Posted by & filed under Atlanta Business Owner, Business Insurance, Going Global.

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For small companies, competing in the business world can be a daunting task. But in the ever-evolving digital age, more and more small companies are able to play in the big leagues. They can be in serious competition with national and even global corporations. 

 

So how does a small business take advantage of the business world and up their game? Roosevelt Giles, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Atlanta Life Financial Group, Inc., shares five insightful tips on how going digital can make your small company bigger and better than ever.

 

View the third tip here, and check out the fourth tip below. 

 

Be sure to visit every week to learn more invaluable advice on successfully growing your brand. 

 

Commandment 4: Build a Team of Happy Employees

There is an essential part of success that is often overlooked – happy, educated employees. Finding the right talent can be difficult; convincing them to be a part of your team can be harder still. And once you have acquired the talent you need, you have to have a plan in place to make sure they are prepared to represent your business and expand your client base.

 

No one is skilled in everything, but everyone is skilled in something. Find the skill sets you need, look for potential employees with those skill sets, and train and educate them to foster the talent they already have. If certifications are a necessary standard in your field, help your employees become certified. If they need continuing education in order to perform their jobs properly, find the required classes and arrange for your employees to attend. Take the time to sincerely and thoroughly invest in your talent.

 

Once your employees are trained and are given the resources they need, you can then ask them to return the investment you made in them by investing in you and your business. This means that they put their newly-honed skills to use in growing your business, reaching out to potential clients, and finding new opportunities for strategic partnerships.

 

Getting to know your employees is another important part of this process. Do any of your employees have kids? Where did they go to school? Why did they decide to pursue this field? What are the skills they are hoping to gain during their time at your company? If you know more about your employees and show them that you are invested in meeting their needs, they will be able to better meet the needs of your clients. Your employee experience must be as good or better than the customer experience if you want to successfully market your company.

 

About the Author

Mr. Roosevelt Giles serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Atlanta Life Financial Group, Inc. and as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Information Management Systems, Incorporated. With over 26 years of experience in the information technology field, he spends much of his time sharing his business expertise all over the world, and is an internationally-known technology expert, speaker and lecturer. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Posted by & filed under Atlanta Business Owner, Business Insurance, Going Global.

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For small companies, competing in the business world can be a daunting task. But in the ever-evolving digital age, more and more small companies are able to play in the big leagues. They can be in serious competition with national and even global corporations. 

 

So how does a small business take advantage of the business world and up their game? Roosevelt Giles, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Atlanta Life Financial Group, Inc., shares five insightful tips on how going digital can make your small company bigger and better than ever. 

 

View the second tip here, and check out the third tip below. 

 

Be sure to visit every week to learn more invaluable advice on successfully growing your brand. 

 

Commandment 3: Be The Expert

In order to tell people why your services are so valuable, you must know the answer yourself! An active digital presence and strategic alliances won’t be helpful to you if you are not able to present yourself as an expert in your field.  You must articulate quickly what your company does in 140 characters or less. If you understand your subject matter backwards and forwards, you will be able to show your potential client the advantage they will have by choosing your company as their source of product and information.

 

It’s important to be able to clearly explain what your company does and how it’s done in all types of environments, from a one-on-one meeting with a potential customer to a speaking engagement where hundreds or thousands of people are present. Often, you will be asked questions that you might not expect, or be asked to comment on how your services will be helpful in a specific situation. While you cannot predict every question or comment that will be said to you, you can prepare for these instances by having a working knowledge of not only your company and the services it provides, but knowledge on similar companies, related markets, and how to practically apply your knowledge to various situations that your client might encounter.

 

They say practice makes perfect – and being an expert is a great example of this. While speaking in any kind of environment, you will need to think quickly on your feet and present yourself in a manner that gives your client confidence in your expertise and abilities. Practice what you are going to say. Memorize key facts about your industry and the major players with in it. Ask for feedback on speaking engagements so you know how to improve for the next time. Positioning yourself as an expert will not only grow your business, but also gain you the reputation of being thoroughly committed to understanding your clients’ needs.

 

About the Author

Mr. Roosevelt Giles serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Atlanta Life Financial Group, Inc. and as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Information Management Systems, Incorporated. With over 26 years of experience in the information technology field, he spends much of his time sharing his business expertise all over the world, and is an internationally-known technology expert, speaker and lecturer. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Posted by & filed under Atlanta Business Owner, Business Insurance, Going Global.

AGLA Blog - Cover.002

 

For small companies, competing in the business world can be a daunting task. But in the ever-evolving digital age, more and more small companies are able to play in the big leagues. They can be in serious competition with national and even global corporations. 

 

So how does a small business take advantage of the business world and up their game? Roosevelt Giles, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Atlanta Life Financial Group, Inc., shares five insightful tips on how going digital can make your small company bigger and better than ever. 

 

View the first tip here, and check out the second tip below. 

 

Be sure to visit every week to learn more invaluable advice on successfully growing your brand. 

 

Commandment 2: Form Alliances

Running a successful business today is all but impossible to do without the right partnerships. Companies often want to grow their businesses organically. They want all of their experts in-house and they want to create new resources from within their existing knowledge and expertise. But in today’s digital world, businesses simply cannot move quickly enough into emerging markets if they are also taking the time to research, create, and produce every new service themselves.

 

This is where partnerships become an essential part of your business plan. Whether you have five employees or 5,000, every company has to look at itself as a global company. The digital age is ripe with opportunities to gain entry into marketplaces your business couldn’t have considered otherwise. If you know from your customer feedback that many clients are looking for a specific product or service, you will be able to utilize your business partnerships to give your client the information they need, while also positioning yourself as a wealthy resource of knowledge and expertise. Though you may not be providing the expertise yourself, your clients will know that you are able to find the information they need and that you are willing to help them gain access to that information. Your client is then more likely to recommend your services to friends and colleagues who are in similar need of the information you have provided.

 

In order to successfully make and maintain these alliances, you need a few key components: First of all, you need to establish an element of trust. Make sure you have a good accounting firm and capable legal counsel. Much like the partnerships you’re working to establish, expertise is key: it is in everyone’s best interest to make sure that the experts you know in the accounting and legal world are helping you to combine resources with your new partner. Secondly, an operating agreement or contract agreement for deliverables is essential. Who will be offering which service? How will the costs be shared? How will the client expectations be managed? You must decide how to best address these items before proceeding with an alliance.

 

One important thing to remember about partnerships is that it is not always a conflict-free relationship. You will not always agree with your partner on how to best address a client need. Oftentimes you will each have equally valuable ideas of what your next steps should be. In these situations, you will be able to refer to the established document that outlines your policies and procedures, and your alliance can continue to grow and serve your clients first.

 

About the Author

Mr. Roosevelt Giles serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Atlanta Life Financial Group, Inc. and as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Information Management Systems, Incorporated. With over 26 years of experience in the information technology field, he spends much of his time sharing his business expertise all over the world, and is an internationally-known technology expert, speaker and lecturer. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Posted by & filed under Atlanta Business Owner, Business Insurance, Going Global.

AGLA Blog - Cover.001

 

For small companies, competing in the business world can be a daunting task. But in the ever-evolving digital age, more and more small companies are able to play in the big leagues. And they can be in serious competition with national and even global corporations. 

 

So how does a small business take advantage of the business world to up their game? Roosevelt Giles, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Atlanta Life Financial Group, Inc., shares five insightful tips on how going digital can make your small company bigger and better than ever. 

 

Check out the first tip below – and check back every week to learn more invaluable advice on successfully growing your brand. 

 

Commandment 1: Have a Digital Presence 

First things first: It is imperative that you decide what type of customer experience you want your clients to have. Do you want to be easily visible to customers in both your market and similar markets? Do you want your clients to be able to contact you and access your products from around the globe? If so, you must have a prominent digital presence. Most customers today are working from mobile phones or tablets – in order to gain the trust and business of these customers, you have to meet them where they are. 

 

The best way to establish your digital presence is to get involved with social media. Most businesses have professional pages on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram and Pinterest. Create an account just for your business, and then get to work:

  • Find your client’s pages and “like” some of their posts
  • Find businesses in a similar market to yours and leave a comment or help answer a question
  • Seek out businesses in markets in which you hope to expand and start reading up on some of the articles they post or the tips they suggest

 

Another key advantage of maintaining a digital presence is the feedback you will receive from your customers. When you are readily accessible to the people using your services, they can easily give you guidance on how best to meet their needs. Positive reviews, negative comments, information on how they used your products – these are just a few of the ways that your clients can help you create the best experience for them. Take all feedback into consideration and weigh it against the goals you have for your business and your customers. As you find new or improved ways to meet customer needs, you will gain essential knowledge on how to grow your business while simultaneously garnering new resources and information that will serve you in the future. An added bonus is that your customers will feel valued for their knowledge.

 

About the Author

Mr. Roosevelt Giles serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Atlanta Life Financial Group, Inc. and as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Information Management Systems, Incorporated. With over 26 years of experience in the information technology field, he spends much of his time sharing his business expertise all over the world, and is an internationally-known technology expert, speaker and lecturer. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Posted by & filed under Atlanta Business Owner, customer service.

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As far as we know, there has yet to exist a business without a customer. The icecream man, Wells Fargo, the NFL–they all have customers. It is your goal as a business owner to keep these customers happy. (If you need an example of how not to treat your customer, consider Costa Concordia.) We know a business can’t survive without happy customers; so what can we do to keep these folks happy, and hopefully grow our business? Here are a few things we’ve managed to gather in our experience and through watching others.

 

Begin with Gratitude

Like we said earlier, a business can’t exist without a customer. Your product is worthless if no one will buy it. You may make the best Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator this side of the galaxy, but if Marvin the Martian is not interested, your business will end with an earth-shattering KABOOM. Therefore, we should be grateful for our customers. This gratefulness should inspire us to do two things:

 

1. Engage: Customers don’t know we appreciate them unless we say so (just like any relationship). Thankfully, social media makes it easier than ever to engage your customer. Take advantage of the many tools you have at your disposal such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Mailchimp. It only takes a few minutes to thank a customer, and that gratitude could mean loyalty to your brand for a long time.

 

2. Build a Better Product: Your customers are really not all that interested in how great your product is; they are interested in how great your product can make their lives. Everyone of us is telling a story with our lives, and your responsibility as a business owner is to help your customer tell the best story possible. If you are truly grateful for your customers, you will build a product that will help them reach their goals in the most effective way.

 

Consider the Individual

The most important word to any person is their name. Why? Because we are individuals, and we want to be treated as such. We have individual goals that necessitate individualized service. Trevor and Amy hired you to photograph their wedding because they want the memories perfectly preserved. Mark takes his bike to you for a tune-up because you’re the only mechanic he trusts. Your customers should not be faceless entities; they should be individuals. Consequently, their problems should be individual problems.

 

When you rationalize and make excuses for a customer’s anger or disappointment, you are not putting yourself in his or her shoes. Think about a time when you had a poor customer service experience; then consider a time when you had a great customer experience. Which made you feel better, and do you want to deliver that same feeling to your customer?

 

Under Promise, Over Deliver

This is an age-old saying in business, but the principle holds true. Promise to do for the customer what you know is within your scope. But never stop there. Always do what you know is right and what you think is best for the individual. (Sound familiar?)

 

One company that over delivers on a regular basis is Zappos. In this particular example, a customer purchased six pairs of shoes. The customer was hoping that one of the six pairs would be comfortable for her mother who had just had a debilitating medical procedure. When the customer called Zappos to find out how to return the unwanted pairs, she told them her story. A few days later, Zappos sent her a bouquet of flowers, wishing her a speedy recovery. The family was also upgraded to Zappos VIP Members, ensuring free expedited shipping on future orders.

 

You may not be Zappos, but you still have the opportunity to exceed customer expectations by over-delivering. Trevor and Amy only asked for digital copies of the photos, but how special would it be if they had a memory book from their wedding day? During your next interaction with a customer, think to yourself, “What can I do to exceed what this customer’s expectations?” Not only will you feel better about giving your best, but your customer will more than likely feel the same way.

Posted by & filed under Atlanta Business Owner, Business Insurance.

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Client Spotlight: Fred Merritt, CEO of Synergy Tech Consulting

 

Like many of us, Fred started his company out of necessity and opportunity. While his experience in Electronic Medical Records (EMR) made him attractive as a candidate for a higher paying position, he quickly learned from a recruiter that he would be better positioned, and more profitable, if he owned his own company.

 

Synergy Tech Consulting was born in 2008 and the contract that started as a 3-month engagement extended to 4 years and his business continues to grow today. Being a human-centric, professional service business, it can be difficult to scale. He can’t just print copies of his workers and his services. If you’ve ever been told your business isn’t scalable, don’t lose hope quite yet. Fred found a way.

 

5 Things You Can Learn from Fred’s Success:

 

1. Carpe Omnious – Seize it all. Need to form a business in order to do better business? Then do it. Need to hire excellent people who will stick around and represent your brand? Then take the time to get it right. Need to scale your service business but not sure of your next steps? Go find someone who can help you figure it out. Don’t just seize the day – go and get what you need to reach your goals.

 

2. Surround yourself with smarter people. Find people who have achieved growth, who have more experience than you, and who are open to mentorships and networking relationships. Fred has surrounded himself with highly intelligent and experienced people; beyond asking questions and digging around for insight, he takes action based on the advice he’s received and he’s intentional about how he’s going to increase his gross revenue by another 50% by the end of 2018.

Fred managed to break into the Federal Contracting space and won a contract within the first 6 months… when everyone told him it would take him 2-3 years.

How did he do it? A mentor helped Fred understand that if he separated himself from his competitors as much as possible, he would not only be the more attractive option but he would also narrow the field and increase his chances of winning. Fred is now one of the few Veteran Owned companies to also hold an 8A certification – and his prospects like that.

 

3. Protect what you’ve built. For Fred, his business is the result of hard work, long days, sleepless nights, stressful situations, and rewarding moments. He knows that his business is valuable and the people who work there are worth protecting. As a professional service provider, Synergy Tech Consulting has to protect itself from any mistake that could potentially have a disastrous downstream effect for a client.

After speaking with an Atlanta Life Business Insurance Advisor, Fred better understood how much coverage he did and did not need to protect his business. Fred diligently carries Errors and Omissions, General Liability, Workman’s Comp, and Short and Long Term Disability business insurance. Fred is experiencing the growth he’d hoped for and he’s still an integral part of the business, so he’ll need to look into adding a Key Man Policy soon.

 

4. Learn from your mistakes as they may change your company for the better. Taking the advice of smarter people and learning from those who came before him, Fred found success in obtaining Government Contracts faster than he’d anticipated, which presented its own unique set of challenges. He learned that sometimes, when you quickly take over a big contract, you also take over employees in order to get the job done. Not properly vetting those employees and training them up to represent your brand can cause damage to the client’s perception of your brand and your services. This can be a long journey to come back from. Fortunately, in Fred’s case, he bounced back quickly, looked at his struggle with the challenge, and has put processes into place to help him avoid a snafu like this in the future.

 

5. Build solid relationships that last a lifetime. Fred has seen further than others… by standing upon the shoulders of giants.’ Having the right people working for him, the right people around him, and the right prospects in front of him has made all the difference for him. He also suggests being open to network with anyone and invites everyone to connect with him on LinkedIn. “You never know who will open the door to your next big opportunity.” Scaling can sometimes mean turning down smaller opportunities in order to be ready for the bigger ones, but you should be open to all conversations. In addition to looking for new prospects through your network, look at how you can help those important players in your network with their Pay it forward and good things will come back around.

 

Scale your service-based business by hiring the best, adding value to your services, and looking for bigger projects. When you find success the way Fred has, protect your growing business appropriately.

 

Be sure to build a relationship with a reliable business insurance advisor. Don’t just get a quote from someone. Let the Atlanta Life General Agency do an audit of your business to help you understand your true need. We’re here to help! Let’s chat live via our website, fill out a web form or call us to start the conversation.

Posted by & filed under Atlanta Business Owner, Business Insurance.

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Early Saturday morning, Erma got a call from the Police that her storefront down on Main St. had been damaged. Well, damaged was putting it lightly. Erma’s storefront had been completely wrecked, as it was the final destination for a drunk driver who lost the speed chase.

 

Naturally, Erma was upset; she had plans for a big launch in the coming weeks and was concerned about having to put her entire business on hold. As a business owner, even of a business without a physical storefront, I’m sure you can imagine what that moment must have been like. Wouldn’t you be upset, too?

 

Or would you be breathing into a paper bag, suddenly realizing that you’re not properly insured, and that you might be personally responsible for covering the loss incurred by some drunk idiot? Did I mention that people were looting the store after the incident? Breathe easy. Erma had ALGA Business Insurance.

 

Erma is a planner; she likes to be prepared and for this reason, she enjoyed some peace of mind amidst the chaos because she knew, at the very least, that this disaster would not end up destroying her entire business (not to mention her personal assets).

 

About 4 years ago, Erma asked me to evaluate her insurance coverage to make sure that she was protected. Not only did Erma have sufficient Building Coverage, but she also had Business/Personal Property damage, so those looters got away with her stuff, but she won’t be financially responsible for the loss.

 

Every year, Erma and I have checked in to update her policies and to ensure sufficient coverage. As her business has grown, we’ve adjusted her coverage, and we were ready to face disaster without fear of disastrous loss. Erma has my cell phone number and knows that she can call me whenever she needs me, so she called me that scary Saturday morning and I was able to assuage her fears because, well, we’ve been prepared for this. All we had to do was get her claims going so that we could get her back in business as soon as possible.

 

Has your business changed at all in the last 6 months? Have you added employees or real estate, increased your inventory or added a fleet? If your business is growing, you need to evaluate your Business Insurance to make sure that you’re covered in case of unexpected and uncontrollable calamity. We are here to help!

 

Author: Howard Stephenson, VP of Insurance Services at the Atlanta Life General Agency, has been creating business insurance solutions for over 20 years. His dedication to his clients’ experience with their business insurance and protecting their growth makes him the insurance agent in demand. Connect with Howard on LinkedIn and Follow our LinkedIn Business Page for more educational and inspirational stories like these. Share this with the business owner you know who is growing and needs to protect their assets.

Posted by & filed under Atlanta Business Owner, Business Insurance.

 

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What kind of business owner are you?

 

If you’re the owner of a small business with less than 100 employees, you know that every dollar you spend comes out of your pocket. Every dollar you save is either income for you or capital that can be used to grow. While you’re worried about growing the business into which you’ve invested time, money, and endless energy, you also worry about protecting what you’ve built while still putting food on the table at home. Business owners and managers use insurance to make some of the things we worry about easier to manage. If you don’t tend to worry and you’ve got nothing to lose, you don’t need insurance!

 

There are two kinds of business owners in the world: those who don’t need Business Insurance, and those who do. Which one are you?

 

You don’t need business insurance if:

  1. You have no investment in your business – No financial investment, no property investment, no time invested
  2. You have no clients, revenue, or cashflow
  3. You’re not planning on leasing space or you don’t own your own space, even if its in your own home
  4. You have no business property, no telephone, no cellphone, no laptop, no computers, no copiers, no vehicles, no tools
  5. You have no employees
  6. You are in the service industry and you’re not issuing professional advice
  7. You don’t drive your personal car or truck to visit prospect, client, work, or event sites
  8. You don’t worry about lawsuits because there are no business or personal assets or cash flow for plaintiff’s lawyers to target.

 

If you are, or plan to be, the owner or manager of a successful business, you need insurance to protect what you have.

 

If you own your business and your business is growing, chances are you’ve made a significant investment and you definitely want to protect what it has become; what it will become.

 

If you have an investment in your business: money, time, property, and relationships, you need insurance. If you have revenue, income, cash flow and assets; if you are occupying space (lease, shared, or owned); if you have equipment, copiers, computers, mobile phones, tools of any kind; if you have or use a car, truck or fleet… you’re going to need insurance. Got employees? The law requires you to have the right coverage. The Atlanta Life General Agency is here to help you find the right insurance and your positive experience with us is just as important as the right investment in business protection.

 

Still not excited about business insurance? Let’s explore the alternative with a few examples:

 

A retailer owns a store full of inventory. She’s either put all of her money into that inventory or she owes her suppliers or a bank for its value, at cost. What if someone breaks in overnight and steals the inventory? What if the restaurant two doors away lets a kitchen fire get out of control and burns her store as well? If that inventory is lost and not insured, she is ultimately responsible.

 

A group of friends get together to build the next great software company. They decide to lease a copier/printer because the cost is only $200 per month. If an employee spills coffee or water on the copier and damages it, or if an electrical short fries the circuit board, the owners of the startup are now responsible for the full cost of repairing or replacing the machine, estimated at up to $40,000.

 

So what’s the true cost of doing business without business insurance? It could be more than you’ve ever imagined and as the corporation’s sole stockholder and manager, in the absence of appropriate insurance, you could even be sued personally for damages like the ones described above. What if you get sued? Not only are you at risk for damages, but you’ll also need to hire a lawyer to defend you – and that can be very expensive. MUCH more expensive than investing in business insurance up front, of course. If you cover your risks with broad insurance, most, if not all of the legal fees to defend these suits are picked up as part of your policy.

 

All of this can seem a bit daunting and overwhelming, especially when you don’t know what questions to ask about business insurance in the first place. You’re growing and you have people who depend on you. Depend on us to back you up where you need it. We’ll make sure you get (all) the answers you need. Also, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for a steady stream of useful information for growing businesses.