In 2015 alone, 13.1 million Americans were victims of identity fraud. Even more shocking, identity fraudsters have stolen approximately $112 billion since 2009, which amounts to $35,600 stolen every minute. Thankfully, there are a wide variety of ways to protect your digital identity from the growing number of cybercrimes. These include shielding your keypad when entering important information, not using public Wi-Fi, using unique and different passwords for each website, and backing up your information in case of a ransomware attack. By following the guidelines in this infographic you can significantly increase your odds of not being a victim of cybercrime! Let us know in the comments how you are protecting your data.
So what are some of the top cloud-based offerings that are changing the game for entrepreneurs? In many ways, the type of app that you will use depends on the field that you are working in. But there are a few applications that are useful for almost everyone. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
4 tools you should definitely be using
Office 365 or Google Docs: The ability to run an entire office via the cloud is something that many people may take for granted, but it’s made a huge difference to startups that no longer have to pay expensive licensing fees for software that traditionally used to tie them down to one location. Now you can create documents, run business email accounts, share spreadsheets, and collaborate over vast distances with just the click of a button. Furthermore, because so many people are familiar with the interfaces provided by Google and Microsoft, the learning curve is not very steep and new team members can slot into the system quickly and easily.
QuickBooks: Accounting and bookkeeping are very often tough for entrepreneurs who are busy trying to grow their businesses and focus on what they do best, without worrying about keeping good records. A cloud-based accounting program that can track your income and expenses, manage cash flow, and take care of payroll is a life-saver to entrepreneurs.
Mozy: One of the biggest fears of small businesses migrating to the cloud is the idea that they may wake up one day to find all their data has been lost or deleted, and there is no way to get it back. But cloud-based services like Mozy provide rock-solid data protection for growing businesses, offering daily, weekly or monthly backups of critical data, as well as syncing from multiple devices with enterprise-grade encryption and full mobile access.
MailChimp: When it comes to marketing, cloud-based apps have been a godsend for entrepreneurs. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram–all are wonderful marketing tools to get your products and services out in front of customers and build a community of like-minded people who believe in what you do. But at the end of the day, the one marketing tool that is still more powerful than any other is email marketing. Cloud-based bulk email services, like MailChimp or Constant Contact allow entrepreneurs to build intimate relationships with customers and create working sales funnels that produce sales over and over again. The reporting is world-class too; you get to see who read your mail, what they liked and didn’t like, and much, much more.
How to get started
The beauty of cloud computing is that it allows small businesses to compete effectively with the big players. Start small, see what works, pay only for what you use, then scale up when things are going well and down when things are quiet. That’s the secret to getting the most out of the cloud.
You’ve wanted to learn how to use LinkedIn for business for quite some time now. However, the only tips that you’ve been getting from the Internet so far are the cookie-cutter ones (you know, things like complete your profile, network, etc.). It’s quite frustrating, isn’t it?
When you think about it, although the cookie-cutter tips are technically correct, it doesn’t really give you an edge over your competitors because everybody knows about it. What’s worse, none of these tips are actionable.
If you’re tired of reading useless, borderline cringe-worthy tips on how to use LinkedIn for business, then you’re in the right place. I will share with you three LinkedIn marketing tips that are actionable, simple to implement, and most of all effective.
Let’s hop right in.
1. Use LinkedIn’s “15 Ways to Keep in Touch” feature.
The thing with using LinkedIn is it can be such a productivity black hole, especially if you aren’t keeping track of your time. That’s why using LinkedIn’s “15 Ways to Keep in Touch” feature is such an amazing strategy; it works somewhat as a “counter.” The way I use it is I send messages to all 15 users, and when I’m done sending messages, I then stop using LinkedIn and proceed on doing other more important tasks.
Before you use this tip, I’d like to highlight two critical points first:
1. Send a personalized message. You can create a template if you want, but be sure to leave room for customization. Don’t ever send LinkedIn’s “Congrats on the new job!” default message.
2. Do not sell your services on your first contact. Establish a level of connection with them first. On my end, I tend to send my pitch on my 3rd or 4th reply to their message, depending on how our conversation progresses.
This is one of my favorite strategies on how to use LinkedIn for business. Not only is it effective in terms of bringing you new customers, but it also helps you keep track of your time, making it easier for you to manage it.
2. Uncover possibilities of collaboration with the users connecting with you.
When other LinkedIn users start sending you connection requests, I hope you aren’t just accepting them without sending them a message. That would be a wasted opportunity! Because you’d like to learn how to use LinkedIn for business, here’s what you can do instead. You can send them a message thanking them for connecting with you, add a one-liner personal message, then ask about possibilities where you can both collaborate.
Giving them that kind of message will show the person on the other end that you are a real person, and a “likable” one at that! This is one of the versions that I use when others add me at LinkedIn:
“Hi (first name).
I appreciate connection request. How’s everything in (write the name of their city here)?
Can you tell me more about your job role in (the company that they are connected with)? I’d love to explore opportunities where we can both collaborate in the future. Take care.
This template usually yields surprising results. The user almost always replies with what it is that they do and asks me about what kind of collaboration opportunities I have in mind. At this point, all you need to do is to pitch your services strategically to what it is that they do. If they’d like to give your idea a try, then they’ll go for it. But if not, then just be a good sport and accept their decision.
Another route that you can take (which you should almost always be doing) is to ask for referrals. Doing so gives you more mileage on every connection/relationship that you establish.
3. Contact the users who viewed your profile.
There’s a reason why others are viewing your profile. Whatever that reason is, you can bet your family jewels that it has something to do with the work that you do, or the product or services that you offer. This somewhat makes them a warm lead. Be sure to capitalize on this feature and start contacting those who viewed your profile. Your message doesn’t have to be long and intricate. You can say something along the lines of:
“Hi (first name).
I noticed that you viewed my profile. If there’s anything that I can help you with, do let me know.
I wish you the best!
What makes this strategy so effective is the fact that it isn’t intrusive at all. I say that because between you and the other user, it isn’t really you who showed the first interest. It was him/her by checking out your profile.
What are some of the LinkedIn marketing tips that you can share with our readers? If there are strategies on how to use LinkedIn for business that you feel should be a part of this list, then please share them in the comments section below.
Mozy understands that your important files are critical to the success of your business. Likewise, we understand that MozyHome users rely on Mozy to safeguard their documents, photographs, music files, and other important files. Mozy protects your data by keeping older versions of your files available so that they can be restored if necessary. There are various reasons why you might need to restore an older version of a file, including:
• You changed a file and want to go back to an older version of the file.
• You deleted content from a file and want to retrieve that content.
• You accidentally deleted a file and now want it back.
• You have a corrupted file (due to ransomware, for example) and need to go back to a version of the file before it became corrupted.
We will be rolling out a new extended retention policy for all Mozy solutions. That means the older versions of your backed-up files will be kept for longer before they expire. This significantly improves your data protection at no cost to you. For MozyHome users, older file versions will be retained for 3 months (previously, MozyHome retained files for 1 month). For MozyPro users, older file versions will be retained for 6 months (previously, MozyPro retained files for 2 months). For MozyEnterprise users, older file versions will be retained for 1 year (previously, MozyEnterprise retained files for 3 months).
To enable this extended data retention and the benefits it provides to you, Mozy will be introducing file version consolidation. Mozy restores are highly reliable, but version consolidation allows us to extend that reliability out to greater backup retention times. This means that rather than keeping every version of your files, we progressively consolidate older file versions so that the number of versions available for restore decreases as you go further into the past. For example, for MozyHome we will keep all versions of a file for one day, hourly versions of that file for 3 days, daily versions of that file for 31 days, and weekly versions of that file for 92 days. Version consolidation never loses any data; it merely rolls up the changes of multiple versions into one version. And it is unlikely you will even notice it, since typically you will not need to restore a file version to within an hour from many weeks in the past, whereas you quite likely will want to do so for a restore from yesterday. Because it keeps file version lists shorter, version consolidation allows you to more easily choose a restore point, and it also allows Mozy to provide the restore more quickly.
Mozy is continuously looking for ways to improve the backup process and meet the needs of its users. Our goal is to ensure that each time you save one of your files, it’s backed up, protected and, if necessary, can be recovered and restored exactly as it was.
As more and more organizations commit their sensitive resources to the cloud, and consumers demand faster and easier access to their online data, so the issue of data security has become more important and relevant to users. There are many ways to increase digital security measures, from better passwords and multi-level authentication to encryption and segmentation of data. But one of the most foolproof, and least understood, security concepts is that of air gapping.
What is air gapping? According to reference site Whatis.com, an air-gapped computer “is physically segregated and incapable of connecting wirelessly or physically with other computers or network devices.” In addition to that physical removal from a network, a gap is specified between the computer and the outside walls, as well as between the wires servicing the air-gapped system and all the other systems in the physical space. By observing these rather extreme measures, the possibility of data being stolen or extruded via electromagnetic means is removed.
It stands to reason that when a computer is not connected to the Internet, or to a network that is connected to the Internet, the chances of data theft is extremely remote. That’s why air-gapped computers are often used in military applications, or in retail institutions that process large amounts of money via online transactions, and even in industrial situations that control critical infrastructure.
So how does data get into an air-gapped system in the first place? Very methodically, either by USB or by a removable storage device, which is disconnected as soon as the data is transferred. Until quite recently, air gapping was thought of as being an impenetrable form of security, due to the fact that physical access to a machine was the only way to breach its defenses, and that access could be carefully controlled. But the Stuxnet virus, which was designed to breach Iran’s nuclear program, laid waste to that notion. According to Wired magazine, “Computer systems controlling the centrifuges were air gapped, so the attackers designed Stuxnet to spread surreptitiously via USB flash drives. Outside contractors responsible for programming the systems in Iran were infected first and then became unwitting carriers for the malware when they brought their laptops into the plant and transferred data to the air-gapped systems with a flash drive.”
More recently, Israeli researchers found a way to use radio waves and devices to siphon off data from air-gapped machines, effectively proving that no system is utterly impregnable. Yet it is still a first-class security measure.
Are there cases when air gapping would be appropriate for a small business? Certainly. In an average small business that has 15 to 25 computers connected to the Internet, there is a good chance that the business has some sensitive data which it needs to protect closely. There would be a strong case for air gapping one particular machine which contains that sensitive data, and delegating one person to be in charge of importing and exporting data from that particular machine on a regular basis.
The physical distance between an air-gapped machine and a network, coupled with strict access of who interacts with that machine, is one more way to ensure that sensitive data is protected in this day and age.
Taking control of your own business accounting process can give you peace of mind and alleviate the stress of someone else having access to your private financial information. As you’re planning to take your accounting in-house, here are some basic steps to ensure you’re on the right path.
Find what works for your business
The first step is to look for a program that works for your specific field and business style. Much like you would want to hire a lawyer or CPA who specializes in your specific industry, you want to choose an accounting program that caters to your needs. Some accounting software may include unnecessary features, such as tracking inventory; others may not have enough, such as a feature that calculates quarterly taxes.
Test out different software so you can pinpoint exactly what your business needs and ignore the rest. There’s no need to waste time on something that doesn’t work, and you’ll want to find the best fit as soon as possible.
DIY accounting requires a system
Since you’ve chosen to tackle your own small business accounting, you must set up—and stick to—a regular bookkeeping routine. Tasks like categorizing expenses, paying invoices, and preparing reports have to be completed on a daily and monthly basis. So it’s important to implement a system for checking these tasks off the list.
Otherwise it’s far too easy to get behind and find yourself in the midst of financial disorganization and needing to hire help to get through the mess. Having unorganized finances can also cause you to miss out on important tax deductions, making regular tax payments, and ultimately cause you to lose your hard-earned money to pay for late fees and a high tax bill.
Adhere to the basics
As long as you know the basics of small business accounting, everything else becomes relatively simple. Start by understanding these basic accounting terms, as these are things your CPA will require you to prepare and print off at the end of the year when filing your taxes.
• Accounts Receivable: Also known as AR, this account includes money you bill out to customers or vendors and are expecting payment for.
• Accounts Payable: Also known as AP, this account includes invoices and bills you receive and are required to pay.
• Assets: This account holds both tangible and intangible items you own that are of value to the business, such as equipment, property, tools, trademarks, patents, and stocks.
• Balance Sheet: This report is an overview of your company’s financial status and includes assets, liabilities, and equity in relation to the business.
• General Ledger: This report houses a complete recording of all the transactions, income, and expenses your business has incurred since its inception.
• Journal: A journal includes entries and accounts, sometimes called “journal entries,” and is where all your transactions are recorded, whether imported from your bank directly or added manually.
• Liabilities: This is the opposite of your assets and includes all long-term and short-term debt owed by the business.
• Profit and Loss Statement: Also known as P&L, this report lists all of the company’s gross earnings, expenses, and net profit.
Stick with the basics and you’ll be able to grasp nearly any accounting term or phrase that your CPA throws at you. This will help you save money by being able to expertly handle the bookkeeping tasks yourself.
Don’t forget to pay taxes
Above all things, it’s important to prioritize setting aside money for tax payments. This is the one thing that can really get your business into trouble, both with the IRS and by having cash flow issues, so don’t let this slip from your to-do list.
Depending on your type of small business, you’ll have to pay quarterly taxes and possibly have to submit payroll taxes and reports on behalf of any employees. Most accounting programs already have features built-in where you can quickly calculate quarterly or payroll taxes, and include specific guidelines for paying them. In this case, it may be best to prep the taxes and reports and then hand everything over to a CPA or tax professional.
When considering whether or not to take your accounting system in-house, these steps will make it easier for you to save money and time, while still producing your desired results.
As the Kenny Rogers song goes, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em; know when to walk away.” These lines likely ring true for any small business owner.
Entrepreneurs start businesses to solve problems and put in a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and long hours in the process. Eventually, thoughts of selling come up. The decision to sell is not always the result of a problem within the business. There are many reasons entrepreneurs choose to sell. The founding partners may be ready to move on. It may be part of a long-term business plan or a necessity for financial reasons. Sometimes, it’s simply too difficult to keep up with the competition or changes in the marketplace.
Whatever the reason, selling is a big—and personal—decision that requires an in-depth look at the industry of the specific business, the market, existing and pending competition, and the individual company’s finances. Here are three signs that it may be time to walk away:
1. Lack of resources to take it to the next level
Just as starting a business takes capital, growing the business takes even more capital. Depending on the business, growth may require investing in new technology, adding employees, expanding skill sets, upping production, or anticipating market changes. Not all small businesses have the resources to take things to the next level.
If a business is poised for growth, it may attract possible buyers who can invest sufficient capital, bring in a new set of business acumen, and expand the business.
2. Founder burnout
Getting businesses off the ground is tough. It takes a lot of hard work, risk, sacrifice, and stress. Each stage of setting up a business comes with its own set of issues. In the early stages, founders often try to do everything themselves, and, later, it might be personnel issues. This can lead to the founders feeling burned out or simply ready for a change.
Feeling unhappy, unfulfilled or even exhausted may be signs that it’s time to sell.
3. An offer that’s too good to pass up
Entrepreneurs and small business owners may dream about Google or another large corporation buying their company and becoming billionaires. This might seem like a fantasy, but it’s possible that an offer might come out of nowhere and be too good to pass up.
Even if selling hadn’t seemed like a possibility, receiving an unexpected offer can give entrepreneurs the opportunity to evaluate their business plan, examine the market, and think about the future. If an offer is received, especially a multi-million dollar one, it’s a good idea to give it some serious consideration.
It’s best for the sale of a business to always be on the seller’s terms. Though this may not always be possible, entrepreneurs should remember all of their hard work as they look to sell, take stock of the business, and try to anticipate what’s best for the future of the business and business owner.
Cloud technology is enjoying marked success as companies move from “occasional” use to mainstream adoption. Consider the rise of soft-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings; according to IT Pro Portal, more than 1,400 new SaaS companies have emerged over the last five years and this $8 billion market should reach more than $50 billion by 2026. For many businesses, however, it’s easy to get bogged down in terminology—IaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS—and miss the technology’s potential ROI. Here’s what you need to know about the cloud computing trifecta.
Software as a service
By far the most popular and straightforward type of cloud computing, SaaS offers entry-level cloud technology access for companies of any size. The easiest way to understand this service? Think in terms of applications. Almost any app currently hosted on local servers or stored on PC hard drives can be moved the cloud. Instead of taking up valuable server space and network resources, all necessary code is stored off site. More importantly, all the “heavy lifting” of computation, analysis, and data storage are also handled by cloud servers. The result? You get high-performance, high-availability applications without the need to maintain hardware or upgrade software. Typically, you’ll pay monthly for access to the cloud itself and then a per-device or per-user fee for the software. SaaS is also the easiest cloud “entry point” for employees because many already use cloud services—such as email clients or social media sites—and are comfortable with the concept.
Infrastructure as a service
At the other end of the cloud is IaaS. Here the idea is to leverage virtual machines (VMs) in place of physical servers, meaning you’re not on the hook for big CAPEX spending or regular hardware upgrading. You’re able to put anything you want on these VMs—whatever platform, software, monitoring tools, or security solutions work best for your business—but they’re ultimately housed and maintained off site. Typically, IaaS is leveraged by companies that want total control over their virtual computing environment and have enough full-time IT staff to make the most of VM environments. While it’s possible to run IaaS in a public cloud environment, many enterprises now choose a hybrid or private model to maximize data and resource security.
Platform as a service
In the middle, you’ll find PaaS. As noted by Network World, it’s not a “finished product” like SaaS offerings, nor is it the “blank slate” of IaaS. Instead, PaaS provides a way for IT teams to develop services and applications for a specific platform. Developers and IT ops professionals get all the tools they need to build apps, social sites, mobile offerings, and websites—along with the APIs and tools needed to “hook” these offerings into the larger infrastructure of your cloud provider.
It’s worth noting that with so many as-a-service options on the market—from database to analytics to security to communications—two trends have emerged. First, the maturing cloud market has created a significant shift toward the simplicity of SaaS for even mission-critical tools and services; second, the ubiquity of cloud computing has driven down the average price of entry.
Bottom line? A little knowledge of the cloud trifecta goes a long way to selecting the ideal deployment for your business.
Technology is in hyper-drive speed as it continues to advance. Because of these ongoing improvements, computers, printers, smartphones and other electronic items are finding their way to our landfills faster than ever. However, there are large amounts of dollars—billions, in fact—of recyclable materials in this e-waste that we can recoup if we take the necessary steps. Take a look at the staggering statistics that surround e-waste in this infographic. Need to properly dispose of e-waste at your workplace or home? See our blog on recycling old technology.
Discarded electrical appliances are called electronic waste, or e-waste. Computers, cell phones, TVs, refrigerators, monitors and microwaves are common e-waste items. Disposal of electronic items is one of modern society’s most critical environmental concerns. The issue is largely “out of sight, out of mind.” Here are the disturbing numbers and facts.
What is e-waste?
Any unwanted or obsolete electronic item – operational or not. Cell phones, televisions, VCRs, DVD players, stereos, copiers, fax machines, computers, monitors, CDs, etc.
Average e-waste produced every year The UN says 41.8 million tons of e-waste were produced last year worldwide. 90% was illegally traded, exported or dumped
On average each American generated 48 pounds of e-waste. (equivalent of every American throwing out 11 laptops every year)
Only 12.5% of total e-waste is recycled. The U.S. is the worst offender – 9.4 million tons/year
According to the EPA, recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent of electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year. Electronics are full of valuable resources such as silver, gold, titanium, fossil fuels, aluminum, iron, copper, and more.
Raw materials in e-waste
In 2014, $50 billion worth of recyclable materials was present in e-waste products.
Raw materials in single-year’s e-waste Silver $.3 Billion Palladium $1.8 Billion Aluminum $3 Billion Plastics $12.3 Billion Iron $9 Billion Gold $10.3 Billion Copper $10.5 Billion Last year,
Apple pulled $40 million worth of gold from recycled phones.
The Internet and e-waste
The Internet was supposed to decrease e-waste. But the advent of new devices means old ones are thrown out. other types of waste are decreasing; however, e-waste is growing close to 5% annually.
More than 5.5 million boxes of software go to landfills and incinerators.
Online downloads and streaming are causing CDs to become obsolete.
Millions of music CDs thrown away each year. Every month, approximately 100,000lbs of CDs become obsolete.
It takes over 1 million years for a CD to decompose in a landfill.
Most used and replaced electronics
Cellphones – Replaced every 22 months
Computer – Replaced every 2 years
Television – Replaced every 10 years
Printer – Replaced every 5 years
Where cell phones go to die
Approximately 350,000 phones are disposed of daily = More than 152 million phones each year.
More than 7.2 billion mobile phones in existence (the Earth’s population is 7.4 billion).
80% of phones end up in landfills. Exported to countries like Ghana, India, and China where civilians salvage electronics in hazardous/toxic conditions.
For every 1 million cell phones recycled, 35,274 lbs of copper, 77 lbs of silver, 75 lbs of gold, and 33 lbs of palladium can be recovered.
Americans throw out phones containing $60 million in gold and silver every year.
What can we do about e-waste?
Re-evaluate: Do you need that gadget?
Extend the life of your electronics: Buy a case. Avoid overcharging the battery.
Buy environmentally friendly electronics. Look for ENERGY STAR or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Took (EPEAT) certification.
Donate used goods to social programs: Children safety initiatives; domestic violence victims, etc. Reuse large electronics. Use e-waste recycle bins.
Ransomware is not like the neon windbreakers of the early ’90s, which quickly faded, or the popular toy Furbies, which peaked in sales a few years after being introduced in 1998. No, ransomware is here to stay. According to the FBI, “Cyber criminals collected $209 million in the first three months of 2016 by extorting business and institutions to unlock computer servers.” At this rate ransomware is on pace to become a $1-billion-a-year industry. The stakes are high and you must have a proper backup plan in place.
The days of backing up systems to tape and external drives are long gone. Once considered the future of data protection, cloud backup is now an essential part of a comprehensive backup strategy. And the best part about cloud backups is how simple they are. Most offerings have set-it-and–forget-it scheduling, so you or your company’s IT department does not have to spend time backing up your data. These backups are also non-disruptive, meaning they are going on in the background while you are working and will not disturb current workloads.
Not only are cloud backups automatic and non-disruptive, they are very secure. Data security is a hot topic for companies today and will be going forward. Cloud backups are typically encrypted at the source, while in flight to the data centers, and while at rest in the data center. Most cloud backup providers will provide a variety of encryption options, including 256-bit AES encryption and 458-bit Blowfish.
You may be asking yourself, “This all sounds great, but what happens in the event my data gets attacked?” Keep in mind that cloud backups are structured in a way that allows you to roll back to a point in time prior to the attack. For example, let’s say at 12:30 p.m. your laptop locks up and a pop-up appears on the screen informing you that your data has been hijacked and encrypted and demanding a ransom in Bitcoins in exchange for a decryption key. You would first notify management of what is going on and then go straight to your friends in IT. They will be able to pull the last backup at 12:00 p.m. and restore your data in a matter of minutes.
Cloud backup is a second line of defense to antivirus and threat detection software and was designed with the end user in mind. Providing great data protection and easy restore options makes for a hassle-free backup policy. Just imagine if your system were attacked by ransomware and you did not have a backup policy in place. You could be paying the ransom, and worse, not even receiving an appropriate decryption key. What would that do to your business?
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Brian Dye, Symantec’s SVP of information security, says, “Antivirus software only detects 45% of all attacks.” And according to the Global Data Protection Index, 36% of companies have suffered unplanned system downtime and/or data loss due to an external or internal security breach. Clearly, ransomware and other forms of malware are on the rise and are a very real threat to your business. The good news is that Mozy by EMC can help prevent a ransomware data loss disaster with easy-to-deploy and efficient cloud-based backup solutions.