What Can Entrepreneurs Do To Combat The Scourge Of Absenteeism?

Most businesses build the reality of employee absences into their business plan. Employees aren’t going to be there, day in, day out, performing their function for the company. They’re going to need holidays, long weekend breaks and perhaps, afternoons off work to look after their kids. Not being at work is a normal part of working life.

But there’s a fine line between an employee who takes time off, and one that is absent. Absenteeism has been a problem in the modern workplace for as long as most business leaders can remember. It’s something that afflicts small and big businesses alike. Often it’s caused by unhappy, dissatisfied employees who would rather do anything than show up to work. The results can be disastrous. You can end up with missed deadlines, poor customer service, and lost profits.

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Recently, PWC did some research looking into how many days a year the average employee is absent. It turned out to be 4.9, which equates to almost one working week. It might not sound like a big number, but remember that number is across all industries. In businesses where absenteeism is high, that number is far work.

The question, therefore, is: what can employers do to combat absenteeism in the workplace?

Have A Disciplinary Procedure

One of the things that entrepreneurs frequently struggle with is stamping their authority on the workplace. Entrepreneurs like to think that everybody in their business is as passionate about it as they are. But the truth is that employees rarely are. That’s why it’s worth putting a clear, disciplinary procedure in place, just in case. If you’ve had disciplinary problems in the past, firms like AFG Law can help. When it comes to disciplining staff, it’s essential that entrepreneurs remain on the right side of the law. Once you’ve got an attendance policy in place, it’s clear to everybody the standards that must be met. This can serve as a motivation in itself for continued good work.

Integrate Work And Life

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Most entrepreneurs start their businesses because they want to integrate work and life better. They start up companies because they want to make a difference in the world. They don’t just want to be another cog in the wheel. If entrepreneurs want to get rid of absenteeism, they have to realise that the same desires exist in their employees. That’s why great companies try to implement a great work-life balance. Mike Kappel is the CEO of an accounting firm. He’s found that his employees work best when they have flexible working hours. He also stresses the importance of allowing employees to work from home and giving them generous PTO. This, he says, allows employees to strike a better balance between their home and work lives, meaning they stick around for longer.

Look For Patterns

Kappel doesn’t just offer flexible working. He also looks for patterns in his employee absences. If an employee is absent every third Friday of the month, he asks why. It’s usually because they’ve got some kind of commitment. But often it’s for more sinister reasons.

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4 Biggest Threats to UK Entrepreneurs for 2017

It’s an unpredictable time to be an entrepreneur at the moment. The economic climate is fluctuating wildly, and no one seems to have a definitive answer to how everything might pan out. It is all shaping up to be an interesting 2017. But there are some areas of business that, no matter what will pose a threat to many people’s business plans. I thought I would go through a few of them today – so read on to find out what you can expect from next year.

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Cyber Security

While we all hear about attacks on the major corporations on the news, when it comes to smaller businesses, they never seem to hit the headlines. But make no mistake about it, cyber attacks are on the increase, and there are now more small businesses reporting big issues. In fact, around 60 percent of smaller firms have experienced a cyber attack. It’s also worth pointing out that only a third of SMEs feel they have a helpful disaster recovery plan to deal with these threats. Clearly, there is going to start causing a lot more problems in the foreseeable future. It is critical that you have some protection against these online threats. Install security software on all devices and ensure strong passwords are used across your entire company.

Brexit

With recent news suggesting Article 50 will be triggered in the next six months, we are likely to see the impact of Brexit sooner rather than later. It’s going to be good for some, of course – exporters might find their sales skyrocket. But for the vast majority, the future is a lot more uncertain. Make sure you are aware of the implications of Brexit and start planning for any eventuality now. Failing to do so will mean you aren’t ready, and the prospect could be a disaster.

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The Global Economy

The UK isn’t helped by the state of the global economy either. China is almost at a standstill right now in comparison to where it was 18 months ago. And there are concerns we are only a short time away from another severe economic disaster. UK entrepreneurs should seek to keep their options open regarding new markets in other areas. They should also start making plans to deal with the potential of another global crisis.

The Big Talent Drain

Finally, to be a successful business, you have to hire the right talent. The trouble is, talent seems to be flocking elsewhere – the UK reported a loss of professionals during 2015. A lot of young professionals are being tempted by the bright lights and no-tax alternatives in the United Arab Emirates. It’s a big pull for many, and it means UK employers are going to have to up their game. While you might not be able to compete financially, there are a few things you can do to make sure you are attracting talent. Make sure you are renowned for having an excellent company culture, for a start. Flexible working and pension pots are a great way to attract people, as is private healthcare. It does all come at a cost, of course. But without the talent, your business won’t go far.

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Easy Solutions To Minimise Downtime In Your Business

Downtime can be a real issue, and that’s especially the case when you’re running an entrepreneurial business. There are no masses of technical people around you to get things up and running again. All you can do is wait until the problem is sorted, and that could mean losing thousands of pounds in the process. You don’t want to put your business under that kind of strain. That’s why these following suggestions might just come in very useful.

Have you suffered from too much downtime?

Equipment Monitoring

When it comes to being a clever business owner, you want to be proactive rather than reactive. It’s great that you’ve fixed that broken appliance, but did it need to break in the first place? This is where consistent maintenance can prevent downtime from occurring. It doesn’t matter what it relates to, from catering maintenance to IT maintenance. Ultimately, keeping a closer track of things will reduce downtime and expensive repair costs.

Backup Power

You can’t always do a whole lot about downtime when your power suddenly switches off. When the weather strikes or the whole area loses electricity, it’s a just case of sitting on your hands, right? Not necessarily. Uninterruptible power supplies might just be the answer to keep your operations running that little bit longer. If nothing else, it’ll allow you to save those all-important documents that might otherwise be lost and need re-doing.

Train Your Employees Effectively

It makes a lot of sense, but it’s amazing how many companies ignore this advice, particularly in the case of small businesses. You should be training your employees effectively on every piece of machinery or equipment they might be using. A poorly trained staff member could end up breaking it – or worse – getting injured as a result of misuse. This not only leads to downtime but a potentially damaging lawsuit on your hands. Train those employees!

Conduct Regular Evaluations

Remember how we talked about being proactive instead of reactive? That applies once more with this topic. Yes, you should go over an incident after it has occurred and start to figure out why. But, you don’t want it to happen in the first place, and this is why regular evaluations are important. You might just spot a potential downtime risk you hadn’t anticipated on discovering.

Create A Recovery Plan

You can’t always prevent downtime from occurring. It can happen for reasons out of your control, and it’s in those situations where you need to make the best of it. This is where a recovery plan comes in useful. Sure, you’re in a bad position for the time being, but what can be done in the meantime? What work can you carry out before that downtime is resolved? What can you do if your business has suffered a potential disaster as a result of it? Having a backup plan and an emergency plan is crucial to ensure that you can get back on your feet after a period of downtime.

Have you found any great ways to eliminate downtime in your business? Drop us a comment in the box below and let us know what you think.

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Smart Moves For Super Swish Small Businesses

Even if you are a small business, you will need some tools under your belt to help your company run smoothly and give a seamless service to your customers. Add to that, running a small business can be even more stressful when you have limited staff and may be doing a lot of the work yourself. So why not take some of the stress out of it by using the smart moves below to create a super swish small business?

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Travel Management

If you are a small business, you may not have the luxury of a PA to organize all your travel arrangements and conference meetings. This is where a smart tool comes into place. There are many companies out there that offer travel agents for business travellers. Using a management company will help you lower your expenses as they will be privy to all the best deals for business travelers. It also takes the stress out of sorting out venues for conferences and business meetings. Such services will offer competitive rates and can organize all your plane, rail, and ferry travel. This will save you hours of scouring the internet for flights and rail journeys that match up with your schedule. And travel agents may also be able to offer you discounts on tickets. Keeping all your travel arrangements under one umbrella is a much more organized approach for small businesses.

Accounting Tools

Having software available to you for personal budgets and business finances is essential for a small business. For peace of mind and safe financial health is crucial to have software in place. And if you cannot yet afford to employ an accountant it is the easiest way to keep track of all your monies, invoices, expenditure and tax deductions. Companies such as ClearBooks, FreshBooks and Kashoo are all good places to start when researching the best online accounting tools.

Content Creation

It is fundamental to have a luxury website for your small business in this day and age. If you are creating your own content and images, you will also need to have some content creation tools in place. Websites such as Canva and PicMonkey are fantastic resources for designing graphics. They make it easier to create images and texts that you can use in blog posts, on social media, and on your website. You will also want to create marketing mailing lists and design emails to send out to customers. MailChimp remains one of the easiest and most reliable tools in which to do this. Add in Hootsuite and Moz to manage your social media accounts and to check analytics such as where you are ranking in search results.

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Happy Staff

Our last idea is not a tool but a smart move to make your business thrive. Keep your staff happy! Statistics clearly show that happier staff are more productive, which only works better for your business. Always set out clear expectations for your staff but at the same time don’t forget to show your appreciation. Make sure you create an environment that is secure, happy and consistent, and occasionally includes a staff night out. Reward achievements and always be available if any member of staff needs to talk through an issue. And if there are opportunities where staff can utilize other skills they have, always give them the chance to do so. Invest in workplace happiness and see your small business thrive.

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Going Online: How To Turn Your Offline Business Into An Internet Hit

The world of business has undergone an immense change in recent years. There is no doubt that the growth of online activities has been central to those evolutions. Jumping into this arena can be a daunting prospect, especially when the venture is performing well offline. However, the immense rewards on offer should be more than enough incentive to take the leap of faith.

You already have a winning business formula. As such, achieving online success should be a lot easier than the original challenge of building the company. With these tips, you’ll achieve it in next to no time.

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Start With Your Website

Whatever type of business you operate, your website will be central to all online activities. It is your foundation for success, and failure to maximise your potential here will have a damning impact on the company.

Building an attractive website that navigates well may sound difficult. A winning team of professionals can build a bespoke site that’s aimed at inspiring excitement and trust. Visit lightboxdigital.co.uk for more information on those services. It could be the key to making those visions come true.

All customers will interact with the website. If it sets a winning tone, you will not go far wrong.

Get Social

A great website should be the focus of your endeavours. However, it will count for very little if you aren’t receiving traffic. Thankfully, this challenge has never been easier thanks to the growth of social media.

Gaining a strong presence on Twitter and Instagram won’t only increase your presence. It’ll also allow you to build greater connections with the audience. Incorporate videos with Periscope to provide your audience with fresh insight. They’ll become regular visitors before you know it.

Try to make the content carry shareability, and it could start going viral. If that doesn’t lead to increased interest, nothing will.

Drive Sales

Visibility is one thing, but you also need to gain the trust of your audience. Gaining a strong Google presence will instantly verify your reputation in the eyes of the customers. This in itself could be huge news.

Once people are visiting the site, you need to convert sales. Using email marketing to promote sales within a time frame can work wonders. Read this guide on the subject at shopify.co.uk to become an instant expert in the field.

Embracing testimonials and referrals can be another fantastic way to boost your overall sales. If you’re gaining more revenue, you must be doing something right. But you can still do more.

Provide A Winning Service

Gaining new customers is one thing, but loyalty is the key to continued online success. Therefore, the quality of your customer service should remain a priority throughout. Whether it’s using Live Chat facilities, social media, or telephone services doesn’t matter. Gaining their continued trust is key.

Moreover, you should ensure that all products are of the best standard. That also means investing in the right packaging and distribution sources. Losing out on profit and returned custom due to such simple outside elements would be nothing short of a nightmare.

Essentially, if you continue to treat the online customers as well as you would the offline ones, you’ll be just fine.

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The Essentials Of Business Success

It’s hard to be successful in business. There are customers to engage, suppliers to track, and staff to care for. It’s a lot of work to take on. And the pace never relents. But there are a few essentials that can ensure you’ve got all you need to succeed. You might call them the ingredients of a successful business. Without them, you may struggle. With them, you might just have the recipe for success.

It all starts with you. As a business owner, you must have the energy, tenacity and drive to keep going. Sometimes it’s quiet and at other times it’s hectic. Making the most of your time is essential if your business is to survive. Always keep your eye on the cash flow, and look out for opportunities that will drive your business forward. Most importantly, keep yourself up to date and in a great mood!

Your business needs a functional premises. But it’s worth keeping in mind how that office could attract business partners, suppliers or customers. It needs to look professional, but it should also reflect your personality. Companies like Fusion Office Design could give you some ideas for a contemporary style that works for you. As you expand, you need to have the room to grow. Even if you’re operating out of your home office now, it’s worth planning ahead for that corporate headquarters your business deserves.

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Communication is so important. In fact, it’s more important now than it has ever been. It could set your company apart, and even be the reasons customers keep coming back. Think about how you communicate with your customers. What is your tone of voice? How often do you engage them? It’s not just about confirming an order or delivery date. You need to help them remember you next time they need to order something.

Social media and websites are essential for every business. You should use your website to inform customers about your business, your products, and your services. Social media should engage customers and provide information that is useful to them. It should be used to help reward customers who have ordered goods and services from you. And it should offer a customer the opportunity to engage you directly too.

Understanding cash flow is a skill that every entrepreneur should have. Knowing where your cash is going and how quickly you can bring it in is important. Working out your break-even point, profit margins and operating costs should come easily to you. Without this vital data, you could quickly face financial problems and risk losing your business. Most importantly, you should know how much you can invest and what your expected return should be.

It’s not easy setting up, running, and building a business. More businesses fail than succeed. But if you’ve got the essentials covered, you could have a good chance of making your business thrive. Look to the future with positivity, but take care with the present. Where will you take your business in the next twelve months?

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Shipping Options: Which One Should Your Business Use?

If your business deals with the manufacturing or sale of goods and products, you’ll need a good shipping system. There are many options for transportation and delivery, and sometimes it’s worth using more than one. You should consider what best suits your needs to pick the most suitable option.

Offering the best delivery options will attract more customers. Companies who need to transport large amounts of goods will need a service which can handle heavy loads. Here are some of the options to look into and what situations they’re most apt for.

Postal Services

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Postal services offer basic delivery functions, usually operated by the government. Examples of these include Royal Mail and USPS. These are best for delivering small packages, but can sometimes take parcels of around 20-30kg, depending on the service.

These kinds of services usually offer options for regular, expedited and international delivery. You’ll have to pay more to send items overseas or by one-day delivery, and cost can also depend on weight.

Although options are somewhat limited, using a government postal service is good for small businesses. If you sell small items through an online shop, such as on eBay or Etsy, this might be your best choice. You can take deliveries down to a local post office and get them sent out quickly. They are usually reliable and being official services makes them more accountable.

Independent Couriers

As an alternative to using government postal services, there are privately-run courier companies who can deliver items for you. The best independent courier services offer a range of delivery options, so you can make customers happy.

Courier services can pick items up from you and take them to where they need to be. They can also manage heavier loads than postal services, and offer a range of delivery times. Many offer business services for you to get discounted prices on bulk deliveries.

These can be especially useful for delivering products to customers. If you need to transport small volumes of goods you can also make use of a courier service.

Freight Transport Companies

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If your business is a manufacturer or wholesaler, then postal services and couriers won’t fulfill your needs. If you’re transporting heavy loads of cargo, you’ll need to make use of a freight transportation service.

These services can deliver a much higher volume of goods for long hauls. Freight services use large trucks to transport goods by road, but can also transport loads by air. You could even use a service like EON Logistics sea freight forwarder to send cargo overseas. This gives you options both for domestic and international shipping.

If you transport large amounts of cargo to other companies and organizations, freight services are the ideal choice.

In-House Shipping Options

You don’t necessarily have to use external services. You could hire employees to handle transportation and delivery for you.

This will require more investment. You may have to buy a lorry or van, as well as paying for any servicing and repairs they may need down the line. You’d also have to find a qualified and reliable driver.

Weight up the costs before making any rash decisions. If you’re a small business only serving a few clients, a company courier might be cost efficient. If you send out a lot of cargo, buying the trucks and drivers to handle your transportation may be too expensive.

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Workplace Fun: A Short Guide to Office Productivity

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There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a room filled with a dreary atmosphere. The mind finds it harder to concentrate and more effort has to be made to make the creative juices flow.

According to research, employees find that being surrounded by dullness decreases their productivity. It’s a common problem that often gets overlooked. After all, most business are more concerned about making money rather than making their workers happy.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a professional office. Injecting a little excitement into a space however, will not affect that in any way.

One of the most common mistakes that employers make, is not giving the layout of their office enough thought.

Sometimes all it takes is a little rearranging to create a space your employees will be happy to inhabit.

Creating a productive space

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When thinking of productive spaces, we often think of things that are rather dull and boring. This is due to the fact that we are used to seeing those things constantly.

Just because something’s popular, doesn’t make it the right option. Sure, a clean and tidy space is always good, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun and exciting.

Playing around with colours can be a fantastic way of transforming a space. White walls can get a little boring to look at. Bold colours, such as orange or blue, can stimulate the brain a little more.

Productivity can be improved by creating an office that makes your employees excited. After all, it’s much better to be happy rather than dread every minute of your day.

Fun with Furniture

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Furniture doesn’t have to be uniform. Not every office on the planet needs to feature the same old chairs.

Due to the fact that we have been exposed to that image for years, it’s harder for us to envision a space that is different.

When designing your office, try to think outside the box. Does the chair really need to be black? Are you really that impressed with a white desk? Sometimes adding a little splash of colour can make all the difference in the world.
When it comes to decorating the space – be creative. Hanging an old painting that has nothing to do with the business, is a common mistake. Just because it’s “art” doesn’t mean it has a place in your office.

Again, try thinking outside the box and make it fun and imaginative. Why not get you logo made in the form of a neon sign. Companies like A1 Designs specialise in that. If you’d rather be less flashy, get some stickers with your logo printed off and put them on your walls. There many companies, like Discount Sticker Printing, that specialise in such items. It’s all about being creative and finding the right resources.

Don’t let your office drag you down. There’s no reason why a space can’t be professional yet fun at the same time. All it takes is a little imagination, some effort and a solid plan. Help your employees get better results by ensuring they are happy.

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Reaching Out: Attracting More Customers To Your Business In 4 Easy Steps

Every business experiences a unique journey, and some aspect will be specific to the individual venture. But there are a number of elements that link all companies, and the need for customers sits at the very top of the pile.

If you let it, this can become a very complex subject. However, the truth is that most companies can achieve fantastic success with some very simple methods. Follow the four tips outlined below, and yours can be one of them.

What are you waiting for,? Let’s get to work.

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Let Them Interact

First and foremost, there’s no point in people finding your company if their visit doesn’t lead to the desired outcome. For most companies, that means acquiring a sale. Do not forget it.

Potential clients won’t be willing to complete a transaction if they cannot trust the business. Therefore, you need to make it easier for them to contact you. This guide will help you make the most of those opportunities both internally and externally. In turn, this can only boost your chances of gaining the trust required for sales.

Furthermore, it should allow you to provide a far better service to the customers too.

Utilise Google

While sales are the statistic that you need to monitor most, there are various steps needed to achieve it. Getting people to actively visit your site is one of the most important. Unfortunately, you cannot just leave this to chance.

Understanding the habits of the online audience is crucial. For the vast majority of them, search engines are the key to finding whatever product or service they’re after. Given that over 90% of users will click a link on the first page of results, boosting your visibility here is vital.

There are various methods to help you achieve this. Quite frankly, it could be the most important step you take.

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Create Engaging Content

Online marketing does carry a unique set of parameters. However, the basic principles are the same. Most importantly, you need to capture the attention of your key demographic.

To do this online, you need to build engaging campaigns that encourage user interaction. Meanwhile, those adverts need to appear in the right places. A pay per click agency can help you master this challenge with minimal fuss, and it will lead to more interest from the most likely customers.

Of course, you can aid your cause further by using video marketing and other cool features. Essentially, the more effort you put in, the greater interest you should receive.

Use The Customers

It’s safe to assume that the customer is already fond of your business. So why not let them attract their friends and family too? Sharing is caring, and it could be great news for everyone.

By rewarding the existing client’s loyalty, you’re outsourcing part of your marketing plan with no risk. If they bring in new clients, then you’re only paying them a percentage of the additional profit. If they fail to recruit new ones, you haven’t paid for their efforts.

Potential customers will be far more likely to complete their transactions once they’ve had a nudge from someone they trust. It could be your secret weapon for increased success. Ignore it at your peril.

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The Top Methods for Improving Business Continuity

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Business continuity is vital to the survival of your company. You don’t want your business to be at a stand still whenever something goes wrong. The longer your business is unable to carry on with normal operations, the longer you will lose money. Sometimes when something happens, it could only mean an hour or two of downtime. However, even this can have an effect, especially when it happens frequently. And if your business is unable to operate normally for days or longer, it could be devastating. Make sure you stay up and running with these tips.

Move Data and Software to the Cloud

One of the biggest culprits for business interruptions is IT system downtime. Many businesses rely on their technology functioning constantly so they work can continue. If the necessary tools aren’t available, the business may be out of operation. For example, a call center might need access to databases and phone software. One of the ways that many businesses are choosing to get around this problem is by using the cloud. Having data and software stored remotely can help to minimise the amount of system downtime experienced. The issue will be taken care of by the cloud service company to ensure your business can keep going.

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Plan for Breakdowns and Repairs

Other equipment failing to function can put a dent in daily operations too. For example, if a machine is out of commission in a factory, things will slow down. It’s important to have plans in place so that you can take care of these issues as soon as possible. You need to make sure you can get someone to repair a problem right away. That might mean having a maintenance person on site who can come and take a look at it. It could also involve calling an outside service that offers commercial fridge repair or car breakdown services. The sooner you can have someone come and fix the problem, the faster your business can run smoothly again.

Put Backups in Place

As well as having someone to do repairs, you also need a plan while you’re waiting for repairs. You don’t want your business to be at a complete standstill while you wait. For example, a hotel might need to wash sheets so that rooms can be made up. If their laundry room isn’t functioning, they need somewhere else they can send their linens. Your backup plan might involve using an external service. It could be having extra equipment, such as a backup generator.

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Keep Your Business Continuity Plan Updated

Making a business continuity plan is an essential task. However, once you have a plan, don’t just leave it as it is. You should keep it updated to ensure that it’s always relevant. You don’t want someone to refer to the plan only to discover they can’t follow the instructions. Make sure the plan is always up to date, or it will cause further delays.

Being prepared is the best way to protect your business from disaster. If everyone knows what to do, you can get back up and running sooner.

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