35 Tips on How Not to Offend Your International Business Partners

CATHERINE CLIFFORD | June 9, 2014

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The popular catchphrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is also true of offensive behavior. In France, it is common for a man to greet a lady with a quick kiss on the cheek, even in a business setting.

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Fast, free, and sustainable: Here’s how ‘fulfilment’ is driving the ecommerce market

Article | August 24, 2021

The past 18 months has presented unimaginable challenges for many businesses seeking to stay afloat in times of crisis. But as with any challenge, shifting needs, perceptions and practices develop opportunity, opening doors for product and service differentiation. Notably, in this time, sustainability has moved its way to the forefront of many minds. Not only has the pandemic forced businesses to re-evaluate commercial models for future resistance, but the constant reminder of issues regarding the climate crisis and ethical practices has magnified the need to think sustainably, too. But in this sense, sustainability is no longer a differentiator between businesses, and instead, an expected value any commercial enterprise must keep at its core. The solution therefore, lies in the way in which sustainability is injected into every business practice - from manufacture to fulfilment. In this article, Nate Burke, CEO of technology, digital marketing and ecommerce solutions firm Diginius, discusses the latter end of a product's journey, and how sustainability can help businesses gain an edge on the competition. As it stands, fast and free shipping is proving an attractive offering, often outperforming other cost-saving strategies. Understandably, these deals grab the attention of deal-savvy consumers who want their items delivered quickly and without extra charges on top of their original basket cost. In fact, how many of us have paused, hesitated or even abandoned an order for the opposite reason? Well, you’re not alone - 64% of all online consumers expect their orders to be shipped for free and within five working days. What’s more, 68% of us will check a returns policy before making purchase. Present major obstacles here, and retailers will be providing an instant turn off in an ultra-competitive sales sphere. Ultimately, an attractive delivery option can make all the difference in a customer choosing your products over a competitor’s. Unless they have developed long standing brand love, the chances of a customer remaining loyal to an offering which they can get for less and in quicker time elsewhere, are low. This isn’t to undermine the importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility, though. While fast and free shipping is expected, it may not necessarily be the most ethical business model, particularly if it will mean greater emissions for more frequent deliveries, and cost-cutting measures in other areas of the business in order to make up for lost shipping fees. Global reports state that consumers would be more likely to purchase from companies with an established reputation for sustainability too. This suggests it is just as important for online businesses to focus their efforts on acting ethically, as it is for them to fulfil orders efficiently. But with the rise of online shopping, which has been propelled by the pandemic with a 48% increase in online spending coming as a result of lockdown restrictions, businesses may be finding themselves weighing up the two. Clearly, there is misalignment between consumer expectations and commercial values here, and choosing between the two will require more than a look at a business’s bottom line. Sustainability and credibility It should be noted that today’s consumers are incredibly switched on when it comes to buying from sustainable brands. They can see through the smoke and mirrors or false claims to make informed decisions about the products and services they choose. And more often than not, these decisions are based on a brand’s credibility. Any business can say they are doing certain things to protect the planet and their people, however, not all can provide sufficient evidence. And as competition increases, these are the businesses that are finding themselves falling behind. We only need to look to recent examples such as Boohoo for proof. In 2020, the fast fashion giant found itself in hot water when it was revealed it was not following sustainable or ethical business practices. Poor warehouse conditions, less than minimum wage pay and inadequate health and safety standards were just a few of the concerns. As a result, the company experienced huge losses, with its share price falling by more than a third during the first two days of the scandal coming to light. There is an undeniable perception on sustainability and ethical working practices, and people do not want to support brands that don’t support their economy and their people. Interestingly however, as a fast fashion retailer, Boohoo is renowned for its speedy shipping and low prices, even offering unlimited next day delivery for a small, one-off yearly cost. Therefore, in this case, it is clear that efficient fulfilment alone is not enough to sustain commercial success. Its ethical responsibility had a larger part to play. And while the company has attempted to correct its wrongdoings internally and then communicate these through marketing strategies, its tainted reputation is proving difficult to rebuild, suggesting just how important credibility is for a sustainable business. But that’s not all. When it comes to free and fast shipping, credibility continues to play a significant role in shaping consumers’ perceptions of the service they are going to receive. For larger brands with established reputations, this is less of an issue, but for smaller companies who may be starting their ecommerce journey, it is vital that you appear a reliable, trustworthy and credible enterprise that is going to follow through with its promise of a fast and free delivery. This may be through clear contact details for consumers to get in touch with queries, customer reviews, business information and responsive and helpful customer service via email, live chat, direct messaging or phone calls, for example. A balancing act Of course, building credibility will not solve every issue for a business, but it is a place to start. It is also a common denominator for sustainability and fulfilment and can help businesses differentiate themselves from the competition. However, the misalignment between attractive cost saving deals and sustainable business practices can cause confusion. Often, lower delivery fees and fast shipping incentives, particularly for items that are already low in price, can set off alarm bells and leave customers questioning the ethical impact of their purchase. Alternatively, high fees and long delays can send customers looking elsewhere - both are bad for business. Instead, businesses need to find a balance. Find the point at which free and fast shipping can be offered without impacting profit margins, and therefore, the sustained success of the business. For example, ASOS offers free delivery for orders over £35. While the majority of its customers are likely to spend this amount anyway, those that are not are enticed to do so, generating greater income for the business and an attractive deal for the customer. And in the minds of customers, the reasonable threshold amount helps justify the cost saving as a sustainable offer, rather than something that will put the business out of pocket and force them to act unethically elsewhere to make back lost earnings. The threshold will be different for every business, but through the use of data and analytics tools, the amount that is best for your business can quite easily be found. These tools can also help centralise activity, from sourcing and manufacture to product marketing and post purchase service. With this in place, processes can become much more streamlined, which can in turn, increase the efficiency of order fulfilment. If things are delayed, for instance in the case of pandemic disruption, email updates can be automated, ensuring you are also providing high quality customer service. With all this in place, not only will a business be sustainable and efficient, but its credibility will only go from strength to strength, too.

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The Four Most Conventional Small Business Legal Issues Confronted

Article | September 1, 2021

While small business owners are typically preoccupied with the day-to-day operations of their businesses, they frequently ignore the small business legal issues and obstacles that they are likely to encounter in the future. Thus, it is a pressing need of an hour, majorly after the COVID-19, to identify their legal challenges and be well prepared for them. The neglected or untimely addressing of the legal issues could cost you a big deal and prove disastrous, and might even be challenging to recover. This article will describe legal issues affecting businesses and how to avoid them tactfully. There are myriad essential aspects of the business to be considered, such as overhead costs, marketing, employee management, business & marketing budget, etc. Among all these, legal aspects of business also hold a similar level of importance but are usually underestimated issues for business. Legal counsel from a reputable legal firm can guide you in identifying prospective issues and preparing for the future. Spend time ensuring that your firm is legally solid. Here are the most common small business legal issues encountered, and you should be cautious about. Establishing the Wrong Business Structure Establishing the wrong business structure stands first in the list of legal issues and is also critical. The business entity is classified into sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp, and each has its own set of tax structure and legal obligations. However, registering under the wrong ones has a severe repercussion. Business law issues are not limited to tax laws; state and federal legislation changes may also impact a company's risk profile. Contracts are another significant legal issue raised by COVID-19. Unfortunately, once the courts begin to normalize their work environment, precedence will be given to criminal and family law proceedings. Thus, resulting in delays in contract disputes, which will have to wait years to be resolved. Inadequate Protection of Intellectual Property Businesses are constantly developing new and distinctive ideas, technologies, products, and marketing strategies. However, many small business owners believe that intellectual property issues are not their responsibility and only large corporations deal with them. This is the reason often these legal aspects of business are a common issue among small businesses. It is advisable to do in-depth research before naming your business or launching any new products or services to avoid using and enforcing identical trademarks, which will count as infringement. The consequences of infringement are atrocious. The owner will have to alter their name and suffer legal consequences, including damages and attorney's costs. Without trademark registration, ventures risk losing the right to their branding, wiping out years of effort and investment. Securing a trademark registration precludes the occurrence of any of these issues and inconveniences. It is needful to protect intellectual property and law for small businesses. So, consult an expert attorney or business adviser to identify what should be secured by copyright, patent, or trademark. Improper Licensing Every business must have a valid license to operate. However, it may be perplexing and challenging for novice business owners. Before you may lawfully trade, you must obtain a license. Improper licensing leads to business law issues and is one of the most common small business legal issues. Government licensing requirements vary according to the kind, size, and location of the firm. Additionally, the business license is contingent upon the goods or services provided by the business. Therefore, licensing costs vary according to location. Obtaining a license for your particular business demonstrates that you are knowledgeable about your industry and are capable of operating the appropriate equipment. If you are discovered conducting business without the proper license, you may face severe fines or possibly have your business activities halted. An experienced small business lawyer will help you through the paperwork and ensure that your business is properly licensed. Not Hiring or Firing Employees the Right Way Among many legal concerns, one of the most frequent business legal issues for small businesses are improper employment or termination of workers. Unfortunately, numerous small business owners make the error of employing or terminating staff without proper paperwork or agreement. Inadequately executed agreements or employee contracts expose your small business to litigation. Having a written contract is necessary and differs as per the employees whether they are full-time, part-time, and casual. The written contract includes information about the employee and employment details such as: Stipulate payment Rights and responsibilities of the employees Benefits Termination clauses Date the contract was signed Potential reasons for termination The employment contract needs to clarify the terms of employment, conduct, grounds of termination, expected behavior from employees, etc. Employees are asked to abide by this contract. In case of violation, within your legal rights, you can terminate their employment and safeguard every small business's needs. If you have employees or contractors, you must adhere to small businesses' federal and state employment laws. Conclusion Dealing with the legal aspects of business is not a pleasant task, but you cannot ignore it, and if you do, you may have to pay the price. Small business legal issues are critical business law issues that impact a large number of small business owners. Few small business owners are familiar with the legal elements of a business. It is crucial to engage a legal team to assist you in navigating it smoothly and avoiding the danger of destroying the future of your business. Frequently Asked Questions: What are the primary legal issues that small businesses face? Small businesses face many legal issues in their business operation, but the major ones are: Establishing the Wrong Business Structure Shareholders' Agreement Improper Licensing Inadequate Protection of Intellectual Property Not Hiring or Firing Employees the Right Way Response to Changes in the Law and Regulations Employee Termination How can a business overcome legal issues? Below are few tips for businesses to overcome legal issues: Recognize your regulations Inform yourself about labor laws. Acquaint yourself with intellectual property Select the appropriate attorney Maintain Vigilance { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the primary legal issues that small businesses face?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Small businesses face many legal issues in their business operation, but the major ones are: Establishing the Wrong Business Structure Shareholders' Agreement Improper Licensing Inadequate Protection of Intellectual Property Not Hiring or Firing Employees the Right Way Response to Changes in the Law and Regulations Employee Termination" } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How can a business overcome legal issues?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Below are few tips for businesses to overcome legal issues: Recognize your regulations Inform yourself about labor laws. 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Employee Retention Strategies That Work for Small Businesses

Article | April 15, 2020

Whether you are the boss of one or many, each employee is important to your small business. Would you rather work on retention, or retraining? According to statistics, more than 3 million people quit their jobs every month, with one-third of those quitting during the first month of employment. Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomer – they all cite the same reasons for leaving a job. What’s the main reason? If you guessed money, you’d be right, but only partly right. “Money can’t buy happiness,” is an often-used quote, but it’s not the actual quote. It was “Money can buy material things, but real happiness must be truly earned,” which appeared in the William & Mary College quarterly publication in 1792.

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Tips for small businesses and consumers

Article | March 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for every business and every individual, creating a new reality. It also provides an opportunity for creative solutions to maximize customer and employee service and value and ways in which each business can individually be of service to others, said Mark Lupo, a consultant with the Small Business Development Center at the University of Georgia. “For small businesses, this can be a time to build relationships with customers and employees on a deeper level, by communicating that you care about them and are concerned for their safety,” Lupo said.

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