Cyber Crime: Protect Your Small Business

The facts speak for themselves: targeting American small businesses is the focus today of cyber crime. According to one recent survey, companies that had one to 250 employees accounted for more than 30 percent of all cyber-attacks in 2014. The sad part is that 83 percent of survey-takers admitted to not having any cyber-crime protection strategies in place. Worse yet, over 60 percent of small businesses close within six months after an attack.

Top-5-Ways-to-Protect-Your-Small-Business-from-Cyber-crime

With each passing day, cyber crime becomes bolder, more sophisticated and more difficult to stop.

The circumstances being such, we’ve listed five top ways of protecting a small business from what is fast becoming inevitable: cyber-attacks.

Keep the Company’s Computers Updated

Keeping a company’s computers updated with anti-virus and firewall software are primary lines of defense against cyber-attacks. However, like flu shots, there is no clear 100 percent protection available.

Operating systems, web browsers and plug-ins such as Adobe Reader are crucial for protection. While the major browsers such as Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome can be updated automatically, this one practice must be maintained no matter what.

Train Your Employees

In-house employees amazingly make up for 40 percent of small business cyber-crimes. With stats like these available, it becomes crucially important to instruct employees on creating strong passwords for both work-related accounts and personal ones as well.

Simply put, it takes one employee with one bad password choice to compromise the entire company’s databases. Likewise, downloading software without administrative permissions or opening email attachments are virtual open doors to cyber-criminals.

Securing the Company Wi-Fi Network

Periodically securing the office Wi-Fi network with a change of passwords and the renaming of the company network adds extra layers of protection to a company’s cyber-security protocol. Likewise, getting the latest Wireless Protected Access 2 technology for encryption is another good protective measure. Hint: Avoid using the company name in a network’s name change.

Get Rid of Sensitive Company Data

Information falling into the hands of prying eyes can cause endless, unnecessary trouble for company owners. One way to dispose of old, unused data is through the use of heavy-duty paper shredding services provided by companies such as Vital Records Control. The concept has been around for decades, and these modern-day versions are indicative of the continued need for this form of security.

Be Vigilant and Change the Guard

Keeping an eye out for suspicious activity by an employee, or even a top staff member, is unfortunately necessary. If any activity goes beyond looking suspicious, it is best to isolate the suspected individual from the compromised department area.

Once there exists no doubt as to the perpetrator’s guilt, obviously, get rid of the person as soon as possible – unless further legal action is needed. Likewise, re-evaluating the company’s cyber-security protocol every 90 days is also highly recommended.

With all the above security measures against cyber crime implemented, few cyber-criminals will be lurking around any small business environment. While not 100 percent foolproof, they collectively make a formidable line of defense.

What is Cyber Crime? A Lesson…

Improve Your Ads With Cross Media Measurement

If you own a business, you probably spend money advertising the various goods and services you offer. If this is the case, there is a good chance that you advertise by using many different forms of media. You might use newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet. If you use some or all of these different mediums, it will be very difficult to determine which ones are the most effective, and which ones are not generating enough sales to justify spending money on future advertisements. Find out where your sales are coming from with the use of cross media measurement. This revolutionary method utilizes various data fusion techniques in an effort to determine the return on investment you are getting from your advertising campaigns.

Here is why cross media measurement is so useful for businesses of all sizes.

Cross Media Measurement Prevents Wasting Money on Ineffective Advertising

Companies spend a lot of money on advertising. Therefore, it is important for them to be able to determine if the money they are spending to attract customers is actually working. In other words, if a company is advertising in multiple mediums, they need to know which of these mediums is causing people to do business with them. If a company is advertising on both radio and TV, but the vast majority of their customers are coming from the TV advertisements, the company needs seriously reconsider the money they are spending on radio advertising. Many years ago, it would be very difficult to determine which mediums were most effective for a company in terms of advertising. Now a company can reduce wasting money on advertising that has proven to be ineffective.

“In our factory, we make lipstick. In our advertising we sell hope.” ~ Charles Revson, founder of Revlon (1906-95)

Cross Media Measurement is Useful in Creating Ad Campaigns That Work

Once you know where many of your customers are coming from, you can begin to create your ad campaigns to target these specific people. Obviously, different advertising mediums require completely different campaigns. There is no sense devoting your resources to an area of marketing that is not working for you.

Cross Media Measurement Gauge Your Return On Investment

Whenever you spend money when you are running a business, you need to know if these expenditures are worthwhile. Therefore, you need to find out if the money you are spending on marketing is positively affecting your bottom line. Cross media measurement is the best and most accurate way for businesses to figure out their return on investment.

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Infographic: How Do You Gauge Perceived Value?

According to Business Dictionary “perceived value” is as follows: “A customer’s opinion of a product’s value to him or her. It may have little or nothing to do with the product’s market price, and depends on the product’s ability to satisfy his or her needs or requirements.

A few things to keep in mind about perceived value when structuring your business plan:

  • How important is the price?
  • Your core activities should take center stage.
  • Without a solid foundation your brand wont be sustainable.
  • A compelling story always has a big impact.

This infographic explores the psychology behind perceptions, noting trends, marketing practices and different attitudes. Including how lobster went from prison food (at one time fetching $0.11/lb) to fine dining, how people are more likely to purchase items that are priced in a certain way, and how we experience more pleasure from a wine we’re told costs more. Understanding perceived value principles can be very useful when planning business strategies.

Perceived Value Infographic

Infographic produced by Vouchercloud

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How to Market Your Small Business Website

Spending countless hours developing your small business website is only part of the battle. After you have decided what product or service you are going to sell and hired a company to design the site, you will then need to properly market your site to the masses. This has been the downfall of many otherwise promising websites. It is important for you to understand that no matter how great your inventory is, how cool your site is and how friendly your customer service is, if people never hear about your site, your business will be over before it ever begins. So how do you get the word out about your business? How can you show the general public all of the hard work you have done? Now you will learn where to market your website.

small business website tips

Promote your URL

If you already have a regular business up and running, but you are adding a website to supplement it, you should have your website’s URL placed on all of your company’s stationary and business cards. Also, when you send out packages, your URL should be located on every box so it will be impossible for anyone to miss it. You can also add your site’s URL to the bottom of all of your emails. Every little bit of promotion helps, no matter how small it is.

Leave Comments on Sites

You want to attract people to your site who are interested in the things that you are trying to sell. One of the best ways to do that is to go to a site such as YouTube and search for videos that pertain to a product or service that you offer. Leave some comments, with a link to your small business website, that explain your products so that anyone who watches that video in the future can read it. You can also send some direct messages to people who previously left comments on the video to see if you can drum up sales that way.

Tweet about Your Small Business Website

By now, you should definitely have a Twitter account. If you do not have one, what planet have you been living on? Twitter is one of the best web marketing tools you can use to promote your site to millions of people. It is also completely free. If you take some time and work with Twitter to build up a lot of followers, it will translate into increased sales for your business.

Get Listed on Google Local

Another sure fire way for small businesses is to invest in local targeting via Google. Make sure your small business is listed and that it is verified on Google Places. Create your Google+ page and make friends with local businesses in your area. Following them and they will mostly follow you back. Create effective social media campaigns to spread the word about your small business.

The truth is the less you invest in online advertising the less results you will see. Online marketing is a specialized field that requires insight in many different areas of the marketing arena. Get yourself a well-qualified marketing person that knows all the ins-and-outs of online marketing before embarking on an online marketing campaign for your small business website.

Designing an Exciting Powerpoint Presentation

An easy way to put ten people to sleep at the same time is to whip out a boring Powerpoint presentation in a meeting. Slide presentations can help the presenter to deliver information in an easy to understand visual format, but all too often, presenters make mistakes that turn their work into a yawn fest. By following a few tips, you can create presentations that won’t bore your audience to tears.

Choosing Photos for Your Powerpoint Presentation

Using stock photos that are overdone, cheesy or cliche will kill your audience’s attention spans. Using stock photography may seem like the best way to go, but many of the images are downright boring. Look for photos that show depth, intense color or motion. This will keep your audience awake and help them to keep their focus.

Find the Right Font

If your Powerpoint presentation is about a serious topic, don’t use Comic Sans for your presentation. Typography works well with solid colored backgrounds and can give your work a look of professionalism. You can also hire a graphic design company or one that does Powerpoint slide design if you want to enjoy a clean layout and professional design.

Don’t Go Overboard With Animation

Having words flying in from all directions, dissolving and reappearing and spinning in circles may seem like a good idea when designing your Powerpoint presentation. Take a cue from the experts. Don’t do it. It will just annoy your audience. If you must use animations, limit them to one per slide and don’t include them on each slide. The key is that you want the audience to remember the content, not the bells and whistles. Using too many of these animations cheapens your work and makes your presentation look unprofessional.

Make Your Text Readable

Lets assume you have found the right picture with the best blend of colors that pop and will wow your audience. What can possibly go wrong? For one thing, if the colors in the photo clash with the font colors, your audience will not be able to read your text. One way to avoid this is to create a solid colored bar and place your text on top of it. Be sure to view your presentation and let others view it before your meeting. This will help you to gauge what your audience will see.

Don’t bore your audience with a boring presentation. Find the best company to design a killer presentation for your next small business meeting today.

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How To Become A More Productive, Positive Business Owner

These days, many business owners are realizing that personal development translates into professional development. If you’re interested in becoming a better person in order to help your business excel like never before, you should note that there are numerous simple strategies you can employ to make this objective a reality. Here are three techniques to start using so that you can become a more productive, positive business owner:

 

1. Get In The Habit Of Networking.

If you’re really ready to become a better person and brighter business owner, consider the great value of networking. Networking will help you blossom personally and develop professionally in more ways than you can imagine. In addition to improving your communication skills and emotional intelligence, networking empowers you to meet people who can provide you with sound wisdom and instruction that makes you a better person and sharper business strategist. Once you start the networking process, think about whether there are any specific people within your industry that you’d really like to connect with. Also consider the great value of interfacing with people who operate in a great level of excellence and integrity. One such individual to consider is John Hailer. Hailer currently operates as the CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management and has also contributed to several philanthropic projects, including fighting for Boston’s at-risk youth.

Self-Improvement for Business Owner

2. Read, Read, Read.

Another strategy you should implement to become a more productive, positive business owner is to read, read, read. Reading is helpful in numerous ways, such as the fact that it helps you build and expand your vocabulary. Additionally, it makes you a more well-versed individual who understands more and more about the world around you. Finally, reading can function as the springboard through which you develop the motivation and skill set necessary to write your own book. This last endeavor can be personally profitable and professionally lucrative.

3. Implement And Optimize Your Health Habits.

Unfortunately, we live in a profoundly unhealthy world. However, you don’t have to conform to this downward trend. Instead, choose to optimize your health so that you can operate at an exceptional level of mental acuity as you build your company. There are numerous ways that you can become a healthier person, such as eliminating stimulants like coffee and eating the right foods to attain natural, sustained energy. Some prudent food choices include fresh fruits and vegetables. You should also make a point to start exercising on a regular basis, and hiring a trainer can help you develop and sustain this healthy habit.

Conclusion

If you’re a business owner who understands that self-improvement can play a profound role in helping your company grow, you may be ready to start implementing strategies that will make you a more productive, positive leader. If so, the simple self-help techniques discussed here can be of great assistance to you. Good luck!

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Four Ways To Optimize Your Business In 2015

Now that the year 2015 is in full swing, many business owners are excited about taking their companies to new levels of success and productivity. If this is your objective for the year, you should know that there are numerous ways that you can optimize your business including daily operations and improve your bottom line. Here are four simple strategies to start implementing today:

1. Reading – 1st Step in Optimizing Your Business

If you’re serious about optimizing your business in 2015, you should put reading at the very top of your priority list. Reading is beneficial for innumerable reasons, including that it enables you to learn about tips and tricks you can implement to make your business function more smoothly and yield greater profits. These days, many business leaders enjoy reading blogs that offer them implementable strategies that will improve their conversion rates. With this thought in mind, you may be interested in perusing the David Kiger blog. There, you can learn all types of things like how to become a better boss and the key to success when running a small business.

2. Optimize Your Business by Investing in Your Employees

One of the primary factors that determines your bottom line and conversion rates is the quality of work performed by your employers. With this idea in mind, it’s a good idea to invest in your employees such that they are in a state of constant growth that promotes productivity, personal progress, and professional development. While there are many ways that you can put this important process in motion, offering your employees opportunities to participate in ongoing trainings and educational classes is one of the most effective strategies you can implement.

3. Go Green is a Popular Way to Optimize Your Business

These days, phrases like “go green” and “environment friendly” have become more popular as many people are realizing that what we do can have a positive or negative impact on the air, land, and sea. Oftentimes, environmentally conscious individuals are much more willing to do business with companies that evince a genuine commitment to sustaining the planet. In recognizing the truth of this simple principle, it’s a good idea for you to invest in “going green.” There are many ways you can do this, such as investing in paperless technologies that save trees.

4. Throw A Corporate Party to Expand Your Success

Corporate parties are a fun, friendly way to take your business to a new level of success. Invite employees, prospective clients, and potential business partners to the party. While there, everyone will have the opportunity to relax, socialize, and learn more about the goods and products you offer. As each guest leaves, be sure to give them a promotional product that features your brand logo on it. This is a great way to build your base of loyal customers and advertise your goods and services to the general public.

Conclusion

When it comes to ensuring that your business can move forward and make a positive impact on the world, there are numerous strategies you can employ in realizing your vision to optimize your business. By using some or all of the business optimization tips and tricks outlined here, you will likely find that your company attains greater growth and development than ever.

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Optimize Your Business This Year

If you’re a business owner who wants to ensure that your company experiences ongoing improvements that translate into rising conversion rates, you should know that there are several optimization strategies you can use to make it happen. Here are two:

Invest In High Quality Legal Services.

At some point or another, most businesses will find themselves facing a legal matter. When this time comes, it’s important that you have access to high quality legal services. By working with a licensed & insured legal company like Undisputed Legal, you can attain access to court service, process servers, subpoena service, skip trace, and eviction services. To learn more about the legal services you can attain from this dynamic company, be sure to visit their website at UndisputedLegal.com.

Optimize Your Marketing Process.

No matter how wonderful your company’s goods and services are, it will be difficult to optimize your sales and boost conversion rates if people don’t know about your brand. With that idea in mind, it’s a good idea to work on optimizing your marketing process. This will mean conducting marketing research to gain a thorough understanding of who your target market is so you can devise advertising campaigns they’ll find appealing. You should also spend time determining which social media channels are the most appropriate for you to advertise through. In many cases, hiring a professional digital agency or advertising firm is the key to optimizing your marketing process.

Conclusion

Business owners who want to ensure that their companies perform exceptionally well in 2015 should know that systematically implementing proven strategies can help them do so. By using one or both of the simple, effective techniques outlined above, you can help optimize your business’s operations and see the ongoing growth that you want.

The infographic underneath holds valuable information on what you as a small business owner can expects for 2015.

2015 Small Business Industry Predictions: An Infographic

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How to Choose an Investment Company

One of the most important decisions you will make in your life is choosing a company to invest your money with. If you take this decision too lightly and choose the wrong company, it could result in you losing a large amount of money that cripples your financial future. There seems to be no shortage of companies asking for your money and promising to give you a healthy profit if you invest with them. However, all investment companies are not created equal. There are some that have a much greater track record of success than others. Using an experienced company such as Hennion and Walsh can provide you with a great return on your investment. How can you determine which companies have the best shot of investing your money wisely and which ones to stay away from? Here are some questions you should ask when deciding on which investment company to work with.
Choose a qaulity investment company

 

1. What are your certifications, credentials and licenses?

This information will give you some valuable insight into the credibility of the person you are dealing with. If you are looking for a person to handle the management of your money, you should find a registered investment advisor (RIA). A Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a certified financial planner (CFP) both use the same core curriculum in their classes. However, a CFP designation is more difficult to achieve because the person must successfully pass a comprehensive board exam. There are certified public accountants who obtain a personal financial specialist (PSF) certification so they can begin to assist people with their financial planning needs. The certification of the person handling your money should be based on your specific needs.

2. How much do you charge, and how are your fees determined?

If the investment company does not show this information on their website, and many companies do not, you need to find out detailed information regarding the company’s fee structure before you agree to do any business with them. Many companies use a complicated fee structure with a lot of additional fees added into the fine print of the agreement, so be careful who you deal with. Do they charge a percentage for assets under management? Do they charge a planning fee?

3. What is their approach to investing?

This question is important for people who prefer a specific type of investing philosophy. For example, people who like to use low-cost funds should inquire if the investment company uses passive investments or actively managed funds. Ideally, you want to work with a company that makes investments that are in line with your goals and tolerance for risk.

4. What services does the company provide?

There are some investment companies that only have employees trained to give you investment advice. However, there are other companies that provide additional advice concerning taxes, estate planning, insurance and retirement. If you will need help with other issues in addition to investing, make sure the company you choose offers these services.

5. What is their level of contact with clients?

If you are a person who wants to have frequent contact with the person handling your money, you need to determine what the company’s procedure is. Some companies only meet with their clients once a year, while others give more frequent updates, usually on a quarterly basis.

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Starting a Business is an Everlasting Gift to Yourself!

Making Christmas a Little Merrier

It’s that time of year again, filled with possibilities, as everything seems a bit brighter. As you get caught up in the spirit of giving, consider giving yourself a gift to top all others. Think about opening a business of your own. Imagine the thrill of getting up every morning and heading off to a job that is meaningful to you because you built it. Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot. Find out about a Cold Stone Franchise cost. Figure out if your basement can be converted into an office. Talk to your best buddy about those big ideas you started talking about in college. Make it happen.

icecream-franchise-business

Go For It!

When you know about your passion, you can find great happiness in life. Decide on a business that pulls at you and fills your dreams. Once you know which direction you are headed, start making plans. From choosing a space to your signage, product details, and financing, figure out all of the details. As everything falls into place, you’ll be one step closer to opening the doors.

Pick the Right People to Go with You!

You can’t do it all alone. When you have a great team by your side, you’ll find that it is much easier to make your business a success. From your accountant to a partner and employees, every piece needs to come together. Be selective and use positive references to help you in your decision making. When all is said and done, you can move forward with confidence. There’s nothing more rewarding than doing something you love and calling it your own. Whether you have come up with a new business idea or you’re going with the tried and true, do it!

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