I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Natural disasters

With floods in Victoria, NSW and especially in Queensland, fires in WA and cyclones in Queensland, we are experiencing natural disasters across Australia.

Aside from any emotional reactions and personal needs, this is clearly a time to prepare our businesses for the worst. For those in affected and threatened areas, you may not have the time or energy to do much now but I believe the rest of us should take this time to protect our businesses so we can stay strong to help those who are loosing so much.

To help you prepare, here are some previous blog posts where I have written about contingency plans and actions:

Risk acknowledgement

Chain reactions…

Prepared for a chain reaction?

Protecting the essential

Crucial planning ahead for problems

What’s essential?

Website hosting security

Naming publicly

The naming and shaming will probably prove to be the greatest punishment. Chris Jackson

…we will name their names and shame them as they deserve to be shamed. Bob Dole

The above quotes got me thinking – is being named publicly for some wrong doing a bigger punishment than something like a fine or restriction? Do people who do the wrong thing actually deserve to be identified?

I don’t know that they deserve to be named and possibly humiliated by that naming, but I can see that naming them may protect others. For example, someone convicted of fraud isn’t someone I want to hire as an accountant or financial advisor, and having people who don’t pay for services they request listed may protect other businesses from being mistreated.

Some wrong doers appear to feel no shame and repeat their “crime” over and over; these are the ones people most need protecting from so making their names public seems somewhat just. With the internet, it is obviously mush easier to get names in front of a LOT of people instead of a smaller audience. For example, you can contact any magistrates court and ask for finding of any case which limits the access, but you can now also visit a website and see the outcomes for yourself.

What do you think – should wrong doers be publicly named as a punishment, to protect others, or not at all?

Part 2 in a couple of days…

Protecting the essential

Last week I wrote about identifying the essential aspects of your business as one step in contingency planning. Obviously, the next thing is to protect those aspects as much as possible…

I see there are two distinct ways to protect essential details – find ways to prevent those details being hurt or destroyed and find ways to stop the business being so reliant on those details.

Each aspect of your business may require very different techniques for protection against damage, but the idea is to reduce the risk of a problem and then reduce the length of time before it is operational again.

Here are some examples of how to protect some aspects of your business – and you can use these even if they don’t count as essential aspects of your business:

  • provide a safe working environment for yourself and staff – it may sound simple, but imagine a masseur or carpenter falling over a loose cord and breaking their arm …
  • isolate people during health issues – for instance, swine flu can’t spread  if those with the disease are not near everyone else. This can mean sick people don’t come to work or you arrange for remote access for sick people and/or essential staff
  • have computer back up systems in place – and store the data off site. We use carbonite as it regualrly backs up for us and we can reclaim work easily at any time, even after human errors rather than major problems
  • make sure your equipment is serviced and cleaned frequently
  • instal security alarms, locks and so on to protect against theft
  • ensure smoke and fire alarms are working and placed appropriately – smoke alarms above a stove going off all the time tend to be ignored so move them
  • purchase a fire proof safe to store precious documents, data and equipment
  • establish rules to minimise damage of fragile and essential items – for instance, only fully licensed drivers do deliveries, store fragile items out of walkways and on stable surfaces
  • research details for a back up web host in case you need to swap in a hurry (for example their servers were damaged in a natural disaster and your site would be down for weeks)
  • have a spare computer and monitor available to use if necessary – it doesn’t have to be as good as your usual computer as long as it can cope with the basic and essential requirements
  • know where you can hire replacement equipment if need be, and keep those details somewhere accessible

What other ways have you protected your essential business assets?

Where to place a business card?

Since posting about international business card etiquette, I have read more about different culture’s practices. One site discusses business etiquette in Australia and I couldn’t resist seeing what they advice non-Australians. They wrote:

Business cards are often used in business dealings, but Australians don’t fuss about them. It is acceptable to hand over and receive a business card with one hand. It is good practice to put your counterpart’s business card on the table during the meeting, although some people will put it straight in their pocket.

It got me thinking – should a business card go on the table or into a pocket?

Obviously, if you are at a stand-up networking event, there is no table so cards go into a pocket (or bag or diary). And if you receive a card in passing, a pocket is appropriate.

Personally, if I am in a meeting and receive some business cards I leave them on the table in front of me, face up. Not only is it a good reminder of people’s names and titles, I think it shows respect that I value their card enough to keep it in sight. In those same meetings, I have seen people leave cards on the table and others place cards in holders of their document folder (so they could still see the cards but were also protecting them), and that does feel better than seeing my card go into a pocket (sometimes without even a glance).

I think it may be different at a meal-based networking event, though. In that case, I often put the card straight into a pocket to protect it from food spills and being lost amongst the dishes and table paraphernalia. Sometimes, I hold the card for a while as I talk to the person sitting next to me – it makes me more familiar with the card and the person, plus I think it is respectful to listen as they talk rather than fiddling with cards and pockets/bags/card holders.

Where do you place business cards as you receive them at a table? Is this habit or have you consciously decided to do it that way?

Use your words wisely!