It seems consumers are growing more and more weary of the increase in telemarketing calls these days. If I hear one more call from any hotel or cruise company saying that I've won anything that I didn't enter in, I think I might scream. Apple has recently remedied this with a block from unknown callers or solicitors. It helps, I must say, but there are limitations. The company call you answered 6 months ago from someone asking if you'd like to buy insurance is now stored as a number you likely know, and those calls can come through. But for many of us entrepreneurs, we need to be able to take calls from anyone - our next project or sale could come from a number we've never spoken to. Catch 22 situation, eh?
This January, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect. This law gives California consumers the power to choose how companies use their data. They can now demand that companies disclose the information they've collected from them and request a copy of it. Companies must delete a consumer's data and may not sell that information, providing the customer selects the "do not sell" link on the company's site. Further, those companies cannot treat a consumer differently because they request the data. Admittedly, I search a few big sites and did not see the "do not sell" button or anything like it available. No surprise here as companies have been struggling to comply with the law and meet the deadline of July 1, 2020 (date of enforcement).
So what companies are subject to this new law? It won't be any of us small business owners! It only affects businesses with an annual gross revenue of $25m, get 50% or more of their annual revenue from selling consumers' personal information, or buy, sell, receive or share personal information for more than 50,000 consumers, households or devices for commercial purposes. That basically means companies like Amazon, Walmart (currently struggling with the legal loop holes of this law), Verizon and even Facebook will have to comply. I'm sure these companies have their lawyers working overtime to get within compliance, with as little cost as possible.
What does this mean for the small business owner? As a California business owner, you have rights to ensure your company's data isn't misused or sold to other companies. Business owners in other states should not worry, there are already other states drafting their versions of the CCPA right now. As our data is one of our most prized possessions today, its important that companies and our government act on protecting consumers from phishing calls, emails and piracy. Its also the job of the small business owner to ensure that our clients' information is secure and we foster a relationship of trust with those that chose to work with our companies. Those clients not only make up our company contact lists, they are our fellow citizens, as well.
Ultimately, the consumer wins. But, we are all consumers of some of the largest companies on the planet. We use Microsoft products, AWS, Instagram, and so many other companies to further the small business mission. So, we win! Let's help our customers win by putting stricter practices in place to protect their credit card information, email, address and sales history. Consider a CRM system that is password protected and has strict permissions for your team members. The PaxRat Concierge has developed our own and we do sell it to clients and other businesses. Its our way to keep up with projects, quotes, track our progress, have smart reporting and protect all involved in our sales process. That way, we all win!
We talked about how quickly things change in technology. I think its important to note how quickly things change in professional disciplines. Most corporations are constantly rolling out new trainings and procedures out to employees to ensure their staff is up to industry, company and departmental standards for their job. Even professionals like doctors, nurses, project managers and many other high skill professions are required to continue learning new practices, laws and techniques to sharpen their skill set. Agencies offering those certifications usually require that employees have CECs (Continuing Education Credits) in order to maintain active status. Those credits can usually be obtained by attending onsite training and more recently offering hybrid course online and in person. And there are SO many certifications out there to grab. The costs to continue learning can be expense, especially for the small business.
Continuing to evolve means continuing to learn. But how do you do that when you're short on time and money. Here's my attempt to help you navigate programs, companies and costs associated with furthering education to sharpen your skill set. When considering your field, whatever that may be, look for the following things:
There are so many options available with the gift that is the internet. Make the investment to perfect your craft at every stage of your career. Your clients will appreciate it and your rates may increase because of it!
Admittedly, I am a person that struggles with change. Sounds crazy, right? My problem isn't with the growth or change, its with getting used to the change. Humans are creatures of habit and as a concierge, a lot of what I do is managed by lists, staying organized and creating processes. Once a process has been created, if there are updates, it can be hard to get into the mode of adjusting to the change.
In the small business, its even harder to stay abreast of new systems and software because of non existent or understaffed IT departments. And in the world of the iPhone X, iPhone XS and iPhone WD40 (I know the WD40 doesn't exist. But it seems like we've had 4 new models in the last year), there's always something new and its hard to keep up.
A part of our services at The PaxRat Concierge is to consult and advise our clients on what systems are best for them, keeping them up to date on updates and expanding their current systems. We've even developed a CRM system customizable to a client's specific needs for reporting, tasks management and prospect management. Its our job to advise our clients on what's best for their business needs, even if its not the newest technology.
But, how do businesses keep up when they don't have time to research what's new, have a small budget and feel ill-equipped on exactly what's needed? I've compiled a list of options for you...
Whether you chose The PaxRat Concierge or not, we hope these tips are helpful. Much success and Happy New Year!
While everyone is attending holiday parties, shopping and enjoying family, we work. So, who celebrates the holidays when you're a business owner? Finding the time to put work away can be hard when you're self employed. But, its necessary to find ways to balance work and prioritizing personal health (mental included) during all seasons of the year. Particularly, during the winter months we start to experience burnout or the "blues" as some call it.
Hi, I'm your new partner! What does that mean for you? You're no longer the only person on your team to champion your cause, your business. You have help...me. So, your social media, HR, operations and administrative department just doubled by adding me to your team. What does this mean for me? You've likely hired (or will after spending time here on the PaxRat site) me to help with things like process improvement, content creation, emailing, HR staffing advice, research or any other number of things. Over the course of my career I've done all of the above and more for much larger companies and clients. Now, I'm bringing my expertise to you, the small business. A concierge? What's that? Think about the concierge at your local hotel. Their job is to organize and handle the smallest details to ensure your stay is comfortable. So, my job is to ensure that your company's needs are addressed and things move as seamlessly as possible. As with most small businesses, the owner/manager is left handling everything from branding to product development and creation. While that method appears to be the easiest and most affordable, there is low to no ROI on the investment it takes to be all things. It's more beneficial to focus on your product/service and allow me to handle the other moving parts in your business. And whether you need help here and there or every week, I'm your new partner and I will work with you to further your own vision. The biggest and most urgent question most small businesses have by now are "can I afford this". Yes. We have solutions for every budget and work across the US, remotely. There are cost comparisons to hiring a full time employee vs hiring The PaxRat Concierge. I think you'll be please to see that it's much more affordable to hire our service.
I'll be here every Wednesday with a new post on topics across business functions and interests. Make sure you sign up to have updates sent to you each week. I look forward to partnering with you and Welcome to The PaxRat Concierge.
The Concierge Brandi Surratt
With nearly 10 years of experience in outsourcing management, Brandi has a proven track record with client success in HR functions, diversity, compliance and business operations. Her experience with Fortune 100 clients and beyond has helped her develop skills valuable to clients/companies of any size. She has now taken her skills to the small business market to help small businesses thrive with fewer resources.