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.

Top 10 Benefits of Using Business Solution Software

There are many reasons for a company to outsource their business solutions software, to improve efficiency, streamline processes and to help improve operations within the scope of the business. Here are some of the top 10 benefits of implementing an innovative solution such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

1) Turns Microsoft Office Outlook into the ONE place where you can manage both customer data and communications. Microsoft Dynamics CRM extends the reach of Microsoft Outlook by turning it into a tool to manage customer information.

2) Microsoft Dynamics CRM extends the reach of Microsoft Outlook by turning it into a tool to manage customer information. Microsoft Dynamics CRM features an always-on connection to Excel that enables you to quickly turn customer information into dynamic snapshots or PivotChart dynamic views. These views can help you understand in seconds how a sales increase or company expansion can benefit the business.

3) Improves operational efficiency through the standardization and streamlining of processes. Business solutions software can relieve your staff of mundane but vital work. It can automate time-consuming repetitive tasks, warn staff of open customer issues, and automatically send important e-mail messages to customers and partners. So customer requests and orders don’t fall through the cracks.

4) Works the way your business works with point-and-click system customization.
Business solutions can be tailored to work the way your business already works. Microsoft Dynamics CRM forms, relationship links, and customer views can be designed and modified without complicated programming.

5) Gives the right information to the right people. Certain employees need certain information. System administrators will have the tools to make sure the right information is delivered to the right people- whether they are using Outlook or the Web.

6) Targets your marketing campaigns so you’re always in touch with the right customers.

7) Simplifies service scheduling to keep customers satisfied. One of the most challenging aspects of delivering great customer service is ensuring you never let customers down by missing a service call or appointment. Dispatchers can quickly and easily match the right service personnel to a particular customer or type of service call.

8) Integrates with your existing systems to help break down information silos.

9) Enhances offline communications so everyone can be productive regardless of location. It is designed so your staff can be productive both in the office and on the road-even if they aren’t connected to a network. Information can be filtered so that people receive only the information they need such as meeting updates and sales figures.

10) Builds on the power of SQL Server Reporting Services to create insightful business reports.

These are just a handful of the many benefits that implementing a software solution can provide to a company regardless of the size and the scope of the business. There are many different types of applications that can be integrated into current businesses, whether it is a CRM model, retail management system, non profit solution or one of several Microsoft Dynamics solutions.

Marketing Tip – Small Business Owners Need to Keep in Touch to Get More Referrals

The phone rings.  You answer it.  The person on the other line says, “Bob Smith suggested I call you.  He said you can help me.”  Ahhhh!  It’s a beautiful day!!!

How often does that happen to you?  Probably not often enough.  But with a little marketing planning, you can dramatically increase your referral business.  The result is bigger sales for your small business. The most important thing is to keep in touch with people on a regular, consistent basis.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Most small business owners know they need to do these things.  But few have any type of marketing system for keeping in touch with the right people.  Even fewer small business owners know the right way to ask for referrals.

Who should be on your contact list?  

EVERYONE!  Past clients, prospects, business associates, friends, neighbors, even people who at one point thought they might use your services, then changed their mind.

The biggest mistake we make is to think, “Oh, those people know what my small business is. I don’t need to market to them.” 

Yes, your neighbor, your banker, and the people in your Rotary group probably do know about your business.  But when they think of you, they think of you walking the dog, making a deposit, or organizing a meeting. 
 
Because they don’t see you in your professional capacity, they don’t think of you that way–unless you use a smart marketing strategy to remind them.  And, as much as we’d like to think we are unforgettable to our past clients, they start to forget about us in as little as six weeks!

Obviously, when making a marketing plan to keep in touch with your contacts, time and budget need to be considered.  You will want to see some people once a week.  Others will simply get a monthly e-mail newsletter.  No matter what, talking about your business, mailing personal notes and cards, and sending regular e-mail newsletters to all of your contacts is vital to building business. 

 
By marketing to your contacts on a regular, consistent basis, you will ensure these people think of you whenever they hear of someone else who might need your product or service. The result? More referrals, more business and more sales!

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