Common HR Mistakes Startups Make

Regardless of how small or large your business is, the team that you assemble to work for you is an essential component to its success. As soon as you begin hiring staff members to join your startup, you must take on important human resources responsibilities. In many cases, hiring and developing talent as well as maintaining relationships with each team member can be stressful and challenging, and serious mistakes can be made.

Approaching the hiring and management tasks professionally from the start is essential for the success of your startup. It can reduce the number of issues that you run into and their severity. This means that you need to develop and follow effective human resources policies and processes immediately, and these should be scalable to accommodate growth in the years to come.

Identifying common human resources mistakes that startups make can help you to avoid making these same mistakes yourself. These are among the more common mistakes that startups make in the realm of human resources.

Not Seeking Professional Assistance

It may seem like hiring an employee to join your team is a relatively straightforward process and that you require little to no help with it. However, hiring a human resource professional as soon as possible to facilitate the hiring and management processes can help you to choose the right individuals to join the team. This step could also help you to retain the talent that you have worked so hard to recruit.

A good rule of thumb is to add one HR manager for every 50 employees on your team. This ensures that each individual on your team is properly managed. It also can help your HR team to identify potential issues that need to be addressed, answer their questions to promote happiness in the workplace and more. It is wise to have your HR professionals hired before adding even more individuals to join the team.

Hiring the Wrong Individuals

Entrepreneurs may be stressed with many responsibilities related to starting and growing a young business. With this in mind, it is understandable that you may take the approach of hiring any individual to join your team who has the right skillset and experience. However, there are many other factors to consider when making a hiring decision than simply the credentials on a resume. For example, a new-hire should have the right mentality to fit into corporate culture, solid personal skills to be an asset to the team and more. Your hiring process should successfully screen applicants in all relevant areas.

When you hire the wrong individuals for your positions, you may have operational issues. These individuals or others in the team could become discontent when new-hires are a poor fit, and your employee turnover rate may escalate. This type of employee experience could ultimately cost the company a substantial amount of money. To combat this, you need to have a solid financial plan for your business, and you need to stick to it. This plan should focus on standardizing the hiring process and creating clear, effective criteria to make a hiring decision by.

Not Having Strong Company Culture

Many of the largest and most successful corporations have a strong and identifiable company culture. For example, Apple is known for its outside-the-box thinking and for hiring creative individuals with fresh perspectives. You may assume that a company’s culture simply develops over time on its own, but the reality is that culture is created by the business owner though individualized decisions. For example, the interactions between team members and management can lay the foundation for culture. Without culture, your business may flounder.

Because of how important company culture is in even small companies, you need to understand how to create it. Choosing policies and processes that are aligned with the culture that you want to achieve is important. Your management team’s interactions with staff members also should represent culture. As you create corporate policies and business processes, the concept of corporate culture should also be in mind.

Failing to Develop the Team

While you may go to great lengths to hire new team members by focusing on their experience and skills, the business world is constantly changing. You need your existing team to be dynamic, and their ability to grow to meet changing needs is directly tied to the training opportunities that you provide to them. Keep in mind that your team members may also be personally interested in advancing within their career. They do not want to feel as though their skillset is outdated, and they may have a goal of climbing the corporate ladder within your company.

Developing your team begins during the onboarding process, which is a time when a new-hire learns about company culture and professional development programs available to him or year. These development programs could include in-house training and mentoring, assistance obtaining certifications, college tuition reimbursement and more. Development opportunities should be offered, encouraged and available to team members free of charge.

Final Word

While many aspects of your business operations require constant attention and thoughtful effort, hiring the right individuals to join your startup team is essential. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs make serious hiring and management mistakes, and these can ultimately be detrimental and costly to the business. If you are preparing to hire team members soon or if you are facing HR and management challenges, it may benefit your business to reassess your human resources efforts and strategies.

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5 Tips for Running a Startup from Your Home

Starting a new business out of your home is a financially-savvy decision in many cases. Approximately 69 percent of entrepreneurs make the decision to base their startup out of their home, and for good reason. When you run a new business out of your house, you can save a tremendous amount of money on overhead. With substantial technology now available to facilitate a work-at-home environment, many entrepreneurs are not hindered in any way by running operations out of their house.

In fact, many of the most successful companies known around the world today were started at home. Just a few of these include Apple, Google, Amazon and Hewlett-Packard. As smart as it may be for you to launch a business from home, there may be some challenges to overcome. These helpful tips will guide you on a surer path towards success with your new home-based business.

Establish an Organized Work Area

Even through you are launching a business from home, you still need to have a professional, dedicated space to conduct your work activities. This should be a space that is free from distractions and that will not co-mingle with living activities for you and other occupants in the home. One idea is to remodel a spare room and to transform it into a functional home office space. This space ideally will hold all of your business equipment and furnishings. For example, you may need a computer, a printer, a copier, a landline phone, a desk, a work table, seating for clients, storage space, shelves and more.

Remember to also focus on the environment. For example, lighting and temperature can affect your productivity level and your ability to concentrate. As you remodel your space to create a home office, remember to focus on these important elements.

Create a Realistic and Practical Work Schedule

One of the many benefits associated with starting a business from home and being your own boss is the ability to have a flexible schedule. With a flexible schedule, you may be able to enjoy a better quality of life and better manage a work-life balance. However, this type of schedule may also lead to the likelihood of wasting time throughout the day. For example, you may be inclined to sit down in front of the TV for a quick break, but that break could easily extend for an hour or longer unintentionally.

To avoid wasting your valuable work time and to maximize productivity, it makes sense to create a schedule for your workday. Select a firm starting time as well as a finishing time. You can give yourself small breaks during the day, but most of your personal activities should be tackled outside of your work hours. There are some excellent time management and project management applications and programs that you can use to schedule your time as well as to monitor your breaks and non-work activities.

Find Support

Some entrepreneurs try to handle every task associated with running and growing their business. This requires them to wear many hats and to try to be an expert in everything that they do. This essentially can pull your attention away from the tasks that you are truly good at and that require your personal attention. Some tasks may easily and successfully be outsourced to professionals. Because of their expertise, you may enjoy better results and be able to use your time more effectively in the process.

When you search for independent contractors or freelancers, look for individuals who have expertise in an area that you are weak at and who charge affordable rates for their services. An outsourcing relationship should ideally add value and help you to work more efficiently.

Connect with Others

It is easy to feel isolated and closed off when you work from home, but it can be detrimental to your efforts to seal yourself off. Reach out to other home-based business owners in different ways. These may be individuals in a related field that you may be able to work with professionally. It may be people in unrelated fields who you simply socialize with to get support as needed, get recommendations for service providers and more.

While there are online groups that you can join, try to find live support groups or networking groups as well. These could be professional groups and clubs, or the y could be informal groups that you pull together on your own and that grow over time. You can even use these groups to casually promote your products and services.

Choose Cost-Effective Marketing Strategies

Regardless of whether you run a home-based business or your base of operations is in a more professional environment, marketing is essential. However, you likely decided to launch your business from home at least partially to conserve funds. Understandably, you also want to conserve money on marketing without negatively affecting business profits and growth.

There are many cost-effective marketing options to consider, such as through social media, email marketing, cold calls, networking events in your local area and more. Remember to use your professional network to get the word out as well. You could spend a fortune on marketing, but a cost-effective campaign that is based on thoughtful, focused effort may have just as large of a return.

In Conclusion

When you run your own business out of your home, you have the flexibility and freedom to manage your activities in any way you desire. While there are no hard and fast rules regarding most aspects of your operations, you can see that these tips can help you to remain as productive as possible while also bolstering your chances for success. As you move forward, keep these tips in mind.

Five Lessons Learned From 100 Years of Human Resources

Human resources departments are invaluable assets when it comes to protecting companies from potentially devastating losses or game-changing mistakes. All too often, career-ending mishaps could have been avoided with a quick trip to HR, but even the department has occasionally had to learn on-the-job, as it were. After 100 years of HR, you’d think that we’ve learned all there is to know about what companies can, can’t, and really shouldn’t do. Still, here are five lessons that always seem to be a surprise whenever the ball gets dropped.

The Trap of Ignoring Morale

Morale is crucial to working environments. Happy employees are productive employees, after all. When markets move against companies, however, the metrics-based focus of “crunch times” can cause severe loss of focus on this important consideration. As HR, it falls to us to remember to keep the “human” part of human resources in mind at all times. Amazon.com recently found itself under fire for warehouse and worker conditions after metrics-based performance incentives cut the legs out from under the company’s morale. Amazon’s perception in the media and public at large also shifted negatively when word got out about the conditions many workers face in the organization.

The Risks of a Politicizing Company Culture

Company culture can, and often should, change over time. Dramatic shifts, however, should be democratic and involve workers at all levels. When a company decides to make a move that brings it into the political spotlight, it can have repercussions well beyond its own halls. Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, learned this the hard way when he announced a $70,000 minimum salary for his employees. The move thrust him into the spotlight surrounding minimum wage arguments in the nation, clients cancelled their work because of differing political views and lawsuits were filed against the company. This came on the heels of the decision to raise wages for employees by slashing his own.

The Snare of Insider Trading

One of the great cautionary tales of HR comes at the expense of financier Ivan Boesky, who in 1986 made over $200 million investing in corporate takeovers. Unfortunately, his seemingly smart predictions landed him in jail as they turned out to be based on insider trading. HR departments around the world send regular updates to stockholders who may have insider knowledge to help them avoid this type of disaster. Boesky also paid over $100 million in fines for his illegal actions.

The Dangers of Old Buildings

When the real risks of asbestos and its link to mesothelioma were exposed to the public sector, companies poured millions into removing the material from walls, ceilings and other key infrastructure. Unfortunately, removal of the material often freed it into the air, causing workers to inhale the substance and suffer effects years, potentially even decades, down the line. It falls on human-resources personnel to make sure that the right persons are responsible for all disaster and cleanup operations, lest the company be found responsible for damages due to its well-intentioned policies of replacement and repair of worn-down structures.

The Pitfalls of Miscommunication

In the BYOD business world, communication moves at about the speed of light (over optical networks). This means that it’s nearly impossible to bury bad news, especially using press releases of good news. HR and PR departments must work shoulder-to-shoulder to make sure that the press doesn’t feel hoodwinked by a show of good news when bad is developing, as happened when Walmart made its grand announcement about its new $11 an hour minimum wage. Unfortunately, the same day, the closure of over 50 stores became public knowledge. The news about the closure spread quickly, as employees are rarely slow to share such information, and bad press followed closely on the heels of the closure news, offsetting any gains from the minimum wage announcement.
As companies strive to keep top talent and protect themselves against lawsuits and game-changing errors, HR departments are more critical than ever. Savvy human-resources professionals aren’t afraid to speak up against bad policy or advise on important matters, and the best are more than willing to go to bat for the future of their companies. With 100 years on the job, HR pros understand what is at risk and have the tools to keep businesses going strong in the decades to come.

How do you Retain your Talent the right way? Being Human.

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Question for the start up world.

When you walk into a start up and the first thing they say to HR is “we want a sustainable culture yet, the hyper growth that Facebook or Google went through”. Red flag alert. As the expert, you should already know that these two elements do not happen at the same time. You need to ask them, “Is it Acqusition or Retention?”

This is a conscious effort from your leadership, you simply cannot do this alone. One thing we need to get right is the people in your company defines the future, and this means EVERY SINGLE HIRE you have brought in, and retained.

Acquisition:

You start off with acquisition. Take a company through hyper growth. Hire for headcount show, not for PURPOSE. Your leadership tells you, “hiring slow affects business”. And so, you make it the only agenda in your job to Hire, Hire, Hire, because yes, you were told you can and should do so. They know that it is the talent they have who build their product. It is the talent they have who connects the product to their customers. They know that it is the talent they have who is going to give their customers a better world. So, THEY MUST HAVE IT.

This is the most exciting part of a start up, the expansion phase. Of course it is! You’re selling a great dream every single day. You even end up believing in it yourself. The propaganda.

So now, you think if I can hire all these great people, I can retain them too because we’re all in this together.

WRONG.

Retention:

All these great talent, all of these great people you have just brought in to build this dream are also very smart people. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have bat an eyelid at them at the first instance. Their experiences are top notch, their technical skills are second to none. But you forgot to ask, “what is YOUR DREAM?”

Every employee has a dream, GREAT employees CHASE their dreams. If you want to retain greatness, must give them the work, life satisfaction they seek.

Because they are human, just like you.

Let’s put it this way, a satisfied employee is an engaged employee. We all know that high engagement brings profitability to the company, because losing people costs you ££. Don’t be daft, of course it does.

Losing talent is not something to be proud of.

So what do you need to do? 2 things.

Empowering your employees:

Oh, did I hate it when Steve Jobs put A,B,C players in boxes and he used to say that Apple is successful because their A players run circles around other B,C rejects from the company. I cannot help but felt how derogatory this is to the majority of people who were never given the opportunity to graduate from Stanford. Great leadership encourages self improvement instead of firing low performers. They listen intently and believe in them. I know this because I’m empowered every day and it’s not a fairytale. Man, am I lucky.

Trust and respect:

Give your employees generous boundaries. Contrary to conventional wisdom, boundaries don’t restrict team members; it means you TRUST them. Let them have autonomy, and let them prove to you they can do it too. No one was born to know exactly what to do with their lives, but they learn along the way. Credible leadership believe in their employees, and let them get on with it.

Needless to say, employees who are engaged shows better performance because they hit your happiness index right at the mark you want them to be. So leaders need to remember, their success is your greater success. Treat them how you want to be treated.

Stop making excuses. Humanise your company now.

5 Tips for Startups for Achieving Global Reach

Sometimes, your product or service will be such that there’s no practical reason to restrict your operations to your local region. In this situation, it might be more lucrative to aim for global reach. Sure, you don’t have to appeal to the whole world at the same time, however, sometimes it’s enough just to make your product universally available. In order to get the most out of it from the very start, you need to learn how to achieve a global reach with your startup in the simplest, most cost-effective way. Here are five tips that might help you out.

Build a highly graphic brand

One of the first lessons that every startup should take is one made by one of the world’s largest brands Coca-Cola. During their Ramadan campaign, they removed all the labels from their cans, yet all the world was still able to clearly recognize their products. The color of the cans, as well as the iconic curved white line in the middle, is as clear of an indicator for the brand as its logo, however, unlike the logo, it is completely language-independent. Of course, the chance of a startup reaching the same level of brand recognition isn’t that high, however, what you can do is set your mindset in this direction. For instance, you can try to tell your story in images rather than verbalize it and in this way breach the language barrier.

Outsource

In the present-day business world, achieving a global reach is nearly impossible without outsourcing. This is due to the fact that you simply can’t reach that quality of service with your in-house team without some major investments. Subsequently, if you reach a certain level of expertise in your own field of specialty, you will start outsourcing certain features, and in this way more than justifies this deficit. As for the quality of services, outsourcing significantly expands your talent pool. For instance, you get to work with a renowned Hong Kong SEO company, collaborate with customer service experts from India and manufacture products in China. In other words, you get a much higher department cost- efficiency on every level possible.

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Remote workers

Aside from working with remote agencies, you can resort to hiring individuals in the same manner, as well. With remote workers, you get to increase your talent pool, which can help you get the most efficient experts on your team, without going through too much trouble. However, aside from this transparent efficiency in productivity, you also get to diversify your operations. In other words, you get to further diversify your company, which may give you a greater insight into a greater number of regions. All in all, in a situation where you decide to include another market to the list, you get the privilege of knowing at least one local professional that you can rely on, even if it’s just an advice you need.

Competition

One of the greatest misconceptions about the competition is the idea that this is somehow an exclusively bad thing. In reality, this is only true if you have nothing fresh to offer. Competitors that come before you can prepare the market for your arrival and even make a contrast in favor of your superior offer. Upon your arrival, the local customer base will compare you to your competitors and, if you have a superior offer, you will be regarded more highly than if they had no point of reference whatsoever. Moreover, a healthy competition indicates a well-developed market, which often turns out to be much more lucrative.

Providing customer support in more languages

Finally, there’s no better way to show the local market just how highly you value them as customers than to address them in their local language. While creating a local version of your website (with a local extension) is a great idea it is even more important to include a customer support in their language. This is due to the fact that such a thing provides a direct value to your customers, which is something that they are bound to appreciate. In the era of chatbots, this can be pulled off even without having to hire local customer support representatives or outsourcing to a local customer support agency.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that each region has its own rules of the game and that sometimes startups have a hard time penetrating their local market, let alone becoming an international trend. Sure, starting a campaign for every single region is certainly more efficient but it isn’t necessarily worth your while. For the time being, establishing a global presence through the above-listed five methods might be your safest bet.

5 Ideas to Give Your Startup a Tech Boost

When faced with a productivity problem, instead of having to expand your workforce, try to come up with a less-risky solution. After all, a workload increase might be just a fluke, which means that hiring more people might not work out for you in the long run. Furthermore, you might be surprised just how many aspects of your business could use a bit of improvement. That being said, here are five ideas you can turn to in order to give your startup an immediate tech boost.

Automated finances

The first thing you can do to introduce your business into the 21st century is automating your financial processes. Namely, you can start by paying your bills online. An average business spends about $12 on paying a single bill, whereas, if done electronically, this can be reduced to as little as $1,5. Apart from saving you a small fortune over the course of years, automating your finances like this will also save you a lot of time.

Apart from this, you might want to automate your payment collecting system which will make it much easier for you (or your accountant) to make financial estimates and projections. A lot of people downplay the importance of doing this in digital form. However, it gives you a greater overview of your company’s incomes and outcomes. In other words, if there is any foul-play in your company or an irregularity of any kind, it will be much easier to notice it. That is to say that, as long as everything is running smoothly, handling your finances will take a lot less effort.

Digital marketing

The next aspect of your business that is in desperate need of digitalization is your marketing. First of all, digitizing your marketing is nowhere near as difficult as you might have assumed. Sure, SEO, PPC marketing and Facebook advertising may require a bit more finesse and expertise, but you can easily establish your social media presence, reach out to influencers and start blogging on your own. In fact, businesses on a budget have so many free tools and resources available, that it becomes plain reckless not to use them to your benefit.

The greatest advantage, however, lies in the availability of reliable learning materials. Never before was it so easy to acquire a skill, whether through independent internet research or by taking an online course. All in all, improving your digital marketing is definitely a tech boost that your company needs and stands to benefit from greatly.

Proper office hardware

In previous two sections, we went to lengths to discuss the way in which your company can benefit from various tech trends. However, the way in which these platforms run and perform greatly depends on your hardware. While renting out office hardware may seem like a growing trend, it is still more reliable to simply purchase your own equipment.

Keep in mind that different laptops have different keyboard sensitivity, screen size and other similar properties, which is why you want to appease the majority by getting their preferred brand. For instance, you can get Lenovo X1 laptop for those staff members who need high-end machines.  

Customer service

When it comes to the general user experience (UX), there’s nothing more important than customer service. This, however, is a double-edged sword. Sure, showing professionalism can do wonders for the overall brand loyalty and help your audience pay more attention to you as a business. Apart from this, it can also make a massive improvement in your damage-control efforts (a sizeable PR boost). However, its absence can harm your brand in more ways than you can imagine.

There are two tech-savvy solutions to this problem. The first one, that is much more popular, is the idea of outsourcing your customer service to countries such as India that particularly specialize in this area. The second, more cost-effective option, is to look into chatbots. Throughout the years, these chatbots have grown much more reliable and sophisticated. Moreover, they respond instantly, which is always a huge plus.

Collaboration

At the end of the day, by properly utilizing the trend of telecommuting, you can expand your talent pool and run a more frugal business. First of all, you won’t have to pay for travel expenses (which also reduces the carbon footprint of your company). Second, you won’t have to lease a bigger office, seeing as how a significant part of your workforce will be operating from their own homes. All in all, hiring remote workers and freelancers is much easier if done through specialized platforms. Also, collaboration tools will help you coordinate these teams when working on massive projects.

Conclusion

One of the first things that you might have noticed is the fact that there is a tech solution for virtually any potential problem your company might be faced with. However, whether or not you manage to embrace and enforce it in your office depends exclusively on your own managerial skills, as well as how tech savvy you are. Nevertheless, even if you don’t intend to use most of these trends, just knowing they’re available can be quite reassuring.

Unleash 2018 – The next wave of Digital HR

The formerly known HR Tech World celebrated its re-birth this year in London from 20th to 21st of March after the official rebrand to “Unleash”. Marc Coleman, Founder, and CEO of UNLEASH said, “The UNLEASH community will look to become more open to leadership from across organizations and to engage with the people that are making big differences in the world of work, creating communities that enable disruptive workplace innovation and learning.”

The general set up remained very similar. A jungle full of HR tech vendors including the well-established ones but also many small and upcoming startups that presented themselves. The HR tech market has seen lots of movement over the recent years also welcoming lots of fresh players. Especially technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) but also blockchain will further disrupt the HR market. Having algorithms support companies to find better candidates or having the new contract being issued in a blink of an eye with the help of blockchain technology.

So it came with no surprise that these topics were heavily discussed in the different breakout sessions along with other hot topics such as GDPR, Brexit, leadership, learning 2.0, diversity and inclusion, mentoring and many more.

Keynote speech by Skype co-founder Jonas Kjellberg

Jonas Kjellberg says about himself that it is disrupting an industry that gets him up in the morning. Jonas Kjellberg is one of the co-founders of Skype. He has a successful past in disrupting industries, most famously the telecommunication industry. He described how hard it is to invent in the zeros but that’s what he did with Skype. The highest valued startups such as Uber or AirBnB invest in the zeros as they simply offer a platform but do not own the product anymore. The bottom line of his speech is if a company wants to survive in this highly disruptive market it needs to re-imagine its organization and make innovation the heart and soul of the company’s DNA. This also includes hiring different profiles and giving them the room to be themselves.

The big HR tech vendors all to be found right after the entrance

After making it through the registration and the entrance to the stands that were located right on the ground floor visitors were welcomed by the big players in the HR Cloud market. For Oracle it was all about the new UX this time including its new “newsfeed” landing page. Employees can now highlight the data and details they care about most.

Another big topic of this year’s Unleash was data and people/workforce analytics. HR has been for many years looking in the rearview mirror, rather than looking forward and being able to predict events that will occur in the future. With the help of the latest and greatest analytics solutions, for the first time HR has the chance to really understand who is their workforce and being able to abstract relevant information and match these against business outcomes. Knowing who is at risk, or who should be taken into consideration for a promotion, predicting these events lets companies better plan and develop their workforce for the future.

The startup corner hosted the disruptors of the future

At the end of the main hall the HR startups were to be found. More than 40 startups presented themselves. The common ground for all these companies is that they want to contribute to the Future of Work.   Innovating in their area of HR and leading the way to the next generation of HR.

Next to the Startup Zone the competitions took place. The 5 HR startups finalist had the chance to present their ideas and products to a selected jury. With the help of Unleash the winners will get access to further support and access to influencers.

We are all looking forward to discover other innovative HR propositions and to further uncover the innovation happening in the HR market.

For more insights, please visit hr-jump.com

Author: Mats Nemelka – HCM Solution Consultant, Oracle

Mats advises companies in the HR space on how to handle HR transformations best with the help of a cloud software solution. Views are his own. Follow @matsnemelka

5 Effective Customer Service Tools Your Small Business Should Be Using

Customer experience refers to the perception a customer has about their interactions with a given company. These interactions can be direct or indirect. An example of direct interaction is when a customer calls your customer service department. When a customer reads a negative or positive comment about your company on social media, they are indirectly interacting with your business.

You need to acquire the right tools if you wish to improve your customer experience. The best ones help your company turn customer experience into increased revenue and accelerated growth, lower operation costs, and higher customer retention.

Read on and decide if the following tools seem like the real deal.

1. Freshdesk

Freshdesk helps you categorize, prioritize, and assign tickets. It ensures you do not lose track of conversations. It features a team inbox that enables you to handle incoming support tickets from multiple channels efficiently. It makes sure no two agents accidentally work on the same problem. The tool lets you set deadlines for ticket response and resolution. It also enables you to split complex, multi-stage issues into smaller tickets called “child tickets.

Freshdesk supports the discussion of specific parts of a ticket among your company’s top experts, leading to quicker resolution of complicated issues. Also, this tool supports live chat, lets you integrate your Facebook page, and Twitter handles, allowing you to manage them from the same place. Most importantly, Freshdesk offers a customer service portal and a website-related knowledge base that provides helpful information to visitors. Additionally, it allows customers to view ticket status and even share or vote on ideas.

2. Office 365 Business

Office 365 Business is a complete cloud-based office suite. Think of this tool as an online ecosystem in which you can run applications, access remote data, exchange information, and collaborate on documents and files. Two of the most useful services that Office 365 Business offers are Microsoft Bookings and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Scheduling appointments with existing and prospective customers is critical, but it can be time-consuming. Sending emails, talking on the phone, and reminding people about meetings can take a huge chunk of your time. In the end, you do not give your core business the attention it deserves. Microsoft bookings offers a unique web page that allows customers to schedule appointments. Based on your availability or that of your staff, the customer selects the service they want and chooses a day and time, effectively booking an appointment.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers integrated solutions that enable you to track leads, automate field service, improve operations, and drive sales. You accomplish all these activities using cloud-based mobile, enterprise-ready business applications. The beauty of this service is that you can use the apps even when offline. Reconnecting to the internet leads to automatic data.

3. Zendesk

The tool allows you to provide your customers unlimited support. It is useful across a wide range of vertical markets such as media, retail, technology, government, and other small and large businesses. It is scalable whether you are a small or large organization. Zendesk enables you to serve your customers no matter where they are using live chat and short messaging service.

It features forms, a customer relationship management system, and other tools that add extra data to your customer support tickets. Implementing Zendesk takes minutes, and it is accessible across multiple devices. It becomes for you a flexible support center that grows with your team. It allows automatic addition of the features you need as situations change.

4. Conversocial Software

The Conversocial software is the perfect tool for managing all your company’s social media interactions. It intelligently prioritizes issues and tickets, ensuring the team does not delay or overlook the important ones. The software compiles onto one screen each customer’s interactions with your business. Customer support agents have their workflow simplified; the compilation helps them improve their effectiveness. If you are in retail, banking, healthcare, telecommunications, or utilities, this tool is a perfect choice.

5. Live Chat Software

Live chat software is a versatile tool that helps you improve customer experience and grow sales. You will need to implement this useful tool on your website. If you are looking for software that offers both efficiency and quality, this is a great option. It allows your customer support agents to multitask. Typically, live chat suppliers allow agents to engage up to ten customers at a time.

Your agents need training and must possess multitasking ability before they can handle several live chats concurrently. If you own an e-commerce site, this is the tool you need to help you quickly answer your visitors’ questions that could lead to a sale. Most online shoppers, especially the younger generation, prefer live chat to the phone. Live chat improves CX by satisfying customers’ immediate need for quick response to issues of concern.

9 Actionable Tips for Hiring Employees for Your Home Office

Consider yourself lucky if you have the good fortune of being able to run and build your business from home. When the business is new, you might be the only person working for it. However, as it begins to grow and expand, you might need to hire employees. Hiring an employee for your home office is as challenging as finding the right roommate. The following tips can help you sidestep a lot of issues.

1. Discuss With Your Family

You never know how your family might react to the prospect of having a stranger share their private space. It is important to discuss with them from the get-go so that they know what to expect. Have them understand that the person is an employee and not a guest. Be sure to mention that they will not need to feed the person or have to make other inconveniencing arrangements.

2. Opt for Full Disclosure

You do not want to have prospective employees wondering whether they got the wrong address. Full disclosure presents you as a person who is straightforward and considerate. You do not want a potential employee weighing whether or not they want to work from someone else’s home as they walk down the hallway. Non-disclosure might have them thinking you have something to hide.

3. Interview Your Candidate

You will need to watch how candidates behave once they arrive at your home office. Do they look comfortable and at ease? Do not hesitate to ask them how they feel about it all. Attentively listen as they answer, understanding what they say and what they leave unsaid. If you had told them about it right off the bat and they seem uneasy during the interview, hire someone else.

4. Perform a Background Check

Experience and skills matter a lot, but character and integrity carry much more weight than these two qualities. It is better to hire someone worthy of trust even though they are inexperienced than hire an experienced person about whom you have trust issues. Be sure to conduct a thorough background check on all candidates. Ask people you trust for recommendations. You can always train a person, but you cannot induce character.

5. Set Up a Suitable Workspace

Your employee needs privacy; you must spend some money to create a bit of privacy around their work area. Offer them an atmosphere like the one they would expect in a traditional office. Provide them with a desk, a chair, as well as the tools and technological devices they need to work efficiently — a computer, wireless connection, a phone, and so on. The office needs to be well-lit, too; consider hiring a professional to help you design the office. Finally, have your family understand that the office is off-limits.

6. Add a Separate Entrance

Invest some money in designing an office having its own entrance. The less likely it is that employees will meet someone from your family as they enter the office the better. Also, it creates a sense of professionalism, making everyone feel comfortable. While you might need to spend some money to achieve this, it is worth it in the end.

7. Invest in Housekeeping Services

You are the boss, and you do not want your employees to come across dirty dishes in the kitchen. It makes perfect sense to hire a housekeeper. Having someone who does your dishes, vacuums the carpet, and cleans the bathrooms makes the home office a nicer place for your employees. Also, such an arrangement makes you feel confident.

8. Define Your Terms

This is a job, and you have expectations just like they have. Make it known right from the outset that you expect them to respect and follow all the rules and deliver results. Giving them an employee handbook demonstrates that you take your duties as a manager seriously. The manual should carry policies on office rules, working hours, use of office phone, sick days and any other relevant matter.

9. Set Your Boundaries

Being clear about the boundaries relating to their presence at your home is critical. They need to know from the beginning the rooms they can enter and those they cannot. Can your employee use your kitchen to prepare their lunch? Do you want them to leave during their lunch break? What about bathroom arrangements? Ensure you have a bathroom for office use, too.

In Conclusion

Being able to work from home is an exciting opportunity. However, it can be daunting if you have no idea how to handle hiring employees to work in your home office. Do background checks, tell candidates and family what to expect, set rules and boundaries, and build an office with own entrance. These simple tips should help you to hire the right person and keep them.

Top 10 Algorithms of Machine Learning

In this modern world technical revolution has taken place thus artificial intelligence and machine learning has come into existence because of its accurate predictions. However day by day it will gain more attention in industries. Thus first of all as an engineer’s we should be well known to these advanced techniques of machine learning and its algorithms.

Importance of Machine Learning: Machine learning is a field of Artificial Intelligence, which is allowed to software applications for making accurate results. Algorithms are built through which input is received and after statistical analysis output value is predicted. Because the algorithms are trained from dataset and thus learn from data finally improved results are predicted. Machine learning algorithms can be supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning. Let’s discuss them one by one: 

Supervised learning: In supervised learning algorithms training of model is done using some previous dataset. It requires humans for providing input and output. With some previous dataset training of model is done. After completion of training, algorithm applies the learnt things for prediction of new data.

Unsupervised learning: For more complex problems unsupervised learning is used. Interferences of dataset from input data is drawn. It is done for unlabelled data so cluster analysis method is used i.e from data it finds patterns from unclassified data. 

Reinforcement learning:  This type of learning is based on self-learning process. Machine learns its behavior by using feedback from the environment to maximize its performance.

10 algorithms of Machine Learning:  There are some machine learning algorithms for beginners available. These algorithms are:

  1. Linear Regression: For statistical technique linear regression is used in which value of dependent variable is predicted through independent variables? A relationship is formed by mapping the dependent and independent variable on a line and that line is called regression line which is represented by Y= a*X + b.

Where Y= Dependent variable (e.g weight).

X= Independent Variable (e.g height)

b= Intercept and a = slope.

  1. Logistic Regression: In logistic regression we have lot of data whose classification is done by building an equation. This method is used to find the discrete dependent variable from the set of independent variables. Its goal is to find the best fit set of parameters. In this classifier, each feature is multiplied by a weight and then all are added. Then the result is passed to sigmoid function which produces the binary output. Logistic regression generates the coefficients to predict a logit transformation of the probability. These machine learning algorithms are mostly used for Stock market Prediction systems.
  1. Decision Tree: It belongs to supervised learning algorithm. Decision tree can be used to classification and regression both having a tree like structure. In a decision tree building algorithm first the best attribute of dataset is placed at the root, and then training dataset is split into subsets. Splitting of data depends on the features of datasets. This process is done until the whole data is classified and we find leaf node at each branch. Information gain can be calculated to find which feature is giving us the highest information gain. Decision trees are built for making a training model which can be used to predict class or the value of target variable.
  1. Support vector machine: Support vector machine is a binary classifier. Raw data is drawn on the n-dimensional plane. In this a separating hyperplane is drawn to differentiate the datasets. The line drawn from centre of the line separating the two closest data points of different categories is taken as an optimal hyperplane. This optimised separating hyperplane maximizes the margin of training data. Through this hyperplane, new data can be categorised.
  1. Naive-Bayes: It is a technique for constructing classifiers which is based on Bayes theorem used even for highly sophisticated classification methods. It learns the probability of an object with certain features belonging to a particular group or class. In short, it is a probabilistic classifier. In this method occurrence of each feature is independent of occurrence another feature. It only needs small amount of training data for classification, and all terms can be pre-compute thus classifying becomes easy, quick and efficient.
  1. KNN: This method is used for both classification and regression. It is among the simplest method of machine learning algorithms. It stores the cases and for new data it checks the majority of the k neighbors with which it resembles the most. KNN makes predictions using the training dataset directly.
  1. K-means Clustering: It is an unsupervised learning algorithm used to overcome the limitation of clustering. To group the datasets into clusters initial partition is done using Euclidean distance. Assume if we have k clusters, for each cluster a centre is defined. These centres should be far from each other, and then each point is examined thus added to the belonging nearest cluster in terms of Euclidean distance to nearest mean, until no point remains pending. A mean vector is re-calculated for each new entry. The iterative relocation is done until proper clustering is done. Thus for minimizing the objective squared error function process is repeated by generating a loop.
Final results of the K-means clustering algorithm are:
  • The centroids of the K clusters, which are used to label new entered data.
  • Labels for the training data.
  1. Random Forest: It is a supervised classification algorithm. Multiple numbers of decision trees taken together forms a random forest algorithm i.e the collection of many classification tree. It can be used for classification as well as regression. Each decision tree includes some rule based system. For the given training dataset with targets and features, the decision tree algorithm will have set of rules. In random forest unlike decision trees there is no need to calculate information gain to find root node. It uses the rules of each randomly created decision tree to predict the outcome and stores the predicted outcome. Further it Calculate the votes for each predicted target. Thus high voted prediction is considered as the final prediction from the random forest algorithm.
  1. Dimensionality Reduction Algorithms: It is used to reduce the number of random variables by obtaining some principal variables. Feature extraction and feature selection are types of dimensionality reduction method. It can be done by PCA, Principal component analysis is a method of extracting important variables from large set of variables. It extracts the low dimensionality set of features from high dimensional data. It is used basically when we have more than 3 dimensional data.
  1. Gradient boosting and Ada Boost Algorithms: Gradient boosting algorithm is a regression and classification algorithm. AdaBoost only selects those features which improves predictive power of the model. It works by choosing a base algorithm like decision trees and iteratively improving it by accounting for the incorrectly classified examples in the training set. Both of algorithms are used for the boosting of the accuracy of predictive model.

In the nutshell, we can say that machine learning is one of the top-rating technologies these days. Machine learning as a service is in trending. In this article, we have discussed 10 basic algorithms of machine learning for the beginners. By using these algorithms we can develop machine learning applications within few hours and days.