How to protect your money during a crisis

No one can predict what will happen in the world. And uncertainty is often death for financial investment and security. We can only speculate so far and sometimes great events happen without anyone predicting it, with no way to prepare. What we need to think about is how we, as ordinary people and business owners, can take measures to protect ourselves. No solution is perfect, but that doesn’t mean improvement is impossible.

Consider “Brexit”

The United Kingdom is considered one of the most important parts of the world. It’s a financial powerhouse, central to various economies. It bridges gaps between America and the Asian markets, takes in the Southern hemisphere’s trade and is home to several leading institutions.

Recently, the British voters participated in a referendum, where the majority of voters found in favour of leaving the European Union (EU). This became known as “Brexit”, short for “British exit”.

Within the EU, its members and their citizens are provided with a number of advantages. Primarily, it allows citizens of member countries to move and work freely in different countries who are part of the EU. The BBC highlights an important relation of EU to Britain.

“The EU is Britain’s biggest trading partner… EU funding is spent on supporting farmers, boosting jobs in the UK, redeveloping rundown areas, and grants for university research.”

Vox notes the economic fallout:

“the Leave vote is causing economic turmoil… the value of the British pound fell by 10 percent to $1.35, its lowest level against the dollar since 1985. Stock markets around the world fell in Friday trading.”

Despite being a British decision, the rest of the world still felt the repercussions. The question is how do we prevent such enormous events from destroying our investments and financial security.

How to protect ourselves

One of the best ways to reduce our concern is to focus on those areas we can reduce expenses. This is why we should shop around for the lowest in investment costs. Financial Finesse suggests some important thoughts.

We should never ignore fees and trading costs. Knowing what these are means we can look elsewhere and find better deals.

They also note that “Ongoing fees usually cost more in the long run than one-time upfront fees.” They also suggest considering discount brokers “if you’re just looking for help putting together your portfolio. They can often help you select low cost investments like index funds without additional fees.”

This gives us cover if we need to focus on things like property finance or other forms of loans, if the time comes. We will have enough stability to be able to negotiate, even if the market is chaotic.

We should also consider ways to protect our retirement. According to US News, this is similar to other forms of protection. The only major difference is that retirement tends to work differently, in some small ways we might not consider. We should speak with financial advisors before we make any sudden changes.

(Image credit: moerschy / Pixabay)

What “Brexit” means for you

Most people are aware that there is some kind of big decision happening in the UK. Known as “Brexit”, it is a referendum in an attempt to find out if Britain should exit the European Union (EU). As Vox highlights in their explainer:

“If a majority of voters cast a vote for ‘Brexit’ — Great Britain’s exit from the European Union — it could start a process that could cost the EU one of its largest and wealthiest members.”

The issue is that Britain’s economy, as well as its legal system, has become deeply integrated with the European continent. For everyone, not just Britain, undoing this could be disruptive and damage the markets.

The debate continues

However, this is a debate.

Some view leaving as worthwhile, since it means Britain having more control over its various assets and properties. To these “Leave” voters, the EU has too much influence and takes too much from Britain. Former London mayor and most vocal “Leave” campaigner, Boris Johnson, writes:

“We can take back control of huge sums of money – £10.6 billion net per year – and spend it on our priorities.

“We can do global trade deals that the EU commission itself believes could generate another 300,000 jobs. Above all we could take back control of our powers to pass laws and set tax rates in the interest of the UK economy.”

However, many financial institutions and experts have responded to these claims as dubious at best and false at worst.

For example, Nicholas Barr, a professor of Public Economics at the London School of Economics is very much against “Leaving”. He says the idea that Britain could create and negotiate good trade deals soon after exiting the EU is “implausible”.

As he highlights, the EU collective is more important than the UK, meaning the UK’s bargaining power is limited. Further, “for non-EU countries (e.g. USA, China), negotiating with the EU offers access to a market of 500 million. The UK is much less of a magnet.”

What it means for the rest of us

Many of us might feel that to understand such situations we should take a finance course for non financial managers. Indeed, some have pointed out that leaving such a complicated issue to the whims of a non-professional public is dangerous. However for the average business person, this means holding our breath until the vote is counted.

If Britain leaves, the trade issues will be difficult. For example, America, China and other major markets have made it clear they want to trade with a Britain that is part of the EU. This is due to the ease of trade between European nations and how this would be lost if Britain leaves.

Also, if the UK decides to join something like the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), in place of the EU, it will have even less power. As The Independent highlights:

“Joining NAFTA would place the UK strategically firmly in the mid-Atlantic, away from Europe, but this will also include a certain amount of loss of independence, and London will have relatively little leverage in terms of the joining rules.”

There appears to be a consensus among finance and political experts that “Remain” is the best option. Too much “Leave” rhetoric seems to be based on a dislike of European association and false ideas about the collective’s control over member states. It seems then that there’ll be nothing but devastation if Britain chooses “Leave”. This could affect not only Britain, but Europe and therefore the world in restricting trade and flow of labour.

We should all be watching closely.

Increased security for your business

With certain businesses it’s important to regulate access in and out of the premises. Access control is an important aspect of keeping your premises and your employees safe. You’ll need to consider a number of different options to be sure your access control suits your needs. These are some of the things you will need to think about.

Different types of security

When it comes to access control, there’s not just one option. There are a number of different types of security options you can choose from. It depends on the layout of your building, the level of security you need and your reasons for needing security. You might need to protect your goods, you may have sensitive information which needs to be secured or you might need to keep your employers safe. Some of the options you could consider include the installation of mantraps, turnstiles or speedstiles.

Establish procedures

Your different employers will need access to different areas of your building. Their access should be regulated for these specific areas. You should also enforce rules such as whether your employers have to wear identification at all times. Other workers, such as cleaners, security and maintenance, will also need access to the building on occasion. You’ll need to ensure these procedures are also in place for visitors.

Monitoring

Most forms of access control require some form of monitoring. Often this is in the form of security guards or access cards. A good option is to use access cards which can monitor access and timekeeping. These keys can be tracked more easily than actual keys and provide more information about your employees. They can also be deactivated when necessary and be specifically programmed to provide access to specific areas or limit access at certain times or days of the week.

Identify high-security areas

Certain areas of your building may require high security. These areas will have to be off limits to certain staff members. It’s important that you establish what these areas are and how much security they need. This will be different for every type of business. This is not a one size fits all approach. Your security may also differ depending on where your offices are based, for instance you may need different security in your Nairobi office than you would at your Mombasa space.

These points will help you determine your security needs and will help you go about implementing them in an efficient and effective manner, which will save you time and money.

The rebranding your business needs right now

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If your business has failed and the only way out is to rebrand, you’re going to need to scratch all your old concepts and start over. A crumpling business doesn’t make you a failure. You’re only deemed a failure if you don’t get up and dust yourself off. You have the opportunity to start over and do it right this time around with these tips.

 

Dedicate your time to one business

 

Rebranding takes energy, courage and determination. You’re either going to scrap your old business venture, or you’re going to start up a new business. Be fully committed to your one big idea. Being an entrepreneur will consume large amounts of your time and quite possibly a large sum of money. If you don’t have your mind made up on what you’re going to do, you’ll only be wasting time and money.

 

Focus on your business plan

 

Whether you’re using your own funds or have gained capital from banks or investors, you’re going to need an in-depth business plan. Use document management software to manage, store and track your business-related documents on your computer. Having all your documents in one place will help you keep track of any updates and keep you headed in the right direction as to not lose your course of action. This is when you may need to implement your business plan.

 

Have the following in your business plan:

  • A concise indication of what the business is for and who the target audience is.
  • A description of how the business will run on a day-to-day basis.
  • List all your responsibilities.
  • An estimation of the cost involved for the first year.
  • Estimations of how you plan to cover the business costs in the first year.
  • A list of your duties and the duties of those you employ.

 

Know your industry

 

If you’ve decided to implement a new business that’s different  to your old one, you need to start by knowing your target audience. Your venture will never take off if you’re not in sync with your audience. You need to know their wants and needs. If you’re going to open a restaurant, work in one before owning one. Don’t only observe your market, do deep digging into the way your target market behaves. Gain insight by searching similar industry websites, view their blogs, ebooks and also be in tune with competitors’ websites. Stay informed by participating in appropriate groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

 

What skills does the modern business owner need?

The world moves faster than most of us realise. This is most visible in the business world where technology has both created and eliminated entire sectors. Businesses doing well are those that have adapted to the rapidly changing world, not doubled down on what helped in times before.

With this in mind, it’s important that business owners themselves begin considering precisely what skills they need to survive. Business has never been easy, but it’s probably become much harder in our hyper-connected world.

Using Communication Tech

One of the most dramatic changes over the last two decades has been how we, as a species, communicate. Today, we can instantly send videos, sounds and images across the world. Contrast this with the long slog of sending hand-written envelopes, which had to travel via land or sea.

Businesses have had to embrace the sudden change in communication. This is seen when they’re creating marketing for social media or Skyping with clients and colleagues.

Business leaders themselves have had to learn how communication works, if they hope to succeed. As Lee Froschheiser, a president and CEO, notes: “if you want your company to succeed, you and your team have to master the art of clear communication together.” With modern communication tools, that clarity is better than ever. However, these modern tools won’t help if business leaders themselves don’t recognise the tools’ importance or how to use communication technology properly.

Critical Thinking

Business owners must be able to think and look critically at all the decisions they make. Working with gut instinct alone doesn’t guarantee results. The best decisions are arrived at via evidence and rational thinking.

As Open Forum highlighted, critical thinking has proved essential to industry players. A survey asking business leaders about the importance of critical thinking showed how crucial the skill is.

“Three out of four major industry players surveyed rated the pace of change in business as the leading reason why such skills are necessary, followed by global competitiveness and the nature of how work is accomplished today.”

Further Education

Most business people are educated in at least one area. However, it might be wise to start investing in related skills that can aid business. For example, bookkeeping courses can be of enormous benefit, since it allows a first-hand engagement with finances.

There are also formal courses to train in skills like communication and critical thinking. Instead of merely highlighting beneficial skills, business owners can help themselves by being tested in these areas. Furthermore, by paying for these courses, most would feel obligated to actually develop the skills to pass.

No good business person wants their money going to go to waste!

 

Make your employees feel more valued

Four smiling employees standing around their manager

When employees feel valued they’ll go the extra mile for their employe. Showing employees you value their time and effort will give them a boost in morale and the feeling that they are doing something great. Employees aren’t emotionless robots that arrive at work and leave when the day is over. If employers fail to express their gratitude toward their workers, they may soon find themselves with people who don’t care for their work anymore.

 

Here are a few tips to show appreciation:

 

Thank you goes a long way

 

Not the ordinary, “Ah, yeah, thanks. Leave it on my desk,” – thank you. An appreciated thank you is one which is sincere. Whether employees are submitting their weekly reports or creating a new filing system, don’t forget to show your appreciation by saying thank you.

 

Implement flexible hours

 

Some perform better early in the morning, while others can get more done in the evening. This doesn’t make the one better than the other. Don’t compare your employees to John who comes in early and leaves late every night. Find out what is keeping John at the office, if he is swamped with work, you may be on the verge of losing a star employee. No one wants to feel overworked no matter how much the company may benefit.

 

The employee should also be gaining something in this regard, such as completing bookkeeping courses which will enable him to manage a new account. Not only does the company benefit, but so does the employee in upskilling himself.

 

Allow employees to have tailored schedules that may push work performance. An extra hour in the day may get your employees to spend extra time with their loved ones or to go to the gym to get them ready to take on the day.

 

Remember their birthday

 

Employers may feel employees’ birthdays have nothing to do with them, but a simple “Happy birthday” from the boss can make someone feel valued and acknowledged.

 

Don’t say one thing and mean another

 

Follow through on your promises or negotiations with employees. If you ask an employee to invest into a project, only to ignore the results or scrap the project without any follow-up, you will end up dampening their morale. Always be committed and engage with employees about anything outstanding even if you may deem it as not important.

 

Offer complimentary time

 

Their contracts might state that they may be asked in future to work overtime or over the weekend on special projects. Bear in mind that working weekends is no small deed, especially for employees who work from Monday to Friday. Grant them complimentary time or grant them some other form of reward for going the extra mile.