10 Tips Small Businesses Can Use to Avoid Viruses, Spam and Spyware

Viruses, spam, spyware and other malware cost small businesses billions of dollars each year in lost productivity, stolen identities and IT support costs.

What small businesses need to understand is that these gremlins are easy to avoid when common sense and some simple precautions are applied. And ‘avoid’ is the key word; your strategy should be to stay as far away from these things in the first place so that you don’t have to experience the lost time and cost associated with cleaning up the mess they leave.

So how can a small business avoid viruses, spam, and spyware?

The following is a list of 10 best practices for small businesses:
1. Use antivirus software that is automatically updated on all machines
2. Use a hosted spam filtering service that filters the spam before it ever makes it to your local network
3. Make sure employees know that you have a policy that work computers are only to be used for work purposes.
4. Don’t give your business email address to a non-business source
5. Don’t forward jokes, chain mail, etc. to other employees
6. Never open an attachment from an unknown source
7. Never open an attachment with an unknown file extension
8. Don’t download free toolbars, shopping assistants, weather bug, etc. on your work computer
9. Never give your information or download information from an unknown site
10. Never update banking or other sensitive personal information using a link sent to you via email – always navigate directly to the site and log in there.

As you can see, most of these tips don’t require you to buy anything or use any special technology. Viruses, spam and spyware prey on human nature – curiosity, laziness, etc. – to get past technology-based defences, so you must educate yourself and your employees to know what to avoid.

One last tip: if you do feel like you have a virus or something else attacking your computer, unplug it from your network immediately. The last thing you want to do is give it to everyone else in your office – that’s when things get really expensive.

Leadership Tips – Small Business Requires Faster Decisions

Introduction

This leadership tip has something in it for managers everywhere, but it’s particularly targeted at those of you with large company backgrounds who have made career moves to smaller businesses that you own and/or manage.

My background is primarily in large scale management of IT organizations. The companies where I’ve worked were places where changing a process or behavior took some time. I always thought I was quicker than most, and action oriented. As a small business owner, I found I had to be much quicker.

I’ll offer this leadership tip in the form of a story. It’s a story of how taking your eye of the ball can cost you money, and worse than that can cost you customers.

My First Small Business

I opened a small personal services business. It was located about an hour from my home office, and with all my other commitments I knew how important hiring the right manager would be for this shop. It took a few tries, but I found one with a good background and references, and she seemed to quickly develop loyalty to the business and to me.

For the first six months we grew slowly but steadily. We were behind plan in terms of customers and revenue, but the trend was up. There were a few staff issues, but overall turnover was okay. I decided to invest a little more in marketing to try and get more new faces in the door.

Over the next three months, customer counts were mostly flat, and average sale was actually down a little. Concerned, I visited the shop a few times more than usual. The people were not as upbeat as they had been. When asked about that, they attributed their moods to less business and less enjoyment of the job. I wondered about seasonality, the economy, and whether I needed even more marketing investment.

Want to know what was really going on? My trusted manager had some personal problems that I had not been aware of before, and was exhibiting some totally unacceptable behaviors:

  • Criticizing staff in front of customers
  • Intimidating staff, letting them know they were at risk of being fired, and telling them I was out to get them.
  • Stealing money by voiding transactions and other means

The Damages

I’m still figuring out how much money all this cost me, but the money is only today’s problem. The customers I’ve lost are a more serious longer term issue, because many of them won’t be coming back.

When I figured out what was going on, I moved quickly to fire the manager. There were only two problems:

  1. I was too late, and there had been several months of damage done;
  2. There was collateral damage. I had to fire two other employees who had adopted the attitude and behaviors of the manager.

Today, I’m working on putting together data to see if I can assemble a case for prosecuting the employees and the manager. An even higher priority, though, is the work I’m doing to recruit and orient new staff and develop a recovery plan for our customer service reputation.
This leadership tip was a painful lesson that I hope never to repeat.

Guaranteed Good Free Ways To Advertise Any Business

Many people are looking for good, free ways to advertise their company. Advertising can be a risky and expensive proposition these days. Many companies can no longer afford to utilize paid advertising. Although advertising plays a crucial role in getting more customers to look at your offering, which also means more sales. Many small businesses don’t do it because it’s too expensive. Although advertising is an important factor in overall business marketing strategy. Small businesses are hesitant to fork over any of their profits to reinvest in advertising. So in rides the saviour… There are ways to get quality free advertising.

Why Advertising Is Important To Your Business

Advertising is what keeps customers coming in the door of your physical store and website. Getting a constant flow of new and returning customers viewing your product or service keeps the cash registers ringing and your bottom line in the black. Constant cash flow is the key here. Without advertising in many instances cash flow becomes a trickle.

Customers need constant updates of new products or services that solves problems in their lives. Advertising that new gadget for a digital camera that will give their photos the professional look will spark a buying frenzy. Even though that individual may never use this gadget, the customer will feel that they’ve gotten a good deal. If you are solving a problem you are half way home with your product or service being a success.

In the introductory stage, advertising is a tool for spreading awareness about your product or service, and to persuade people to patronize your product or service. With the right way of advertising, a business will surely be able to increase revenue effectively. However, it is a must to look for good free ways to advertise. Free advertising is a no brainer and is always better than paid advertising in terms of practicality.

What Are the Ways to Advertise for Free?

These are good free ways to advertise a certain business:

1.) Word of Mouth

There’s still no better way than the good old neighbor whispering to another neighbor,”You know, I got this great new product from so and so and I’m so happy, here take a look.” There’s just nothing like it in the marketplace and nothing is as efficient as “word of mouth” advertising. Word of mouth is the least expensive (free many times) and one of the most effective ways of advertising. Just talking about a certain product or service to a friend is a great help to your marketing efforts.

If you can get customers together to talk positively about your product or service than your going to hit the proverbial home run. This is one of the reasons that social media has proliferated. It’s so popular because people love to talk about what they do and don’t like. It’s just human nature to talk – but this can be a double edge sword. They can also talk about negative aspects of your offering. This is why you must always be follow-up with superior customer service. This separates the good from the bad. Good customer service trumps almost everything else.

Just take a look at Kohl’s for example. They do a great job of merchandising their clothes and housewares. On a constant, consistent basis Kohl’s will deeply everything in the store. Then turn right around and will take everything you bought back from you, then offer another discount. Who else does this? You bring something back and they take it back with a smile then offer you something else, almost free. Who’s the winner here? Both the consumer and retailer in this instance.

2.) Email Signature Files

Using email signature files is one of the easiest ways to promote a certain business. This is done by including a 4 to 6 lines of advertisement in every email you send. To get the maximum response to your email signature files, it would be better to offer some incentives for visiting your website.

Remember to always include a review or testimonial from a satisfied customer in every email that you send. Everyone reads reviews and testimonials before an ad. We’re all conditioned to seeing an ad in emails. So a good word put in from someone else draws attention and thusly another sale. Try this and find your sales explode.

3.) Press Releases

This is one of the best ways to receive a positive reception from potential customers. A good press release done at the correct time can give your business a leg up on your competitors.

Press releases are a great way to multiply your efforts quickly and easily. News outlets are always looking for a good story and are hungry to run one if it’s compelling. In Michael Chaney’s best-selling ebook, “The Competition Crusher,” he spells out in detail how press releases made him a millionaire. You can check it out at This good free way of advertising is influential long-term and you didn’t have to pay a cent for positive vibes this conveys to buying customers looking for your product or service.

Why Use These Free Advertisements?

Using a paid advertisement will definitely increase one’s revenue. However, it will also increase the expenses of the company as well. Therefore, the total increase of revenue is not yet the net increase of the company’s revenue since there will still be deductions for advertisement expenses. Remember that advertisements are very expensive nowadays. To ensure that you will be able to increase sales and revenue without spending a huge amount of cash, it will always be better to uses these good free ways to advertise your business.

Free Small Business Marketing Tips – 3 Ideas for Fast Results

In this article, I have 3 free small business marketing tips for you, because marketing shouldn’t have to set you back a bundle. And any one of them may make you a serious sum of money when you put them to work for you.

That’s a considerable promise, I know, but it’s one I stand behind and mean to keep.

But there is one warning: simply skimming through this article and “learning about” these tips won’t do a thing for you. You actually have to roll your sleeves up and put them to work for you.

Free Small Marketing Tips No 1: Bump up your fees

There are probably three people in the whole world who commonly buy on price only (and you really don’t want them as clients anyway). The rest of us have better things to bother with, like suitability, trustworthiness, delivery time, excellence, service, back up and all the rest. In one analysis only 14% of participants said price was the most important factor for them; that means 86% of them had different, more weighty concerns.

If you tack on 10% to your prices from this moment on, I would be shocked if you experienced any decrease in sales at all. What you WILL see, though, is a significant increase in your profits (because that 10 % boost is all profit). Yeah, it’s conceivable the odd client or two will moan and put on the weeps about it and perhaps even go somewhere else… but if that happens, then they’ve done you a kindness. Price buyers are sheer murder to deal with and will in the end drive you to an early grave.

Free Small Marketing Tips No. 2: Become the media darling

Read the newspapers, both national and local, switch on the Television or tune in to the radio stations and you’ll see ‘expert’ after ‘expert’ wheeled on to give his or her thoughts on everything from daycare and chilblains, to party ideas and pork pies. But what gives these folks this ‘ace’ status and why are they in the news? Well, their authority status comes from the fact they’re simply in the news. That’s it. That’s the only difference between them and you.

Precisely how do they get there? Exactly how does this come about? By their contacting the local media and saying, essentially, “I’m an expert on thingamajigs, and I’ve got strategies and information on whatchamacallits your audience would definitely like and benefit from”.

This is all a hell of a lot easier than it seems and a lot less scary, too. Some years ago I had a regular monthly piece in the local monthly rag. It added up to possibly 30 minutes’ work a month to create, and yielded thousands of Euro in business.

Free Small Marketing Tips No. 3: Ask for referrals

Referred business is the most profitable business to get, and the easiest to close the sale on — because all the hard work of nurturing trust has been done for you by whomever referred the business to you. In my own business, I don’t take on private clients from anything BUT referrals, because the business is such top quality.

Alas, while we all love ’em… we don’t tend to do much to ensure we get lots of them.

Although we can change all this simply by asking our present customers and clients this simple question: “whom else do you know whom I may be able to help in the same way I’ve helped you?”. You could send that email or letter now and be getting more business within minutes.

You can also take this one step further and set the scene for recommendations at the beginning of your relationship with a new customer: “I grow my business with referrals. So if I do a great job for you I hope and expect you will recommend at least 3 people to me whom I may be able to help”. The majority of business owners are too intimidated to make this a stipulation of doing business with clients… although that’s their affair.

See? Three free small business marketing tips that could be making you money by the end of today.

But the onus is on YOU to pull your finger out and make them work for you — they won’t do it by themselves.