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5 Easy Ways To Protect Your Business From Cyber-Crime

5 Easy Ways To Protect Your Business From Cyber-Crime

Are you relying on good luck or a wing and a prayer to protect yourself from cyber-crime and internet risks? Below are some online security tips your business can use to protect itself. After all, you don’t know when your luck will run out!  

 # 1: Set Up Two-factor Authentication

Set up two-factor authentication for all your online accounts and devices.

Hackers are clever; the right person could hack nearly any online account or device. Enabling two-factor authentication on your laptop, phone, email account and on each app you use is a straightforward way to add extra security. 

Two-factor authentication ensures that anybody attempting to access an online account is who they say they are. The way it typically works is:-

  • Firstly, you enter your username and password as normal
  • Then, rather than gaining immediate access, a second level of verification is needed. This second level of approval could be via
    • An additional PIN to enter
    • A secret question to answer
    • A code sent to your phone or email
    • Approval on an authenticator app

The theory is that even if your device was stolen and your password compromised, the hacker isn’t going to know or have access to this extra information.

And yes, I know it can be annoying to have to verify everything on your phone or via email. But not as irritating as losing all your data or, worse, all your money.

 

 # 2: Use A Password Manager

Personally, I use LastPass, but I recently purchased Norton anti-virus (See also tip 4 about anti-viruses), and noticed it contains a free password manager.

Most of us understand that we shouldn’t use our children’s names, date of birth, 12345 or ‘password’ as your password. That your password should be unique for each site and consist of a number, letters (capitals and small case), and symbols in a complex random order.

We all understand the theory, but the challenge is when we use so many apps every day, how do you remember these random passwords? The simple answer is unless you have a photographic memory, you can’t.

So, instead of following what we know would be the safe way of working, we continue to use a weak password, write them on post-it notes or have a file called passwords (don’t laugh; I have seen it!)  

This is where password managers help, as they store all your login information for all the websites you use in one place. When you log into a website or app, the password manager automatically populates the password fields. So you can still have a complicated password but don’t need to remember it. The only password you need to remember is the one to your password manager tool. 

 

 # 3: Connect To A VPN 

Have you ever sent an email while you’re in a queue for your morning coffee, Or when you access your bank account on the train doing your daily commute – you may as well use the time wisely, right! 

If you’re relying upon an unprotected public Wi-Fi network for your connection, be careful. The cyber-savvy stranger opposite you on his laptop could be eavesdropping.

A Virtual Private Network (or VPN) helps safeguard your online activities by hiding your personal information when you access the internet. This means you can check your bank account, shop online, and even send confidential emails without the fear of the data being compromised. 

Bonus Tip: If you outsource your work to a virtual assistant or virtual business manager, one of the first questions you should ask is if they use a VPN. 

 

 # 4: Routinely Update Anti-virus And Anti-malware Software

We all do it; our anti-virus sends a pop-up reminding us we need to update, but what do we do? We press ‘later.’ 

Software providers are regularly developing updates (called patches) to take care of any weaknesses or threats as they emerge. However, these updates can’t work unless you apply them. To increase your protection from cyber-attacks, it’s essential your anti-virus/anti-malware are the most up-to-date versions.

 

 # 5: Shop Securely Online.

The simplest way to ensure an online purchase is ‘uneventful’ is to make sure the website you’re buying from is safe and secure. Look out for the lock symbol in the toolbar. Plus, the website starts with “HTTPS” in the address bar before tapping in all your credit card or bank details.

Do You Think Cyber-crime Won’t Happen To You?

 

That it only happens to big businesses?

This is no longer true. Big corporations spend billions on their IT security as they cannot risk the bad reputation from a significant data breach. Hackers are therefore increasingly targeting mid to small-size businesses. They are easier to hack because small companies are generally under-protected or do not understand what is needed to safeguard their technology.

 Questions To Ask Yourself

  • Do you have a website? Perhaps even an online store where you take payments? Are they safe for those visiting your site?
  • How much personal information do you keep digitally on your clients, suppliers or contacts? Is that information stored safely?
  • Think of how many documents you downloaded, emails you signed up for or forms you completed this week. Were they all from reputable sites?
  • How many emails do you send or receive every day? Do any of them contain personal information?
  • If you are storing information in the cloud, who can access it, and what safety measures do you have in place?
  • What about your social media posts? Are they secure and safe? Or are you giving out information a hacker could use to get into your accounts? 

If any of the above applies to you, you need to consider how you protect your technology, business data and personal information. If you are unsure where to start, then get in touch I would be happy to talk you through some of these quick.

Control Your Schedule With These Diary Management Tips

Control Your Schedule With These Diary Management Tips

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your calendar? Perhaps you are always running late or missing deadlines. Do you feel you are constantly juggling your work, re-organising meetings or just playing catch up and never in control? If you’re finding diary management a constant struggle, here are a couple of top tips to help you regain control of your calendar and time.

What Is Diary Management?

Let’s start with the basics; what do I mean by diary management. Firstly diary management is more than accepting or declining your latest invitation or appointment. It’s about having a structure to your day, a method to the way you work that works for you.

So, what does it take to manage your calendar effectively?

Diary Management Essential Skills

There are a couple of principles that are important to developing a diary management system that works:-

  • Allow buffer time between appointments for preparation and travel and those all-important breaks.
  • Be honest about your habits and how you like to work. Some people are natural morning people and are at their best early in the day. Others need several coffees first and don’t hit their stride until the afternoon. Match your natural working pattern with the timing of your appointments.
  • When you settle on a diary management system, stick to it. You might decide colour coding or time blocking works for you (they work for me). Or maybe you want to use an online calendar instead of a physical diary. Whatever you decide will work for you, set up the process and stick to it.

Diary Management Is Not A One-size-fits-all Solution.

Your system must be in line with your personal working style. So an essential part of setting up an effective process is to be honest with yourself about how you work ( which is different from how you should work). For example, here are a couple of considerations to think about:-

  • What time are you comfortable starting meetings in the morning?
  • Are evening informal meetings or drinks an option, and if so, what days would work?
  • Are there any days you prefer to avoid having meetings? (I usually try to avoid Fridays, so I can focus on my workload and go into the weekend with a clear desk). Or perhaps you would prefer not to travel on certain days – Friday afternoon traffic can be a nightmare.
  • Do you have any regular personal commitments, i.e. the school run, that need to be factored in?
  • Do you prefer in-person meetings, or are you comfortable with Zoom calls, which can be easier to fit in?

5 Top Diary Management Tips

Quick Tips Image

 

#1. Schedule everything.

Your diary isn’t just for appointments. If you have a job or task to do, put the time in your calendar. It can also help to give that task a priority setting (This can be especially useful if you are outsourcing your diary so your virtual support knows what can and can’t be moved if necessary). Scheduling everything is the only way to understand how you are using your time, and more importantly how you are wasting your time.

#2. Time block.

Are you doing your best work if you spend your days flitting between tasks? Juggling different jobs means your focus is scattered across multiple tasks/responsibilities. This makes it difficult to give any one task your entire focus and attention.

Research shows that if you are juggling 5 jobs, you could lose as much as 80% of your productive time each day. You are far more effective if you spend a couple of hours focusing on each job instead of slotting in tasks sporadically throughout the day.

#3. Colour code.

Start by thinking about the kinds of tasks and appointments you have throughout the day. Set up each category with its own colour code. Giving every entry in your calendar a colour makes it easier to see your priority for the day. It can provide a quick visual of how your time is split and lets you see what is eating into your precious time.

#4. Set up reminders

If you have regular jobs to complete, set up a reoccurring reminder in your calendar. For example, if you have decided to assign a slot every Friday morning to paying invoices, set up a reminder for 15 minutes before, then you know you have to complete your current job and focus on paying the bills.

#5. Timing.

How much time do you spend in meetings, and are you getting a return on that time investment? It’s easy to get into the trap of scheduling meetings for a specific length – usually 30 or 60 minutes. But do you actually need all that time? Could you cut it down to 20 or 45 minutes?

Cutting the meeting length down means you have built in a buffer should the meeting overrun. It also means you have some preparation time for the next meeting, which means you will be more focused in that meeting.

It’s amazing just how the 10-20 minutes you save by reducing meeting length slightly add up over a week.

Have You Thought About Outsourcing?

If diary management is a drain on your time, you may want to consider outsourcing it. Hiring a virtual resource to organise your calendar might unlock even more time in your day. Yes, I know it can be scary to hand over your day/life to someone else. But think about it, if you set them a framework to work to, they can make impartial decisions on how to effectively plan your time. Or, should you decide to change your plans, your virtual resource can make all the necessary calls to re-arrange. They can even work across your team, ensuring all your staff or associates’ calendars are aligned, and everybody is in the meetings they should be.

Contact me if you want to know more about the diary management services I can offer.

 

7 Key Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures

7 Key Benefits of Standard Operating Procedures

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are what smart businesses use to ensure consistency in business tasks and processes. Having consistent processes means delivering a consistent service or product to your customers. The benefits of Standard Operating Procedures and numerous, so I have picked some key ones to focus on in this blog.

What Are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

SOPs contain clearly documented step-by-step instructions and checklists that are simple for team members to follow. Having SOPs can considerably reduce errors, or should repeated mistakes occur, give the business owner tools to manage that with their employee.

As a small business owner, writing SOPs can seem like ANOTHER task on the ever-growing list. There is also the misconception that standardising and creating a set of SOPs limits the company (not the case as SOPs should be an ever-evolving document. But I want to tell you that the SOPs for your business may be one of the most essential communication tools in your business.

Here are some reasons why….

 7 Key Benefits Of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) 

Standard Operating Procedures Bricks

#1. They promote clear communication.

Well-written SOPs communicate clearly the responsibilities and duties of your team members. They do not have to count on their memories or everything they learned previously. They have simple directions at their fingertips with their role defined.

#2. They provide consistency as well as quality control.

SOPs ensure that the tasks needed to keep your business working get completed efficiently. Plus, regardless of who delivers the task or when it is delivered, the job is done the way you want it done. SOPs do not hinder your employees – or turn them into mindless robots – instead, they set expectations on what is needed from them to succeed.

#3. They help increase efficiency.

If your team understands your expectations, they know the goals and are more motivated to achieve them. Additionally, SOPs increase productivity for managers by saving time in having to train and re-train staff.

#4. They promote cross-training.

In a small business, you probably have “key players” who are the only people who know how to perform specific jobs. But what if that key player is out on holiday or sick? SOPs enable other employees to take on those tasks and deliver them to the same standard. It also allows you to outsource the work as a strategic growth plan.

#5. SOPs are essential to your team members’ performance process.

You can not hold your team responsible for tasks or processes if you have not documented what they have to do. Without SOPs, job performance can because subjective and a matter of opinion. However, with SOPs, managers can identify employee success and any deficiencies or shortfalls. Adherence to the SOPs forms a framework for your appraisal process, while failure to adhere can give you the evidence needed to progress any disciplinary procedures.

#6. They help create a safer working environment.

Easy-to-follow SOPs and appropriate training helps to reduce the chances of accidents. The fact tasks are documented and are available as reference means there are no excuses for not remembering the correct- safe -procedure.

Likewise, they could also reduce legal liability. If someone brought a case against you, you could demonstrate you have documented the correct working practice.

#7 They provide your team with motivation and inspiration.

Knowing how to do things right and what value their work brings to the organisation builds team loyalty and trust.

Next Steps

SOPs have the potential to enable organizations to improve quality without increasing costs and are well worth making the time to invest in putting these together. If you are unsure where to start my blog ‘How to create standard operating procedures’ may help, or book a no-obligation discovery call by dropping me an email to joanne@bravapro.com.

Why CRM Segregating is Essential for Small Businesses?

Why CRM Segregating is Essential for Small Businesses?

CRM software is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal. With it, it’s much easier to sell as you have all your customer data accessible in one place. Additionally, you can streamline the process and make automations. However, when it comes to the extensive list of features, many small business owners seem not use CRM segregating or tagging as effectively as they could.

So, exactly is CRM Segregating, and why is it so important? Stay tuned to find out.

 

What Exactly is Customer Segmentation?

Segmentation Explained

Let’s start the blog post by defining what customer segmentation is! To put it simply, it’s separating your customer base based on some traits. It’s that simple!

However, you could segregate your customer base in multiple ways. Here are just a couple of them:

  • Geographic Segmentation Model – You’re separating your customers based on their location with this model. That could be generic, like which country they are in, to more specific, like the neighbourhood they are located in.
  • Demographic Segmentation Model – In this model, you’re separating them based on various characteristics. That could be anything from gender, age, profession and that sort.
  • Interest-based Segmentation Model – With this, you’re separating your customers based on what they show interest in. For eCommerce businesses, that usually means which product they like the most.

And many more!

Why is CRM Segregating/Tagging so Powerful?

Now that you understand what CRM tagging is, you might be thinking: “Why should I do that?”

Well, there are a couple of reasons for it.

First, if you don’t do it, you’re losing many potential profits. With segmentation, you can serve your customers better by providing them with customised content and specialised deals.

But that’s not the only reason why you should do it. Additionally to that, segmentation is excellent for market research. For example, you can understand who most of your clients are and what they value.

Furthermore, you can also identify who is your ideal client by finding out the most profitable clients.

 

The Strategy for Segmenting Your Customers

CRM Segmentation Strategy

So now that you understand why segmentation is so powerful, you probably want to know how you can do that yourself.

However, before I reveal how you can start doing it, I’ll have to tell you one thing. This strategy isn’t going to tell you the exact steps. That’s because, unfortunately, each CRM software is different, with unique ways to segment your clients.

And with that out of the way, let me show you the strategy:

Step #1 – Determine Your Segmentation Goal

Before we start creating tags to group our customers, we should first think about why are we segmenting in the first place! 

  • Is it to create customised content and offers to your customers?
  • Maybe you’re doing it for market research?
  • Or something else? 

Whatever it is, make sure you write it down as it will become helpful in the next step.

Step #2 – Filter Your Customers Into Groups

Now that you know your objective, it’s time to sort your customers. You can do that by creating tags for it. 

However, when you do, make sure these tags are actually helpful! If they aren’t, then you would’ve wasted your time. So instead, remind yourself of the segmentation goal and brainstorm all the tags that would be useful. 

Then just go through your customer list and start filtering them.

Step #3 – Test Your Segmentation and Analyse

Now that you’ve got your clients segmented, there’s nothing else to do but test your segmentation out. So try them out and see if you see any improvements. 

If not, then go back to the drawing board and look at what could have been the problem. You can fix your issues and then grow your business to the next level. You should also do that even if you see improvements.

You can never run out of ways to improve!

Conclusion

So as you can see, segmentation is quite a powerful tool. With it, you can serve your clients better while also learning more about your clientele and what they value. So instead of letting this knowledge collect dust in your head, why not take action? 

That’s the only way you’ll get any value from this article. However, if you find segmentation too tricky or have any other problems, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’d love to help you grow your small business to new heights. 

So, schedule a call with me, and let’s see how I can help you out.

 

How to Streamline Your Client Onboarding Process

How to Streamline Your Client Onboarding Process

Getting sales is a difficult task. It’s like a machine with many moveable parts – Everything needs to work together. You need excellent copy for your website, eye-catching ad creatives, and the correct audience to target.

But unfortunately, many small businesses ignore what happens after the click. If you don’t professionally present your business, you’ll frustrate them. And that leads to no sales.

So how do you avoid that?

The Answer is Great Client Onboarding!

But what exactly is customer onboarding, and why should you care about it?

Well, customer onboarding is a process that makes sure you and your customer have the best relationship possible. The many benefits include:

  •  Happier clients. First impressions count! And if your site doesn’t set the correct expectations, your client will be disappointed and won’t buy from you again.
  • Less stress and wasted money. Not only will your client be in a better mood, but you as well. With the proper onboarding, you can automate many repetitive and tedious tasks, reduce back-and-forth emails, and more.
  • Collect Valuable Information. Whether you’re testing out new products or starting projects, you could get the correct information whenever you need it by sending forms to your clients.

Designing Your Client Onboarding Process

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Designing Your Onboarding Process

Now that you understand the excellent benefits of great onboarding, it’s time to get started. But how do you create a good one? Continue reading to find out.

Step #1 – Analyze Your Current Situation

First, we need to understand your current location. Only then can we start making decisions and improvements to your process. So how can you find it out? Well, start by asking yourself some questions:

  • What is already working? Most likely, you already have something that is working well. This could be an excellent invoicing system, great autoresponders, etc. So write everything down, and ask the next question.
  • Where could I improve? Start by looking at what isn’t on your list. Maybe it’s your communication channel, fulfillment, or something else. Then start brainstorming solutions. Once you’ve done that, look at what you could make better with the things already working. Improving them makes the process that much better!

Step #2 – Map Out Your Improvements

Now you know where you need to make your improvements! So start planning your next steps. I suggest you first fix the most crucial problems.  And then gradually work on less important ones. Soon you’ll have one of the best customer onboarding processes out there.

8 Recommended Tools to Create a Smooth Onboarding Process

Recommended Software for Client Onboarding

You know what to improve! You created a plan for it! Now all that is left is to take action. But for the smoothest process, you’re going to need to pick the right tools. That will ensure you that no additional frustrations come! Here are my top eight tools:

#1 –  Calendly

Calendly is scheduling software that helps you and your customer pick a meeting time most efficiently. All you have to do is, set the dates and times that you’re available for meetings, and Calendly handles the rest. That helps you say goodbye to those back-and-forth emails.

#2 – Google Forms

Maybe you need a bit more information before a meeting? Or you’re looking to get feedback on your newest product? Either way, Google Forms will help you get that information. With this free software, you can create new forms within minutes.

#3 – Stripe

So you just landed a sale in the meeting call! But how are you going to collect their payments? That’s where Stripe comes in. It’s a financial service company that offers payment processing software. With this online service, you could make both one-time or recurring invoices in a matter of minutes.

#4 – Google Drive

It’s always good to back up your files to a cloud service! Then, whatever happens to your laptop, your most necessary invoices and files are safe and sound. And that’s what Google Drive gives you. You can save up to 15GB of files for free in there!

#5 – Trello

Trello is a list-making application with many uses!  For example, this could be used for project planning and also as a communication device. You could show your clients the progress you’re making and what still needs to be done.

#6 – Hubspot

Hubspot is a CRM software that helps you out with sales. With this software, you could get invaluable information about your clients and how your sales team is doing. If you’re looking for more information about CRM and why you need it, check out this article.

#7 – Adobe Sign

Sometimes you cannot get a face-to-face meeting. But that doesn’t mean you cannot sign a contract. That’s where Adobe Sign comes in! With it, you can sign contracts online, even if your client is on the other side of the world.

#8 – Zapier

Unfortunately, these services cannot communicate with each other. That could bring new repetitive tasks you need to. Well, that is if you’re not using Zapier! With this powerful tool, you can connect with over 3000 apps and services, including all the aforementioned software. That means you could tell Zapier to add the meeting information to Hubspot or Trello.

Conclusion

And that’s how you do it! I hope you now understand the importance of streamlining your client onboarding process and how to do it yourself. If you need any help improving your client onboarding process, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I would love to help you with the planning and setting up.

Get in touch today!