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.

A Guide To Opening A Business Bank Account

Whether you will be starting a small or large venture, one of the important tasks that you have you do is to set up a business bank account. Although you may think this is just an additional task that will eat up your time and may even be unnecessary (since you have a personal account you can use), having a business bank account can be really advantageous, especially for your start-up company.

One of the important reasons why your company should have its own account is that even if your venture is a sole proprietorship, an official business bank account makes it easier for you to keep your business expenses separate from your personal ones. Also, having a separate account will make it easier for you (or your accountant) to compute and pay the necessary taxes for your business. Lastly, a business bank account can help make your company look more like a genuine, professional business as opposed to a small and possibly untrustworthy operation.

If it’s your first time to open a business bank account, below is a guide and some helpful tips that can help you with the whole process:

1. Be on the lookout for any specials or promos offered by banks, both local and commercial ones. There are many banks today that offer cash bonuses, fee-free credit card transactions, and other incentives to attract new business customers. Take advantage of these offers so that you’ll gain greater flexibility and save more money that you can use to invest in the operation of your business.

2. If you already have a personal checking and savings account, visit your bank. Ask the representatives about the business bank accounts they offer. You may be able to get a better deal by keeping both your personal and business accounts at the same bank

3. Ask the bank representative for a rate sheet that shows the current interest rate on business checking and savings accounts. If you plan on keeping a huge balance in your business bank account, earning some interest will be a really nice perk.

4. Select a business account that meets your requirements. Choose an account that won’t charge you maintenance fees or per-check charges. In addition, make sure that you will be able to meet the minimum balance requirement to avoid incurring service charges.

5. Once you have opened your business bank account, wait a few days for the funds to settle in your new account. Check the balance to be sure that your initial deposit has been credited. Get in touch with the bank if there are any discrepancies with the initial deposit or if you have not received any account paperwork within a week of opening the account.

Read more tips about opening a business bank account here.

The Top Apps, Software and Online Services for Organizing Your Mind

A lot of us blame technology for the constant stress that we’re under and for the fact that we feel constantly so wired. We’re continuously bombarded by notifications and messages and we seem to spend half our time looking at screens – is it any wonder so many of us are burned out?

But just as guns don’t kill people – people do, so is it true that apps don’t make you tired – you do.

The key is just to use the right technology. Actually, there are plenty of apps out there that can help you to feel less stressed and that can reduce that information overload. Likewise, there are also a number of online services that can do the same. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Headspace

Headspace is an app that can teach you how to practice mindfulness meditation. The app does cost money if you intend to keep using it but the first few sessions are free and provide a great introduction.

Fabulous

Fabulous is a beautifully designed app for Android that can help you to take on new habits and routines and that will guide you through your goals and objectives. It makes setting new challenges for yourself fun and encourages you with motivation and tips along the way.

Standing Orders

Here’s a great way to use technology to make your life easier – set up some standing orders with online services. There are actually tons of companies that now offer there services on an automated recurring business:

  • Clothes companies that send you a new outfit every month
  • Supermarkets that let you have your weekly shop delivered to you
  • Diet companies that send ready made meals/ingredients to you on a daily basis
  • Flower shops that send flowers to someone on their birthday every year

Consider if something like this could help!

Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is an assistant that works for you via the web. They tend to be based in India and are very affordable but their services cover anything that can be done online. That could mean doing research for your work, or it could mean helping you organize a holiday!

Todoist

Todoist is a great ‘to-do list’ app that lets you set to do lists and then receive notifications and reminders about them.

Google Calendar

Any calendar app can be a great way to check your availability and to avoid over booking yourself. It syncs with other apps and even lets you share your schedule with others too.

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