Archive for category Risk Management

Five tips to Grow a Sustainable Small Business in 2017 and Beyond

 

Far too many small businesses fail within the first five years – so how do you make sure yours is
one of the success stories?
Here are 5 important tips to help you grow a sustainable small business.

  1. – Cash is king
    The number one reason SMEs go to the wall is that they run out of cash. So if you want to go to
    the distance, it’s crucial that you monitor your cashflow.
    Turnover does not equal profit – and profit on paper is meaningless if you can’t pay your bills
    when they fall due.
    There are lots of strategies you can use to boost your working capital, including:
    · Organising short-term finance like an overdraft or business credit card to cover
    shortfalls
    · Controlling your stock levels to avoid tying up cash in excess inventor
    Shaun McGowan from business loans website Lend says “Business owners should consider
    using long-term finance instead of cash for asset purchases and always to negotiate with
    finance providers and creditors to match payments to your cashflow”.
  2. – Know your numbers
    To run a successful business, you must keep a close eye on your financial performance,
    including these key ratios:
    · Profitability – what percentage of each sale is profit, once you’ve covered variable costs
    like materials, transport and customer acquisition?
    · Breakeven point – how many sales do you need to make to cover your fixed costs?
    · Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) – this ratio (net profits/total assets) tells you how
    much return you are making on the money invested in your business. Compare this to
    how much you could make by investing that money elsewhere, to evaluate whether
    your business is profitable enough to compensate for your time and effort.
    Analyse your performance monthly, so you can spot problems early and take action to get back
    on track.
  3. – Value your people
    Your business is only as good as the people in your team.
    Fill any gaps in your skills with people who have those strengths – and who share your passion
    and vision. Treat them with respect, reward their efforts well, and harness their skills to make
    your business stronger.
  4. – Safeguard your reputation
    In today’s viral age, a bad review can spread like wildfire and permanently damage your
    credibility.
    The customer may not always be right – to be sustainable you need to pick your business
    relationships with care and work with profitable clients who pay on time – but the customer
    experience is vital.
    Build and maintain a loyal customer base by having strong core values, and acting with
    consistency and integrity at all times.
  5. – Grow with caution
    Not every opportunity will be worthwhile, so evaluate each new customer, sales channel or
    acquisition before you leap in.
    · Do you have the capacity to service a new customer without hiring more staff or
    investing in new infrastructure? If not, will the profits cover your additional fixed costs?
    · Will you still be able to provide the level of service upon which your reputation
    depends?
    · Does the opportunity fit with your long-term plans and strategic direction?

Cautious, steady growth is the key to long-term success and sustainability.

They left, so what…

A current saying that is so true, “People leave because of the Manager, not because of the company”.

Basically you can have a good company, but a bad department in that company can account for most of your staff turnover. Chat to the Manager and you might find a range of excuses, justifications and reasons why. Ask some of the staff and you might find some other issues.

Managers can cause tensions, often through not knowing about ‘things’, which can build up to become a sore point for a team member. Sometimes it can build up to become a “Homer Simpson Moment” You may remember the scene where Homer says to his Daughter, “Lisa, everyone knows that you don’t protest at work, if you don’t like the job, you just go in and do it half assed”.

Managers can;

  • Annoy people with a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach, possibly not following systems and procedures and creating excuses as to why that happened and “oh it’s a one off…”
  • Talk about and possibly undermine a team member behind their back, causing others to think differently, or wrongly about that person
  • Be disorganised and blame others for the poor performance of the team or one person, planning seems to be ad hoc at best
  • Create more drama than required, by pushing deadlines, fumbling through chaos, over reacting to situations, and a host of other things only drama creators will probably understand fully…
  • Flaunt Health and Safety guidelines, procedures etc… Causing people to play one against the other when they don’t want to use personal protective equipment for their own safety.
  • They don’t look for problems, they wait for the problems to come to them… When they do they have multiplied in strength and become a major issue, rather than a thing that may have had a quick fix if caught early
  • Busyness becomes them… Yep they are tangled up in ordering, allegedly organising and dealing with things that keep them away from the real work. Good planning and organisation will mean they can have time to do lots of little things to make things run effectively, and time for the bigger things like supporting, discussing and exploring, in short coaching…
  • Train, empower and motivate, that’s probably the main task of most Managers, yet in failing divisions or departments, these three key things are done poorly, one thing done badly is bad enough, but all three can spell disaster

Do  your business a favour and find out how you can support your team leaders, managers and supervisors to be better at eliminating these issues. When you become the coach, you can then expect more staff to stay for the long term, supported and happy in the role they play.

Buy that business!

You have seen a business you want to buy… all good, you like what they do, you have the skills to do it, you want to know more, you get the financials and have a chat to the current owner. “Profits are up 5%on last year… The staff are not interested in taking long service leave… No bad debts… With a new person in charge, who knows what’s possible!”

Reason for selling? “Time to retire…” it all sounds so good, until you dig deeper, here are some tips on things to look for when evaluating a business to purchase.

  • Renting – Is the current price per month about to go up but no one is saying anything. That 5% profit on the previous year might dwindle fast
  • Profit – It’s up from last year… but how much was it to begin with? If it was only 2% before hand then it’s not much of a rise, unless the profit amount in dollar terms is quite high, that might be different. BUT what if the profit expressed in dollars is low? Let’s say it’s $10,000 per anum on average over the last 5 years, that’s probably not much, unless the owner is paying themselves a huge amount for some reason and then the profit could be low.
  • Cash at hand – Oh look, there’s cash in the bank, well the current owner may take that with them… perhaps ignore it as some form of bonus, but deduct it off the price you intend to pay
  • Valuation of the business – Get an accountant to have a look at the figures and have them point out any glaring anomalies. A good profit on paper, might just equate to covering the amount the owners should pay themselves, but have not been paying themselves wages. Therefore what looks good now might be a big disappointment
  • Assets – Are they really worth what is stated in the figures? Will you want to update some of the assets… It starts to get trick folks. Stock at hand, what if most of the stock is out of date or they are items people don’t want to buy any more. You might end up throwing this stock out, then there would be replacement cost for useful items.
  • Systems – All the simple processes and procedures that get used to make things easier, how do they run their database? Are there quality processes and or assessment methods in place to measure the quality of what you get, sell etc.
  • Staff – Grumpy, underpaid, wanting to get a new owner who is cashed up so they can take long service leave, cashed up so they can sue for breaches of Workplace Health and Safety issues, cashed up so they can trip up and claim compensation, the list could go on. Then you find out they have been on the wrong pay scale and are wanting pay rises. So you know all that but you figure you can turn them around and create a new culture of happy committed staff, chances are hell will freeze over first! Changing a dud cultire is like trying to turn a cruiseliner around it takes a lot of effort to do it, then by time you do it the territory you ended up at now looks totally different…. That’s right you are now facing the worng way. 🙁
  • Customers – You find them leaving the business in their droves, it turns out they loved the way the previous owner did things, now they are off to find a new supplier. The truth be known, they probably just didn’t like the new pricing you introduced, after all you wanted to up the profit margin

As you can see it can be a minefield, make sure you do your due diligence, be thorough and ask LOTS of questions. Once the deal is done, the last thing you want is BIG surprises.

Bullying in a Warehouse Environment and How to Deal With It

Bullies are, sadly, part of life. Some people derive a great deal of pleasure from making others feel bad. This can be done physically, emotionally and with social media. Unfortunately, many of these individuals don’t get such behaviour out of their systems during childhood. Some even carry it into the professional world, and few people are equipped to deal with them in a meaningful way. Warehouse businesses need to understand not only how to identify bullying behaviour, but also how to instruct employees to deal with these individuals. The process is simple, at least on paper, yet can have a huge impact on the way a business is run and the morale of its employees.

Identify What it Means to Be a Bully

There’s much more to bullying than the typical schoolyard insults that you might remember from your youth. To combat bullying, it’s necessary to first identify how it presents in the workplace. While bullying can be physical, it can also consist of shunning people, gossip, and berating others for their ideas. Simply put, bullying is any activity undertaken to put another person at a disadvantage. It doesn’t have to benefit the person doing the bullying, necessarily – what is important is that another person is put down, and that the workplace environment becomes hostile.

Accepting the Realities of the Warehouse

When dealing with bullying, it’s also important to realise that a warehouse is also largely different than a white collar environment. While many of the same motivations and personalities might be at play, bullying can have dangerous consequences in an environment that is fully of heavy equipment. Bullying doesn’t just slow down the work day and make people upset – it can lead to distractions, which can in turn lead to accidents. Bullying is an issue that’s even more dangerous in a warehouse environment, and thus must be handled with extra care.

Dealing with Bullies in the Warehouse

Dealing with a bully can be difficult, but there are options available to anyone who feels like they are being targeted. There can often be a stigma against going to management to deal with such issues in a warehouse, and it’s often recommended that bullying victims ‘stand up for themselves’. Unfortunately, this simple statement is not only often difficult in reality, but can also cause further problems. Instead, the best way to deal with bullying is to document the issues as they occur and then go to the management with definitive proof. While it’s good to be firm, it’s even better to provide proof that the bullying has occurred.

Dealing with bullying isn’t an easy task, nor is it one that is always as effective as one might hope. Identifying the behaviours, realising the problems they can cause, and coming up with plans to deal with troublemakers should be a primary concern for any warehouse business. Workplace bullying can be eliminated, but only with the cooperation of workers and management. Without a solid plan, bullying will continue to cause workers distress and cost businesses hard-earned money for years to come.

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How to be Emergency Ready in a Construction Workplace

One of the riskiest professions is that of a construction worker. With every thinkable hazard lurking from every corner and aspect of work, construction sites are considered as a health and safety nightmare.

workplace-ready

Image from Pixabay

There are even some countries where construction workers are not even given social security benefits mainly because of the dangers involved in their everyday activities.

Responsible employees, however, are aware of their duties and obligations. Keeping up with different measures and compliance with the related laws, due care of workers and visitors alike are given top priority.

It is important to note that having all of these in place cannot guarantee a full protection against accidents. Should there be an emergency in a construction workplace, here is a first aid guide to help you during critical situations:

Assess the Situation

It is instinctive to immediately react to a situation, therefore, people tend to flock the victim which is highly unrecommended. This is what you should do:

  • Quickly neutralize hazards around the place of emergency.
  • Check for anything around the area that may cause further harm.
  • Evaluate the victim and check for consciousness and responsiveness.

Ask someone to make an emergency call as you look after the patient. In case you are alone with the victim, never leave his/her side. Reach out for your phone and make the necessary call.

Bear in mind the following in making an emergency call:

  1. Your phone number
  2. A concise but relevant description of what happened
  3. The status of the patient
  4. Your exact location.

As the help arrives, it is ideal to have someone meet the incoming emergency team.

Handling Burns

Burns are damage to one or multiple layers of the skin caused by exposure to heat or chemicals. It is important to make sure that the danger is under control before attempting to approach the victim.  

Burns range in severity from minor to major, the first aid for any degree is to wash the affected area with clean running water.

Remember that chemical burns are highly sensitive and can easily get contaminated. Remove any clothing exposed to the chemical. Make sure that you flush the area with running water that is cool and not cold. Exposing burns from chemicals with cold water may aggravate the injury.

After flushing with water, apply a non-adhesive, non-fluffy, wet dressing. This will help prevent infection without agitating the burnt area. Call for a medical assistance as soon as possible.

Taking Care of Bleeding

Cuts and bruises are common in any workplace, especially in a construction site. You must, however, take extra caution in handling bleeding patients no matter the severity of the wound.  As such, always wear a pair of gloves when treating them.  

Encourage the patient to relax and be seated properly, then check the wound for any foreign material. Do not remove any objects from the wound. This may cause further bleeding.

In some severe cases, bleeding can cause shock, call an ambulance immediately.

You can minimise bleeding by placing a dressing on the wound while applying firm, direct pressure. It will also help a lot to keep the affected area elevated and restrained.

Crush Injury First Aid

Crush injuries are those that occur because of pressure from a heavy object onto a body part. It is also caused by the squeezing of a body part between two objects.

Depending on severity, crush injuries can result in:

  • Broken bones
  • Severe bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Lacerations
  • Breakdown of muscles

Always neutralize any hazard before attending to the victim. Check for any response, if conscious, reassure the patient.

Assess the situation, remove the crushing weight ASAP as long as it is logically safe to proceed.

Evaluate the wound’s severity, for minor crush injuries, the medical attention needed are the same as treating cuts and bleeding.

Dealing with Fall Injuries

Victims who fell from height that is more than one meter can already be considered critical. The chances of incurring head or spinal injury are already high. The immediate course of action is to stabilise the victim and treat any possible concussion.

Make a thorough assessment of the victim. Signs of concussion that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Confusion
  • Vision impairment
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness

If the victim sustained any fracture, treat any incurred wound and immobilise the fractured part. Call an ambulance straight away.

Every emergency needs to be properly documented. The what, where, and how must be explained in as much detail as possible. The treatment provided must be properly noted, as well as the ambulance number and the hospital where the victim is taken too.

Having a first aid guide in your office wall can actually save lives.

als-fa-poster-construction-v3

For more first aid visual guides, posters and a free comprehensive ebook, check out this Beginners Guide to Workplace First Aid.

This post was created by the team at ALSCO as a business development initiative. many thanks to Katrina McKinnon and team.

Assessing your Workplace for First Aid Compliance

There is an imminent need for assessing workplace safety among many establishments in Australia. Accidents are inevitable, and as such, a proactive approach is needed to minimise if not eradicate work-related injuries and diseases. The greater question is if an employer is ready to respond to them.Assessing-your-Workplace-for-First-Aid-ComplianceHaving a practical outlook on your first aid measures and procedures is a major requirement to keeping your workplace compliant with the WHS Act. An emergency action plan does not only protect your employees but also ensures continuity of operations after a disaster or emergency.

How Important Is First Aid in the Workplace?

Research shows that well over 630 000 workers suffered a work-related injury in Australia between 2009 and 2010. This figure accounts for all types of jobs from all industries and emergency categories.

The Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Act articulates an outline that covers the scope of first aid – all personnel, including visitors and customers. WHSA compliance is mandatory, encompassing all aspects of the business workplace whether remote, mobile, or outdoors.

Legal requirements call for a strict observation as stipulated under Section 274 of the WHS Act. Furthermore, it compels every company to have a comprehensive action plan for any emergency situation.

These efforts are all in place to ensure the safety and productivity of all personnel. From a business perspective, it directly correlates to brand building and employability.

How To Comply with WHS Compliance

It is important to get acquainted with the most important points of the WHS guidelines on how to become first aid compliant in your workplace.

These are all vital pieces of information that will churn out ideas for an efficient action plan. Keep this record updated as it is crucial for the actions to follow.

Create an Action Plan

  1. Closely assess your work area, you now have a basis for your course of action.
  2. Determine all possible scenarios and their corresponding strategies.
  3. Ensure that these are all aligned with the WHS requirements.
  4. Consider integrating your crucial evacuation details to the set standards and take account of broader emergency settings.

Your action plan will be valid only if you update it in accordance with the changes that happen in your company.

Some work requires transferring from one place to another. It should be clearly stated that there is a specific plan for each location. Change of staff must be also taken into account and this should be followed by proper adjustments in your emergency plan.

Regularly evaluate your own work. An emergency can strike at any point in time so it’s best to be proactive than to be forced to deal with the consequences.

Designate a Point Person

During an emergency, the lack of communication can exponentially aggravate the situation.

Assigning a point person who will act as a leader in these cases will help convey messages faster and more efficiently. They will act like beacons during disasters and orchestrate order.

Training is not obligatory for this position. But it can help, Supervisors and Managers are your primary options for these roles. There are some instances, however, that some special know-how is required for carrying out an appropriate response. Set the roles strategically among your work populace.

Conduct Drills and Practices

They say that perfect practice makes perfect. Emergency situations are not an exception. When a clear-cut emergency/evacuation plan has been formulated, it is necessary to test it through simulation.

Conduct a drill for every given situation, from an earthquake drill to an employee who had a simple wound.

Make a keen observation of everything that happens during the drills. It will allow you to check for leaks within your plan and give you an opportunity to improve and innovate.

The point person/s should act accordingly and take the lead. Their response to these drills will help measure the effectivity of your emergency plan.

Have A WHS Compliant First Aid Kit

The first aid kit is not just a mere tool to aid in an emergency, it contents can decide the outcomes of life and death situations.  

Therefore, these kits must be placed in obvious places  throughout the work area. The level and category of work orientation determine what should be inside a first aid kit.

 

Create A List of Your Emergency Contact Numbers

Emergency contact lists should contain all the local numbers of every phone in the workplace. Part of the objective of the WHS Act is to ensure continuity of business after any given emergency.

It is, therefore, imperative that the list includes the phone numbers of any other key people, stakeholders, and companies like suppliers, employees.

The most important emergency numbers must be highlighted: the police, fire station, local state emergency units, and ambulance services.

First Aid Training and Amenities

Every company or business is obliged to abide by the rules set forth by the WHS Act. It has to always safeguard all personnel in the workplace with full diligence, including other persons that may be affected by its operations.

It is always advisable to remind your employees about the importance of first aid in a workplace. Some of the simple procedures can be put on the walls in the form of first aid visual guides. The best place for these posters is near the first aid kit.

Regards

Katrina McKinnon
Community Outreach
www.alsco.com.au
www.alscofirstaid.com.au

Workplace bullying, stop doing it.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici from digitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici from freedigitalphotos.net

I love it when I find a fabulous new resource. Flipping about on You Tube I found a bunch of workplace bullying videos, which led me to this site. http://bullyfreeatwork.com/blog/ and here’s the first video I looked at. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV15a3XPqsU

Take the Free E course and get yourself into a bully free workplace. Watch the vdeos to do the same, pass the links on to everyone who is suffering from workplace bullying.

Answers are out there people and Valerie Cade has the answers FREE.

I have spoken about Workplace Bullying before http://freebusinesstips.com.au/management/bullying-no-thanks and http://freebusinesstips.com.au/people/workplace-bullying-policy

It all comes back to having respect for the people you work with, as the boss and as the employee, get with the program and make sure we can all have a bully free workplace, it is incredibly important.

NOTE: I have never Met Valerie, done her E course (Yet), have any affliation with her, make any money from recommending her site, videos and course. All I know is workplace bullying happens and needs to stop.

Take action

Regards Steve Gray

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