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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The Pandemic has given us the term “the New Normal.” The new “work-from-home” paradigm also entails the term “Digital Nomad.” Are “Digital Nomads” synchronous with “the New Normal?” Many define “Digital Nomads” as workers with the independence to produce anywhere, anytime. 

“The New Normal” developed at the outbreak of the Pandemic, only a year and a half ago, and provides workers the flexibility to work at home as necessary. “Digital Nomads” are nothing new. However, these “extreme” remote workers have seen their roles expand and develop considerably during this period.

A few small countries have even started allowing “digital nomad” visas for workers who want to “work in paradise.” These countries include Bermuda, Mauritius, and Montserrat, as well as several European countries. But is a “digital nomad” really the same as a hybrid worker? Let’s flesh this out.

Who are Digital Nomads?

“Digital Nomads” live out-of-reach of their office headquarters. Younger workers, as well as retirees, have increasingly adopted these arrangements. Many employers have decided to focus on output rather than “presenteeism” Such arrangements have even become more common indirect employer-employee relationships, and are no longer the sole domain of freelancers and casual workers.

Communication Issues

Such an arrangement could be perfect for many business relationships. Other relationships, not so much. Good candidates for “digital nomads” may include creative workers using their own resources, as well as positions with limited client contact. Such “extreme” remote positions should allow relative independence from management. 

“Digital nomads” are not people who need detailed instruction in office processes. Oftentimes, such workers are creative workers who function successfully as their own mobile small businesses. Workers who might need to be called into the office periodically are not good candidates for “remote work visas.”

For example, in some cases, an employer may require a worker’s presence in an in-person client meeting. Successful employers and contractors foresee these demands before committing to arrangements such as, for example, procurement of a remote work visa.

Security Issues

Employers should consider possible security breaches when considering the scope of remote relationships. Some workers may have access to secure information. These workers may need a closer relationship with their home base. For example, each device containing secure information presents a security risk. Assuming the presence of sensitive information, loose monitoring of such devices is bad practice.

Expenses for Remote Work Visas

A visa for “working in paradise” generally costs several hundred dollars for the visa itself as well as proof of income. “Paradise” can include diverse remote island countries as well as several European countries including Germany, Portugal, Iceland, and Croatia. Each country offers its own price for the visa itself, in addition to income thresholds levels to prove robust links with the employer.

“Hybrid Workers” versus “Digital Nomads

Business owners should distinguish between workers who might qualify for “hybrid roles” and workers who might become full-blown “Digital Nomads.” “Digital Nomads” can work in far remote locations with no physical contact with management. The employee’s role should be established and meticulously carved out before initiating an entirely remote arrangement. 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

Emergency Utility Shutoffs for Business Owners

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Shutoffs can ruin businesses when bills are not paid. However, business owners may need to shut off services as emergencies arise. Climate change has increased the frequency of weather events, and events of the past year highlight the challenges of social change as well.

One advantage of a small business is the ability to adapt better than larger organizations. As such, Veteran Small Business Owners should plan for survival in tragic situations. 

Shutting off Electricity:

Weather events could bring a host of problems for the electrical grid. Businesses might need to close due to a variety of local climatic phenomena. Windstorms, brush fires, and snowstorms could each render transportation systems unusable, preventing the involvement of utility companies and first responders. An earthquake could damage the wiring in the business structure itself. 

The first contact in a natural disaster should be the electric company. Use extreme caution before tampering with electrical equipment. Hopefully, an on-site maintenance person can handle any issues. 

Only a worst-case scenario warrants the presence of an untrained small business owner in the utility room. In such a case, wait for instructions from the electric company or fire department. However, shutting off the electricity is actually fairly straightforward. Just remember the danger absent proper safety precautions. First, make sure the power is off. A voltage tester can accomplish this task. Then, switch all circuit breakers to the off position. Finally, do the same to the main circuit or fuse.

Never perform these tasks in the case of flooding. Avoid water in contact with electrical equipment. In such a case, the electric company is the best contact for the long-term resolution of the problem.

Shutting off Gas

As with electricity, the gas should only be turned off on the advice of the utility company or the fire department. Once the gas is turned off, wait for a professional to turn the gas back on. However, everyone should at least know how to turn off the main valve.

The scent of natural gas should be a red flag, as should the sounds of hissing and blowing. Each could indicate a leak. The main shutoff valve, often called the street-side valve, is generally where the main pipe first enters the building, just before the gas meter. A tool such as a wrench is usually necessary in such a circumstance. Additional shutoff valves may be located near any appliances that utilize gas.

Generally, gas companies don’t want consumers tampering with their equipment. Small business owners should only resort to such measures after outright instructions from the company or the fire department. A natural disaster may provide the context for such a situation.

Shutting off Water

Natural disasters may often involve flooding. Dangers from flooding may extend well beyond the water damage to physical property. Contact with electrical equipment could create a deathtrap.

Additionally, turning off the water protects from contamination, and ensures that clean water won’t drain through damaged water lines. In fact, business owners are well-advised to turn off the water during periods of vacancy.

As with gas, the main shutoff valve maybe near the meter. Proprietors may find the meter outside the house or in a basement area. A plumber may help locate the correct meter for use in emergencies. Never confuse the water meter with the gas meter. 

Again, as with gas, individual shutoff valves may be located near appliances that use water, such as refrigerators, toilets, and sinks. These valves are useful whenever these appliances need repairs.

Overall Safety Considerations

Always consider the safety ramifications of tampering with gas and electricity. Generally, only professionals should handle these utilities. Given an emergency or natural disaster, the fire department or utility company should give the green light before the involvement of a layperson. However, an understanding of the gas and electrical systems could come in handy in the event these services become unavailable. 

Smaller businesses have the advantage of tighter understanding and control over their instrumentalities. This understanding should include the last resort in the case of emergencies and disasters. Given changes in the social and environmental fabric, such events may only increase over time.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

Resisting the Urge to Micromanage

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

New business owners sometimes invest their life’s work into business ideas. The possibility of a failed business can be devastating and a hard pill to swallow. The emotional and economic commitment might lead to unhealthy management tactics in the early stages.

The practicalities of meeting the bottom line should govern early management decisions. These practicalities often require interpersonal skills. In other words, the entrepreneur should work with subordinates rather than overpowering them. “Helicopter management” may be off the table as the team develops processes to best exploit human resources within the company itself.

Respect and trust should govern the onboarding process. Management should stay mindful that, when they finally must navigate the hiring process, they are bargaining for talent. Talent merits the respect and should be treated well.

Of course. business owners need to monitor employees. At the same time, never forget the importance of healthy boundaries. Lines must be drawn between the autonomy of employees and the visions of their employers. These lines ensure the proper balance between the employees’ dignity and the employer’s bottom line. This balance could bring about the harmony that leads to the fulfillment of a company’s potential.

From the perspective of an employee, controlling managers cause anxiety that may diminish work performance. However, the temptation to micromanage may overwhelm a new Veteran Business Owner. These new frontline workers, after all, may hold the business owner’s life aspirations in their hands. 

Business owners need good results to stay alive. Good business processes and operations are key to the bottom line. However, employees themselves bring their own skills into the business enterprise, which managers should exploit to everyone’s advantage. In some cases, perhaps establishing a 1099 relationship might allow greater synergy between the needs of the employee and employer. A 1099 relationship may increase the employee’s independence while allowing the employer more flexibility as well until the employment relationship solidifies into something more traditional.

The middle ground for an entrepreneur is to find the right “processes” for your business. “Processes” should lead the business on the most efficient path to its bottom line. However, “business processes” are not the same thing as “red-tape.” For-profit businesses have no business administering bureaucracies that interfere with worker productivity. One function of a new business is to find the right functions and operations to increase efficiency.

Businesses build relationships with their workers as each of them grows into their respective roles, and better understand their needs within each of their own niches of the economy. Good relationships with front-line workers always play crucial roles in a business’s capacity to function. 

Business owners should always stay mindful of the needs of their workers as well as their own needs. Often, new businesses adventure into diverse paths in their roads to viable moneymaking status. Likewise, these workers often bring in their own skills that may function in diverse ways to the benefit of the business. Rather than belittling their front-line workforce, business owners should integrate employees into their developing business processes in a manner that decreases costs while increasing the quality of the workday for everyone.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Who knew? Labor and supply shortages are creating havoc and cursing small businesses now more than ever, especially in the wake of reopening. Behemoths such as Amazon and Walmart have their safety nets. Smaller establishments must struggle with what they have. As a result, gaps in service plague the reputations and growth of their smaller counterparts.

Unfortunately for Veteran Business Owners, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 8.1 million job openings at the end of March, a new record. The pandemic only exacerbated a preexisting trend, and the reasons vary. 

Suggestions have included a lack of training opportunities, supercharged unemployment benefits, a mismatched skill set, and fear due to the pandemic for many. Whatever the cause, a shortage of qualified workers has left employers in the lurch despite a continuously shrinking workforce.

Gaps in service are a result, often leaving angry customers. This anger often shows up online. These days, an online presence can make or break a company. Angry reviews can pose real threats to a struggling business.

The trend nowadays is for buyers overwhelmingly to check their business’ online presence. How can business owners minimize angry diatribes on forums such as Yelp, Bing, Google My Business, and Facebook? Small employers are finding themselves trapped between the rock of the labor shortage and the hard place of customer satisfaction. The best short-term fix is better communication.

Business owners should build trust with their client base. Patrons should understand that they can work with the management of a company. These kinds of positive working relationships best protect smaller businesses from online reputational issues, which may leave business owners feeling helpless in their marketing efforts. Good working relationships often rest on a foundation of good communication, one of the variables that managers may control in this economic environment.

Methods of communication may vary. Updating profiles on relevant online business platforms is an easy first step. The business’s profiles on the above online platforms should provide up-to-date hours and terms of service. When possible, these sites should also include explanations for any changes in these terms. Additionally, a business owner should address any negative reviews directly as soon as possible.

Some verbal strategies can improve the outcome of discussions with a dissatisfied customer. For example, first, the person in charge should remain calm during a confrontation. Second, active listening can demonstrate that the manager understands the grievance.  Active listening methods generally emphasize engagement in the discussion. In other words, managers should not remain passive targets in these matters. One such technique may involve rephrasing the complaints in a manner that demonstrates a genuine understanding of the customer’s issues with their service. 

Finally, management should demonstrate their understanding of the weight of the problem and if possible, let the customer know the relevant steps for resolving such issues in the future.

Early communication with dissatisfied customers may prevent escalation or even an angry Yelp review. Overall, the goal is a synergy between the needs of the client and the capacities of the owner. During these novel times, business owners should engage any necessary communication techniques to achieve a meeting of the minds that leaves all parties satisfied and at peace.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

Questions to Ask Before Starting a New Business

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Many Americans are evaluating their lives and how they make their livings. Driven by factors such as safety, job security, life purpose, future goals, and work-life balance, the COVID-19 pandemic has led a lot more people to question whether now is the right time to start their own business.

Do you dream of creating your own product line? Setting your own hours? Being your own boss? Starting your own business can really help you take control of your life and work, take charge, add flexibility, learn new experiences, connect better with peers, and broaden yourself as a person.

Business owners are not special super humans.   They are normal people who have big ideas and work very hard to turn their ideas into reality. Every business owner is different but there are a few key traits that they all seem to have in common. To help you decide if starting a business is right for you, below are some basic questions to ask yourself before making the leap.

1.) Can you make important decisions quickly?

Problems arise all the time in business, and it is very important that the business owner can respond to them quickly, decisively, and with a clear head. You will also need to be able to handle any consequences that may occur after the problem has been resolved. Being a business owner, requires you to have confidence under pressure but not arrogance. You need to be able to be part of the team you build, have confidence in each other’s skills, accept that mistakes will happen, and be able to learn from those mistakes to move forward. If you struggle to make effective decisions quickly, owning a business will be more difficult for you.

2.) Do you have energy? 

Running a business is a lot of work. You need to have a high level of energy and excited to grow your brand. If you are the type of person who is constantly seeking after-work hobbies, weekend projects, and other activities, you may have the energy to start a new business.

3.) Are you creative?

Creativity is a key aspect of owning a business.  It is important to have the ability to think out of the box. As the owner, you will be required to constantly come up with new ideas.   These new ideas may include but not be limited to new product ideas, lead generating strategies, marketing thoughts, revenue boosting activities, improving the company culture, and more. If you are usually bursting with new ideas, a business is a great way for you to share those ideas with the rest of the world.

4.) Do you like to solve problems?

A business owner is basically a full-time problem solver. As we touched on in point #1, problems constantly arise in business. These problems should be viewed as opportunities and challenges rather than setbacks. As the owner, you cannot afford to be easily discouraged by setbacks or bad news. You need to be able to push forward and continue working hard. So, if you love solving problems and are not easily discouraged, business ownership could be for you.  VAMBOA wishes you great success.

Regardless of how you answered the above questions, we hope that you can see that business ownership is not out of your reach if it is something you are interested in. If you are even slightly creative, energetic, and love to solve problems plus you have a great idea for a business, now is one of the best times to get started.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Don’t forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

 

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