90% of employers are small employers and for many small employers OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is a scary branch of the government. My husband has been in school for the last 2 years working on getting his degree in Health and Safety Management. If you have had a spouse go to school (or even take classes), you know that means everyone is in school then. So, I’ve been learning a lot more than I ever knew was to learn about this topic and have learned that while, yes, small business does have to meet requirements too – the real point is to have safe and healthy employees. Today, for Day 3 of Occupational Health & Safety Week, I want to get you some resources to meet that goal.
The OSHA website has a Compliance Assistance Quick Start guide to help you get started.
As a small business owner, providing workers with a safe and healthy workplace is critical to the wellbeing of your employees and the success of your business, whether you operate a construction business, dry cleaners, print shop, or just a regular nine-to-five office, providing workers with a safe workplace is not only critical to the health of your employees and the success of your business (recent government estimates place the business cost associated with occupational injuries at close to $170 billion in company profits) but it is also the law. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employers must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to your employees.
The following workplace safety and health resources from the U.S. Department of Labor‘s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will help you understand requirements that apply to your business and how to comply.
- Find the Workplace Health and Safety Requirements that Apply to You – Follow this step-by-step guide to pinpoint which OSHA requirements apply to your workplace and how you can comply.
- Request an On-Site Consultation Service – Get free advice from trained state government staff at your place of work.
- State-Specific Requirements – Some states do operate their own job safety and health programs. Check here to see which states have OSHA-approved plans and the standards they mandate.
- Training and Educational Programs – Take advantage of a wide selection of training courses and educational programs offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for employers.
There is even an OSHA handbook for Small Business to help. Additionally, a division of the CDC, the The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a great website full of resources too.
I know it seems overwhelming, I was a small business owner and felt the same pressures trying to both run a business and not run afoul of laws and regulations. But, take a small step. Click on one of the links above and find out something you didn’t know before that can make your worksite a better, safer place for your employees. After all, without them safely able to do their jobs, what business do you have anyway?
Almost Nuts! Crazy Snack Food is a company that has created a healthy snack based on Non-Genetically Modified Organism (non-GMO) soybeans.
The company began as organic grain farmers that had one bad year after dealing with poor weather and broken equipment. Finally, as farmer Darren was plowing his underdeveloped soybean crop back into the ground, an idea struck him. Dry Roast these beans! Running into the house with this new inspiration at 2AM he woke farmer Jennifer up and said “Hurry Jennifer, get up and cook these” to which farmer Jennifer said “You’re crazy, I’ll do it in the morning.” Needless to say, after much research and development they now have a wonderful product to eat.
“As farmers we had little training in the business world and have loved the learning process and development,” said Jennifer Kornowske, CEO of Almost Nuts! Crazy Snack Food. “We feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with the Packer Mentor Protégée Program, because it gave us a wonderful opportunity to better understand the finical side of a
company and how it should function at a larger level.”
When Jennifer and Darren first applied to the Green Bay Packer Protégé Mentor Program they were pumped up to participate and then felt honored that their little company was selected as a protégée. At the first meeting the mentor’s event they were able to interview so many great mentors, but when they got Lonnie Charles table they knew they had found their mentor.
Lonnie Charles works for DPACC member Wipfli LLP which is an accounting and business consulting firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and accounting and business is where the Kornowske’s needed the most help.
“I began to cry. I knew we needed his help desperately and was embarrassed and fearful of how needy we were in our financial department,” said Kornowske. “All of a sudden I was personally flooded with emotion because of how inadequate I felt in the accounting department.”
Through the next year Lonnie met with Darren and Jennifer every week, rarely missing an appointment. Lonnie’s calm and peaceful personality and his dedication helped Jennifer become comfortable and willing to get more involved in the accounting part of her company, Almost Nuts!.
“Now we are more organized, efficient, and accurate in so many areas of our company because of what Lonnie was able to teach us,” said Jennifer Kornowske. “I no longer cry in the face of paper work, tax season only took 30 minutes instead of 3 weeks, inventory is accurate, and sales are up.”
Jennifer and Darren Kornowske of Almost Nuts! Crazy Snack Foods are grateful to the help which the Green Bay Packer Protégé-Mentor Program has given them, especially the help given by their mentor Lonnie Charles.
“I believe it has been a successful tool for us and wish I could continue to participate in the Packer Mentor Protégée Program because it is a valuable tool for small companies to get information and hands on education from successful people that volunteer their service to improve Green Bay and the community one company at a time,” said Jennifer Kornowske.
“This program is so valuable and I hope it continues for a very long time.”
The Green Bay Packer Mentor- Protégé Program established in 2011 to pair emerging minority- and woman-owned companies (protégés) with established, knowledgeable, and committed companies (mentors) that can provide exposure, appropriate training, resources and experience not readily available to the protégé companies.
The Packers and AFF Research, LLC, administrators of the Mentor-Protégé Program, are committed to the continuing success of the program and to the community of businesses that benefit from it.
Byline: Claire Westlie, PR Intern DPACC
About a week ago, a reader commented on a blog entry and brought the Wounded Warrior Project to our attention. We were fascinated and Claire Westlie, our PR intern, has written today’s post about the project:
As the dog days of summer approach, people are inclined to relax, head to the great outdoors and spend time with their families. All this is great, but it’s important to remember the people who fight for us to be able to enjoy life as we do.
How can members of the De Pere and greater Green Bay area community remember and honor our United States Veterans?
One action people can take is to support The Wounded Warrior Project.
The Wounded Warrior Project began in 2003 after the first of the wounded service members began returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq and needed help to re-establishing into their communities.
Nine years later, WWP has become a complete rehabilitation effort to assist warriors through mind, body, engagement and economic engagement programs as they recover and transition back into civilian life. The program is available to all military who have suffered injury on or after September 11, 2001.
For more information please visit http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/ .
A local action people can take is to support the City Stadium Run for Veterans.
The City Stadium Run for Veterans is being organized as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. The 5k Run and Walk fundraiser is set for September 8th. Organizers say the event will bring more awareness to Veterans and all proceeds will be donated to the traveling amputee softball team.
For more information please visit http://wtaq.com/news/articles/2012/apr/28/5k-fundraiser-announced-for-wounded-warrior-amputee-softball-team/ .
Finally, simply thank a veteran. Thank with them your whole heart and tell them you appreciate them.
Enjoy the dog days of summer and remember those who fight for you and your family.
Ed: Claire is continuing to research and we hope to bring future stories about local businesses created by this project. Please let us know if you know of any!
Inspiration (in-spuh-rey-shuhn): An influence that motivates.
Diana Gustin’s inspiration was her son Drew, who has been diagnosed with Down ’s syndrome. Gustin use this as motivation to start her own company Heart@Work, to employ adults with disabilities to produce gourmet popcorn that is sold through retail locations, corporate gifts, and fundraisers. However, it doesn’t stop there, Heart@Work also provides vocational and education training for its employees. Heart@Work also is a one of the companies of that is participating in the Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé Program.
Administered by AFF Research LLC of Green Bay, the program enables established businesses with emerging businesses. Through the 12 month term, the minority- or women-owned businesses will be given specific tools, business exposure, training, materials and resources that cannot be easily attained.
Before the participants were ever chosen, Gustin approached the application process with a nothing ventured, nothing gained-attitude. She felt as the program would not be as beneficial as one would think; however, when Heart@Work was paired with Eli Swanson, Jason Hunt and Chris Hussin from Boradman and Clark Law Firm in Madison, the benefits were immediate. With the three attorneys and the Board Members believing in the mission behind the company, and having the confidence in Gustin, it was all she needed. The acceptance from her peers gave her motivation to do more with her company and remember that she is not only doing this for her son, but for mentally challenged children’s and adults across the nation and world.
During the program, the protégé is required to outline a specific goal that they hoped to accomplish during the year, along with how the company measures the success of those goals and the commitment to a monthly meeting with the mentors to follow-up on the process. This requirement was a great lesson for Gustin, as it helped her with defined and focused goal setting. In addition, her mentors provided legal advice and support in areas that Gustin would never have though to focus on. Most importantly, Gustin says the sincere enthusiasm and support toward her mission and product kept her energized and moving forward.
As her company mission does for people with disabilities, she feels the Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé Program does for small businesses. It provides the support that enables small business to grow to its full potential. For Heart@Work and the inspiration that is behind it, it will continue to be inspired and continue to inspire others.
Excellent Customer Service for 2012
1. Focus on the Customer: It may seem obvious that we must focus more on the customer in 2012, we all are sufficiently tempted by plenty of day-to-day distractions that divert your attention away from doing the things that engage and excite consumers about our product, service or brand.
Have a much greater focus on the customer experience and do everything you can to ensure that all of your systems, processes, programs, policies, initiatives and procedures have one end in mind: to strengthen your focus on the customer experience.
Everything you decide to do in the coming year, from a strategic, operational or budgeting perspective, must revolve around this one resolution: Putting Our Customers at the Very Top of Our Priority List … and Keeping Our Customers at the Top of the List.
2. Focus on the Customer Service Representative: The front-line employee who interacts directly with the customer is the single-most important ambassador a company has; they should be the standard-bearers of your Company’s Vision and Brand. The company’s very reputation and Brand Promise must be conveyed to your valued customer.
As Customer Service Leaders, resolve in 2012 to start recognizing your front-line customer service representatives. They are your customer service soldiers in their role. As leaders, start understanding your role is to shape the resources, systems and processes as tools the front-line customer service representatives can use to heighten and improve the customer experience. Make sure you are providing your customer service representatives with the competencies and skills to do their job well, and then reward them in tangible and meaningful ways when they are successful.
Invite them to be the face of the company in a meaningful way … then observe in wonder as they gain the ability and the motivation to knock the customer’s socks off.
3. Focus on Each Individual Customer Service Touchpoint: In 2012, focus on the critical value of the singular Customer Service Touchpoint with your customers; the one interaction – the next call, e-mail or chat – the single customer service interaction that might be your one chance to carry that customer to loyalty and maximum profitability.
The power of that one customer experience touchpoint is undeniable. You have to do everything you possibly can to transform that customer experience touchpoint into a customer loyalty experience that will have the customer buzzing about the way you answered his question, solved his problem or gave him direction.
You just never know what might come out of the singular customer service touchpoint with a customer. It could be that as soon as the customer disconnects from the call, email or chat or he walks out of your store that he will forget about you. However, it could also very well be that immediately after having had a great customer service experience or a horrible experience that he tweets a message, posts something on his Facebook page or shares his experience with a party of six at lunch.
Copyright 2012. Reprinted with permission from Barbara Wold’s Retail & Consumer Tips
Main Street Managers are about as “on the street” people as exist and as such have some great insights into what is currently happening and what to expect. The following comes from Nadeen Steffey (Main Street Manager, Our Town Cooperative – Borough of Canonsburg Main Street Program), who shared this via Linkedin:
2012, A Year of Change — Top Ten Changes
1. Weekday Convenience and Weekend Experience
These will be the major drivers in 2012 in retailing. The consumer will expect you to provide convenience during the week which may mean you will need to offer different services and possibly longer hours. During the weekend customers want your store to WOW them and therefore more theatrical events will need to be organized on weekends to catch the consumer’s attention.
2. Avoid the Big Ticket Items
Consumers will be more frugal this year. This reduction in spending will not affect all retailers, in fact sharp retailers in the food and garden sector could see an increase in sales as families stay at home, cooking and gardening become more of a pastime. But, it will be the small ticket items that will prosper. The big ticket items are the ones that you will find difficult to sell. Furniture, carpet retailers, etc. will especially find it more difficult to survive while food and garden retailers whether the storm.
3. Social media de-cluttering as a marketing tool
Many social media guru’s are predicting that business people will start analyzing which social media channels are really working for their businesses. Discard some and focus on others. Social media will be a major marketing tool. Those retailers who do not join in the social media marketing surge will quickly get left behind, but it will be a less cluttered social media world.
4. Video and Pictures will grow as Marketing tools
A picture is worth a 1,000 words so the saying goes. Businesses will be putting more videos and more pictures online to sell their story to their customers. This may be an important area to learn new skills.
5. Fewer staff, but better staff
Many retailers have forgotten how important their people are and have forgotten to train them in how to be the best hosts in town. In this area of common sense many businesses are failing badly. Customer interaction will be a real key to success.
6. Networking with other retailers
Independent businesses cannot survive on their own. The future means networking either in a group within the industry sector or with retailers within your community, or better yet, in both areas. To be a truly independent retailer and not engage with other retailers could be a major mistake.
7. Your Local Community will be the key
Customers will engage with retailers that they feel support their community. This is why farmers markets have been so successful in recent years. The consumers want to know your values and want you to be consistent in getting that message across.
8. Price flexibility
All the research shows that price is a driver and nothing will change in 2012. Many retailers have been too inflexible in their pricing and we will see a lot more price flexibility in 2012. This does not mean discounting. There may be special offers, but at the same time other products may be increased in price.
9. Seasonality will reappear
Retailers will need to celebrate all the seasons. Re-embrace the seasons and use this as a marketing opportunity.
10. Fewer but better
There will be fewer retailers doing what you do. But, the retailers who are left will be stronger as a result of the clean out that is taking place.
Let me share a quick story with you.
I traveled the country for 7 months this past year giving presentations and doing research for my book.
I traveled in my RV.
How did I find my next campground or RV resort?
Not once did I use the 2 inch thick book I purchased.
Instead, I Googled “Clovis RV resorts”, for example.
I didn’t go to the websites of the RV resorts that came up in the results.
Instead, I checked out the ratings and comments. If the rating and comments were positive, I then went to the business’ site to check fees and availability.
This is so important for small businesses to realize. I trusted strangers opinions first.
If the comments were strongly negative I moved on to the next listing. Even just slightly negative comments influenced where I would stay and spend my money.
Check out this graphic on how highly we value the opinions of others (friends and strangers).
You don’t fully control your marketing and message anymore.
I gave a presentation this week to an audience of small business folks, arranged through a convention and visitors bureau, on how tourism-related business needed to be active in social media marketing if they wanted a competitive advantage (and stay relevant).
If you have a small business, this next section is very important to your success, now and in the future.
First, understand that you don’t have full control of your marketing. Your customers, and even strangers, are having a bigger and bigger impact.
This is important for you to accept because the old way of advertising and marketing are going away.
Check out these statistic on travelers:
•87% said reviews impacted hotel choice
•84% said reviews impacted method of travel
•78% said reviews impacted choice of dining
And this truth from the founder of the National Speaker Association: “Since 95% of people are imitators and only 5% initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.”
If you add up all the facts:
- People trust the opinions of others more than they trust your marketing.
- People can easily see comments and ratings today through an Internet search.
- People are followers by nature.
- No matter how good you truly are, your prospects are going to defer to others when making purchase decisions. It is not fair but that is life.
Now, having said that, what should you do about it?
- Make sure your business is listed correctly in the rating directories like Google and Yelp.
- Encourage your happy customers to post positive comments and give you high ratings. Use signage. Ask.
- Encourage your customers to check-in on Facebook Places and Foursquare. Those are endorsements.
- Make sure that you are listening for your business’ name out on the web. Reshare the positive comments and answer the negative ones professionaly. Turn the bad ones around by being proactive.
Take your first action right now by using Google Alerts. It’s free.
Back to me…
This article caught my eye because I do the EXACT SAME THING! If I’m at my computer and I’m shopping with time, yes, I check websites, photos and such – but on the road, I use my phone or, lately, Ipad – and I ALWAYS check the reviews. If there are a number of bad ones or some so so and one bad I keep looking.
And? I LOVE Google Alerts. I have 4 set up right now to follow us and things I’m interested in. I recommend our Ambassadors use them for interest areas to be able to be of interest & help to those in their networking circle. Love Google Alerts. Free. Easy. Free. Helpful. Free. Make me look good. Easy. Free. Keep me informed. Did I mention free and easy?
By Jim Blasingame, Special to The Commercial Appeal
Continuing the series on small-business responses to poll questions on our e-newsletter and website, recently we asked this question about e-commerce: How much of your annual revenue comes from online sales? Compare your answer to what our respondents said:
– Five percent said all revenue came from e-commerce.
– Fourteen percent said more than half of their sales came from the Internet.
– A little more than half said e-commerce represented less than 50 percent of total sales.
– One-quarter said they had no online sales at all.
E-commerce has been around for a big chunk of the commercial Internet age, which began in 1995 when unencumbered access to the Internet was fully allowed.
In terms of historical marketplace practices, however, e-commerce is just a baby. So I’m actually quite pleased with the mix of responses we received, indicating that 75 percent of small businesses are generating some e-commerce revenue.
But over the next five years, there will be significant increased pressure to generate online sales.
According to the research firm, Forrester, online sales will reach $248.7 billion in the next five years, accounting for 8 percent of total U.S. retail sales by 2014. But the next statistic may be more important (read: ominous) for small businesses.
Forrester also predicts that by 2014, over half of all retail sales will be influenced by online product and company research before customers make a purchase. The reason this stat is so significant is because of another piece of research that produced this astonishing number: Half of small businesses do not have a website.
Regardless of size or industry, no business can expect to be successful in the future without a web presence. Even if you don’t sell online, you must be available online so prospects can find you the way people are looking today. Here are two words that make having a website even more of an imperative: local search.
Local search is increasingly replacing the phone book or dialing 411. Even when customers don’t expect a business to have e-commerce capability, like a restaurant or dry cleaners, they do expect to be able to find you online, with product offerings, directions and a clickable phone number.
If you don’t have a website, get one; today you can actually get a simple one for free. And unless you sell nuclear products or Stinger missiles, please, find a way to offer e-commerce to your customers; It’s not free, but it’s no longer cost-prohibitive.
Write this on a rock …
Serving customers online is not an option, it’s an imperative
If you are small businesses, with fewer than 25 full-time workers, pay average annual wages below $50,000, and provide health insurance while covering at least 50% of the premium cost you are probably eligible for a tax credit under the recently passed health care reform legislation.
An eligible small business could qualify for a tax credit of up to 35% of premiums paid in 2010. With the cost of health insurance, that could be significant!
Go to this link at irs.gov for more information. Additionally, Senator Feingold’s office has created a small business tax credit calculator to give you an idea of the credit amount for your business. Click HERE to get to it.
“FINANCING AND GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING FOR SMALL BUSINESS”
May 7th, 2010
711 E. Boldt Way Appleton, WI 54911
Warch Campus Center
(Julie Esch Hurvis Room)
LEARN HOW TO DO BUSINESS WITH THE GOVERNMENT
MEET WITH LENDERS TO REVIEW FINANCING OPTIONS
MEET WITH SBA AND WISCONSIN PROCUREMENT REPRESENTATIVES
RSVP: Amanda at 920-380-0061 or Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org