Tag: Business

Suspicious E-mail Attachment? Be Cautious it can be Impair Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you may be receiving tens of emails (sometimes hundreds) in your in-box every day. You have to be careful while opening your emails – a small neglect on your part can significantly ruin your business – your important files may get deleted, someone might get access to your financial and customer information. I am not trying to scare you off but this is reality. There are many cyber criminals out there looking to make easy money. 95 percent of Americans receive emails with malicious programs while nearly 9 percent opened the attachment infecting their computer (Halon and TNS Global survey).

In this article, we will discuss the common threats that come as email attachments and what precautions you can take.

Common threats as email attachments
Opening a suspicious email attachment can infect your computer with a virus, Trojan horse, botnet and you can even become victim of phishing and hacking.

  • Virus: Virus is one of the common threats that small businesses come across. These malicious programs are mostly sent as email attachments with the intention of either damaging your computer programs or spreading the viruses to the computers in your network for creating problems.

    When such email attachments are opened some programs will get installed in your system. They can do many things – can gain access secretly your sensitive information, wipe out all the files on your hard drive, replicate and spread to USB keys and external hard drives. Sometimes they display unwanted ads.

  • Trojan horse: Trojan horse records all keystrokes you enter in your system. That is how it gains unauthorized access to your organization’s financial information, customer information; disrupts the performance of your computer; deletes or modifies your data, etc. Cyber criminals can even notice you through web cam.
  • Phishing: Phishing emails look legitimate and appear as if they came from known sources like businesses, banks, government agencies, friends, relatives, major online retailers, social networking sites, etc. They motivate you to download HTML form and sometimes motivate you to click the links in the email.

    These emails come with subject lines like “update your information” or confirm your user-name and password” and sometimes state the consequences if you don’t verify your details.

    Phishers generally attach html form to the mail. When you open such attachments, the form asks you to fill your credentials. These attachments are less likely to be blocked by anti-phishing mechanisms, because the form is stored locally.

    Sometimes you will be asked to click on the link provided that leads to the phisher site that site looks genuine and they motivate you to enter details of your accounts. The phishers gather your information based on your inputs and use this information to gain access to your account with a bank etc. to misuse it.

  • Legitimate PayPal URL looks like:
    legitimateurl
  • Disguised URL from the phishing email:
    Disguised url

These phishing links are constructed in such a way that looks like it goes to PayPal.com, but it leads to the phishing site. You can see the difference instead of forward slashes – there are dots in the URL and also you can see in the URL – instead of https it is http. (Note: HTTPS in the URL signifies your information is secure. Legitimate sites will only able to get this security certificate)

  • Botnet: Botnets are generally a group of computer networks that are remotely controlled by cyber criminals over the Internet in an effort to perform automated tasks without your knowledge. These email attachments contain viruses, spyware with botnet code. When they are installed in your computer. The creator of malware takes control over your system, your Internet browsers and monitors your keystrokes. They sometimes use your email account to send thousands of spam emails and involve in click fraud.
  • Hacking: Typically hacking targets a specific person. Hackers are very smart they send emails with convincing subject line, attached with a virus. Sometimes, they send emails from your friends’ or business partners’ account (the one which they already hacked). When such attachments are installed, they gain access to your system without your knowledge. Once the hacker gains access to your system, they look for information to steal your financial accounts, trade secrets, client details or your intellectual property.

Precautions to take

  • Update your operating system or enable ‘automatic update’
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software in your system. Because this will inspect all files in your computer as well as your attachment files for viruses and spywares. Whenever they find any infection, they will remove it or immediately alert you
  • Back up all important files on your computer
  • Install and maintain a firewall on your computer – configure it. This will alert you whenever a program or process is attempting to access your system
  • Use attachment filters that will block certain file names or extensions
  • When you are not using your system, shut it down
  • Disable settings in your email program that automatically download the attachments


Precautions to take while opening email attachments

  • Don’t click, open, save or run any email attachments that you suspect
  • Be cautious about the executable files that end with the extensions such as .exe, .vbs, .lnk, .pif, .scr, .bat and so on
  • If you think the file is legitimate, check the contact details whether they are matching with the original source
  • Don’t give personal or sensitive information by email. Remember, no legitimate source will ask for information through emails

Small businesses are common target of cyber criminals as they often give least attention to this kind of matters. Use your emails sensibly and safeguard your business.
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Basic Webpages a Small Business’s Website Must Have

website monitoring serviceSmall businesses need to understand that a well designed website creates a positive impression about the business in the minds of customers. For that they need to make sure that their website has the main pages such as home page, about us, products, newsroom and contact us page. In this article, we will discuss about the main webpages a small business website should have.

Homepage: This is the main page of your website that a user gets to see. In this page, you need to give general information about your company, its featured products and a navigation menu.

    • – Some tips for homepage:
    • Company description should be simple, clear and brief.
    • Don’t make the page look clumsy. Mention only few key products or services that are popular.
    • Include news and upcoming events on your homepage. As it signifies that your site is up-to-date. Make sure that content in these pages is fresh, unique and relevant.
    • The page design should not make the reader to scroll left and right to access information. Create a page with minimal graphics.
    • The navigation bar should tell the type of information your site/page contains.
    • Make it easy for the visitor to navigate your site.
    • Include some testimonials on how you have helped other businesses.
    • You may include logos of your well-known clients, customers or affiliate companies.
    • You may also include call to action buttons.


About us page: This is one of the most important pages of your website. It showcases your business and the history behind it. Moreover it is a place where you can provide in-depth information about your business.

  • – Some tips for about us page:
    • Company history: Tell how long you have been in this business.
    • Company description: Tell what your business is about, what your organization stands for, what makes your business stand out among your competitors, etc.
    • Your company’s vision, mission and philosophy.
    • Management profile: Show your key employees and tell about their education, experiences and role in the organization. Also help your customers contact them via email or social media links, this builds trust.
    • Also include awards and rewards that your business received.


Products/services page: In this page, you have to describe your company products/services in detail.

  • – Some tips for products/services page:
    • Don’t limit yourself to describe products and service information such as its advantages, standards and how they are better than others. In other words, provide all the details about the product. This helps you in two different ways:
    • Helps the robots spiders in crawling for the information on your webpages
    • Helps customers to know about your offerings.
    • Your content should be informative, educative, logical, compelling and call to action, so that the customers can easily understand what you are selling.
    • Use product images or videos on how your products work.


Contact us page: This page should have a small description about your physical location, how to get there and phone number/s. This will help your customers and clients contact you.

  • – Some tips for contact us page:
    • Organization name
    • Address – zip code, city, state and country
    • Email address, phone numbers
    • Map

Benefits of Establishing Goals and Objectives for a Business

Establishing goals and objectives is very important for every business because, they clearly tell business owners what they want to achieve. Without establishing goals and objectives, doing business is like going on a road without knowing the destination and struggling to find a place in present marketplace.

Many people have perception that goals and objectives are same. They are however not the same. Business goals are a set of things that an organization hopes to achieve during its time in operation. They are broad and unmeasurable. Objectives are the exact steps that a company must follow to reach its goal. They are measurable and quantifiable. Setting goals and objectives for small and large businesses are beneficial as it provides direction at all stages of planning, operating and building a business.

In this article, we will explain to you how goals and objectives are helpful for growth of a business.

Better understanding among employees – about the business objectives
Business owners use a variety of tools and techniques to improve their company and business operations. Setting objectives is one of the tools that creates a target for business owners to achieve. Objectives can be company wide goals, specific to the division or department and individual employee. Businesses use these objectives to measure their success and progress toward their goals. By setting objectives, every employee of an organization knows what to do to reach the business goal. All employees will have a better idea on their business objectives and while working they will have a mutual understanding between them.

Employees to work on a same phase
A business plan helps management set goals and objectives for optimal performance. It brings employees on board with these objectives. Setting personal goals and objectives for each employee and department brings everyone to work on the same phase when it comes to their expected contributions to company assignments. Inclusion on company wide assignments and plans can motivate and inspire employees to do their work best and develop commitment towards the company.

Motivates employees and boosts productivity
You cannot overestimate the business value by just looking at the employees engaging in work. However, companies with dissatisfied workers experience greater absenteeism and lower productivity as well as reduced turnover rate. Establishing a clear goal alignment can be a solution for this situation by creating greater employee ownership in company’s ultimate success.

Setting goals and objectives for each employee and department can motivate them to work on same page on company projects. Employees who clearly understand their individual goals related to company can naturally engage with their work. Once they engage in their work, it will be a direct contribution to company’s success and employee productivity, and they begin to find ways to work smarter and more efficiently. This boost in employee productivity increases company’s operating margins and profitability.

Quicker execution of strategies
Setting goal alignment and visibility allows any organization to execute their strategies quicker by enabling management team to more effectively allocating labor resources across various projects. An organization that sets goals in their company will strengthen the leadership of managers by letting them to clearly understand all duties related to goals, eliminating duplicates among job titles and focus their staff to concentrate on company’s goals.

Easy to evaluate the process
Goal alignment is a tool that clarifies job roles for individual employees and also presents to workers their ongoing value to their business. It establishes a true pay-for-performance culture at your company by rewarding the employees who are actually working to achieve these goals. When this happens in a company, every employee will do their best for company’s success.

Competitive advantages
From objectives, business owners can create a competitive advantage in the business environment. This happens when company produces better products and provides services better than other businesses. It is possible when employees get involved in their work for business success. Business owners who create a competitive environment can often increase company market share and profits. Increasing profitability enables companies to improve and expand their business operations.

Goals and objectives are, thus, important for a successful business.

Importance of Having Exempt Employees for Small Business Success

Hardworking employees are one of the biggest and strongest assets of every successful company. When it comes to small businesses, the role of such employees becomes even more crucial due to the availability of limited resources.

Employees in critical roles like executive, administrative and professional are important for small businesses success because people in those roles perform crucial duties in the organization such as managing the business, framing and executing important management policies and performing non-manual tasks that require independent judgment and discretion.

For a small business to reach its goals in less time, they need employees in crucial roles to work hard at least during the initial years of the business, or during project delivery time. If the employees in these roles are enrolled under regular employee, according to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), they are entitled for minimum wage and overtime pay, which is one and half times the regular rate of pay.

This kind of laws not only prevent the companies to discourage long working hours, but also make it difficult for the company to achieve its objectives on time.

Exempt Employee Act
To prevent such instances, you can make use of ‘Exempt Employee Act’ under which FLSA provides exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay for employees who are employed as bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales roles. A few sections under the act also exempt certain computer employees.

Eligibility for exempt employee status
Job title alone do not determine exempt status. For an employee to get qualified they should pass certain tests with respect to their job profile and salary according to Department’s regulation. Though job profile varies from one job to other, a common rule is exempt employees should be paid on salary basis and the minimum salary should not be less than $455 per week.

Only for ‘white collar’ employees
According to FLSA, only ‘white collar’ employees who satisfy the job profile and salary tests become eligible for exemption. The exemptions do not apply to ‘blue collar’ workers who do manual labor whose work involves repetitive tasks with their hands, skill and energy like that of employees in production, construction, maintenance fields and in occupations such as carpenters, mechanics, plumber, etc. These employees are entitled only for minimum wage and overtime pay.

The Act is also not applicable for employees in various public service departments like Police, Fire Fighters, Paramedics and other First Responders.

Benefits of having exempt employees
Exempt employees in the afore mentioned roles can enjoy a more flexible work environment than non-exempt employees, who typically finish their work in the scheduled shift.

  • – FLSA prohibits the employer from requiring the exempt employees to “punch a clock” or work in a particular schedule, or make up the time lost because of absences. So, whenever required, the employee can stretch extra hours, work on weekdays and holidays.
  • – At the same time, the department also doesn’t limit the work an employer can expect or require from an employee.

How exempt employees make you win?
Back in 1987, Amgen, an American multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in California was ready with its breakthrough product – all the background work was done – the invention, testing, trails, everything is done and the product is ready. Only thing pending is the approval from FDA. But before applying for approval, they need to document the details. Otherwise the approval gets postponed just like what happened with another biotech company, Genentech.

But documenting is not a small process. They need to prepare a detailed report which typically contains 1000s of pages, which takes a great effort and long time. Within this span of time, any of their competitors may secure the approval. So, there were two challenges before them – one was to prepare the report with perfection and other was to submit it before anybody else.

For this the Amgen FDA application team that started its work at their office soon shifted to Simi Valley to avoid unnecessary distractions. At that point of time, nothing was more important for them except the challenges, so they became “Simi Valley Hostages.”

All the employees in the team would work in the morning, have a brief lunch break, would work till 6.00 p.m. After a short dinner break they worked in the night. The schedule repeats until the close of the project. This way they worked for 93 continuous days without any personal life and finally created a 19,578 page document, shipped it off to FDA, and got approval.

Imagine how tough it would be for the company if the team of employees are non-exempt. The point we are trying to drive home is you may face such challenges in your business. For small businesses, deadline for a project delivery is a challenge. Unless you have hardworking, committed team who are exempt, you will not be able to deliver results on time.

If you are still having non-exempt employees in key roles, better late than never, convert them into exempt and leverage the talent effectively. (more…)

Things to Consider Before Choosing Right Type of Business

Everyone wants to start and work on their own to earn money, but they don’t know what type of business to choose, how to start and how to achieve it. If you are planning to start a business, it is significant to consider some points before choosing the right type of business, because it directly affects your tax payments, administrative tasks, business risks and development.

It will become much easier for you to start the right business when you know exactly what you are looking for. Generally, you should go for business which gives you most protection and least obligations, otherwise you may loose control on it. If you make a smarter choice of doing business that you are aware of then you will find it enjoyable, fulfillment, greater control, and you can make reasonably profit from it.

In this article, we will discuss how to choose right type of business.

Choose a business from a familiar industry
The best way to start a business is to do something which you are passionate about or interested in. Start a business that will stand in the long run, you need to choose a business that suits your nature and your lifestyle, so that you will not only be successful, but you will also enjoy doing it. You will stand much better for making a sale when you believe in what you are marketing or selling. During tough times, you can even fight to overcome difficulties.

Suppose you don’t have any experience or knowledge of what type of business to do, there are chances of business failure. Choosing a known business has many benefits because you can use your knowledge about the specific industry, your training skills, your network of contacts who might help you find finances, suppliers and customers.

Before making a choice on which business to start, be sure that you are not falling into a trap of starting a business just because someone has advised you or because someone is making huge profits from a particular business.

Analyze the market and evaluate the risks
When you start business with your own individual interests, it is necessary to make sure that your business represents a entrepreneurial opportunity. So analyze and study the market, whether it is moving towards a real need. Conduct survey through direct or online means and ask people about their wants and needs. By doing this, you can evaluate your strengths, weaknesses and where you may face risks, so that you will be prepared to find a solution.

Know your customers and competitors
Without customers, there is no business. So your business should be according to the needs and desires of potential customers. Every business in the market has competitors. Some competitors are ruthless and unpredictable because they can do anything to match or beat you in offering products to customers at lower price. You should know who your customers and competitors are and what are their capabilities, so that you can prepare well and come up with a better marketing strategy.

Choosing products/services that can bring good ROI
When you want to start a business, choose a product or service according to the needs of potential customers, so that you will get a good return on investment (ROI) to your business. ROI tells business owners about the profits gained from their investments. The overall ROI for an enterprise is sometimes used as a tool to grade how well a company is doing.

Business financing requirements
Finally, you have to consider whether you need any funding requirements at present or in future for your business. If you don’t want to raise money or others to get involved in your business, choose something that you can grow solely, without any third-party funding. So start small and let the business provide revenues for the operational and growth capital you need. Small businesses need less capital than others. For example consulting businesses require a business card and some basic marketing materials to start.

It is helpful to consider all these points before plunging into business and invest your time and effort to choose the right path. This will ultimately helps you start up a successful business.
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Why is it Important for Small Businesses to Write a Business Plan

An effective business plan is like a road map that shows small business owners the right direction to achieve their set of goals and objectives. Goals are targets that need to be achieved and objectives will help you in attaining the target. A good business plan will help you in making the right decision for your business.

Business plan is an essential tool for running a small business successfully, irrespective of it’s size and type. A business plan should include complete description of your business, services/products, overall budget, current and projected finances, market analysis, targeted customers, competitors and marketing strategies. Running a business without a business plan is like going on a road without a destination.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of writing a business plan for small businesses.

Saves time and money
A carefully structured business plan helps you invest wisely and also helps you minimize the time to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Thereby you can capably run a business without any obligations. An effective business plan will save you a great deal of time and money, by enabling you to identify the potential issues timely that may crop up in course of your business.

Helps in raising money
A well written business plan convinces investors or lenders to put in their money in funding your business. It tells why your business is worth starting or pursuing, your future business plans and goals. If your business plan provides them a glimpse of chance of getting funds and raise more money then investors will attract towards your business and invest in it. In this way, it will help in raising funds for your business operation.

Helps attract investors
Business exposure is a crucial thing while writing business plan. An effective business plan will attract franchise capitalists, lenders or investors. This can only happens when you have a detailed description of your financial need. After all, investors will invest only in profitable businesses. Therefore, you need to write a detailed descriptions about your company background, market analysis, strategies, future plans, target audience, products/services and your competitors.

To expand/grow the business
A well written business plan helps business owners figure out their drawbacks and will work on them and also where the business is vague or undeveloped. By knowing and correcting these issues, they can find a solution and control their finances. A good business plan gives the scope to expand business and also gives an idea whether the business is financially stable enough to expand in the near future.

Works as an effective communication tool
For a business to be successful and profitable – the managers, workers and employers should have a mutual understanding among them. They should be aware of company’s strengths, weaknesses, investors, lenders, customers and competitors. An effective business plan creates a well established communication tool through which you can communicate with your employees to work towards company’s goals and to achieve it successfully.

To see results in long term and short term
An effective business plan gives you a clear picture of your business, whether it will run for a short term or long term. If you suspect that your business will run for a short term, then you can cover up the loopholes and make modifications to make your business thrive in the long run. With this, you can see the results on financial ups and downs and if future financial projections needed in the business.

We hope that you have been well-informed about the importance of writing a business plan for a small business and to execute it for the benefit of your business.
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Different Types of Business Plans for Small Businesses

Many small business owners are at times confused on whether to develop a business plan or not. Due to lack of capacity and management skills, many small business owners consider business planning to be a process that is useless and time consuming. Without proper planning, they just start the business and realize it later the need to develop a plan to run their business successfully.

Business planning is the building blocks of any business. It is an essential guide for the success of the business irrespective of its size and industry. A business plan is a formally written document that helps business owners achieve what they want, plan how to achieve it and keeps the business on track. The document generally projects for the next 3-5 years and outlines the route, the company intends to take to grow revenues. However, not all business plans work out for businesses. So, choosing the right type of business plan that suits your business needs is a crucial thing.

In this article, we will explain you the types of business plans for small businesses.

Types of business plans for small businesses

The Start-Up Business Plan – the most standard: This is the most standard plan which introduces the business to lenders, investors, and provides them a clear picture of company’s goals, ethics, products/services, market forecasts, strategies, implementation of objectives, management team and financial analysis. It provides financial analysis with spreadsheets describing financial areas including projected sales, profit and loss, balance sheets, cash flow and other tables.

Internal Business Plans: Internal business plans are meant only for the target audience within the business and not meant for lenders or investors. Such plans describe the detailed information about company’s current state, including operational costs, profitability and the upcoming product or project. It may also include financial projections if needed for the project that may become forecasts and budgets.

An Operational Business Plan: It is also a kind of internal plan that consists of information related to business operations like annual deadlines, responsibilities of managerial team, milestones, and important dates and events for the upcoming year.

A Strategic Business Plan: It is also an internal plan that focuses mainly on high level options and provides a detailed guide of a company’s goals and how to attain them by laying out a foundational plan for the entire company. This plan includes elements– business mission, vision statement, information on critical success factors and strategies for achieving goals by implementing the schedule of objectives. This type of plan helps in bringing people to work together towards company’s goals.

The Feasibility Business Plan: It is a pre-startup plan that helps the business owner whether the proposed business is worth pursuing. It includes information such as market analysis, estimation of start-up costs, pricing and expenses and a mission statement or target demographics. If this plan indicates business will succeed then the next step to do is lining for a detailed start up business plan.

A Growth or Expansion Plan: This plan is written either for internal or external purpose and is meant for expansion of business in a particular domain of the business or the product/service. If the business owner wants to expand the business, s/he requires investment for the company growth. This plan includes complete description of the company, management and officers. The plan must furnish all the information on the company and satisfy all the potential investors, otherwise they will not fund your business.

Having understood the types of business plans for small businesses, it is very important to have a business plan for your business that will be based on the needs of your business.
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How to Use Recruiting Agency Services

Recruiting firm offers many services, and very helpful for many business. These services are used by both job-seekers and companies. But there are few considerations that are to be followed before signing up a recruiting agency.

Recruiting firm doesn’t act as candidate’s personal job hunter; it acts as an agent between the job-seeker and employer. Many job-seekers are has an opinion that recruiting firm provides distinct services when compared to other job-seekers.

For the candidates without having an idea in choosing their careers, recruiting firms can help them in making the right decision. They divide the candidates into two categories as fresher and experienced, based on these categories they help the candidates to seek a job. Process of interview or selection is fast when compared to other interviews.

Use these services to find quick and good job. These firms make the candidates more helpful to work as per requirements of the company. (more…)