7 Essential Tips to Protect Your Business against Hackers

Hackers can cause serious issues for a workplace and the issues they present are more dangerous than ever before. So, how do you ensure your business has it right when it comes to protecting itself from the wrongs that hackers do – we take a closer look.

Be Aware

Know what the current hacking threats are in today’s society. If you know what could happen, then you might be able to keep your website from invasion. There are sites online that will help you stay informed; The Hacker News is one such site. Take what you learn and then use that information to be extra careful going forward.

Make Access Control Strong

If a hacker is able to gain access to your website’s admin level, they will have a lot of information at their fingertips. Make sure that user names and passwords are set up so that they are strong and cannot be infiltrated. Also, your database prefix should be set automatically to “wp6.” Make it different so that someone will have a hard time figuring it out. If a user incorrectly attempts to get access to the site a certain number of times in a certain period of time, lock them out. Finally, do not give login information over email in case a hacker is able to get into the user’s email account. Setting up a workspace professionally can have notable benefits in this regard.

Keep Things Current

Software companies lose money when they provide updates. Therefore, when they do release an update, it is because it provides valuable information. Many people still do not install these updates right away, however. Sometimes the update is related to a security issue, which means that not installing the update leaves you vulnerable. Hackers have the ability to search many websites in a short period of time, trying to find a way to get into them. Also, hackers talk. If one finds his way in, others will, too.

Install Apps for Security

While WAF is better, there are security applications available that can make a difference. There are some that do not cost any money and others that you need to pay a fee for. You can even get plugins at no cost that will make the identity of your CMS invisible, like the one Acunetix WP Security has released. This tool helps you avoid hackers that go through the Internet, searching for certain WordPress sites that they can get into.

Make Admin Pages Invisible

Search engines should not be able to index your admin pages. Therefore, the robots_txt file will make it less likely that search engines will put them up. When they are indexed, they are easier to locate. If you want to do this for your site, check out this guide from SEObook.com.

Keep File Uploads to a Minimum

File uploads are a problem. Even if the system really looks through them, there can still be a bug that gives a hacker an “in” to your site. In order to avoid this, do not allow direct access to uploaded files. Instead, put them somewhere other than the root directory. Utilize a script to get to them when you need to. Your web host can assist you with this process.

Back Up Often

Sometimes, you can do everything right and still have a problem. Do your best to back up your work as often as possible. Back up in many different places as well. You don’t want to lose something that you worked hard on.

9 Factors To Keep In Mind When Buying Bookkeeping Software

Selecting the right bookkeeping software for your business is essential. Not only can a good accounting program help you keep on top of your company’s bookkeeping tasks but it can also help you plan for the future by allowing you to track inventory and make accurate forecasts.
By keeping the following factors in mind when choosing a program, you should be able to find the perfect software for your needs.

Types Of Accounting Software
The market is filled with different programs designed to help businesses of all sizes tackle their accounting. These programs usually fit into one of four different categories including:

Payroll and Accounting Software for Small Businesses
Countless different bookkeeping programs are designed specifically to address common accounting tasks that are faced by small businesses. Programs like Quickbooks and Sage have a strong record of success in the UK market.

Cloud-Based Bookkeeping Programs
Cloud-based programs are rapidly growing in popularity. In fact, they are even poised to overtake traditional accounting programs in terms of the number of businesses that use them. One of the most appealing aspects of these programs is that they allow business owners to access their financial records from anywhere as long as they can get online. For instance, imagine how convenient it would be to be able to use your Apple Watch to log in and view your Xero records.

Software for Business Management
For large-scale businesses that have more complex accounting needs, business management programs are a good solution. These programs provide detailed tracking of your financial records, as well as information on inventory, customer relationship management, and the ability to work with multiple currencies.

Free Programs
Although there are a number of different free accounting programs available, they should be used with caution. In most cases, these software programs are too basic to be of much value to a business. They also may restrict the number of transactions that you can perform before upgrading to a paid package. Additionally, these programs rarely allow you to build a database of your customers.

Most cloud-based programs are not purchased outright. Instead, the business pays a monthly fee to access the program and to receive technical support if they need it. Other types of software programs are usually paid for up front. In some cases, they may also require a once-a-year fee.
Typically, software companies put out several different versions of each program to cater to a variety of different businesses. These program variations usually also have different price points. Be sure to compare software companies since there can often be a large difference in price for the same services.

Business Size
You will need to choose software that is designed to work with your business, regardless of its current size.
According to Pro Back Office some packages like SageOne are geared toward small businesses while others like Xero can handle much larger businesses.
For businesses that deal with particularly complicated situations, business management software like Exchequer is usually a good choice. You may also need to have a software program custom designed for your business.

Access to Your Financial Records

Cloud-based software programs like Xero allow you to access your records from anywhere. They also allow multiple people to access the records at the same time, meaning that you and your accountant can view them simultaneously. If you don’t need this type of remote access, however, you can probably get by with a traditional accounting program like Quickbooks.

Ease of Use

Look for bookkeeping programs that offer a free trial period. Downloading these programs and giving them a try can help you get a sense of how easy they are to use. If any of the programs are too complex, you can simply choose a different program without having made a large investment. Be sure to try programs from a few different companies to determine which one is best for your needs.

5 Surefire Ways to Kill Your Small Business

Opening a small business comes with its own set challenges. While many people are aware of what it is they should be doing in order to achieve small business success, many do not know what it is they should not be doing.

Though many small business owners are doing everything they have been told to do, they are unaware that they are also doing things that are hindering their business’s growth, effectively stunting it, as everything they are doing wrong is negating everything they are doing right.

In order to give your small business its best chance at success, it is important to make sure you are unintentionally doing anything that might be hurting your business’s growth.
Here are 5 things that could be killing your small business:

  1. Hiring Too Quickly
    Many small businesses make the mistake of hiring too many employees too quickly. Many business founders tend to jump the gun too quickly in that once their business begins to grow, they hire more people than necessary, spending more money than their business is actually bringing in each quarter.
    Instead, businesses should hire when it is absolutely necessary. One of the best ways to utilize employees effectively is to invest in the right type of software and business tools that can help your business run efficiently without overspending on employees. As a spa and salon owner, for example, look into spa software instead of looking to hire a receptionist. You will be saving money on your overhead costs while still offering customers the same customer service.
  2. Borrowing Money Too Soon
    While having cash flow is essential to a business’s success, borrowing money from lenders too soon can leave your business in the red within a few months. Businesses that borrow too much too soon tend to run out of money quicker than those that work on a small budget. Moreover, the more you borrow, the more interest you will have to pay back. And, the earlier you borrow, the more interest you will acquire.
  3. Relying on Your Business Plan to Make Sales
    Businesses do need business plans, for they not only structure the way a business anticipates it will run, it also is a necessary asset when dealing with loan officers and investors. However, a business plan will need to be adjusted as the business progresses. Assuming the plan will remain true and relevant a few months into the business can kill your business. Putting your plan into action will require changes, for once your business is up and running, you will begin to see areas in your plan that need to be amended.
  4. Focusing Too Much on Image
    Many small businesses fall into the trap of trying to keep up with the big players in the industry. Focusing too much on the business’s image can actually hurt your business, as you are spending unnecessary money trying to impress clients and potential investors. Instead, be transparent and focus more on the products and services your business provides. Businesses that try to impress their clients by having a fancy office and splurging on expensive business dinners can end up losing so much money they eventually have to fold. As a small business, it is okay to run like a small business. Focus on your profits, your revenues, and offering your clients the best service they can get, as this is what is truly important to establishing your business as a successful competitor.
  5. Not Marketing Your Company Effectively
    One of the biggest mistakes small business can make is not putting in enough effort into marketing their business. Regardless of your size and budget, there are always simple and cost-efficient ways to market your company. By not putting in the effort to get your business name out into the industry, you are effectively shutting your business doors before they even get a chance to fully open. Take time to market your business to your target audience. Use social media to your advantage. Use email marketing. Send out fliers. There are a myriad of ways you can market your business without blowing your budget.

By avoiding these 5 errors, you can give your business its best chance at being successful..

Risk Management

Regardless of the type of firm that you run, business risk is inherent.

It is unavoidable and it must be identified and managed correctly. As they say, if it can go wrong, it will go wrong!

The best business managers see the risks and take precautions, but they also consider the relationship between risk and reward.

Businesses take risks all the time including launching new products, entering new markets, or hiring a new team. Without a certain degree of risk a business will stagnate and soon be overtaken by its competitors.

When it comes to risk management, you should be clear on what your objectives are. Without this you cannot identify which risks are worth taking. Every business needs to leave space for innovation but those innovative ideas must also come within the bounds of the firm’s risk appetite.

It is worth taking the time to identify the risks to your business by creating a risk register. In creating your risk register you should consider factors such as operations, finance, staff, capability, customers, market share, regulation, compliance and so forth. The risk register should be updated on a regular basis – ideally as and when new risks become apparent.

Once you have created your register, you then need to put measures in place to reduce the major risks to your business. You should also prepare a contingency plan which creates a roadmap for dealing with particular risks and guides your team through the necessary steps to minimise the overall threat to the business.

When creating strategic business plans for your firm, you should consult the firm’s risk register and try to build risk minimisation factors into your plan. You can also build a strategy that is compelling given the firm’s appetite for risk generally. No matter whether your business is high or low risk, you should expect the unexpected and plan for when things go wrong.

Engaging Employees through listening

Engaging your employees is very important if you want to keep them on board.
The traditional reward for good performance is a pay rise and while most employees would welcome this, managers need to give that little bit extra to particularly strong employees. Pay rises might boost performance for a period of time, but they don’t tend to generate sustained levels of engagement from your team.
Sometimes managers think that because they aren’t hearing much from their employees that everything is fine. However, this generally isn’t the case. Perhaps your employees are either scared to approach management to discuss issues or are quite passive and they don’t really care anymore. Either way they are not engaged or energised in their work. If you want your employees to go the extra mile for you, then you need to give them support.

When it comes to engaging with your employees, the ability to listen is key. Listening is defined as the act of hearing attentively, or to hear with intention. It is not just nodding along while half concentrating on what the other person is saying. If listening is so powerful, then why do so many businesses and their managers do so little of it when it comes to listening to employees?

The ability to listen is a very powerful asset. The best managers and business executives don’t necessarily have all the answers. Often, the ideas they employ are not their own. However by listening to their people and choosing the best ideas produced by their team, they can make decisions that can potentially move the whole business forward.
Very often, the people who are considered to be the best communicators are the ones who listen to others. Why is this? Maybe it is because people like listeners, and leaders who are great listeners are often great leaders. Employees want to know that their voices are heard, and that they matter to the firm. Nothing is more frustrating for employees than to come to work in a place where they are treated like a number.

The untapped resources and ideas locked in the hearts and minds of employees could be worth a lot to your business.
A great manager or leader is the one who unlocks and taps into the brilliant minds of their employees by listening

Marketing Messages – Getting to the point!

Regardless of the type of business that you run, your customers will have one thing in common. As a result of technology, they are bombarded by marketing messages. Customers are more time-poor than ever before so if you want your marketing communications to stand out, you should consider cutting down the length of your messages and getting to the point.
Identify the message that matters most and make sure it’s memorable. Marketers have known for decades that there’s value in identifying and driving home the most important point or benefit. It goes all the way back to when the best businesses began to identify their unique selling proposition (USP) for every client.
The difference today is the way that viewers and readers consume media. Today’s reader or viewer is overwhelmed with an astounding number of media choices and channels. In fact, consumers are exposed to so many messages that they notice fewer of them. Here are a few tips to help you get your point across.

Focus on what is most relevant to your customers – Focus on what your target audience see first and outline what is most important and relevant to them. Avoid the temptation to use that first impression to deliver what you or the management team finds most interesting, unless you’re also the target audience.

Write active rather than passive sentences – Active sentences are more vigorous and put more life into the message. Here’s an example: “We deliver shipping services to clients nationally.” This is much punchier than saying “Shipping services are delivered by us to clients nationally.”

Avoid jargon – Try to avoid formal, overly corporate language. Where possible avoid using big words with several syllables. The business world is now very much a global market and English may not be your customer’s first language.

Make it about them – Use the words “you” and “your” much more than “I” and “we.” If you catch yourself saying “I” and “we” a lot, then you’re talking about yourself too much. Get back to being focused on your reader and their needs and concerns.

Be concise – If you can say something in 10 words don’t use 120 words instead. Cut out the fluff and keep your message concise. Remember, your potential customer is time-poor so you need to keep the message relevant

Protecting Your Ideas

Inventors, artists and musicians have to be very careful with their intellectual property, especially in a time of digital sharing. It’s all too easy to steal someone’s hard work and claim it as your own, even profit from it.
Do you suspect someone is stealing your ideas or invention? Read this to see what to do if someone is using your intellectual property and how to protect yourself in the future.

What type of infringement are you experiencing?

Ideas can be protected once they are expressed, either by writing them down, drawing them, publishing them to a forum, etc. Once an idea has taken on a physical form, it can be subject to different types of protection. These include:

  • Copyright: Copyright protection automatically covers most artists the moment their work becomes ‘tangible’, extending to but not limited by literary, musical, architectural, sound and pictorial works. The work becomes the author’s property and the extension of the copyright can be given out at their discretion. If someone is infringing on your copyright, you can sue for the money lost due to the infringing party’s actions. With a registered copyright, you may also sue for additional statutory damages. Copyright infringement is successful when (1) the infringing work is proven to be “substantially similar” to your work and (2) the infringing party is proven to have had access to the copyrighted work prior to creating their own.
  • Trademark: Someone copying your logo, title, slogan or other trademarked material in a way so as to confuse or deceive consumers is trademark infringement. If you suspect someone is riding your logo’s popularity with a cheap knock-off, you can sue them much like in copyright for money lost due to their infringement. If they are found to have done so intentionally, you may receive other payments.
  • Patent: If you’re lucky or prepared enough to have a patent when someone chooses to steal your idea, you will be well protected in court. Even if you are not yet profiting from your patent, you will be entitled to the enrichment of the infringing party by using your idea, as well as other payments if the infringing party is found to have acted intentionally. If someone has stolen your patent and filed for it before you, you still stand a chance in court if you can prove you had the idea first. Seek the advice of a patent damages expert if you think your patent has been infringed upon.

It’s important to understand the distinction between copyright and the other two. Copyrights are given automatically, and while they can be registered for extra protection, do not require anything other than tangible evidence of an idea. Trademarks and patents on the other hand are intellectual property insurances which must be registered to have legal authority.

Tools to monitor your published work

Luckily there are some tools available to artists and inventors to monitor their shared work. Just because you offer content free online doesn’t mean anyone can use it and potentially profit from it. Utilize these tools if you’re an artist online:

  • Plagium offers affordable options to search for plagiarism across the web with reliable, trusted service.
  • Copyscape is similar to Plagium but you can search for duplicates from your entire website and they offer excellent premium options for regular monitoring.
  • Tineye is a reverse image search that can find incidents of your image files being used without your knowledge.
  • Watermarking tools can be invaluable to videographers but there are so many its worth doing your own research to see which software is best for you.

Someone stealing your ideas is not just unfair, it’s often times illegal. As such, artists, inventors, musicians and even architects are protected under immediate copyright when they produce their ideas, and can further protect themselves by seeking trademarks and patents. Original artists and inventors are entitled to the repayment of damages incurred due to infringement and should seek legal help when their ideas have been stolen..

Overseas Expansion

Overseas expansion:
Given the increasingly global business world that we all now inhabit, perhaps 2016 is the year to consider expanding your business into overseas markets. Consider these factors when creating your overseas expansion strategy.

Economic conditions:
Probably the most important factor to consider is the economic performance of the country in which you want to invest.
Ensure that you and your management team obtain up to date economic reports and forecasts.
Study the trajectory of economic growth over the last decade or so.

Tax structure:
You should get some tax advice before expanding into an overseas country.
You don’t want to set up in a country that has disproportionately high taxation for foreign businesses.

Political stability:

No matter how attractive the market or how big the purchasing power of the country looks at the moment, you do not want to set up your business in a country with regular political upheaval.

Real estate matters:
Do your research and ensure you understand the property market in your target country.
Is there tax relief available for businesses who lease office space?
Make sure you research the premises costs and get professional advice before signing up to an office lease.

Language and culture:
Make sure you and your team have the necessary language skills and consider hiring local people to assist you in understanding the local culture and business customs.
Skillsets in the local labour market:
If your business requires skilled labour, ensure that the country in which you are setting up has a skilled workforce.

Good roads, availability of sea and air connectivity, reliable power and water supply are essential for any business operations as well as good internet connectivity.

Research, visit regularly and plan properly:
Visit the target country regularly before set up so you have a good understanding of all of the above factors.
Create a business plan which documents how you will go about setting up in your target country.
Use up to date market research in order to understand potential demand for your products or services.
Set out your approach and follow it rigorously..