How To Keep Customer And Client Data Secure

Small business owners will have to collect a lot of client and customer data. If you don’t keep that information secure, there is a chance your company could get into trouble. There is also a chance you might develop an adverse reputation if your brand appears in the newspapers alongside a story about hackers who stole money from consumers bank accounts. So, use the advice from this post.

Use cloud storage services

If you take a moment to check out the infographic at the bottom of this page; you should learn more about data and how you will need to use it in the coming years. Whatever information you collect, make sure you choose the most secure storage solution. That is usually the cloud.

Encrypt all private details

Companies that collect customer names, addresses and bank account details will need to make sure they encrypt all that data the moment they receive it. Failure to do that could mean a hacker breaks into your system and steals everything. That is not something you want to happen.

Hire an IT support specialist

IT support experts know how to test your system for vulnerabilities and then provide some advice designed to counteract the issues. Make sure you hire a professional and use their services if you want to guarantee you’re not missing anything vital.

Use the info from this page to make sure you never fall victim to a hacking attack that will ruin the reputation of your brand. Also, take a look at the infographic to learn more about some of the challenges your business will face in the future.


Graphic by USC Online

Tackling Your Business’s Waste Problem

With increasing regulations and a growing awareness amongst consumers, every business owner has to seriously consider the environmental impact their work has. In particular, waste is still a significant issue, but one that you can help to decrease dramatically. Here, we’re going to look at some of the greatest sources of waste in all businesses and what you can do to lessen your impact at least a little.

Paper

Paper isn’t being treated as the completely expendable commodity that it once was. This is thanks, in large part, to the growing reliance on IT. More and more businesses are turning to a paperless or near paperless model. By relying more on digital storage and backups, you can reduce the amount of paper your business uses dramatically. Not only does this cut on the costs of buying paper itself, it also saves in terms of printing costs and the storage space necessary to keep all that paper, too.

Power

Many businesses use more electricity than necessary. From vampire electricity wasted by leaving devices on standby to relying on old equipment that is far from energy efficient, you could be driving your power bills sky high. An energy audit service can help you easily see where exactly you’re using the most energy and what to do about it. Investing in question like a genset can help you cut costs, too. Many utility providers are willing to offer discounts on energy, for instance, if companies are willing to use their own genset to supplement their reliance on utilities.

Water

Water-saving faucets and toilets can drastically reduce the amount of water wasted by employees in every bathroom. However, water waste isn’t just about how much water your business uses, but how clean it is when disposed. From businesses with fleets to warehouses and construction crews, water contamination is a serious problem. Oil water separators are more than just an ethical choice, they could be an essential part of making your business compliant with environmental regulations, depending on the industry you’re in. As the business grows, make sure that you’re getting rid of waste water in the cleanest way possible.

Packaging

If you’re in retail, manufacturing, or production of any kind, consider the packaging you offer. Regular product packaging is one of the most widespread sources of plastic and paper waste, but there are eco-friendly packaging options available. You can make it much easier for your customers to recycle or reuse your products. Not only will this help tackle your ecological footprint, but it’s a very visible sign of your company’s dedication to environmentally friendly operation methods. It can be as much a part of the brand, helping to win the goodwill of your consumers.

It’s reasonable to expect that businesses will be legally required to produce less waste as time goes on. Even now, consumers are becoming more mindful of who they support and producing lots of waste can be bad for your image as far as they are concerned. Keep the tips above in mind, as it’s only going to become more important.

If You Rely On IT, You Must Know The Risks

Your IT systems can play a crucial role in helping improve productivity, make complicated processes much easier, and streamline workflow. However, the more you rely on it, the more you expand your network of devices and software, the more of a risk it can become. Rather than arguing that you should scale down your tech reliance, instead, we are going to look at how you ensure you cope with that growing reliance and stay protected.

 

Are you protected?

Every business owner, big or small, should be aware of the real security risks related to their tech. From antivirus software to ethical hacking, you need to consider what data is available on your systems and just how much of a risk it can be if that data falls into the wrong hands. The riskier it is, the more you should invest in protecting it. Studies have shown that the majority of businesses that suffer a major data breach tend to close their doors within two years, and if you lose customer data, especially financial data, you could be legally liable for their losses too.

What happens when the light goes out?

What percentage of your employees’ working day involves them using the computer as their main resource? There’s a good chance it’s more than 50%. In that case, does that mean they are 50% less productive when the power or internet goes out? Your business can suffer a huge blow due to downtime. Finding backup power sources scaled to the number of devices you need, as well as alternative internet connections such as accessible Wi-Fi dongles is essential if you don’t want that downtime to shut you down entirely.

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How do you cope with disaster?

Sometimes, a sudden event can do more than prompt downtime. A breach or a power surge can not only shut down your tech, but it can lose you significant portions of data, as well. Besides finding and preventing the risk of such disasters, strategic IT consulting can help you put a disaster recovery system in place. Such systems can help you get powered on and online much quicker, as well as ensuring that you have the data you need backed up so you are never at risk of truly losing everything.

Are you underutilizing it?

Finally, if you are scaling your tech reliance, you should also scale what you get in return for it. For instance, think about the data your systems produce. These can provide essential insights into the productivity of the team, the efficiency of your tech, and much more. Big Data consultants can help you find these insights and provide the answers to questions such as how to make your team more engaged and how to increase end-user adoption of new software, amongst many other things.

There are risks involved in relying more heavily on any one resource within the business. The more you rely on it, the more of a potential weakness it becomes. Ensure you give those weaknesses the time and thought they deserve and safeguard your business.

All The Signs That Your Business May Not Be As Strong As You Think

Are you sure that your business is doing as well as what you think it is? Sure, it can be quite difficult to tell when you are busy all the time trying to run the company; you could find that there is no time for you to take a step back and review your business objectively.

If things aren’t going quite so well, though, there are often some telltale signs that start to crop up. These following ones are some of the signs that happen in the early stages of a failing business. Do you recognise some in your own business? If so, it may be time to find some solutions!

You’re Repeating Mistakes

Entrepreneurs need to learn from their mistakes quickly and move on. And that’s nothing to worry about – we all make the odd mistake from time to time. However, if you seem to be continually making the same mistake without realizing it, then there could be an underlying issue with your company. So, it’s important that you try to get to the bottom of repeated mistakes as soon as you can. Otherwise, it could spell the end for your business.

Your IT Is Outdated

IT and tech are incredibly important to companies these days, no matter which of industry or sector they are in. Does your IT infrastructure appear to be struggling? It could be because it is dated. If this is the case, it’s worth finding a company that offers managed IT services and can help you update all your tech. Not doing this could damage your company’s productivity and efficiency, which won’t help you keep up with competitors.

You’re Struggling To Pay The Monthly Bills

There’s no denying that financial problems within your business are not a good sign. If you find that you are scrabbling around for money at the end of the month to pay all your bills and employee wages, there will certainly be some urgent improvements that need to be made. Simply reviewing and altering your budget could help you see areas in which you can save money. Otherwise, now might be the time to try and source some new investment.

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The Employee Turnover Rate Is Really High

Unhappy employees are going to jump ship very quickly. If you replace these employees without improving the company, then the new hires will also leave not long after they have arrived. So, take a look at your business through the eyes of your employees and see how things could improve. Perhaps you just need to offer regular reviews or make sure you focus more on employee well-being?

The Media Aren’t Interested In Your Business

There needs to be constant chatter surrounding your business. If the media aren’t talking about you, and no one is mentioning your brand on social media, then there is something wrong. Thankfully, an effective PR campaign can often fix this.

Fingers crossed that none of these problems affect your company for too long and that you can get back on the road to success!

Tackle Your Tech Future for Smarter Business Planning

Your business needs to have a plan when it comes to technology. Without a plan, you could forget to review and update the technology you use. This could lead to your company getting left behind your competitors, or you could end up wasting money on outdated tech and things that aren’t working. You might be wondering about the best way to approach planning your business’s tech future. There are several important factors that you should think about if you want to be sure of the best outcomes. You need to know what your company’s requirements are and what you should be doing to develop your technology at a pace that suits it.

Match Your Tech to Your Company Goals

Your company’s overall goals should affect your decision making in different areas. You need to keep them in mind when you’re deciding who to hire, how to market your products, and what sort of clients you’re looking for. Technology is another area that should be informed by your company’s goals and your hopes for the future. You need to consider what your goals are and how technology can help you achieve them. How will your choices in software and hardware support the things you need to do?

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Work Out Technology Requirements

You should think about your essential technology needs before you consider anything else. Everyone has a minimum level of tech that their business relies on to carry out day-to-day activities. From a computer for each member of staff to the right choice in accounting software, you have to think about what will keep your business ticking. Thinking back to your goals, you also need to make a technology plan that will meet your requirements as your business grows. Don’t just consider what you need now, but also how your needs will change in the future.

Ensure You Have Professional Help

Working out the trajectory of your technology development can be tricky if you don’t know much about tech. If you want to avoid feeling baffled and giving up, you need to get some professional help. By hiring IT consultants, you can ensure you have a plan for what your business tech will look like in the future. They can help you with life cycle planning for your hardware and software. This can help your tech to last longer and ensure you have a plan in place when it’s time to update. Professionals can make recommendations so that you can make better decisions.

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Photo source at Pxhere

Have a Technology Budget

Money is, of course, important when you’re thinking about the future of your business tech. You can’t afford to perform every single technology update available, especially when some of them aren’t going to benefit your business. You need to create a budget for your technology, including buying new software and hardware, as well as paying for any services that might be useful to help keep your company’s tech running.

Don’t just make changes to your business technology as you go. Create a roadmap to get a better idea of what the future will look like.

Devious Dealings: Handling An Errant Employee Properly

Providing a comprehensive security in your business isn’t just relegated to your IT infrastructure, you have to consider the human aspects too. There are some industries where this can be low down on the priority list. But, there are personal issues that are very difficult for a business to deal with. An errant employee, either one who isn’t pulling their weight, or is even committing fraudulent activities on site, is something that every entrepreneur and business owner can have a struggle with. Firstly, it reflects poorly on the business if any employee does anything to undermine the company, but also, dealing with the person can be a very sticky situation. So, generally, how can you deal with the person, but also, how can you make sure that this doesn’t happen again?

Astute Observation

For something like an employee committing fraudulent activities on site, you need to make sure you gather enough evidence. Nowadays, there are so many different approaches to collecting this data, there are companies like WesTec Services that provide video security, so you can see exactly what is going on. On top of this, if the offending employee knows how to cover their tracks, you may need to spend a lot more time developing more sophisticated ways to keep tabs. You have to be very careful when amassing evidence, because if you are accusing someone of something that they will flat out deny, whether it’s a criminal offence, or if it’s something relating to their personal attitude towards the work, you need to ensure that you can display this evidence clearly before progressing with any form of punishment or feedback.

The Punishment Matches The Crime

For something like criminal behavior, it’s more clear cut; it’s usually an instant dismissal. But when it comes to making sure that the person who isn’t pulling their weight in a business is adequately punished, this is where semantics is best discussed. Especially, with regards to HR rules and regulations, you need to make sure that you are developing the member of staff appropriately, and not punishing them needlessly. Learning and development, as well as constructive criticism are things that will help, but also, implementing specific deadlines can be something to ensure that they are taking the feedback seriously. This is why quarterly reviews and one-to-one sessions are so beneficial now.

Give A Clear Message

It’s a very overused sentiment, using someone else “as an example”, but it’s important that you give a message to the other members of staff who are going down this slippery slope. For something like criminal activity, an instant firing can give the right message to the employees, but for those employees who are underperforming, using someone as an example is certainly a great way to make sure all that other workers are performing to standard. In addition to this, this communicates to clients and people outside of the company that you have a handle on dealing with these types of employees appropriately.

It’s very difficult from the perspective of a business owner, because you have your own reputation as well as your business’s reputation to maintain. You don’t want these types of employees to show up your company, and this is why you have to have something in place that deals with these errant types effectively.

Why Entrepreneurs Should Outsource IT

When it comes to managing a business in the modern world, there is no getting away from the fact that most entrepreneurs will rely on IT to keep their operation moving forward. That means those people have to decide between employing computer specialists in-house or outsourcing the job to professionals. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the reasons the latter option is most suitable. With a bit of luck, anyone who reads this post will have no doubts left in their mind about the value of outsourcing IT and why it’s vital to the success of their venture. There are hundreds of specialist firms out there just waiting to jump into action on behalf of your brand.

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Reason 1: Outsourcing IT saves money

Firstly, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that outsourcing IT services is going to save your company a lot of money. That is because you might only need assistance from your chosen partner a couple of times each month. So, it doesn’t make sense to employ someone in-house who will spend most of their working day twiddling their thumbs. Instead, you should entrust the task to an established and experienced brand with an excellent track record. Not only will you save money on wages, but you will also ensure you minimize any downtime.

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Reason 2: Outsourcing IT boosts productivity

Companies that offer managed IT services can help your venture to become more productive overnight. That is because those experts will conduct assessments and make recommendations based on your use of computer technology. There is a reasonable chance the specialists working for your chosen brand will come up with ideas that will assist you in reducing workloads and boosting profits. For example, they might tell you to use a new automated software package that removes the need for data entry.

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Reason 3: Outsourcing IT protects your company

No business owner knows when their company might fall victim to a hacking attack. There are hundreds of thousands of expert cybercriminals out there just waiting to penetrate your system and steal your most valuable documents. IT specialists understand the risks you face more than most, and they’re always willing to take a look at the protections you have in place, and then make recommendations on how you can improve and ensure hacking never becomes a problem. IT professionals will develop disaster recovery strategies for your employees to follow too!

Now you know about some of the primary reasons you should think about outsourcing IT this year; it’s time to speak to your trusted managers and team leaders so you can come up with a plan for the future. When it comes to discovering the best IT company, ensure you read as many reviews and testimonials as possible online. Some firms are better than others, and you need the best minds in the industry if you want the desired outcomes. Reading what clients thought about the service in the past should give you an indication of whether or not they were satisfied with the experience.