Is Your Business’s Online Security at Risk?

One of your main priorities as a business owner needs to be your online security. If you don’t believe that your business could be a target for cyber-crime or cyber-attacks, think again. Statistics show 43% of cyber-attacks are focused on small businesses.*  Your business could lose assets, private information, lose revenue and develop an untrustworthy reputation – or you could go out of business. Knowing how you may be putting your business at risk could potentially save everything. But where should you start?

 

Employees

If you have careless or uninformed employees, this could be the main cause of security incidents or data breaches. Making sure that all of your employees, including yourself, are educated and trained on cybersecurity and cyber-attack basics. Closely monitor, control and manage all privileged credentials to stop any exploitation from happening. If an employee is let go, be sure that you terminate their accounts so they can no longer access inside your business networks.

 

Electronic Invoices

If you email your clients invoices, a hacker could easily intercept that email and alter the information so that instead of you being paid, the money is deposited into their account. So before sending an invoice, be sure to confirm that the client is legit and that you aren’t being scammed.  The security measures you take when sending information via email should be two-factor authentication and encryptions.

 

Personal vs. Work

Always remember to keep your personal devices and your work devices separate. Make sure you have dedicated accounts for your email and social media platforms for both professional and personal. If you keep private work information on your personal device and accidentally leave it somewhere, that data is now in jeopardy.

 

Third Party’s

Before you work with any third party provider, do your research and confirm that they’re reputable and know what they’re doing.  Verify that they use the best security practices and that they require unique credentials for each and every user.

 

Be sure the visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

 * “43% of Cyber Attacks Target Small Business”

Accounting Tips Business Owners Should Know

Accounting is often overlooked. Even if finance isn’t your strong suit, it’s absolutely necessary that you have basic accounting knowledge down pact so that you can keep your small business afloat when times get tough.  Starting a business requires diligence.

 

Payment Rewards and Incentives

Online and in-store payments be sure to mark-up your products slightly above your ideal margins so that you are able to offer discounts. Your customers will love getting more bang for their buck that way! When sending invoices to your clients, whether it’s digitally or on paper, you should offer some sort of incentive if they pay early. As long as you’re strategic with your incentives and discounts, it will surely boost your income margin rather than lose it.

 

Cash Reserve

Always have a contingency plan. A suggestion would be to have at least 4-6 months of runway cash on hands at all times. Every quarter you should be checking your reserves so that you know you can keep going for 6 more months. If you aren’t already doing this, I suggest you start now.

 

Delegate

Some business owners just aren’t meant to handle their own accounting. That still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the basics, but it may be best for both you and your business to hire or delegate this task to someone to handle your everyday finances.

 

Options

In almost every start-up life cycle, you’ll need to raise money some how and timing is everything. But when is the time right? Instead of looking angel investors or tradition venture capital that could take months, explore financing options. Always explore every option possible and do your research so your business never becomes stagnant.

 

As a small business owner, you carry the weight of your entire business on your shoulders. Your businesses financial health and stability is one of the main factors. Use these tips to better position you and your business for the path of success.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

A Better Marketing Plan Can Increase Your Profits

If you’re a small business owner, then you already know that you have to fight daily to get your business message out and across to consumers. Some suggest that to increase profit you just need a better marketing plan, well that’s easier said than done. You know you must reach new people outside of your initial circle for your business to grow and succeed. But what’s the best marketing plan that will help you get paid better and faster?

 

With there being more content than ever before now, and multiple ways to consume products – it can be cutthroat sometimes. A marketing plan is non-optional; you need to cut through all the noise and get your business in front of your ideal customer. If you have a clear, thought out plan and have done your research then your business will grow. Growth means more profit.

 

Create a Plan

Once you know which direction you want your business to go in, you need to create a clear and concise plan. Find time in your day to sit down and map out a business plan for the next 5 years, and break down each year with specific goals such as; income, growth, target markets/demographics, different paths, the list goes on. Once you have these questions answered, it will make it much easier for you to begin to lay out a marketing plan for your business.

 

Know Your Target Market

If you don’t know your markets, you’re going to have a problem. Your businesses success will take hard work, and it starts by doing your research. Whether you’re selling yourself, your services or a physical product, you need to know why people are going to want to buy it from you. Ask yourself, what makes you stand out over your competitors?

 

Do Your Research

Turning all your planning and research into a business that regularly gets paid more than you’re making now, you need to start by focusing on your businesses current income. The first step to increasing your income is by increasing your customer base, from there you’ll reach the next income level, and so on and so forth.

 

Easy Payment System

If you have an easy to use payment system, it’ll make it easier for your customers to give you their money – you won’t want to make that one hard or they may not have the patience and go elsewhere.

 

Set up a proper marketing plan, make it clear and concise, do your research and watch your business grow.

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

Mobile Security Tips for Business

Mobile devices play important roles in all our daily lives, they’ve become a part of our everyday routine. Even thinking about going a day without using your phone you’re probably cringing. Because these useful gadgets have become so reliant, it’s opened the door of hackers and security vulnerabilities. Your cell phone might be more threatening than you think, so you need to know how to keep it secure.  

Specifically, business owners may use their phones to keep confidential information about work or clients, do transactions, send important emails or messages, the list could go on. Business owners need to be concerned about how secure their phones are.

 

Passcode Lock

No brainer. Having a passcode locks could be a specific word, a number code or probably the most secure one to have is the user’s fingerprint to unlock the device.

 

VPN

Using a Virtual Private Network can help encrypt your connection so that you’re left with no worries when going online on a public network. Without having it, your personal information could be sniffed out from someone else using the same public network.

 

Encrypt Your Storage

When you are concerned about data confidentiality, encryption comes in handy. If your phone were to be stolen or gone missing, you can be assured that a third party won’t be able to gain access to all your data and information.

  

Downloading from Trusted Sources Only

Downloading files or applications from secure and trusted sources should already be something you do, if not, you need to start.

 

Password Your Wi-Fi

By securing a strong password for your Wi-Fi network, it will protect you from attempts at gaining access to your network without permission.

 

Have a Reliable Anti-Virus Software

With virus attacks being a lot more common now than ever, mobile devices are just as prone to virus attacks. Making sure you have a good anti-virus software is a great way to stay safe.

 

Back Up Your Phone

You should be doing this on a regular basis already. At least once every week or two.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

Being a Prudent Business Leader

Being A Prudent Business Leader

If you’ve ever thought about quitting your job and starting your own business, money may be a major concern. When becoming self-employed, most forget about the out-of-pocket costs along with the fact that you need to focus on making a profit so you can support yourself and your family. On the plus side, when starting a business, it doesn’t have to cost you a few limbs. If you focus on setting a clear and concise budget, you can cut down the costs of launching and growing your business.

 

Go Digital and Go Paperless

Naturally, going digital with your business will allow you to go paperless too. While there are tremendous opportunities to run a digital business its remarkable how often we invite paper back into the equation.  By operating without paper and diligently keeping digital documentation, you will gain flexibility and freedom from the constraints and pitfalls of paper based solutions.

 

Designated Office Space at Home

When working from home, your couch is not a feasible office space. If you’re going to be serious about your business having an appropriate workspace is critical.  The couch isn’t going to cut it.  A desk, a designated space will go a long way towards your success.  If you have a spare room and can convert it into an office space, you may be able to write it off on your taxes.

 

Free Apps and Websites

When starting a business, you’ll eventually be faced with new expenses that include monthly subscriptions to websites with services that can help simplify your processes. Though you may have a list of your favorites that you’re happy to pay for, there are quite few ways to save here as well.

 

Organic Social Media

Yes, you could pay for advertising for your business, but you can also grow your reach by organically increasing your following on social media platforms. People will see your promotions via social media which can then increase your leads.

 

With a prudent and pragmatic approach, you’ll be able to stretch your dollars further and drive your business growth and profitability.  Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

 

Leadership Lessons from the CEO of Uber

Companies are opting for Less Drama and More Delivery

What is leadership? Such a simple question, and yet it continues to baffle the minds of some.  If you look up the term, you’ll see something along the lines of: “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.”

 

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s pushy and combative leadership style has been the focus of much news lately.  While both qualities can be credited for part of what’s driven Uber’s success, more recently they have emerged as the very attributes that are tarnishing the company’s reputation. Uber’s culture has been described has a “toe-stepping, and cut-throat meritocracy”, causing some employees to leave.

 

Entrepreneurship requires strong-headed, passionate leadership to push through the obstacles bureaucracy often stand in the way of success.  Many great leaders exude a sort of confidence bordering on arrogance — Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and others have often been cast in such a manner – but more and more in today’s era companies are opting for less drama and more delivery.  This is typically best achieved through joint efforts, inclusion and diversified thinking.  Leaders who opt for the “my way or the highway” approach often find themselves abandoned eventually.

 

In the case of Uber, the company’s response to its current crisis provides numerous leadership lessons. While it may have been forced on him, Kalanick’s decision was indicative of recognition that the current mode of operation was no longer viable.  Kalanick’s decision was one of the most mature things he has done in recent months and demonstrates he is smart enough to know when to put his ego aside and do what is best for the company.

 

All leaders need a certain amount of guile and toughness, but the recent changes at Uber offer an insightful illustration of the advantages and pitfalls of having a maverick at the helm.  Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

 

Canada Day Long Weekend – Small Business Marketing Musts

Canada 150 is an Amazing Opportunity To Create Awareness and Interest in Your Business

Canada Day is a great opportunity to connect with your patriotic spirit. It’s a chance for people to come together, unite and celebrate all that makes Canada extraordinary. It’s also a way for your businesses to serve clients and give them a reason to participate in special promotions. Often, businesses fail to connect with their audiences on a personal level, and hence, fail to get to know their potential prospects as human beings. Canada Day is the perfect way to build such relationships.  However, you must have the right approach. Otherwise, you may not get any visibility, or even worse, receive a negative response.

 

Do Something Creative

Automatically you’ll catch people’s attention with a creative design, idea or story.  Whether it’s an email, postcard or an image on social media you’re sure to establish a more personal connection. Be sure to include a greeting that’s relevant to the Canada Day spirit!

 

Go That Extra Mile

Instead of trying to push sales or sell your products/services, present your prospects and clients with something that is of value to them. Whether it is a prize, a gift, food or some sort of gift card or coupon the act of giving will go a long way!

 

Host an Event

There’s no better way to establish relationships than meeting in person. This will require time and planning on your part, and involve an early invitation. Again, relevancy is key! BBQ’s are perfect because the provide a comfortable setting to make introductions and initiate relationships.

 

Always Plan Ahead of Time

When you plan your campaigns in advance, you’re being proactive, instead of reactive. This way, you’ve integrated your Canada Day message within your campaigns. When you visualize your campaign calendar, it becomes much easier to plan for it. Not only is this helpful with saving you time, but the end recipient has a much more remarkable experience with your marketing.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

Sears Canada Bankruptcy – What Happened?

 

Some people will say that Sears problem was having the perfume counter at the entrances of the stores, effectively and automatically excluding anyone sensitive to perfume as they didn’t want to walk past the fragrances to reach the rest of the merchandise.

 

However that’s not it, part of the problem is simply that Sears’ clientele is generally older and less interested in online shopping. “The reality is, when your top line falls as significantly as it has and your customer base doesn’t buy online — they are middle-aged to older, and they shop the store — as much as you try to shift channels to online, it’s just not happening,” one former executive said.

 

Centered on the hashtag “#wevechanged,” the brand launched a marketing campaign and had opened a pop-up in Toronto designed to bring attention to its new product lines, which are aimed largely at a younger demographic.

 

It should have been a simple transition from catalogue to the internet – but what happened? Sears didn’t evolve quick enough and the company got stuck in a prior decade and didn’t cater enough to the new generation of spenders. They fell behind in being modern and welcoming the Gen X and Gen Y customers, who are the main spenders these days. The window of opportunity to transition from paper to online closed quicker than they thought.

 

“Assess the potential of your company assets and pay attention to your competitors’ growth strategies.” Business owners need to stay on top of their company’s assets and keep an eye on their competition, changes in the marketplace and your consumer’s expectations. They just launched a new rewards program to boost its already prime service. Always stay up to date with retail trends whenever possible as they are always changing.

 

“Your business must be mindful of how to add value for your customers.” In comparison, a company like Amazon, has been able to provide value for customers by perfecting the challenge of online retailers, which is the supply chain. They shorten wait times and have hassle-free returns addressing the two biggest pain points of the online experience.  By doing so they have opened a new channel for external partners. Consider what kind of value can your business add.  Perhaps special services for online customers, buy online and pick up in store. Your customers will love these because it’ll make their overall experience shopping with you easier.

 

With the growth of technology over the last decade, the ability for businesses to quickly adapt and accommodate for changing customer expectations will only become more important as technology becomes more advanced.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

 

Things to Watch for In a Small Business Loan

 

A reliable way to get some extra capital for your business is a small business loan. Whether it’s for covering your startup costs, or it’s to fuel a new initiative, getting a small business loan is both exciting and nerve-wracking. It’s important to pay attention to the type of loan you’re getting into, if you aren’t careful, you could end up with something that’s almost impossible to pay back.

 

Interest Rates

Obviously, you want the lowest interest rate possible, but the interest rate you get will depend on a few factors. Your credit history and the terms of the loan you’re seeking to get are the main ones. If you want a lower interest rate, you may have to sacrifice some other preferences to compensate for it.

 

Terms of the Loan

If you’re thinking long-term, or if you don’t have an existing stream of revenue to help you with the monthly payments, you might consider the longest term possible, ranging many years into the future. However, do be aware that paying off your loan early can result in a prepayment penalty – so remember to pay attention to that in the conditions of the loan.

 

Expansion

If you’re looking to invest in expansion, you may me tempted to get the most amount of money you qualify for; after all, having access to more capital gives you more flexibility, and will save you time if you need to borrow more down the road. Always start by outlining the fundamental costs that you’ll need to cover for your business. Don’t just guess, do your research, talk to your peers and calculate your best guess for what these needs will cost you.

 

Financial Institution

Of course, you’ll want to go with the provider that can offer your business the best deal, but the working relationship you’ll have with the loan provider also matters. If you already have a history with one institution, it may increase your likelihood of getting a better deal with them in the future, so be sure to take that into consideration when deciding your line of credit, loans, and checking accounts.

 

After these steps, you should start meeting with different lenders in your area and see what they have to offer. Just remember to read the fine print carefully, and only move forward when you’re confident about the long-term benefits of your decision.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

 

Business Lessons from the Easter Bunny

Easter is just around the corner, but small businesses all over the country are hard at work making sure their customers are happy. Happy customers are the keystone of success for many businesses. Poor customer service can quickly bite you where it hurts most: your profits. The Easter Bunny has several valuable lessons about customer service that small businesses may benefit from learning.

 

Hiding “Goods” Isn’t Always Good

The Easter Bunny sneaks in and hides Easter eggs all over houses, yards, parks and other areas. While this might make for some good treasure-hunting fun, your customers will not appreciate going on a hunt to get answers about your business. You can’t hide your answers as a business. Having a well-developed knowledge base is a good start. With quality content from which to draw, your customers may be able to trust that you understand your business and can provide them with the goods and services they desire.

 

Visiting in the Night Limits Availability

Have you ever caught a glimpse of the Easter Bunny? Probably not. He only seems to visit in the middle of the night, much like Santa Claus, he’s not around when you’re awake. As a business, it’s important to be available when your customers are. If most of your business happens at night, then you need to be available at night. If your customers are working from 9-5, that’s when you need to be available.

 

A Mysterious Myth

We all know the Easter Bunny sneaks around, leaves candies and hides eggs. What else? He’s mysterious and, according to some people, a myth. This is intriguing for a figure that leaves candy for children, but no one appreciates such mysteriousness in business. People want to speak to people. Mystery makes many customers and clients feel uncomfortable. Don’t tiptoe around; be real and upfront with your customers.

 

Everyone Loves the Easter Bunny

Who doesn’t love the Easter Bunny? We’re not saying you should give out baskets of chocolates and hide eggs everywhere but going above and beyond for your customers is likely to bring you the same type of love and loyalty.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

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