Results that match "Small Business Tips"
In this blog, we offer ways your small business can use the Cloud to keep your sensitive information safe and out of the hands of hackers.
If you aren’t convinced of the importance of protecting your business information in the Cloud, look at a list of some of the high-profile companies that were recently hit by hackers. JPMorgan Chase, Target, Home Depot and Sony have all been the targets of hackers in the past year or so. According to FBI Director James Comey, “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. There are those who’ve been hacked…and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.”
Of course, small businesses are also potentially vulnerable to hack attacks. While your small business isn’t as big as Target, the data you are storing there is still valuable to you, your employees and your customers. Here are a few tips on ways to minimize the danger of your valuable information falling in the hands of hackers and other nefarious types:
Back up your data. Even though your company’s information is stored in the Cloud, experts advise you to manually back it up on a hard disk or a thumb drive. This will also allow you to access files if your Internet connection is interrupted.
Be smart with your passwords. This is probably the most crucial way you can proactively protect your small business data in the Cloud. Create complex, original passwords for every one of your accounts. Experts say the best passwords contain lowercase and capitalized letters, special characters and numbers. You should also make sure you and your employees change passwords at regular intervals, usually every few months. There is password management software available to help with the daunting task of remembering all those complex passwords. They include Dashlane 3, Password Genie 4.4 and LastPass 3.0 Premium.
Stay on top of software upgrades. It’s easy to take software upgrades for granted. Doing so can leave your business vulnerable to hackers, so make sure you download security updates on a regular basis and use security programs to safeguard your data.
Protect yourself with anti-virus programs. This will help guard against viruses and malware. Make sure you upgrade them on a regular basis. Some of the best-reviewed programs include Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus and McAfee AntiVirus Plus.
Consider encrypting your information. This is especially important when dealing with sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and other personal data of customers. While most cloud storage companies provide encryption and decryption, double-check to make sure they are part of your contracted services.
Carefully choose your cloud storage company. Pick a provider that limits file access to carefully vetted employees, and make sure you only share documents that contain no confidential or essential information.
Be picky about what information you put in the Cloud. For example, experts advise against the common practice of using Social Security numbers to identify customers. Pick another method, with less chance for putting sensitive data at risk in case your business ever falls prey to hackers.
Make wireless network security a priority. Wireless networks are becoming increasingly popular targets for hackers. To stop them in their tracks, protect both your Wi-Fi and router access with robust passwords and use your router’s strongest encryption standard. You should also consider disabling the SSID broadcasting function on your wireless router to keep your networks hidden from would-be hackers.
Protect sensitive credit card information. If your small business accepts credit cards, you should look into using the EMV payment system. EMV derives its name from its founders, Europay, MasterCard and Visa, and utilizes sophisticated technology to protect credit card information. EMV uses microchips embedded in credit cards to safeguard cardholder data. Currently, the liability for fraudulent credit card usage falls on credit unions and banks. That is set to change this October 1, when new regulations take effect making small businesses liable for unauthorized charges. This means if your small business doesn’t accept EMV cards, you have only a few months to do so, or you could end up paying later. Several companies sell EMV card readers for small businesses, including squareup.com/emv, frontlineprocessing.com/services/emv/ and cardinalcommerce.com.
Do I need a website if I have social media?
So you’ve got fans of your Facebook page and a bunch of Twitter followers, you may even have people connecting with you on LinkedIn. With the rise and importance of social media for a business these days, you may think that having a website would overpower your social presence or that a website isn’t worth it if you’ve got good things happening on social media. Do you really need a website if you’ve got social media?
The answer is YES!
While social media is great for attracting current or new customers, your website is the first impression many customers will see about your business. In some cases, customers may discover your social presence because of your website. Social media is a great place to communicate with your customers, no doubt, but it’s your website that gives you the credibility they want when viewing your company.
How does a website help?
Websites are still an important factor for businesses. Many customers will often find a favorite company on social media because of links or buttons that proclaim the fact. Websites can also deliver an importance to customers by –
Establishing credibility for your company
Providing your company’s core values
Showcasing your company’s products and services
Giving customers confidence about doing business with you
The case for a website
Websites don’t need to be static anymore. Thanks to new technology, websites can be responsive, meaning they can be viewed not only on computers, but on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. As with social media, websites can be viewed while on the go, allowing for potential customers to view your company and its services while they may be on the way to your offices.
Your company’s website can display a wealth of information that can’t be adequately done through social media. For instance, customers can view or order products from your site if you have a shopping cart page; Amazon’s mobile app is a good example of a customer being able to view and then order a product from their phone.
Customers can also save your website to their browser for future viewing; with some browsers, they can bookmark your site on their phone and then return home to check it on their computers. The very aspect of social media makes it near impossible to save a page and expect it to still be there for the next five minutes.
Having both a social media presence and a website can help your business thrive and make a profit by engaging customers through both platforms. Customers have a positive first impression, while also feeling satisfied in knowing they have multiple ways in which to communicate with you.
Explore the practical differences between DSL and Cable high speed Internet in this whitepaper, written for business decision-makers. We compared the benefits and challenges of Cable and DSL technology in four key areas: speed, distance, consistency, and availability. Both DSL and Cable will deliver broadband connectivity, but which one is the best option for your business? We believe our solutions – which are built upon the cable industry’s exclusive DOCSIS 3.0 technology – will better position any size business.
In today’s fast paced environment, small and medium-sized businesses need reliable and powerful broadband options that offer both flexibility and affordability. When DSL and Cable high speed Internet capabilities are compared, the choice becomes evident:
Planning for the future as well as delivering speeds today that enable fast operations and technical innovation is essential. As technology changes, so do the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, and infrastructure must be flexible to meet the needs of this ever changing market. When the deliverability of both DSL and Cable high speed Internet is examined, it is Cable that clearly comes out ahead with the ability to give businesses what they need now and in the future.
The Cloud offers your small business several strategic advantages that can help it grow and prosper. In this blog, we offer you real-world tips on making smart decisions when it comes to getting started in the Cloud.
There is a lot of talk these days about small businesses and cloud computing. Before you decide to have your small business utilize the Cloud, let’s start with the basics. Simply put, cloud computing is storing and accessing your business data over the Internet instead of the traditional method of using your computer’s hard drive. As long as you and your employees have an online connection, you can work anytime, anywhere as long as you have a web-enabled device such as a tablet or smartphone.
Once you’ve decided your small business should use the Cloud, you have a variety of cloud apps to choose from, including several that are small business-friendly. They include Mozy, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Carbonite and CrashPlan. When deciding which cloud back-up to use, there are plenty of questions to ask about your individual business. How many employees do you have? How big is your business and how much information do you need to back-up and store? What kind of CRM system do you have in place and how do you manage it? What is your company’s five-year plan? Where do you see yourself in the long-term? What will your cloud needs be in the years to come?
When you’re choosing a cloud service, make sure you consider the future needs of your business. Choose one that will be able to meet the needs of your business now and down the road. Once you have made a “big picture” evaluation of your business, do your homework – shop around among the cloud apps out there, asking specific questions about what each one can offer your business.
Here are some tips from small business experts on making the transition to cloud-based computing:
Don’t go at it alone. Trust at least one other person in your company to help you make this important decision. While the call is ultimately yours to make, it’s important to have input you can trust. After all, your employees will be using the Cloud on a daily basis to conduct business.
Don’t overdo it out of the gate. Working with the Cloud is different than traditional ways of conducting business. Realize that it is bound to affect your regular business processes. You should start small – consider having two or three employees work together on a Google Docs file. Plan on at least a few hours to acclimate your team to this new way of working and know there will be a learning curve, especially for those employees who may be averse to change. Once your team feels more comfortable with this different style of working, you can start expanding the cloud services you utilize.
Understand what you’re signing yourself up for. Before you sign an agreement with a cloud service, read it carefully. Make sure you’re getting the level of service your company needs, that you can live with the provider’s policies on things such as privacy and early termination and that all the elements you’ve been promised are in writing. You don’t want any surprises down the road.
Be sure you’re able to export your information in standard formats. Make sure you use formats used by Excel, Word and other programs used by your business. That will make it easy for you to back up and access your data in-house or easily move it to another cloud service later, if you decide to do so.
Consider encryption. Cloud experts say one of the best ways to protect sensitive business information is to use data encryption. You can do this with Data Loss Prevention Tools (DLPs), which monitor data leakage and facilitate the secure transmission of information to and from the Cloud.
Look at open-source Cloud services. They encourage third-party developers to develop features that will make your cloud-based experience more relevant to your business.
Consider ways to save money without sacrificing utility. For example, some small businesses use Google Docs spreadsheets as a basic CRM system, rather than paying for a CRM cloud service.
To avoid buyer’s remorse, shop around. You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, and you shouldn’t choose a cloud service without testing it out first. Since most services offer potential buyers a free trial, this one seems like a real no-brainer.
Make sure your employees can use the cloud on their cellphones and mobile devices. Since so much work is done out of the office these days, this is a crucial consideration. You might want to offer special training on using the Cloud outside the office.
Embrace the future – don’t fear change. Of course, moving your business to the Cloud is a big move, but plenty of other companies have taken the plunge (most likely at least one of your competitors) and with higher-than-ever levels of security, now is a great time for your small business to make the transition as well.
Phishing – the attempt to get financial or other confidential information from a person or business online – has been around for years and it doesn’t look as if scammers intend on stopping anytime soon. In February 2015, authorities announced that, over the past two years, a cybergang called Carbanak used phishing techniques to steal more than $1 billion from banks, e-payment systems and financial institutions in 30 countries around the world.
It appears Carbanak used spear phishing techniques to make off with all that money. Spear phishing uses emails that appear to come from an individual or business the targeted person knows, rather than generic messages (such as those addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam”) that scammers have been using for years.
This was the state of phishing and malicious attacks back in 2015, with security experts predicting 2016 would be the worst yet for businesses. Then we entered 2017.
With the recent attacks of ransomware - like WannaCry and Petya - businesses are becoming increasingly targeted by hackers. Back in 2015, Malwarebytes spokesman Adam Kujawa predicted that future phishing attacks would target a wider range of employees, such as those with access to potentially lucrative data, such as a firm’s customer accounts.
Think your employees are too savvy to fall for what looks like an obvious scam? IBM researchers discovered that businesses are seeing more and more malicious email, with a 4x increase of spam in 2016 alone, and email is still the number one method of delivering malware. During the summer, Google experienced a major phishing attack against their Google Doc users.
Cyber experts say that businesses need to be vigilant to prevent phishing attacks. Here are ways to protect your organization and customer information:
To learn more about keeping your business safe from spear phishing attacks, log on to https://www.staysafeonline.org
Choosing a telephone system for a small business used to be a simple proposition, because there really wasn’t much to choose from. All phones were pretty much the same. As it has for so many aspects of our lives, digital technology has changed all that. Now, when it comes to picking a telephone system, small businesses aren’t restricted to traditional telephones and managed voice solutions has become a preferred alternative. In this blog we compare managed voice services with traditional telephones and list some of the advantages of switching to this newer technology.
First, let’s look at the basic differences between old-fashioned analog and digital telephone systems. Analog phones (the traditional landline) use standard copper wire and what are called plain old telephone service (POTS) phones. Compare that to the latest technology, digital phones. They are used by businesses for managed voice services. A digital PBX (private branch exchange, a switching system that allows a large number of telephones in a business to be connected) is designed with a proprietary bus structure that allows for the addition of various features and capabilities that aren’t available for use with analog phones.
For small businesses, managed voice services offer innumerable advantages over POTS phones. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology can increase the productivity of a small business by allowing its employees to seamlessly multi-task. It allows businesses to integrate software programs – such as email and remote conferencing – over the Internet. An employee can conduct business with a client while simultaneously using other applications, including the Internet. Using VoIP, employees can hold conversations anywhere there is an Internet connection, meaning they aren’t tied down to being at a desk in the office anymore. As an added benefit, outgoing calls display your company’s number on caller ID, rather than an employee’s personal phone number. Employees can check incoming calls no matter where they are. With VoIP, the world truly is your office.
As you can gather from its name, managed voice services truly let you manage your calls more efficiently. For example, with a virtual receptionist you’re not paying a person to answer and route calls – cutting your payroll costs and increasing productivity.
Gone are the days of poor call sound quality. VoIP technology has evolved to provide voice clarity that is indistinguishable from traditional telephones.
Here are some of the other advantages to small businesses that replace analog phones with a managed voice system:
Technology has transformed the way we run our business, especially when it comes to running those required office meetings. If you’ve ever organized a business meeting, you know what a chore it can be – especially if people who need to attend are in a different city, state or even country.
Using apps like GoToMeeting, Webex, Mikogo.com, Skype and Skype for Business allows you to collaborate effectively in real time with several people, whether they are scattered across town or across continents.
There are several advantages using web conferencing for your business -
There’s more to effective webconferencing than choosing the right equipment and software. You need to make sure you understand what it takes to use that technology in the most effective manner possible, ensuring you’ll reap the benefits webconferencing offers.
Some tips to consider:
If you’re lacking in the bandwidth department in order to utilize these types of tools, contact Mediacom Business who can offer an affordable Business Internet package so you have the capacity your business needs. Click here for more information.
More and more small businesses are using managed voice services. In this blog, we discuss some of the advantages they offer to businesses that make the switch.
For years, small businesses used analog phones, traditional telephones that use landlines with copper wiring to transmit calls (otherwise known as plain old telephone service, or POTS) to connect with other phones over the public switched telephone network, or PSTN. This was almost by default, as no real alternatives existed. That changed in 2004, with the widescale introduction of voice over IP (VoIP) technology, which is used to make and receive calls over an IP network, such as the Internet. Managed voice services use digital, rather than analog, technology and they have the capacity to transform small businesses.
Managed voice service offer small businesses advantages that can make their day-to-day operations run more smoothly, streamline business practices, increase productivity and cut costs.
Your employees will be invigorated and more productive knowing the latest technology is backing them up whether they’re working in the office, at home or on the road. Your customers will be happier knowing they’ll always be able to reach the right person in your business who can help them, when they need it.
These are just a few ways in which making the switch from analog phones to a managed voice system can transform your business.
More and more small businesses are migrating to the cloud to help reduce expenses and increase productivity. It’s estimated that by the end of this decade, 80% of small businesses will be on the cloud, doubling the percentage of just a few years ago.
If you’re thinking about migrating your business to the cloud, there are several advantages you should consider:
Costs are lower. Cloud computing is an easy way to save on expenses, by getting more out of your hardware. Using the cloud increases the value of physical server space, which means businesses can accomplish more with what they have, seeing lower power costs as well as decreased maintenance and support costs.
Collaboration is increased. Using the cloud allows your employees to work together more efficiently, as they write, edit and upload documents. Management can access, track and oversee the progress of individual employees and work groups and can limit what employees can access.
Flexibility is enhanced. The cloud allows both management and employees to break away from the confines of the office. Authorized users can access files, documents and information on their computer or other devices (laptop, smartphone or tablet.) Your business no longer needs to be tied down to the old “9 to 5” mentality, while employee creativity and productivity are enhanced.
Integration is encouraged. Working in the cloud opens up new possibilities for integration with cloud-based providers that provide HR, accounting and marketing services. This frees up the time and resources of small business owners, allowing them to concentrate on increasing their revenues and sales.
If your business is new to the cloud, here are some ways you can use this transformative technology to organize information and manage your time and expenses better.
To learn more about the broadband highway that can take your business to the cloud, click here to reach a local Mediacom Business Account Executive.
Cloud services are extremely popular as file storage and syncing alternatives allow for people to bring their files on the go, no matter where they are. This can be a smart choice for small businesses, with employees who may sometimes work at home or need to collaborate with employees who work at the office.
The cloud isn’t the scary beast that many businesses think it is, where files disappear into the ether only to reappear at some other destination. Basically, your files are being kept on servers maintained by a cloud provider, which you can then access from a program or an app from your other devices.
There are of course a variety of different cloud apps that you could use to access files from anywhere. Here are the top four that you can consider as a small business.
Price: free/$9.99 a month or $99 a year
Access: website, desktop, mobile
Dropbox is a popular choice for not only personal use, but businesses as well. As with many of these cloud applications, Dropbox gives you the option of using their website to view or upload files or using the desktop client or mobile app. All basic accounts start with 2GB of free space; upgrading to either $9.99 provides 1TB of storage. Businesses can get as much storage as needed for $15 a user each month.
Depending on the amount of storage you need, you could use the free or paid version; regardless, the same log on can be used with any device on which you install the app.
Price: free/$1.99 or $9.99 a month
Access: website, desktop, mobile
If your business is using mostly Google products or their apps, Google Drive may work best for your business. All users who have at least a Gmail account already have access to the 15GB for free. As with Dropbox, if you want more storage, you can scale up to 100GB for $1.99 or 1TB for $9.99; again, depending on how many files you need to store, 100GB for $2.00 a month is an option.
Google Drive also has the ability to view and upload files from the website, with the added benefit of being able to edit them using Google Docs, as well as downloading the app for both computers and mobile. You can also now send email files from Drive right from Gmail as well as download any attachments you receive to your Drive account.
Price: free, as part of Windows
Access: website, desktop, mobile
A lot has been said about Microsoft and Windows, especially in light of the changes the company has been undergoing for the last few years. Formerly known as SkyDrive (and Live Mesh prior to that), OneDrive is a new cloud app from Microsoft that now comes with the latest versions of Windows operating system, like the recent release of Windows 10.
Like Google, if your company is running on the newer versions of Windows, OneDrive is already installed on your computer and running, with access to the website. In the past, that was as far as you could get, but thanks to new CEO Satya Nadella, you can now get many of the standard Office programs for your smartphone or tablet, for free.
Price: free/price depending on users
Access: website, desktop, mobile
Box is another popular choice for cloud applications, though of the list, Box is geared towards business use. Price is determined by how many employees are using the system, it’s free for one user, offering up 10GB of space and 250MB for file sizes. If that seems like too little storage compared to the other large offerings at free, Box again makes it up by the amount of users that you have in a company.
For 10 users, you can get 100GB and 2GB for file sizes for $5 per user ($50/month), with the most popular being the business for content collaboration and user management.
The big difference with Box versus the others is the ability for admin management, which for the others is usually handled by the user and not say, a network or IT admin.
These are just four cloud applications that you can consider for your small business, making it easier for employees to access the same data, simultaneously no matter where they are – another means of connectivity.
Businesses need robust bandwidth to drive capacity for video, speed for responsive cloud services, scalability for “Big Data”, and server reliability for workers both in-house and those remote. With advancements in modern technology, productivity and collaboration, even when mobile, are easier than ever. Day to day functions that run on the network such as file sharing, data transfer, video conferencing, HD streaming, mobile devices (BYOD), backups, and virus protection to name a few, all affect the amount of bandwidth each business needs. This will also fluctuate based on the number of employees engaged at any given time, something to consider so your business doesn’t “max out” bandwidth and wonder why data service may be latent.
How much bandwidth does my company really need? Answering this question requires you to take a look at the several key factors that impact your speed and bandwidth requirements and assess your current usage levels for each. The core activities, functions, and technology applications that require an Internet connection, how many employees you have, and how many devices in use will all affect speed and performance. The table below showcases an SMB hospitality business with 50 employees and the amount of bandwidth that is required in terms of upload and download speeds. Looking at each distinctive task, it doesn’t seem like a large amount of speed would be required, however collectively, it ramps up the overall requirement:
The amount of bandwidth a business needs will change from year to year as it grows and introduces more bandwidth heavy platforms. As a result, organizations need to think about both short and long term goals when deciding.
A lot of businesses think they aren’t a “big enough” operation to need fiber data and voice solutions but the beauty of Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions from Mediacom Business is the element of scalability. Once connected to the Mediacom Business “fiber pipe”, turning up bandwidth as your business advances into other platforms is turn-key and seamless. It doesn’t require additional construction or down time. Having that type of agility has pushed many businesses to take a second look at fiber solutions.
Mediacom Business has an array of high-capacity broadband packages to fit business’ needs: whether your business is simply using a credit card machine or conducting e-commerce to moving into desktop virtualization. Our data delivery methods are fast and reliable – it’s simply a matter of matching usage to bandwidth. Let us help you accomplish the most important thing of all: developing a solid plan for future growth. Preparing for future growth will ensure that the business you're running is more successful and capable of adapting to market changes. If you’d like to learn more about Gigabit+ Fiber Solutions and what it can do for your business, click here to contact one of our local Account Executives today.