We all get distracted sometimes. It’s natural, especially in the hustle and bustle of retail. Letting the occasional distraction turn into a pattern is where problems start to arise. Fortunately, you can use your inventory as a barometer for your business and take concrete steps to make sure the occasional distraction doesn’t end up sinking the ship...
When it comes to cyber attacks, being a small business basically puts a bullseye on your back. The National Security Alliance reports that one in five small businesses fall victim to cybercrime each year. Of those who are hacked, 60% go out of business within six months of the attack. So yes, you could say that cyber attacks on small businesses are a serious concern.With the recent Target security breach affecting millions of people across the country, it's more important than ever to take care of your own customers' personal information. As a small business owner, there are a number of simple ways to protect yourself from hackers.
1. Lock up your Wi-Fi network (like, yesterday). Enable WPA2 security protocols and use a totally nonsensical, unreasonably long password. Isolate your payment system so that credit cards are processed on a different network from the one you and your employees use for tooling around on the web.
2. Update your software. Make sure you're using the best security you can afford and keep it current. Outdated anti-virus software, firewall security or credit card processing systems can be easier to crack because the latest security patches are missing, so install updates as soon as they are available.
3. Get suspicious. What kinds of cyber security and software do you use now? Whatever it is, study it so you can recognize when something's not quite right. If you use Square, read about their policies here. If you use complementary software that accesses customer information, learn about their encryption methods too. Make sure only you and your employees are logging in to your servers or any other password protected systems. Flag unusual traffic surges or login attempts that might be caused by hacking attempts.
4. Back up your data regularly. In case of theft, outages or cyber attacks, you don't want to be caught without any of your important information. Vendor invoices, sales data, customer information... this could all be lost if you don't back up your devices using something wonderful like Box or CrashPlan.
Image via Shane Pope on Flickr
We scoured to the edges of the internet and found the four free money managing tools for your small business that would be tremendously useful for tracking expenses and getting a handle on your small business's bottom-line. Enjoy:
Mint is a financial dashboard which allows you to manage and view your expenses, income statements and transactions. It has a useful planning tool to chart savings goals and provides feedback on credit cards or bank accounts that may be better suited to your priorities. When you input your financial accounts, Mint automatically categorizes all of your transactions and updates how they apply to your budgets. Additionally, you can manage multiple accounts on Mint, which gives you the ability to have a dashboard for each of your stores.
A bookkeeping tool that is similar to Mint, Outright calculates taxes and provides crisp profitability reports. Once you’ve inputted your bank, credit card and loan information, this app takes care of the excel hell that comes with generating sales and tax data. This app also helps with filing taxes, filling out your Schedule C sheet automatically based on your expense categories. To get some of the juicier features you’ll have to get Outright Plus, which is $9.95/month, but the app is worth taking a look if taxes give you a hard time.
Quotebase lets you create beautiful PDF quote files which you can email as attachments. This app can also be helpful to businesses with repeat customers as it organizes them into dropdown menus for easy distribution. An interesting element Quotebase implements is their multi-currency option, allowing users to charge in their local currency or that of their clients. This is especially useful for businesses that need to send out high volumes of quotes or deal with international vendors.
Expensify takes the complication out of collecting and organizing receipts by allowing you to scan receipts from a smartphone camera. You can also upload and email the receipts as email attachments. Ah, the sweet sound of organization.
+ 2 More (Paid) Apps We Think Are Nifty
LearnVest is financial planning made into a sport. You’re armed with the LearnVest app and given a CPA to coach you through the challenges which are set for you. If need the motivation to follow-through on your financial goals, this this could be a very valuable tool for you.
This is a leading accounting software for small businesses. While it wouldn’t qualify as bookkeeping software, it tracks expenses, time takes online payments and can send invoices to your clients. FreshBooks starts with a 30-Day Free Trial and then paid packages start at $19.95/month.
We hope that these suggestions help you stay ahead of the curve and keep the burden off your budgets. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve found other apps that help your small business with its money matters.