Business Management Archive

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of being human. The biggest failure when you do make mistakes is not to learn from them. Some people get so overwhelmed from their mistakes that it paralyzes them. Instead, using those mistakes as a basis to not repeat them will help your business grow.

Having said this, you should try to avoid mistakes whenever you can, especially if you have made them in the past. It’s amazing how many people will continue creating situations that they have to later try and rectify, especially when they know it didn’t work out in the past. Insanity is defined as doing the same things over with different expectations for the results.

If you want some guidelines on how to either avoid mistakes or learn from them, the first is to keep a journal. Whenever you come across a situation, record it in the journal along with any steps you took. Also, take note of whether you viewed it as successful or not. When time passes, we may run into those situations again and not remember it. The act of writing something down will help you remember it in the future. Besides, you will have a roadmap of steps to take or avoid should you not remember the circumstance.

Another way to deal with mistakes or potential ones is to seek the advice of trustworthy colleagues and friends. If you know someone who has dealt with a similar situation, consult with them about what steps they took to deal with it. If you find their advice helpful, consider doing something in exchange for that advice. Perhaps you can give them something relevant from your business, or you can refer business to them in the future.

The types of mistakes you want to avoid are ones which can get you in legal trouble. If you are unsure of taking some action, don’t hesitate to consult with an attorney on the subject. Seek one who is qualified in the area of law that deals with the situation.

In most cases, there is no avoiding making mistakes completely, so don’t beat yourself up too much when you do. It’s important to recognize that you have made them and take ownership of them. Passing the blame onto others is going to make the situations worse and is going to upset the people you are blaming. Owning up to your mistakes will keep the integrity of your business intact and will help you to sleep better at night.

Running an online business can be a lot of fun and can be profitable as well. But it’s important that you make sure you are meeting all compliance requirements with governments. Many website owners ignore this at their peril.
If you capture emails of potential customers, in many countries, you are required to disclose what you intend to do with those emails. You need to let these customers know if you intend to sell their emails or any other plan you have for them. It is common to include this in your website’s privacy policy.

If you include testimonials, make sure that they are real. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on companies and websites that are fabricating testimonials. This should be common sense but make sure you get people who have actually used your product and are giving genuine feedback about it. Also, be aware that if you pay for these testimonials or give your product away for free in exchange for a testimonial, this fact must be disclosed as well.

If your business includes affiliate sales and you provide reviews of affiliate products you are selling, you must disclose that you have an affiliate relationship that may result in commissions generated. The FTC wants to make sure your potential customers understand your reviews may be biased based on the fact that you are receiving commissions.

It’s not the worst idea to run your policies by a lawyer who is familiar with compliance law. The internet is accessed by many people around the world. This complicates the scenario as you need to make sure you are compliant not only in your country but everywhere else your website may be viewed. Many countries are trying to implement similar rules but you simply never know when one falls outside those rules. Failure to comply can at best get you a warning and at worst levy steep fines for your business. Those fines will likely be more than any amount a lawyer would charge to help ensure compliance.

Of course, there are plenty of tricksters and charlatans who will use scare tactics to try and get you to purchase products and services that will help you keep compliant. If you have a budget for this, you will be better served to pay a lawyer as the solution will be specific to your business. Don’t leave it to chance. You may put your business at risk if you do.

Think about the last time you purchased something online from a company you trusted. Did you buy something else from them later on? If you did, was it an easy sale, in other words, did you trust that company more than you did when you purchased the initial product? You probably did trust them more during subsequent purchases.

One of the greatest assets a business has is existing customers. When you have an online business, you have even more of an opportunity to capture those customers on your list. You can communicate with them directly and then even sell to them from time-to-time.

But it’s amazing how many businesses either ignore customers who purchase from them or worse, they don’t treat them with the respect they deserve.

While it may be a stretch to say that your business will be destroyed when you ignore existing customers, you certainly are not doing yourself any favors if you are. Customers who are currently in your funnel have warmed up to your business, and when you do it right, they trust you. New customers have no idea who you are, and you have to do a lot more to get them to trust you. Who do you think it’s easier to sell to?

This is not to say you shouldn’t put effort into finding new customers; you should. The point is you want to make sure that you are spending a good amount of your efforts on keeping existing customers happy.

It’s incredibly puzzling to see even well-established businesses cater to new customers while completely leaving existing customers in the dust. Have you ever paid for a subscription and stayed with that subscription for an extended period, only to learn that the company has offered an amazing deal, good for new members only? You likely feel betrayed when that happens, and it happens often. You may have even unsubscribe when it happens.

Maybe your business won’t fold if you ignore your existing customers but you will be putting in way more effort than is needed to increase your sales. While you shouldn’t bombard your existing customers with offer-after-offer, you should make them feel special. When you do, the effort to sell them will be small, and your cost of acquisition actually decreases when that happens. Who doesn’t want an easier way to sell to customers? It’s there for the taking.

How Not to Handle Bad Press > Internet Marketing

Posted November 26, 2016 By Callie

Your business is going along at a great clip. Then, out of the blue, someone leaves you a bad review on sites like Yelp.com. You try to think back to all the customers you dealt with to recall any bad experiences and nothing comes to mind. With an online business, it can be difficult to know when someone is not happy. No matter what the cause, there are some tips on what not to do when it happens to your business.

First, don’t strike back at the person leaving negative comments. It makes you look petty, and other customers (and potential customers) may see this encounter. It’s actually better to ignore it than it is to confront them head on. An even better approach is to try and reach out to the naysayers and ask what it is they didn’t like or had trouble with. If you can, offer them a discount on their next purchase. If they are unhappy with any purchase, try offering a refund. When you take this approach, complaining customers may reverse their negative reviews.

Another thing you should avoid is pumping up the review site with false positive reviews. Not only is this an artificial means to handle the situation, but it can also get you into trouble with the law in some countries. For instance, in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has made it known it is cracking down on this type of practice.
There are reputation management companies who claim they can turn around any bad reviews or press. If you decide to use such companies, make sure you understand their methods and agree with them. If they are not on the level with their methods, they can make the situation worse.

Oddly enough, there is some bad press that can bring in more potential customers, especially when they realize that your company was not doing anything wrong. People who have never heard of your business before may see the reviews or stories about your business and decide to visit your website to see what it’s all about.

Unless whatever was reported about your company is truly heinous, time should heal the situation. People easily forget. This is especially true if they like what your company has to offer. While you will lose some customers here or there, many will eventually return. Offering discounts to entice them can be a great way to make the impact of the situation less severe.

It’s exciting to start a new business. However, it requires the right amount of capital. Even online businesses are going to require some spending to get the word out or to create products, etc. Many business owners turn to debt to obtain that needed capital.

Online businesses often suffer from not having assets attractive to lenders. The lenders refuse business loans because they cannot recoup the losses. Therefore, they tend to hit up credit cards to finance their business capital. The high-interest rates can truly weigh down your ability to manage your business.

When you run up heavy credit card debt, you can expect to pay several hundred and even thousands per month just on servicing the debt. The problem is that you may not yet be cash flow positive to offset that debt. Also, remember any interest tacked on is doing nothing to help your business make any money. It is simply money that is going to the credit card companies. That’s assuming you even have enough to pay them.

Contrast this with someone who starts an online business with a fair amount of capital right at the start. Any money spent can go towards growing the business, all things being equal. This doesn’t mean they will spend on the right things, but the same can be said for the person using credit cards.

Another way to avoid overextending yourself is to obtain crowd funding capital. Crowd funding is a relatively new financial product that helps people raise money via the internet. It uses services like Indiegogo.com or Kickstarter.com to present a campaign for funds. People visit these sites and pledge money to the campaigns. There are many of these types of services, and they all have similar ways in which they operate, although differences will obviously exist among them. The great feature of this type of funding is it does not need to be paid back. The downside is that the popularity of these sites has made it more competitive to obtain the funds.

The best option is to find a business model where you can earn money while putting up little to no capital. When you do earn, you can use those funds to grow your business to a higher level. When this happens, you won’t have the heavy debt burden taking away most or all of your gains. In this way, you’ll truly be working for yourself instead of your debtors.

If someone took away your main workstation tomorrow, how much would this cripple your online business? If you are like most who run your business online, you’d probably say that number is close to 100%. This is exactly what may happen if you don’t backup your data.

It’s incredibly easy and cheap to perform backups these days. You can even do it online using cloud-based services. They can even be done automatically, too. Many businesses ignore doing it, often with dire consequences.

If you transact most of your business online, it means that you are using your computer for a good portion of your business tasks. You probably rely on emails for your contact database, and you save a fair amount of information on your local drive. Maybe you have some of your information stored on some cloud-based service, but you still keep a fair amount locally.

Even if a large portion of your data is stored on the cloud, you should not rely on the service you are using completely. There have been plenty of instances of failures with those cloud services which can leave your business vulnerable. You hope they are backing things up, and you hope they are storing those backups offsite, but you can never tell. If you wait until there is a problem to find out, it’s probably too late at that point.

If you store a good portion on your local drive, maybe you believe that you can use a data recovery service. Be aware that these services are very expensive, and there is absolutely no guarantee of getting your data back. You pay whether or not they can retrieve your information. Most people make the mistake of trying to recover the information themselves before seeking out the services of data recovery companies. They usually do more harm than good and make it impossible for any recovery of data.

There is absolutely no reason to not backup your information or data. The technology is quite cheap and easy to set up. Most solutions are set-it-and-forget-it. If you are technologically inept, hire someone who can help set it up for you. There are even online services that will back up your information. When deciding on such a company, get references and do some research to make sure they are reliable companies. Ask them about the procedures they use for backing up as well as restoring and ask about offsite storage.

Why You Should Always Back Up Your Data

Posted November 2, 2016 By Callie

Having a backup in life is always essential. If we ever have any problems with a tire on our car, it’s okay, because there’s a spare tire to help you get through. Backing up your data is important for that same reason. If there should ever be an issue with your data or rather the device it’s stored on, you’ll be able to breathe better, as long as you never forgot to back up your data in the first place.

Listed below are the top five reasons why never forgetting to back up your data is so very important for you and potentially your business.

1. Doing Work Twice

No one wants to have to do something over again that they already finished. The first philosophy many working people live by is, “Do it right the first time.” This way, you’ll never have to worry about doing work the second time.

Suffering a major failure and not having backups of your data will almost always ensure that all the hard work you did the first time around will be gone and mean absolutely nothing. Not a single person likes doing things another time, especially after working so hard on it. You can prevent all of this from happening by simply backing up your data.

2. Simple Recovery

Not a single person on this planet has never made a mistake. People make mistakes quite often. Emails containing viruses are opened all the time by people not paying attention and by people not knowing. Virus-filled emails can often lead to people accidently deleting important files for work.

However, there is no reason to fear these situations happening to you, as long as you take frequent snapshots of your systems. You’ll then be able to restore to the most recent snapshot taken if data ever were to be deleted. This simple recovery of data has saved many businesses from failing.

3. Business Failure

A large majority of businesses that have suffered data loss do not reopen. This is because those businesses do not back up their data. If they did, whenever they lose their data, they’d be able to get all the information back. Simply by thinking ahead and preparing for the worst, you can be one of the few businesses that do not fail once suffering from loss of data.

4. Competitive Advantage

Having backups of your data can help you to stay ahead of your competitors. In the untimely event of a data disaster, the first business to get back up has the advantage of succeeding. Once a business falls, it’s often hard for them to get back up to where they once were.

5. Audits, Taxes, and Archives

Most businesses are required to keep business records for an extended period; whether it be for tax purposes or because of various regulations. It’s easy to assume that your computers have you covered since you’ve got all of your information on there, but having one copy of anything can be a mistake in the future. The IRS won’t care if you had a data problem; that’ll just show them how you are not compliant, allowing them to fine you.

You should never forget to back up your data as it can lead to business failure and possible fines. Be responsible and ready for the worse to happen. You’ll thank yourself in the future.

Types of Fraud to Watch Out For

Posted November 1, 2016 By Callie

Unfortunately fraud has plagued many people’s lives. As times have progressed, more and more types of frauds have emerged. That makes it even more important to be aware of the frauds surrounding us. By knowing, you’ll know exactly how to protect yourself. Listed below are the types of frauds you need to look out for and how you can protect yourself from these crimes.

1. Phishing – Oftentimes, people will get emails from what looks to be from their banks. However, once you click on the link they provide, it won’t direct you to your bank’s website. It’ll instead direct you to a website that looks like the website you want to be on. You’ll then be asked to enter your information, which is where these scammers will have access to all of the information they’re phishing for.

2. Identity Theft – The stealing of your identity has been one of the fastest growing type of fraud in the world. You open yourself up to identity fraud when untrustworthy people get hold of your credit card or bank account information to buy items and charge them to you.

Usually the items they’ll purchase with your information are expensive and put you in debt very quickly. The easiest way to protect yourself from this type of fraud from attacking you is to destroy all receipts, credit card bills, bank card statements, etc. before throwing them in the garbage.

3. Charities Fraud – Many people enjoy giving money to people who need it. However, there are other people out there that enjoy taking advantage of that. These people will set up websites that look just like a specific charity site. From there, if you do not notice the difference, these people will have access to your information.

The best thing you can do to prevent people from taking advantage of you and your money is to pay attention to what you type in the search bar. Oftentimes, if you rush through the URL and mistype it, you could be directed to the fraudulent website where the criminals are waiting.

4. Job Scams – Many people looking for jobs have gotten scammed by people who promise a job, access to job listings, interviews, or ways to make a big income by working from home. However, before you have access to these things, you must pay these people or turn over your credit or debit card information. To prevent this from happening, just remember that there should never be an instance where you have to pay someone for the promise of a job.

This world is crowded with so much evil that it’s often hard to keep track of all the dangers that surround us. Unfortunately, we must add the threat of fraud to those dangers. Despite there being so many different types of fraud, there are numerous ways to prevent it from entering into our lives. Usually the simplest thing is just by keeping your personal information private. Don’t give it to people who don’t deserve it or don’t have the right to have it.

The Damage Botnets Can Cause

Posted October 31, 2016 By Callie

Botnets are a bunch of computer networks that are used in controlling and instructing things like attacking other computers, sending spam or phishing emails, and giving people ransomware or spyware. These are all very malicious acts that can cause damage to you and your computer.

You should know that all of this can happen without you even knowing. By the time you do notice something, damage has already been done. Listed below are some of the damages that botnets can cause to you and your computer.

1. Take control of your computer. This can happen as quickly as 1-2-3. All it takes is a browser plugin that you just keep postponing. Another way your computer can be taken over is by clicking on a link when you have no clue where it leads you. With the busyness and commotion of our lives, we tend to do things without thinking, making it that much easier for scammers to gain control of your computer and who you are.

2. Launch a Distributed Denial of Service Attack. This can be done to a company, website, or the government. This type of attack happens when someone sends so many requests for content that the server can’t handle it and it fails. Even the largest of networks have trouble “surviving” when botnets attack.

3. Commit advertising fraud. Computers all over the world can generate fake ads for people to click on. Once someone has clicked on them, they open themselves up to a world of dangers and possible loss of your own information.

4. Send off phishing emails. These phishing emails come from botnets and people who are fishing for your information and money. They will send you an email that looks like it’s from your bank. A link will be attached. Once clicked on, the link will send you to a website that looks just like your bank’s website. When you fill out your information, your information will be available to the people waiting for it.

Listed below are ways to prevent your computer and yourself from falling victim to botnets.

* Don’t click on any links that you find to be suspicious or have no idea where they lead to. Even if they come from someone you know, their accounts could have been compromised. Be safe and ask them what the link is about. Don’t blindly click on something just because you trust the person who sent it or because you’re bored. This is why scammers are so successful; because they know how to take advantage of you.

* Always make sure your firewall is on. Set the firewall to its maximum security. All applications will then be able to contact you when internet access is needed.

* Keep all your software updated. Many scammers get into your computer whenever it’s not updated. They gain control of the software that isn’t up to date and destroy who you are and your computer.

Botnets are something you don’t want to mess with or come in any sort of contact with. They’re very powerful and can destroy anything they come into contact with. Be careful and always remain aware of the dangers that have invaded our wireless worlds.

Staying Safe with Electronic Payments

Posted October 30, 2016 By Callie

Online, we don’t get to see the person we’re paying, so often it can be hard to tell whether or not your information is safe from fraud. However, sometimes it’s just easier to pay online or it may be the only option available. To help ensure that you’re staying safe with electronic payments, there are things you need to know and keep in mind.

1. Use Credit, Not Debit

Credit cards come with better consumer protection against fraud, and your liability is usually capped at about $50, as long as you catch the extra charges in time. Debit cards on the other hand, don’t have much of a liability. Depending on when you report your card as missing, you could be held liable for the entire amount.

So, stick to credit cards. If you ever have any doubts, you can use a one-time credit card to generate a random card number to be linked to your bank account. All of this will make it harder for criminals to get hold of your money and information.

2. Check the URL

When you go onto a website that requires your private information, make sure the page’s address starts with “https” and not “http”. That extra “s” means that the website uses an encryption code that scrambles your information, preventing people from getting your information. The “s” doesn’t always mean that the transaction is 100% safe, but it is a quick check that might be able to give you a sense of security.

3. Don’t Shop in Public

Public Wi-Fi is never secure from scammers, so buying things online with that Wi-Fi is almost begging people to take your information. Whenever you feel the need to buy things online, use private Wi-Fi and your own computer. You’ll then find that your information will be safer from lurking criminals.

4. Never Give Out Your Social Security Number

There isn’t a single reason why someone would need your social security number in order for you to buy something. If a website is asking way too many questions, leave the website and don’t make any purchases from them.

5. Use a Safe Password

Things like “12345”, your social security number, or you birthday are not strong passwords. Hackers will easily get into your private information and potentially ruin your life. If you can’t think of a secure password, use a password generator.

Do not write your passwords down anywhere. The wrong people could get their hands on that paper, so try remembering them instead. To keep your private information as safe as possible, you can also try changing your password every couple of months. This will make it that much harder for people to gain control of your information.

Your information is your information, so stay safe when shopping online because scammers are always lurking. Keep your eyes open for little clues on whether or not you’re about to be scammed. Clues will usually be hidden; you just have to know how to look for them. And if you don’t notice any clues, just trust your instincts.

If you’re on a website and you’re getting a bad feeling about what it’s asking or how it looks, get off the page. It’ll be safer for you and your information.