Employees are vital to any small business. No longer will just any warm body sitting behind a desk or standing in front of a cash register (or whatever your employees’ job function happens to be) suffice in today’s more sophisticated industry.
No matter what industry your small business serves customer service skills, for example, become critical to guest satisfaction. And with more competition for customers, sales and marketing savvy is coveted.
Let’s face it. The most successful small businesses employ top-notch employees who run the business as if it was their own. They take the time to help the customer decide on the best products and services for them; they stay a few minutes after closing time to prepare for the next day; and they are ready to respond to emergencies—and opportunities—when they arise. Read more... top ▲
NFL owners are meeting this week to discuss the status of negotiations with players. The goal is to ink a new collective bargaining agreement.
But for all the attention the lockout is getting from sports fans, it’s small business owners who could suffer the most if the professional football season doesn’t start on time. Indeed, many small businesses that rely on the NFL to keep their business running.
“We have a number of clients-from hotel operators to restaurateurs-that are concerned about defaulting on their loans if there were a lost NFL season,” says Doug Long, president of Covendium. “Our clients have already seen a drop in revenue from the economic downturn, and the banks are not willing to bridge any gap caused by the lockout-for those clients we must go to private capital to line up emergency lines of credit.” Read more... top ▲
You’ve probably heard of all the hack attacks going on lately. From Sony PlayStation, Nintendo and Sega to Lockheed Martin and Citibank, large companies are seeing the wrath of hackers looking for monetary gain by stealing consumer information.
But it’s not just large companies getting hit. The Anti-Phishing Working Group is reporting that more than one-third of respondents to a new Web Vulnerabilities Survey were repeat victims of phishing attacks—and those attacks ended with success.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents reported that their Web sites had phishing or spoof sites planted on their Web servers two or more times before, a telling statistic that reflects both the persistence of phishers and the difficulties of keeping them at bay.
“Phishers value compromised web sites highly because they are much harder for interveners to take down. They’re confident that they’ll be able to identify and exploit sites, and do so repeatedly. Victims are not mitigating exploits entirely or are not implementing adequate measures to keep them away,” says APWG Research Fellow Dave Piscitello of ICANN. Read more... top ▲
In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we looked at why crisis communications is important and how to prepare before the storm. In part 3, we’ll take a closer look at how to respond to a crisis through your public relations efforts.
With a plan in place, you are prepared to quickly respond to the storm. PR pros say your immediate response should include the following: gathering facts, alerting and deploying the crisis response team, acknowledging the situation with 24 hours, cooperating with the media, assessing legal liability, reaching out to target audiences, and monitoring media coverage.
You will have several potential audiences to consider, including the victim, if any, the media, your employees and their families, clients, and other stakeholders. Read more... top ▲
Are you sweating the small stuff when you should be focusing on the big picture on how to grow your small business? If you are like many small business owners in Canada, the answer is yes.
According to the quarterly American Express Small Business Monitor, entrepreneurs recognize planning, hiring, and marketing as key business functions but admit to spending a big part of their day on tasks such as office administration, cleaning and repairs. The thing is, 59 percent of these small businesses admit their company would be in a much better position if they could spend more time doing what they’re good at.
“We know small business owners put their heart and soul into everything they do, so a reluctance to rely on others is only natural,” says Eric Nielsen, vice president and general manager for Small Business Services Canada division of American Express Canada. “But looking for outside help for even a few tasks can allow owners to focus on the work they love and the reason for starting their own business in the first place.” Read more... top ▲
Attempting to build a working relationship with the media before a crisis ever occurs is a key strategy, according to experts.
Being a good community partner – and making sure the media knows it by distributing news releases about your good deeds – can pay dividends in the midst of a storm.
(In case you missed, it check out part one of this series to get a good foundation on why crisis communications plans are vital for small businesses.)
When it comes to the actual crisis communications plan, the first step is to determine who should – and who should not – be a company spokesperson. These staffers become members of the crisis management team within an organization and are trained on the step-by-step instructions of what to do and when to do it during a crisis. Don’t try to anticipate every possible scenario that could happen, rather put systems in place for a smooth flow of information within and without the company. Read more... top ▲
Now this is cool.
Have you ever felt like there are few who truly understand what you go through as a small business start-up trying to wear more hats than you can balance on your head? If so, a new scripted series called Leap Year may offer you some much needed comic relief.
You are probably familiar with this scene: You’re thinking about starting your own business. There’s a lot on your mind and the stakes are high.
- Can I support a family without a company salary?
- What happens if I’m the victim of technology theft?
- How could inviting a colleague for drinks end in a lawsuit?
Those are the types of situations that you’ll get to laugh about in a new series commissioned by specialist small business insurer Hiscox. The series launched today on Hulu. There are 10 episodes in all that chronicle the highs and lows of five friends who make the proverbial ‘leap’ and go it alone in the wake of corporate downsizing. You can catch a new installment each Monday. Read more... top ▲
When the White House and the FBI get involved in hack attacks, you know it’s a big deal.
Google announced earlier this week that cybercriminals from China were using what seemed to be phishing attacks to hack Gmail accounts, including government authorities. With this news comes the revelation that Hotmail and Yahoo! e-mail accounts have also been the target of spear phishing attacks.
What can you do to protect your small business?
First understand what a phishing attack is. According to Wikipedia, phishing is a way of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake Web site whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Read more... top ▲
I don’t know about you, but I live on Ocean Drive in South Florida. That means when June rolls around I start paying much closer attention to the weather.
Hurricane season is officially upon us—and I’m believing for the best and preparing for the worst. I got a little help this year from Traveler’s Insurance, which has offered five things small business owners like me can do to make sure my business is protected it a storm hits.
Of course, these tips are also relevant for small business owners who live in areas where tornadoes or earthquakes or other weather events take place. So lets dive right in.
1.Create a Business Continuity Plan and Establish an “Emergency File” Read more... top ▲
There are two types of companies in the world – those that have had a crisis and those that will. No industry is immune.
Crises come in all shapes and sizes, from natural disasters that could bring your operation to a screeching halt to criminal acts to workplace violence to data breaches. Bankruptcies, major lawsuits and other incidents may also potentially destroy your reputation or cripple your small business.
“A crisis is not just bad news. Every brand will face bad news. A crisis is when something occurs that keeps you from handling your regular business in a normal fashion,” says Vince McMorrow, vice president of public relations for RMD Advertising in New Albany, Ohio. “A crisis is an event that has the potential to cause great harm to your organization.” Read more... top ▲