stock theft. The fundamental solution is a commercial crime framework, incorporating indemnity for losses resulting from employee dishonesty, forgery or alternation, fraudulent transfer instructions and third party computer crime. Talk to your professional Aon broker to tailor covers according to the potential of fraud exposures in your business.

Check your sums insured
Check that the sums insured on your building and contents are sufficient. Have you made alterations to the building and bought new assets such as laptops or machinery that adds to the value you need under the sum insured? Don’t forget to factor in the impact of inflation and the falling Rand exchange rate. Businesses that procure equipment or supplies from international markets are at risk of significant losses if you have not reviewed the impact of the falling Rand on the insured value of property and assets.

Fire insurance
Despite the risk to business continuity, financial security and brand reputation, many business owners remain indifferent to the domino effect that a fire poses to their business sustainability. Make sure you have enough cover to protect you in a worst case scenario in terms of contents, building, business interruption and any liability that may arise due to injuries or loss of life.

Insurance for keys and locks
Advances in technology and security have seen us graduate from standard metal keys to smarter devices, many complete with transponders and programmed microchips. Loss or theft of such keys can cost a lot more than your business bargained for. Check to see whether the sums allowed for replacement of locks and keys is sufficient.

Trade credit
Trade credit insurance indemnifies a seller against losses from non-payment of trade debt arising from insolvency of or delayed/slow payment by a buyer.
It offers protection of accounts receivables against non-payment due to slow pay, insolvency or foreign non-transfer risk. Coverage is designed to prevent disruptive losses, reduce risk of key account concentration levels, and provide risk transfer of bad debt issues. With trade credit in place, companies can also enhance their bank financing in terms of improving the lending relationship, enhance their balance sheet and gain access to more capital at reduced rates.

Employee benefits
Talent retention remains a key objective for South African companies and the best approach is to increase the attractiveness of a position by implementing a comprehensive compensation and benefits solution that is properly communicated to the employee. The support of a professional consultant or broker with experience across the spectrum of benefits will prove invaluable in formalising the benefits program for your business and delivering a structured benefits communications program suited to various levels of employees.

Regardless of size or status, there is no one size fits all approach to business risk insurance. It all depends on the size of the company, nature of its business and its unique levels of exposure. Consulting with a professional Aon risk advisor is an invaluable exercise in protecting your business, reputation, clients, colleagues and bottom line.

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about diets, marathons or finally growing that vegetable garden you promised you’d start last year – they’re pertinent for business too. In the same way New Year’s resolutions help you focus on personal goals for the coming year, so can they improve productivity in the office – no matter what your business. Here are resolutions you can make to thrive professionally in the year ahead:

Write a growth plan
The first step in ramping up your business and career goals is putting a plan in place. Research shows there’s substantial benefit in having a formal, written strategy for growth, as opposed to pie-in-the-sky hopes for development. If you have one already, now’s the time to do a quick review and consider updates where necessary.

The goals should be achievable, like improving office communication, meeting deadlines or acquiring new skills. Unrealistic ideas will only lead to frustration rather than improvement. Once you’ve formalised your plan, share it with key staff members and get their buy-in before the year kicks off.

Get organised
Success is in the small things as much as the macro goals. Tasks like organising office space, computers or the server are essential before heading into the year. De-clutter your inbox and organise files into designated folders on your computer – then encourage all office members to do the same. Remove unnecessary clutter around your desk, store what you still need and throw away what’s not being used.

Having a clean workspace – physically and electronically – will help you start the year with a clear, stress-free mind. Allocate time for an office clean-up and make de-cluttering a fun activity – with an incentive at the end, like pizza for lunch. Organise stock rooms and shuffle the floor plan if necessary.

Communicate with staff members to get their input on logistical office-related issues – then workshop some solutions. Consider automating processes, such as workflows, to make the office more organised and decrease paperwork.

Improve well-being
Employees and managers should realise looking after themselves (and their teams) is as important as the time put into work. If you’ve been struggling to establish a work-life balance culture in the office, now’s the time to reset.

Encourage employees to free up time to recharge by working smarter, not harder when in the office. Consider introducing ‘power hour’ to kick-start productivity (slots of time when employees can’t disturb one another). If personal well-being isn’t managed, it impacts on performance and effectiveness.

Schedule health checks with each staff member in the first few weeks of the New Year. It’ll give you a good idea of what needs to be adjusted going forward.

Embrace new trends
New technology emerges every year in vast quantities. Rather than trying to embrace every new trend, success can be found in honing in on one area in which you want to up-skill or improve – then seeking out tech and software to enhance it.

There’s huge benefit in embracing new and adaptive technology and leveraging it so it works for your business. You might be keen to improve communication within the team and could explore messaging software or tools to streamline project management. If your business needs it, it’s probably out there.

Introduce training and development
In the New Year, prioritise personal development. In reviewing your own goals and the goals of your team, evaluate skills and set-up training sessions within the organisation. Pair employees up with mentors to help them grow and pursue new career opportunities. Encourage team members to send out calendar invites for mentoring sessions ahead of time and, where possible, stick to them religiously.

To help keep your New Year’s resolutions, make sure you have an actionable plan with defined goals and a process for monitoring progress. Just like the vegetable garden you want to start, businesses take time, investment and nurturing to grow. So plant new seeds in the New Year – then watch business flourish in 2017.

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