Creating a Business Budget

business-budgetBudgeting is at the heart of any successful business. Growth drives businesses, especially in the beginning, but it can be hard to account for the expenses associated with that growth, so a budget is needed to help ensure long-term sustainability. Growing too quickly or too slowly can destroy a business before it gets started. Similarly, a great business concept with no revenues will quickly fail.

But for many, creating a true budget can be intimidating. Taking a job or a hobby and turning it into a business does not mean you are suddenly a business expert. However, creating a business budget can be as simple or complex as you would like.

A basic budget simply needs to consider current revenues and current expenses. Revenues would be income from any source, such as sales, lease agreements on property or equipment, interest on savings, or any other source of income into the business. Expenses are simply bills that are paid. These can be rent or a mortgage, utilities, salaries, website hosting, vehicles, marketing costs, office supplies, travel, and so on. Then, you take the revenues, subtract the expenses, and you will know if you are profitable or not. And you will also have created your first budget.

From here, you will see if you are cash-flow positive, meaning you earn more than you spend (and this is where you hope to be). If you are, you can then start to consider costs associated with growing. If you would like to increase your …

6 Tips for Creating a Marketing Plan

You need to get your business out to the public. Word of mouth from strategic partners and your connections will only get you so far, so you need to come up with a plan to get your company out there. Unfortunately, this can be more challenging than it sounds, and for many companies, marketing becomes a large expense early on through advertising or third party marketing and PR firms. Instead of breaking the bank on advertising and fees to third parties, some of the most successful startups handled their marketing in-house. And here are 6 tips for creating a marketing plan that works.

  1. Define Your Target Audience – While this seems like a no-brainer, having a clear understanding of your target client will help you to narrow your advertising efforts and save money in costs. The more refined your target audience, the more specific your efforts can be, and the better your results will be.
  1. Identify Your Competition – Know who else does what you do. This will help you to see where you fit in the industry, and should help you to position yourself effectively.
  1. Separate Yourself from the Competition – What do you do differently than the competition? If the answer is nothing, then why is a client going to choose you? Make sure you understand your unique value, then put that on display.
  1. Establish Your Marketing Budget – Without a budget, you will either overspend or underspend on your marketing efforts, and either can kill a business.

Managing Recent Grads

college graduationFor many new managers, the hardest task is managing employees who have never worked before. This is because, in addition to ensuring work is being done effectively, deadlines and quotas are being met, and the standard workplace drama is being kept under control, there must now also be time spent teaching these new employees everything. They need to learn how to do their job while also learning how to function in the workplace. And they often still have a college mindset, meaning they may not take things as seriously as you do. They can be, in a word, a nightmare.

But, successful managers are able to groom recent graduates into the best members of the team. Recent grads are usually hungry to perform, eager to impress, and are a blank slate, meaning they don’t have bad habits, yet. You can mold them into the employee you want, without them fighting against your style (what’s to fight – you’re all they know). So while the hand-holding phase of onboarding a recent grad can be time-consuming and frustrating, the end result can be worth every second to a good manager, because they get a highly motivated, highly productive employee who doesn’t know how to cut corners and doesn’t desire to take your job or leave the company (yet).

Unfortunately, there is still that difficult hand-holding phase to get through. And navigating it can be difficult, especially for inexperienced managers. But the first step is accepting that there will be some hiccups in …

Employee Development Planning

employee developmentWe all want to know where we’re going next. Whether in life or professionally, developing to the next level is fundamental to all of us. Unfortunately, many companies do not have serious development plans in place for employees. Instead, there is an expectation that employees and manager will have conversations about promotions when the time is right for employees to move on. Unfortunately, this kind of policy can lead to inconsistencies within a company and can lead to good employees leaving to go to a company where development is a focus.

To ensure appropriate employee development conversations are happening with everyone at your company or within your division, you need to start by ensuring you have a clear grasp on what your development conversations should look like. They should have future career progressions in mind, as well as opportunities for growth in the employee’s current role. This allows an employee to not only make future plans known but to begin developing the relevant skills to get to that next level.

There should also be a conversation around whom to contact regarding that next job when the time comes to begin looking into the next role. For most, that is a year to six months before they will look to move on. This will both get buy-in from the potential future manager and give the employee an opportunity to see what skill sets are required for the next job. In addition, it will allow for buy-in from the employee, making it …

Lockout Tagout Policy Audits

Audits are an important part of any occupational safety and health policies and procedures. Whether internal audits by a safety team, surprise audits by supervisors, or third party audits by third party auditing firms, these audits ensure compliance, ensure these policies and procedures are being followed, and, often, are required by the OSHA standards which govern the policies and procedures in question. For most occupational safety and health policies and procedures such as the ones at, a general audit of the entire facility should suffice inadequately covering the policies and procedures in question; most do not require frequent updating, and as such need simply to be compared against OSHA standards to ensure nothing has changed in the standard.

But for some areas of occupational safety and health, such as lockout tagout, a more thorough audit is required to ensure compliance. The reason for this deeper review can be that it is an area of occupational safety and health which is often changed by OSHA, it is an area of occupational safety and health which is often updated at the facility, or it is an area of occupational safety and health which is extremely complicated and needs additional time spent ensuring compliance. Or, in the case of lockout tagout, it could cover more than one of these reasons.

Lockout tagout policies and procedures are governed by OSHA Standard 1910.147, which is arguably the most complicated standard around. This can make it extremely difficult to create compliant policies and …

US Labor Department Warns Of Hazards During Storm Cleanup

In the wake of the devastation caused in South Carolina by Hurricane Joaquin, The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has advised residents and emergency workers in South Carolina of the hazards present. These warnings, however, do not only apply to South Carolina, they apply to all locations where major, catastrophic storms can hit.

“Recovery work should not put you in the hospital emergency room,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. “A range of safety and health hazards exist following storms. You may minimize these dangers with knowledge, safe work practices and personal protective equipment. OSHA wants to make certain that all working men and women, including volunteers, return home at the end of the workday.”

To help prevent injury during storm recovery and cleanup, the following measures should be taken: evaluate the work area for hazards; employ engineering or work practice controls to mitigate hazards; use personal protective equipment; assume all power lines are alive; use portable generators, saws, ladders, vehicles, and other equipment properly; and heed safety precautions for traffic work zones.

If your business is involved in storm recovery, or if any of your employees help in storm recovery, it is imperative you have policies and procedures in place to ensure these basic steps are in place to protect your employees. If you do not, it could lead to serious injuries to your employees and serious fines from OSHA. If you are having trouble implementing these policies and procedures, please contact …

OSHA Announces Final Rule Regarding Silica Dust

The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently announced a final rule which is designed to improve protections currently in place for workers who are exposed to respirable silica dust. The new rule is supposed to limit workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica, which should, in turn, curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease in those employees. As such, OSHA estimates that this rule, once fully effective, will save more than 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year. Additionally, OSHA claims there will be net benefits of roughly $7.7 billion per year.

“More than 80 years ago, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins identified silica dust as a deadly hazard and called on employers to fully protect workers,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “This rule will save lives. It will enable workers to earn a living without sacrificing their health. It builds upon decades of research and a lengthy stakeholder engagement process – including the consideration of thousands of public comments – to finally give workers the kind of protection they deserve and that Frances Perkins had hoped for them.”

“The previous exposure limits were outdated and did not adequately protect workers,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Limiting exposure to silica and concrete dust is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work but also to breathe. Today, we …

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