Best Practices with HR Records to Guard against Legal Risks



Surely, you’ve heard it all — document … document … document, and paper trail … paper trail … paper trail.

Do it now because if you’re sued, you’ll have to be ready to arm your defense lawyers so you can immediately respond to legal issues in human resources.

Regulators and courts look favorably at companies that are proficient in due diligence.

It must begin before you hire. Plus, continued due diligence is vital long after an employee exits your business.

But to guard against adverse litigation, what records should you keep on a continual basis?

Obviously, you should retain all pertinent information in the event you face a lawsuit.

If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price. In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee.

You’ll be asked to provide hard copies and stored evidence in the discovery phase of a lawsuit process. You might be surprised what records will be needed for your defense.

It can be far-reaching: business records, employee information, financial data, and plans for projects.

So keep all relevant records.

Here’s a precautionary checklist:

  1. Know and identify your employees who are the most well-informed and proficient with your information technology and record-keeping.
  2. Be fully aware of your data practices, retaining policies, and programs.
  3. Ascertain and evaluate your storage practices.
  4. Define what reports and any documents are in jeopardy of being changed, damaged or shredded. Know how you can safeguard them. Note: Be particularly aware of records that an undesirable or potentially discharged employee can access and alter.
  5. Ascertain any plans to upgrade or replace any software, IT systems, files or documents, and when it will take place.
  6. Be very cognizant of all actions are already taking place or in the works to spring clean or save IT records and hard-copies. This also means knowing what regulators require.
  7. In countless data breaches, companies point fingers at their vendors. Control whether your vendors and all third parties have data that conceivably needs to be safely saved. Don’t let them become your weakest point.
  8. Know any of your records that might necessitate require forensic retrieval or protection.
  9. Ascertain any potentially relevant It system data that can help you reclaim and classify records. You should protect and produce metadata – a set of data that gives information about your other data.
  10. Be very careful with your outdated software and hardware that contain data – they require special care.
  11. Pinpoint all your voice mails, instant messaging and text messages. Save all applications and be able to show how you take precautions to preserve such information.
  12. Assemble all current and past emails, email practices and policies.
  13. Your employees often send and receive personal emails on your computer system. Distinguish and update all policies and practices that relate to your employees’ personal email accounts with which your IT systems may interrelate.
  14. List all software you have used and are using now.
  15. Name your digital structures you use, oversee and on which you keep information.
  16. Distinguish any current and former databases that might be relevant for any possible lawsuits.
  17. Be prepared to explain how you use keyword and any additional search methods and technology to access information.
  18. Decide how you’ll provide information to your attorneys and opposing lawyers. That includes any file formats such as CDs, DVDs, external thumb drives and FTP (file transfer protocol).
  19. Find out if you can provide digital-document images as opposed to hard copies.
  20. Know what you can and need to separate to prevent disclosure of competitive secrets or privileged information. Be sure to segregate such information, such as for any understandable hardships reasons. Be prepared to explain your legal rights in doing so.
  21. Ascertain if you have any information that might be prone to governing embargoes on revelations, export controls or overseas privacy laws.

From the Coach’s Corner, relevant editor’s picks:

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

Employer Tips: How to Deal with a Visit from ICE — A visit from ICE – the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement – is a cause for concern. Your response sets the stage for communication, either effectively defending your company or possible negotiations and a settlement with ICE.

Management – How to Improve Accountability in Your Company — If business and tepid growth have affected your outlook, take a look at your human resources and consider a couple of questions. If you don’t like your answer, here are eight solutions.

“Lawsuit: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.”

-Ambrose Bierce


__________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




To Become Relevant, What GOP Majority Must Do For SMEs



Sept. 16, 2017-


The U.S. economy is blossoming, despite the inept Congress.

Why?

To use another gardening metaphor, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) haven’t received their deserved nourishing fertilizer from public policy.

With a few exceptions, members of Congress resemble Abbott and Costello in their famous “Who’s on First” routine.

Ironically, the Small Business Administration reports 99 percent of all employers are small businesses.

They employ almost 50 percent of private-sector employees, and create 75 percent of new jobs.

But these are not wealthy people. Instead of benefiting by paying corporate tax rates, 90 percent or more file tax returns as individuals.

So despite what Democrats claim, they’re not in the same category as the top 1 percent of income earners.

Data – published by a government agency and a leading small-business association – U.S. Treasury and the National Federation of Independent Business, respectively – indicates that just 2.4 percent of small businesses earn revenue higher than $250,000.

Seventy-one percent have an adjusted income under $100,000 annually.

Unfortunately, such small business owners have to pay the individual tax rate, the self-employment tax and the net investment tax. That’s why Tax Foundation data indicates that the most-successful small businesses are saddled with a marginal federal tax rate of 44.6 percent.

And don’t forget, none of this includes state-income tax rates. So by paying close to cumulative 50-percent tax rates little wonder such business owners have grievances.

Economic trends

True, consumer confidence is up.

Investors love proposed Trump Administration policies. The stock market has skyrocketed.

This also means average Americans are enjoying massive growth in their 401(k) retirement accounts.

Unemployment is low and jobs are coming back from overseas.

Concurrently, this year’s Q2 gross domestic product (GDP) is 3 percent. That’s 300 percent higher than in recent years and the eight-year average under President Obama.

Forecasts of leading economic indicators provide more hope.

So it’s no coincidence that a majority of Americans is pleased, according to a legendary polling company.

Gallup poll

Despite what the mainstream media would lead us to believe, a Gallup Poll reported that 51 percent of respondents approve of President Trump’s handling of the economy.

This is particularly noteworthy because it’s been rare for presidents over the last four decades to receive such high economic-approval ratings during their first year in office.

That’s right. With one exception, no other Republican or Democrat has been as successful.

President Trump’s economic approval rating is higher than his predecessors such as President Obama, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

The exception: In his first year in office, 2001, George Bush had a 72 percent rating.

Out-of-sync Congress

But here’s the conundrum:

In comparison to the Trump Administration’s economic leadership – despite a majority, no doubt about it – Republicans in Congress look inept on the economy. Indeed, no one in Congress has significant economic-approval ratings.

There are two ramifications:

Firstly, to guarantee the Trump Administration hits its 4 percent GDP objective, Republican lawmakers have to get their act together for the majority of employers – small and medium-sized businesses.

If they don’t, this means the economy won’t be firing on all cylinders for growth and job creation.

Secondly, Republicans continue to look and behave like Abbott and Costello in their “Who’s on First”, which was only an act.

But what’s happening in Congress is nightmarish reality and they Republicans will lose their governing majority in Congress. Why?

They’re not governing. Americans, especially, SMEs overwhelmingly voted for positive change. They’re still getting the same dysfunction from Congress.

Obstacles/solutions

Business owners know they deserve a serious tax cut so they can grow, invest in equipment and develop products – these measures will create jobs.

In turn, this will accelerate a middle-class revival.

In addition, with no incentives passed by Congress and no ObamaCare reform, healthcare remains one of the typical business owner’s biggest expenses.

But insurance companies have abandoned health-care exchanges in virtually every state leaving countless Americans without choices or even coverage.

Self-employed business owners who are forced to buy individual policies are sick and tired of double-digit ObamaCare increases in premiums and deductibles.

Others who have small workforces have been forced to cut their employees’ hours under the onerous ObamaCare mandates. That’s a salient reason why the average American workweek is only 34 hours.

But Republicans failed on ObamaCare reform because they didn’t have a unified strategy for success in opposing the Democrats’ government-dependency philosophy.

Time is running out if Republicans hope to avert misfortune in the 2018 mid-term elections.

What is needed is a unified economic-growth mindset and strategy.

The next step should be an immediate easy-to-understand tax-cut bill for the nation’s 99-percent of employers.

From the Coach’s Corner, relevant editor’s picks:

7 Capitalism Principles for Economic Growth, Prosperity — Employers are discouraged from hiring largely because of uncertainty created by public policies. That includes uncertainty – created by ObamaCare – in costs and taxes.

On 9/11, America’s Economic Preparedness Worse than Ever — Unfortunately, today is the 16th anniversary of that tragic day, and hurricanes have devastated America. But America’s fiscal ability to deal with such crises is worse than ever. Here’s what Congress must do.

Solution to Cure Worker Skills Gaps, Underemployment — An innovative solution has been unveiled to solve a big economic conundrum. The solution is designed to create 25 million new jobs and help grow the economy by 4 percent.

Why President Trump’s Growth Budget, Reforms Matter — Deficit-spending and the resulting massive debt severely damages America’s economic prospects and hurts each American. But a disciplined approach will make America great again — by shrinking the national debt and implementing other needed reforms.

Analysis: Trump’s Vision to Fix Trade Deficit, Create Jobs — Donald Trump acts positively: Americans are tired of the reign of politically correct terror, the movement for income redistribution, and the massive loss of good-paying jobs.

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

Plato


__________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Habits of Leaders Who Have Positive Workplace Cultures



True, the Digital Age and global economy are demanding. Texting and emails are the norm in communication. Face-to-face conversation is minimal.

Everything seems impersonal. People feel isolated.

What are the results?

Decision-making is harried. Creativity slows. Employees are stressed. Common courtesies disappear. The lack of teamwork and civility hurt production and customer service.

Instead of team members saying “thank you” and “please” to one another and to customers, they say “Have a nice day.” Ugh.

At any rate and like it or not, if you’re not hitting your profit targets look no further than at your workplace culture.

Sure, your marketing might need to be re-tooled. Perhaps your messaging isn’t working or you’re using the wrong channels.

But great marketing will never produce your desired return on investment if your culture isn’t warm and positive.

Business profits are minimal or nonexistent because workplaces are mired in disrespect — from rudeness to bullying.

This, of course, means operations are weak and customers aren’t being treated well.

Moreover, here’s a memo that’s hard to swallow: If you have workplace dysfunction, it’s time to look at yourself.

Actions and choice of words matter.

Ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • “Is there a gap in how my employees see me and how I see myself?”
  • “Am I known for saying please and thank you, or am I too hard on my staff?”

Compare your habits with leaders of positive workplace cultures:

1. Assess your culture

Look for signs of backstabbing, rudeness and selfishness.

Walk the floor and ask your key employees to do the same, and look for positive interactions. Check to see if it’s the norm.

2. Self-reflect

Very importantly, self-evaluate your behavior, especially to check your empathetic quotient.

Some sample questions to consider:

  • Are you approachable?
  • How often do you put things aside when employees approach you?
  • How often do you approach employees to ask how they’re doing?
  • Do you give credit to employees?
  • How often do you smile?
  • What makes you smile?
  • How often do you say please and thank you?

3. Regulate how you use your power

In this fast-paced environment in the rush for profitability, it’s very common for leaders to forget how to motivate others.

There’s a tendency to think they’re above the common-sense rules for positive communication.

They fail to leave the office to personally engage their staffs. They restrict constructive criticism and discourage candid feedback.

4. Be cognizant of the risks to communication

Chances are you’re often on overload. Often it’s self-inflicted.

You also have too many meetings and distractions. You forget to be nice.

Instead, you’re busy checking emails and responding. You’re heavily relying on your smartphone.

True, emails and smartphones are important. But they are a common cause for limited face-to-face communication with your human capital.

When you make a mistake, apologize well.

So acknowledge your mistake. Take responsibility. Don’t delegate an apology to others. Don’t expect them to manage the consequences. Change your behavior so your staff members don’t view you as an empty suit.

5. Visualize the future

Consider how and what you’re doing to insure you won’t have any regrets. Imagine what you need to do to stop appearing to be insensitive, reactionary or pompous.

To be sure you must remain a critical thinker and good negotiator but it also means being a good listener, empathetic, being fair-minded, a better partner and showing positive leadership.

Consider what the headline would read if a critical news article was published about you.

Take steps so that you’re proud of your behavior and performance.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks on leadership:

How to Rewire Your Brain to Get Confidence for Leadership — As prime minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill provided lessons in enthusiasm for leadership. To take your business to the highest level, you must be at the top of your game to maximize your confidence as a leader.

Trending – the 7 Biggest Challenges for Management — In our complex Digital-Age economy with Millennials replacing baby boomers, we can draw some conclusions about developing trends. Management typically faces seven workforce challenges.

5 Top Leadership Philosophies in Business Management — From Seattle to Singapore, top managers show leadership by coaching their teams to success. They accomplish goals with five habitual philosophies.

21st Century Leadership Requires Authenticity — Here’s how — It’s one thing to be promoted into a management role, but it’s entirely another to be regarded as a leader to inspire a company’s culture. What really matters is knowing how you impact others.

For Strong Profits, 5 Tips to Develop Employees as Leaders — Strong leaders will help your business grow and enjoy excellent profits. That’s because, as role models, they’re instrumental in helping you develop a performance culture.

Leadership: 4 Strategies Dealing with Incompetent People — Yes, incompetent employees – whether they have difficult personalities or they simply under-perform – can be aggravating. But they don’t have to be.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

-James Humes


__________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 




Photo courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net 

On 9/11, America’s Economic Preparedness Worse than Ever



Sept. 11, 2017-


The three biggest headlines in America today deal with gigantic tragedies.

  1. The destructive Hurricane Irma.
  2. The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
  3. The memory of 9/11 in which 2,996 Americans were killed, more than 6,000 injured, and $10 billion in property damage resulted from the series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist group.

Unfortunately, today is the 16th anniversary of that tragic day, but one headline has been ignored by the media.

As the federal deficit officially hit $20 trillion today, America’s fiscal ability to deal with such crises is worse than ever.

In Sept.2001, the U.S. national debt was $5.8 trillion. George W. Bush had been in office as president just eight months. He inherited that massive debt from President Bill Clinton.

However, when Mr. Bush left the White House he handed over a $10 trillion national debt to his successor President Barack Obama.

From 2008 to 2016, the national debt exploded by 93 percent to $19.4 trillion as a result of President Obama’s policies.

President Trump has managed to slow the skyrocketing pace of the debt but  the U.S. Debt Clock rapidly ticks away every split second.

But President Trump – in facing dysfunctional Congressional Republicans who failed to pass reforms in taxes and the failing ObamaCare – was forced to cut a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling for the next three months in order to fund relief of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Not to quibble with relief and recovery efforts, but what America needs is economic patriotism. Unfortunately, what’s trending is fiscal dysfunction to tragic proportions.

U.S. bonds are more like pathetic junk bonds. America has a mushrooming welfare state and an imploding health-care system that are pushing America’s economic prospects into oblivion.

Interest payments and entitlements now devour more than 60 percent of the federal budget.

In just 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office forecasts the public debt will be unsustainable.

Trade deficit

On another front, drastic steps are needed to curb America’s trade deficit. The annual trade deficit is $500 billion.

Why? America engulfs more products than it produces and is selling too many private assets. Increasingly, foreigners are buying prime real estate, corporate debt and equities and U.S. government bonds.

While President Trump is correct to solve trade issues, he is attacked by the mainstream media and liberal pundits as being too nationalistic with his populist rhetoric.

While it was encouraging that the gross domestic product (GDP) tripled in Q2 of this year – a vast improvement over President Obama’s paltry 1 percent average in the years of his tenure – the rest of the world increasingly owns America.

IOUs

Publicly and privately, foreigners have $8.3 trillion in IOUs from the U.S.

The Trump Administration understands the significance of this alarming figure. It represents 45 percent of the GDP. Ouch!

Unless President Trump overcomes political opposition by Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the IOUs will be more than 60 percent in 2027.

Just look at Greece and other nations. In trying to solve their economic crises, none of them has survived economically without turmoil and massive political unrest from such problems. Ironically, such fiscal problems are unnecessary.

Temporarily, the foreign investments are rescuing America fiscally-speaking.

But it will not continue if foreign investors come to believe America will be unable to service its massive debt.

If foreigners stop buying U.S. treasuries, too many dollars in circulation will cause prices to spike and inflation will rear its ugly head.

Complacent leaders

Many economists and politicians – Democrats and Republicans, alike – are way too complacent.

Just because the dollar has long been much of the world’s reserve currency, the nation shouldn’t continue to print dollars that increasingly go to pay interest on the climbing debt.

Many Conservatives only want to debate tax cuts. Liberals refuse to consider entitlement reform and spending cuts and want to raise taxes.

If taxes are raised, the nation’s businesses would find taxation even more burdensome and will continue to transfer intellectual property and assets overseas.

This would defeat the Trump’s Administration’s goals to bring business profits home to America, and to increase GDP to 4 percent. As would more federal benefit programs.

The two key solutions: Economic growth and decreasing of entitlements. Short of these achievements, America will have another recession.

Two key measures have failed so far.

The Democrats in resisting President Trump for purely political reasons – and the Republicans lacking in discipline and inability to agree on replacing ObamaCare and tax reform – are most distressing.

A question of pride

So the only answer to economic preparedness is economic patriotism.

Unless politicians in Congress grow up and face economic realities, future Americans will be saddled with unfair, massive debt.

Don’t you think that’s a sad legacy?

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

Governments – from Cities to Federal – Dangerously in Debt — The U.S. economy has been slowly mending. However, the situation is bleak for governments at all levels. Why? High debt is dangerous and economic growth is dreadfully slow. This is best illustrated by the enclosed U.S. Debt Clock.

Why President Trump’s Growth Budget, Reforms Matter — Deficit-spending and the resulting massive debt severely damages America’s economic prospects and hurts each American. But a disciplined approach will make America great again — by shrinking the national debt and implementing other needed reforms.

Economy: The High Public Price Tag of Manufacturing Jobs — Donald Trump’s election has prompted a surge in optimism for the economy and stock market, according to authoritative polls. But countless manufacturing workers and their families are on public assistance says a UC Berkeley study. The answers aren’t more entitlements or higher minimum wage. Here are the real solutions.

Avoiding Taxes, Apple’s Irish Strategy Apparently Backfires — The most nonsensical irony in corporate America involves Apple CEO Tim Cook’s tax strategy which has drawn fire from the European Commission. Why? It’s apparently backfiring, and is unpatriotic and shortsighted.

Ideas to Accelerate Slowest Economic Recovery in Decades — Most voters are likely to vote their pocketbooks. So for them the positive spin on the economy by Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama doesn’t reflect reality.

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

-Will Rogers


 __________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 




Best Financial Strategies to Invest a Big Inheritance


Generally speaking, if you want to make the most of a big inheritance by investing, it’s important to take your time, understand your tax obligations, and to evaluate the likely return on your investments.

Whether you anticipate an inheritance or if you’re about to get one, bear in mind that getting an inheritance comes at an emotional time. Never make an important decision without due diligence until you’re able.

Inherited IRAs mean you must deal with complications. Inherited securities require deciding whether to trade them or keep them. And pardon the pun, you must keep your decide to spend any of the money in check.

So keep in mind these best strategies:

1. Be deliberate – go gently

Don’t make any major decisions right away. Not to be too graphic but you’re likely to be in an emotional quagmire or snake pit. What initially might seem important can wait until you have full peace-of-mind.

Be sure to only make practical decisions and be certain you can make determinations based facts not emotional feelings.

For instance, your deceased father might have loved owning stock from the company for which he worked for three decades. But you don’t have to be loyal to the company if you develop a plan for the assets that’s better for portfolio goals.

You can be comfortable in knowing that the person left the assets for you to use in your best interest.

2. Evaluate your inheritance and how it might be best used

You’ll need to fully understand the type of assets you’re inheriting. If you’re inheriting cash, then you should decide whether to wisely spend or invest it.

For another type of asset, you need to figure out if it’s best to keep or sell. Whether you inherit securities, stocks, or a mutual fund, you’ll want to evaluate whether to invest the money while especially considering the tax implications if you decide to sell your inherited assets.

With the cost basis determined by the death date, the amount taxes owed are contingent on the appreciation of the assets after the date of death.

Consider whether the inherited assets complement your financial plan. For example, depending on your portfolio goals, tax benefits from inherited securities aren’t necessarily advantageous.

3. Calculate the effect of taxes

Whether you’re inheriting assets in property or in money, use due diligence. An IRA or a 401 (k) can be transferred and not taxed if you stay with approved tax vehicles.

For a taxable or non-retirement account, note that the date of death is important to determine the tax on the value of the account.

You’ll have to pay capital gains tax on any appreciation of the asset’s value from the time of death to the time you sell.

To qualify for long-term capital gains consideration, ordinarily, assets must be kept for 12 months. But inheritances can qualify for it at even at a zero-percent tax rate whether waiting for a full year or for a shorter period.

Again, remember the valuation date is important to consider before calculating your taxes.

4. IRA accounts

IRA accounts can be complicated, so you probably want to see a tax advisor, and a lot can depend whether you’re a spouse or non-spouse.

Generally speaking:

In inheriting IRA accounts, you’ll have to pay taxes on any amounts that haven’t been previously taxed.

Beware: Traditional IRAs from investment earnings and tax-deductible contributions might be taxed on 100 percent of the accounts’ balances.

So, if you don’t need to spend the money in the short-term future, you’d be better off keeping the accounts as-is.

Spouses can move the money into their own IRAs. Children or non-spouses can move the money into an inherited IRA that they establish.

But consider seeing your tax advisor before you do anything.

5. 401(k)-type company retirement plans

Just as the situation with IRAs, the rules are contingent whether you’re a spouse or non-spouse.

If you’re a spouse, you can leave the funds as-is or transfer the money to your own IRA. It’s simplest long-term to leave the money be.

If you’re a non-spouse, you can move the money into an inherited IRA. You’ll have to make minimum distributions based on your life expectancy.

In either situation, you can expect to pay a big tax if you cash in the 401(k).

6. Re-visit your fantasy to spend vis-à-vis your long-term objectives

Don’t take your inheritance for granted. A windfall is not to be spent without caution.

Yes, perhaps you don’t have a lot of money and your car is falling apart. You might have a financial need to buy a car.

But do you really need to take a Hawaiian vacation or to build a swimming pool?

Probably not if the spending clash with your long-term financial objectives. You’re more like to need the money for your children’s college fund or for your retirement fund.

7. Determine your best return on investment (ROI)

Before you decide to invest the assets, select the best avenue that gives you the best ROI.

If you have large debts, such as a student loan or credit cards with big balances and/or with high interest rates, pay them off first. Debt is a killer, so get out of debt first.

In this way, you’ll get the best-possible immediate ROI. You’ll never find an investment opportunity that yields more money back to you than what you’d pay in interest for a student loan or credit cards.

Once that’s handled, if you’re relatively young, consider investing in equities; preferably a stock market. Choose wisely stay with it long-term like Warren Buffett would.

You can also get a tax breather by going with an IRA. Just don’t exceed the annual contribution limit.

If you’re older, it’s best to be more conservative than you would if you were younger.

8. Get expertise

Particularly, if you’re inheriting a lot of money or upscale assets, seek professional guidance. If you’re lacking knowledge about taxes, look for a good CPA.

For advice on taxes and investing, seek a proven financial planner.

It’s better to pay a fee for a financial planner than to sign up with a planner who gets a commission on products the person sells. You’ll get more objective counsel.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related strategies:

Finding the Right Financial Planner for Your Situation — If you decide you want a financial planner, always remember due diligence is necessary for your financial security. Here are four questions to ask yourself.

Stock Market — 5 Reasons to Invest … in a Financial Planner — For a highly sophisticated approach, it makes sense to pay for investment advice – but not pay for investment advice if the advisor will only periodically rebalance your portfolio.

Grow Your Business by Appearing Rich but Conserving Cash — You’ll find it easier to grow your firm if you appear to be wealthy. This will enable you to build relationships with successful entrepreneurs who will introduce you to key people and facilitate growth opportunities for you.

Tips for Strategic-Thinking in Finance: Your Staff, Individuals — Many companies want accountants and finance professionals who are strategic thinkers. But that’s not happening at most companies. Here are tips for managers and employees.

Business Insurance Tips to Keep Money from Walking Away — As an entrepreneur you’ve worked long hours, scrimping, saving and planning in your fight for survival. But do you regularly take time to financially protect yourself and business?

Inheritance taxes are so high that the happiest mourner at a rich man’s funeral is usually Uncle Sam.

-Olin Miller


__________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Best Practices to Get Positive Customer Reviews on Amazon


If you want maximum sales as an online seller, it’s likely you’ll want to succeed on Amazon.com.

Whether you like it or not, Amazon has become the e-commerce destination where prospective customers can discover and buy anything they want.

So, one salient tactic for you on Amazon is to garner the best-possible reviews for your products and services.

Positive reviews about your customers’ shopping experience will play a huge role for you.

True, when you ship products you can also insert messaging to remind customers of the value they’re buying.

More importantly, you can also be strategizing for the best-possible reviews to cement customer satisfaction for customer loyalty and to influence other shoppers.

Ultimately, customers don’t care what you have to say unless they’re given an opportunity to comment.

For positive reviews on Amazon, here are best-practices:

  1. Strategize on your process

Your process should include a strong email approach. Effective emails following a purchase show your empathetic regard for your customer by showing you care.

2. Timely request feedback on shopping experience

Great timing and message content will help you to avoid the prospect of bad reviews.

As soon as your buyer places an order, consider emailing a request for feedback on the shopping experience.

True, your customers won’t have actually received the product, so they can’t comment on your products. But you can generate positive reviews about the shopping experience.

For example, solicit comments about the superb quickness in processing of their orders. And ask about the efficiency they encounter in completing their purchases.

This also accomplishes two immediate goals.

Firstly, Amazon will be impressed, which will enhance your relationship with the e-commerce giant.

Secondly, it becomes more likely the customers will comment positively after they receive your products.

3. Emails following shipment and delivery

Now make sure you create a new opportunity for a positive review.

After the buyers receive your products, they’re likely to be enthusiastic, so do a couple of things.

Provide the necessary contact information to frequently asked questions on how to get in touch with your company directly; and ask for a review of their buying experience.

This, in turn, creates opportunities for great future reviews and sales.

4. More follow-up showing customer care

After a few weeks or a month has passed, request feedback about the product and service.

Suggest to your customers that their feedback is important for your continued best-possible products and service.

Point out that you want to be sure that they and other shoppers know you will continually do your best for them so they enjoy a happy-buying experience.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources for e-commerce sales:

Best Sales Pipeline Tips: Content Marketing, Follow-up and Marketing Automation — Here’s how you can maximize your sales pipeline with effective content marketing, prioritizing follow-up and marketing automation.

Marketing Tips to Run Your Online Business for Higher Profit — E-commerce has made it possible for entrepreneurs to get a fast return on their investments with higher profits. Here’s how they do it.

For More Sales, 8 Vital Mobile Marketing Tips — Put your brand where prospects and customers are likely to see it. That means leveraging mobile marketing.

Marketing Psychology: Choose the Best Colors for Online Sales — Here are color tips to improve visitor experience and to capture customers – including a great infographic on 40 facts about the psychology of colors.

Checklist to Create Cyber Monday Sales Success — In order to celebrate your Cyber Monday sales, you must first create a happy buying environment. That means reviewing your store and Web site to attract prospects and to create happy customers.

Best Strategies to Use Online Key Performance Indicators — For strong growth, here’s how to pick the right key performance indicators: The most-valuable ones for your sector and business, and here’s how to manage them effectively.

Strategic Tips to be Web-Ready for the All-Important Q4 Sales — Data from a Bold Software survey helps businesses develop their holiday online sales strategies, according to Website Magazine.

Sales Trends: Blending Online with In-Store Marketing — For your business competitiveness and long-term sustainability, your company needs to fully implement MarTech solutions. Here’s what you need to know.

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”

-Jeff Bezos


__________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.  




10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook



Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources.

Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals:

  • They save money by not printing their handbooks.
  • They’re able to update their handbooks much more easily and save even more money.
  • They connect better with younger employees; many of whom don’t read printed materials.
  • They make it more convenient for employees to see your HR policies.
  • They are more environmental friendly and convey the right eco- image to their employees.

So an electronic handbook is a suitable tool to help you in employee-engagement.

A sure-fire way to improve employee engagement for profit is to partner with your employees.

In fact, I would argue a handbook designed for the 21st century is helpful to achieve profits, and for powering your brand with employee empowerment.

Note: There are dos and don’ts in switching employee handbooks to an electronic platform whether it’s to a database or Web site.

It isn’t a difficult process and it makes it easy for you to insert updates.

But there are best practices to guard against legal hassles or simple miscues.

Best practices include:

  1. Prominently insert your employee acknowledgment form. You’ll want your employees to see any disclaimer and acknowledgment forms before reading the document.

2. Secure your document. Make certain your employees have to create and use passwords to see the handbook. You don’t want non-employees to see it.

3. Make sure your handbook is mobile-friendly.

4. Insert links into your document that will make it easy for employees to see related information pertaining to your benefits, health care insurance or federal tax forms.

5. Incorporate all important email, telephone and other information.

6. Make certain to thoroughly proofread your handbook before going online. Look for mistakes, omissions and simple typos. Test all links to make sure they work.

7. When you update or make changes to your handbook be sure to notify your employees. Send them an email marking it “urgent” with a link to your handbook.

8. Request employees to acknowledge the email and to show they’ve read the handbook. Give them a deadline to respond.

9. Have a suspense system so that you follow up with employees who fail to respond.

10. Perhaps it goes without saying, but you must save and back up all communication with your employees.

For workers who still prefer a hard copy – whether they don’t use computers or who just simply want one – accommodate them with a hard copy.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks for relevant HR strategies:

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap –– Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints. The majority of lawsuits targeting management usually stem from a half dozen poor practices. You’ll get into trouble using these six bad practices.

Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations –– How should you properly evaluate employees? Make sure you are careful to avoid errors in evaluations. Naturally, you want to praise good performance and discourage bad. What are the best ways? Here’s how to avoid making those classic mistakes.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations –– As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

7 Tactics to Enjoy Your Job Managing Difficult Employees –– With a difficult employee, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s how to love your job even when managing difficult employees.

“Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.”

-Timothy R. Clark


__________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Why Women Are More Successful in Crowdfunding than Men



You might be surprised to learn that women are more successful in raising funds from crowdfunding than men.

That’s despite the fact that far more men than women conduct crowdfunding campaigns, globally. In 2015 and 2016, 139,000 men vs. 55,000 women engaged in crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding, of course, is an alternate form method of raising money from people.

Most often billions of dollars are raised through the Internet sites such as on Indiegogo and Kickstarter, in benefit events, mail-order subscriptions and in other ways.

But women were more successful in attaining their objectives. Women had a 22 percent success rate compare to the 17 percent rate of men.

This surprising news was revealed by a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The data comes across the board – in different cultures, sectors and regions.

Regions

In the U.S. women accomplished a 24 percent success rate compared to men with 20 percent.

In Asian, women achieved a 14 percent rate while men only had a 7 percent success rate.

Sectors

In education, 12 percent of women were successful but men were only 6 percent.

Even in the male-dominated bastion of technology, women beat men 13 to 10 percent.

Why women are more successful

There are a number of reasons why women dominate men in crowdfunding.

Women get a level playing field in crowdfunding because it affords more diversity between the sexes. Men are open-minded about gender, which means they were predisposed to invest in a woman’s enterprise.

Women connect better with prospective investors because their presentations contain less business-oriented language and are more poignant or emotional, which enhance their ability to connect with their prospects.

Discrimination is a factor

Crowdfunding works better for women because traditional fundraising, such as venture capital, is inherently mired in masculine tendencies. Only 7 percent of VC firms are led by women.

Such men believe women bring more risk and are less likely to generate profits. So VCs tend to prefer male-owned startups.

This translates into $300 billion in missed opportunities for women. (And I would argue men are missing out, too.)

The study indicates women and men can learn lessons from each other.

Men can learn to fine-tune the presentation approaches. Women can learn how to be more adventurous – they only garner 7 percent of the individual projects involving $1 million or more.

Authors of the study believe traditional funding sources – including banks, government agencies and business associations – should make a stronger effort to fund women-led projects.

They suggest launching training programs for women in pitching and marketing their projects, earmarking more capital for women, and urging more acceptance of crowdfunding as a tool in funding businesses.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant articles:

Attracting Investors – Crowdfunding vs. Venture Capital — Despite its democratic approach, how crowdfunding – a vehicle to help entrepreneurs raise money – is remarkably similar to venture capital funding.

Want to Take Your Company Public? Here are 5 IPO Tips — Companies enter the IPO market for a myriad of obvious reasons – as an entrée to capital markets, for higher status and visibility, or to attract talented employees. In a lot of ways, credibility is king – here are five steps.

Applying for Bank Loan? Here’s How to Shorten the Process — Business owners generally have two concerns when trying to get a bank loan or line of credit. Either they can’t qualify or they face scrutiny beyond belief. Wouldn’t it be great to save time and shorten the process?

11 Best Practices for Women Wanting to be Entrepreneurs — Here are 11 strategic and confidence-building tips for women to succeed in their new businesses.

Why Women Receive Less Angel Funding Than Men — It’s well-known that women receive less angel funding than men, but it isn’t because of a male-oriented bias.

6 Best Mental Attributes of Successful Entrepreneurs — Becoming an entrepreneur is the hardest task you can imagine. The hours are long and you can expect a physical and emotional roller-coaster ride. A song made famous by Frank Sinatra explains it best.

How Bloggers Help Startups Get Venture Capital — Multi-million dollar venture-capital financing decisions are affected by bloggers and social media. That’s the conclusion from an academic study, “Putting Money Where The Mouths Are: The Relation Between Venture Financing and Electronic Word-of-Mouth.”

Want to Sell Your Products in Big-Box Stores? 6 Vital Steps — True, if you’re able to get your products into big-box stores, you can quickly scale your business. However, just remember there are pros and cons in selling to big retailers.

“People respond well to those that are sure of what they want.”

-Anna Wintour


 __________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




SEO and Other Web Tricks to Boost Your WordPress Site


So you want your WordPress site to be successful. But have you taken all the right precautions to score well on the search engines?

Everything hinges on how you set up your WordPress site. Critical decisions must be made. The success of your site depends on it.

Search engines, especially Google, are choosy in deciding how to rank your site.

To influence the search engines, it’s critical to customize the settings on your WordPress site and avoid typical mistakes.

By taking precautions, you can power your WordPress site to more prominence, which will increase your chances for success.

Here are salient examples:

1. Make your attractive to search-engine spiders

You should be focused on making certain that search engines evaluate your site effectively with their spiders.

The spiders crawl your site. They’re designed to assess your site’s coding and content.

So in your site’s dashboard, go to “Settings >Reading.” Watch for the setting, “Search Engine Visibility” and the checkbox identified as “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.”

Very important: Make sure it’s unchecked and is permanently unchecked.

2. Insert relevant content

You must develop and publish compelling content to impress search engines, which influences people to visit your site.

Whether you’re providing products, services or information, your goal must be to develop trust. You must write with authority and provide value for your readers with actionable information.

You must also be consistent and constant in publishing information. In addition to the written word, illustrations or visuals are important. You can insert visuals including videos and infographics.

3. Use the right keywords

To attract visitors, you must strategically use keywords to attract them. But it’s important to use the right keywords.

The search engines, Google and Bing, provide tools to help you decide on which keywords to use. Consider Google’s Keyword Planner and Bing’s Keyword Research tools.

The keywords are best used in the body of your articles, header tags, page titles, meta descriptions and permalinks.

4. Use the ideal permalink structure

Depending on your site, you can choose from a potpourri of formats in permalinks. Some conspicuously show the keywords you select.

Others don’t. Bear in mind other formats fail to inform search engines.

You’ll be more successful if your permalinks have the title of your posts. Here’s how: Select Settings > Permalinks from the WordPress dashboard. Then, set up your site to use /%postname%/.

But don’t insert dates in permalinks or in your articles if at all possible – readers prefer timeless information, not date information.

Caution: If you want to change your permalink configuration in order to use post titles, you might experience broken important backlinks. Use this tool to redirect your links.

5. Take advantage of SEO plugins

You’ll notice, as a WordPress publisher, you can select SEO plugins. This is important because you’ll face tremendous competition for visitors. The plugins give you a leg up on the search engines.

They’ll allow you to establish the operational practicality of backlinks, analyze your content, fine-tune permalinks, and provide controls for navigation.

For example, SEO Smart Links will enable you to link keyword phrases to related content in your site.

You might also consider other plugins such as All in One SEO Pack or Yoast SEO.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant sources of information.

Tips for Your Site to Capitalize on SEO Trends — How to stay on top of your search-engine optimization game; plus, a helpful infographic: 16 SEO facts we struggle to understand.

Avoid Issues with Google: SEO Checklist for Safe Backlinks to Your Site — Google has been penalizing Web sites that might be unethical in link building for search-engine optimization. Why? Google wants authenticity and quality in its search results. It’s vital that you backlink with authoritative, credible sites. Some might be obvious to you, others might not. Here’s a safe list.

SEO Tips to Rank No.1 on Bing and Google — Study — There are striking similarities with Bing and Google — Web sites for top brands rank the highest and No. 1 sites are dominant because they have quality content, as well as strong social media signals and backlinks.

SEO and Other Strategic Tips for a No.1 Rated Blog — To own your blogging niche, you must understand the evolving process — important basics in search engine optimization (SEO) and other strategies. If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you know success doesn’t keep come automatically. Blogging is arduous work.

SEO — Google’s Tips to Increase Your Site’s Download Speed — How fast does your Web site download? Google announced that it determines site rankings, in part, by download speed.

“To become successful online, you only need to remember the following : Good Heart + Passion + Web Design + SEO + Digital Marketing + Dedication + Positiveness + Patience = Success” 

-Dr. Christopher Dayagdag


__________

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net

21 Mistakes to Avoid in SEO (Infographic with Valuable Tips)



For online success, as you no doubt know, it’s vital for your site to place high on the search engines.

In particular, that’s true for Google because it perennially has owned at least a two-thirds market share among search engines.

Study after study shows the importance of being No. 1, if not in the top three. Internet users rarely search the remaining sites. Certainly, they don’t visit past the first page on search engines.

That’s why strategies for search-engine optimization (SEO) plays such an important role for online success.

Hungry for information, Internet visitors are constantly searching for the best SEO strategies. Indeed SEO topics rank among the most popular month after month.

SEO is the set of tactics that sites implement to attract organic or natural Web visitors, or traffic, for top search results.

The link is clear: If a site attracts the most Web traffic, it will get a competitive edge with a higher visibility on the search engines.

Typically, the top five sites on a Google page will attract 75 percent of the visitors. That’s why the SEO is a $65-billion industry.

On-page, Off-page optimization

There are two categories of SEO: On-page optimization and Off-page optimization.

On-page optimization refers to what site owners do internally to attract traffic.

Off-page optimization pertains to external strategies – strategies to acquire links from other sites, or also known as link-building factors.

Optimization strategies include meta descriptions: 160 character fragments.

Miscellaneous factors

In conjunction with SEO strategies, you must take steps for a fast-loading site. Google will penalize you for a slow-loading site.

Why? Internet users do not appreciation slow-loading sites and they will soon abandon a slow site.

No matter what you’ve heard, an effective use of social media is a vital best practice for SEO.

By way of explanation, this Biz Coach site went live in late July, 2009. By February 1, 2010 it was ranked in the top 10 on Google.

With no other changes later that month, we implemented a social media strategy, and this site jumped to No. 1 and has never relinquished top ranking. (Note: Google the keywords: biz coach, the biz coach or Seattle biz coach.)

Also, don’t forget your strategies must profit from online customer reviews.

Arduous work

Top ranking is not easy to achieve. Less than 6 percent – 5.7 percent of new sites – achieve a top 10 ranking on Google in 12 months.

To get to the top, your site must have quality content. Google uses critical factors to judge your content quality.

New content or blogs must be published three to five times a week. And you must attract quality links from other sites.

Keyword research helps insure the success of your content. You must pick the right keywords Internet visitors are likely to use in order to find your topics, products or services.

As you go along, you must monitor your situation. Tracking is important to measure your success or lack of improvement, so you can fine-tune your tactics when necessary.

Mistakes to avoid

Courtesy of www.seojury.co.uk, here is a terrific infographic, “21 Don’ts of Website SEO,” and is followed by the Coach’s Corner with links to additional relevant articles regarding SEO.

21 Donts of Website Seo Header21 Don'ts of Website SEO Body image

From the Coach’s Corner, here are additional relevant articles on SEO:

SEO Tips to Rank No.1 on Bing and Google — Study — There are striking similarities with Bing and Google — Web sites for top brands rank the highest and No. 1 sites are dominant because they have quality content, as well as strong social media signals and backlinks.

Tips for Your Site to Capitalize on SEO Trends — How to stay on top of your search-engine optimization game; plus, a helpful infographic: 16 SEO facts we struggle to understand.

Avoid Issues with Google: SEO Checklist for Safe Backlinks to Your SiteGoogle has been penalizing Web sites that might be unethical in link building for search-engine optimization. Why? Google wants authenticity and quality in its search results. It’s vital that you backlink with authoritative, credible sites. Some might be obvious to you, others might not. Here’s a safe list.

SEO and Other Strategic Tips for a No.1 Rated Blog — To own your blogging niche, you must understand the evolving process — important basics in search engine optimization (SEO) and other strategies. If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you know success doesn’t keep come automatically. Blogging is arduous work.

Your Mobile Site: 7 Precautions for a Top Google Ranking — With the skyrocketing sales of smartphones and tablets, comes a warning from Google. If you don’t have a mobile site, you should. And if you do, make sure it has what Google calls “mobile friendliness.” Here are seven precautions to take.

“Successful SEO is not about tricking Google. It’s about partnering with Google to provide the best search results for Google’s users.” 

Phil Frost


__________ 

Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.


Next Page »

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.