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Small Business Is Hard Enough: The Challenges of a Small Business After a Disaster

Disasters, I know we all hate that word. As humans we gird ourselves and simply say, “It won’t happen to me”. But the data shows that it’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s when is it going to happen.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), 40% to 60% of small businesses fail following a major disaster. The number of presidentially declared disasters has more than doubled in recent years. However, many disasters don’t affect a large number of people like these declared events do. In fact, fire is the leading business disaster.

If that is not bad enough, researchers estimate that approximately: half of business do not survive their first 5 years and 8 out of 10 fail within the first 3 years after a disaster.*

Small Businesses have unique challenges that are quite different from their larger counterpart. Since 52 % of businesses are operated from the owner’s home or property their ability to recover is harder simply because they have to focus to two recovery efforts. There is never enough time to get them both done quickly and easily. If their business is in their home, there is no place for the work to continue. The property damage for a small business owner impacts BOTH the family and their business.

While owning a small business may seem like the American Dream, owning a small business has many challenges. But after a disaster the challenges become more profound. There seems to be recurring views of these owners both before and after the disaster.

Here are 7 challenges Small Business Owners face after a disaster:

1. Illusion of Security

2. Nothing could be done to protect against this

3. Complete 360-degree disaster for the individual

4. Self-imposed limits

5. Imprudent use of financial resources

6. Not understanding what is happening to their customer base

7. Assumption everything will get back to normal

Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. The largest challenge for small business owner is planning.

Small business owners invest a tremendous amount of time, money and resources to make their ventures successful, yet, many owners fail to properly plan and prepare for disaster situations. You can protect your business by identifying the risks associated with natural and man-made disasters, and by creating a plan for action should a disaster strike. By keeping those plans updated, you can help ensure the survival of your business.

When disaster strikes, having a plan and being able to put it into immediate action can mean the difference between staying open to service the needs of your customers and community or shutting down for a few days.

I know, not another plan! Who has time for that?

Resilience is different from preparedness. Where preparedness is something that you do; resilience is something that you become. In becoming more resilient, you as the owner should take intentional action. Do one thing today. (Just one thing). Do you back up your data? No, then get that done. Do you have an emergency contact list for your employees, suppliers, major clients? No, then get that done. Do you review you insurance policy every year with your agent? No, then get that done. Little by little, doing one thing moves you closer.

You’ve finally achieved your dream. Don’t lose it to a power outage, hacker disruption, fire, earthquake or other disaster. If you’re not prepared, a disaster could put you and your employees at risk, possibly shutting down your business forever.

Stop Dreaming of Running Your Own Home Business and Start Acting

Many people dream of working from home running their own home business.

How do I know this? Because I recently did a tour, giving talks about what I do for a living (which is working online) and how others can do it too. The people I spoke to were all enthusiastic and many said it had been their dream for years, but because they had no idea where to start, they did nothing.

The best type of home based business to have is an internet business so that you can work from anywhere with just your computer and an internet connection.

This is what is known as living the laptop lifestyle.

If this is something you’ve been dreaming about, then it’s time to wake up, stop dreaming and make it your reality instead.

But how can you do that? What exactly are the steps you need to take?

Firstly, you need to decide what niche you want to work in because if you don’t know what you want to do, you can never do it.

Next you have to stop dreaming and start treating it like a real business. You can’t build a home based business if you don’t work. But unlike having a job, it won’t be work you hate.

So stop treating it like your hobby and start acting like it’s your business, because, ultimately, that’s what it’s going to be.

You then need to designate working hours to your online business every day. If you say that you’ll work on your business in your “spare time” it will never happen because no one has spare time in their day. I don’t know about you but I manage to fill all 24 hours of my days.

Instead decide what hours you’re going to work on your home business every day. Some people work better in the mornings and some prefer to work in the evenings. Others don’t have a choice because of work and family commitments so they make the time whenever they can, even if it means getting up an hour earlier every day.

Lastly, you have to make sure that you stick to your plan. Don’t lapse, don’t get lazy and don’t let other things get in your way. Stick to your daily plan. If you designate 2 hours a day to work on your new online business in the morning but an emergency comes up, simply move your 2 hour slot to the evening instead, even if it means going to bed a bit later than usual.

Now I know that all this sounds basic and easy, but believe me, it’s not. Having the self discipline to run a home based business is one of the hardest things that all self employed entrepreneurs have to deal with.

Not only that but you’ll find yourself surrounded by “nay-sayers” telling you that it won’t work and that it can’t be done.

But if you designate just one or two hours a day to work on your own online business and stick to it, you won’t go wrong.

Setting up any business is hard in the beginning because there’s so much to do. But once you get your momentum going, it will be easy to carry on.

I wish you all the best in your own laptop lifestyle.

HR Business Partner’s (HRBP’s) – Are They Really Business Partners?

Over last few years there has been overuse of one job title – Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP). However, many title holders and title-givers don’t seem to have understood the meaning of this role. First of all “HR Manager” and “HR Business Partner” is not same and hence cannot be used interchangeably. Secondly, HR Business Partner is a senior level role and hence an individual must have considerable amount of experience before being designated as HRBP. HR Business Partner is equal to Head of HR, SBU Head of HR, Country HR Head, and Regional HR Head. Responsibilities of HR Business Partner in any industry are as follows:

  1. Cascade business segment goals and objectives to optimize alignment between business and human capital strategies, ensuring effective implementation
  2. Partner with a business segment leader to develop and deploy strategic planning objectives to build a dynamic organization that delivers significant and sustainable growth.
  3. Provide guidance to managers and employees regarding interpretation of company policies and procedures. Guide and coach managers on employee relations and HR issues in line with Company policies and best practice, including disciplinary, grievance, performance, redundancy and absence management
  4. Advise and coach business leaders on matters related to talent management, including competency requirements, workforce planning, leadership selection, executive coaching, performance management, retention, and succession planning
  5. Work in partnership with the operational management teams to identify opportunities and areas of improvement to support improved organisational and people performance in line with business needs
  6. Drive efficiency and positive organizational results through lean, alignment of systems, processes and structures to drive the right people behaviour and engagement.
  7. Leverage on employee data (e.g. exit interviews, climate survey results, turnover analytics) and the performance management system to improve employee engagement, performance and retention.
  8. Develop & conduct team development/team building strategies both proactively and when necessary to improve team performance. Present options to managers on organizational structure, roles & responsibilities, staffing levels, and matrix management.
  9. Maintains in-depth knowledge of legal requirements related to day-to-day management of employees, reducing legal risks and ensuring regulatory and policy compliance.
  10. Achieve increased and sustainable business results through prudent spending on the people costs and assist the business make informed decisions with regard to people investment

Competencies required for being successful as HRBP -

  1. Achievement Orientation – This competency involves working to achieve results and improve individual as well as organizational contribution. An individual who demonstrates this competency will analyse organizational outcomes in order to make decisions, set priorities or choose goals on the basis of calculated inputs and outputs. This includes analysing both process and people related outcomes. Further, he will keep track of and measures outcomes against a standard of excellence not imposed by others. Also, he will make decisions that allocate limited resources to meet policy objectives.
  2. Business Acumen – An individual demonstrating this competency will have thorough knowledge of the organization’s and the department’s strategic direction, programmes, services, environmental influences and their long-term impact as it relates to human resource management. Further, he will be able to understand and clearly articulate the direction, culture, business challenges and priorities of the organization and take the appropriate action to align these functions with business direction and needs.
  3. Change Leader – HRBP demonstrating this competence will be able to lead, develop, champion and promote change in the workplace, building employee and departmental support and commitment. He will also be able to persuade and convince others to gain support for the recommended need for change, providing reasonable and logical options and solutions.
  4. Decisiveness – A decisive individual takes ownership of decisions and ensures decisions are consistent with legislation, precedent and established policies and procedures of organization. He will put systems in place to proactively monitor risks and determine acceptable risk tolerances. Further, he will integrate risk management into programme management and organizational planning.
  5. Impact and Influence – A HRBP with competence of “impact and influence” will be able to develop and maintain open and honest professional relationships with colleagues, clients and stakeholders. He will be able persuade, convince and influence others in order to achieve understanding and reach agreement. Further, he will be able to guide and coach a diverse group of employees that results in a team that can meet its goals and objectives, while maintaining a healthy, productive, respectful and safe work environment which is free of discrimination. He will build “behind-the-scenes” support for ideas.
  6. Lead and Develop Teams – Key behavioural indicators of this competency is the ability of HRBP to develop and implement strategies that build, support and enhance team morale and productivity as well as promote a positive and co-operative work environment. He gives feedback to direct reports, peers, and/or team members or other employees in behavioural rather than personal terms for developmental purposes, and refers them to available resources to help further their success. Further, he fosters a climate of openness, trust and solidarity among the staff by treating each person as a valued team member where people feel comfortable in expressing their opinions and needs.
  7. Relationship Building – Relationship building involves the ability to develop contacts and relationships, internal and external to the organization, to facilitate work efforts or to gain support. This type of relationship is often quite deliberate and is typically focused on the way relationship is conducted. HRBP’s who demonstrate this competency continuously works to build and maintain critical relationships and networks of contacts that contribute to the achievement of goals.
  8. Results Orientation – Establishes and maintains effective accountability systems to review activities and goals against strategies; analyses performance information to set priorities and take calculated risks to improve the processes and HR activities, predicts emerging issues and manages associated risks. HRBP’s exhibiting this competency is able to develop and maintain effective performance management and accountability systems ensuring activities and goals support organizational strategies.
  9. Strategic Orientation – HRBP’s who demonstrate this competency prioritize work in alignment with business goals, acts and implements strategies and policies in accordance with the organization’s strategies, objectives and goals. They consider and reconsider impact of existing policies, processes and methods on future developments and trends. They also ensure that contingency plans exist for problems and situations that might occur.
  10. Subject Matter Expertise – Detailed knowledge of HR principles, concepts, strategies, current trends and issues.

This write-up is an attempt to elaborate the role of HR Business Partner in an organization and highlight its importance. I hope this will be helpful in expanding your horizon of knowledge. HR Business Partners plays an important role in an organization provided their role has been appropriately carved and interpreted. In absence of right knowledge, HRBP will be nothing more than a fancy job title and another HR fad.