Small business owners need to be careful; hackers and phishing scams that target them rely on a feeling of being too small to be on the radar to exploit unprepared small businesses, taking their repositories of financial and customer information and exploiting or liquidating them. One scam which has become more common of late is a trojan horse scheme, which refers to the technique of requesting a victim download a seemingly harmless attachment or program which in fact contains a virus, the “trojan” program contained within the outer guise of whatever it was the victim clicked on. Lately, the use of a false invoice to deliver trojan programs has become increasingly common as hackers awaken more and more to the value of targeting small businesses with spam leads and emails. Fake invoicing schemes are increasingly common. Small business owners can often become overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork that they need to keep track of. Fake invoices rely on this confusion, submitting a seemingly “unpaid” invoice

It’s a week into October, and the Halloween season is here. While not a commercial powerhouse in the same way that the Christmas shopping season is, Halloween season still is an exciting time for entrepreneurs and a perfect testing ground for assuring that their holiday marketing is tuned up and on brand before the rest of the holidays come along. Incorporating some holiday fun into your business is a great way to get your customers feeling closer to your brand, allowing them to associate the season with your business via your participation. It’s about helping to create long lasting relationships and memories with the customers you have. Try creating a seasonal logo. Your logo should be one of the first things that your customers think about when thinking about your brand, representing your company with a single, easy to recognize and easy to remember emblem. When you take your logo and incorporate a holiday element into its design, it is a fun way of associating your

In elementary school, one of my teachers stood out, with a can do attitude and an easy smile. She would encourage us during the hardest parts of our studies, reminding us not to cheat ourselves. What she meant by this was taking the easy way out, while often a tempting option, cheats your future self of the benefits of the learning experience. The toughest struggles can stand in front of us seeming as impassible as a cliff face. It’s only after struggling up that incline step by step, pulling ourselves along as needed, that we can arrive at the other side of a dilemma with the full benefit of the experience behind us. This hard won learning usually teaches the most worthwhile lessons in our lives, and thanks to the difficulty inherent in gaining it it is also the last to be forgotten. How small business owners can avoid cheating themselves. A common deterrent to trying something new is not only the fear that things won’t

Germs are not only unpleasant, but in a small business setting they can wind up costing a lot of productivity when key team members take sick days. Counteracting the potential for lost time is pretty simple, but unfortunately, offices often become hotbeds for germs because employees don’t take the steps they need to keep themselves healthy, or will come into the office while under the weather, spreading their sickness to those around them. Hand sanitizer. Having hand sanitizer dispensers located around the office, particularly around food preparation areas and restrooms, can help stop the spread of microbes that occurs when sick people touch a surface that is touched by non-infected co-workers. Coming in to the office to avoid taking a sick day is a pretty common occurrence and employees may not realize that they are sick until half way through a work day. Providing a means to control physically transferred germs can mitigate the spread of infections even when there are sick people in the office.

If you’re looking to expand your small business, you may be turning towards investors to help you fund this great endeavor.  In order for a private investor to consider your small business, you have to convince him or her that there is a reason for them to invest in you.  You mush demonstrate that your business is fiscally sound, has potential to grow, and that it will only benefit the investor to become a part of this great opportunity.  However, in order to get investors to loosen the purse strings, you will have to be willing to subject yourself to increased scrutiny and to give up some control of your business.  Investors are not giving out free money – they will have a say in your business’ philosophy and actions.  Of course you will also have to hand over a percentage of your company and its earnings to the investors as well. In order to get investors on board with funding your small business expansion,

A trade secret is more than just the special sauce that makes your small business unique. It is a piece of intellectual property that you should take steps to protect. Legally, a trade secret is defined as any type of information that is able to create profit by remaining outside the general knowledge of competitors in an industry, and is therefore guarded as proprietary information by a business or individual. Trade secret protection can last as long as the information that is being protected does not become public knowledge, so if a business owner has a legitimate secret on their hands, they can legally protect it for as long as they are able to protect the secret. What counts as a trade secret for small business owners? A trade secret can’t be something that people are already doing. In fact, even if nobody else is doing what you are, if everyone knows about it it’s not a trade secret either. Only if you are able to prove

  Small business advice can come from many different places, but books are one of the best. Literature can teach life lessons in every area, and business is no exception. Here are a few classical literary moments, as well as some lessons that savvy business owners can take from them and apply to their management strategies. Don’t assume something is impossible. See for yourself. This principle is demonstrated in the Shakespeare favorite, Macbeth. Told by a troop of prophesy speaking  witches that he will reign until the Great Birnam Woods come to Dunsinane Hill, Macbeth assumes that he will be safe since moving trees are impossible, or so he thinks. In the end, his castle is overrun by the forces of his enemies, disguised by the branches of the trees he thought immobile. While, unless you are in landscaping, moving trees will most likely not concern you, the principle that is at work here is important for small business owners to understand. The person who claims

No matter what industry you are in, there will most likely be some events around the country that you should consider attending. Whether you are interested in gaining some new expertise or sharing what you know at a seminar, going out and showcasing your products at a trade show or giving back to the community at a fundraiser or local event, there are plenty of ways to put your business out there through attending business related gatherings. The only problem for most business owners is deciding which ones are worthwhile and which are more trouble than they are worth. In order to figure out where they can make room in their schedules, the following steps can  be used. First, identify what events are out there. You can use social media for this, simply asking business connections what events are coming up is a simple and good idea. When you find out what is available, you may then wish to categorize the events by type: trade show

When your business hinges on the ability of sales people to perform, it is in your best interest to create a script that you can share with your team as a guideline to positive interactions that lead to conversions. Distributing leads to those who can use them is one thing, but your endgame should be enabling all of your sales reps to become star players on your team. The stronger your script is, the faster your reps will be able to jump in to making more sales upon being hired, and even your best salespeople will fall back on a strong script from time to time. This is especially true if your team encounters a standard set of objections or questions with a high degree of frequency. When they already know the best answer to give a concerned customer, it can help them regain control of the situation with poise and politeness. When creating a pitch, identify the concerns of your client. A pitch is not

While there are many things that differ from industry to industry, and even from business to business, there are a few things that remain constant for every business owner. One of these is the need for a formal business plan. A business plan is required for everything from applying for a loan from a bank to recruiting business partners and top level employees, so it pays to have one that is both up to date and up to industry standards at all times. This isn’t a one time thing either. As your business grows and the markets you are in change, you are going to need to reflect this in your business plan with edits, additions and omissions. Something as simple as one key piece of information that is either wrong or outdated can make your business plan look bad no matter how clean the rest of it is, so keeping this document tuned up and ready to be looked at is a wise strategic

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