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Customer Privacy Issues You Need to Know

Customer Privacy Issues You Need to KnowCollecting personal data from your customers is a big responsibility and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Technology can be an amazing tool, but it can also be the downfall of your business if you’re not careful. There are hackers on the prowl looking to steal critical personal information about your paying customers. You may remember a couple of big corporations having breaches in their security, which means no one is safe from predators. This is why you should make yourself and your business partners and employees aware of the sensitivity of customer information. There are a couple of ways that you can protect your customer’s privacy.

Find Out How Much Data You Are Collecting

If you are using a third-party software code for leads, then you may be collecting more data than you realize. Knowing what personal data your company has in its files. Make sure that legal obligations are made known by all of your company’s employees and there should be guidelines made on how to keep that data secured.

Minimize Data that You Collect and Retain

You should focus on only collecting the data that you need and trashing the rest. The less personal data you keep from your customers, the less pressure it will be on you to keep the information safe. A lot of businesses collect additional data that they feel they will need in the future, but this only increases risk of it being stolen by hackers. Also, asking for too much data from your customers may feel intrusive.

Ensure Your Infrastructure has the Best Security

In order to protect your customer’s personal data, you will need security that will keep it safe. If you take credit card payments from your customers, you should be using a high-end encryption software that will disable hackers from retrieving the numbers. This is a good investment to make because it will save you the embarrassment of having to tell your customers that their data has been compromised. Your Web site and network should also have top-notch security.

Create a Privacy Policy

When your customer’s data has been compromised, depending on how much damage has been done, you could face numerous lawsuits from angry customers. By law, it is required that commercial Web site owners have a privacy policy on their site where customers can easily view it. Refrain from using a cut and paste privacy policy because these are legally binding. You should have one drafted up by a lawyer or an expert who deals with privacy policies. There are also tools like Policymaker that can help you draft one up.

Allow Your Customers to Opt-Out

It’s becoming more and more common for businesses to allow their customers to opt out of having their information shared with third parties. This will give your customers more control and make them feel like you are keeping their feelings and concerns a priority.

How to Tell if You Have a Good Business Idea

How to Tell if You Have a Good Business IdeaStarting a business can be scary, especially if you’re unsure of whether or not it will turn out to be profitable or not. There are a few ways to tell if you have a business idea that will work or fail. Of course, there’s never really a sure way, but doing your due diligence never hurts!

What Makes an Idea Good for Business

Research can help you determine if your business idea is good. By conducting research about the potential market for your product or service, you’ll get a more general picture. Knowing your competition is also important, so that you know what has to be done to fair in that particular niche. Make sure that your target customers will be able to afford your product or service.

The financial aspects of your business idea are another important matter. You’ll need to research how much demand your competitors are getting, so you can have an idea of how much production costs will be. Knowing a prediction of your margins and the amount of repeat customers you’re likely to get.

Your business idea shouldn’t be a one-hit-wonder. Make sure that your idea has room for growth and can last for years to come. Try to find out what your market would look like in one to five years from now.

Your business idea doesn’t have to be 100% unique, but it should be unique in its own right. Try to put a spin on your business that will set it apart from competitors. This will give you a competitive edge, making your business idea more plausible.

How to Avoid Burnout as an Entrepreneur

How to Avoid Burnout as an Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur is a 24/7 gig. Anyone who has been in the position of a small business owner knows it’s tough to balance it all. Burnout is one of the number one complaints of start-up owners and entrepreneurs who want to do it all. Work as personal life begin to meld as networking and other events allow you to grow your brand efforts. You can avoid burnout, but you must be conscious going into each day to make sure your work life isn’t your only life. [Read more...]

3 Essential Plans for a New Business

Business Planning with Plan-Too

Any new business needs lots of planning. Whether it’s your money or an investor’s you want to get the most bang for your buck and ensure you do not lose sight of the bottomline. Where some entrepreneurs go wrong is they plan, but not necessarily in the right places. These are the three essential plans for any new business.

  • Financial plan.
  • Business plan.
  • Marketing plan.

Your financial plan is vital to your business. You must keep tabs on it at all times. There’s no reason to skimp in this department because it can ultimately make or break your business. You do not need a CPA or financial planner for this. You can be diligent and break down the numbers with the help of Excel.

The goal is to be aware of what’s going out and what’s coming in at all times. Also analyze where the budget can be reduced as the business develops and what areas could use more funds in order to grow your idea.

A business plan isn’t the same as the financial plan, but the two do work together. The business plan should break down your purpose as a business, your target consumer, how money will be allocated to bring the idea to life and the time frame in which you plan on doing all of this. Your marketing plan is also essential. It breaks down how you plan on presenting yourself to the public and what timeline you want to aim for in terms of an official launch.

Create a Mobile Office for Your Small Business

Create a Mobile Office for Your Small Business

The new office must be mobile. As an entrepreneur, you’re on the go around the clock and this means you need access to your office and files at any moment. There are many tools that allow technology to make your mobile office a viable component of your small business.

  • Have the right tools to work from home.
  • Have a system set-up for in-person interviews or meetings.

You want to be sure you have the right tools to work from home. There are numerous platforms for running your small business from home. These platforms allow employees to check assignments, deadlines, objectives and goals from anywhere with an Internet connection. Constant contact should be normal for a mobile office and you can hold meetings via Skype or Google+ Hangouts.

You can use applications like Dropbox which store all of your files on the web. No matter where you are, you can log into your account and access files or projects employees have uploaded, even from your phone or tablet. This gives you the ability to fit work when you’re on vacation, catching up with family or watching the big game. While the best entrepreneurs are efficient with their time, there may be occasions when you need access to your office during downtime. It’s best to be prepared for that.

Occasionally you may need an in-person interview or meeting. Have a system ready to go for this purpose. It can be a start-up lab or day rental office space. This gives you a means to get to know employees and potential hires in-person. If you meet with clients, a concrete office space is beneficial, even if it’s yours only for a few hours.

Common Burnout Experiences For Entrepreneurs

Common Burnout Experiences For Entrepreneurs

There are many reasons entrepreneurs and new business owners experience burnout. It’s very common whether you are new to the game or a veteran of start-ups. There’s no reason that burnout must determine your productivity. The key is to know when burnout is about to strike, so you can take a step back and move forward in a productive manner.

  • Choose your 100% days.
  • Have realistic expectations.

Choose the days that you should be 100%. This can’t be every single day. Be honest with yourself about what your goals are and how energetic and willing you feel to give your 100%. When you psych yourself up and get in this mindset it becomes easier to tackle your objectives. Focus on your goals these days and make sure those around you know what you’re trying to achieve so you can dedicate these days without interruption.

Have realistic expectations of yourself. Those 100% days won’t be the norm. There will be plenty of days when you need to recharge or take a step back in order to work at your full productivity the majority of the time. Be honest with yourself when you’re tired, exhausted or simply aren’t in the mindset to get serious work done. When you allow yourself these breaks, you are more likely to have productive work sessions when it’s time to clock in.

Because being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 gig, it’s hard to determine when it’s quitting time. Do your best to work regular work hours to prevent burnout.

Breaking Down a Business Plan for Your Small Business

Breaking Down a Business Plan for Your Small Business

If you are new to the small business world, you may overwhelm yourself with the specifics of a business plan. Do you really need a business plan? The answer to this question highly depends on your line of work and how large your business is in the beginning. [Read more...]

Better Ways to Communicate With Employees

As a start-up owner or new entrepreneur, you may find it difficult to manage employees while running your company. Indeed, entrepreneurs work beyond overtime in this department, but there are several things you can do to make sure your employees are all on the same page. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open at all times so your employees feel appreciated and will work at their full capacity for you.

  • Keep an open door policy.
  • Reward accordingly.
  • Never be passive aggressive.

The best start-up owner has an open door policy with employees. This means he or she allows employees to come in and talk to them at any time about any matter. This is awesome because it gives autonomy to the employees to talk to you as they see fit. In most start-ups people are doing many jobs at once, so it’s integral to have employees that feel comfortable communicating with you over any issue, no matter how small.

Rewarding your team accordingly. Recognize those who take initiative and are willing to take risks with new ideas. Be open and honest about who is pulling their weight because it will motivate everyone on the team. Never be passive aggressive with employees. You never want to lose their respect because you aren’t saying what’s on your mind. Be direct, concise and honest. This will allow you to weed out anyone who isn’t on board with your vision and allow you to put your resources into someone who does.

How to Hire Smart Employees for Your Start-up

How to Hire Smart Employees for Your Start-up
The college degree doesn’t get you what it used to, in terms of a job or an employee. In the competitive job market, people apply for any and every job under the sun. When it comes to your start-up you need smart, innovative thinkers who are buzzing 24/7 for new ways to take your business to the next level. A college degree gives you enough information to know the person is efficient and dedicated enough to finish a degree, but there’s a lot more you need from an employee to see your business thrive.

Things to Look for in Potential Employees

  • Enthusiastic and driven.
  • Thinks outside of the box.
  • Is not afraid of giving or receiving critiques.

Look for people who are enthusiastic and driven and have the track record to show it. These people should have stellar references and be able to rattle off their accomplishments for previous employers. Everyone is enthusiastic and seems driven during an interview. Gauge the person’s attitude in emails, their cover-letter and any follow-up conversations you have to weed out those who are putting on a show versus those who are passionate and willing to put in the elbow grease too.

The interview should wow you. This potential employee should be willing to show that they think outside of the box, are open to new ideas and happy to try things that aren’t proven to work in the name of innovation. Every company needs an eccentric to keep things interesting.

The employee should be able to give and receive critiques easily. This is part of the start-up journey. A lot of the ideas you try will not work. You want a team of people who are honest and can go out on a limb to make things work for the long haul.

How to Use Google+ for Small Business

How to Use Google+ for Small Business
Google+ is the latest frontier for social media. Small business is growing at a rapid rate and it’s largely in part due to social media. Social media allows a small business owner to take control of their own online reputation and brand identity when growing their business. Google+ is a fantastic tool to help the small business owner giving your business a means to reach out directly to your niche audience.

Business Owners Google+ Information

Business owners must learn Google+ because it currently reaches out to a different audience than Facebook and Twitter.

  • Google+ reaches a new audience.
  • Google+ gives a visual edge to your brand.

Google+ users are tech savvy and always on the cusp of what’s new and what’s next. If your business involves e-commerce or technology in any way, Google+ is a must for you. With this social media platform, you will reach out a new audience that often makes Google+ their only social media profile. Explore Google+ for a taste of how visual this social media site is. Like Facebook, Google+ relies heavily on images in order to make a profile pop, but other applications such as Google+ Hangouts allow you and your audience to interact on a new level.

Google+ is still growing, but there are many resources to help you flesh out your profile and begin interacting with a new audience of people. There is a very large international audience on Google+ which leverages your brand.