Monday, June 7, 2021

Small-Business Cybersecurity 101: Important Tips for Entrepreneurs

Small Business Cybersecurity







Photo by cottonbro from Pexels 

Did you know that in 2020, small businesses made up 28 percent of cybersecurity incidents that happened across the United States? These dangerous incidents have not only increased in frequency over the years, but they are also impacting small businesses more and more. What do you need to know about small-business cybersecurity? How can you protect yourself?

Why is cybersecurity important?

As of 2019, data breaches cost small companies around $200k per incident, and that number continues to rise. The fact of the matter is that small business can’t afford to let “the big one” happen — many companies would have to shutter their windows if an incident were to occur.


The threat landscape for small businesses changes every day. Especially as more companies sent their employees to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, endpoint security was pushed into stark relief as becoming one of the most important aspects of a company’s security posture. With company laptops being used on personal home networks, and people being connected simply through a screen instead of seeing each other face-to-face, malicious actors took advantage of the situation — nearly 36 billion records were exposed throughout the year.

What can you do?

1. Small business owners should take steps now to protect their systems, instead of waiting until it’s too late. It’s relatively simple to put some precautions in place now, versus paying the price later if your systems are compromised.  Learn how to protect yourself from phishing scams and business email compromise (BEC) hacking attempts. As your business grows and you gain employees, train them to spot scams as well. Essentially, remember that you shouldn’t share sensitive information via email, check the grammar in any “phishy” messages you get, and check the domain of the sender by hovering over the ‘from’ box in the email.


2. Have a disaster recovery (DR) plan. If you are hit with a cyber-attack, you need to make sure you have a backup of your data, for one. The right DR plan will be easy to implement, flexible, affordable, and secure. Working with a managed services provider would offer you the expertise you need so you can breathe easily. Whatever solution you choose, Commvault recommends having the ability to view and manage your data through a single interface — and make sure you frequently test your plan. (Because any good plan should be tested and retested often to gauge its effectiveness.)

3. Update your systems. Updates to operating systems and regular patching often carry security updates that correct flaws that have been discovered in your OS. Therefore, it’s critical to make sure your systems are up-to-date with the latest software.

4. Secure your company Wi-Fi network. Set your router so that it is password protected and encrypted and encourage your employees to do the same.

5. Use two-factor authentication to access company machines. Enabling two-factor authentication is one of the most important things any company or individual can do to combat the spread of hackers. By requiring a second factor to log in to resources (in addition to a password, you may be asked to generate a random code), it strengthens security and keeps malicious actors out of your systems.

Protect your site and keep customers safe.

With a little bit of attention, a little bit of elbow grease, and a lot of precaution, your small business can be protected against the threat of a cyber-attack. For more information about running your small business and making sure you’re getting the most out of your website security, protect your site, and keep customers safe, visit HomeOfficeXpert.com.


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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

6 Essentials That Can Help You Become a Better Leader

black woman educator whiteboard instructions Credit Rawpixel

Success in small businesses starts at the top. If you are a small business owner, it’s important to keep this in mind and to recognize how your leadership style could be helping or hurting the success of your organization. To gain the respect of your team and help your business rise to the top, you need to possess certain skills and attributes. Curious as to what these are? Then you need to read through this list of some of the most effective leadership skills in business.

Continued Improvement and Education 


Self-improvement is critical if you want to be an effective leader for your business. One way you can improve your skills is by furthering your education. Earning a business degree from an accredited university can give you the management, leadership, and marketing insights you need to truly thrive as a business owner. You can even earn these skills and your degree online, which will help you preserve your most precious commodity as a leader: time.


Business and Leadership Coaching 


The ability to navigate difficult transitions is another quality that can set you apart from other business leaders. Having this skill is especially critical if you own or manage a business during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic since we’re all dealing with unprecedented challenges. If you’re not sure about the best path forward, asking your team for insights can help. You may also want to consider the potential benefits of investing in professional coaching.


Setting Positive Examples  


If you come to work with an open and positive attitude, your employees are likely to maintain a more optimistic outlook as well. That’s because whether you realize it or not, your team looks to you as a role model for everyday business practices and even their own leadership styles. So, make sure that the example you set is a supportive and positive one. Even when things get tough, remember that negative thinking can have major impacts on your entire organization. Adjusting your attitude can improve engagement and eventually improve your business. 


Acknowledging Mistakes 


Honesty is key when you are trying to build stronger connections with your employees. This includes being honest about any mistakes you make. The manner in which you handle your mistakes can make or break your team’s ability to trust you. If you make a mistake, be willing to own up to it and avoid placing blame on others or attempting to cover up mishaps. Honestly, mistakes can provide priceless opportunities for you to evolve as both a business owner and leader. You can also use your mistakes as teaching moments for your staff members. 


Supporting Team Growth 


Employees who feel content and motivated are more likely to view you as a good leader. They’re also more likely to stick around and continue to support your company. So if you haven’t already, make staff growth and development a priority for your small business team. Recognize and reward your employees for any accomplishments and also be willing to help your staff members develop their professional skills. To further increase staff loyalty and retention, it can also be helpful to create a leadership culture that encourages mentoring and communication. 


Knowing When to Ask for Help 


Even the most successful and talented leaders can’t do it all on their own. So make good use of your employees and help them feel valued by asking them for help when you need it. You could ask for honest feedback from your employees to help improve your business and your leadership abilities, or you could simply be gracious when asking for help in day-to-day routines. 


Being a great leader can lead to great success for your small business. So be willing to take a good look at your own skills and talents and commit to constantly improving them. Soon enough, you should notice improvements in your team and your overall business.



Oevae Marketing Consultants
 can help you create a cohesive marketing strategy for your brand through creative design, social media marketing, blogs, and email marketing.



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Monday, April 12, 2021

Fundamental Tips on Starting a Business From Your Freelance Hustle

So you have a freelance hustle that has become your passion. Maybe it’s even become lucrative. Now, you’re thinking about turning it into a full-fledged business.

Image via Unsplash

Many successful businesses have begun as side gigs. One reason is that passion plays a critical role in long-term success and happiness. When you love what you do, you typically have the drive necessary to persevere through hard times and capitalize on opportunities. 


While starting a business out of your freelance hustle might be a great idea, it’s essential to go about it the right way and lay a solid foundation. From going over your finances to working with Oevae Marketing Consultants to building your online presence, here are a few ways you can prepare:


Prepare your finances. 

First things first: You must make sure your business idea can make money. You don’t want to throw a bunch of money into it upfront — and you definitely don’t want to quit your day job, unless there is a pathway to success. Research your industry and local market to get a feel of what demand is like for your product or service. Also, try to conquer any debt that can harm your business venture, and consider saving up at least six months’ worth of living expenses before quitting your current job.


Here’s another critical consideration: Your business won’t survive without cash flow. You must get paid for the work you’re putting in. That may sound obvious, but it’s a challenge that many small businesses face, especially newer companies. Take time to review guides to learn the ins and outs of the invoicing process as well as best practices. For example: when is the best time to send invoices? What are the different types of invoices? How can I get paid faster on invoices? To ensure that you can keep up with balances owed, even when you’re extremely busy managing your business, you may find that one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways is to use a free invoice generator to prepare and customize invoices. By staying on top of such a critical component of your business, you’ll keep a better handle on your cash flow to ensure it stays at a healthy level.


Learn more.

You may know quite a bit about your freelance hustle and the industry it’s in. But if you want to excel, it’s time to dig deeper and acquire as much expertise as possible. Consider whether you could benefit from getting an online degree in your field, especially since going back to school is now more accessible and affordable than ever.


Also, find a mentor who has ample experience in the industry and who can help you navigate current and future challenges. Find online resources that can help you with the research to guide you through the development of your business. Teach yourself a lot by reading every notable business book you can get your hands on.


Know your market. 

Yes, you’ll want to research your market to determine whether or not your freelance hustle can produce profit as a business. But you also want to research to figure out what your selling points will be to customers and clients. Chances are you will be competing with hundreds — or even thousands — of freelancers and businesses in your field. The extent to which you can set your company apart from them will play a major role in your short-term and long-term success. 


Prioritize your online presence.

Finally, focus on building a solid online presence. If you create a quality website, engage on social media, and list your company on Google My Business, much of your marketing strategy will already be in place. Maintaining an online presence is essential, whether you provide your products or services via the web or a brick-and-mortar location. 


If you’ve decided to go all-in on your freelance hustle, it’s time to hit the drawing board. Be sure to put yourself in a good financial position and learn as much as you can about your field. Do plenty of research in your market and focus on building a great online presence. Implementing these tips will help you lay a foundation for a business that succeeds for many years to come.


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Thursday, December 10, 2020

This page can't load Google Maps correctly.

The website looks great, but the Google Map can't load correctly.  What in the world is going on with the Google Maps API Console?


This page can't load Google Maps correctly.

This page can't load Google Maps correctly (L: before and R: after)

If you get this message: This page can't load Google Maps correctly.  Don't worry, there's only a little fine-tuning necessary to get your website map to work.  Here are a few things you can do to fix your Google Maps API before you lose your mind.  

Note: You'll need to login to your Google Account and access your API console (APIs & Services or Billing) to get started.


1.  Has your domain been verified with Domain verification?

Make sure you've used added and verified the domain.  This might be adding a TXT record to the domain DNS or possibly adding a CNAME to verify the domain.


Google Search Console Domain Verification

Google Search Console Domain Verification


2.  Check your Credentials

If you've not added your domain, your Google Maps API key will display your map with a gray overlay that says "This page can't load Google Maps correctly."  Also, make sure you press "Save" after adding your domain.


3. Is the Google map API Key included in your websites code?

This essentially links everything together so the map will display on your website. "The API key is a unique identifier that authenticates requests associated with your project for usage and billing purposes. You must have at least one API key associated with your project." And, "You must include an API key with every Maps JavaScript API request."


4. Did you add a billing method?

Although your credit card won't be billed (price starting at 0.017 USD per session) Basic Data (billed at 0.00 USD) unless you exceed 1,000 requests/uses of the API on your website.  Be sure to check the Google Maps Platform Pricing for the latest costs – otherwise, if you currently don't anticipate a heavy amount of traffic or even if you do, you can Create a Budget that enables you to track your actual spend against your planned spend.  Payment Overview is where you can add and manage your Google Maps API payment methods.

If you've done all that, your Google map should look like the right side of this image without the gray overlay and "Do you own this website?" statement.  If not, you'll want to get in touch with a website developer experienced in navigating the Google Cloud Console and Google Maps Platform.

Google Maps helps you give users the context they need with static or interactive maps embedded into your site.  At Oevae Marketing Consultants, we make it easier to find your business.  Our Google Local Guides can add or edit missing places on Google Maps, where millions of people rely on to decide where to go and what to do – Accurate information builds customer trust and reliability toward a business.

If you need help, contact us at 972.850.8823


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Friday, November 6, 2020

How To Be A Marketing Maven On A Minimal Budget

 


Image via Pexels


Marketing your business may sound like an expensive endeavor. And, it can be. If you have grand ideas that involve television, billboards, or huge events, you can expect to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars. But, not all of us have a corporate-level budget. Oevae Marketing wants to help you succeed, so here are some great ways to jumpstart your efforts.


Keep Email Marketing In Mind


Email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach your customers. Contrary to popular belief, email is not dead, and more than eight out of 10 adults report logging into their inbox regularly. 


Oevae Marketing’s affordable email marketing starts at just $9.99 per month for up to 5,000 emails. Something to keep in mind here, however, is that you have to mind your manners. Ask permission before adding anything to your customers’ inboxes. When they give you the okay, as Forbes recommends, make sure to provide exceptional content. Coupons, special offers, and interesting information is usually welcome; generic sales pitches are not.


Make Your Presence Known On Social Media


Before there was email and before there was television, most municipalities had a town crier. This is a person who would stand in the square and shout the news. Social media is the town crier of today. But, instead of a single promoter, you have billions of people sharing information, reviews, and events. Learn how to utilize social media to capture your customers' attention. Targeted ads are often inexpensive and, although you may not reach a huge number of people, those that you do reach matter. 


A word of advice, whether you are working with emails or social media, is to invest in and understand cybersecurity. Both of these platforms frequently ask your customers to input information, and you want to be able to protect them and yourself from identity theft and digital data breaches.


Design and Distribute Infographics


If you’re handy with design, you can quickly, easily, and cheaply create infographics. These are essentially pictures that clearly outline an idea and relay information. Visually-appealing infographics are shareable and will draw attention to your brand.


Claim Your Listings


Yelp, Google, HomeAdvisor, and other platforms offer free or low-cost listings. Claim them, and use them to your advantage. Google My Business, for example, allows you to post content, such as daily menus, a quick link to Google Maps, one-click calling, and special events that customers can see directly from their Google search.


Create a Podcast


Podcasts are an easy and effective way to keep your name in front of your customers. Basically, this is a digital download or live stream that people can subscribe or listen to at their convenience. A podcast requires a computer, microphone, and something to talk about. Find out what your customers want to know, and record valuable information on these topics. For example, if you are a dog groomer, consider a weekly podcast on how to keep your pet clean and healthy. Launching a new show is not that difficult, but Big Podcast recommends doing some research on which platforms you’d like to publish your podcast.


It’s a common misconception that you have to bottom out your bottom line just to get your name out into the public’s eye. While there’s nothing wrong with large-scale marketing, starting small can have big effects. It takes work, and to save the most, you’ll need to DIY. But, it’s an effort worth the time and energy. The above ideas can get you started but don’t be afraid to get creative. Remember, anything that puts your name in front of your customers is a smart part of your marketing plan.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

How to Protect Your Small Business During COVID-19



Photo via Rawpixel

Small businesses across the country are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Many have been forced to lay off employees. Others have had to close their doors temporarily. Some businesses, unfortunately, have gone under permanently. If you’re a small business owner right now, it’s completely normal to be worried. But you don’t have to feel hopeless! There are several resources out there to help your business survive and thrive during the pandemic. 

Find Resources for Texas Entrepreneurs

The response to COVID-19 has varied from state to state. As Texas begins to reopen, keep yourself up-to-date with the latest coronavirus information and know where to go for other local business resources.

  • Find out how Texas is responding to and handling the coronavirus. Keep yourself informed about the governor’s plan to reopen certain businesses and what kinds of precautions you need to take. 
  • Texas-based small businesses affected by the coronavirus have access to financial relief and funding help through several different programs.
  • Consider forming an LLC to protect yourself from debts or liabilities related to your business.

Make Improvements to Your Business

The coronavirus lockdown has prompted many businesses to innovate and focus on their virtual presence. This is a great time to make upgrades to your business and streamline your operations with automation tools.

  • Invest in affordable technology to bring your business into the 21st century. This is the time to upgrade your website, automate your marketing, and improve data security.
  • If you don’t have a business website, now is the time to make one. Ensure that it’s attractive, mobile-friendly, and easy to navigate.
  • Take this time to research your competitors and discover ideas that you can incorporate into your own business. Focus on companies that are thriving during the pandemic.
  • Explore ways to increase employee morale to improve productivity and reduce turnover. Ask your staff for feedback and consider implementing their suggestions.

Keep Your Customers Informed

During times like these, it’s more important than ever to stay connected to your customers. How you handle this crisis will give your customers valuable insight into the honesty and reliability of your business.

  • Continue posting on social media, even if your business is temporarily closed. Keeping in touch with your customers now will help solidify your relationship in the long run.
  • Notify your customers of updates to your opening hours, online order process, curbside pickup, or in-store coronavirus safety plan.
  • Show your customers that you care about your community by making donations to local charities or offering special discounts to healthcare workers.
  • Use your business downtime to ask your customers what they like and dislike about your products, services, and customer service approach.

As a nonessential business owner, you may be worried about what the coronavirus pandemic means for the future of your company. Try not to panic! Take advantage of the resources available to you and use the lockdown to make improvements to your business operations. When it’s time to reopen, your business will be better than ever!

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Sunday, April 19, 2020

Job Hunting in the Time of Coronavirus: Budget-Friendly Tips for Finding Work


Are you wondering how you’ll pay the bills now that your workplace has shut down due to coronavirus? 


Not only are job opportunities limited due to the pandemic, but when you’re short on funds, it’s hard to come up with the cash you need to cover job search expenses. These budget-friendly tips will help you find work during the coronavirus lockdown without going broke.


The Cheapest Websites for Finding Work
Freelancing is a good way to start earning income ASAP when you’re out of work, and freelancing websites make it easy to connect with paying customers. Unfortunately, these platforms also charge fees — up to 20 percent of your earnings in some cases!

To find clients for graphic and web design, marketing, communications, data entry, remote customer service, and other freelance-friendly gigs, look to these free and low-cost websites instead:

  • Craigslist: Craigslist is free to use, but watch out for scams. The Balance explains how to tell legitimate freelance opportunities from fake ones.
  • Hubstaff Talent: Hubstaff Talent charges zero fees to freelancers and clients, making it the cheapest freelance platform on the web.
  • Guru: With freelancer fees of 9 percent for basic users, Guru is more expensive than the aforementioned options but still one of few freelance sites with fees under 10 percent.
  • FlexJobs: Instead of a percentage of earnings, FlexJobs charges a flat monthly fee with options starting at $14.95 a month, making it a great choice for people freelancing temporarily.


Budget-Friendly Tips for a Professional Video Interview

Before you can land a freelance gig, you need to ace the interview. While working from home technically means you can work in your pajamas, it’s not the best choice when you’re hoping to impress a client over video chat. In addition to ensuring you’re well-groomed, have a professional outfit ready for virtual meetings. If you don’t have anything suitable in your closet, don’t panic. Even with stores closed, you can find good deals on professional clothing by shopping online with retailers like American Eagle and searching for AEO coupons and promo codes to enter at checkout.


How to Build Your Skills with Free Online Resources

Are you struggling to get hired online? It may be because your resume is lacking. Luckily, there are tons of online resources that let you boost your skills for free. These are the best online learning resources you can use to strengthen your resume:


  • Coursera: Coursera has some of the most diverse class offerings of all online learning resources, with course options ranging from computer science to communications.
  • edX: With access to courses from Harvard and MIT, edX provides high-caliber online education for free.
  • Alison: In addition to free courses, Alison lets users earn certificates and diplomas at no cost, making their online classes a great addition to your resume.


Not sure where to start with online learning? The Muse offers 18-course recommendations for expanding your skills.


Low-Cost Solutions for a Professional Website
A professional website boosts your credibility as a freelancer, but what if you don’t have the funds to pay a professional web designer? When you need to get a website up and running with as little time and money as possible, look to website builders. Website builders combine drag-and-drop web design tools with integrated hosting so you don’t need to be a tech wiz to set up a website. While there are a variety of website builders out there, Weebly offers the cheapest plans for month-to-month users with pricing starting at $9.

Finding freelance work is a great way to boost your income during the coronavirus lockdown, but getting started with freelancing isn’t free. Luckily, there are lots of ways to save money on the things you need to find freelance clients and build a professional web presence. Whether you freelance for a few weeks or start working for yourself full-time, these tips will help you do it at a price you can afford.

Image via Unsplash



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