Buzzword Bingo is no Way to Gain Co-Workers’ Respect, plus Commercial Flood Insurance Info

Be Safe: Sync Your Mobile Coverage to Today’s Technology

In the mobile universe, technology is changing faster than the speed of light. It seems that every few weeks the tech giants introduce something new, with features that will make life easier for small business.

However, many businesses are still operating at normal speed when it comes to the use and protection of their corporate devices. They haven’t implemented policies governing their employees’ use of personal devices, and many remain confused about data storage in the era of Big Data.

More to the point, their insurance protection often fails to keep up with the speed at which they are acquiring new technology. With hacking and other invasions of privacy so rampant, it’s vital you should have protection in place in your own mobile universe.

Here are three steps to take to ensure you have the proper coverage for your needs:

List all your mobile equipment

That includes cell phones, laptops and other mobile electronic devices. These days, many employees work through their own smartphones and laptops. This poses unique data protection problems; ensure your insurance professional is aware of the practice.

Don’t forget data storage

Cloud storage is a tremendous storage option for small businesses; but does the cloud offer total protection?

Consider your options

The technological boom of the past few years has transformed insurance coverage, and you need a knowledgeable source to sort through all the options. Your insurance professional can decode these options for you.

Be Your Child’s Money Management Model

PiggybankMany of us feel out of our depth when it comes to teaching our kids about money. Maybe they get an allowance and are saving towards the purchase of a new bike, so in a way they are learning money management skills. But isn’t there more we should be doing?

As small business owners, we’re in a great spot to teach our children about money management. Most successful entrepreneurs started their businesses from the bottom up. And this bootstrap mentality is something worth passing on. We can give our kids the gift of our experience; if it’s presented the right way, it’s priceless.

Beth Kobliner, author of the bestseller Get a Financial Life, notes that “parents are the number-one influence on their children’s financial behaviors, so it’s up to us to raise a generation of mindful consumers, investors, savers, and givers.”

Kobliner recommends parents consider spontaneous “money moments” as opportunities for age-appropriate money lessons. In a recent Forbes article, she suggested sample lessons and activities for kids from ages 3 to 18 plus.

Involve your 6- to 10-year-olds, for example, in grocery shopping. Discuss the merits of selecting one brand over another or bulk-buying, to save money. Give them a small amount of cash to buy a fruit or vegetable; they’ll see their cash is limited and that they’ll have to choose between options.

Most importantly, say experts, be a good role model. In managing money as well as in other important life lessons, you’re the one they’ll emulate.

Buzzword Bingo is no Way to Gain Co-Workers’ Respect

Workers Even at work, everyone enjoys a good laugh, right? Maybe not. When you’re the butt of the joke, office humor isn’t funny.

The comic character Dilbert popularized Buzzword Bingo, and we’ve all heard laughable examples. You know what it means: too much jargon to be taken seriously.

Unless you’re practicing for a stand-up routine, you don’t want to be the one to suggest we maximize throughput and minimize downtime to increase synergy and improve our value proposition.

Real people use real language – and get respect.

Mike Myatt, a leadership advisor to Fortune 500s, wrote in a recent Forbes article, “Good humor can bring people closer, but poor humor can be one of the strongest repellents known to man.”

Leaders know the difference between the two, and when they allow humor in the workplace to humiliate or belittle another, it isn’t funny.

“Use your humor to make people feel more comfortable rather than more awkward,” Myatt says.

People who work together need to feel good about themselves – and each other. While a sense of humor is a trait highly prized by employees and employers alike, Erika Anderson, another Forbes contributor, reminds us not to be funny at somebody else’s expense but to look for humor in the moment.

Practical jokes and sexist or off-color innuendoes are out of place, too. Just because you think it’s funny doesn’t make it so.

Indeed, if it’s something that would make a crowd of fraternity boys guffaw, you can bet it doesn’t belong at the office.

Commercial Flood Insurance Faces Changes

The destructive weather we have endured over the past two years has not only devastated property and lives, but also caused havoc in the insurance industry. Unfortunately, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), with debt amounting to $17 billion prior to Hurricane Sandy, was particularly hard hit, and debt totaled more than $24 billion in mid-2013.

The NFIP currently is available to commercial property owners through large insurance companies. On October 1, 2013, NFIP rates increased; for commercial properties the increase was 25 percent per year until premiums reach the full actuarial cost.

Premium costs

As of October 1, 2013, a premium of $2,800 per year provides coverage of $500,000 for buildings and $500,000 for contents for companies qualifying for a preferred risk policy (in low or moderate-risk areas). For companies in high-risk areas, the standard rated policy is the only option available under the NFIP. Annual premiums start at $1,666 for $100,000 and $50,000 for building and contents respectively.

Separate coverage also can be obtained for buildings and contents. Premiums for standard-rated policies are based on such things as the age of the building, number of floors and occupancy, as well as the degree of flood risk. Replacement Cost Coverage is not available for commercial buildings or contents, and business interruption insurance is also not available through the NFIP

Extreme weather may continue

Statistical forecasts indicate that many cities are at risk if this extreme weather pattern continues, and experts are debating how to respond. Some cities are examining or revising flood plain maps to ensure they reflect current realities, and discussions are underway on measures to make urban spaces, in particular, more weather resistant.

With warnings such as these, businesses are naturally concerned about flood insurance. They should be: According to NFIP stats, 25 percent of businesses experiencing an event such as a flood closed up shop. From 2008 to 2012, the average flood claim was more than $75,000.

However, with the debt accumulated by the NFIP and dire warnings of sky-high premiums in the future, many are unsure about what to do and where to turn.

There is a first step: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed an online platform for those who believe they have been wrongly mapped as being in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This designation means that SFHA businesses have a very high risk of future flooding; for them, an inadvertent mis-mapping can cost thousands of dollars in terms of higher premiums.

Letter of Map Change

The online Letter of Map Change constitutes a request to be re-designated. If granted, it will save on premiums and even offer some the option of not having to purchase flood insurance. If you believe you’ve been mis-mapped, it may be worth pursuing.

As noted, there is considerable debate in the insurance industry about the fate of NFIP. Changes can happen quickly. If you’re planning to purchase flood insurance, discuss it with your insurance professional, who will be aware of the most recent developments.