Cloud Backup to Prevent Cyber Criminals From Stealing Your Data

cloud backups

Marketing your products and services online is one of the best ways to gain more customers to your business. People nowadays are interested to buy products online, but aside from our customers buying your products, there are also those who are interested in stealing your data. These hackers are indeed a major threat to your business. Once the damage is done, you can never undo it, but you can take precautions for it not to happen to your business. There are a few steps that you can take to protect your business data from violation or loss. When developing a data protection strategy for your business, below are a few things to keep in mind.

Cloud backup

An affordable and secure way to protect your data is to make use of existing cloud technologies. This simply means a platform that backs up your data online instead of storing it to a physical storage. Owners can access their data remotely through a secured login from the storage with encrypted connection. There are companies that offer cloud storage which you can purchase or subscribe to at a very reasonable fee. This is a great solution for small businesses.

Advantages of cloud backup

Saving your business data in the cloud comes with numerous advantages. For a start, it is an effective and affordable way to protect data since you never have to secure a physical location for this purpose. Secondly, you can access data through devices connected to the internet from any location. In the event of loss, the data can be quickly restored to your servers and computers. Data backup is done behind the scenes and it’s automatic so you never have to spend any time doing it manually. Most importantly, your business data will be safe from cyber criminals and other unauthorized access.

Factors to consider when choosing a cloud service

With numerous cloud backup service providers (such as Mozy, Carbonite and others,) you need to choose wisely the one that will offer the best solution for your business. For a start, you need to know the total data that you need to backup. Get the details of the specific type of files that need to be backed up so you can find a suitable solution. Other companies access their data through mobile phones, some cloud storage providers also offers security when accessing through mobile. If for some cases you need to access your data on mobile devices, you may want to consider choosing the provider that covers security for mobile devices. The most important factor to consider when finding the right cloud service provider is to research on their background.  Your data is the jewel of your business and you don’t want it to be on the hands of those you didn’t know. Find a provider that offers 24/7 customer support to take care of your needs.

Understand data vulnerabilities

Before you even take a step to protect your data, it is important to make changes that will protect your data internally from loss or unauthorized access. First, you need to understand that data is connected to revenue. All kinds of data in your business is at risk. With cloud backup, you get an affordable and simple form of data protection and recovery. Lastly, understand that you will only get peace of mind when the cloud service provider you choose is trustworthy and uses the latest technology to protect your data.

It’s never too late to implement a data protection strategy. Whether you are running a small business that experiences numerous power outages or a huge organization with a fully fledged IT department, cloud backup can help you mitigate risks and minimize any downtime.


Heidi Kim is a professional business consultant and legal researcher focusing on business laws. She is passionate in helping those who have any queries regarding business laws and how these may affect their respective businesses. Follow her on Twitter @gehreslawatty

6 Quick Steps to Improve Small Business Cash Flow

improve business cash flow

Eighty percent of small business owners receive late payments for services rendered, a 2011 survey by PaySimple found. When money is late coming in, it directly affects the small business owner’s cash flow and can negatively impact inventory, and the ability to pay operating expenses and make payroll. Of course, it doesn’t help the owner’s mental health either! Taking charge of your cash flow and minimizing late payments means more cash on hand to grow business. By working through these six steps, you will build up financial management skills that can help improve your cash flow and all aspects of your business.

1. Develop a Cash Flow Chart – A cash flow chart is critical to identifying how cash flows in and out of your company, finding areas that need improvement and staying in the black. List all recurring, variable and one-time expenses, then project your sales, as the SBA suggests. While you may find this challenging at first, you will get better at predicting income after a few months of practice.

2. Stay on top of receivables – As a small business owner, you may put off following up with people who owe you money because you are too busy, you dislike bothering people and you forget to think about receivables until your account balance runs low. Improve receivables by offering discounts or incentives to early-paying customers, offering an automatic bill pay option and schedule follower on your calendar. You may be able to accept payments directly within your accounting software, according to Intuit small business accounting software. This streamlines receivables with other financial management basics.

3. Automate your bills – When possible, set up online bill payments so that all of your bills are paid on time. Not only does this help you avoid late fees, it puts you in control of when bills are paid. Stagger payments out over the month to avoid a mid-month bank account drain, or pay each on the last date it is due to maximize cash in the pipeline.

4. Identify local (or fast) suppliers – Especially when starting a business, determining how much inventory to carry can be challenging. SBA.gov recommends ordering as little as possible when starting out (or when testing a new product or service). Select a supplier who is local or can deliver goods quickly over one who offers a cheaper price but requires more lead time. This way, you can retain more of your cash flow without compromising your inventory or your ability to deliver.

5. Know where to go for help before you need it – If you’re having a bad month or you need funds to fix business equipment, a small business loan can help. Before you’re in an emergency, identify nearby sources of funding including small business loans, business credit cards and lines of credit. Consider applying for a business credit card or a line of credit for “just in case” emergencies, so you do not have to use personal funds to support your business.

6. Build up your cash reserves – As your business grows, set aside cash reserves to draw on during slow months or for unforeseen expenses. As a general rule of thumb, SBA.gov advises that you set aside 3-6 months’ worth of expenses.

improve your cash flow

Sheryl Ray is a venture capitalist who has an eye for businesses with potential.

Freelancing a Path to Freedom & Happiness

freelancing ideas

Setting up a freelance business is one of the best ways to put your skills to work in an environment completely under your control. Whether you start your own business as a part-time enterprise or as the primary way to make a living, it helps to know the steps to successfully launch a new venture.

Finances & Taxes

Before you start up your business, open business banking accounts separate from your personal accounts. After you register your business with the appropriate state agency, open a business checking account and apply for a business credit card. With small business credit cards from American Express, you can select from among a dozen different cards, depending on your needs. Whether you want to earn travel rewards, have the freedom to maintain a balance interest-free for 60 days or get cash back based on your purchases, you’ll probably be able to find the card with the features your new business needs most.

Though the IRS doesn’t require separate bank accounts for individual proprietorships, you’ll benefit from taking time to create different accounts for business expenses. You’ll have tax advantages and the ability to analyze your business performance more accurately. You will also have the ability to clearly see your personal financial status, independent of your business. Keep this in mind, too; if business and family finances are linked, it’s tougher to get a business loan. Lenders are reluctant to extend credit to an enterprise that seems to be just a hobby.

Hire a good CPA who can advise you on paying estimated quarterly taxes and keep track of and explain 1099s, the equivalent of a W-2 from an employer, from your clients.

Recordkeeping

Recordkeeping is an essential function of a successful business. Keeping track of billable hours and total time spent on tasks is easier through any of a number of software programs available. Harvest is an example of a time-tracking tool that also can create online invoices. Chrometa is another time-management tool.

Marketing

The next step is generating business. The best way to attract new clients is by networking. Make the most of your social media presence —through Linkedin primarily — but also through Facebook and Twitter, along with others you regularly visit, such as Tumblr.

This isn’t the time to be shy. Let everyone connected to you online know that you’ve hung out a shingle. Face-to-face networking is critical, too. Attend every networking event you can where professionals gather who may need your services.

Don’t forget business cards. It sounds counter intuitive in the digital age, but executives actually keep business cards, especially those that pertain to their business. Also create a website and include an online portfolio of your best work.

Become a recognized leader through blogging about topics related to your expertise and try to get speaking engagements, even at small meetings, suggests Freelanceswitch.com. To further position yourself as an expert in your field, volunteer to write a guest column in your local newspaper about a subject related to your new business.

Before you know it, you’ll have more work than you think you can handle. Too much work is the best problem you can have.

freelancing

Francis Miller is a freelance writer from Washington D.C., he follows current events like it’s his full time job.

Personal to Pro: Selling Ideas Like a Motivational Speaker

public speaking

One of the most important ingredients for a successful, happy and harmonious life is the ability to communicate effectively. Life is built upon relationships, and one of the components of positive, successful connections is good communication. This applies in both your personal and professional life.

Motivational speakers are known for their skilled communication abilities, and we can learn a lot from them. Whether you work for an existing company or are an entrepreneur, the only way you’ll be able to sell your ideas is by communicating what you’re offering in an effective and compelling way. The same goes for having a satisfying personal life. Here are five of the hallmark strengths of the very best motivational speakers that you can incorporate into your own communication style:

1. Know Your Audience

Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Every customer, individual or group you will be addressing is unique. Get to know their background as well as their primary wants, needs and concerns. Focus on the individual aspirations of each person you speak to, whether it’s an employee, a customer, your child or your life partner.

2. Establish Credibility

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll likely have to work to establish credibility and earn their trust. If you’re pitching new ideas, define a proven methodology ahead of time that you can explain and help compel your audience. Whether your agenda is personal or professional, create a detailed, step-by-step, clear plan for success. Your credibility will rise exponentially if you can point to past successes based upon the same formula.

3. Learn From the Best

When choosing and refining your communication style, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Look to successful speakers and great leaders that you admire and glean ideas and inspiration from them. For example, consider Josh Shipp or Ed Young; according to inc.com, Shipp is a motivational sensei, employing both his youthful spirit and sense of humor to relate to audiences. Ed Young, the founder of Ed Young Fellowship Church, uses a creative communication style that helps to make even complex ideas easy to understand and apply, according to FellowshipChurch.com.

4. Build a Genuine Connection

While this tip will be easier to apply in your personal life, it can be invaluable in your professional life as well. No matter who the person is, no matter what their background or walk of life, you can relate to them on an authentic personal level. All you have to do is speak from the heart and have true empathy for them as a fellow human being. We all want pretty much the same things in life: security, peace of mind and to be appreciated. If you relate to every person you meet with this in mind, your relationships are likely to thrive.

5. Expect the Best of People

A positive attitude and outlook can go a long way toward success in every area of your life. Try and enter into every human interaction with an expectation of the highest and best outcome from the exchange. Visualize your ideal scenario with that person before the meeting begins. Expect the very best from people, and you’ll likely be amazed at what transpires.

public speaking

Sean Patterson is an English instructor and is working on his first screenplay.

Brand Conversations: Not Just On Your Twitter Feed

social media marketing

Are you in charge of running a company’s social media campaign? If so, you know that your brand receives all kinds of feedback from followers on social media.

In day-to-day monitoring and community management, social media managers are faced with both positive and negative mentions about their brands. From complimentary praise to harmful attack, social media feeds reflect what people think, feel and write about brands and products.

For marketers, this is of top concern. They should be aware of how their brand is being perceived. The three Cs for marketing teams are Content, Conversations and Community. How is the brand developing content? How are marketing teams leading and responding to brand conversations? What’s the community vibe of a particular product and brand?

Dedicated Twitter feeds, like the Twitter stream of iAcquire NYC, are growing in practice; Facebook pages are optimizing the use of social opt-ins and digital marketing firms are selling social services to clients across the entire online spectrum.

But it’s not the only thing. Where’s the conversation about your company happening? It isn’t just on your social media stream. It’s happening in forums, online webinars, LinkedIn chains, street level marketing events and brand-sponsored tours. How can brands utilize these areas to drive partnerships, bring in new customers and offer up new branding opportunities? Let’s take a look:

Buzz Marketing (aka Word of Mouth Marketing)

As Forbes rightly points out, word of mouth marketing just keeps getting better. Why? It’s a sign that a company is doing something right, and many people are driven to want its product or service. Brands can use teaser and buzz marketing campaigns to build conversations around some of their customers’ best testimonials. For years TV ad campaigns have used customer testimonials. More recently, there are buzzworthy tee-shirt campaigns in urban centers, delivering messages (and sometime free swag) to passers-by.

Street Marketing

Consumer brands should look to street marketing activities for many of their offline campaigns. They can set up booths at city festivals, sponsor local industry functions, and align themselves with local non-profits or worthy causes to boost their community partnership standing.

Marketing Forums

Marketing leaders on all fronts should follow industry insights to benefit their daily roles. LinkedIn hosts a number of industry forums to follow, as do local professional associations. Global and international associations have forums worth following, too.

TV Advertising

A great TV campaign can spark online and offline conversations about your brand. A great product, along with a great message, good timing and a link to the current cultural zeitgeist will help any TV ad campaign. From “Where’s the Beef’ years ago to the best TV ads of 2013, great TV ads can capture a brand’s audience and get them talking about and engaging with the brand. TV ain’t dead yet.

Industry Webinars

Marketers can learn a lot from hosting, sponsoring and participating in online webinars. Direct feedback from customers, competitors, and potential new business partners is invaluable to marketing teams. The key to making a webinar valuable is understanding essential industry topics that need further discussion. If your timing is right, then your webinar can have long-lasting benefits. Set it up with a provocative title, invite the best marketers, and host it with one of these top webinar platforms.

Once marketers spend some time off Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, they may find there is another, sometime deeper, discussion taking place. Online and off, it’s time to manage the discussion of your brand, with the audience that suits your company best.

big data

Guest post by Lucy Kim. Lucy is a mom and avid environmentalist who runs a social media company from her home.