Thursday, 27 December 2018

Alexa for Business: What Small to Medium Businesses Should Know

Amazon's Alexa for Business is a new way to bring voice commands to small businesses and corporate offices. Alexa devices – the Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap – may have assisted in business matters before, but the company was largely focused on personal use by consumers. Amazon offers other Alexa-enabled devices that may not be as perfect for business but may still be connected, including the Echo Spot, Echo Show and Echo Look. In 2018, Alexa was integrated into just about everything, from lawn mowers to laptops. In fact, the virtual assistant is so in demand, it can now be installed on any Windows 10 computer. Plus, companies such as Acer, Asus and HP are rolling out PCs with Alexa built in, offering direct competition for Microsoft's Cortana. With Alexa for Business, Amazon loaded more features into Alexa so that it can support an office environment. It added shared devices, which are public devices anyone can use. This model enables easy communication in the workplace and a removal of humdrum corporate tasks, like ordering new printer paper, turning on videoconferencing equipment, setting reminders, joining video calls, reporting broken equipment and giving office directions – Alexa can take care of it all in half the time, according to Amazon.

Before this new business version of Alexa, workers could easily integrate their personal Alexa device into their office flow by setting up skills, integrating their email or calendar through IFTT, or managing to-do lists. Now those benefits expand beyond the single, personal devices of employees. While workers can bring in their own devices, they can be linked with their company's Alexa for Business account so they can access all the private skills and features built by the business.

Now, whether Alexa is right for your business or not, it depends largely on who your employees are, what processes can be made more efficient using voice commands, and if you're willing to spend the money. The service is based on a monthly subscription of $7 per shared device per month and $3 per enrolled user per month (in addition to the cost of the actual devices). This payment model might be reasonable, depending on how large your business is.

Here's what you need to know about Alexa for Business.


How it works
Amazon breaks down Alexa for Business into two device categories: shared and personal devices. Shared devices can be placed around the office in public locations for anyone to use. These are the devices that will be placed in conference rooms, lobbies, printing rooms, kitchens or other shared company spaces. Ideally, you and your IT department can set up skills on these devices – just like on normal Alexa devices – so your staff can use Alexa to complete general tasks.

Personal devices are devices for individual workers. These devices have "enrolled users" with Alexa accounts so Alexa can complete personal tasks like managing to-do lists and setting reminders. Personal devices can also send messages and conduct calls, access calendars, schedule meetings and find information in popular programs like Salesforce. Personal users can integrate their at-home Alexa account so they can use their home-office Alexa devices as well.

Price
Amazon's devices starts in price from $49.99 to $229.99 (plus a monthly subscription of $7 per shared device and $3 per enrolled user). Enrolled users are workers who will use personal devices at work. You don't need to personally enroll everyone in your business to use shared devices. For example, if your business wanted to add two personal devices and three shared ones, you would be charged $6 per month for the personal devices and $21 per month for the shared devices, totaling $27 per month for that number of shared devices and enrolled users.

For example, a company with seven shared devices and 25 enrolled users – all using a personalized Alexa device – is going to cost $49 for the shared devices and $75 for the enrolled users. That's a total of $124 per month, in addition to however much money your company decides to spend on the physical Alexa devices.

Alexa can be found in the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Spot, Echo Show, Echo Look, Amazon Tap, Fire TV, Fire Tablets and a host of non-Amazon hardware.

Room booking
Conference rooms are in high demand in any company. With a huge number of teams looking to collaborate at any given time, even small businesses can suffer from a lack of meeting spaces. Add last-minute huddles and meetings that run over their allotted time, and you have a conference room system strained by needs that aren't that demanding. Amazon is looking to solve the hassle of finding and booking conference rooms by getting Alexa involved.

All you have to do is link your calendar provider and read/write permission with Alexa to enable the Room Booking feature. There are a few different functions Alexa can help with. You can check the availability of a conference room you are in by asking, "Alexa, is this room free?" If it's free, you can immediately book the room. To find out who reserved a room, you can ask, "Alexa, who booked this room?" Amazon also provides a Room Booking API, so you can build out your room-booking experience to include creating reservations and finding available rooms.

Amazon has expanded Alexa for Business' conference room features. Users can control conference room settings, like dimming the lights, drawing the blinds and turning on the projector, with only a voice command. Alexa would have to work in conjunction with smart technology for this, like smart lights in the case of adjusting conference room lighting.

Videoconferencing
One of the marquee features of Alexa for Business is Alexa's ability to start videoconferences through voice command. Alexa is able to sync with a corporate calendar, so you don't even need a meeting ID or conference call number to set up your conferences. Simply say, "Alexa, start the meeting," and Alexa will turn on the videoconferencing equipment and join the respective meeting. This could be a convenient feature. It also eliminates time fiddling with equipment while you set up your meeting.

Alexa for Business console
This dashboard is the command center for your company's entire Alexa for Business experience. Here you can manage users or devices, add or remove skills on devices, manage videoconferencing options, invite new users, manage corporate calendars, and view shared devices. Amazon also provides detailed steps on its website to view and use these features.

Another way to manage Alexa for Business using the dashboard is to view the room profiles. You can assign a room to each shared device, marking its location and place in your office's ecosystem. Skill groups can then be added or removed from devices based on what room they are in. You can also enable custom skills for each user on each device, giving you control over who has access to which skills.

Amazon provides different skills and integrations with third-party apps to make your business run more efficiently, but you can also build your own skills and use Alexa for Business APIs. Once integrated with Alexa, these skills can be kept private for internal business use.

Overall, this dashboard will help you set up and implement this system for your business. The center is organized in an intuitive way so that it's easy to manage and adjust settings as your business's use of Alexa changes.

Private Alexa skills
The great thing about Alexa for Business is its open API feature. Amazon enables developers to create whatever Alexa skills a business needs. This means Alexa for Business' applications for your company are endless. Creating a skill isn't difficult, but it's probably best if someone with development experience handles it.

The 9 Smart Business Ideas for 2019

With a new year almost on ground there are chances to start new projects, so what better time to launch your own business? If becoming an entrepreneur in 2019 is on your list of New Year's resolutions but you don't know where to start, you might just need some inspiration.
You'll want to start with an idea that has room to grow, so we've compiled a list of some great business ideas that we think will help you find success in the new year.

1.Lawn care service: If it happened that you grew up with a lawn, chances are your parents might have made you take care of it. For many of us, lawn care is bothersome, but for some, it offers a sense of peace and serenity. Working outdoors with your hands to tame and beautify the natural landscape can be a rewarding experience, and since so many people find the work tedious, arduous, or time-consuming, it can also be profitable.
Lawn care services require little more than some basic equipment, a trailer and perhaps some labor depending on how many clients you have and how big the jobs are. You can quickly grow a small lawn care service into a full landscaping company by offering premium services and establishing a reputation as a brand that does a thorough job with a smile. If you like working outdoors and creating elegant landscapes, this could be the business for you.

2.Food truck: If you are a type that loves food and traveling, then a food truck business might be right for you. Food trucks come in all shapes and sizes, serving up a wide range of snacks and cuisines to hungry event or festivalgoers. Take your favorite style of food on the road and travel to events you'd already like to attend. Sure, you might be working, but you'll be in a space you're passionate about with a chance to connect with people who have similar interests.
Food trucks might sound like a wild idea, but the industry is growing. Better yet, the overhead and upkeep for a truck is significantly less than owning a restaurant, plus you have the added benefit of mobility.

3.Ride-share driver: Maybe starting your own business seems daunting or too much of a risk, you can always use your car to become a ride-share driver. The overhead and responsibility of running the company falls on the ride-share service, giving you the freedom to work as much or as little as you need. Ride-share applications have enabled people to start side hustles that pay well and require little more than a willingness to drive people to their destinations and maybe make occasional friendly conversation.
Ride-share drivers have the independence of a small business owner without the heavy workload required to manage the logistics behind the scenes. If any of the other nine ideas seem like they require too much effort or upfront capital, ride-sharing might be a great way for you to dip your toes into the world of entrepreneurship.

4.Digital marketing: As the case is now, digital marketing services are always in demand, and many small and mid-sized companies would rather outsource it than establish a costly in-house team. If you've got digital marketing chops in SEO, content marketing, pay-per-click, web development or social media management you could be looking at a business opportunity that gives you the freedom to work from home.
Digital marketing is an important job, though, so it's important you are always able to respond to developments in your clients' marketing strategy. Social media management means watching for comments and messages around the clock, not just scheduling posts in a "set-it-and-forget-it" mindset. If you enjoy strategizing and implementing plans meticulously, digital marketing could be the right business for you to launch.

5.Mobile app development: Currently, mobile devices are rapidly becoming a top priority channel through which companies reach their audience. One of the best ways to secure customer loyalty is by deploying an engaging and useful mobile application. The trouble is mobile app development can prove costly and the rollout can be difficult. As a result, many businesses look to a specialist in mobile app development to get the job done right the first time.
If you like programming and specifically enjoy working on mobile platforms, mobile app development is an in-demand business-to-business service that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. But there is more to building a mobile app than just making sure it works and then keeping the lights on. Your clients will want results, so the more you can educate yourself on how to create a mobile app that drives engagement and promotes your client's brand, the better you'll do as an app developer.

6.Translation service: If you don't know translation services have been growing by leaps and bounds lately. According to research from IBISWorld, the translation services industry is growing more than 5 percent annually. That growth is showing no signs of slowing as the internet opens entrepreneurs in other countries up to English-speaking markets and vice versa.
This trend has created an opening for multilingual speakers to offer specific services, such as document translation or the translation of website information into languages for use in other markets. If you know multiple languages, carving out a niche in the translation services industry could prove to be a successful endeavor.

7.Cleaning service: Do you like to clean? You could offer cleaning services to homeowners, apartment complexes and commercial properties and charge as much as $30 or $40 per hour. All you need is some clients and the manpower to tackle their locations. Cleaning services are straightforward and require little overhead; you just need to plan accordingly, stay dedicated, and make sure your marketing gets you noticed.
If you're looking to differentiate yourself from other cleaning services, consider adding premium options like floor waxing or exterior power-washing for an additional fee. These services could be a deciding factor between your new cleaning service and one of the more seasoned veterans that maintain too large a client list to provide that level of detail for.

8.Professional organizer: Professional organizers help people declutter and minimize, enabling them to take charge of their belongings rather than feeling possessed by them. Minimalism is becoming very popular, but people often find it hard to part with things they've owned for a long time. Part of being a professional organizer is helping them develop a system for downsizing and keeping things that way.
Are you a highly organized person that enjoys making spaces more functional and comfortable? If yes, you might be good at coaching people through letting go of unnecessary or extraneous items, which can be a lucrative business especially when people are making resolutions to downsize. To promote your business, ask if your clients will let you take before and after photos of the areas of their homes you've organized and use those to create a portfolio to attract more clients by marketing your work on social media

9.Home care service: A good background in care and hospitality can go a long way to helping support housebound seniors that require in-home care. It's also a service for which demand is only going to grow. According to the National Institute on Aging, between 2010 and 2050, the 85-and-over population is projected to increase 351 percent globally, and the global number of centenarians (those over age 100) is projected to increase tenfold. Many of those people will need care and assistance, oftentimes in their own homes.
Luckily, you don't need a background in healthcare to help seniors and grow a successful business at the same time, although those skills are certain to be in demand as well. Many seniors need help with everything from running errands to repairs around the house. With some experience, you could consider growing your business to help seniors transition from their homes to assisted living facilities, offering services such as packing, transporting, setting up or storing their furniture and possessions. Thanks for reading........

How you can track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve: NORAD Santa Tracker, Google Santa Tracker

Before now, the presents were wrapped, the tree were up, and the stockings was hanged by the chimney with care. There’s only one thing left to do: track Santa’s annual Christmas Eve voyage around the world from your PC, smartphone, or tablet.

This year Santa’s departure time depends on which version of the Santa-tracking fun you’re following. Check out our explanations below for all the details.


NORAD Tracks Santa

It’s been 63 years since a misprinted telephone number in a newspaper ad led children in the Colorado Springs area to call NORAD predecessor CONAD, looking for Santa.

As usual, the fun begins with NORAD Tracks Santa, at NoradSanta.org. NORAD’s pulled out the stops for 2018, with a redesigned website, an active social media presence, and a call center for kiddies who want a live update. Here are all the details:

Livestream: Starting at 2:01 a.m. Eastern December 24 (7:01 a.m. UTC), NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will begin tracking Santa on the NoradSanta.org website.

Live phone call: Starting at 6:00 a.m. Eastern December 24, you can call NORAD for live updates on Santa’s progress. According to NORAD, more than 1,400 volunteers will answer the phones around the clock. That number: 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723).

Email: You can email noradtrackssanta@outlook.com for the latest on Santa’s progress.

YouTube: Follow the official NORAD Tracks Santa YouTube channel.

Amazon Alexa: The NORAD Tracks Santa skill will let you ask Alexa for updates.

Search engine: Microsoft’s Bing search engine will be tracking Santa, too.

NORAD Tracks Santa on social media
Follow the fun on social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/noradsanta

Instagram: You’ll find a bunch of of NORAD Tracks Santa accounts on Instagram, but the biggest and most official appear to be @norad.santa, @noradsanta, and @noradtrackssanta_official.

Twitter: @noradsanta


Google Santa Tracker

Google joined holiday fun with education on its Google Santa Tracker site. Google opened its online Santa’s Village on December 4, offering an array of games and challenges for kids of all ages, plus holiday Gboard stickers.

You can also track Santa on Google Maps, starting around 10:00 a.m. UTC on Sunday, December 24, which is 5:00 a.m. Eastern. Beforehand you’ll see a countdown leading up to it. If you don’t want to use Google’s website on your mobile device, the company is giving out its annual Google Santa Tracker Android app. There are some Android app-exclusive games that you won’t find on the main website, as well as Android Wear support.

Google has built Santa magic into Google Assistant. You can ask Google Assistant “Where’s Santa?” or “Track Santa,” or “tell me a holiday story.” Google Assistant also has some Santa-flavored jokes. When you ask the assistant “Tell me a Santa joke,” the Jolly Old Elf himself will make an appearance to tell some real groaners.

I must admit I’m devastated that the Santa phone call novelty has been out of the lineup since 2016. This was my personal favorite holiday distraction, because it allowed anyone to send fun, Mad Libs-style phone calls from Santa to friends in the U.S. and Canada. I found Santa calls—while deliberately designed to be ridiculous—always brought a special smile to the recipients regardless of age.Thanks for reading...

Monday, 17 December 2018

Five Cybersecurity and Privacy Predictions for 2019

While data breaches, ransomware and internet of things (IoT) security remain front and center in cybersecurity trends, 2018 saw a greater emphasis on data privacy, thanks to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018.

Expect privacy to remain a priority in 2019, according to cybersecurity experts, as more regulations have been passed in individual states and other countries, and old cybersecurity concerns have appeared in new vectors or been reshaped by cybercriminals.

Here are five predictions from cybersecurity experts.

1. Managing privacy will become the new normal.

Privacy is going to continue on a similar path as the evolution of cybersecurity, predicts Chris Babel, CEO with TrustArc. Data breaches and privacy-related incidents aren't going away just because of GDPR and other laws, so expect a standard of constant privacy to become the new normal and for compliance to be a continuous exercise that requires the same focus, vigilance, and taxes.

If organizations want to keep pace with competitors, they'll have to incorporate privacy and compliance into their business processes, especially since consumers will now have increased awareness of security and privacy.

"In 2019, consumers will become more aware of and better understand the rights and mechanisms that regulations like the GDPR have made available to them to manage and protect their data," said Babel. "As a result, we will see consumers become more engaged and active in controlling their privacy settings, such as sharing less information, unsubscribing from marketing communications, and requesting copies of their data or that companies delete their data entirely from marketing databases."

2. Brands will rethink cloud security.

As cloud adoption and multi-cloud deployments are spreading exponentially, organizations are faced with unmanaged security risks and data exposure. That's why in 2019, David Storch, security consultant with Atos North America, predicts organizations will focus on creating solutions for their cloud and hybrid environments.

You should also expect to see more companies address cloud security by moving away from public cloud formats and returning to the private cloud. We first saw an inkling of this trend in 2016, according to Jonathan Sullivan, co-founder and CTO of NS1, when Dropbox announced it was moving 600 petabytes of data from AWS to its own data center. The reason was primarily to improve security, but it also addressed availability and performance concerns.

"We expect to see these same concerns drive enterprises to move applications and data from the public cloud back to the private cloud in 2019," said Sullivan. "Data shows that private cloud is growing at a rate two times that of public cloud. As organizations that moved to the public cloud grow in maturity, many will realize the cost savings or agility benefits they anticipated were not easy to unlock. We expect to see these organizations adopt to new frameworks involving software-defined networking in a private cloud environment or on-premises."

3. Cybercriminals will use new tactics.

In 2019, the McAfee Labs 2019 Threats Prediction Report anticipates the hacker forums, chat rooms, and marketplaces where one can purchase exploit kits and other nefarious offerings – the cybercriminal underground – will consolidate. In turn, we'll see a rise in malware as a service, and these new malware families will work closely together.

"These increasingly powerful brands is going to drive more sophisticated cryptocurrency mining, rapid exploitation of new vulnerabilities, and increases in mobile malware and stolen credit cards and credentials," the report states.

As crimeware becomes a service, it could lead to more destructive attacks, added Malcolm Harkins, chief security and trust officer at Cylance. It will also enable cyberattacks to expand beyond hackers and cybercriminals and into terrorist-related groups.

"From attacks on data integrity that essentially kill computers to the point of mandatory hardware replacements to leveraging new technology for physical assaults, such as the recent drone attack in Venezuela, attack surfaces are growing, and enemies will take advantage," said Harkins.

4. Social media will grow as an attack vector.

Fake news is will become more prevalent in 2019 as cybercriminals use social media to spread misinformation and extortion campaigns. McAfee predicts the focus this time will be on brands and corporations, instead of elections. The increased number of botnet accounts will look more legitimate and will be harder to take down. Botnet operators will continue to harass organizations with the intent to do serious, if not permanent, damage to their reputation and financials.

"Activities to manipulate public opinion have been well documented and bots well versed in manipulating conversations to drive agendas stand ready," the report said. "Next year we expect that cybercriminals will repurpose these campaigns to extort companies by threatening to damage their brands. Organizations will face a serious danger."

5. Small organizations will finally take an enterprise approach to cybersecurity.

Will 2019 be the year small businesses take a leap forward in their cybersecurity efforts? Yes, said Brian NeSmith, CEO and co-founder of Arctic Wolf Networks.

This new attitude and approach should have an impact on the overall supply chain. If smaller companies are more serious about their security efforts, it is going to become more difficult for cybercriminals to target the suppliers as a backdoor into large enterprise networks. Thanks for reading....

What Is The Meaning Of Vision Statement?

Many intrepid entrepreneurs have found themselves staring at a blinking cursor on a bare screen as they struggle to formulate a vision statement for their business. Although we all know a good one when we hear it – such as Disney's "to make people happy" or Instagram's "capture and share the world's moments" – creating a well-crafted vision statement can be a daunting task. In any case, those willing to do the hard work are rewarded with a vision statement that encapsulates the core ideals that give their business its shape and direction and provides a roadmap to where it wants to go. "A company vision statement reveals, at the highest levels, what an organization most hopes to be and achieve in the long term," said Katie Trauth Taylor, CEO of the writing consultancy Untold Content. "It serves a somewhat lofty purpose – to harness all the company's foresight into one impactful statement."

A vision statement offers a concrete way for stakeholders, especially employees, to understand the meaning and purpose of your business.

Why does this matter? Research shows that employees who find their company's vision meaningful have engagement levels of 68 percent, which is 19 points above average. More engaged employees are often more productive, and they are more effective corporate ambassadors in the larger community.

Given the impact that a vision statement can have on a company's long-term success and even its bottom line, it's worth taking the time to craft a statement that synthesizes your ambition and mobilizes your staff.

Vision statement vs. mission statement

Before determining what your vision statement is, you need to first understand what it is not. It should not be confused with a mission statement. Those statements are present-based and designed to convey a sense of why the company exists to both members of the company and the external community.
Vision statements are future-based and meant to inspire and give direction to employees of the company rather than customers. "Your mission statement is your company's reason for being – it's all about what you're doing right now," said Alison Brehme, founder of Virtual Corporate Wellness, a provider of employee health and wellness programs. "Your vision statement is where your company is going – it's all about your future."

"While a mission statement focuses on the purpose of the brand, the vision statement looks to the fulfillment of that purpose," explained Jessica Honard, co-owner of North Star Messaging + Strategy, a copywriting and messaging firm that serves entrepreneurs.

Although both mission and vision statements should be core elements of your organization, a vision statement serves as your company's North Star. "A vision is aspiration. A mission is actionable," added Jamie Falkowski, managing director at marketing and communications company Day One Agency.

Deciding who shapes your vision

To start with, the first step in writing a vision statement is determining who will play a role in crafting it. To accomplish this end, Brandon Shockley, director of research at branding and marketing firm 160over90, recommends developing a vision statement through a series of workshops with key stakeholders who represent a cross-section of your organization. Teams of people can craft alternate versions of the statement and receive feedback from the rest of the group.
Falkowski in addition suggests the use of individual stakeholder interviews as an effective way to encourage candor among all invested parties and to gather real and honest feedback. Employees can identify and highlight common themes as well as describe an organization's future in words or pictures as a basis for crafting a vision statement.
Liz Robinson, who recently co-launched the logistics and expediting business ASAP Cargo, recommends starting any vision-writing session with an individual brainstorm exercise. "This allows for people to be uninhibited by others' opinions and ideas, which leaves room for more organic creativity," said Robinson.

Determining how to use the vision statement

A business should determine early in the process where its vision statement will appear and what role it will serve in the organization. This will prevent the process from becoming merely an intellectual exercise, said Shockley. It is pointless to hang a vision statement in the office lobby or promote it on social media if it never is truly integrated into the company culture.

"The vision business statement should be thought of as part of your strategic plan," said Shockley. "It is an internal communications tool that helps align and inspire your team to reach the company's goals."

In that case, the vision statements should be viewed as living documents that will be revisited and revised. But most importantly, it must speak directly to your employees.

"If your employees don't buy into the vision, you'll never be able to carry it out," said Keri Lindenmuth, marketing manager with the Kyle David Group, a provider of web and tech solutions. "The vision statement should be something your employees believe in. Only then will they make decisions and take actions that reflect your business's vision."

How to write a vision statement

Creating the perfect vision statement may seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. You don't have to reinvent the wheel to develop a powerful vision statement. Instead, use the information you already have to guide your work, as Brehme suggests.

"A company's mission, purpose, goals and values are all involved in the creation of a company vision," Brehme said. "Weave these concepts and beliefs into your vision statement."

Additionally, Lindenmuth advises looking at the vision statements of competitors within your industry to get an idea of what they are saying and to determine how you can differentiate your business from theirs.

A vision statement should be concise, no longer than a sentence or a few paragraphs. According to Falkowski, you want your entire team and organization to be able to quickly repeat it and, more importantly, understand it. However, a vision statement needs to be more than a catchy tagline. "[It] can be smart and memorable, but this is for your team and culture, not for selling a specific product," Falkowski said.

You can start by mapping out the most audacious goals your business hopes to achieve, Taylor suggested. "Reviewing your long-term goals in a collaborative setting will help you then zoom out on what your organization and the world will look like if you achieve them. That zoomed-out view of your success is really the heart of your vision statement."

According to Taylor, her team established a foundational understanding of their company vision by asking probing questions about the core of their business. This included asking what deliverables they most enjoyed working on, the partners they loved working with and the ambiance they hoped to create when collaborating.

"It's important to start with the big questions – after all, this type of statement establishes your organization's vision for what impact your business makes on the world," said Taylor.

Honard advises asking questions that reflect the eventual scale and impact your business will have when constructing a vision statement.

A few of the questions she uses in guiding clients to identify their vision statement include:

1.What ultimate impact do I want my brand to have on my community/industry/world?
2.In what way will my brand ultimately interact with customers/clients?
3.What will the culture of my business look like, and how will that play out in employees' lives?

"Once you've been able to answer all these questions, you've created a roadmap between your present and your future," said Honard.

Don't be afraid to dream big once you gather all your information and get down to writing. Don't worry about practicality for now – what initially looks impossible could be achieved down the road with the right team and technologies. Work on shaping a vision statement that reflects the specific nature of your business and its aspirations.

Shockley said there is nothing wrong with a vision statement that is daring, distinct or even disagreeable. "If a vision statement sets out a generic goal that anyone can agree with, it is likely to produce mediocre results. A goal like 'delivering an exceptional experience' applies equally to a hospital, bank or fitness club."

Those interested in taking their vision one step further can create a brand vision board, according to Taylor. A vision board includes a company's tagline, a who we are statement, what we do section, a business vision statement, ideal clients overview, client pain points, content mission statement, advertising, products and SEO keywords.

"In a way, a vision board serves as a one-page business plan that anyone in a company can reference quickly to remember the key concepts that drive the work," said Taylor.

Tips for crafting your vision statement

One reality here is that, a vision statement should stretch the imagination while providing guidance and clarity. It will inform direction and set priorities while challenging employees to grow. But most importantly, a vision statement must be compelling, not just to the high-level executives of your company, but to all employees.
Based on our expert sources' advice, here's a quick recap of what to keep in mind when formalizing a vision statement:

1.Project five to 10 years in the future.
2.Dream big and focus on success.
3.Use the present tense.
4.Use clear, concise and jargon-free language.
5.Infuse it with passion and make it inspiring.
6.Align it with your business values and goals.
7.Have a plan to communicate your vision statement to your employees.
8.Be prepared to commit time and resources to the vision you establish.
Your completed vision statement should provide a clear idea of your company's path forward. Honard points out that many of her clients have used their vision statements to direct their overall plans for the future. For example, they've adopted new marketing initiatives aimed at moving them closer to their vision, pivoted their focus to clearly reflect their desired outcome, or doubled down on one particular aspect of their brand that is working in service of their vision.

Above all, your vision statement should be a constant reminder to you and your team that the end goal is bigger than the everyday. This message is an important one to hold onto, especially on the particularly difficult days.

"As a small business, every day is an adventure, and sometimes that adventure leads us to a dead-end or a ditch," explains Robinson. "On those days, it's important to remember the passion with which you launched your business – the values that helped get your company to where it is and the vision you have for a better future." Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Five Ways the Job Market Is Going to Change in 2019

The end of the year is fast approaching, and you may find yourself growing restless in your current job. You aren't alone. Getting a new job is a popular new year's resolution, and knowing what to expect from the job market for the next year can give you a leg up over steep competition. Here are five ways the job market will change in 2019

1. Companies need to appeal to job seekers, not just the other way around: The job market is extremely competitive, but not just for job seekers. Companies and organizations will on this note need to do everything to make their employment opportunity as appealing as possible. As much as the interview process is aimed at finding the right candidate for an open position, the candidate is also interviewing the company to ensure they can envision a future there for themselves

2. Treat job descriptions as your top of funnel: The first step to making sure the candidate gets a glimpse of your culture is creating attractive job descriptions. Global companies and corporations, like Amazon and Google, have the benefit of their brand speaking for them, but smaller businesses have to work harder to articulate their mission and culture.

Justin Cerilli, managing director of financial services for executive search and leadership transition firm Russell Reynolds and Associates, says the best job descriptions "combine a little bit of marketing, the reality of the role, the necessary skills and competencies, and the organization's culture."
While most job descriptions always cover the primary, day-to-day responsibilities, not many include growth opportunities the position affords the candidate. It's becoming less common for workers to stay with the same company for longer than a couple of years, and to prevent high turnover, the best candidates want to know that the position allows room for growth.

3. Offer competitive compensation and benefits packages: Given how many companies are forgoing providing benefits for their employees – according to a report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical benefits were only available to 69 percent of private industry workers as of September of this year. If your company offers benefits, you should let your applicants know upfront.

For smaller businesses, it may not really be in the budget for you to offer full health benefits to employees. According to that same Bureau of Labor Statistics report, only "55 percent of private industry workers in small establishments (those with fewer than 100 employees) were offered medical benefits."

You need to provide medical benefits to employees, compensate accordingly whenever possible to keep your best players on board. To compete for the best talent, you have to make your job opportunity worth their while.

4. Increase transparency in the interview process: According to a recent survey by Glassdoor, "a lack of information about a job's total compensation package" is one of the biggest frustrations for job seekers during the interview process.

Julie Coucoules, Glassdoor's global head of talent acquisition, said that "job seekers clearly feel that understanding the total compensation package, including pay and benefits, is absolutely essential to fully evaluate a job opportunity." Letting applicants know as many specifics as possible about the interview process should also become commonplace.

"Time to hire is a key metric that many employers track and pay attention to, so recruiters and candidates really are on the same page when it comes to the outcome: They all want a quick and efficient match, resulting in informed, quality candidates on board as quickly as possible," said Coucoules. "Nobody likes to have their time wasted, which is why it is so important for employers to provide the necessary information upfront to enable people to make good decisions about the jobs they are applying for," she added.

5. Upskill, upskill, upskill: With widespread automation and the constant shift of business priorities, upskilling is more important than ever before, but regarding to workers and employers. Rather than the nice perk it once was, offering training to your employees is an absolute a must now.

According to a survey conducted by Robert Half and Enactus, of Generation Z workers (born between 1990 and 1999), "91 percent cited professional training as an important factor when choosing an employer." Smart professionals, not just newer workers, believe constant development is of vital importance to remain relevant in their industry, and they expect their employers to provide at least some of these learning opportunities.

If you're concerned about the cost, don't be. The ROI for employers is greater than the cost of providing training and development because it helps with retention as well as addressing knowledge and skill gaps as they arise.

Tips for job seekers

A major advice from Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist for Glassdoor, provided for last year's job seekers is especially applicable this year: Tailor your cover letter and resume as much as possible. With the automation overhaul HR software is getting, tailoring your cover letter and resume to match the job description – while remaining honest about your abilities – gives you the best chance of getting an interview.

Now once you've made it to the interview round, embrace an open, coachable attitude. Yes, that may sound like corporate team-building mumbo jumbo, but adopting a coachable attitude can mean the difference between getting through to the next round of interviews and landing your dream job. If hiring managers perceive you as a collaborative team player, that can serve you better than having all of the competencies and skills listed in the job description.