Author Archives: jratkins

5 Types of Data Insights for a High Performing Team

aka: 5 Types of Data Insights to Help You Create a High Performing Team

source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/group-of-people-sitting-3184352/
Are you getting the most out of your professional team?

Most companies put a lot of time and effort into measuring things like the return on investment for their chosen marketing materials or the revenue they get from each product. It’s easy to overlook another essential element necessary to measure employee performance.

Measuring employee output tells you whether you’re building the most effective, lucrative, and productive team available or not. Since people are your most crucial asset, it’s worth seeing how well they’re paying off.

Fortunately, access to big data makes it much easier for today’s business owners to assess their teams’ efforts.

Here are some of the data insights that might help you pinpoint opportunities and problems in your workforce.

1.   Employee Engagement

When you’re looking for insights into employee performance, there are few things more important than engagement.

Employee engagement dictates whether your company is in an excellent position to grow. If your team members aren’t committed and motivated at work, they will fail to deliver the best results. Employee engagement also boosts loyalty, so you’re less likely to worry about turnover.

To get a better view of this indicator, look at:

  • Internal promotion rates: How often do you need to hire high-level employees from external environments, and how frequently do you promote from within? If your team members are regularly growing to take on new roles, this is a good sign that they’re engaged.
  • Attendance and interaction: How often do your employees come to optional work events and meetings? When they’re part of a group, do they speak up and offer suggestions? How frequently do your team members share ideas?
  • Competition: Is there any friendly competition in your office that motivates everyone to try their best? A little gamification can push people into having more fun at work and getting more done.

Encourage proactivity in your team, and your engagement and performance levels are sure to improve.

2.   Staff Performance

Once you know how engaged your team members are, you can begin to examine how that engagement translates into performance. Are your team members consistently hitting their sales targets and getting great reviews from customers?

One great KPI to track for performance purposes is attendance. If your employees frequently take time off whenever they can, they’re not doing their best work.

Another KPI to consider is customer feedback. How do your clients talk about your employees and the level of service you give? Do they often praise specific employees, but complain about others?

Employer initiative is another interesting KPI that often gets overlooked in measuring team member performance. In other words, how often do your employees need to ask for help or get an extra nudge before they start making progress?  Do you have employees in your workforce who know how to jump in and take action?

If you discover that your employees are afraid to do things without constant managers’ approval, it might be time to change up your workplace processes.

3.   Client Satisfaction

Client satisfaction or customer experience is one of the most important indicators that your team is doing its best work. If your customers regularly gush about your excellent service, whether they’re asking for help or looking for guidance about a product, you know you’ve got a great team.

The best ways to gather information about customer satisfaction is by:

  • Using surveys: Surveys allow you to ask customers specific questions about your employees and their performance. You can keep things simple by asking your clients to rate your customer service on a scale of one to five.
  • Checking customer loyalty: How much of your business comes from repeat customers? Do you have advocates who are willing to refer other people to your company, or do you generally get only one-time purchases? Repeat clients are a clear sign of customer satisfaction.
  • Customer lifetime value: How much do your clients spend with your business over time? Do the people you and your team nurture more generally spend more too?

If you notice that your customers aren’t as satisfied as they should be, use the feedback you’ve gathered to train your employees on giving better experiences. Surveys and reviews are often a great source of insight into what you need to do better.

4.   Employee Happiness

Employee engagement shows that your team is motivated at work; however, that doesn’t always mean that employees are happy too. To ensure that your team members are truly satisfied with their careers, measure their happiness levels. Some common KPIs that indicate happiness include:

  • Team bonding: Do your employees work well together or do you often find yourself breaking up fights between employees? How often do your staff members chat when they’re not talking about work?
  • Turnover rate: How quickly do you lose your hires and have to replace them with new talents? Some industries have higher turnover rates than others. Consider your industry average to get your benchmark.
  • NPS scores: Net Promoter Scores usually assess customer satisfaction, but they can also gather useful information from employees. Ask your team members how likely they’d be to advise someone else to work at your company, on a scale of 0 to 10.

Use employee satisfaction and engagement questionnaires alongside regular one-on-one meetings to determine if your team members are getting the most out of their career. If your staff aren’t happy at work, they won’t give it their all.

Consider using innovative tools like sentiment analysis AI systems to examine team members’ attitudes in calls. Modern AI tools that are emerging from Industry 4.0 are providing all businesses with more access to in-depth data about employee performance.

5.   Business Outcomes

Finally, one of the easiest ways to measure employee performance is to track the impact on your company’s bottom line. At the end of each month, do you achieve the revenue and sales targets that you set for your team?

If not, is it because you have unrealistic expectations, or because your team members aren’t performing at their best?

Look at the following KPIs to track employee performance and its impact on business outcomes:

  • The total cost of the workforce: How much does it cost to run your team, and how much do you earn in return? If running your team is very expensive, thanks to a lot of training and high-level equipment, are you getting your investment back?
  • Revenue per employee: How much revenue can each employee reasonably earn on average? You can calculate this by dividing your revenue by your total number of employees. This can help to evaluate what each team is contributing to your organization.
  • Targets achieved: How frequently do you achieve your business targets and goals? Are you constantly going back on your predictions?

Building a More Successful Team

Building the most effective team in today’s landscape means taking a careful look at your current team, and how well they’re performing.

Looking at things like employee satisfaction, customer experience, and even business outcomes will help you see where you need to invest the most time and effort to generate valuable improvements.

This allows you to create a team that excels at what they do and gain a significant edge over the competition.

Michelle Laurey works as a VA for small businesses. She loves talking business, and productivity, and share her experience with others. Outside her keyboard, she spends time with her Kindle library or binge-watching Billions. Her superpower? Vinyasa flow! Talk to her on Twitter @michelle_laurey.

 


5 Tips: Providing Customers A Personalized Experience

5 Tips On Providing Customers With A Personalized Experience

Amazing customer service isn’t just an option for companies anymore – it’s mandatory. If you want to thrive in today’s competitive world, you need to provide your customers with a memorable and unique experience.

Personalization is the key to delivering thoughtful and attentive customer service. It can give your company a way to stand out from the crowd. Forrester tells us that 77% of customers have recommended a brand, or paid more for their services and products from a company with good personalized service.

How do you deliver a personalized experience that makes the right impact on your target audience? Here, we’re going to offer a few excellent tips to get you started.

1.   Address Your Customers by Name

It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing your customers as numbers rather than people when you’re running a business. However, this can harm your reputation as a company and your relationship with clients.

Research tells us that human brains respond differently to hearing or seeing their own name. Because of this, it’s essential to connect to your clients as individuals.

The good news is that you don’t have to remember every customer’s name yourself. There are customer relationship management and email software tools to help. These solutions will automatically keep track of customer data for you and apply it to things like email messages or texts.

Learning your customer’s name and using it regularly is only the first step in delivering a personal experience, but it’s an important move in the right direction.

You can also increase the human connection by signing your emails from a real person, rather than just using the company name.

2.   Segment Your Customers

Although your customers may share some of the same characteristics, like interest in a specific niche, they’re all different.

One of the most critical aspects of delivering great customer care is showing your audience that you understand them. Keep records of your customers just as you would keep records for your business finances.

Once you have that information, you can use it to segment your audience according to different factors, such as a person’s age, gender, or interests. Remember, a middle-aged housewife will have a different set of expectations from a teenager who’s living with their parents.

Your customers want a unique experience that’s tailored to them. If you have the right software, like dedicated email marketing and CRM software, you can even go deeper with your segmentation. For instance, you could send different messages based on the products that customers have purchased in the past.

3.   Reward Customer Loyalty

Loyalty is a big deal these days. Most customers will have an opportunity to buy from dozens of other companies just like yours. There may even be more affordable versions of your product or service out there if your customers are willing to look for them.

If you have people that stick around and continue purchasing from you, it’s important to show them that you appreciate that. This could be as simple as sending a handwritten thank-you note to your most appreciated clients or sending them a special discount on their birthdays.

You could even allow some of your clients to sign up for a loyalty program. This strategy would involve rewarding clients whenever they make a certain number of purchases with discounts and freebies.

You can also offer rewards when a customer refers someone new to your product and service, therefore increasing your revenue potential.

4.   Build Detailed Buyer Personas

Having the right documentation and resources in place is essential to being successful with customer service personalization. Your buyer personas provide a powerful overview of who your customers are and what they need from your brand. Often, these personas will offer insights into location, gender, age, and even hobbies or interests.

Having a set of buyer personas for each of the types of clients you’re trying to reach will make it easier for you to step into your customer’s shoes.

It’s essential to make sure that your personas are as detailed as possible because different personas will have different needs you need to fulfill. Knowing how to address their needs puts you one step closer to presenting yourself as the ideal solution.

Find a way to consistently collect data about your customers, so that you can update and improve your personas as you go.

Remember, you are likely to have more than one persona that you need to consider. Don’t be afraid to make multiple profiles. What’s more, you’ll need to keep adding to those profiles and optimizing them over time.

5.   Map the Customer Journey

Finally, as you’re researching your audience and figuring out more about how they experience your brand, create a map. You should be able to see how your customers get to the point of having a problem that they need to solve, to buying your products or services.

Mapping out the customer journey from start to finish will let you know which touchpoints you should be more aware of. For instance, you might have a blog that helps to provide your audience with information, but do you need an FAQ page too?

Should you be active on certain industry forum websites, as well as social media platforms? How can you make sure that you’re ready for anything the customer might need?

Don’t forget to take feedback and reviews into account when learning about the customer journey too. Your customers can give you some valuable information.

Deliver More Personalized Experiences

Customers around the world have made it truly clear that they value personalized and relevant experiences above all else. Today’s clients are willing to pay more for experiences that are suited to them.

Additionally, they’re more likely to keep coming back for more purchases in the future.

By tailoring your experience to your target audience’s needs and preferences, you can ensure that you’re delivering the kind of interactions that delight your clients. This could even mean that you end up with better reviews and more referrals to attract new clients.

— Guest Blogger: Lisa Michaels

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor, and a thriving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

 


Developing a Co Growth Strategy

Category : Management , Sales Growth

How To Develop A Growth Mindset In A Company

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” ~ Lao Tzu

If you launched your company intending to remain in perpetual startup mode, stop reading right now.

As the above quote from the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power) demonstrates, your mindset creates the foundation for your actions and future reality. However, a growth mindset involves more than just unleashing the power of positive thinking.

What is a Growth Mindset?

The term growth mindset was first used by psychologist and motivational researcher Carol Dweck to describe a state of mind that’s expansive and full of potential.

When you see the world through eyes that focus on progress and growth, the way your brain functions changes as well. You become motivated and enthusiastic, you feel more capable, and your overall attitude improves.

Consequently, the way you run your business will benefit as well. Let’s look at some ways a growth mindset can transform your business.

How Cultivating a Culture of Growth Helps Your Business

Everyone wants to feel that they’re part of something vibrant and expansive. People in dead-end jobs or companies that are stale and dated lose interest in their work. They become unproductive and detached.

Tardiness and absenteeism rates rise, and employee churn means positions are left unfilled or manned by a constant stream of trainees.

This, in turn, begins to affect customers. It also affects your bottom line when you’re constantly attracting and training new hires or overworking existing staff to compensate for gaps in leadership, salesforce, or production.

The result is a downward spiral of lackluster performance that seeps into every aspect of your business.

When one’s mind is open and inquisitive, however, problems become new challenges to overcome, and setbacks seem temporary.

They’re opportunities to learn and evolve as circumstances change.

That type of mindset also seeps into every aspect of your business. It’s contagious and exciting, and it inspires the rest of your team to aim for the stars along with you.

Such a mindset allows you to focus more on the process than on outcomes. If the process is enjoyable and productive, results will come.

However, if people feel limited in their potential and uninterested in outcomes, it will adversely influence decisions and performance, and even favorable outcomes are diminished.

Developing a culture of growth and productivity helps reduce staff turnover by making your employees feel engaged in their work and invested in the future of your company. Their success becomes your success.

It all begins with leadership.

Managers with a growth mindset are better able to hone in on fact-based details and information. They have more consistent interactions with staff, are more prone to challenge biases, and make better decisions.

When a leader is closed and static in their attitudes and behaviors, they’re less likely to provide appropriate feedback, spend less time one-on-one coaching and encouraging staff, and are unable to accurately identify and manage potential issues on the job. They tend to view staff members as less competent, which affects their morale and performance.

Nurturing a Growth Mindset at Your Company

Creating a growth mindset at your company should be every bit as much a part of your business strategy as marketing and customer outreach. Companies with high growth potential have teams that are:

  • Motivated to improve by constructive feedback
  • Able to learn and adapt skills in response to challenges and opportunities
  • Inspired by the success of others on their team
  • More willing to share knowledge and work with others to achieve company and team goals

The first step is to develop self-awareness. Develop a level of mindfulness that allows you to understand when you feel challenged and your response.

Are you approaching situations with a closed mindset? How does that affect your response and the outcome? Do you become defensive when you make mistakes, are you open to feedback, even when it’s negative? How do you create learning experiences for yourself? How do those you admire handle such situations?

Now, take that assessment outside of your own actions and apply it to how you lead your team by asking yourself four key questions:

  • How do I behave toward others in my organization?
  • Am I ‘fixed-minded” and focused more on my own power than on my employee’s well-being?
  • Do I affirm my own status by demeaning or marginalizing others?
  • Do I feel threatened by high-performing staff members or the success of others?

These are the kinds of attitudes that hinder growth.

You can turn that around by changing your own attitudes and behaviors, providing opportunities for learning and improvement on the job, and valuing the unique talents and perspectives that each member of your team brings to the table.

Demonstrate The Importance of Continued Learning Over Ready-Made Talent

Few people get it right the first time or every time. Employees should be given the space to fail and encouragement – even courage – to strive for improvement in the face of adversity.

Provide your team with opportunities to learn through continued education, mentoring, workshops, and apprenticeships. Share your own stories of courage or overcoming challenges on the job. Delegate tasks and give your team members more autonomy when it comes to making some decisions. Provide feedback in a way that’s constructive rather than critical.

Promote From Within

In business, stories abound about employees who give up after being passed over for promotion time and again in favor of some outsider. A study conducted by the Global Talent Monitor found that 40 percent of those who left their job cited lack of future career development as the primary motivator for quitting.

If you want a team that’s invested in the success of your company, be willing to invest in their success by promoting from within.

Change the Nature of Goal Setting

Progressive leaders focus more on creating development goals rather than performance goals, which rely more heavily on assessing things that an individual already knows how to do.

Try to establish a balance between assessing performance and encouraging individual and team development. Celebrate successes and find the lesson in setbacks.

Final Thoughts

Growth is necessary for all living organisms to thrive. Cultivating and nurturing a growth mindset at your company will allow you to weather bad times with optimism and action and leverage momentum in times of prosperity.

The result is a happy, engaged staff, higher productivity, improved retention rates, and a thriving, progressive company that can weather almost any storm.

Guest Blogger

Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.

 

 


Your Biz Online Rep. Should You Care?

Should Local Business Care About Their Online Reputation?

In a word: Yes. Businesses (more often than not) sink without a positive online reputation in this connected world where shopping online is the norm and information and services are increasingly sourced. A survey(1) on the Bright Local website reveals a consumer’s pre-sale experience is just as important as the sale. It also found that 97 percent of consumers regularly searched online for local businesses and 12 percent searched the online business world every day.

This means there’s a significant opportunity here for local businesses and service providers to reach their goals, but it’s their online presence and reputation that governs where the customers shop or choose a service provider.

Many Now Judge a Businesses By Its Online Cred

Keeping track of business and molding its online presence has its own term: Reputation management. And to manage an organization’s reputation, what shows up on searches, what people say in comments and what reviews are telling others has to be watched carefully.

This has to be covered on all social media platforms, and the Bright Local survey(2) also revealed that 86 percent of those surveyed read the reviews on local business websites (including 95 Percent of people aged from 18 to 34). These figures show there is a massive pool of potential clients and customers who will either recommend or condemn your product or service. It’s a wise business person who takes the following into consideration.

Gossip is Forever Online

In the past, and in the offline world, damaging gossip was and is usually forgotten after a week, and people and businesses eventually recover from bad press over time. It’s a far different story in the online world, however.

Once a piece of information, good or bad, is released into the digital morass it’s like diamonds – it is there forever. Add to this the fact that there are some loathsome, if very clever people who look for destructive posts and take them out of context, add distorted images and release them without the victim having any idea about it.

The truth is, one adverse comment or remark, let alone a post aimed at sabotage is set in concrete on the Internet and can never be removed. No amount of positive feedback or glowing reviews can guarantee that years of hard work won’t be lost by a negative post.

People Trust Online  Reviews

It’s not exactly breaking news that the business world is highly competitive, but many businesses have yet to realize that digital personal accounts are pure gold. There was a time when a family member or friend’s recommendation about a business or service was valued and often followed.

Now we can’t wait for that, preferring to leap online and read what a total stranger has to say, and trust them more than someone in real life. To say gossip spreads like a fireball in a bushfire sounds fast, but in the digital world, it’s more like the speed of light. The thing is, a review is available instantly to 3.2 billion people, which is why a positive one can be so wonderful. However, great care should be taken to ensure your business is generating useful responses.

But like a karate champion, you can deflect a negative review like a kick in such a way that it becomes positive, by responding courteously, and clearing up misunderstandings in a positive manner. The reviewer can then see that you care about their opinion and concerns.

Another way to boost your online appeal and social media credibility, is to post a customer’s testimonials which will boost your online reputation. If you can, ask someone in another company you’ve worked with if you can use their logo on your site and get a quote from them about how great you are to work with. Makes sure you display your valuable testimonials prominently and share them far and wide on the Internet.

Check Your Business in a Search Engine

To successfully manage your online reputation you should do a search online for your business to see what appears. Someone might have written an article about your business that is far from glowing, or your site may have been linked to another one unbeknownst to you. Instances such as these can be destructive, so you should sit up and take notice because it could affect your business. This is more so if the offensive content’s source appears before your site does on the search engine, so you should regularly update your site, and make it user-friendly.

As businesses close to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19, doing business online has never been more important. Having a solid online reputation not only keeps your profits healthy, but it will help people find you and do their shopping or business online rather than leaving the house. This helps people to maintain social/physical distancing which helps to stop the spread of the deadly virus and saves lives.

__________________________________________________________

References:

  1. https://www.brightlocal.com/research/local-consumer-review-survey/

Guest Author’s Bio

 Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in-depth understanding of many different industries including house cleaning, business support and digital printing. As the owner of Integral Media, he is now utilizing his knowledge and experience with his rapidly increasing client portfolio to help them achieve their business goals.

 

 

 


Keeping Your Accounting Records

3 Reasons to Keep Your Bookkeeping and Accounting Records

Some small or even big business owners will neglect their bookkeeping and accounting records. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to fall into this practice. But what happens if your records fall behind? Procrastination can lose you money. It also makes it harder for you to make sound decisions. To improve your business, you need to get your records updated. Let’s look at the three major benefits of doing so.

Updating Your Bookkeeping and Accounting Records Makes Lodging Tax Returns Easier

To file your annual tax returns, you have to keep careful track of your income and your expenses. This includes your gross earnings plus any additional income you may receive. You also need to keep careful track of the expenses you’ll claim as a deduction. This means documenting every business trip and every repair and maintenance expense. Additionally, you have to keep track of your home office expenses and other transactions. But what happens if you decide to wait until tax season to get your records in order? Without regularly updated accounting records, paying your taxes becomes a nightmare. You’ll lose a great deal of time preparing your documentation. Because of the increased workload, your accounting expenses will be higher too. So why not stay one step ahead?

Your Records Also Improve the Way You Manage Your Time and Resources

If it comes to an auditing process, updated records will save you from a great deal of stress. But these records aren’t just useful when it comes to dealing with the government. They can help you make better-informed business decisions. You can make amazing improvements just by studying the numbers. For example, you may be performing a service that’s wasting your time without bringing in profits. In this case, you might need to outsource it. Without records, you won’t know how much of your profit comes from each service you perform. Accounting and bookkeeping records also give you an idea of your clients. You may have a feeling that some of your clients are draining your resources. But without clear records, you can’t make unbiased decisions about it. Your goal is to use bookkeeping records to filter out low-quality clients. This approach lets you improve your income a great deal. But you can also use your records to make decisions about your expenses. For example, you may need to cut back on products that aren’t bringing insufficient profits. Your records may indicate that it’s time to change business partners. There are many other changes you might have to make.

You Can Grab New Opportunities

When an opportunity presents itself, you need as much data as possible. Your accounting and bookkeeping records give you information about your cash flow. Additionally, they provide you with a firm idea of what your business is currently capable of. This means that you’ll have a better idea of what to aim for. You can use this information while you negotiate. It is considerably easier to plan ahead when you have records to rely on. Others may want access to this information too. Up-to-date accounting records can help you demonstrate your financial position. This is useful to prospective business partners of any kind.

What Can You Do If You’ve Fallen Behind?

Many business owners start by keeping records themselves. But as things become more complicated, accounting and bookkeeping fall by the wayside. Is this the case for you? If so, you could make use of our expertise. There’s no need to do all this alone. Keeping updated records will save you from worrying when it’s time to file your taxes. But even more importantly, it gives you valuable information about your business. This will increase your profits and protect your business from risk. 

Author’s Bio

Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in-depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support, and health care. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as BYO Group, Adroit Insurance, and Simple Biz to help them reach their business goals.


Biz Cards Can Catch Attention

6 Creative Business Cards Sure To Catch Attention

Having a creative business card can help you make an awesome impression with our potential clients and partners. That said, there are hundreds of design ideas out there, so choosing the best one may take a significant amount of time.

Below, we’ll go over the importance of having a business card and list 6 examples of creative business cards that are sure to catch people’s attention.

Do I need a business card?

The Importance of Having a Business Card

There is no doubt that modern society is driven by technology and innovation. Although you may think that all entrepreneurs rely on digital means to exchange information, business cards remain one of the fastest and easiest ways to build a network and create brand awareness.

Instead of having to interact with a person enough to extract their contact information or spark their interest, you simply hand them a card that has all the information they need to know.

Moreover, you can even include ways to find information, like listing a social media page or having a QR code. Just remember to avoid overloading your card and always opt for a creative design that will make a lasting impression.

There are dozens of creative business card ideas you can choose from, but you need to find one that resonates with your audience and reflects your brand if possible.

skip the business cards?

Here are 6 creative ideas for your next business card.

Translucid Plastic

Translucid materials have a number of different applications. Having a translucid business card can help create a memorable impression while maintaining a sleek and elegant look. And, you can combine this effect with colorful letters, textures, and other elements to give it more personality.

Unusual Shapes and Sizes

Most people choose a standard rectangular size and shape, but you can always take a creative approach and opt for something different. Remember, regardless of the size and shape you choose, your card should not be bulky or cause any form of inconvenience for the recipient.

Cards that Look Like Something Else

Depending on the industry you’re in, you may be able to get away with a business card that looks like something else. For instance, if you are a recognized radio DJ, you could choose a business card that looks like an old school cassette.

Cotton and Alternative Materials

Traditionally, plastic and paper are the most popular business card materials. Today, you can choose from an endless list that includes cotton and elements sourced from recycled goods, wood veneer, plastics, bamboo, etc. Aside from creating different effects on the card itself, you should also try to highlight the fact that they are made from an uncommon material.

Texture Coordination

Adding texture to your business card with some of the latest digital technology can create amazing effects like silver and gold foil and 3D varnish, but combining different textures to make a particular effect can help you stand out from your competitors. You can use this combination of textures to liven up your card and focus on the elements that matter the most, such as your contact information or business logo.

Holographic Letter and Logos

Not all companies can get away with a holographic business card, but technology firms and innovative businesses can use this effect to make a statement. Design, fashion, and other creative firms can also take advantage of this style and combine it with colorful elements or different textures that give it a unique look.

Business cards are still an effective way to connect with new prospects and generate leads within your professional network. Make sure you take the time to clearly define both your brand and target market so you can create a design that will make a lasting impression with your clients and potential customers.

 Author’s Bio

Kym Wallis, the founding director of Higher Ranking has over 15 years of advertising sales, digital strategy, and business development experience. He is currently working as Digital Adviser for Colourtech.


Protecting your Biz from Hackers

How to Increase the Protection of your Business From Hackers

When it comes to cybersecurity, all businesses are potential targets for malicious online attacks. Hackers are generally after one thing: access to confidential and sensitive pieces of information that they can then use to leverage benefits for themselves. This could be in terms of getting hold of data such as user’s financial information, like bank details or even personal information such as your address, mobile number, etc.

Fortunately, to keep up with the wave of online threats that circulate and evolve around the internet, there are also a vast range of quality IT solutions to increase protection and prevent hackers from accessing your business. Here are five strategies you can start implementing today to enhance the IT security of your business:

1.  Equip your Business with the Latest and Up-to-Date Security Software

Anti-malware and antivirus programs are essential for your business’s IT security. This creates an extra buffer to detract hackers from accessing your business’s sensitive pieces of data. Ensuring all your business’s computers are up-to-date with anti-malware and anti-virus program stands as an absolute essential to protecting your business from hackers and other cybersecurity threats. The only caveat is that not all security software are created equal, so it’s important to practice due diligence in finding the best antivirus programs for your business.

2.  Educate Your Employees

Protecting your business IT security from the inside out is just as important as setting up external barriers to fend off online attacks. Your employees are a critical part of controlling the types of files and information that flow through your business’s IT network. So, it shouldn’t be surprising to know that it’s common for cyberthreats to enter from within the company.

One of the prevalent ways internal threats occur in the workplace is through emails, where an employee unknowingly opens a malicious file, link, or attachment contained in it – which ends up compromising the security of the entire network. To avoid these situations in the first place, employees should be properly trained in IT security, equipping them with the skills to know how to identify and isolate potential cyber threats when they’re encountered.

3.  Secure your Data: Encryption and Back-Ups

With encryption, your business’s data looks like broken scrambles of information to online hackers. It’s only if the hacker identifies the encryption key or pass, that they’ll be able to unscramble your business’s data and get a hold of the confidential information. This is why it’s so important to encrypt your business’s data with an effective key/pass so that such confidential information is rendered incomprehensible to cyber attackers lurking around the web. This security measure is especially important for businesses in the eCommerce industry, where customer’s sensitive information is transmitted and can become prime targets for hackers to prey on.

Backing up your business’s data provides a safety net to fall back on when the unexpected happens and all your business activities come to a halt. Resuming back to normal business operations can be made possible by implementing effective data back-up methods. On top of this, recent privacy laws require companies to show customers the types of confidential information collected about them – without copies or backups of this information, you’d be in for some legal problems.

4.  Use Secure File Deletion

Simply deleting a file and emptying it from the Trash folder doesn’t completely wipe the file off the computer’s hard drive. If your business data does get accessed by hackers, certain software applications can retrieve and recover previously ‘deleted’ confidential files. Australia’s National Privacy Principle 3 and 4 covers how personal information should be secured and restricted from unauthorized use or access. This includes protecting user information from cyber-attacks and being mishandled. To securely delete your files, integrate data erasing software into your business IT infrastructure. This ensures that deleted files are completely removed from the system and are irretrievable.

5.  Speak with IT Experts

The cost of hiring IT consultants may be the biggest factor discouraging business owners from getting the IT to help their business needs. But with the right IT help from leading experts in the industry, the amount you invest can well and truly pay off in the long run in terms of experiencing more productivity, happier and less frustrated staff, as well as an even stronger enhanced security infrastructure. IT professionals are not only able to provide solutions to remediate problems your business is facing, but they’re specialized in preventative measures to ensure your business doesn’t fall victim to cyber-attacks in the first place.

Enhance your business’ cybersecurity today

Regardless of your business type, size, or even industry, every business must effectively handle and manage confidential and private information from potential online threats. Cyber attacks are on the rise and are constantly developing into new ways to infiltrate and damage the stability of businesses by gaining access to sensitive information.

Getting on top of the best IT cybersecurity solutions for your business is an absolute must in today’s digital landscape. If you’re unsure where to start, it always helps to get relevant advice from experienced and established IT professionals. By investing in solid business security protection today, you’re set from dealing with losses in productivity and data in the long run.

Author’s Bio

Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in-depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support, and health care. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as Simple Biz, Cosh Living and Me Bank to help them reach their business goals.

 

 

 

 

 


3 Techniques for Innovation

Tags :

Category : Innovation , Startups , Technology

Make Room For Innovation In Your Business Using These 3 Techniques

What’s the primary goal of your business?

If you’re like the majority, you said, “Get more customers” or “Growth.” Whatever your answer or the industry you’re in, it all boils down to problem-solving. You want to address the customer’s pain points or provide innovative ways to enhance their lives.

Source: Pexels

Progressive companies deliberately create a culture of innovation where leaders allow staff the space and freedom to develop new approaches to doing their jobs. When you’re trying to foster innovation within your company, ask yourself and your team: “How can we innovate in ways that improve our operations, productivity, and bottom line?”

How Innovation Benefits Businesses

Chris Rock once said, “If it’s not new, it’s through.”

If you look at successful companies able to evolve with market forces or ride and survive the tide of new trends, they have several things in common:

    • They have a singular vision for the company’s mission and a unified strategy for realizing its vision
    • They create a positive corporate culture
    • They’re customer-oriented
    • They attract and nurture the best talent
    • They’re disciplined enough to stay the course but flexible and insightful enough to remain agile
    • They’re not afraid to take calculated risks

But, what does innovation in business mean? It means creating more efficient processes or improving products or services for more satisfied customers. That translates to altering your business model, incorporating changes in your existing environment, and providing staff with the bandwidth for creative thinking.

However, innovation shouldn’t be an afterthought.

It should be part of your core strategy from the start. Shifting to a culture of innovation may sound like a lot of work, but the dividends amount to a high ROI. Becoming more innovative and progressive will allow your business to:

    • Conserve resources, both financial and human
    • Manage growth more efficiently
    • Increase competitiveness and productivity
    • Improve brand recognition and support customer loyalty
    • Establish new relationships and nurture existing ones
    • Respond to shifting markets with confidence and agility

Even if implemented right, innovation also incurs some risks that you should acknowledge. These include:

    • Business disruption. Even a short amount of downtime could mean losing market share
    • Losing business to the competition
    • Losing key staff members to the competition
    • Reducing profits or experiencing a falloff in productivity
    • Going out of business

The chances for these setbacks increase if you don’t expect them and plan/respond accordingly.

Three Techniques That Support an Innovative Corporate Culture

Innovation doesn’t mean building a better mousetrap. It means having the creative freedom and mental agility to look at that metaphorical mousetrap from a different angle and translate your ideas or vision into actionable goals.

Permission to innovate begins at the top.

Business leaders have a responsibility to oversee and manage the financial aspects of corporate innovation. This concept has become so vital to business survival, that larger corporations have even added a Chief Innovation Officer to their C-suite of executives.

Once your team has the resources in place, they need the literal and figurative space to expand on the possibilities. They also need the freedom to take ownership of the successes and failures that spur further innovation. Instituting a non-hierarchical corporate structure removes the barriers to progress and supports communication and cooperation throughout the enterprise.

Here are three techniques that will inspire and support a culture of creativity and innovation within your workplace.

Make Your Workplace a Learning Space

If your team doesn’t have the skills that support a progressive work environment, they’ll lack the ability to move forward. Missing innovation doesn’t mean employees don’t have the inherent talent for creativity. But, without training, education, and specific skills, your employees will not have confidence in their abilities, which will hinder progress. Slow progress happens in established enterprises that use more traditional business models and have their ways of doing things. Retraining or onboarding requires a period of adjustment, patience, and overcoming the fear of change.

The looks and feels of your office also affect your team’s productivity and ability to focus.

When you create a comfortable workspace where staff feels valued, it empowers and inspires them to become invested in the success of your enterprise. A collaborative, modern workspace can increase productivity over 10% and attract younger talent. Start small if you need to. Succeeding in one department or improving one process will translate to enthusiasm and a thirst for further innovation.

Provide Staff With the Room to Scale

Shortsightedness is antithetical to success in any organization. You may have created a great product or delivered on your vision of better service. But what comes next?

Business leaders talk about growth, but what does that mean in non-subjective terms? To generate business innovation, managed growth that supports business scalability in both macro and granular ways is essential. Make sure you align your strategy with your long and short term vision, and that all stakeholders have the same commitment, determination, and means to take that vision to its maximum potential.

Give Them Room to Fail

For every business success, there are several failures along the way. We rarely talk about business or strategic shortcomings in a positive way, but they provide hidden lessons and a road map toward future improvement. When you remove the fear of failure from the picture, replace it with the freedom to make mistakes, learn from them, and re-calibrate your collective approach.

Final Thoughts

Innovation doesn’t begin or end with creative market disruption. It’s something you should infuse into the very fabric and structure of your enterprise.

Is your company supporting a climate of creativity?

Guest Blogger Michelle Laurey works as a VA for small businesses. She loves talking business, and productivity, and share her experience with others. Outside her keyboard, she spends time with her Kindle library or binge watching Billions. Her superpower? Vinyasa flow! Talk to her on Twitter.

 

 


7 Awesome SEO Tips You Can Try Right Now

Consumers increasingly turn to search engines for product research. Ranking at the top of the search results for keywords that are relevant to your business can drive more traffic to your pages. More visibility for your brand can ultimately increase sales. But simply having a website alone isn’t enough to rank.

So how can you increase your rankings in search engines like Google? The answer is with SEO or search engine optimization. Here we put together a list of seven awesome SEO tips that you can try right now.

1. Update Existing Content

Google doesn’t just consider the relevance of a piece of content. They also look at other factors like how “fresh” or recently it was published. In fact, Google even released a Freshness Update to its algorithm that prioritizes timely results. That means old pages on your site can gradually slip in rankings in favor of newly published content.

Does that mean you should focus solely on content creation? Not exactly. In many cases, updating existing content on your site can have more of a positive impact on your rankings. Comb through your old pages and add relevant keywords, update any outdated content, and change the page titles.

2. Remove Inessential Pages

This may sound contrary to the point above. But sometimes it may be best to simply remove certain pages all together. Google wants search results that users find useful and relevant. If your site is filled with thin, low-quality content, it can bring down the overall rankings of your pages.

Review data from your Google analytics and examine those pages that are barely getting any traffic. If they’re not delivering any value or you can’t update them (e.g. tags or archive pages), either include a no-index meta tag to your robots file or remove them altogether.

3. Optimize User Signals

One signal that Google looks at to measure user engagement is bounce rate – The percentage of visitors who leave after visiting only one page. A high bounce rate is an indication that the entrance page is not relevant to your visitors. As a result, competing pages with higher user engagement may outrank your pages. Case studies have even shown a correlation between bounce rates and search engine rankings.

You can greatly reduce bounce rates by improving the readability of your content. This includes making your content easier to scan, breaking up sections with subheaders, and including multi-media like images and videos to convey your point.

4. Write Meta Descriptions For Each Page

Meta descriptions are the snippets of text that appear in the search results underneath the page titles. These are 155 characters in length and describe what a page is about.

Meta descriptions have no direct impact on search engine rankings. But a well-written one can have a positive impact on a page’s CTR (click-through rate). Write compelling meta descriptions with compelling for each page on your site. Be sure to also include your target keyword as they will be bolded when they match a search query.

5. Improve Site Speed

Every second counts. Nothing is more frustrating than a loading site and staring at a blank screen as the page continues to load. Pages that load slowly can not only lead to higher bounce rates but also affect your rankings as Google has made site speed a ranking factor.

Use Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to see how both the mobile and desktop version of your site scores, and take steps to optimize loading times. These can include reducing the size of your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files, compressing your images, and enabling browser caching.

6. Multiply Your Content

You spend a great deal of effort publishing a high-quality post for your blog but why stop there? Any blog posts that you publish on your site can easily be multiplied to drive even more traffic to your pages.

For example, a single blog post can be turned into an infographic you can share with your followers on social media, a video you can post on YouTube, or even a podcast episode. Leveraging multiple content channels is a great way to expand your reach online and attract relevant links.

7. Monitor Search Console

Search Console is a free tool from Google that you should sign up for if you haven’t already. It lets webmasters monitor their search presence and see key information about their site like index status.

It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on Search Console as it can tell you if your site has been penalized. If you receive a notification that a “Manual Action” has been placed on your site, this is the place to see what action was taken and how you can address it.

Guest Author’s Bio 

Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in-depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support, and health care. As the owner of Integral Media, he is now utilizing his knowledge and experience with his rapidly increasing client portfolio to help them achieve their business goals.

 


Is Your Business Website Secure?

Category : Privacy , Security

Your business website is the focal point of all of your online endeavors. It is the platform that you customers use to research your business, and it is the space where you perform most of your customer interaction. Quite simply, it is one of your business’s most important resources, which is why you need to protect it at all costs. 

The question is, is your business website secure? If you have any doubts in this instance, then you need to set about securing your site right away. There really is no time to be lost. At any given moment, a cybercriminal could be hacking into your site. This could be happening right now, in fact. 

To ensure that your business website is as secure as it can possibly be, be sure to read on. 

Seek support 

When securing your website, the first thing that you must do is seek support on the matter. You aren’t a professional in this field, which is why you need advice and guidance from someone or something that understands the cybersecurity industry inside and out. 

One such expert that you could turn to in this instance is Watchguardonline.co.uk. The security resellers can offer you pre-sales support to ensure that you choose the security solution that your website needs. They won’t blindside you with jargon and, being vendor-neutral, they certainly won’t provide you with bias information. With them at your side, you will be able to layer your site with the exact kind of protection it needs to fend off the cyber attacks most likely to befall it. 

Remain up-to-date 

Designers don’t roll out software updates just to line their pockets with more cash, you know. They roll them out because updates are essential in the fight against the day’s most dangerous cyberattacks — you can’t fend off modern cybercrime dangers if you’re using protection better suited to the dangers of yesteryear. For this reason, whenever you see that an update is available, click on it, download it, and get up-to-date! 

In the specific instance of keeping your website secure, remaining up-to-date means updating your content management system (CMS) whenever you are able to do so. The update that you download will have learned from the dangers and mistakes of the past, meaning it will offer you the best possible protection against hackers. 

Fortify your passwords 

An often overlooked yet all-important aspect of website security is password protection. It really is quite simple — you must fortify your passwords! Cybercriminals are constantly finding ways to crack passwords and hack into the data that they are supposed to hide, which is why you need to set codes that are all but impossible to break into it. Make your passcode long, mix it with letters, numbers and special characters, and, most importantly of all, steer clear of anything that could be easy to guess, such as your date of birth.  

If your website isn’t as secure as it can possibly be, you need to set about the task of securing it right away. There really is no time to lose in this instance — Cybercriminals never stop, so you can’t afford to either.


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