Sunday, November 26, 2017

Do You Know Small Business?

Do you think you know all there is to know about Small Business?
You might want to think again!

Small businesses, just like their owners, are unique.

Many small business owners create their products or services to fill a void in what the “big boys” have to offer. They dedicate themselves to meeting the needs and desires of their clients and customers.

This results in a kaleidoscope of small businesses that offer a wide variety of goods and services that truly speak to their customers and their specific needs.

And while every small business is different, there are still things that hold true across the board.

Small Business Owners……
Learn a lot by running our businesses ~ the need to budget, to delegate and/or outsource, and to build strong relationships.

Believe in the Benefits of Doing Business with Small Business ~ great customer service, commitment to quality, pride in ownership, sense of community, and specialized goods and services.

Understand the Need to “Band Together” ~ we find power in numbers, join local networking groups, and share our knowledge and advice.

Recognize the Benefits of “Shopping Small” on our communities and the environment ~ shopping local keeps our money “in town” and helps our environment by cutting down on packaging and shipping.

Dedicate themselves to Hiring Safely to Protect their Businesses and Customers ~ small business owners understand that screening their employees is the best way to keep their workplace and customers safe, while protecting their company brand!

Learn more in "5 Truths about Small Business!".

Now for the big question…..Do You Support Small Business?
Why You should Support Small Business! “Tweet This”

Supporting your local small businesses means supporting your neighbors and your community!
Visit your local coffee shop. Buy hardware from that family-owned shop down the street. Even quality business cards and stationary can be found within your community.

Increasingly you can even “shop small” outside your immediate neighborhood!

Most small businesses have websites and online shops where you can make purchases or check out their services. These sites help extend the reach of small businesses around the country and make it easier than ever before to support small business! 

You can even ask questions about the products or services they offer ~ and will most likely get a personal response directly from the owner or a trusted employee! That is the touch that many larger companies can’t replicate!

So, while we celebrate small businesses on Small Business Saturday, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn't “shop small” all year long!
After all, helping our small businesses succeed helps each of us too ~ and  our neighborhoods and communities will be stronger for it!

Authored by  

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Do You Know What You are Thankful For?

What are You Thankful for?

Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays always makes me reflective.

I think about how quickly the end of the year is approaching and I take stock on me, my family, and my business.

And while I always find some areas where I would like improvement (and more often than I care to admit they are mainly about me!), I am also aware of how truly thankful I am. My thanks extends well beyond what I physically have, and falls more squarely on the wonderful group of people in my life!

This past year has been rough.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer in the late spring and I was rocked. Suddenly everything else was put on the back burner and she became my primary focus.

Our days consisted of doctor’s appointments, treatments, and worry. It was a whirlwind.

I am happy to say that her prognosis is now good and she is solely in recovery mode!

But despite the stress, this experience has reinforced with me, and the rest of my family, what is truly important……that each and every day is a gift, not a certainty. And, most of all, how important it is to take time to appreciate the people around you.

For that, I am truly thankful!

And I know I am lucky to have so many different wonderful people in my life.

I am Thankful for ~

My Husband ~ we have been together for almost 37 years (most of my life!). He is my love, my friend, and my partner in everything. I couldn’t ask for more.

My Children ~ who have each found their own happiness and reasons to give thanks. They have been a continual sense of wonder to me for the kind of people they are now and for the adventures yet to come. 

My Family ~ who have been, and always will be, there for me as I am for them. You can choose your friends, but your family is your family. And I am lucky!

My Friends ~ They make me laugh, offer support, and are always there for a quick chat or an evening out. I am fortunate enough to have some of the best!

My Business Friends ~ They are my “go to” when I need a pep talk, some advice, or a sanity check. I am also grateful to the ones who practice “paying it forward” and recommend me to their other business friends. To them I say a big “Thank You”! 

My Clients ~ I appreciate their business and, most of all, their loyalty. I am grateful to have had some of them since I started my business and I don’t take that for granted! And I am also thankful for the new clients that have recently come my way. I hope to provide you with the quality of service and attention that will keep you coming back for years to come.

And, finally, I thank you, My Readers ~ Your interest and feedback have been invaluable. It has been hard during this past year to find the energy and time to get the writing in. But you have kept me going. For that I am continually grateful.

 To honor those that have done so much for me, I try to practice “paying it forward” myself whenever possible. I believe there is no greater gift than to give back. Helping others in even the smallest way can have a big impact. Try it and you will see what I mean.

While I am thankful for so much from so many, I can only hope that I give to all of you as much as you give to me!

So, during this season of thanks, I hope you can find, even in your darkest times, something to be truly grateful for.

That feeling is what keeps each of us going and gives us hope for the future. And, truly, nothing is more important than that!

Authored by    

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Learn Why You Need to Be careful when Posting on Social Media

Do You Own a Business?

If so, you know how important it is to build a positive and trust-worthy brand

You understand the need to develop and sustain an image that reflects your core values and helps you build a solid reputation to attract and keep customers.

You also know that in order to help you gain those loyal customers, you must Get Social!

Social Media is a fantastic way for businesses, especially small businesses, to build their brand and connect with existing and potential customers. It allows you to reach a wider audience and “spread the word” more often and much farther than more traditional marketing methods.

The key, however, it to be sure to use it to your best advantage. 

To do Social right, you need to Be Present, Be Consistent, and Be “Social”.
But most of all, you need to Be Careful.

Start by recognizing that what you share online is a strong reflection of you and your company. It should always be in-line with your brand and core values. That is why compromising your reputation by being cavalier about what you post is not good business.

That is why it is best to separate the Business from the Personal.

While this is relatively easy and clear on a site like LinkedIn, other sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a little more murky.

To help achieve the separation you need, ask yourself these two questions: 

  1. Do I have a dedicated business page? 
  2. Do I use my personal page for business?

If you find yourself guilty of merging the two, then it is likely best 
you make some changes…and 
keeping them separate is the place to start!

The Top 3 reasons You should Separate Your Business and Personal Social Sites: 

  1. You don’t want to alienate potential clients
  2. You want to keep your “Brand” consistent
  3. You want to keep “crazy” things off your business pages

Alienating potential clients is never good for business. Anytime you share potentially controversial posts, you run this risk. That is why I avoid strong political and religious posts. You never know when what you say can keep you from landing a customer.  

Your “brand” should always be consistent. This is whether that brand is associated with your small business or it is your own professional persona. Anyone wanting to do business with or hire you, will look you up online. Posts or shares that go against the image you want to portray are detrimental and may even be dangerous to your success.

Keeping “crazy” posts from friends or online connections off my business pages is the number one reason I separate the business from the personal. You have very little control over what others post. And even if you hide them from your page, it may not be before their posts have been seen by someone they may offend. This could potentially lose you business or keep you from getting hired.

Learn more about why guarding both your business and personal online presence makes good business sense ~ and how you can accomplish it ~ in “Why You Need to Keep Your Personal & Business Social Media Separate”!

What You Post Online can Hurt Your Business! “Tweet This”

Social posts that share your personal causes and political views can all impact your business.

While separate pages is definitely recommended, I take it a step further. I am also extremely careful of what I like and post on my personal page.

That doesn’t mean I am impersonal and sterile. Even on my business page, I want people to know ME. After all, I am my company.

But my political and social views are my own! I won’t risk alienating or losing existing or potential clients over them. This is even more important in today’s political climate.

Instead, I have learned to use my social posts right, while still sharing what is important to me and my business.

I regularly weigh in on issues that effect business and background checks. Things like new laws and regulations are common post subjects. 

I also share my thoughts on discrimination in hiring and women in business ~ both topics that are extremely important to me and are core values in my business. 

But it ends there.

This way I can Be Present, Be Consistent, Be Social, and still Be Careful! 

So, in the end, be sure to ask yourself this question, 
Are Your Social Posts working for You or Against You?

Your answer can guide you in getting the best out of your social posts…and it is likely you will find that keeping them as separate as possible is simply Good Business!

Authored by   

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Are You Using Social Media to Hire?

Social Media is being used more than ever!

It is used within and by our government. Government agencies have their own Facebook pages. Our politicians use social media and dedicated pages to reach their constituents and run their campaigns. And even our president seems to tweet daily.

Businesses are not far behind.

They regularly use Social Media to build and maintain their company brand. Businesses also recognize how their social posts and advertisements can reach potential customers and earn them loyal ones.

Now these businesses are also going a step further and using social media to hire.

Social posts and tweets are being used to recruit candidates and announce open positions.

And now, these employers are also using it as a way to help screen their applicants.

They are doing Social Media checks! 

Social Media Checks are an addition to the more traditional type of employment background checks. For example, employers can use LinkedIn to help verify their applicant’s resume. They are even checking their candidate’s public social posts on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Checks give some job seekers pause. 

Many worry that it is blurring the line between their personal and business life. Others see it as an invasion of privacy.

That is why it is important to clear up these issues and understand how employers are really using a Social Media check to hire. 
And that starts with understanding "What" employers are really looking for and "Why"!

There are definite reasons why doing a Social Media Check on potential hires makes sense.

First off, it is a great way to find relevant posts that contain professional information and can be used as a cross-check against a submitted resume. This can be a valuable tool to begin verifying a resume’s accuracy and a reflection on the applicant's honesty.

Secondly, viewing social posts can give an employer a better insight into their candidate. They can see posts that illustrate an applicant’s involvement in charities, causes, or even favorite hobbies. This can help an employer see the candidate as a more well-rounded, interesting person.

Essentially, a Social Media Check, along with other screening tools, helps an employer discover things that may either give them pause or leave them with a better opinion of their potential new hire.

While a Social Media Check can be a great tool to help companies make a good hiring decision, as with any screening tool, employers must learn to use them wisely.

Your best course of action is to wait until after the initial interview to conduct a Social Media Check. Make sure you obtain a signed release explaining that a background check, including a social media search, is the next step.  

You should treat the social media check the same way you do other aspects of your employment screening. Your candidate must be given a copy of their rights (their right to a copy of their report and the ability to mitigate or dispute the information found), just like when you run a court record check.

This includes documenting what social media sites were searched, when they were searched, what information was found, and what decision was made concerning employment. The report should then be kept in the candidate’s file”, excerpt from “Social Media Check ~ The Forgotten Screening Tool”! Check it out to learn more about the Why, When, and How of using social media in your hiring practices!

In addition to waiting until after a conditional offer of employment has been made and obtaining a signed release, it is crucial that employers NEVER ask an applicant for passwords to their social sites. This can get companies in hot water and open them up to potential litigation.

Be Careful when Using Social Media to Hire! “Tweet This”

That is why businesses should consider using an experienced background investigation company to conduct their employment screenings.

A good screening company will know what you can legally use to make a hiring decision and make sure any protected information is not used. This is key.

At API, we can be that barrier! 

We will stand between you and the potentially sensitive information that may be found during all aspects of your employment background check, including the social media check.

Check out our Background Investigation Services page to find out more!

Bottom Line ~ Social Media is a great tool to help employers get to know their potential new hires. But it should only be part of their arsenal.

Using it as one aspect of a more comprehensive background check is the best way to go. This way you will get a more in-depth picture of what your applicant brings to the table.

And, more importantly, it will enable you to make a more informed and safer hiring decision ~ and that is good for you and your company.

Authored by   

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