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3 ways to combat the winter blues in your business

Whether you call them the winter blues, cold weather blahs, or winter doldrums, the shorter days and colder temperatures of winter are likely having a negative effect on your mood and productivity – and that can impact your business. But you don’t have to patiently suffer until the flowers bloom again this Spring. Here are three ideas to help you combat the negative effects of winter.

Make sure you properly insure your health and fitness business in 2014

Have a company morale-building excursion

Five days a week of fluorescent lighting and stale air can really take a toll on moods and attitudes. Bust out of the rut with an afternoon off every other week, for you or your staff. You can use the time to decompress and pursue one of your hobbies, or even plan a company morale-building excursion like hiking or bowling.

Use light to increase productivity

If your office or store has windows, make sure the blinds and curtains are open so as much natural light as possible gets in. Natural light, as well as light therapy lamps, are proven to help people feel better and drive productivity during the winter.

Start a new project

Now is a great time to launch a new small business idea that you can get excited about and staff can rally around. It can be a drive to land that dream client, a customer pow-wow to help pick out new products, or starting a fundraiser for a non-profit. Whatever you choose, it will be something new and interesting to focus on – a sure-fire way to put those blahs in the backseat.

What techniques do you use to combat winter blues? Did you try one of our suggestions? Leave your ideas and feedback in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!

Top Small Business Webinars To Attend in The New Year

Online webinars are great small business resources to increase your knowledge about topics related to your industry and running a small business. Supplementing your knowledge of the general consumer landscape can help you identify potential opportunities for growth.

Register for one of the upcoming webinars below and solidify techniques to grow your small business in the New Year.

Tuesday, January 6th

How to Grow Your Business in 2015

  • Organize your business plan to make sure that it’s in line with your vision for your company, and adjust your business plan to meet your business goals in 2015.

Tuesday, January 13th

Email Your Way to More Customers

  • Learn how to effectively incorporate email marketing into your business marketing efforts, and measure the impact and success of your campaigns.

Tailor Your Disaster Recovery Strategy for Complete Business/IT Alignment

  • This webinar will teach you about aligning your IT management services with your business needs to make sure that your business is covered based on the criticality of technology needs.

Thursday, January 15th

The Media Industry Technology Trends, Challenges and Insights 2015

  • Learn about how consumers are using technology to influence their purchase decisions, and better inform your small business decisions regarding technology usage.

Wednesday, January 21st

Securing Your Site, Server & Data – The value of Always On SSL

  • This webinar focuses on the importance of using SSL for your small business website, and how it promotes consumer trust and a good user experience.

Tell us! Are you considering registering for one of these business webinars? What are some small business resources that you use to help plan your new year?

“Spotting” your personal training business with small business insurance

Personal trainers are always spotting others. As a personal trainer with your own small business, your goal is to help clients meet their fitness goals through customized exercise routines. A big part of those routines is protection – keeping clients as safe from injury as possible with built-in breaks, staggered amounts of exertion, and direction on when they need a spotter.Personal Trainers: Don’t Let Gym Injuries Hurt Your Business

But what about your personal training business? Are you keeping it as safe as possible with personal trainer insurance? Liability insurance for personal trainers is like spotting for your business – there to step in right when you need it and prevent major catastrophe.

Small business insurance serves as the spotter to your fitness business with the two separate coverages of professional liability insurance and general liability coverage. Together, these insurances protect your business from most potential threats. Here’s how.

Professional liability

Professional liability insurance, also known as Errors and Omissions insurance (E&O insurance),  applies to 1) mistakes you make yourself, or 2)mistakes you may be accused of making. For example, if a client follows your prescribed workout routine and becomes injured in the process, he or she may sue you for damages, income lost due missing work, or pain and suffering. But with a professional liability (PL) policy in place, you’re protected. PL coverage protects your business if you are sued for negligently performing your services, even if you haven’t made a mistake. It’s a must for businesses that provide a service or give advice to clients – which personal trainer do all the time.

General liability

General liability insurance, also known as commercial liability,  protects your business from third party claims for bodily injury, associated medical costs, and damage to someone else’s property. And it covers the medical costs and legal fees resulting from these incidents, “spotting” your business from having these expenses.

For example, a client may trip over someone’s gym bag or a mislaid towel, falling and injuring herself. If she blames you for not keeping the area clear she may sue, and your personal training business might have to pay damages. A general liability policy lets you rely on your insurer to handle legal communications and pay any claims for bodily injury and related medical costs.

Just like spotting clients protects them from injury, professional liability insurance and general liability coverage protect your personal training business from legal injury. Contact us today for a free review of your current coverage or to start a quote.

Don’t Get Snowed Over: Why Snow Removal Professionals Need General Liability Insurance

The winter months are when snow removal professionals can build up their bank in the cold months helping  businesses and home owners keep their properties clear and accessible. The risks associated with this kind of work are both obvious and hidden. Sure, you’re aware of the risks of injury that comes with trudging through waist-deep snow and climbing up ladders, and you know that the heavy machinery you use to clear out snow that at clients’ properties could break down and need repair.

But you may not be as aware of the liability insurance you need to protect your business. General liability insurance, also know as commercial liability coverage, protects your business from third party claims for bodily injury, associated medical costs, and damage to someone else’s property, picking up potential expenses that your small business may not be able to pay out of pocket.

What are some specific examples of how a snow removal business could benefit from general liability insurance?

  • Bodily Injury:A business hires you to clear their large parking lot every day that it snows two inches or more. One of their employees trips over one of your shovels and badly sprains their ankle, leaving you legally liable for the cost of treating the injury.
  • Property damage:While on site at a private home owner client’s residence one of your employees accidentally  throws a shovelful of snow towards an exterior window  of the house, breaking the window and causes a mess inside.  Your GL policy covers the subsequent claim, up to your limits of liability.

As you can see, snow removal professionals need general liability protection in the event an event like those above happens. Don’t take the chance; get a fast, free quote for  general liability coverage tailored to your business.

How independent contractor insurance can help your small business

Contractors are a great way to grow your small business. Having contractor insurance can help protect you and your staff, and ensure that you’re not taking on more risk when you use them.

You’ve built a healthy consulting business and understand that there comes a time when it’s not possible for you to do everything as well as it needs to be done.  Business development, operations, marketing, fulfillment, project delivery – try being the only one doing all this, and sleep will quickly become a thing of the past.

The answer for many start-up entrepreneurs is to outsource work.  Once you’ve found a reliable, affordable independent contractor, you can ramp up sales without worrying about how you’ll deliver on those contracts.  Excellent!  You’re on your way to the Big Leagues.

How will contractor insurance help my small business?

In your excitement over your well-managed growth, don’t forget to review your insurance coverage.  Your start-up insurance may need to be upgraded, but it’s possible that your professional liability policy covers temporary staff and independent contractors for work they perform under your direction.  Also known as errors and omissions insurance, or E&O coverage, contractor insurance provides protection from claims of negligence or the failure to perform your professional duties – two things that may arise when you employ independent contractors.

Get coverage for independent contractors

To easily prove to your clients that your business has insurance, you can request an ACORD certificate of insurance from your insurer. Keep in mind that Workers’ Compensation insurance, while a necessity if you have staff, does not cover independent contractors.

Tell us! Do you use contractors to help reach your business goals? Do you have coverage, like E&O insurance, to make sure your business is protected?

4 Achievable Small Business Resolutions for the New Year

The push to make and keep New Year’s resolutions is everywhere, and the pressure is enough to make you throw in the towel before your resolutions are even made. But don’t skip on making those resolutions, especially a few for your small business.  Unlike personal resolutions to work out more or eat less meat – resolutions you probably don’t really want to follow through on – small business resolutions are a good way to formalize ideas and take action on things you’ve been meaning to do anyway in 2015.

If you’re not sure what kind of resolutions are appropriate for your small business, take a peek at our ideas, below. There’s sure to be one or two you can use.

  1. Resolve to define your target markets

Not everyone with a pulse and a pocketbook is a good potential client, no matter how much we wish that were true. Take a long look at last year’s sales and jot down the characteristics of the who spent the most with you. Note those that you most enjoyed working with, and also those that were a drag on your time or resources. Going forward you can focus marketing campaigns and evaluate potential client engagements for best-fit opportunities.

  1. Resolve to examine scalability

This one’s for small business owners who want to grow their businesses but feel unable to because they’re bogged down in the day-to-day of running a business. The first step to growth is understanding what actions are necessary for successfully operating your business, so the first step of this resolution is to “do” and then “document.” As you go about your days for a week or two, write down all the tasks you undertake and the demands you meet. You can’t scale if you’re the only one who knows how to do things, and the first step to delegating is documenting. Read more about scalability here.

  1. Resolve to stay in touch with clients and customers

It’s easy to tell yourself you’re going to start a newsletter or begin sending thank-you cards; it’s completely different to actually do this. Newsletters keep clients informed of new services and products and remind them that you’re there to help. Thank-you cards set you apart as a thoughtful, grateful business partner and give customers a warm, fuzzy feeling – never a bad thing! In order to ensure that you actually keep up with these tasks, start small. Promise yourself you’ll send one client a thank-you card each week, and write one article a week for your future newsletter until you have enough to send the first one out.

  1. Resolve to protect your business

This can take many forms, depending on your business’ unique needs. Have you had problems with getting clients to fulfill their end of verbal project agreements? Start using contracts generated by a third-party vendor like Quoteroller, which adds a layer of authority and authenticity few people will argue with. Do you have a physical location that isn’t protected with a security system? Now’s the time to get one, and the cost is small when compared to the agony of a break-in and the ensuing problems.

And don’t forget about small business insurance.  Insurance can be intimidating if you’re new to it, but we’re here to help you figure out what you need and what you don’t, making the process of insuring your small business easier than you might think.

How can tax professionals make sure they’re prepared for tax season?

While most people begin January thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, tax professionals have something else on their minds: tax season. Corporate tax returns aren’t due until March 16th and personal returns don’t need to be submitted until April 15th, but those deadlines approach quickly when you’ve got dozens of clients’ returns to file.Insuring your tax preparation practice

As the owner of a small business that prepares taxes, how can you be sure you’re ready to provide clients with the best possible services on a tight timeframe? First, make sure your knowledge base and paperwork is as current and up-to-date as possible. Without the best information you won’t be able to give your clients the best guidance, and filing taxes using out-dated forms or websites will result in time-consuming fixes and delays in refund payments.

Next, go ahead and file your own taxes. Most people and businesses start working on their taxes in February, giving you the month of January to get your own taxes – both business and personal – done.

Then you can turn your attention to your clients’ taxes. It’s no secret that filing taxes isn’t something people eagerly anticipate. It’s often a task they put off until the last minute, which means you’re scrambling to get everything done on a tight timeframe. So in mid-January send out tax organizer packets that tell clients exactly what receipts, forms, and files you’ll need to prepare their taxes. Keep a list of who’s returned the items to you, so you can send reminders.

And don’t forget to make sure your tax consultancy carries the right types of small business insurance. Should a client trip in your office and get injured, you’ll need general liability coverage to protect you. And on the off chance that a client feels you did not serve their best interest and sues for negligence, a professional liability policy will defend your business.

Why do marketing and media consultants need business insurance?

Marketing consultants and independent media professionals make their livings giving advice: which kind of advertising to do, what platform to build a website in, how many colors should be in a logo – the list goes on and on. Because of the subjective nature of this type of work, it’s very possible that at some point a client is going to be unhappy with the work, and may even pursue legal remediation. This is why all small businesses in the marketing and media consulting space should consider two types of small business insurance: professional liability coverage and general liability protection.

Professional liabilityAn easy way to increase social media engagement for your small business

Also known as errors and omissions or E&O, professional liability insurance protects your business from claims against your business as a result of any mistakes that you might make in the course of providing services. It protects your business even if you haven’t actually made a mistake, and it covers your legal defense and financial compensation for your client (up to policy limits).

For example, let’s say you’re hired to create a marketing plan for a growing financial services firm. Your research is thorough and they love your recommendations initially, but an economic downturn causes their business to plummet. They assign blame to the marketing plan you suggested, and they implemented. Should they file a lawsuit against you to reclaim the project price your PL policy will step in and represent your interests.

When getting professional liability insurance for your marketing consultancy be sure to choose a provider that automatically adds coverage for copyright infringement – a common issue in this line of work.

General liability

General liability insurance is the coverage you need as protection against the common incidents and accidents that happen all the time. It protects your business against covered third-party claims for bodily injury and related medical costs (slips and falls), personal injury (libel or slander), and damage to someone else’s property.

When would a media consultant need protection from a GK policy? If a client trips and falls while at your office and breaks a bone. If the electrical cord you set up in your client’s trade show catches on the neighboring booth, knocking it down and damaging it. If they spill their coffee on a potential client’s phone system, shorting it out. In these and many other situations, general liability coverage will take care of costs for repair or replacement.

You could also get the general liability coverage your need as part of a Business Owners Policy (BOP), which contains general liability coverage with property insurance to protect your business property against physical loss or damage. Since a BOP combines two coverages for one price it can be a cost-effective way to get general liability coverage and property coverage without spending much more in premiums.

Having insurance is an absolutely essential tool for protecting your small business as it grows, so be sure your current coverage offers the protection you need – insurance coverage tailored for the needs of your media or marketing consultancy. And if you don’t yet have small business coverage take a couple minutes to get a  small business insurance quote today. Chances are, you’ll be glad you did!

How Personal Trainers Can Capitalize on New Year’s Resolutions

Small business owners in the health and wellness fields know, the beginning of January marks the start of one of the busiest times of the year. Nutrition consultants, productivity coaches, and gym owners are all likely to experience an increase in demand in January. Personal trainers find themselves especially busy, as people are ready to embrace goals in search of their personal best, or at least lose a couple of the pounds they packed on over the holidays.

Essential small business insurance for personal trainersAs a fitness coach or personal trainer, how can you make sure you’re doing everything you can to capitalize on all this opportunity? Here are three ideas you can try to make sure the New Year starts off strong:

Turn January into “bring a friend” month

Contact your existing clients and make sure they’re on track to keep their appointments with you. Then let them know they should bring a friend, someone they think might like having a trainer or who has expressed interest in personal training in the past. This approach makes sure your current clients get back into a fitness routine after the holidays and lets them share a session with a friend. They feel good, the friend feels good, and you get to chat with a potential client.

Host a fundraiser

December is the month normally associated with charity, but needs don’t diminish because the holidays are over. Pick a charity that’s dear to you and create an event that ties in fitness – a fun run for veteran amputees or car wash for animal rehab. Include a variety of activities so it appeals to many, such as face painting for kids, a healthy cooking demonstration, and a few personal training sessions spread throughout the event. Be available to answer questions from people expressing interest in personal training, collect their information and be sure to follow-up with them.

Have an irresistible offer

Due to New Year’s Resolutions fever, you’re going to have more inquiries than usual even if you don’t alter your marketing at all. To make sure those leads don’t slip away, craft a few offers that are practically irresistible, like a free trial period, non-contract memberships with free gifts, or a guarantee of results – as long as they follow your program

With just a little planning you can make sure your personal training business gets the most of New Year’s Resolutions fever, now and all throughout the year.

Oh Great, A Lawsuit. Now What?

As a small business owner there are fewer things capable of striking more fear into your heart than being sued. Even in a best-case scenario where you have professional liability insurance, general liability coverage, or a business owners policy in place, a lawsuit still means lost time, stress, and possible damage to your reputation.

Regardless of whether you have small business insurance or were at fault, here are four steps you can take if your small business is sued. They might improve the situation, maybe even dramatically.What is a BOP and why do you need one

1) Do not admit fault

You may feel like your business caused the problem, or that you could’ve prevented it, but do not say that to anyone other than your attorney. Even if you’re partially at fault, by verbally or otherwise assuming responsibility you’re setting yourself up to be held fully liable. For most lawsuits you’ll need to retain an attorney, so let them do the talking for you.  Attorney representation is part of your small business insurance, so take advantage.

2) Keep your purse strings closed

Once a problem has escalated to the point of lawsuit there’s nothing positive you can achieve by offering payment. In fact, paying for repairs or damages can negate your insurance coverage, and once something has been fixed or worked on it’s impossible to identify the extent of the original damage. This applies to property damage, bodily injury, and malpractice cases equally.

3) Save everything

You’re probably saying, “No kidding.” But how many times have you reached for a business card or looked for an old invoice, only to come up empty-handed? Having a file dedicated to the legal action is a solid first step, but can’t prevent you from misplacing something, and isn’t fire-proof. Back up your physical records by snapping photos of all documentation and backing them up to the cloud.

4) Reach out to the plaintiff

If you have an attorney or insurance coverage that provides one, you’ll likely be told to not contact the plaintiff and to leave communication to your lawyer. This is the best advice. But in some instances – especially if you don’t have any small business insurance – it can’t hurt to request a coffee meeting. By offering the proverbial olive branch you regain some control, a lot of composure, and the possibility that you can work it out on your own.

There’s always the chance that your small business could be sued, and while these tips will help you navigate such a situation it’s always better to have legal protection. If you’re not protecting your business with small business insurance, now is the time to change that. We can help.

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