Your Business Matters AlexanderAbramson.com • (407) 649-7777 March 2019
FROM THE DESK OF
Welcome to another edition of Your Business Matters. This has been an incredibly eventful year already. We have weathered two huge storms: The polar vortex and the government shutdown! Now that it’s March, we have sunnier and (hopefully) warmer days ahead. Plus, it’s time for March Madness! During the regular season, I don’t follow college basketball too closely. But come March, I have a serious case of “madness.” Like many people, I’m sure, my favorite part is filling out my bracket. Last year I spent an entire Saturday afternoon reading and researching the teams. I felt so sure I was going to do great. Then, the hammer dropped. Virginia, the #1 seed, got knocked out in the 1st round. Xavier, another #1 seed, got knocked out in the 2nd round. It was a really sad week. I’m determined that this year will be different! Maybe I’ll make my bracket based on team mascots. It can’t end up any worse than last year! All of us here at Alexander Abramson will be posting our brackets to Facebook. So, if you’re taking part in the March Madness festivities, post a picture of your bracket to our Facebook page too! Let’s see who comes out on top!
2 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR CYBERSECURITY NOW, NOT LATER
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES — OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES
Cybersecurity is a notorious boogeyman for small-business owners. The problem is that many entrepreneurs either believe that cyberattacks are not a direct threat to their livelihood, or they cannot afford to put robust network security in place. In a time when digital threats exist in unprecedented abundance, this kind of thinking couldn’t be more dangerous —or irresponsible. After all, underinvesting in IT doesn’t just put you at a disadvantage to your tech-savvy competitors; it also calls the very future of your organization into question. When a Fortune 500 company gets hacked, they shell out millions of dollars and make headlines. But when an unprotected small business comes under serious fire by cybercriminals, it often collapses quickly —without fanfare or much of a fight. This is why poor cybersecurity“represents an especially pernicious threat to smaller businesses,”SEC Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar said in 2015.“The reason is simple:”he wrote, “small and midsize businesses are not just targets of cybercrime; they are its principal target.” With that in mind, it’s essential that you do everything you can to protect yourself and your employees from cyberattacks. Here are three things you can do today to strengthen your network security and prevent a crisis.
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1. TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT YOUR
an outside IT consulting firm, as they’ll give you the hard truth and let you know exactly where your weaknesses lie. This might be a tall order for your small business, but it might save your entire operation down the line. 2. LOOK FOR WAYS TO EDUCATE YOUR TEAM (AND HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE). According to IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, more than two-thirds of cyberattacks occur due to “inadvertent insiders.”These are employees who unknowingly engage in actions that leave the network vulnerable, like clicking on a suspicious link in a phishing email or ignoring a key software patch. Cryptographer Bruce Schneier put it best when he said, “Only amateurs attack machines; professionals target people.” Because of this, the best way to boost your cybersecurity isn’t to pile money into a better antivirus or complicated network defense — it’s to get your people up to speed with cybercrime trends and educate them on best practices for avoiding threats.
To this end, it’s a good idea to hold regular education sessions on cybersecurity. You might be able to easily recognize a phishing email; many of your team members may not. Again, it’s a good idea to bring in an outside company whose specialty is training teams on digital threats. Sometimes all it takes is a single session for everyone to understand just what they’re up against. Cybercrime is a bigger problem now than it ever has been, and it shows no signs of slowing down. But if you take responsibility for defending your network before it’s too late, you can bat away these threats and drastically reduce the danger to your operation. All
CYBERSECURITY BUDGET (OR SET ONE).
It can be overwhelming to set a firm budget for any aspect of your business, but this is especially true of IT, because many business owners aren’t often sure what type of security their company needs or how much it will cost. According to CIO magazine, you should spend around 4–6 percent of your annual revenue on cybersecurity. If your current cybersecurity budget falls under this range, it’s time to re-evaluate. Will your current IT system protect your business should a cybercriminal target it? If the tech you use every day gets hacked for hours or even days, will your company survive? Most companies simply cannot afford that much downtime, much less the loss of precious data, due to a single employee’s misguided click. Even if you are already prepared to invest good money into cybersecurity, you must do your research to determine which IT companies are worth your dollars. If you can afford it, bring in
it takes is a little time, a little savvy, and a willingness to invest in better IT.
3 Questions to Ensure You Obtain the Right Clients AreYou QualifyingYour Prospects?
The shotgun lead generation approach is both ineffective and inefficient. For years, businesses put the power of decision-making in the hands of the consumer. Companies chased after any opportunity to put their name in front of a lead, hoping their skills would lead to a conversion. It wasn’t until recently that marketing and lead generation trends flipped the tables. Rather than an organization spraying out strategies across every feasible medium, new tactics implement a more targeted approach to get the right clients. Here are three questions you can ask to qualify your prospects. WHAT DOES YOUR IDEAL PROSPECT LOOK LIKE? Rather than taking any client they can get, a smart business owner focuses their attention toward the leads they want. It’s important to focus on candidates in a specific demographic. Doing business with those who match your requirements will result in happier clients and better relationships. HOW MUCH TIME ARE YOUWILLING TO SPEND ON A LEAD? Once you understand the type of client you’re looking for, the next step is to designate how much time you’re willing to spend fostering a
connection. Just because someone fits what you’re looking for doesn’t mean they are worth the time investment. Some of your ideal prospects will demand excessive time from your team, making the cost of client acquisition even higher. Set a maximum amount of time you’re willing to dedicate to a lead, and as you get closer to that threshold, ask yourself if it’s worth continuing that relationship. DOES THE PROSPECT ALIGNWITH YOUR VALUES? You may attract the right lead, and you might be able to convert that lead efficiently, but that doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your company. Above all else, a client needs to match your core values. Your team is a direct reflection of your company, but so are your clients. By qualifying your prospects effectively, you’ll increase client retention, improve client satisfaction, and create rave followers. Rather than trying to find leads under any rock you can turn over, ask these three questions about each prospect, and you’ll find more success in business.
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Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day
their workers part of the day off. Other ways to celebrate on that day, month, or throughout the year include: Organizing an after-work gathering Buying surprise snacks for the entire office Practicing flexibility in the office Giving thank-you cards to your staff Creating an encouraging environment Praising team efforts and accomplishments
Employees are the backbone of any business, big or small. If you’re looking for a way to give thanks to your hardworking staff, there’s no better time than now. Employee Appreciation Day is a non-official holiday that takes place on the first Friday of March. However, this holiday doesn’t have to be confined to a single day, nor does it have to be expensive. HISTORY In 1995, the idea came to Dr. Bob Nelson — also known as the “Guru of Thank You”— and he put it into action. Dr. Nelson is a founding Recognition Professionals International board member, head of Workman Publishing, and author of “1,001 Ways to Reward Employees.” His goal was to create and bolster the bond between employee and employer in all industries.
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Recognizing team and individual achievements publicly
THE IMPORTANCE OF APPRECIATION No matter where they work, employees want to be treated like human beings. When they’ve reached a personal or professional goal or they accomplish a feat for their team, they want to be recognized. And when that recognition is given, employees feel proud of their work and valued as individuals within the company. It doesn’t take much effort to give that praise, and when you do, it affects the whole company in a positive way.
OBSERVING EMPLOYEE APPRECIATION DAY
Taking the time to value people for the work they do will create a happier and more productive workplace. Let this year’s Employee Appreciation Day be the first day of many to celebrate the efforts of hardworking employees.
An employer can use many different methods to give thanks to their employees. To celebrate, employers across the country throw office parties, buy lunch for the whole office, or give
Take a Break!
HOMEMADE CORNED BEEF
1. In a large stockpot, combine water, garlic, and all herbs and spices to make brine. Cook over high heat until salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in ice. 2. Once water temp reaches 45 F, place brisket in a 2-gallon zip-close bag, pour in brine to cover, lay flat in a large container, and store in fridge. 3. Brine for 10 days, checking daily to make sure brisket is fully submerged and brine is stirred. 4. After 10 days, remove brisket from brine and rinse under cool water. In a large pot, cover brisket, onion, carrot, and celery with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer for 2 1/2–3 hours. 5. Remove, slice across the grain, and serve.
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2 quarts water 1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons saltpeter (potassium nitrate)
1 cinnamon stick, broken into large pieces 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
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8 cloves garlic
8 whole allspice berries 12 whole juniper berries 2 bay leaves, crumbled 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds ice
1 5-pound beef brisket, trimmed 1 small onion, quartered
BASKETBALL BRACKET FINAL FOUR GOLD
IDES OF MARCH IRISH LEPRECHAUN LUCKY
MARCH MADNESS RAINBOW
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
SHAMROCK ST PATRICK
Inspired by Food Network
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Inside This Issue
From the Desk of Ed Alexander PAGE 1 2 Strategies to Improve Your Cybersecurity Today PAGE 1 3 Ways to Qualify Your Prospects PAGE 2 Employee Appreciation Day! PAGE 3 Take a Break PAGE 3 Homemade Corned Beef PAGE 3 The Curious Case of the Disappearing Flags PAGE 4
AN INSIDE JOB The Curious Case of the Disappearing Flags
Apparently, the wooden flagpoles attract groundhogs, something other groundskeepers have experienced as well. “I’m glad we don’t have someone who has taken it upon themselves to desecrate the stones and the flags in front of them,” said Hudson mayor Bill Hallenbeck. “We can all rest a little easier knowing that it was a critter and not a human defacing our flags, especially those of the veterans,” added Hudson’s police commissioner. Turns out Punxsutawney Phil has some very naughty cousins — ones who aren’t subject to the law.
Like the year before, flags were placed on veterans’ graves in honor of Independence Day, and again, they went missing sometime in the night, this time taken from the graves of African American Civil War soldiers. Cemetery caretaker and veteran Vincent Wallace was appalled, as was the rest of his community. “I just can’t comprehend the mindset that would allow someone to do this,”Wallace said. Determined to find out who was to blame, police put up surveillance cameras and recorded the goings-on in the cemetery. As they watched the tapes, sure enough, they saw one of the culprits sitting atop a gravestone with an empty flagpole in front of him. It was a groundhog.
Theft is a serious matter, made even more grave when the victims are fallen war heroes. Such was the situation that stumped police in Hudson, New York, in 2012. The crime was first committed in July of the previous year. Flags had been placed around the graves of soldiers in Cedar Park Cemetery — only to go missing right around Independence Day. Veterans groups and locals were outraged and mystified by the crime. Some worried that a hate group was to blame, as the missing flags had adorned the graves of Jewish soldiers. Veterans worked to replace the flags, one by one, and right the wrong. No culprit was found, and the community moved on — until the following July, when the mystery repeated itself.
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