These days, it seems like every workplace has a few computers packed to the brim with malware and assorted viruses. In some cases, this is a direct result of insufficient security software. In others, the fault lies with employees who were never educated on the importance of cyber security. However, the fact that the problems are common in modern-day workplaces doesn’t mean that business owners need to resign themselves to them. As you’ll find, keeping your workplace’s computers out of harm’s way is much easier than many businesses make it look.
Protect Your Network
Securing your business’s Wi-Fi network should be among your foremost priorities. If cybercriminals are able to find their way into your network, they’ll be able to spread malicious software and make off with an array of valuable information. At the very least, you’ll need to encrypt your local Wi-Fi. Since routers and access points aren’t automatically encrypted, this responsibility falls to you. This can be accomplished by accessing the network menu and enabling encryption.
For best results, select the WPA2 option and create a strong, impossible-to-guess password. Businesses with a fair number of employees should use EAP mode in WPA2, as this will ensure that employees are unable to see the encryption password and that it won’t be stored on their individual devices. This way, a lost or stolen device won’t automatically mean that your network is compromised.
Require Employees to Install O.S. Updates Immediately
Viruses and malware are often able to infect computers whose owners have put installing updates on the backburner. Although installing operating system updates can be somewhat cumbersome, it’s ultimately a necessary step in preventing the spread of viruses. The longer one waits to install pertinent updates, the more vulnerable their computer is to cyber threats. Most operating system updates have at least one security component. Since virus makers and malware developers are constantly finding new ways to spread their wares, O.S. developers must constantly find new ways to defend their products from an ever-expanding array of threats.
However, to take full advantage of their efforts, you and your employees will need to install each new update as soon as possible. With this in mind, require every member of your workforce to drop what they’re doing whenever a new update becomes available. Whether they’re working on a big project or simply checking their email, no further activity should take place until the latest updates are fully installed.
Utilize Dependable Antivirus Software
In the quest to keep your workplace computers free of viruses, dependable antivirus software can be an invaluable ally. The best antivirus programs frequently scan devices for viruses, malware and other threats and purge them in a timely manner. In addition to blocking a plethora of cyber threats, a reliable antivirus program will be able to identify and remove any threats currently present on your devices. To ensure maximum security, limit your options to antivirus software that features endpoint protection. Outfitting each of your business’s computers and internet-enabled devices with the right security software can go a long way in keeping threats at bay.
Educate Your Workforce
It stands to reason that not every member of your workforce is equally tech-savvy. While some employees may understand the importance of cyber security and be well-versed in virus prevention, others may be completely clueless on such matters. As such, you’ll need to educate all your team members on the myriad threats posed by viruses, malware and cybercriminals. The better a person’s understanding of cyber security, the better equipped they’ll be to protect their devices. To encourage full compliance with security-related rules, consider imposing consequences on employees who flagrantly ignore your advice and needlessly put their devices at risk.
As a business owner, the last thing you want is employees working on compromised computers. The consequences of poorly secured workplace computers can be severe, for both individual employees and enterprises as a whole. For the sake of protecting confidential company information and keeping your office’s computers running at peak efficiency, you and your workforce will need to take preventative measures against viruses, malicious software and other web-based threats. Fortunately, provided everyone puts in a little bit of effort, business-wide cyber security is far from impossible.
How a Bad Website’s UX Can Affect Your Business
Web designers often emphasize the importance of a well-functioning website. In today’s world, a business website is a powerful tool and is often a vital component of a successful business venture.
According to UX statistics, just one second of slow loading can lead to a 27% drop in sales. Despite this, web design and UX is often overlooked by business owners.
So how can a poor website’s UX affect your business? Let’s see.
Effects of Poor User Experience
Website abandonment is a term used to describe a visitor leaving a website before completing the desired action. According to statistics, 52% of users list bad UX as a reason why they wouldn’t consider engaging with a company again. This could be due to poor design, slow page load time, or any other factor that drives away a website visitor prematurely. Poor UX is one of the easiest ways to increase website abandonment and reduce sales rates.
Bad UX Affects Your Brand Image
Bad user experience does a lot more damage than one might think. It can significantly affect how your brand is perceived. It’s a representation of your brand, and while your website design doesn’t always reflect your business’s core values, it sends a message to consumers. Think of your website as something that has to leave a good impression. And you know what they say, you never get the second chance to make a good first impression.
Search Engine Visibility
Google is the world’s number one search engine. It’s important to note that it favors websites with good UX. What does that mean for your businesses? If Google doesn’t like your website, it can’t rank high in SERPs, which means that fewer people will see your website. That further leads to fewer customers. To Google, an excellent UX is equally significant as the content quality. Google strives to ensure that users have the best UX available and issues such as performance, mobile-friendliness, or page speed, factor in search engine rankings, making the improvement of a website’s UX a primary requirement.
What Do the Stats Say?
1. According to statistics, companies lose $62 billion annually due to bad UX ($2 billion due to slow page load time alone);
2. 13% of users will tell 15 other people about their negative experience;
3. UX optimization increases revenue by as much as 37%;
4. Around 94% of website users will make a judgment based on the website’s responsiveness within a short time span.
5. 61% of customers will go to another site (most likely to your competitor’s site) if they can’t find what they are looking for right away.
UX optimization is a crucial part of online businesses that is often overlooked. Some business owners believe it’s not important or worth the time, money, and effort to ensure that a website is fully functional. However, research and statistics prove that addressing the issue of functionality and design can help you attract more customers and boost your chances of success. Investing in a website’s UX is one of the smartest things any entrepreneur can do.
8 Finance Mistakes of First-Time Small Business Owners That You Should Avoid
Just started your own business? Congratulations! After years of sleepless nights, careful planning, and raw dedication, what was once a small idea in your head is now an income-generating machine you can count on
Running a business comes with a ton of complications and risks. Over time, you’ll eventually come face-to-face with many tricky situations, and the way you manage things can ultimately define your long-term stability.
Research shows that 20% of new businesses fail within the year due to finance and management-related issues. If you want to thrive in the years to come, you should start by taking note of the mistakes of others. The guide below will teach you how to avoid and overcome these common small business challenges.
- Not separating personal and business expenses
As you claim your clients’ payments, you may feel the urge to use that money for your ventures. But, before you cash out for your new car, it’s important to take a step back and remember what your priorities are. Always remember that cash generated by your company should go to the business first.
Many first-time entrepreneurs make the common mistake of not separating their personal and business expenses, and this behavior can be consequential in the long run. Not being able to draw the line paves the way for bad spending habits and will give you a difficult time determining your actual financial standing.
With this in mind, you should start by creating separate bank accounts. Having everything in one place or using one credit card for all your transactions may feel more convenient, but making a clear distinction will make all the difference in your accounting.
- Mismanaging cash flow
For your business to maintain its stability, you need to have a positive cash flow. Many new entrepreneurs make all sorts of accounting mistakes, and this ultimately gets in the way of their day-to-day operations. Hiring someone else may do the trick, but if your budget says otherwise, you need to take matters into your own hands.
Luckily, cash flow mistakes can be solved with some diligence. Monitoring your accounts religiously and making sure that your partners understand your payment terms will lead to seamless transactions. If you feel the need to hone your financial management skills further, you should consider taking online classes.
- Expecting income to arrive instantly
Everyone knows the age-old saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Your clients and customers may owe you some money in the months to come, but this doesn’t mean that you should bolster your spending.
Given that daily business life is unpredictable, don’t expect your clients to settle their balances on time. Money that’s promised to you shouldn’t count as an asset just yet.
- Immediately making big purchases
It’s normal to feel excited once you win a big client. After they’ve officially closed a deal, you may want to provide new laptops, replace old work equipment, or upgrade to new software as soon as possible. However, don’t let the rush cause you to make an irrational decision. Making a big purchase without care will strain you more than you like.
Similar to how you divide your monthly income for food, electricity, and rent, you need to keep the same approach when it comes to your business expenses. Given that you’ll need to spend on work equipment, monthly salaries, affordable marketing strategies from your partner agency, and so on, a guide to follow will ensure that your spending doesn’t go overboard.
Note: Saving money? Don’t trim your marketing budget! Boost your promotions and take note of these simple ways to create marketing.
- Not paying yourself
Many business owners tend to forget about their efforts. They treat their businesses as if it were their own children, but neglect themselves in their effort to sustain it. Because of this mentality, it’s easy to be misled into thinking that you have gained profits when, in fact, you are working for free.
Even if it’s your business, don’t forget to pay yourself. Always consider that if you are not there to handle these responsibilities, you will need to hire someone else to take your place. To help you calculate your own salary, think objectively of the work requirements and determine how much you will compensate another person for doing this job.
- Not seeking professional help
As the head of your company, it’s natural to want to stay in control of everything. However, there are times where the best course of action you can take is to seek help from others. Running a business will take more than just sheer will power, and finding the right partners can make an incredibly huge difference.
If you’re unfamiliar with tax laws, seeking the services of a CPA can save you from hefty fines. If you’re dealing with an intellectual property issue, having a lawyer can save you a lot of trouble. Professional fees may look unattractive, but they can save you more money in the long run.
- Failing to create an emergency fund
If there’s one thing all business owners can take away from COVID-19, it’s the fact that building an emergency fund has turned into a must. Your business may be flourishing at the moment, but you’ll never know when a crisis will strike and turn things upside down.
Without preparation, you may need to look at credit providers for a way out, or worse, you may be forced to shut down.
Having extra money set aside can save you a lot of trouble. Financial experts recommend that your emergency fund should be at least three to six months’ worth of your monthly income. While this may not be enough to curb your losses, it’ll keep you from incurring debt and enable you to stay afloat for the meantime.
- Careless hiring
Compare your business to a car. You may be the one steering it, but your employees are the components that allow you to run at full speed. Without the right fuel and parts, you can expect things to break down sooner or later.
Always screen candidates with the utmost care. You may be excited to fill your vacancies, but hiring carelessly can be one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Settling for anyone just to address your requirements is problematic, as it won’t just cause operational and service quality issues; it can also be a tough blow financially.
As you go about recruitment, always remember that getting talented people will naturally take more time and money, but it should be worth it.
Preparation is Key
It’s common for new ventures to run into challenges, so you must have a plan for when you need to face them because one wrong decision can make or break your business. While you should take some time to unwind and enjoy the fruits of your labor, it’s important not to get distracted. After all, starting a business is one thing; maintaining is another.
Five Ways to Get Out of Debt
Debt will always go hand in hand with our modern consumer driven society. Although, to be fair, our society has been driven by money and consumerism since the concept of money was invented.
According to statistics there are 14,482,877 credit cards in Australia as of March 2020, so don’t worry, you’re not alone. It seems daunting but there are ways to climb out of the swirling vortex of anxiety that a hefty debt can land you in.
Debt is a dreaded word for most people. Whether you are going into debt to purchase a car, to buy a real estate property or to finance your business, the important thing is you don’t forget that you are responsible for it. Ask yourself, “Is it a good or bad debt?” If it is a good debt, then you may take into consideration getting it. But if it is a bad debt, you may need to consider some suggestions below on how to get rid of your debt:
Organise Your Debt
How are you going to pay off your debt if you don’t know how much and who you owe? Sit down and make a list of every institution you owe, how much you owe, interest rates and minimum payments you can make. Figure out a repayment plan and stick to it. No fudging the plan. There are many methods, so find one that suits you and stick to it!
Create A Budget
Budgets are tedious and annoying, but a necessary evil. Budgets can “minimise the tendency to overspend each month because you can see how much money you have to play with” . Keep it realistic and be honest with yourself with where you can cut spending and where you need to keep spending: e.g. clothes vs. food shopping, nights out vs. utility bills. Any surplus money at the end of the month should be added to your debt fund. Paying off debt is not a quick job, there are no shortcuts (unless you win the lottery), chip away at your debt and you’ll be debt free and happy…eventually.
Pay in Cash
You’re less likely to spend money if you’re paying in cash. A credit card, “while tangible, does not represent actual money. It’s just a piece of plastic, and a shopper does not see the result of their expenditure for almost a month” . You don’t need to cut your spending entirely. Go warm chicken as opposed to cold turkey. Small expenditures, not treats.
Pick Up More Work
Small business finance company, Max Funding says, “more money coming in means more cash to add to your debt fund. If you can earn overtime or pick up more shifts at work, do it.If you have some marketable skills, like playing an instrument or writing, try and find out if you can earn a bit of money on the side. It will be worth it!”
Put Unexpected Cash Where It’s Expected
Tax returns, bonuses, money from trading in your car or selling your TV, inheritances etc. any non-income related money that you receive should be added straight to your debt fund. These unexpected bonuses might make you believe you should go out and celebrate. Think again. You have responsibilities, you have debt. You can celebrate when you’re debt free, until then: spend smart.
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