Business Advice

Self-awareness – the ultimate life-hack

You want to be more successful? Have more free time? Be rich beyond your wildest dreams? Find love? Make your relationships flourish?

You’ve just found the answer.

Establishing a good level of self-awareness is the first and only domino you need to push to set things in motion when it comes to any of your goals – I promise you that one way or another, increasing your self-awareness will make everything you want will fall into your lap.

But there’s a catch:

Unlike those quirky ways of sorting your fridge or chopping a pineapple, this life-hack is going to take time – and effort.

Not ready for time and effort yet? No problem… bookmark this page and come back when you’re serious about achieving your goals…

What is self-awareness?

Before I go answering questions on what self-awareness is, it’s vitally important that you understand what it isn’t. So open up your copy of Mac Office 2016 and lets get ready to make some notes!

Ok, ready? well first of all It’s not:

  • About becoming ‘one’ with the Earth/a divine being/all of humanity
  • A kooky idea that’s only for people in therapy
  • Going to lead you to abandoning your job
  • An impossible goal

I just wanted to clear those things up. People can have some funny perceptions.

Self-awareness is for anyone who’s interested in knowing a bit more about those mysteries about yourself you can’t seem to get a handle on. Don’t know why you’re missing promotions? Not been able to hold-down a relationship? You procrastinate when you should work?

Let me make something absolutely clear to you:

These are not mysteries. They’re not even that hard to overcome. They’re all based on your behaviour. You’ve just got to know what it is that makes you behave in the way that has you getting what you have – rather than what you want.

Hacking your subconscious

Ever heard that thing about how humans “only use 10% of our brains” – or some other random but small figure?

I’ll save you a visit to Snopes – it’s not true. Let a brain surgeon lop the top of your cranium off and he or she would happily point at what each bit does.

All your brain areas are active at all times – however, as a species we don’t have access to everything that the brain holds at any one time. That’s not how it works, we couldn’t handle that much info. Instead, in basic terms, we’ve got a conscious and an unconscious.

Your conscious mind deals with your actions, the subconscious deals with reactions. I’m over simplifying here – but you don’t need a psychology PhD to work toward self-awareness.

And here’s the thing:

The VAST proportion of what we do is a reaction to stuff that’s going on around us – which means we’re almost entirely operating from our subconscious. Think about it – we don’t choose our mood, we don’t choose how productive we feel – If you want to change the way you behave, you’ve got to drag your behaviour out of your subconscious and into your conscious awareness.

Where to begin

People are generally better at giving other people advice than absorbing good advice into our lives. This is all down to objectivity – it’s far easier to get a good impression of how a person can work toward their goal if you can ‘rise above’ what’s happening and get more involved with strategy than the day-to-day struggles and reactions.

So, if you’re going to conquer your awareness – you need to break free of the day to day and start to observe yourself as objectively as possible.

Fortunately, we don’t have to tackle this alone – here are some tried and tested methods to elevate your awareness:

  1. Ask for feedback at work

Talking to people you work with for opinions on your attitude, work and general character is a great place to begin changing your perception. The key here is that people are honest with you – but making sure it’s done in a formal and constructive manner is important to ensure you’re not subjected to scathing criticisms!

Ideally, having a HR staff member facilitate is great – that way some mediation is achieved. If you’re a manager or occupy a senior position people might not be forth-coming in the stuff that they perceive to be critical (which in itself might be something to reflect on!) – so having a process and some pertinent questions really helps to achieve something positive.

Reflecting on what’s been said or noted is then vital. Some people can feel like anything but praise is a wound – but that doesn’t need to be the case – would you rather know what people think and act accordingly to adjust anything that you’re not happy with – or stroll through life unaware of the barriers you’re putting up?

  1. Talk to your friends

In a similar manner to work based feedback – feedback from friends and loved ones is another important part of shining some light on the behaviours, attitudes and perceptions you’re not currently aware of.

While the formality of the work based exercise might not be appropriate – you’ll find friends are more likely to share their observations of you and your behaviours from the safety of your current relationship. Again, honesty is important – so letting someone know you’re looking to expand your perception will stop them from just appeasing you with compliments!

  1. Work out what kind of personality you have

You might have seen tools like Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram that are used to distinguish your specific personality type. They’re generally a series of tests or thinking exercises that put you into a specific category or combination of categories.

From there, you can look at the typical behaviours and attitudes that someone in that category might embody. They’re not always perfect – but considering the points is a really useful way of thinking about what truly drives you and makes you tick.

  1. Mediate

If you’ve turned your nose up at the thought of meditation – you don’t know enough about it! Meditation isn’t something that’s reserved for monks on mountain tops – quite the opposite really. In his book, ‘Tools of Titans’ self-development guru Tim Ferriss charts his discussions with the most successful people he’s interviewed – from Hollywood A-listers to billionaires and professional athletes – and the overwhelming majority of them practice some form of meditation and attribute it to their success.

Clearing your mind of the daily ‘noise’ can be an exceptional way to elevate yourself to a more objective standpoint. Effectively you’re slowing your busy brain down – and in doing so, giving yourself a chance to look at your actions with a less judgemental frame of reference.

Ultimately…

Awareness is all about information – the more of it you have the better you can strategise. Sure, you might not like everything that comes to the fore – but if you want to improve you’ve got to know what your strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies are.

You wouldn’t expect a sports coach to tell a team how to improve if he hadn’t seen the game or spoken to any of them – and you shouldn’t expect to improve your life without all the knowledge that goes toward making it what it is today.

Streamline Your Business Communications

Even though the way we communicate may have changed, communication remains an integral part of any business. Whether we’re dealing with in-house communication, or looking to give customers information such as who are the best MLM companies currently https://mlmcompanies.org/best/, having the right tools to hand ensures that we are conveying information in the right way.

Just because running a business can involve a lot of communication doesn’t mean that they way we work has to be complicated. While answering phone calls will still occur, there are ways you can look to improve how you communicate with others, while ensuring its implemented in the most effective way.

Carry Out Projects in the Cloud

While we may have access to professionals, getting them all in the same place at the same time can be problematic at times. This can mean that projects take longer to complete, simply because all parties have not had a chance to look over the project. Working in the cloud offers a more streamlined and proactive solution.

Dealing with a project in-house or via email can work, but it can eat into valuable time. Working from the cloud means that everyone can view real-time updates about the project, regardless of where they are. So, if you have an urgent change or query, then you can normally have a resolution in place sooner rather than later, with everyone reading from the same page.

Look at Other Communication Methods for Customers

There are many customers who swear by speaking to someone over the phone, and there’s not much you can do to convince them otherwise. However, this doesn’t mean you should assume that the same applies to all your customers.

There are those who can’t bear with waiting on the phone, and would rather use the Internet to contact the company. This allows a company to lay out many different channels of communication to help answer queries and resolve complaints,

Some may choose to have a chat feature installed on the main website. This will allow customers to speak to you via chat as opposed to a telephone. While this can be more beneficial for both parties, you need to ensure that there are no issues with your website. It can also be a good idea to ensure your current hosting plan allows for such updates. If you do plan on running chat on your website then I would always recommend that you look at these 12 best hosting providers, who will all be able to provide you with scaleable hosting plan for your business.

Another method can be the use of social networking. Even something as simple as a business page on Facebook can allow a business to communicate with customers in a more effective and timely manner,

Update Your Email Procedures

The use of email has been popular for some time, and in some instances, it can be the most effective way of communicating with others. However, the quality of the information contained within an email can vary, and the communication process can be halted as the recipient has to ask questions about the information sent to them.

This can be avoided if you employ a template that everyone must follow. For example, if you’re referencing a phone call, it can be more useful to include the time and date, as opposed to the day the phone call was made.

Ensuring there is as much information contained within the email in the first instanced ensures that there is less time spent on questioning the email, and more time spent on the resolution. Of course, you will always get some questions, but having a routine and ensuring specifics are included means this happens less frequently.

Consider Call Routing

Although more and more people are choosing the Internet as their preferred portal of communication, there are those who will still choose to contact a business via telephone. If only have a basic telephone system, then finding the right person for the employee to speak to can be problematic.

Call routing is easy to instil, and allows you to route calls to the correct department or employee. You simply give the customer a list of options when they call, and then ensure that all options are routed to the correct department. This mean a more streamlined operation for the business, and a better experience for the customer.

Send Updates Via SMS

One of the reasons why businesses can become inundated with queries is due to customers looking for an update in relation to the purchase. It could be that the information was sent via email, but the customer doesn’t have access, whereas others will just call to ensure that their order is being dealt with. This is where automated SMS updates can come in handy.

Evidently, you will need to obtain the customer’s mobile number to send updates, but they can be a great and cost-effective way of updating the customer, while looking to reduce the number of incoming queries.

Review Your Voicemail Regularly

Even the most streamlined of businesses can miss out on some calls during the busier periods, so it’s often the case that some customers will leave a message. It’s important that voicemail is checked frequently and time is set aside to communicate with the customers.

Every business is different, but it can be advisable to check your business voicemail at least once a day. Overlooking the task could mean that the customer is calling back again and again, which means that your communication can come to a standstill.

Review How Customers Contact You

Some customer may contact you via telephone, whereas others may send queries using an online form. While offering several channels of communication to the customer can be beneficial to them, it’s important for a business to establish where the queries are originating from.

If the majority of queries come into your social network accounts, then it makes sense to ensure that someone is logged in to quickly offer a resolution. Similarly, if you’re regularly receiving phone calls, it can be worthwhile ensuring that somebody is able to man the phones during the busier periods.

Streamling your business communications not only ensure that you have more satisfied customers, but it also allows you to shift your focus onto other projects within the business.

Surviving the Early Stages of a Startup

Starting a business can be an exciting time, but it can also be worrying one if this is our first time in the world of business. While it should never be underestimated how harsh the world of business can be, it can also be easier to navigate if we put some contingency plans in place. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and this especially true when operating a start-up for the first time.

Ensure You Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

When starting a new business, it’s not unusual for us to ivest a large amount of time into it, and this is commendable. However, doing too much too soon can mean that we’re simply wearing ourselves out. Should we become ill as a result, the business will run into its own set of issues. As such, all work should be planned, and you should be ensuring that you’re getting the respite you need.

If we do too much too soon, it will often be the case that we become tired. This can lead us to not thinking clearly, which can poison the well in relation to making the right business decisions.

Perfect Your Hiring Process

One of the most important aspects of any business is the people you have on board, as such one bad egg can bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.

While it may take some time, you should always look at your hiring processes when taking on other employees. This will allow you to build a profile of potential employees, and ascertain as to how these people are a good fit for your business.

It’s never nice refusing people a position, but it’s much better than having to bring the business to a close because of the actions of a minority.

Invest Time Into Your Working Processes

While many businesses will strive for ultimate customer satisfaction, different people will see things from different perspectives. With this in mind, it’s not unusual for some customers to be dissatisfied with a service, despite your best efforts.

However, having processes in place for those who have grievances will ensure that your business is able to move ahead. Some issues can be due to a misunderstanding,whereas others can be due to the fact that the customer simply has too much demand.

Handling such scenarios in a professional and prompt manner may not help win everyone over, but it does show that your startup has integrity and is always willing to step in should things not go as expected.

Manage Your Time Effectively

You may have heard the saying that time is money. When operating a startup, this can certainly be the case.

Managing time effectively means managing deadlines, be it for a project or simply calling a customer back. Allow your time-management to fall by the wayside can mean that you’re losing out on potential customers, which will also mean that you’re losing income.

If you have other team members on board, then you should also ensure that they are fully aware of what’s expected of them. For example, if you have three people working on a particular project, then each team member needs to ensure they can complete their roles within a specified period.

Borrow Money Responsibility

A few search terms entered into Google tells you that there a series of providers out there all looking to fund your next venture or help you with your loan, but we shouldn’t take these at face value. For us to fund our business in the right way, we have to be aware of the financial commitments it has, and look at ways in how to meet these. If your business is not yet operating, there is very little point in investing in a high.-end office if it’s not required.

Similarly, you shouldn’t overlook more important aspects of your business, such as marketing and security. With this in mind, you should look to make a checklist of the most important aspects of your business, and look for the most cost-effective solution for each.

Should you be able to keep your costs down, then it’s likely you will be able to use a personal loan to help build the foundations of your business. This can mean lower interest rates and shorter loan periods than some of the business offerings available.

Get To Know Your Market as a Whole

While valuable research should be done in relation to competitors, you should become familiar with trends and developments within your industry, as a business that knows its stuff is more likely to instil confidence in the customers it deals with.

Research as a whole is the key to success for any new startup, but ascertaining what customers are looking for and when they’re likely to make a purchase puts you in a much better position when it comes to success.

For example, is there a problem that’s often listed online that your service can help with? Then this can be a good direction for your marketing o head in.

Think Outside the Box

There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by other businesses, but this doesn’t mean that your business model has to emulate that of others. For example, if you’re looking for accountancy software, but feel that the initial costs would be too overwhelming in the interim, then why not consider an open-source solution, which is often free, or offered at a very low rate.

This ensures that you’re only investing money where it’s really needed, and not spending money on your startup unnecessarily. Remember, the lower the costs, the bigger the profits.

Bumps in the road are a regular occurrence for start-ups, but it’s how we navigate the road the makes the difference. Having contingency plans in place doesn’t mean that your journey will be stress-free, but it will be more manageable, and ensure that you not only able to see out the first year, but many more moving forward.

Could a ‘pop-up’ shop benefit your startup business?

You’ll struggle to find a retail trend more current than that of the ‘pop-up’ shop. The phenomenon goes under different names – flash sales, pop-up stores, temporary retail – but they’re all essentially the same thing, a temporary retail space that sells or promotes something.

For new businesses and businesses that trade exclusively online – they can have some significant benefits, but what’s involved? What are those benefits? And would it be right for your business?

What’s pop-up all about?

The idea of having a pop-up store started in Los Angeles in the 90s – and was quickly capitalised upon by large retails. A business finds a vacant retail space, generally in an area of high footfall, and sets up their experience quickly – hence, ‘pop-up’.

The outlet might stay open for a day, a week, a month or even a year – but the temporary vibe generally means the walls go undecorated and no permanent fixtures are put into place.

It’s not just about retail

While the term ‘pop-up shop’ lends itself to images of retailers making clearances or launching new products, the scope for the pop-up is actually a lot broader. Samsung have pioneered the pop-up ‘brand experience’ where consumers can use their range of electronics – and pop-up restaurants are sweeping big UK cities as the ultimate in exclusive temporary dining.

You might be thinking your business has no place in this pop-up marketplace – but you’d be amazed at how diverse the applications can be:

  • Mobile food trucks: Want to showcase your restaurant, fast-food or coffee shop to an audience in a slightly different location? Operate from the back of a truck or van while handing out loyalty cards and discount fliers that’ll bring people to your permanent location.
  • Showcase your service: Here’s some news for owners of business to business services – other business owners shop! You might think that high street shoppers aren’t your target audience – but think about who these people are – self-employed, business owners, procurement professionals – they’ll stop and look if you’re there.
  • Artists: Space in a gallery hard to find? Struggling to make a mark online? Setting up a temporary pop-up gallery can put your work in front of a huge audience. Perhaps you’ll choose to sell, perhaps you’ll just build awareness – but if it’s good enough for Banksy, it’s probably going to be good enough for you!

What’s in it for your business?

There’s an impression that the pop-up is exclusively for the ‘hipster’ generation – the super cool who shun the ordinary in favour of the unknown – but actually, from virtually day 1, pop-ups have been used for everything from sole-traders looking to break into the market – to big worldwide brands who are levering the benefits of going off the beaten path.

Think about some of these benefits:

  • Build and enhance awareness

Consider “Do you want to look at a shop?” versus “Do you want to look at a new pop-up shop?” – immediately you’ve got excitement on your side. Pop-up says ‘exciting’ and ‘exclusive’ – without actually saying it.

They’re pretty good words to have associated with your brand – and not only that, by ‘popping-up’ you’re going to make connections with customers, old and new. This is especially true for online retailers and services who generally operate without a ‘face’ – a pop up build familiarity and can enhance your relationships.

  • It’s cheap

A month of pop-up presence is a lot cheaper and easier to arrange than a month of permanent premises occupation. In fact, it’s around 75% cheaper – meaning you can bag yourself a hot location for a fraction of the normal price.

Perhaps you want to use this for good? Put yourself in a position where new customers get to see you regardless of your business location – or maybe you want to harness the dark side and put yourself in a competitor’s location and steal some business. All’s fair in love, war and pop-ups…

  • Test the market

At many expo events companies launch concept products. Some might see the light of day – others might be condemned the big product bin in the sky – but either way, you need some opinion to help you decide.

Pop-ups give you the chance to put a new or concept product in front of people – where expos and market research campaigns might be cost-prohibitive. Combined with the excitement a pop-up can create, you might find you generate the buzz needed to make the launch successful in just the short time spent interacting with a potential customer base.

  • Sell!

The excitement and image of pop-up businesses is at the highest it’s ever been – which is impressive when you consider how widely the phenomenon now spreads. While online retail is massive – it’s a mere speck compared to the money that’s still spent in the high street.

More than 90% of the UK’s retail spend is done in shops – meaning that if you’re exclusively online, you’re missing out on a huge pile of cash. Perhaps the occasional pop-up would bolster your profits? Perhaps it would help you clear old stock? Or perhaps it’s the test you need before you move into more traditional retail premises?

Where to begin?

If the idea of a pop-up sounds like it could benefit your business – there first thing to think about is what you’d like to get out of the experience. When you have an idea of the goal, you’ll want to think about a location that’s going to suit you.

Pop-ups don’t have to be constrained to empty business locations – there are markets, events and expos happening all the time that could offer space for your business. Who do you want to appeal to? Where will you find those people?

When you’ve got an idea of what you’d like to do and where you’d like to do it, you’ll want to start looking at some spaces. There’s an increasing number of landlords who are more than willing to let their property for short periods of time – even just days, so talking to some retail estate agents will take you in the right direction.

Above all – do some pop-up shopping and see what you like. There are some super creative ideas out there – and there’s something that’ll be perfect for the goal you’re hoping for and the kind of person you’re hoping to attract.

How VR Could Change The Training Landscape

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Virtual reality, or VR, used to be a thing people talked about in the movies and dreamed about for the future. Well, folks, the future is here now, and we are living and breathing VR like it has always been around.

And we are pretty excited about the applications of virtual reality on the training industry and other business in general example such as stainless steel banding manufacturers who are already using Google Glass within the factory’s. With the ability to place ourselves in any location, any situation, any experience, we can learn and do things like never before. In considering that the VR space is only going to continue to expand, training institutions need to work fast to start incorporating VR into their curriculums and to start using it as a way to train students for the jobs of today and not tomorrow. Here’s how VR can change the training landscape across the globe.

Competition

First to market is not always the best in the market, but when it comes to being and staying competitive in the training industry, the best institutions are going to jump on the VR bandwagon sooner, rather than later. Imagine being able to train a dentist or doctor using virtual reality training simulators. Sporting clubs are already using such technologies and have been for years: think golf, baseball, and hockey. As VR continues to make its way deeper into the training world, institutions are going to have to start investing in these technologies because students are quickly going to come to expect to have some kind of virtual reality training component.

Training Options

VR is going to create an unlimited amount of training opportunities for students. Where students might have had to travel to work with some of the world’s best educators, virtual reality, coupled with online learning, is going to create an incredible opportunity to get hands on learning from people around the globe. While online learning is amazing and continues to be improved, the component that has been lacking has been the hands-on component that so many learners need to learn a concept or technique successfully. For example, you can take a class from a university process across the country, but you had to wait to take your labs in the summer when you could travel to the school and do them in person. Imagine if lab components could be completed through virtual reality classes! Students could get the full range of benefits from the instructors, as well as the hands-on components that are so important to lock in learning experiences.

Operating Budgets

From a training institutes perspective, making money is an essential part of staying operational. In order to provide the kind of education people need to get access to the best jobs, they need to charge a certain amount for their services. This amount differs depending on location and course offerings, but at the end of the day, money does make the education system go round, so let’s not start a debate about whether education for money is right or wrong; let’s talk about how training institutions could actually charge more money for courses that offer virtual reality components. Because this kind of equipment is not cheap, training organizations will need to be able to recoup the cost of implementing this kind of training opportunity, and should they choose to do so, make a little extra money as a result of offering VR learning. It will cost institutions more money to hire qualified instructors to run the VR labs and to keep the equipment operational.

Students Can Co-create Content

MOOCs (massive open online courses) hit the world by storm offering high-quality content for low prices, and the beauty of MOOCs was that the content was open-sourced, which means it was created by a number of people or people from different locations. Anyone can build and market a MOOC, and you’ll start to see the same thing happen with virtual reality courses. Students can have a hand in teaching other students from around the globe through VR courses. Everyone loves a good peer to peer relationship, but imagine how robust the training world will be when students are sharing experiences with each other instead of just getting information from instructors, professors, and trainers. The unlimited nature of VR is complicated to comprehend, but it is also amazing to imagine how people can start to impact the learning experience by sharing what they know through VR simulations. This will take Youtubers to a whole new level. Instead of demonstrating how to do something online, students will be able to walk VR users through simulations and ensure they are learning how to do a specific task. The level of engagement goes through the roof; instead of passively watching a video or reading a lesson, students will be able to learn as they do.

Virtual reality has hit the scene much faster than people anticipated. Much of the technology advances of the last 20 years have come much more quickly than people expected, actually. The human race is evolving so quickly that is seems hard to imagine that we have anything left to achieve. But VR shows us that really, we are just getting started. Soon, VR will be like it is in the movies, and while it seems like that stuff is just hokey pokey, just think back to when you were a kid and all the cool stuff you saw in the movies…it’s here now. The real and radical implications of virtual reality will be right at home in the training world, where innovation and change is imminent. The question remains then, just how quickly will training institutes pick up this new technology and how quickly will they be able to stay current with it. Many public training institutions have to abide by strict government regulations when it comes to education, and their hands are tied as to how quickly they can introduce new ways of teaching into the classroom. How will they stack up against the private training corporations who can change on a dime? It’s an interesting question to consider and one that will be interesting to watch play out in the industry. 

What is Ransomware & How To Protect Your Business

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Your business is something that you will want to make sure that you protect. Not only for the sake of your interests and money, but also for your valued customers too.

There has been plenty of news stories circulating around in the past few months about Ransomware, particularly a global attack in May which affected over 200,000 different organisations around the world, including the NHS which had many IT Support companies working 24/7 trying to secure these network and stop the attack from spreading.

Dubbed the WannaCry Ransomware, it seemed to prey on a flaw in the much used Microsoft Software, which allowed it to spread across networks with ease, locking away valuable files. It seems that despite there being security experts who managed to stop this attack, as well as some other subsequent attacks, the problems that they caused, not to mention the security concerns are still very much around.

What is Ransomware?

So, what exactly is Ransomware?

It appears that this software has been around since 2005, created in the US, before spreading across the rest of the world.

The idea behind this cyber security attacks is that you will be requested to make a payment in order to gain access to important files. The hackers see this as a quick and easy way to receive money, particularly as they know that the majority of the files that they have locked down are incredibly important.

Access to these files, as well as the computer system as a whole is blocked until the payment is made.

Ransomware is a malicious form of software and can be downloaded onto a computer, tablet or even a smartphone. However in order to gain access to a network, it needs to be downloaded onto the network, this is usually done by the hacker getting the victim to click on a link, or perhaps download something.

They usually disguise it within an email attachment, such as documents, music or photographs. The victim will not know that this link contains Ransomware, and once the link is clicked or downloaded the hackers will be able to attack the files on the network via the software. This is a gradual process and the files are encrypted one after another.

How to protect yourself against Ransomware

Concerned that your business is not properly protected against any Ransomware attacks? If you are, then you will be pleased to know that there are steps that you can take in order to protect your company and customers data.

One of the first things you should do is make sure that your important files are backed up on a separate system. This may seem like an added expense, but if you find yourself as part of a Ransomware attack then you will know that the hackers don’t have the only copy of your files. However, of course they will still have this information.

It can be tricky to protect and prevent a determined Ransomware attack, particularly if you are part of a large company with plenty of potential targets. The best thing to do is to exercise caution, and remind your employees to do the same thing. After all, the hackers can gain access to your network simply by requesting someone downloads something onto a single computer or mobile phone.

As the most common way of gaining access to the network is through a compromised email or download from a website, this should be something that you and your employees do with caution. You should never download or even open an email or website that you think could be a phishing email. Even if it looks like it could be from a reputable source, such as a bank or even an employee within the company.

It is good practice to check the senders email, making sure that it is correct and that it hasn’t come from an outside source. If you are ever in any doubt, never open the link or download the attachment. You could always call the source to see if they are who they say they are. For a bank or other source, search for their contact number on Google rather than calling any numbers that are included within the email.

Another way to prevent an attack is to use an antivirus programme that is able to scan files before they are downloaded, and also block any installations that may contain malware. Particularly those that are hidden, and that you didn’t even know were being downloaded.

Should you pay the ransom request?

Ransomware hackers will request a payment, usually in bitcoins in order to release the files that they have control of. Bitcoins are a digital currency, which is used to make payments across the cyber world with minimum tracking and no fees.

As a victim of a Ransomware attack, you may feel tempted to pay the amount requested by the hackers. Particularly if the files that have been shut down are important to your business or contain your personal information.

However, it is important that you do not pay the amount that they are requesting. Not only does this encourage the attackers to make further attacks, but there is also no guarantee that you will receive the files back that they have been able to access.

Rather than making a payment, the best thing to do is try to restore the affected files from a back up. If you do not have a back up, or it does not appear to be working, then there are a number of tools out there that you can use to try and decrypt the hacked files and recover them.

Ransomware attacks can be concerning, but you should remember that you can protect yourself, and make sure that your files are properly protected. This is a relatively easy process, and with some common sense and careful consideration with regards to what you download, you can make sure that the hackers are less likely to attack your business files and data.

 

Top five tips for managing money in a start-up

Most small businesses fail for one simple reason: running out of money. This can happen for a host of reasons and, whilst demoralising, will always be a risk for new start-ups.

However, you can significantly reduce your risk of being left without sufficient funds by managing money intelligently. Every business is different, but staying in control of finances is vital across the board; below are some tips for making the most of your funds.

  1. Be in the Know

Although it sounds obvious, knowing as much as possible about your inflow and expenditures is the single best way to make prudent financial decisions. Ensure that you keep track of your cash flow from the outset – in the early stages, it might be worth investing in accountancy software such as Quickbooks. This means that when it comes to growing your business, and your cash flow becomes more complex, you already have a system in place to keep track of things.

Alternatively, you could make use of software which you may already have – Microsoft Excel or something similar – to create a simple spreadsheet for recording monthly income and outgoings. Remember to find out how your business will be taxed as early on as possible, to avoid any surprises or headaches in the future.

If you intend to cover setup costs through a lender, you should carefully research your options. Using price comparison sites can be a great way to shop around, and decide which lender might be right for your business. Bank loans are not your only choice, though – your first port of call might be investment from friends and family, and you could also consider crowdfunding. Ensure that you have planned your debt management strategy in the long term when considering your choice of lender.

  1. Plan ahead

Successful entrepreneurs think carefully about the future; it is a good idea to produce forecasts for your business in its early stages. These predict your business’s income and outgoings for up to three years, since trying to predict any further ahead than this is generally unhelpful. These forecasts should be regularly updated as circumstances change, so you always have a good idea about what to expect in the near future.

These predictions should help you to plan your budget. This should be done carefully, and take into account all costs associated with your start-up, no matter how small – small expenses can quickly add up. When budgeting in the early stages of your business, fixed expenses, such as employees and office space, could be a good area in which to make savings. For example your budget might constrain the salary available for any staff, but this could be supplemented by offering equity in the company, or other perks depending on the nature of your business. You could also consider offering part-time work at this stage, or working from home if this is possible to save the expense of office space.

  1. Set some money aside

When your business is thriving, it can be tempting to re-invest all profits straight back into it for further growth, but this is not always the best strategy. Instead, it is sensible to set aside a portion of your profits so that, should the start-up falter, you have some funds available to cover running costs without taking on debt. Ideally, this monetary cushion will cover three to six months’ running costs.

Remember to allow enough money in your budget to give yourself a decent wage. You might feel obliged to pay yourself an uncomfortably small amount, so more of your profits are freed to grow the business, but this is not the best move. You will be less able to focus on your start-up if you are preoccupied with personal financial worries.

  1. Set realistic goals

Goal-setting is key to most endeavours, and establishing a business is no exception. Your goals should be realistic, measurable, and have a timeframe. They could be anything from a profit target, to reaching a product development goal, to getting a marketing campaign off the ground, as long as they are achievable and will help your start-up to grow.

Setting a series of smaller goals, rather than relying on one larger vision for your company, makes it easier to stay motivated, and will also let you keep better track of how things are progressing.

  1. Be prepared for the worst

Having a financial back-up plan is always advised. If you are currently employed as well as managing your start-up, ensure that you do not leave your job until your profits can comfortably replace your wages. Having an alternative source of income is a good back-up – if possible, you might consider going part-time as you transition from employee to business owner. The funds set aside from profitable periods should also be treated as a back-up, and could keep your business afloat during challenging periods.

Good money management

Taking the time to carefully plan, having a safety net, and always being aware of exactly what you have are simple ways to give a new business its best chance of succeeding. As common-sense as some of these tips seem, they are worth bearing in mind as you go forward with your start-up.

5 smart methods of investing your money

There are a few investment methods that you should know about. If you would like to minimize risk and lose as little money as possible when you are making investments, then you should try and utilize these investment methods. You will have a much higher rate of success when you are investing your money, thanks to these various methods. All of the most successful investors utilize these methods in one way or another, whenever they are handling their own money. And even financial advisors would recommend that you try out these business investment methods as well.

  1. Money managers make the investment decisions – It could be wiser to turn over your investment decisions to someone that knows better than you. Money or investment managers may be your best option when it comes to wisely investing your money. These kinds of professionals are extremely savvy at knowing which types of business properties to invest it. So they may be able to help you make a lot of money through investments.
  1. Consult a financial advisor – Another professional that you can turn to when you want to invest your money is a financial advisor. These kinds of advisors may enable you to know about your assets and business properties more. And they can guide you into making smart investments with your money. Listening to a financial advisor could be a smart investment method. Try to seek counsel from a seasoned financial advisor. They may be able to offer some insights that could help you in your investments.
  1. Conduct market analysis yourself – If you would like to make all of the investment decisions yourself, you should take the time to research your business and investment prospects. You should conduct analysis and try to come up with a projected plan for your upcoming business and investment properties. It would also be better if you could plan out the long-term prospects of your investments as well. You could also look for quick win opportunities by working with an SEO Consultant who can provide you with the best advice on what keywords can potentaily drive business to your website quickly.

  1. Hire someone to co-manage your investments – You could also try another kind of investment method, wherein you co-manage your investments with someone else. Having the help of another investor could boost your chances of finding and making smarter investments. And your chances of making better investments will also increase if you co-manage with an experienced investor. Both of the investors could take the time to do the analysis, make the investments, and monitor the progress of those investments as well.
  1. Look for your mentor – Starting up a business or shall we say investing your money is very risky. Though there are so many ways to succeed in what business or finance industry you want to invest in, you will need someone that can help you especially if you are new to it. As mentioned, either way can be risky, but with the support of an expert in business, he or she can help in saving your money before it will be put to waste. There are a lot of successful entrepreneurs out there that gone a long way in business or finance industry, all of them walked the same path to become successful it is not easy but it is worth it, and you too might need to hear from them to help you discover what investment you should take.

So here are the five methods you should take advantage to prevent you from wasting your money. These methods will give you a lower risk of losing in investing and business industry, just always remember that investing is not always earning, somehow you will lose, but at the end of the tunnel, there’s the pot of gold waiting as long as you’re passionate about what you do.