Casting the Net Wider: Reach More People Today

If your business has a core group of customers but struggles to reach people further afield, you have a clear problem. It’s impossible to grow and expand a business when it’s stuck in a very tight niche. You need to find ways of casting the net wider and reaching more people if you want to make your business bigger and better. When you do this, you mustn’t forget your core customers who provide the business with its base.

Broaden the Scope of Your Brand

The very first thing to do is broaden the overall scope of your brand. If people see your business as only being for a certain kind of consumer, they will be unlikely to even listen to what you have to say. That’s why you need to actively demonstrate how the business is changing and why this matters to your customers. Set up a marketing campaign that is directly aimed at people who have never used your business before. Confound their expectations and brand your business differently. On top of that, you will have to start selling things that have a broader appeal.

Be More Open and Communicative

Being open and communicative about your business is really important at times when you are trying to branch out and reach new people. If your business is closed off and not open to new people, it’s unlikely to do very well at all. So, to ensure your business doesn’t fall behind and lost traction, you should make sure your business has a presence in social media. And when you interact with people on these platforms, make sure you’re open and willing to be humorous. When you do that, more people will see the human side of your business.

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Improve Your Website and Make Sure Content is Optimized

You’ll need to build a new website for your company if you want to make sure that it has the online presence required of modern businesses. If you run a construction company, this is just as true as if you run a tech startup. People often forget that all kinds of businesses need this strong online presence. There are companies that offer general contractor website design services if you do run that kind of business. But no matter what type of business you run, make sure the website is modern, easy to find and easy to use. You should also post content on there that is fully optimized to improve your SEO ranking.

Build Trust Over Time

Trust is important when it comes to the relationships between customers and businesses. If people don’t trust your brand, they won’t trust what it says or what it offers. So, it’s really important that you aim to build trust over time and don’t take customers for granted. It will be a slow process, so don’t expect to see instant results overnight. It simply won’t happen like that. Be prepared to prove your business is changing and appealing to more people. Eventually, the change will happen and people will begin to recognize it as well.

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Small Business & Theft: Where Does It All Go Wrong?

When you run a small business, it’s hard to imagine that your company could be a target for thieves. After all, why would they be interested in a tiny, small business – what could you possibly have that they want? Well, the truth is that as a small business, you are at a significant amount of risk from theft. And, it can come from almost any direction. In today’s guide, I thought we would take a look at the areas of your business that need protection from thieves. Let’s crack on and start reducing the risks of theft to your company.

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Mundo Resnik

The opportunist

Burglars are opportunistic in the vast majority of cases. They might spot an open window from a distance, and be in and out of your premises in a matter of minutes. You won’t even notice until you realize half your equipment is missing. While alarm systems and cameras can help, they won’t reduce your risk from theft entirely. You also need to make staff aware of their responsibilities. Windows should be kept closed whenever anyone leaves a room. And it’s the same principle for doors – lock them up if they aren’t in use. Finally, make sure employees know to report any sightings of strangers or suspicious activity.

The copycat

Whether you are a musician or a content creator, what you produce should be yours by law. Sadly, piracy, copyright issues, and intellectual property theft are rife these days. Your best bet to protect yourself is to be proactive rather than reactive. Use a professional service that can help you identify issues as soon as they occur. According to DMCA Takedown, you need fast, comprehensive and efficient counter-strikes against copyright infringement.

The insider

An astonishing amount of thefts from businesses are inside jobs. So, while you might trust your employees implicitly, it’s still important to perform checks every once in awhile. Don’t leave temptation lying around, either. The sight of money, for example, can be incredibly enticing for any employee who is going through financial hardship. Debt problems can also lead to people making desperate decisions – and they may even fall victim of blackmailers.

The Cyberthief

Of course, these days your business will have a lot of valuable information about your customers, either onsite or in an external server. Don’t underestimate how enticing this data is to hackers and thieves. Personal details, financial information and anything else you store as data can be used in a multitude of wicked ways. And the truth is that even with the highest security, and an experienced hacker can break into your system. The trick is to make it as hard as possible, and hope they will give up and find a weaker target. Make sure all your systems are locked down enough to deter all but the most determined cybercriminal.

The shady customer

Finally, it’s also important to know who you are dealing with. Fraud, embezzlement, forgery, counterfeiting – all are big problems in business. Make sure you are aware of all these issues and learn how to spot them as best you can.

 

 

 

 

 

Make Your #Website More User-Friendly Today

The website is one of the most important ingredients of any business’ success. These days, a website is utterly vital if you want your business to succeed in the long run. Not only is it one of the most effective forms of marketing. It also acts as a useful communication tool between you and your customers and potential clients. The fact is, the state of your website says a lot about your business as a whole. There are many qualities that a website needs to have, and it can take time developing them all. Arguably the most important, however, is that it is user-friendly. This simply means that your customers will have an easy time using the website. As long as that is the case, you can be sure that the website is doing its job. But how can you be sure? Let’s take a look at how to make your website more user-friendly today.

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Keep Content Concise

No matter what content you have on your website, you should aim to keep it as concise as possible. This works for a number of reasons. Above all, it is because people tend to digest long content poorly. What you want is to draw your customers in quickly and keep them there. Shorter, snappier content is much more effective for this than longer, drawn-out pieces. Your customers will also find it a lot easier to deal with when they are visiting your site.

Allow Easy Navigation

To tell the truth, the fewer separate pages you have on your website, the better. Increasingly, websites are adopting fewer and fewer pages in order to streamline their message. This partly explains the increasing popularity of blogs over traditional websites. When it comes to designing your business’ website, it is a great idea to keep the pages down and the navigation simple. Allowing for easy navigation makes it much more likely that people will stay for longer. They will also get less frustrated, and that is no bad thing.

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Prioritise Security

If your website offers a payment system, then you need to be a little careful about it. You should always be sure to prioritize your customers’ safety and security in these matters. It is unfortunately common for details to be stolen. This can then lead to fraud and theft, and nobody wants to experience that. Use a high risk credit card processing system to ensure your customers’ security.

Be Kind With Their Time

As a final note, remember the importance to your customers of their personal time. Whatever you do, don’t take time away from them with a clunky website with no real content. If your business is to have a website, make sure that it is actually worthwhile. Keep it updated with interesting and relevant content. Make it attractive, and the kind of site people want to return to. This is more important than you might think. As long as your website is interesting, people are likely to return at much higher rates. That means great things for your business.

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Make #Identity Theft Protection a Priority in Your Life

Whether you run a business or are just an everyday consumer, you likely have a lot going on in your life. So, do you have time to stop and fight off an identity theft thief or two? In most cases, the answer will be a resounding no.

Unfortunately, that is not always a choice you get to have. As many American companies and consumers for that matter have discovered (especially in recent times), identity theft is a real and persistent problem.

With that being the case, what can you do to stem the tide, keeping identity theft thieves at arm’s length?

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Have a Comprehensive Plan in Place

In order to put up a shield against identity theft, you first need a protection plan in place.

For starters, take the time and effort to review the best ID protection on the market. While there are various products and services out there, don’t automatically settle for something if you feel like you could do better, but you don’t feel as if you have the time or money to explore more in-depth.

There are services out there that will review the different I.D. theft protection companies and their various products, allowing you to make a more informed selection when all is said and done.

Once you have your protection plan ready to go and ultimately installed, the next great task is making sure you are still being as cognizant as possible about the threat that is out there.

Whether you run your own business all by yourself, have employees on your team, or you’re just a simple consumer looking peace of mind when it comes to identity theft, you have a responsibility of your own (actually more than one) when it comes to fending off I.D. theft thieves.

These responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring your lifestyle – Yes, while a protection plan provider will watch your credit card/bank/online activities, look for any suspicious behavior etc. you still have a responsibility on your own (see more below). Remember, such a service can only do so much 24/7/365, so that’s where you come in. Be sure to be careful when using credit cards out in public, hopping on the Internet for business or pleasure, traveling and using computer servers you can’t with 100 percent certainty say are safe etc. And if you think your health records are off limits and/or of little or no interest to I.D. theft thieves, think again. Getting their hands on such information can be to them like striking gold, allowing them to gather up large swaths of personal data to then turn around and sell;
  • Being an educated consumer or business owner – As mentioned a moment ago, you have to take on some degree of responsibility in protecting your identity, especially as it relates to your financial well-being. For example, if you go out to eat, don’t leave a credit card sitting on the table by itself for even a moment. The same holds true when it comes to receipts. If you are traveling and relying on a computer already set up in your hotel in say a business office or lobby area, do not do any work on it involving your bank account, Social Security account, work files that include customer data etc. You likely can’t say with 100 percent certainty that the server there is protected, so why take a chance on exposing personal data?
  • Investing in your financial future – Finally, stop for a moment and think about how just one successful I.D. theft strike against you or your business (if you have one) could financially devastate you for years to come. While you may not be able to say that you have 100 percent protection in place, you can come pretty darn close to feeling that you do. When you have a company providing you with protection, along with making sure you are doing all the right things, you are investing in your financial future. Also make sure if you have a family that they too utilize smart financial practices in the home and when outside of it. This is especially important in not only protecting you, but also your children.

If you have not taken identity theft all that seriously up to this point, change that mindset as you move forward.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.

How Secure Are Your Online Activities?

online_securityFor today’s business owner, he or she has much to concern themselves with, not the least of which is making sure their online activities are as secure as can be.

As news details make note of on what seems like a monthly basis, one reads of this company or that company being hacked. When that happens, the company’s brand can take a temporary or permanent hit.

With that in mind, what are you doing to best secure your company’s online activities?

Better yet, what are you not doing to secure online movements?

From Paper to Online, Security is a Must

With many smaller businesses (notably medical practices) going from paper to online to manage their documents, it is imperative that they secure their websites.

While there are numerous means by which a small business can better secure its online activities, here are a few that should never be taken for granted:

  • Server protection – First and foremost, make sure the server your small business uses is as fully protected as possible. If your server provider can’t guarantee security is the number one priority for them, look elsewhere. A weak server is a ticking time bomb, just waiting to be set-off by cyber-criminals;
  • Employees’ matter – One of your best lines of defense in keeping your company protected against hackers is your employees. Whether you have a staff of just a few a few or several dozen, emphasize the importance of Internet security with your team. As you navigate from the paper trail to basing all your documents online, it is important that your workers understand how sensitive the information is, let alone how secure it can and should be online. From the day they are hired, employees should be reminded the importance of maintaining online privacy for customers, especially for those businesses in the medical field. Making sure patient data remains private is essential to the integrity of one’s practice. When an employee leaves your business, be sure to change their computer log-in details immediately, preventing them or anyone else from accessing company files online;
  • Role of the customer – Whether your customers are patients or just regular shoppers, there is a role for them to play too when it comes to securing online data. Individuals should always assume that someone could be watching their Internet activities, so plan accordingly. Don’t leave sensitive data online for others to see. An example of this would be going to a public facility (library, coffee shop, campus building etc.) and leaving a laptop unattended for even a minute. In that short span of time, someone will ill intentions could easily gather up a credit card number, Social Security number, bank account I.D., PIN etc. and be gone. When that happens, the individual whose information was swiped can be in for a rude financial awakening. Also try to be as sure as possible that you are working off of a secure server. If you are using a laptop computer while on the road for business or pleasure, do not just assume that the server is 100 percent safe. Due to this, it is advisable not to be entering any sensitive personal data (financial, medical etc.) until you get back home or to your office where you feel more comfortable with the server security capabilities;
  • Social media safety – Finally, more and more companies are using social media not only to learn more about what is going on in their respective industries, but also to communicate with clients. In doing so, it is critical that one’s social networking time is spent wisely. Companies (and customers for that matter) should never give out any private information over social channels. While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. allow members to essentially lock-down their profiles (this way only those they choose can see what they are posting), hackers have been known to work their way into accounts. With this in mind, personal and financial information should only be transmitted through secure email channels and/or over the phone or regular mail.

In checking to see how secure your online activities are, always assume that someone is watching.

When you do that, you’re more inclined to practice online safety.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers technology and business topics on the web.

Don’t Help Identity Thieves Steal Your Information

online_securityWhether you run a business or are simply just consumers doing his or her everyday shopping, do you ever worry about identity theft thieves interrupting your life?

Unfortunately, it happens more times than people like to think of.

When identity theft hits, it can be one of the most disruptive thing in an individual’s life.

That said are you taking the necessary precautions to lower the odds of becoming the next victim?

Don’t Help Identity Theft Thieves in the Process

One of the things identity theft thieves like the most is when individuals (and or businesses) make their jobs easier for them.

How might people do just that?

In the end, it comes down to not practicing commonsense, especially when it comes to financial and personal information.

Make sure you are not giving out personal and/or financial details that I.D. theft thieves can then take and use against you.

This includes:

  1. Computer gaffes – The most obvious way identity theft thieves target and strike their prey is via the Internet, so watch your digital footprints carefully. This means not leaving a trail of personal and financial data a mile long. An example of this would be someone using a site to purchase a product or service from. They think the site is safe and secure, but it turns out that is certainly not the case. As a result, they’ve given the identity theft thief or thieves’ a green light to steal from them. Be as sure as you can possibly be that the site you are (see more below) on (Ecommerce stores, airline or rental car sites, banks and other financial institutions, medical offices etc.) is as secure as possible. Once your information has been compromised, it can lead to all sorts of personal and/or financial headaches. Turning to products such as ultimate plus service from LifeLock and others like them can make all the difference in the world;
  2. In-person stumbles – How many times have you been out in public, only to turn around and leave items such as a credit or bank debit card sitting around for all the world to see? Remember, it just takes an I.D. theft thief mere minutes or even seconds to strike. Before you know it, he or she has your numbers from a card or cards. Once they get that information, they can then in turn use it against you. Also never loan your credit or debit card (or other such item) to friends to use. Sure, you may think you are helping someone out in a pinch, but once again, this act of generosity can come back to haunt you. If someone you know needs short-term financial assistance, offer to take care of it for them with your credit or debit card or loan them cash. Never just hand over on your financial cards and tell them to give it back to you when they are done with it;
  3. Being overly social – Another error waiting to happen is being overly social on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and others. While being active on social media can benefit you both professionally and personally, it does have its potential downfalls too. Be careful not to spill the beans about your financial practices when using any social media venues. More and more identity theft thieves are camping out on social sites, hoping that someone is a little too chatty or careless on them. When that occurs, a thief can strike at a moment’s notice. If someone requests you download something from a social media site, proceed with extreme caution. The only time you should ever consider downloading something off of a social media site is if you feel 100 percent confident it isn’t an item containing malware and/or the person or site requesting a download is one you trust entirely. Given how creative I.D. theft thieves have become, use your best judgment to lessen the odds you are primed to be their next victim.

Your personal information is just that, personal.

Don’t let a criminal or criminals put one over on you both online and off of it. 

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers financial and business topics on the web.

 

 

#Cybersecurity: Are You Keeping Your Business Safe?

cybersecurityDo you stay awake at night worrying that your business website could be hacked at any moment?

The answer to that question is hopefully a resounding no, though many business owners know otherwise.

Cyber-attacks are unfortunately here and not going anywhere anytime soon.

With that being the case, what your business does to keep a step ahead of cyber-criminals can mean the difference between running a healthy business and overseeing one on the brink of disaster.

Say No to Cyber-Criminals

As reports have shown in recent years, cyber-attacks against businesses have not only been notable in terms of the names of the companies, but also financially costly.

For those individuals running smaller companies that do not get the limelight of the bigger brands, avoid the mentality of thinking it can’t happen to you. In fact, smaller businesses are oftentimes targeted because cyber-criminals have the impression that the smaller brands will not invest as much time and money into online security.

With that being the thought, how can your business pass the test in staying safe and maintaining customer faith?

Some of the practices you should be deploying include:

  • Employee awareness – It is crucial that you and your employees are on the same page when it comes to protecting your online data. While there are a number of measures to be put in place, it is your employees who prove to be the first line of defense. That said it is those same workers who must be trusted upon to carry out their duties without any criminal aspirations of their own. Unfortunately, data theft by cyber-criminals from within the company is certainly not unheard of. Think about it; employees have much better access to company data (including that of your customers) and more ease with which to obtain it. In some cases, it can be a recipe for disaster. Employees should be forewarned from the day they are hired that your business treats company data and that of your customers with the utmost importance and integrity. In the event an employee compromises company data, not only should they be susceptible to being disciplined and/or fired, but they could be subject to criminal prosecution. When you send the right message to employees from their first day on the job until their last, you decrease the chances of one or more of them considering doing something illegal;
  • Customer trust – In the event that your business is the victim of a cyber-attack, it is oftentimes how you react that will determine whether customers stay with you or head for the hills. Let customers know immediately how you are dealing with their personal data being compromised. If they are impacted financially, what will you do to reimburse them? What plan will be put into motion to prevent this from ever happening again? As bad as a cyber-attack is for the business owner, the customer whose data has been stolen is worse off. Let he or she know that you are on top of things and working for a fast resolution;
  • Not repeating this mistake – While it is hard to guarantee with 100 percent certainty that your business will never fall victim to cyber-attacks, learning from them (should they happen to you or other businesses) can prove quite educational. One practice you should be focusing on is seeing how other businesses defend themselves against such attacks. From having a quality server provider to being haphazard with customer data, it is typically the commonsense practices that will keep you and your brand safe. Just as you hopefully learn from marketing campaigns that fail or hiring an employee with a certain fault, you should also learn from the cyber-attacks you witness either firsthand or from afar.

With all the trials and tribulations that come with running a business in today’s super competitive world, keeping your brand safe from cyber-criminals has to be a top priority.

If it is not, you run the risk of losing customers and ultimately money.

Be proactive and always work to stay one step ahead of those looking to ruin all that you have worked so hard to build.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.