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A guide to managing your team remotely

By | Business, English

For the majority of the companies worldwide working from home is the only option during the Covid-19 quarantine period. Fortunately, modern technologies make it possible for managers to administer the team and all the work remotely without great effort and expenditures. We want to provide you with a brief guide on how you can manage your team remotely in an efficient way.

Firstly, it is good to understand what challenges can the remote working cause for both managers and employees:

 

Lack of live supervision

Both managers and employees can express concerns about the lack of face-to-face interaction. Managers can worry about the productivity and willingness of employees to work. The remote workers in term can struggle with reduced access to managerial support and communication.

Interpersonal challenges 

Newly remoted workers need time and effort to adjust information and get used to new settings. Even simple requirements can appear to be difficult tasks when working in a home setting. This can cause an interpersonal challenge among remote co-workers. Lack of mutual knowledge about the team members can eventually convert to a lower willingness to understand each other.

 Social isolation 

The feeling of loneliness is one of the main drawbacks of remote working. Lack of informal social interaction with colleagues can reduce an employee’s feeling of “belonging” to the organization. This in term can increase the likelihood of the worker’s decision to leave the company.

Distractions at home

In case of a sudden transition to the remote work, employees have a greater chance to bare unexpected family responsibilities. Managers should understand that this kind of distraction is greater during the unplanned transition of work to home settings.

So how can managers support remote workers?

Managers can take some inexpensive and instant actions to make the transition easier for employees and reduce the chance of decline in productivity:

 

  • Establish structured daily check-ins: 

Daily one-by-one or team call is a regular and predictable form of communication that allows employees to consult with the manager, ask real-time questions and express concerns.

  • Provide different communication options: 

Richer technology benefits remote workers. For example, video conferences are especially helpful for the visual cues that allow for better mutual knowledge. Face-to-face conversations help team members to discuss the work, ongoing news, personal concerns and therefore, reduce the feeling of isolation.

However, it is better to use message platforms (like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) for the cases when quick collaboration is more important than the visual aspect. They benefit time-sensitive communication and make the conversations simpler and less formal.

  • Set “rules of engagement”:

Regulations of the engagement frequency help workers to stay more productive and satisfied. While some alternatives may be better than others, all employees must agree on the set of expectations for communication.

  • Offer encouragement and emotional support:

Especially in the context of today’s situation, managers need to acknowledge stress, anxieties and concerns that can be experienced by employees. It is good for a manager not only to frequently ask for the opinion and feelings of the remote workers but also to listen carefully to the response. The employee’s stress or concerns should stay the focus of this kind of conversation. With this support, employees are more likely to cope with the challenge and dedicate a better focus on work and productivity.

Help your business survive the Coronavirus

By | Business, English

Despite the global health consequences, the Coronavirus has a negative economic impact on small and scaling up businesses. We want to provide you with bits of advice on how entrepreneurs can protect their business while working from home.

1. Curate sources of your updates

A constant flow of information about the Coronavirus can make you very unproductive. Thus, try to limit your news alerts and keep up only with the most relevant ones. In this way, you will be able to save your nerves and the nerves of your business.

2. Use your social channels for good news

This is a difficult time for the whole world and unfavorable news is covered daily in all the broadcast channels. As a business, you can use social media and give a positive vibe to your audience. Think about the warming moments, success stories, heroes, leaders that you can share with people and make them feel happier and closer to your brand.

3. Educate yourself

Use this variety of online educational sources to expand your entrepreneurial knowledge about the crisis, finance, marketing and new business strategies that can be tested after the time of distress.

4. Forecast your risk

It is important to create a possible scenario of the outcomes for your business. Consider the worst-case scenario and work from it. What can be the most vulnerable aspect of your business? What measures can be taken to avoid it? How to fix it in case of emerging? You should be set up with all the necessary steps in terms of redundancies, cost-cutting and predictive mapping.

5. Reduce your expenditures

Cost-cutting should be done today. Eliminate any non-essential subscriptions, reduce online sponsored posts, minimize travel, pause any large costs that could be undertaken later on.

6. Do not rush with firing decisions

Employees still have notice periods and can claim unlawful actions if you are not careful. Redundancy is a painful decision that should be considered as the last resort. Ask your team and staff members if they voluntarily wish to compensate a pay cut or explore if they agree to donate back to the business their upcoming holiday. You can consult with free legal advisors that work with employment law or HR about the best decision for your company by phone.

7. Over-communicate with your team

Remote working can be successful; you just need to keep the team spirit. Talk with each other daily, update with news, organize online activities, organize group video talks. Besides, keep all your social channels active and ensure that your team has a clear route through them with a daily plan of action.

8. Explore the opportunities

Flexible working is an opportunity to demonstrate teamwork and test new strategies. Although this feels hard and fast, the advantage of working from home can introduce new ways of working within the company.

9. Work together

We are all together in this. There are no correct ways of doing things and there is no definite outcome. It is stressful, unknown and difficult. However, you should stay patient, thoughtful, attentive, and work with people, not against them. If there was ever a time to lean this, it is now.

Expanded BMKB scheme

By | English, News | No Comments

The Guarantee for SME Loans (BMKB)

The Guarantee for SME Loans (BMKB) will have a faster expansion scheme because of the Coronavirus issues. The easing measure will increase the size of the BMKB pledge loan from 50% to 75%. This makes it more manageable for banks to grant credit. Moreover, companies have an opportunity to borrow more money earlier. Besides, the scheme will be further expanded compared to a previous announcement; it will additionally apply to Bridge loans and Overdrafts with terms of up to two years.

Essential for the liquidity of smaller entrepreneurs.

The State Secretary Keijzer explained: “The BMKB can be used by companies for a bridge loan or overdraft (the amount that they are allowed to overdraft). The expansion is essential for the liquidity of smaller entrepreneurs who miss out on income or production due to the Сoronavirus. The suppliers, travel agencies, but also companies that can no longer obtain raw materials from abroad”.

€ 300 million in additional financing is already available immediately.

The government estimates that with this first step, € 300 million in additional financing will immediately be made available to SMEs that are affected by the Coronavirus. The extension will take effect from Monday, March 16, 2020, and will be a part of a package of measures already announced last week by the government to deal with the economic consequences of the Coronavirus. Entrepreneurs affected by the corona issue can also apply for working time reduction and postponement of payment/reduction of provisional assessment of taxes. Self-employed people can appeal to the Self-employed Assistance Decree (BBZ).

What is WBSO Subsidy and who can get it?

By | English, Subsidy | No Comments
WBSO: Save money on hiring developers with government support

Creation of a valuable business requires a lot of effort and money. Especially, if you are interested in team of professionals in the fields of technology or engineering. However, it is nice to remember that the Dutch government actively supports local enterprises with grants like the WBSO subsidy.

What exactly is the WBSO subsidy?

The WBSO stands for the “Research and Development tax credit”. This subsidy helps companies to reduce wage tax, national insurance contributions and other costs of the innovation projects. The grant is provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy to entrepreneurs who plan to invest in research and development.

For whom is the WBSO?

The WBSO subsidy is intended for the companies registered at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce and who hire researchers for R&D projects. To be able to apply for the WBSO a company should meet several requirements:

  • It should experience new technological development accompanied by technological problems
  • the R&D activities should not be started yet
  • the R&D activities should be organized inside the company

More information about the official conditions of eligibility can be found on the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. However, it is also possible to scan your profile on our website and get an immediate advice from the specialists.

Why do you need the WBSO subsidy?

The WBSO grant can help entrepreneurs with the technical aspects of production and development. A company can apply for the WBSO if it manages the majority of the technical solutions itself or it wants to test the prototype. Therefore, the WBSO subsidy is suitable for every type of company.  However, it is most widely used among enterprises in the IT sector or manufacturing industry. The subsidy gives benefits of reduced wage taxes or other R&D expenditures (including costs incurred for machine hours or prototypes). The grant is especially valuable for startups.

What is happening after the grant is received?

In addition to maintaining an hour administration, you should be able to provide information about the WBSO costs incurred. You have to report once a year how many hours and costs you have incurred in total and which employees have worked on the projects.

Apply for the WBSO subsidy! It is a good opportunity for your business to grow. Although, if you are not sure about the necessary application steps and need help you can get in touch with us and we will guide you through the whole process. 

What is Research & Development activities for the WBSO?

By | English, Subsidy | No Comments

R&D activities differ from organization to organization. Although these activities are generally of high risk and uncertain amount of investment, they are crucial for the product development and expansion of market shares.  The companies in the Netherlands have a chance to apply for subsidies and government grants to cover the R&D expenditures, however, these activities have to be qualified.

Generally, R&D activities that can qualify for the tax credit fall in one of these four categories: 

1. New product development 

2. New process development 

3. Incremental product development 

4. Incremental process development 

 Terms like “new” and “incremental” refer to the individual enterprise, but not to the whole industry. 

Examples of qualified activities include:

  • Design and development of new products/manufacturing process 
  • Product experimentation and modification 
  • Research of new applications for existing products;
  • Testing for conformity with domestic/foreign regulation standards
  • Improvement of a prototype of new products 
  • Work automatization 
  • Improvement of manufacturing/production technologies
  • Software development 

Activities are unlikely to be considered as R&D and therefore cannot be qualified for a tax credit if they relate to the general expenditures that a company would undertake without R&D. 

Examples include:

  • Testing or analysis of activities for quality control 
  • Routine data collection
  • Testing and qualification of production lines;
  • Production modifications without technical uncertainty
  • Market research for advertising or promotions;
  • Research that is funded by a third party
  • Any other activities that do not fall into four mentioned categories 

Certainly, rules and conditions for R&D regulations can differ depending on the country, region and industry, hence a company can require external help to make the right conclusions. You can get in touch with us or use the WBSO scan to be sure that your company and activities are eligible for a tax credit. 

Growth hacking tips for startups and scale-ups

By | Business, English | No Comments

1. Experiments is everything

It is often hard to be right if you are working online. Gut feelings of the marketers usually appear to be wrong, so only data and numbers can help to prove the assumptions. Thus, it is wise for companies to spend time and resources on experiments’ conduction. In a controlling experiment setting, it is their main and the only target to study consumer behavior and find the best method of revenue maximization through the acquirement of new customers.

2. Tracking is important.

Tracking is crucial for business growth. However, it is important to track metrics that can actually help with new partners or customers generation (as engagement rate of social media posts, the website bounce rate, conversion rate) instead of visual performance indicators (as to reach or impressions)

3. Use tools

Growth hacking is based on the usage of handy and modern tools that can help you test all the assumptions in swift time. Surf the Internet to uncover which ones you can use for website creation, automation, social media planning or even persona revealing of the potential leads or customers on LinkedIn.

4. Make it look like human

Automation is a very important part of scaling business, however, people still appreciate human factor and trust business more if they feel a human interaction. Thus, do not be scared to make a mistake or actually aim at making mistakes in your automated messages and emails to create a feeling of human synergy.

5. Catch them in 5

You have only 5 seconds to impress your potential customer on your website or social pages. So make a message about your product vivid and clear. The image and design are not everything, copywriting is extremely important in this catching business. Each copy or caption work towards selling the unique point of your business.

6. Psychographics personas

A buyer persona is a profile of your ideal customer based on real data. However, you cannot get a full understand of your customers with only information about their demographics. It is important to understand things like emotions, values, interests, desires, goals, hobbies, habits and other relevant aspects of their psychological characteristics to understand what and how they want it.  

 

The content comes from the course during one of the Startup Boot events.