Developing an App or a Game? Take a (Retro) Lesson From 'PAC-MAN.'

Developing an App or a Game? Take a (Retro) Lesson From 'PAC-MAN.'

Designing modern software to mimic retro games gives people a quick way to complete something and feel accomplished. People like that.

Twitter as a Customer Support Channel

Most customer service channels consist of telephone or email, and often the experience, especially over the phone, is not particularly user friendly. Reflecting on your past personal experiences with other companies’ customer service departments, chances are that you have had to wait on hold for ages to be connected to the correct person or wait for days for an email response. With the proliferation of Twitter though, customer service is experiencing a revolution.

Twitter provides a new dimension to customer service; it allows companies to reduce customer wait times and also the expensive costs associated with a call center. At the same time, it helps businesses build a reputable brand image (if it’s used correctly).

Why Twitter shines as a support tool

Unlike traditional channels, i.e., telephone, Twitter users don’t expect an immediate reply. A delay of a couple of hours is acceptable. That’s not to say, however, that you can’t send immediate support responses as soon as you receive them.

Another benefit of using Twitter as a customer service channel is that any support you give is in the public domain, which can have a positive effect on your company’s public perception – especially if you do a good job.

Solve customer problems quickly

Try to be as prompt as possible when responding to customers. Our guidance to the support staff in our company is to first inform the customer that our team has received the message and we are looking into it (if it’s not possible to respond with the correct answer immediately).

If the answer cannot be provided on Twitter as it is too complex, then we give the customer details on how to contact us on or direct them to a support document on our website.

Save on costs

Having your customer service reps use Twitter to respond to customer inquiries is less expensive than hiring a call center. Using Twitter’s response function is a smart idea, because all exchanges are public and thus are indexed. Customers seeking information might find the answer to their question on your Twitter profile page and therefore might not need to contact you at all.

Another benefit is that you increase your efficiency in responding to customer questions. Because Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, customers need to be concise and precise in their demands. More precise information, in turn, can help you meet demand more quickly.

Track conversations and improve customer support

To provide impeccable customer service on Twitter, track all of the conversations you have with customers as well as other mentions about your brand. Keep information such as the customer’s name, username, product name and comments so you get an idea of what people think of your business and can monitor any trends.

Monitoring tools exist to help you with this task, and most alert you by email when information about your business or products is published online. By tracking trends, you can refine your customer support by fine-tuning it to increase overall customer satisfaction.

Be available to answer queries

If you decide to utilize Twitter for customer support, make sure your team is available to respond to customer tweets. Availability is a key element on Twitter. If you set up an account and then don’t use it, then the public perception will definitely be a negative one.

Use Twitter to build brand reputation

In addition to providing a powerful platform for customer support, Twitter allows you to build your online reputation. It can shorten your response time, resolve issues intelligently, build a more personal relationship with your followers and reach more potential customers.

Why Cybersecurity and Branding Must Always Work Together

Few things damage an organization’s reputation more severely than a massive data breach. After all, consumers and businesses value their privacy and security when doing business online. They trust companies to handle their personal and financial information with utmost care. Suffer a severe data breach that compromises that data, and you can quickly end up with a disaster on your hands.

Businesses use computers and the internet for a range of different activities, from taking payments to marketing their wares to the masses. Some of the largest and most popular brands in the world have suffered public relations disasters due to data breaches. Target, one of the largest discount retailers in the U.S., suffered a devastating data breach during the holiday season of 2013. Affecting millions of customers, the retailer ended up in the midst of a public relations meltdown. This was further compounded by the way the company handled the situation, which left it open to class action lawsuits as well as fallout from millions of angry customers.

How data breaches affect your reputation

No one is immune to data breaches, and they can happen to a company of any size at any time. While you should always take every proactive measure to reduce the risk of a breach, it’s critical to have a robust disaster response plan in place. That is something that Target, well, missed the target on.

It’s only reasonable to expect that if you suffer a data breach, disgruntled customers will turn to social media. No company can expect to experience a cybersecurity disaster without suffering consequences. That doesn’t mean your brand should endure permanent damage to its reputation. However, your customers and the public will be watching closely to see how you respond to a data breach.

If it’s not dealt with promptly, a severe data breach can quickly spiral out of control, along with your reputation. Damage control entails being there for your customers, reassuring them that you’re taking every possible step to remedy the situation. If you don’t communicate with your customers openly, honestly, and promptly, you can expect the following results:

  • You become the subject of highly negative social media chatter
  • Negative ratings and reviews flood the internet and dominate Google
  • Your company is listed on scam advisory websites
  • Legal action may be taken if your business is found to be at fault

As the above points illustrate, a data breach can quickly mushroom from being a crisis to a disaster that can ultimately cause you to close your business. In fact, it has been estimated that 60 percent of small companies go out of business within six months of suffering a cyberattack.

How to avoid becoming a statistic

The first step is to take every available measure to reduce the chance of a cyberattack occurring in the first place. Further, establishing a solid crisis plan is every bit as crucial. Without an up-to-date crisis plan, which takes into consideration your current business processes and systems, your business will not have the confidence to address the situation adequately.

Transparency is also essential for avoiding long-term damage to your reputation. That means being open with your customers and owning up to your failures sooner rather than later. After all, the damage has already been done, but failing to disclose information about the attack will only cause the damage to increase exponentially.

A formal admission and apology is the first step toward mitigating long-term damage to your reputation. The next step is to work hard to rebuild your customer relations by offering compensation and support that goes above and beyond what your customers expect. That also means maintaining a strong presence on social media to keep your audience informed of new developments.

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3WbTKBOYto&w=640&h=360]

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Why Cybersecurity and Branding Must Always Work Together

Few things damage an organization’s reputation more severely than a massive data breach. After all, consumers and businesses value their privacy and security when doing business online. They trust companies to handle their personal and financial information with utmost care. Suffer a severe data breach that compromises that data, and you can quickly end up with a disaster on your hands.

Businesses use computers and the internet for a range of different activities, from taking payments to marketing their wares to the masses. Some of the largest and most popular brands in the world have suffered public relations disasters due to data breaches. Target, one of the largest discount retailers in the U.S., suffered a devastating data breach during the holiday season of 2013. Affecting millions of customers, the retailer ended up in the midst of a public relations meltdown. This was further compounded by the way the company handled the situation, which left it open to class action lawsuits as well as fallout from millions of angry customers.

How data breaches affect your reputation

No one is immune to data breaches, and they can happen to a company of any size at any time. While you should always take every proactive measure to reduce the risk of a breach, it’s critical to have a robust disaster response plan in place. That is something that Target, well, missed the target on.

It’s only reasonable to expect that if you suffer a data breach, disgruntled customers will turn to social media. No company can expect to experience a cybersecurity disaster without suffering consequences. That doesn’t mean your brand should endure permanent damage to its reputation. However, your customers and the public will be watching closely to see how you respond to a data breach.

If it’s not dealt with promptly, a severe data breach can quickly spiral out of control, along with your reputation. Damage control entails being there for your customers, reassuring them that you’re taking every possible step to remedy the situation. If you don’t communicate with your customers openly, honestly, and promptly, you can expect the following results:

  • You become the subject of highly negative social media chatter
  • Negative ratings and reviews flood the internet and dominate Google
  • Your company is listed on scam advisory websites
  • Legal action may be taken if your business is found to be at fault

As the above points illustrate, a data breach can quickly mushroom from being a crisis to a disaster that can ultimately cause you to close your business. In fact, it has been estimated that 60 percent of small companies go out of business within six months of suffering a cyberattack.

How to avoid becoming a statistic

The first step is to take every available measure to reduce the chance of a cyberattack occurring in the first place. Further, establishing a solid crisis plan is every bit as crucial. Without an up-to-date crisis plan, which takes into consideration your current business processes and systems, your business will not have the confidence to address the situation adequately.

Transparency is also essential for avoiding long-term damage to your reputation. That means being open with your customers and owning up to your failures sooner rather than later. After all, the damage has already been done, but failing to disclose information about the attack will only cause the damage to increase exponentially.

A formal admission and apology is the first step toward mitigating long-term damage to your reputation. The next step is to work hard to rebuild your customer relations by offering compensation and support that goes above and beyond what your customers expect. That also means maintaining a strong presence on social media to keep your audience informed of new developments.

BUSINESS MOTIVATION: How to Stay Focused & Grow Your Business | Behind The Scenes With Neil Patel

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKFbxYKmMYI&w=640&h=360]

Should You Forgo College to Start a Business?

Over 62 percent of millennials have considered starting their own business, and 72 percent feel that startups and entrepreneurs are a necessary economic force for creating jobs and driving innovation, according to Forbes.

Yet, the idea of choosing entrepreneurship over a university education is seen as a risky option that most young people shy away from.

When we launched our company, I was 19 and had a spot waiting for me in a university’s communication design program. My parents were constantly urging me to pursue a university education for “a better future,” but I ultimately decided to forgo that to run a business.

Naturally, the thought of forgoing a well-trodden path for one of uncertainty can feel daunting to most, especially when all of your peers are heading in the opposite direction. That said, I have zero regrets about my choice, because I’ve learned and gained more as an entrepreneur than as a college student.

Below are four advantages one experiences when choosing entrepreneurship over a university education.

Learn and grow by doing.

Entrepreneurship can be scary, but it can also be wildly enriching.

The bad news: There is no lesson plan and hardly ever a fallback. The good news: You’ll benefit from the independence. Not to mention, you can save heaps on the increasingly hefty costs that come bundled with the college experience.

Billionaire and Napster founder Sean Parker even goes as far as to suggest you “Skip college and Google your education.”

To get your first customers, you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone to reach potential customers you might not be familiar with. Further, as an entrepreneur, you’ll often have to wear many hats in the early days. You’ll need to manage different aspects of your business, including HR, marketing, sales, just to name a few, all in a single role. You’ll have to upskill yourself in various areas that might not have been your strengths in school.

In my case, one of the most difficult lessons revolved around working directly with executives who were much older than me. Learning to successfully negotiate and sell our company’s services to intimidating prospects is something I learned in the field and not in a classroom.

There are some things a college education can do for you, but it simply can’t prepare you for every scenario you’ll face in your career. The lessons you learn in practice and execution beat theories anytime. Even starting out as a freelancer can be a good step in getting your feet wet and picking up some of the necessary skills to run a business.

You failed? No problem.

The great thing about launching a business when you’re young is that you have a lot less to lose. If you’re not supporting dependents or ailing family members, failure is not something that should discourage you.

You lost some money, so what? Chinese ecommerce giant Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, has stated that the company wasn’t profitable the first three years. In the beginning, it expanded too fast and nearly went bankrupt when the dot-com bubble burst. At one point, Alibaba was just 18 months away from bankruptcy. Today, it’s the biggest ecommerce company in the world.

Roughly 20 percent of new businesses survive past their first year of operation. Don’t be discouraged if you hit a roadblock early on in your journey, you’re in good company. The best thing is that as a young entrepreneur, you can afford to fail, because it’s likely you don’t have kids or a mortgage holding you back.

You’ll need to grow up, fast.

Having no bosses or teachers breathing down your neck may sound attractive, but that also means that there’s no one telling you what to do next.

You’ll think twice about spending $8 on that latte from Starbucks and feel a tinge of guilt when you take a day off. You will realize that whether your business succeeds or not depends on the decisions you make right now.

The Dollar Shave Club made a killing after its video marketing went viral, netting 12,000 sales in a single day. Founder Michael Dublin didn’t spend a lot of money on his witty online advertisement – just $4,500. But when there’s a lot riding on your habits, you have no choice but tweak your lifestyle and mindset for the better if you want to succeed.

Look forward to an income without a ceiling.

One of the limitations of working for an organization, like most college students do when they graduate, is that unless you’re in a profession like sales where your income scales proportionately to your effort, there will always be a ceiling on how much you can earn.

As an entrepreneur, once your business has a sustainable pipeline of deals and works, you can expect your income to increase based on how hard you choose to work.

In addition, not having a student loan to tie you down financially puts you ahead of many of your peers. Coupled with the potential income you stand to gain from your business if you succeed, you can look forward to a financial and career headstart while your peers are studying for finals.

A college degree is no longer absolutely necessary for a young person to succeed in his or her career. With the availability of quality, free, online educational courses in today’s age, starting a business, coupled with self-study on the internet, can be just as enriching and possibly even more financially practical as obtaining a degree from a university. And if things don’t work out, universities are here to stay. You can always go back to school if your business idea doesn’t work out.

As for whether you should start a business instead of finish college first, that’s up to you to decide. If you consider yourself a self-starter with the discipline to manage your time and self-education, starting a business might bear more fruit.

If you’re more comfortable with a structured learning environment and are averse to risk, getting your college degree might be the better option in the short term. You could always explore entrepreneurship at a later time.

How to Take and Edit Photos Without Hiring a Professional

No matter what type of business you have, you need to be using high quality images as a promotional tool.

You can distribute these pictures across all your marketing channels.

Share them on social media profiles such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Add photos to your website to make it look more professional.

You can even send images to subscribers on your email marketing lists to make your messages more visually appealing.

Incorporate photos into your blog posts to break up the content and make it easier for people to read.

I like to use visuals in my blogs to illustrate what I’m talking about.

High quality images can add credibility to your website.

While there’s nothing wrong with using images you find online, nothing speaks to the customer like original photographs.

Taking your own photos means they are unique. Someone won’t be able to say,

“Oh, I’ve seen this picture somewhere else before.”

Ultimately, putting the perfect picture in the right place can help you generate more traffic and leads, which was identified as the top challenge for marketers in 2017.

image2 6

Here’s the problem, however. Professional photographers are not cheap.

Your company has enough expenses to worry about, so you shouldn’t be paying for a service you can do yourself.

The other problem I see is original images often look terrible.

That’s no good either. You don’t want any low quality images to be associated with your brand.

It looks unprofessional and will result in a negative perception by your current and prospective customers.

If you fall into one of the above categories, I can help.

I’ll show you the right tools to take and edit photos without spending much or needing to hire a pro.

Get the right equipment

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment.

But you shouldn’t be taking pictures on one of those cheap disposable cameras either.

Find a middle ground.

A sufficient camera might just be in your pocket right now.

Currently, 77% of adults in the United States own a smartphone.

image1 6

As a business owner or marketing expert, you probably have a smartphone.

The cameras on the majority devices are fairly decent.

If you’re in the market for a new phone, it makes sense to get one with a great camera.

There are tons of online review websites, such as Tom’s Guide, that give you detailed information about various devices depending on what you’re looking for.

Here are some of the best devices in 2017 for different categories reviewed by their experts:

  • Best overall smartphone camera – iPhone X
  • Best features on a camera – Galaxy Note 8
  • Best camera for landscape photos – LG G6
  • Best camera for selfies and low-light images – Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Smartest phone camera – Pixel 2 XL
  • Best smartphone camera for videos – LG V30

These are good places to start looking.

But do some research on your own before making your purchase.

You may even own one of these devices already.

If you’d rather use a camera than a cell phone to take pictures, that’s fine too.

Here’s a comparison of some cameras ideal for beginner photographers:

image6 6

As you can see, the prices range from about $400 to $800, which is reasonable.

Professional photographers may be charging you more than that for a day’s work.

Brush up on some basic photography skills

Now that you’ve got a proper camera to take pictures with, you need to master some simple photography concepts.

Learn how to use the various tools and picture modes on your device.

For example, let’s say you’re using an iPhone to take pictures.

You’ll notice an option called “HDR Mode.”

HDR stands for high dynamic range. Here’s how you turn it on:

image4 6

When should you use it? For every picture?

The HDR mode works best for outdoor photographs and landscapes.

That’s because both of these usually have some bright as well as dark areas. Without the HDR mode, some details can get lost between the light and dark contrasts.

But it takes your camera longer to process HDR photos.

If you’re trying to take images in a rapid succession or photograph a moving object, you’ll want to keep the HDR mode off.

You also need to consider where you plan to take photos.

Conditions—whether inside, outdoors, in the sun, or in the dark—will dictate how you take them.

For example, it’s tough to capture an image if the sun is directly behind the subject.

Unless you have a professional camera, the picture will come out either super bright or too dark, depending on what you’re focusing on.

You also need to learn when it’s appropriate to use the flash on your camera.

The composition is important as well.

You need to understand how the subject should appear in your photo.

One of the most common photography concepts of composition is the rule of thirds:

image7 6

Imagine your camera frame is broken up into nine sections of equal sizes.

Some cameras have these horizontal and vertical guides to help with your composition.

You want to position your subject where those lines meet.

The example above has the subject positioned in the left third of the screen.

But let’s say you’re taking a picture of a landscape instead of a person or object.

In this case, you’ll want to align the horizon with the upper or lower third of the frame as opposed to the left or the right, like in this example:

image3 6

As you can see, this makes for a much more appealing picture.

Another basic photography tip is natural framing.

Let’s say you’re taking a picture of a building that has pillars or columns.

It makes more sense to position your subject between two pillars as opposed to in front of one.

Here’s an example of a bridge creating a natural frame:

image11 2

If you see the opportunity to capture a natural frame when you’re taking pictures, use it.

In the above example, pretend that the top of the image was cut off. It wouldn’t look as natural. But including the entire frame makes it appear more professional.

Something else you need to consider when you’re taking pictures is what you’re focusing on.

If you are photographing a person or specific subject, it’s imperative they are in focus.

Sometimes it’s a cool effect to have part of your photo in focus but the background blurry.

Photographs that have symmetry and patterns are visually appealing and professional-looking as well.

Check out this photo of the Taj Mahal:

image12

All the elements are symmetrical, and the building is still positioned in the top third of the picture, so it follows all the rules.

There are tons of other photography rules you can follow to make sure you’re taking great pictures, but following these is a good to place to start.

You can do some more research about photography basics or even take a class. Both of these options are considerably less expensive than hiring a professional.

Plus, it’s always beneficial to learn a new skill applicable to your business.

Use Canva

Once you’ve taken the pictures, you’ll need to edit them to minimize any imperfections, making them look as professional as possible.

Canva is an image editing tool. It’s one of the best options you’ll find online.

You can edit pictures directly on their website or download a mobile version of their software for your iPhone or iPad.

I like to use Canva because it’s super diverse.

You’re able to access many different features all in one place.

Canva has multiple templates for your images, depending on where you want to distribute them.

For example, do you promote your company with paid advertisements on social media or other mediums such as Google AdWords?

Canva ensures your image is sized appropriately depending on the type of advertisement you’re running.

image5 6

If you attempt to do this on your own, the image could be distorted, blurry, or even illegible. So it’s best to use professional editing software for this.

One of the best parts of Canva is it’s free.

You may encounter a couple of features that cost a few bucks to access, but you can do all your basic edits without having to pay for anything.

For those of you who want access to everything on the Canva platform, I’d recommend upgrading to their Canva for Work package.

It’s only $12.95 per month, and you can save over 20% if you pay for the full year upfront.

You can try it free for 30 days to see if it’s worth it.

Again, this is way more cost effective than hiring a professional photographer to edit your pictures.

Try PicMonkey

PicMonkey is another one of my favorite editing tools.

It’s really easy to use, and uploading your photos is a breeze.

They also have a mobile app in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, so it’s perfect for both Apple and Android users.

If you’re taking pictures on your smartphone, it’s easy to edit them directly from your device without having to upload them to a computer.

PicMonkey has great photography tutorials.

They cover some of the basic concepts I discussed earlier and teach you how to use different functions of their software.

But overall, I think it’s pretty easy to use.

image10 3

These are the top features of PicMonkey:

  • editing tools
  • touch ups
  • collages
  • designs

It’s pretty much everything you could need to edit the photos you took on your own.

The collage tool is perfect for showcasing different products or features on your website.

You can create one simple image with a combination of the photos you took.

Here’s an example of a really cool collage on the Square website:

image8 5

You can create something similar for your business with PicMonkey.

Create infographics with Piktochart

Sometimes you don’t need to take a photograph to have an original image on your website.

Build an infographic.

It’s a great way to increase engagement on your website or blog.

In fact, people are 30 times more likely to read an infographic as opposed to plain text.

Infographics can also increase traffic to your website by 12%.

Visual content gets liked and shared on social media three times more than other types of content.

The Piktochart website has all the tools you need to create customized infographics.

image9 4

You can even use your own pictures as background images.

Find other ways to incorporate those original photos into your infographic so you’re not forced to use those cartoonish designs if that’s not your style.

They have a free membership for basic features.

You can also upgrade to a $15 per month or $29 per month plan with extra features.

But try the free version first to make sure you’re happy with it.

Conclusion

Unique photos can give your website, blog, emails, and social media pages the final touches that appeal to your customers.

You don’t need to hire a professional photographer to take and edit your photos.

That’s a waste of money.

You can do all of this on your own without spending much at all. It’s easy.

Just make sure you have the right equipment.

Get a smartphone that has a great camera. Or you can start off with an actual camera designed for amateur photographers.

Next, familiarize yourself with some basic concepts of photography.

Refer back to the points I outlined earlier as a guide for composition:

  • rule of thirds
  • natural frames
  • symmetry
  • focus

Once you’ve taken pictures, you can use editing tools on your computer, smartphone, or tablet to touch them up and make them look more professional.

Use tools such as Canva, PicMonkey, or Piktochart to get started.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be snapping and editing photos like a pro in no time.

What are some other tools you use to edit your photos like a professional?

Age Discrimination in the Workplace: What Your Business Needs to Know

Age discrimination against older employees is illegal in the U.S. – and legislation is in place to protect employees (and prospective employees) over the age of 40 who might otherwise be disadvantaged simply because of their age.

However, despite the clear and unambiguous legal safeguards in place to protect employees from age discrimination in the workplace, many workers over the age of 40 still face ageism at work, which can potentially cost your business money in lost productivity and performance, as well as exposing you to the very real risk of a legal challenge.

In this article, we’ll review age discrimination in the workplace, share some facts and figures on the scope of the problem, and highlight five things that every business needs to know about age discrimination – and how to prevent it.

What is age discrimination in the workplace?

Age discrimination in the workplace is the negative or disadvantageous treatment of employees based on their age rather than performance or merit. While any employee can be targeted by age discrimination – including younger employees – protection from age discrimination is mandated in law only for employees over the age of 40, which is the main target group for age-based discrimination in the workplace.

The law pertaining to the prevention of age discrimination applies to every stage of the employment process, including recruitment and job advertising, hiring and interviewing practices, job assignments, performance reviews, benefits, career advancement, and termination.

Legal protection against age discrimination in the workplace is provided under the remit of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967), or ADEA, and failure to protect and preserve the rights of older workers is a type of employment discrimination.

Age discrimination facts and figures in the workplace

To give you a feel for the scope of age discrimination in the U.S., here are some facts and figures that outline how widespread the problem really is:

  • 1 in 5 workers across the U.S. as a whole are 55 years old or over.
  • 64 percent of workers aged 45 or older have experienced or witnessed workplace discrimination, according to research by AARP.
  • 59 percent of the sample group indicated that, in their experience, age discrimination is “very common.”
  • Age discrimination in the U.S. is becoming even more common – the EEOC saw nearly 21,000 age discrimination complaints filed in 2016, compared to 15,000 in 1997.
  • Age discrimination complaints or complaints that contain an element of age discrimination make up 23 percent, or almost a quarter, of all EEOC complaints received across the board.

5 things your business needs to know about age discrimination

All businesses are keen to avoid potentially costly litigation on the basis of age discrimination in the workplace, but the threat of litigation isn’t the only reason why companies and organizations should take a proactive approach to preventing age discrimination at work.

Here are five important pieces of information about age discrimination in the workplace.

1. ADEA legislation to protect workers against age discrimination applies to all local governmental, state and federal employers regardless of their number of employees, as well as to private employers with 20 or more employees. The regulations also apply to labor cooperatives and organizations, including employment agencies.

2. Failing to recognize the value of your older employees and invest in their training, professional development and advancement in favor of younger workers not only has an impact on your older workers themselves, but also has implications for your business’s productivity, performance and future success.

3. According to an AARP study, workers 50 and older have lower rates of employment turnover, and are also among the most committed and engaged workers.

4. There is a correlation between ageism and other types of employee discrimination, particularly gender-based discrimination – 72 percent of female study participants ages 45-74 cite experience of or familiarity with age discrimination, compared to just 57 percent of men within the same age category.

5. Age discrimination in the workplace can be subtle as well as overt. Even within forward-looking companies that set and maintain policies to actively prevent age discrimination, not all managers and team leaders are fully conversant with the scope and remit of age discrimination and how to prevent it, which can leave your company open to litigation. 

3 quick tips to prevent an age discrimination case

Defending your business against an age discrimination case can be both expensive and time-consuming. The time and financial impact that such complaints can have on your company, not to mention the lost productivity and wasted employer resources, is a huge burden.

These three simple tips will help your business mitigate the risk of an age discrimination lawsuit.

1. Provide discrimination and diversity training.

If you want to protect your business against age discrimination claims, it’s important to provide proper training to all employees. Training will help everyone understand what’s illegal under ADEA and provide a strong foundation for proper policy.

2. Put age-related policies in place and enforce them.

While most people would agree that discrimination of any kind is wrong, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Aside from training, it’s important to clearly define policies and set expectations for what will occur if a violation happens.

3. Implement best practices during the interview and hiring process.

When your business is ready to hire for a new position, it’s important to implement best practices from the very beginning of this process. When creating your job posting, be sure to avoid phrases that discriminate based on age such as “new grads” or “young.” Also, always avoid age-related interview questions.

If you need help with age discrimination workplace policies and procedures, or if you have questions about age discrimination that you’d like to discuss, contact an employment law attorney for support and guidance.

 

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Xero Projects on Android and iOS Give Small Businesses Access on the Road

Xero Projects App Now Available for Android and iOS

If you have been using the capturing, tracking and reporting capabilities of Xero Projects on your desktop, you can now perform the same functions on your mobile device. Xero (NZE: XRO) now has Xero Projects on iOS and Android.

With the new apps, you will be able to proactively track time on jobs in and outside of the office. You can get real-time views of all your projects and relevant information in one place.

If you run small businesses with a remote workforce, it means your employees can access the time spent on jobs and other expenses to deliver accurate billing from anywhere.

Monique Smith of Xero, who wrote the blog announcing the apps, explained the efficiency it will offer businesses. She said, “Whether over the phone, via email or in person, any time spent on one client’s job is less time spent on something else, and is therefore a cost to you — one that can easily be missed if you’re relying on spreadsheets, notebooks or even scraps of paper.”

Using the Xero Projects App

With Touch ID, users can login and quickly track their time using the timesheet view. The data includes time entries with total hours for a day or week. The platform is updated using the Xero cloud ecosystem so everyone has the latest and most accurate information.

Xero says it is expanding the capabilities of the Projects app. Some of the features you might see in the future include user permissions, staff time summary, faster time entry options and more.

Xero Projects App Now Available for Android and iOS

Getting the App

The Xero Projects app is available on your iPhone, iPad or Android device. To get started, you need a Xero organization with Projects enabled. You then add users so they can have access to the projects they are working on. They can login with their Xero credentials on their device to get going.

You can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Making Your Business Available

What the Xero Projects app gives your small business is availability. If you or your employees don’t have to come to the office to deliver real-time information to customers while in the field, the company will be more efficient and profitable. Not to mention making your customers much happier!

Image: Xero

This article, “Xero Projects on Android and iOS Give Small Businesses Access on the Road” was first published on Small Business Trends

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6 Reasons Your Business Should Accept Cryptocurrency

Some controversy and challenges surround the use of cryptocurrency, but many business owners are embracing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for transactions. One reason is that using the latest technology is a great way to stand apart from other businesses in the marketplace.

Not sure what cryptocurrency is? Cryptocurrency is simply a digital currency that relies on encryption technology to transfer the value via the internet. This form of currency operates independently of a banking system and can be used in many countries like cash. The most common use of cryptocurrency is selling and buying goods or services online.

Cryptocurrency is another way businesses can accept payments from customers or pay vendors. Wondering if accepting cryptocurrencies is the right fit for your business? The answer depends on your business’s needs, but typically, cryptocurrencies are advantageous for various reasons. Take a look at these six reasons accepting cryptocurrencies can help your business grow and succeed.

1. It will save you money.

Over the years, U.S. merchants have paid over $78 billion in fees related to credit and debit card processing. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized, so they do not require a bank to verify every transaction. This means your business will eliminate those fees, saving 2 to 5 percent on each transaction. This is also the case with companies like PayPal and Stripe. No more sharing your hard-earned revenue with financial institutions.

One important thing to note is that many merchant wallets charge a flat fee of around $30. There are decisions all entrepreneurs will face, and usually those revolve around whether you’re ready and willing to embrace change and the learning curve that comes with it.

2. Transactions will process quickly.

It’s frustrating to wait for funds to become available in your bank account. You don’t have to wait with cryptocurrency transactions. In many cases, the transactions occur in real time or within a few minutes. There aren’t various banks slowing down the payment process. High transaction speeds are a bonus; in today’s world of instant gratification, no one likes to wait.

3. The currency works worldwide.

There are a lot of benefits to an international currency, and it’s especially helpful if your business exports services and goods or purchases materials from other countries. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies help you avoid the expensive foreign transaction fees or exchange rates.

4. You will avoid fraud and chargebacks.

Cryptocurrency is comparable to cash in that you either have the funds available or you don’t. You should also know that all transactions are final when you use cryptocurrencies, because transactions are added to the blockchain via mining.

This system verifies funds and makes it next to impossible to spend more than you own. When paying with cryptocurrencies, both parties have to approve each transaction. As a result, there are no disputes to worry about and chargebacks will no longer happen.

5. You can acquire new customers.

Cryptocurrencies have some major followers – more and more people are learning about it, embracing it, and even turning to companies like SwissBorg to help manage crypto assets and learn about investment solutions. As your customers become familiar with and begin to use cryptocurrencies, it will really help your business if you accept digital currencies.

While this may still be a niche market, it won’t be for much longer. The more payment options you offer your customers, the better. Not only will you attract a wider customer base and more shoppers, you’ll also increase the chances that they all follow through with their intended purchases. According to a survey by Skrill, 28 percent of shopping cart abandonment is due to lack of the payment option the shopper wanted to use. Do what you can to shrink your shopping card abandonment rate so you can increase your revenue.

6. Paper options will slowly become a thing of the past.

Digital wallets and cryptocurrencies are growing steadily with the blockchain and Bitcoin both having banner years in 2016. This trend continued through 2017 and is anticipated to continue to grow as people become more familiar with digital currency.

While it may seem overwhelming for a small business, try to embrace this change. It makes a lot of sense for you and your business to become early adopters of cryptocurrencies so you can become familiar with it sooner than later. If you resist the change now, you’ll just delay the inevitable. Set yourself apart from your competitors by welcoming fintech.

How to accept cryptocurrency

In most cases, it’s a good idea to go ahead and accept cryptocurrency. Consumers are using it more and more. The benefits, such as lower fees than credit and debit cards, the inability to reverse transactions, and real-time bank balances make the acceptance a good idea.

If you’re ready to get started, the process is simple. In less than 30 days, you can start and finish the entire process, from general education to integration. You’ll follow these three steps.

1. Set up a merchant wallet account.

It takes just minutes to set up these wallets, which offer customizable portals and convert cryptocurrency to your base currency.

Some merchant wallets accept Bitcoin exclusively, while others accept multiple types of cryptocurrencies. Understand the types of currency your merchant wallet accepts before telling your customers what forms of payment you can accept.

2. Integrate the cryptocurrency options into your points of sale.

Now that you have your merchant wallet account and know the public address, you need to integrate this address into each of your points of sale. Your physical POS system should include an app that can generate your QR code that customers can scan to send coins. The app works on a tablet or smartphone. It’s easy to accept and manage customer payments. You should also add a cryptocurrency payment option to your online shopping cart.

Don’t forget that your digital and physical invoices can accept cryptocurrency too. You can incorporate your QR code or public address on each invoice, and customers can send coins via your QR code with their smartphone or go online and type in the address.

3. Link transactions with accounting software.

Business owners are often confused by how cryptocurrency relates to taxes. It’s not too tough to adhere to tax laws, though – you just treat the revenue as a cash transaction. The majority of merchant wallets convert cryptocurrency to cash. Check with the IRS for best practices.

The bottom line is that, in most cases, small businesses can benefit from accepting cryptocurrency. There are pros and cons, but the process is simple and the downsides of accepting cryptocurrencies are small, thanks to merchant wallets and the automatic conversion of the currencies to cash. If you want to keep your business competitive and gain new customers, it’s time to learn more about cryptocurrencies and embrace the fintech changes with open arms.

 

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