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volume six issue three

Best Practices For

CYBER

SECURITY

TECHNOLOGY FOR SMALL BUSINESS

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2017 ENTERPRISE

TECH TRENDS

WAYS TO ORGANIZE YOUR EMAIL INBOX

Professional Growth Monthly Activities S O C I A L

M E D I A

F O R

Y O U R

S M A www.risbj.com L L B U S I NthreeE S1 S | volume six issue


ADV E RTISE M E NT

When Energy Upgrades Are Made, Opportunity Comes Knocking Investing in energy efficiency is wise financially—businesses can save up to 30% on utility costs. Business owners may be surprised to learn that making smarter energy choices for their business could raise employee productivity, resulting in even greater bottom-line success.

10%

30%

improvement in productivity

reduction in workplace errors

Upgrades that help maintain comfortable temperatures result in higher employee concentration.

Studies show upgraded lighting can reduce errors in the workplace across a number of industries.

50%

decrease in absenteeism By upgrading to an energy-efficient HVAC system, a business can reduce absenteeism caused by allergies or asthma.

20%

productivity gain

Adding insulation reduces distracting noises, resulting in more productivity due to quieter working environments.

National Grid has energy saving solutions to help commercial customers identify energy improvement opportunities and financial incentives to help offset the cost to implement them. Learn more about energy saving solutions for your business at ngrid.com/smallbusiness 2

These programs are funded by the energy efficiency charge on all customers’ gas and electric bills, in accordance with Rhode Island law.

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Š2017 National Grid.


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Gil Lantini Founder Ralph Coppolino Co-Founder Mike Casale Senior Designer Digital Marketing Lauren Bansbach Angelica Cabral Julia Cianciolo Alison Dupuis Nick Lovett Meghan O’Neill Contributing Writers Michael Brito C. Alexander Chiulli Larry Girouard Nellie M. Gorbea Mark S. Hayward Kristin MacRae William F. Miller, Gina M. Raimondo Karyn Rhodes Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro Tuni Schartner Kristen M. Whittle

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017 11:00am-4:00pm Clarion Providence / Seekonk Hotel www.eastbaybusinessexpo.com

Event Information Join us by participating in this great event that allows local companies to get to know other professionals better. Where teamwork and collaborative relationship are established. Win – win experience for all that are involved while an exhibitor or attendee.

Exhibitors - Meet with a variety of local businesses. Networking is key to business growth and potential opportunities. Attendees - Discover the small businesses in the state that have services that you can use personally or professionally. Admission: FREE with a business card.

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal


contents

volume six issue three

INSIDE THIS ISSUE 8 Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea

11

10 Governor Gina M. Raimondo 11 Important Social Media Key Points & Stats 12 Digital Marketing Demystified 14 8 Ways To Organize Your Email Inbox 15 Rhode Island Foundation

15

16 Real Estate News 17 Professional Growth Monthly Activities 18 Home Point Homerun

22

20 2017 Enterprise Tech Trends 22 3 Common Mistakes

ON THE COVER volume six issue three

24 Personnel Practices

Best Practices For

CYBER

SECURITY

TECHNOLOGY FOR SMALL BUSINESS

26 Great Teams Win Championships 29 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

16

8

2017 ENTERPRISE

TECH TRENDS

WAYS TO ORGANIZE YOUR EMAIL INBOX

Professional Growth Monthly Activities S O C I A L

M E D I A

F O R

Y O U R

S M A L L

B U S I N E S S

Featured Professional Growth Technology For Rhode Island Small Business

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Ocean State

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SECRETARY OF STATE | Nellie M.Review Gorbea& Forecast SMALL BUSINESS |What Real Estate Clams Me About SMALL Manage A Remote Worker or Office SMALL BUSINESS BUSINESS || How Dear To Mom: A Taught Letter Home From ALeadership One Day Warrior

S

e c r e t a r y

O

f

S

t a t e

Nellie M. Gorbea

WE’VE UPGRADED THE CORPORATE AND UCC DATABASES by Secretary Of State Nellie M. Gorbea

We live in a fast-moving technological age. Updates and upgrades to both products and services are a common part of our day. Rhode Island state government needs to make it easier for businesses to adapt to changes and stay ahead. By improving access to important data, we give current and potential Rhode Island business owners better information on the economic landscape before they make crucial business decisions. The Department of State is working hard to engage and empower all Rhode Islanders and enhance commerce across the Ocean State. As part of these efforts, we are upgrading many of the databases we provide to anyone looking to plan, start, and maintain a business in Rhode Island. Developed in-house by Department of State employees, this latest update provides an improved user interface and enhanced search options for Rhode

WE GIVE CURRENT AND POTENTIAL RHODE ISLAND BUSINESS OWNERS BETTER INFORMATION ON THE ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE BEFORE THEY MAKE CRUCIAL BUSINESS DECISIONS. 88

RISBJ | rhode island small RISBJ | rhode island smallbusiness businessjournal journal

Island businesses and entrepreneurs, as they search our corporate, UCC, and trademark databases. Corporations and UCC Database changes The Rhode Island Department of State maintains a database of all recorded business entities, nonprofit corporations, and non-resident landlords in the Business Services Division. Our upgrade resulted in several improvements. First and foremost, we wanted to make it easier for users to navigate the database. We also improved the data collected by adding information categorized by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. These codes make it easier for business corporations, limited liability companies, and non-profit corporations to accurately report their type of business and industry in Rhode Island. This collection of better data then helps us provide users of the database easy information on the types of businesses that call Rhode Island home. A list of NAICS codes including the most popular designations are available on our Business Portal. The Rhode Island Department of State also maintains a database of certain financing statements and other lien documents described in the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). With an enhanced interface and improved search functionality, users can now search through lapsed records in the UCC database.

For more information on how to search the upgraded Corporate and UCC databases, Business Services staff developed a series of tutorials that are available at http://sos.ri.gov/divisions/ business-portal/databases/. Whether you are a new or an established small business, the Department of State’s Business Services Division is here to help. You can reach us by calling (401) 222-3040, emailing us at corporations@sos.ri.gov or visiting our office at 148 West River Street, Providence. Please feel free to contact me directly with any thoughts or suggestions at secretarygorbea@sos.ri.gov or visit our website sos.ri.gov. We look forward to working with you to grow your business or non-profit in Rhode Island.


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GOVERNOR | Gina M. Raimondo

A Message From

Gina M. Raimondo

Let’s Talk About Free College in Rhode Island Th e N e w S o c ial C on t rac t by Governor Gina M. Raimondo

When I was a kid, twelve years of school—a high school degree—was enough to get a solid job with a good salary. But today, a high-school diploma is no longer enough for many 21st century jobs, and the twelfth-grade cutoff for public education seems outdated. We owe our students and families a new social contract, and we owe our businesses a pipeline of skilled workers. That’s why I’ve proposed a plan to offer two years of free public college to every in-state Rhode Island student. Free College RI extends the promise of education we already make to our gradeschool kids, giving Rhode Island a unique competitive edge as a state and providing additional funds for URI, CCRI, and RIC. The plan would open the doors of higher education to more kids while cutting their debt burdens. That means students at URI, CCRI, and RIC would have more of the support they need to graduate on time. Just as importantly, Rhode Island businesses will have a bigger, stronger talent pool to hire from, which will

More education for every Rhode Islander means more opportunity for every Rhode Islander. It’s an investment we can’t afford not to make. 10

RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

lead to the creation of even more high-skill, high-paying jobs in our state. All of that is great news for taxpayers, because a better-educated population brings more money—and jobs—into our local economies. Investing in our kids’ education means that more of them can remain in-state for college as well as for starting their families and careers. That’s good news for all of us. The program is doable, and it will work. It’s also deeply necessary. Too many Rhode Island students graduate with a debt load higher than their starting salary. The average Rhode Islander with a college degree carries over $35,000 in student debt—and that number doesn’t include those who have to drop out because they can’t afford to finish school. More education for every Rhode Islander means more opportunity for every Rhode Islander. It’s an investment we can’t afford not to make. For less than half of one percent of our annual state budget, we can generate incredible returns. Our proposal would go into effect this fall, giving nearly 5,000 publicschool Rhode Island students a shot at an affordable degree. We’ve made difficult choices in recent years to cut our costs. Now, it’s time to invest in our future. The economy is changing, and in order for Rhode Islanders to have a shot, it’s clear they need some degree or credential past high school. Let’s give our students a shot at getting the great jobs we’re creating. To learn more about the plan, check out FreeCollegeRI.com and let us know what this program would mean to you. Together, we can guarantee college is a promise—not just a possibility—for every Rhode Island student.


Important Social Media Key Points & Stats And Why It Matters For Your Small Business | SMALL BUSINESS

Important social media key points & stats

a n d w h y i t m at t e r s f o r y o u r s m a l l b u s i n e s s

53%

of Americans who follow brands on social media are more loyal to those brand

The #1 cited reason

for a user“unfollowing� a page is the presence of too much promotional content

Facebook is the fastest growing network, passing Twitter for a third year in a row

80% of consumers say they do online research before making significant purchasing decisions

Video drives 62%

more engagement than photos, social shares increase by 43%

Let the digital media marketing experts at

Integrated Media Group

free you from your fear of social media. From initial strategy, to content creation, daily posts and monthly reports, IMG produces real results that help your business grow. Visit growwithimg.com for more information. www.risbj.com | volume six issue three

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Digital M

Demyst The Black & White Reality of Technology’s Place In Your Business’s Growth Strategy We live in a digital environment and what grew businesses in the past is no longer going to work moving forward. Technology is a part of our everyday lives and social media is really just a slang term for how the majority of people communicate and consume information today. There was a real shift in digital marketing in 2016, and as we’ve moved into 2017 there are some major realities that everyone needs to be mindful of, such as the importance of authenticity and transparency in creating organic content, as well as the critical nature of how and where you deliver that content. Organic vs. paid reach is where the action is (which we’re super excited about) and the ability to remain open and agile will be the difference between success or failure when it comes to a company’s digital marketing strategy. Life, and business, shifts over time and change can be a good thing. Stop and think about the changes that people, and businesses, experienced when the printing press was created. How about radio and television? Do you remember just a few decades ago when so many business owners thought websites, and the internet in general, was a fad? Or, think about those business owners that understood the value of email marketing early on and had great success with that. There were crazy open rates back then upwards of 90% compared to today’s average of 15-28% (depending on industry). We’re just trying to illustrate that there are so many small to mid sized business owners out there that are still pushing against essential elements of marketing and growth strategies!

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tified

Marketing Identify Your Audience

They need to clearly identify and understand who their target audience and where their attention is and/or how they’re consuming information.

There’s more competition for attention now than there ever has been, and if a company out there wants to be heard by their identified target audience then they’ve got to figure out where that audience is putting their attention. And, they need to also understand that when their audience is on these different platforms the messaging needs to be crafted specifically for them in that space. It sounds like a lot and we’re not going to sugar coat it, it kind of is, but with the right strategy in place it can all be streamlined, efficient and even fun. Understanding how to utilize technology to grow your business is paramount. Creating great content then being able to distribute it in a way that your audience will want to consume it is the key that unlocks the door to engagement and reach.

Ready to ditch the fear of the unknown and take the reins? Here are some things to keep in mind:

Remain Open and Agile The work is not over yet, as this digital landscape is changing constantly and businesses must continue to experiment with where their audience’s interest and engagement is!

Quality Content Matters Organic reach vs. paid reach is super important in this saturated marketplace and by understanding how to identify (and use properly) key words, key phrases and all the other important components of creating quality content is HUGE.

Sell The Way Customers Want To Buy That quality content then needs to be served up properly onto the different platforms, from a blog post on a website (a website that is set up properly as this is the foundation of a solid digital marketing strategy), to a carefully crafted video posted on YouTube, to the images posted on Instagram and so on let the amazing technology work efficiently and effectively to grow your business!

Self Awareness is key! Companies first need to really focus in on who they are, what they do and why they do it, then they need to create content that tells that story.

Article Provided By Tuni Schartner President/COO at Hub Digital LLC

www.risbj.com | volume six issue three

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SMALL BUSINESS | 8 Ways To Organize Your Email Inbox

8 Ways to organize your email inbox

by Kristin MacRae

How many unopened emails are sitting in your inbox? How many do you have that are opened, but still sitting in the box? So many people are stressed out by this! Their inboxes are as cluttered as their desks. If you’re working in a disorganized office without any filing systems in place, my suggestion would be to tackle the disorganization in your office first and then move on to organizing emails. You may find that once you physically get organized, it’s going to be very easy to wrap your head around the process to organize your emails. Think of your email as you would think of your desk. How do you feel when your desk is cluttered with paper? Some if it is junk, some is important and other items get lost? It’s time to get a handle on your emails and make a plan to declutter and organize your email inbox.

Here are 8 tips to help in this process: Get rid of the backlog. Your inbox should be used as a to-do list. There shouldn’t be anything in your inbox that doesn’t need attention. Clean out your inbox and use your folders (see below) in a productive manner. Create a process for incoming emails. Tackle your inbox just like you would tackle paper that arrives in your office. Have a procedure and a working system to process every email that arrives in your inbox. Look at it, touch it and take care of it. Delete. If the email isn’t useful to you and you don’t need to refer to it again, don’t let it clog up your inbox. Delete it! Unsubscribe. You know you have to do this. There are emails you consistently receive that you’re not interested in, but choose to still have them arrive in your inbox. Starting today, any emails that you receive that are no longer useful to you, instead of deleting them, open them and click unsubscribe. Utilize folders. You have files in your file drawers and working systems for the drawers. Create the same RISBJ | rhode island small business journal filing system in your 14

inbox. Create folders for categories that are used often. You know what you work with, so create the categories based off of that. Once a year, make a plan to purge these folders. Just as you would file a piece of paper that arrives on your desk, do the same with the email. If you don’t have time to read an email, but you want to get to it at a later date, utilize the folders and file it away. Don’t leave it hanging around in your in box. When you have time, go to your file and refer to it.

Print out the important ones. If you have an important email that needs attention and you know it will get lost in your inbox, print it out and attach it to your to-do list. There is nothing wrong with printing an email if it’s going to remind you to do something.

Sending emails. You’re now organized with your emails, but what about sending emails? A pet peeve of mine is if somebody hits “reply all” to the entire group if it’s not necessary. If you’re hitting “reply all” to an email that nobody else cares about except the person you’re sending it to, think before you hit “reply all.” Pick up the phone. Sometimes it’s easier to pick up the phone. If you keep going back and forth with the person, it may be more efficient and productive of you to just pick up the phone, talk, and be done with the conversation instead of sending multiple emails. A disorganized email inbox will affect you the same way your physical clutter and disorganization will affect you. I hear too many people voicing their opinion about how their emails stress them out. Tackle the physical disorganization in your office first and then move on to decluttering and organizing your emails. Make a plan today, tackle it, and free yourself from the stress. Don’t make the process more difficult than it has to be. If it’s important enough to you, then you’ll make it a priority to tackle them and then manage them.

Kristin MacRae

Organizing and Efficiency Expert, organizinginri.com


Meghan Hughes Appointed To Rhode Island Foundation’s Board Of Directors | SMALL BUSINESS

Meghan Hughes Appointed

to Rhode Island Foundation’s Board of Directors Meghan Hughes has been named to the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Foundation. As the state’s largest funder of nonprofit organizations, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants to more than 1,600 nonprofits in 2016.

committees and taught at Tufts University, where she received the school’s Excellence in Teaching Award. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and holds a Ph.D. from New York University.

“Meghan is a remarkable addition to our board. The extraordinary experience she brings will enhance our work promoting leadership, philanthropy and transformation,” said Marie Langlois, the Foundation’s chairperson.

Appointed to the Foundation’s Board by Gov. Gina Raimondo, the Providence resident is an Aspen Institute Fellow for Community College Excellence, completed the Harvard Business School’s “Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management” program and was a member of the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Arts’ Board of Governors, where she chaired the Education Committee and was a member of the Executive Committee. Currently, she serves on the board of Year Up Providence.

Hughes is president of the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), the largest community college in New England. CCRI enrolls more than 15,000 students per year across four full-service campuses and is the alma mater to more than 66,000 graduates. “I greatly admire the critical work of the Rhode Island Foundation and look forward to working with other Board members and the senior management team to further the Foundation’s mission to transform our state,” said Hughes. Previously, Hughes was executive director of Year Up Providence, served on Year Up’s National Management Team and National Senior Leadership and National Investment

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising, and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential

For more information visit www.rifoundation.org. www.risbj.com | volume six issue three

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REAL ESTATE

NEWS

R A N D A L L ,

R E A L T O R S

I N N O V A T I O N S

F O R

2 0 1 7

A NEW GLOBAL ALLIANCE Charlestown, R.I. , February 15, 2017 – Randall, Realtors, a division of one of the nation’s largest privately owned residential real estate brokerages, The Randall Family of Companies, announces several major company innovations to better serve its clients and agent community. Randall, Realtors has evolved and grown its infrastructure to the level of self-sufficiency and now returns to being an independent brokerage with a new alliance with Leading Real Estate Companies of The World. To complement this new direction, the firm has invested in cutting edge technology for its agents and has redesigned its brand identity.

speed. We’ve invested heavily in technology to provide our agents with tools and resources that will provide their clients with the best and most efficient service possible,” Randall added.

The alliance with Leading Real Estate Companies of The World adds significant global presence and prestige to Randall, Realtors’ strong brand and allows its agents to benefit from the largest real estate network in the world with 130,000 agents and 550 companies in 60 countries around the globe. This selective, membership by-invitation-only network transacts over $351 billion in sales annually.

Randall, Realtors is maintaining its commitment as an environmentally friendly company with several green initiatives. These include contracting with a regional recycling firm to responsibly remove and recycle its outdated materials. In addition the company has formed relationships with vendors who make environmental sustainability a priority. About Randall, Realtors and The Randall Family of Companies:

“Our affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World will provide our company with an international presence that is second to none. The southern New England coastal market appeals to clients worldwide and now we will be able to share the attributes of this beautiful area using the tools and reach of the pre-eminent real estate network. We are honored to be associated with a resource that will provide so many benefits to our clients and agents,” said Douglas Randall, CEO of Randall, Realtors and The Randall Family of Companies

Randall, Realtors owns and operates Rhode Island offices in North and South Kingstown, Westerly, Watch Hill and Charlestown and three Connecticut real estate offices in Norwich, Mystic and East Lyme. The company is an industry leader in the coastal, southern New England real estate market and is part of The Randall Family of Companies, which also includes Kinlin Grover Real Estate in Massachusetts and Page Taft Christie’s International Real Estate in Connecticut.

To ensure the continued success of the company’s agents, Randall, Realtors has invested in new technology through its proprietary ProAdvantage agent tools platform. Agents access this comprehensive suite of professional tools and resources through The Randall, Realtors Navigator, the company’s online dashboard. These tools provide agents with a one-stop online portal for maximum work flow productivity and state-of-the-art real estate marketing. “The real estate profession is changing at warp

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To showcase the evolution of Randall, Realtors from a regional powerhouse to a national power broker with significant international reach, the company has created a dynamic new look for its brand. The new look is being strategically rolled out in a series of new marketing efforts, signage changes and updated agent support materials.

Headquartered in Charlestown, R.I., The Randall Family of Companies, with 550 agents in 30 offices, ranks among the top real estate firms in the United States. The company is a RIS Media Power Broker and a Real Trends Top 150 Real Estate Company. The Company has sold more than $5 billion in real estate since 2014 and sells $1.3 billion annually. The Randall Family of Companies has twice been included in Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing private companies in America. For more information about Randall, Realtors, visit www.randallrealtors.com.


Monthly Activities: Corporate Citizenship | PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

Professional Growth Monthly Activities Corporate Citizenship by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD

There are many ways to be a good corporate citizen. They may include: clearing all the snow and liter off of the sidewalk in front of ones’ business, belonging to one or more chambers of commerce, donating to not-for-profit fundraisers, offering hard-to-find products at great prices, offering free delivery and putting products in their place in the home for persons with disabilities, buying local and helping youth in the community. I would encourage all businesses to make an inventory of all that you do. Review it annually, perhaps when you prepare your list of tax deductions. Is it a list that you are proud of? If so, share it with your customers and clients on your website and/or at your place of business. It may help you to sell more of your offering. If not, then take the opportunity to find ways to increase your community involvement. I have found that offering career related programs for children is an excellent way to be a great corporate citizen and communicate important messages to parents as well. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work®1 Day (TODASTWD), which will be on Thursday, April 27, 2017, provides a convenient opportunity to do this. Simply invite your employees to bring their children to work. Also, be a great corporate citizen and invite children whose parents may not work (or who may not have parents) to join you as well. Have the children spend some 1:1 time with parents and also offer a program as well as snacks and lunch. There are numerous program ideas available on the TODASTW foundation website (https://daughtersandsonstowork.org). Their theme for this 24th annual TOCTWD is count on me. If your students, parents or community have chosen not to miss school on April 27, I’d recommend scheduling an alternative TODASTWSD after the school year ends. Since the focus of this issue of RISBJ is on technology, I’d suggest including

technology related activities in your program to encourage students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) or STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) related careers. Help students to see how technology ties in with your business. Show them how pursuing a career in technology is important for our country, state, and community and how it can produce an important, fun and high paying job for them. When I do a STEM program I show how people well trained in psychology are employed as Human Factors Professionals, Ergonomists, and User Experience Architects to play a key role in designing technology to be safe, easy and fun to use. How do you explain how technology fits into your business? I would also suggest that you make your TODASTWD programs fun for your student attendees and their parents. Include some instructional games and activities the students will enjoy. You might, for example, include a version of the What’s My Line?3 in which students try to figure out the career of a variety of professionals by asking them yes/no questions about their careers. You might also have a version of That’s My Parent game in which blindfolded students try to identify their parent by asking a number of employees yes/no questions about what they do at work. Students then go to lunch or a snack with their “new parents.” Finally, I mentioned early on in this article that TODASTWD was a great opportunity to reach out to parents. I have found that parents who are too busy to attend business related programs are more than pleased to come to programs for their children. Thus, I’m able to communicate with parents who would be more difficult to reach otherwise. Enjoy and hopefully profit from being a great corporate citizen. I would like to thank Industrial Consultant Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments. 2 Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work® is a trademark of the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Foundation. 3”What’s My Line?” is a Trademark of Mark Goodson Productions, LLC, Santa Monica, CA

Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro

Independent Consultant in Human Factors, Learning and Human Resources

www.risbj.com | volume six issue three

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The Home Poi

The Story of E Eric After falling into their careers by accident, both Daniel E. Giroux and Eric Maluk have become successful businessmen in the mortgage industry. However, the success has not come with easy decisions and has certainly been an adventure. As previous owners of A-Plus Mortgage, a multistate mortgage lender that won several awards for company success and client services, Giroux and Maluk knew what it took to remain successful in the mortgage industry. However, as the market changed and technology increased, A-Plus Mortgage found itself at a crossroads. As the market demands increased, the two realized their company would have to consume many resources to keep up.

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Giroux and Maluk were determined to find a way to do what was best for their team, clients, and family. On January 3rd, Giroux and Maluk chose to join their team with Home Point Financial, a nationally licensed mortgage lender. “It was hard to let go of our company” Maluk said, “but it was the best decision for us because it was a want and not a need.” Giroux agreed and stated that now they have more time to build relationships with clients, realtors, and their families. The entire team is ready to take their experience and skills to the new Home Point Financial branch in Warwick. Their services include loan and refinancing programs such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA Loans, FHA Loans, USDA Loans, HARP Loans, Reverse Mortgages, and much more.

“I fell accident love


int HOMERUN

Eric and Dan Giroux first gained interest in the industry 16 years ago when an accident occurred during his time in the army. Limited career options steered Giroux towards a telemarketer position for a mortgage company, where soon after he became a loan officer. “I fell into it by accident, but I fell in love with it,” Giroux said. Similarly, Maluk accidently found himself interested in the mortgage business when a friend introduced him in 2003. Maluk, naturally, succeeded and just months later became a manager. After a year in management and only two years of experience, Maluk and Giroux decided to open A-Plus Mortgage in 2005. Together they’ve had years of experience and success, including working with two of Rhode Island’s top realtors, Nathan Clark and Guy Glennon. Today, Giroux and Maluk’s adventures together continue.

l into it by t, but I fell in e with it”

Dan They are eager to work diligently with their dedicated team and utilize Home Point Financial’s many tools and resources. When one visits Home Point Financial’s website they have access to over fifteen different types of calculators. One can calculate how much their mortgage payments will be, how much income they need to qualify, or even compare numbers between renting and buying. Home Point’s resources also allow clients to apply online and electronically sign documents through their secure scripted site. Giroux and Maluk do not regret moving their business to Home Point Financial. Their culture and priorities have always been the customer first. If something is convenient for the customer, it’s all that matters. Giroux and Maluk stated that their team goes above and beyond every day to ensure they stick to that culture. They continue to outwork competitors and make themselves available after standard hours for the convenience of the customer. Giroux said, “If I’m awake, I’m available.”

www.risbj.com | volume six issue three

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2017 1

Enterprise Tech Trends

Cloud Migration Adopting cloud-first strategies will provide numerous benefits, including reduction in costs, increased capacity and productivity, and enhanced collaboration.

Cyber Security

2

IT Security must be as agile as the people who use it. More multi-layered security systems that can protect applications, solutions, and enterprises.

3

AR and VR After the release of Pokemon Go, there is now an expected rise in mainstream use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

4

Automation For Data Centers & Marketing Automation does have its anxieties, but it is an investment for the future. While data centers already use automation tools, more marketing and data centers are anticipated to transition in this direction.

Intelligent Apps 2017 is leading the way for leveraging intelligent apps. More advanced analytics, more autonomous business processes, and more conversational interfaces. 20

RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

5


Smart Homes and Offices

10

From home security you can control with your smart phone to smart appliances, everyone’s homes will begin to become more automated and secure.

9

Smart Beacons Location-based marketing that engages smart beacon technology will become more prevalent this coming year.

Rise of Chatbots/Business Bots

8

While there is still a desire for human to human interaction, 2017 will usher in a new generation of chatbots and business bots that pledge to assist people and meet more urgent/demanding needs .

7

AI and Machine Learning Expect more systems that can actually learn and change their behavior, leading the way for more intelligent devices.

6

Blockchain A blockchain is a distributed database in which information is listed sequentially in “blocks.� This will help prevent the tampering of data, increase trust, and offers transparent access to the chain. www.risbj.com | volume six issue three

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3

SMALL BUSINESS | Three Common Mistakes By Private Companies And How To Avoid Them

B Y

A N D

Penalties for mischa severe, so it is best to be sure regularly provide by William F. Miller, Esq

Legal issues arise for every business. Typically, privately owned companies do not have in-house counsel. To avoid expensive legal problems before they occur, wise business owners conduct thorough periodic reviews of policies and practices to identity and address areas that need improvement. Three common mistakes made by business owners are treating employees as independent contractors, not maintaining proper records and having no succession plan for the organization. Each of these areas are described below and include some recommendations and considerations to address when making decisions.

TREATING EMPLOYEES AS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS Treating service providers as independent contractors rather than employees is tempting. If respected, it avoids payroll withholding obligations and the obligation to include these service providers in expensive workers’ compensation insurance programs and employee benefit plans. However, federal and state regulatory authorities are all too aware of these potential company benefits and have adopted multiple sets of rules to avoid abuse. From a tax perspective, the IRS has adopted rules which spell out a number of characteristics of employees, but many

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states have different sets of criteria that also must be complied with. The bottom line is that any person who works for you on a regular basis is likely to be either a full time or part time employee. The penalties for mischaracterizing service providers as independent contractors can be severe, so it is best to be sure that you are on firm legal ground before treating someone who regularly provides services to your company as an independent contractor.

POOR RECORD KEEPING Every company has legal agreements that are important to its operations. These include real estate and equipment leases, contracts with customers and suppliers, employment agreements, financing documents, etc. However, a remarkable number of companies find, when a question arises about a contract, that their file copies are unsigned or only partially signed, or they are missing important schedules or exhibits. A similar problem often arises when a company is asked to document who owns the company. While the owners are rarely in doubt regarding company ownership, in a remarkable number of cases, they have difficulty producing the paperwork to verify ownership. Stock certificates are often lost or perhaps not even issued and subsequent transfers resulting from death or people leaving the company are often not properly documented. This situation can go on for years, but


D

Three Common Mistakes By Private Companies And How To Avoid Them | SMALL BUSINESS

Common Mistakes P R I V A T E H O W

T O

C O M P A N I E S A V O I D

T H E M

aracterizing service providers as independent contractors can be e that you are on firm legal ground before treating someone who es services to your company as an independent contractor. when there is a tax audit, a bank financing or a possible sale of the company, being able to document company ownership can become critically important. Corporations should take the time to issue certificates representing their stock ownership. Each stock certificate should be numbered sequentially and the corporation should maintain a separate stock register or ledger for each class of stock, showing the name of the stockholder, date of issuance, certificate number, number of shares represented by the certificate and other relevant information (For example, was the stock issued for cash, property or services; was it originally issued by the corporation or transferred from another stockholder, etc.) Limited liability companies and partnerships are not legally required to issue certificates evidencing their equity ownership interests, but they are permitted to do so. If they chose not to, equity interests should be spelled out in a signed copy of the company’s LLC operating agreement or partnership agreement as the case may be.

NO TRANSITION PLAN Owners approaching retirement age or suffering from a serious illness or disability can be the source of significant stress and uncertainty for both employees and customers. Under those circumstances, it is important for the owner to be able to allay

concerns by assuring people that there is a well-thoughtout transition plan in place. Transition plans vary but they usually include an agreement among the shareholders as to what happens to the owner’s shares on death, disability or retirement and in many cases, an equity compensation plan, which results in key employees acquiring an increasing stake in the company, over time, as long as they remain employed by the company. In this regard, it is critically important to start planning for transition early. These plans and the underlying legal documentation can often take many months to develop and refine. They also require updating as circumstances change. It is a sound practice for private companies to do a thorough periodic review to see if there are areas that should be addressed before they become expensive legal problems. If you have questions about any of the three areas addressed or if we can assist by providing you with a due diligence check list or other input, contact PLDO Partner William F. Miller at 401-824-5100 or email wmiller@pldolaw.com.

William F. Miller, Esq. Partner, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC

www.risbj.com | volume six issue three

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LEGAL | Personnel Practices: Cybersecurity: Best Practices For Employers

Personnel Practices

C Y B E R S E C U R I T Y B E ST P R AC T I C E S FO R E M P LOY E R S by C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq. and Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.

In recent years, cloud-based information technology and Internet marketing have become vital to many small businesses. The emergence of high-speed Internet has provided small businesses with the opportunity to operate more efficiently and reach new and larger markets. Small and emerging businesses have, in turn, become enticing targets for cybercriminals because they may have less secure technology systems than larger companies. The results are often dire, as the National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 60 percent of small businesses close their business within six months of experiencing a cyber attack. The following are best practices for Rhode Island employers to protect their business and data from cyber attacks.

Train Employees on Cybersecurity The majority of data breaches happen because employees lack awareness of basic cyber security practices. Educating employees in areas such as password protection, software updates, secure Wi-Fi networks, encryption, and identifying phishing attacks can thwart many of the most common cyber threats. For example, employees should understand that cyber criminals often attempt to steal information by placing fraudulent links in e-mails, tweets, website posts, and online advertisements. Employers should further stress the importance of keeping security software on all companyissued devices current, and may wish to teach employees how to use encryption software for exchanging sensitive data. Employers may similarly want to restrict employees from using personal devices for work purposes, as employers are better able to control security and access to confidential information on employer-owned devices.

Develop and Enforce Data Security Protocols Employee training is only a preliminary step, however. To effectively protect against cyber attacks, employers should develop—and with the help of IT and legal professionals—

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regularly audit data security protocols for handling confidential information. These requirements should be frequently communicated to employees, and it is crucial that employers make sure that the protocols are followed. Included in these protocols, employees should be told what actions to take if the company’s technology systems are compromised by a cyber attack. Effectively responding to a cyber attack can significantly mitigate the extent of a data breach and the cost to the business.

Become Familiar with Rhode Island’s Identity Theft Protection Act Rhode Island’s Identity Theft Protection Act imposes numerous data security requirements on any business that collects or interacts with personal information about Rhode Island residents. Rhode Island employers that are unfamiliar with the Identity Theft Protection Act can easily run afoul of its terms and suffer steep penalties as a consequence. Recent revisions to the Act, which took effect on July 2, 2016, define personal information broadly and require any person or legal entity “that stores, collects, processes, maintains, acquires, uses, owns or licenses personal information about a Rhode Island resident [to] implement a risk-based information security


Personnel Practices: Cybersecurity: Best Practices For Employers | LEGAL

The results are often dire, as the National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 60 percent of small businesses close their business within six months of experiencing a cyber attack program” that is “appropriate to the size and scope of the organization, the nature of the information and the purpose for which the information was collected.” Further, personal information about Rhode Island residents cannot be retained for any longer than reasonably necessary, and must then be destroyed in a secure manner. The Act additionally establishes strict notice requirements in the event of a data breach affecting Rhode Island residents.

Be Aware of Industry and Sector Specific Data Security Requirements Lastly, many businesses are subject to industry or sector specific requirements for data security. For example, the medical and health industries, as well as educational institutions and online-based business, are each governed by a complex array of state and federal laws and regulations. Employers should thus research and understand the particular laws and regulations that apply to their businesses, and proactively take steps to comply.

C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP

www.risbj.com | volume six issue three

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SMALL BUSINESS | Good Teams Win A Few Games, Great Teams Win Championships!

Good Team

Gre

by Larry Girouard

I relish this time of year because it’s March Madness. If you like college basketball, your overdose days are here. There are times when watching a good ballgame, I relate the game to a business model.

begins to suffer, the team feels the stress, and company sales eventually levels off, maintaining its market share, and treading water. Boring!

Market Penetration

Most of us want it, but painfully few are very good at it.

In talking with many business owners over the years, most will state that they have good teams when discussing their employees. They may add a caveat that they could use a stronger person in 1-2 slots, but generally they are happy with their team of employees. The owners like, respect, trust, care for, and are loyal to their employees.

Most companies have a very small market share, well under 5%. While we brainstorm about developing new products, expanding territories, and acquisitions, as options to consider for growing their business, the conversation eventually gets down to the seminal question ... Why can’t you penetrate your current market?

Many of these companies win a few games! Nothing energizes a company as much as when they complete a significant order for a new customer. Sales is applauded, operations high five each other, and the hand slapping is followed by all the accolades of the great team effort it took to “make this day possible”.

Most businesses talk about growing sales 5%-10% a year, and they are happy with that. If you have less than a 5% market share, why can’t you talk about capturing 2-3% additional share over a 3 year period? Now you are talking about growing your business 20% a year.

Unfortunately, all too many times these celebrations are short lived. While the company may do a good job from time to time, high quality performance is usually difficult to maintain for most small businesses. All too often the “team” begins to drop the service ball because the current design of their customer support system is not robust enough to ingest the addition of a significant piece of new business. As a result, the growth spurt, buoyed by this new business, is not sustainable. The company loses other customers because the overall service level

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This type of discussion is usually met with a “What are you nuts!” stare.

Practicing Plays

It’s all about Process That’s when the discussion goes back to the team. Using the sports analogy, I ask you the following on question .... Does your team practice plays? Team sports is all about practicing plays, and as the team gets more proficient with their plays, their performance


Good Teams Win A Few Games, Great Teams Win Championships! | SMALL BUSINESS

ms Win a Few Games,

eat Teams Win

improves. Eventually the plays become instinctive. They become more precise. OK, I have to say it ... Practice Makes Perfect. The more you practice, the more efficient the process.

at $20/hr = $2,500/year. You can play with these numbers up and down, but regardless of the numbers, the $100 printer represents a significant return on investment.

Employees run the plays in any business. Think about that for a minute. When an order comes into a company, how long does it take to schedule the order on the manufacturing floor? When a customer calls in with a question, how long does it take for the company to respond? When a machining center needs to be changed over to manufacture the next product, how long does that take? There is a process associated with each of these questions, and your employees drive these processes, or plays.

What is more important is the 2.5hrs of time saved each week ... 6% of some employees time has just been freed up to help improve other corporate plays.

Take the machining center changeover example above. I visited a company last year that had compressed the time to change over their machining centers in preparation for the next part from 1.5 hours to 8 minutes. Talk about improving on a play. Play improvement is all about saving time and motion in the way employees work together. Another company I am very familiar with decided to eliminate their central printer and buy everyone their own printer for their desk. It was determined that the average time it took to make a copy before the change was around 3 minutes. ... the time from when you got up from your desk, walk to the central printer, get your copies, talked with a few colleagues and go back to your desk to continue working. If you had to make only 10 copies a day, do the math ... 10 trips (copies) a day is 30 min/day, 2.5 hrs/wk, 125 hrs/year,

As you get fully intoxicated into March Madness this month, look at a few plays through a different lens. Just imagine the ball being communications within your company, and the 5 players on the floor are departments in your business ... sales, operations, quality, finance and customer service. The communications ball passes between departments with little or no wasted motion. The ball moves effortlessly between “departments� because the players have mapped out the plays, and through continuous improvement, practiced them to the point where wasted motion has been reduced, or eliminated. When corporate culture improvement is addressed in this manner, the dramatic improvement in corporate performance results in a value proposition that is not only measurably better than competition, it is sustainable. This is when you see double digit growth. Sales has something to sell. Double digit growth is really possible. Championships are won year after year, and dynasties evolve!

Larry Girouard

CEO of the Business Avionix Company, LLC A Business Consulting Firm www.risbj.com | volume six issue three

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Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara attorneys are innovators and collaborators with a record of achievement representing clients with the highest level of legal services in a wide range of disciplines and industries. Our firm’s success is rooted in its cutting edge approach to modern legal representation, commitment to teamwork and providing superior service for clients built on respect, urgency and efficiency that results in long-lasting relationships.

Great legal teams working for YOU. 401-824-5100 pldolaw.com

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chosen Neighborhood because it’s affordable and has what they need.” -Natasha Harrison, Executive Director Norman Bird Sanctuary

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