10 Tips Small Businesses Can Use to Avoid Viruses, Spam and Spyware

Viruses, spam, spyware and other malware cost small businesses billions of dollars each year in lost productivity, stolen identities and IT support costs.

What small businesses need to understand is that these gremlins are easy to avoid when common sense and some simple precautions are applied. And ‘avoid’ is the key word; your strategy should be to stay as far away from these things in the first place so that you don’t have to experience the lost time and cost associated with cleaning up the mess they leave.

So how can a small business avoid viruses, spam, and spyware?

The following is a list of 10 best practices for small businesses:
1. Use antivirus software that is automatically updated on all machines
2. Use a hosted spam filtering service that filters the spam before it ever makes it to your local network
3. Make sure employees know that you have a policy that work computers are only to be used for work purposes.
4. Don’t give your business email address to a non-business source
5. Don’t forward jokes, chain mail, etc. to other employees
6. Never open an attachment from an unknown source
7. Never open an attachment with an unknown file extension
8. Don’t download free toolbars, shopping assistants, weather bug, etc. on your work computer
9. Never give your information or download information from an unknown site
10. Never update banking or other sensitive personal information using a link sent to you via email – always navigate directly to the site and log in there.

As you can see, most of these tips don’t require you to buy anything or use any special technology. Viruses, spam and spyware prey on human nature – curiosity, laziness, etc. – to get past technology-based defences, so you must educate yourself and your employees to know what to avoid.

One last tip: if you do feel like you have a virus or something else attacking your computer, unplug it from your network immediately. The last thing you want to do is give it to everyone else in your office – that’s when things get really expensive.

Helpful Hints For Choosing A Business Bank Account

When someone decides that they want to open their own business, choosing the right bank may get lost in the shuffle of things they need to do. However, choosing a business bank account is an important decision for any business owner and they should be aware that they have choices. Making the right one is essential if a business wants to start out on the road to success.

The thing that many business owners fail to recognize is that they truly do need to do some research in order to find the right account for their needs. In many cases, they simply open an account with the bank that they use for their personal finances. This may seem like a good idea since they are already comfortable with the bank, but a bank with excellent personal accounts may not necessarily have the best business accounts.

Someone who is on the road to opening the doors of their own establishment may want to stick to another small business for their needs, but banking is not the place for this show of solidarity. In matters of money, it is important to go with trusted and familiar names, or online banks affiliated with familiar names. If a less familiar option seems too appealing to pass up, be sure to speak with other clients who can provide glowing reviews of the service.

The best way to go when choosing a financial institution is with the ones that has a specialized sector for handling small businesses. It is important that the bank understands the difference in needs between a small business and a large one. In addition to more specialized service, clients can enjoy a much simpler set up process than the one they would go through to register a large company.

Before signing on with any particular institution, it is important to read all of the fine print and make sure that all possible fees are clearly understood. When several transactions are made in a month, the fees can begin to add up and have an adverse effect on a brand new business. Many banks offer their newer accounts a period free of fees, so keep an eye out for those opportunities to save money.

Anyone who owns their own company realizes that they cannot get all of their work done within typical banking hours. This is why it is essential that the bank offers online service for clients to access their accounts at any time. With this important feature, people are free to do business when it conveniences them, not when it conveniences their bank.

When someone decides that they want to start a business, they may think of many things before they consider the hunt for a business bank account. It may seem simple, but it is actually an incredibly important decision for a new entrepreneur to make. A wise person will explore everything available to them before settling on a decision. Making the right choice in this matter will give any business the strongest possible start.

7 Small Business Marketing Tips

Small businesses do not often have large budgets. Thanks to the Internet, small business marketing can be a huge success, even without big dollars behind it.

Small business marketing can benefit from new trends in general marketing. These trends point to methods that are inexpensive, innovative, and online.

One of the key online options for small business marketing is search engines. The cost of submitting your Web site to a search engine is minor, but there are some considerations to be made:

1. Your site must be optimized with keyword phrases. Search engine optimization is achieved by including keyword phrases that apply to your company. These phrases must be present enough times to draw the attention of the search engines to your site.

2. Since most small businesses focus on their local market, you should aim your advertising efforts at your local audience. Users have recently begun pushing for better local search capabilities and most search engine companies are responding. Statistics have shown that 74% of Internet users perform local searches. Your keywords should reflect your locale and you should look into local search engines and directories, like your local Yellow Pages, Google Local, Citysearch and others.
If you are a local merchant and your intention is to sell products on the web, one of many tactics is to build your online ads around local content to increase your click through rate.

3. Speaking of local searches, newspaper Web sites have become the top portal in their local areas, especially among the coveted 18-34 demographic. Traditional newspaper advertising is generally beyond most small business marketing budgets, but the online versions offer more affordable ads on the “back” pages – those that are not visited as often but are rich in content.

4. Another exciting small business marketing method is the weblog, or blog. A blog offers your business a good way to have an inexpensive, two-way conversation with your customers. Write a blog for your Web site to give your customers and prospects an additional reason to visit your site.

5. Podcasts are among the newest small business marketing techniques. A podcast is a multimedia file (think radio broadcast) distributed by paid or unpaid subscription over the Internet. Podcasts offer you a direct way to tell your prospects how your product or service can benefit them.

6. Many small businesses can use online seminars or demos, also known as webinars, to demonstrate and promote their latest products. Online demos are an ideal tool for small business marketing because they are relatively easy to produce and allow you to reach a wide audience without ever leaving the office.

7. A strong online presence is a critical component of any small business marketing campaign. Why? Because the Internet offers advertising options that are relatively inexpensive. Because 87% of consumers research purchases online before they buy. Because 63% research online and then visit a bricks and mortar store to complete a purchase. And because demographic trends show that the most desired customers are most accessible through online means.

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