home office
Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Organization, Productivity, Success, Work at Home

8 Tips to Fight Loneliness When Working from Home

For many entrepreneurs, running a business out of their home is a dream come true. The choice to operate a home-based company comes with perks like a flexible schedule, lower operating costs, and the ability to quickly scale the enterprise up or down, but the opportunity also comes with challenges.

One of the biggest challenges faced by professionals who have a home-based business (or anyone who primarily works from home) is the feeling of loneliness that can come from working in solitude. The lack of social interaction that often accompanies working from home or operating a home-based business can negatively impact your productivity and reduce your job satisfaction. To combat the effects of loneliness, consider the following helpful tips for keeping your spirits up when you’re working from home:


  1. Schedule breaks into your day.

alarm clock

Split up your day with breaks to clear your mind and keep yourself feeling positive about your work. Getting out of your home office and staying away from your computer and phone during these breaks is a great way to recharge and come back to your work fresh after working inside alone for a prolonged period of time. It can also be a good idea during your breaks to chat with any neighbors or family that may be around at the time to give yourself some socialization. Some professionals recommend a small break every hour and a half or so, while others suggest taking smaller breaks with one hour-long or two-hour-long break midday.


  1. Establish an exercise routine.

Getting into the habit of daily exercise can elevate your mood and offer another way to break up solitary periods during your workday, especially if you participate in regular group exercise classes or just work out on a machine at the gym. While exercise represents a time commitment, it both helps combat the effects of working a sedentary job while also providing an opportunity to socialize.


  1. Change your environment.

Boredom and monotony may contribute to feelings of increased loneliness, but these feelings can be reduced if you change up your office or workspace every once in a while. This can mean moving your laptop to another area of your home some days, such as the patio, or by taking your work to a public place where you can access WiFi, such as a coffee shop, library, or restaurant. Even if you don’t interact directly with many people when you work in public, just being around others can make you feel less lonely. Overall, changing your location can add novelty to your days and stave off feelings of boredom and disconnection.


  1. Communicate digitally.

digital communication

While you shouldn’t make a habit of spending excessive time on social media during the workday, taking time over the course of the day to have small, thoughtful online interactions with friends and family can help you feel more connected. Have a chat with a friend during the day when you begin to feel lonely, but make sure you set parameters ahead of time for how long and how often you can chat without slowing your productivity. When it’s time to get off social media and concentrate, you should be able to train all of your focus on your work.


  1. Add audio to your office.

Just because you operate a business alone from home doesn’t mean that you need to spend your day in total silence. Consider playing music softly in the background while you work; if you’re easily distracted, try classical or any other genre of music without lyrics, or songs with lyrics in a language you don’t understand. You might also turn on an upbeat TV show in another room to create a backdrop of white noise. Having some kind of sound in the background while you work can make you feel less lonely and less bored while you complete different tasks.


  1. Have a routine meet-up with other entrepreneurs.

Even if you’re the sole employee of your business, there are bound to be other entrepreneurs in your city who work within your industry and are interested in making professional connections. You can locate groups for professionals using sites like Meetup.com, LinkedIn, or even Facebook. If you can’t find a group that you’re interested in joining or if no one has created a group for entrepreneurs in your area, you can start one yourself. Incorporating weekly meet-ups of this nature into your schedule will provide the professional social interactions you need to reduce loneliness and give you something to look forward to as your week progresses.


  1. Engage in volunteer work.


One of the perks of being an entrepreneur is that you become your own boss, which allows you to set your own schedule. You can make use of this flexibility in your workday by incorporating activities like volunteer work into your schedule. Volunteering will not only provide an outlet for connecting with other people and combating loneliness, but it will also allow you to give back to those in need and may help you feel an overall greater sense of fulfillment in your life.


  1. Look into shared workspaces.

If you’ve tried and failed to overcome intense feelings of loneliness as a home-based entrepreneur, you do have other options. While it can save you a significant amount of money to exclusively work at home, there are affordable alternatives to this arrangement. For example, look into renting a desk at a local shared workspace. Shared workspaces give professionals the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs working in a wide range of industries. Relocating from your home to a shared workspace can give you the freedom of working on a solitary entrepreneurial venture with the social benefits of working in a traditional office.

work from home
Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Marketing, Organization, Productivity, Success, Work at Home

3 Ways to Ensure That Potential Clients Know about Your Home Business

Many people who have been stuck in dead-end jobs for years dream about becoming their own boss at some point. That’s why so many try to start their own home business. In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to do so. Due to the Internet, you can create a legitimate, thriving business without having to rent out office space or hire a marketing team.

A large number of online businesses involve some form of freelance or consulting work. If you have a valuable skill or specialized knowledge and experience, you can easily sell your services to clients. This strategy is popular because it doesn’t involve creating anything. You don’t need to worry about finding space to manufacture goods and store inventory. You can perform all the work right at your own desk.

It’s one thing to create a business, but ensuring that people know about it is something else entirely. That’s why you should keep the following tips in mind. They’ll help you to attract clients so you can quit your day job and do what you love full time.


  1. Create a Website

graphic design

Every single business needs a website. It’s also smart to maintain a social media profile. Quite simply, online searches are how many people find companies these days. They don’t look up anything in the Yellow Pages anymore. They use Google to find people who offer the services they need.

A website allows you to promote your business and gives potential clients an easy way to contact you.

In order to make your web presence even more effective, you should consider maintaining a blog on your site that you update regularly. If this seems like more work than it’s worth, you can hire freelancers to write the content for you. In fact, if you’re not comfortable with your skills as a writer, you may want to hire a freelancer to write all of your site’s content. You want to make the right impression on clients. This means ensuring that you sound professional.

Quality freelancers also understand how to optimize content so a site is more likely to appear in online searches. Hiring one is a smart investment.


  1. Reach Out to Potential Clients Directly


While a website is crucial, you don’t want to passively wait for people to discover your business. Instead, you must be proactive about finding clients.

Begin by creating a spreadsheet filled out with the names and contact information of prospective clients. You can typically find them via a Google search.

For instance, perhaps you’re starting your own graphic design business. Maybe you want to focus on book covers. This is a fast-growing market due to the rise of online self-publishing. Plenty of authors who felt reluctant to follow the traditional publishing route are now selling their books directly to customers online. And while you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it’s no secret that a professional cover design tends to result in a more successful book.

You could search for self-published authors by browsing Facebook groups and reading writers’ blogs. Find authors for whom you could create effective designs, look up their contact information (the odds are good they’ll have their own websites listing that information), and let them know you have a graphic design business and would love to create covers for their books.

Most people you contact won’t reply. Others will say they’re not interested. However, some will want to hire you. With just a little bit of effort, you can build a substantial client list.


  1. Submit Guest Posts


Find bloggers who cover the industry you work in, but who don’t qualify as direct competitors. To use the graphic design example again, if you want to design book covers, find bloggers who work in the self-publishing niche. Reach out to them and ask if they would like you to contribute a guest post or interview on the topic of “why a professional book cover is important.”

Maintaining a website and regularly updating your blog will eventually result in more web traffic, although it can be difficult to build a following during these early stages. Instead, contribute posts to blogs and sites that already have a substantial following. That’s how you’ll get the word out about your own business.

It’s worth noting that none of this is very difficult. While you will absolutely need to put in some work at first to get your home business off the ground, once you have enough clients to keep you busy, you’ll realize that your dream of working from home has become a reality. Don’t quit early on because no one knows your company exists yet. Follow these tips, and pretty soon you’ll be busier than you ever thought possible.

Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Organization, Productivity, Success

5 Ideas for Home Businesses That Are Cheap and Easy to Launch

Many aspiring entrepreneurs who begin new business ventures are seeking to transition from full-time work to self-employment. However, this is not the only way to live out your entrepreneurial dreams and own your own business. Some people are content with full-time employment and are interested in establishing their own company as a side project to bring in extra income or to simply expand their skillsets.

For anyone who wants to set up a side business, it can be beneficial to establish one that requires a minimal investment of time and funds. Below are five kinds of ventures that entrepreneurs looking to launch side businesses can quickly and affordably start themselves.


  1. Social media consulting firm

While many large companies have in-house specialists to help them establish a strong online presence, a lot of small businesses can’t afford to hire full-time social media staff to interact with customers on major platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you have a comfortable level of familiarity with major social media sites and a knack for communicating with other people, a social media consulting company may suit your needs. Before starting a business, you could even consider supplementing your knowledge with online tutorials that will help you to develop the tools you need to create engaging content for small businesses on the Internet. Social media blogs such as Sprout Social can offer helpful step-by-step directions that will enable you to set yourself up as a social media consultant from home.

social media

  1. Pet services

According to the ASPCA, U.S. citizens own about 78 million dogs and nearly 86 million cats, with about three out of five Americans owning at least one pet. Additionally, in 2017 American pet owners spent more money on caring for their pets than they ever have before, which means that the market is ripe for entrepreneurs who wish to open a business in the pet services industry. If you like animals, consider opening a home business as a pet sitter or dog walker. People love their pets and want to entrust their care to those who are dependable. Focus on building your reputation by offering your services to friends and family. You could also consider joining groups such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters to establish your credibility. Make sure to research the legal steps you’ll need to take in order to protect yourself from liability before opening your business.


  1. Photography business

While starting a photography business may require more initial time and capital investment for people who are new to the art form, entrepreneurs who already own a high-quality camera and who have some experience in taking pictures may be in a good place to offer their services as a side business. There is a lot of interest in high-quality photographs for a wide variety of purposes, particularly in this age of social media. However, in order to become competitive with the growing number of photography businesses, you will need to build an online portfolio. Offering free photography sessions is a great way to build a portfolio that will provide potential clients with an idea of your style, approach, and talent. Once you’ve begun creating a strong portfolio, you can set yourself apart from amateur photographers by incorporating your business. In addition, you should consider offering a specialty beyond photographing people, such as nature or food.


  1. Online consignment store

Since 2016, the majority of shoppers in the United States have made more purchases online than in brick-and-mortar stores. With this statistic in mind, online secondhand merchandise sales through websites such as eBay could be a simple yet potentially profitable home-based side business for a busy entrepreneur. While some people launch this kind of enterprise as a way to rid their homes of clutter, others take a more targeted approach to this business. For example, entrepreneurs may dedicate some of their free time to visiting vintage shops or thrift stores where they can find products at an affordable price before reselling them online. As with a photography business, focusing on a particular niche on sites like eBay can be helpful in selling vintage clothing, antique furniture, video games, or books. To get started, there are many smartphone apps that can help you to distinguish between items that have a high degree of value and those that don’t. For example, the Cash in the Attic app can help users estimate the value of antiques, while apps such as BookScouter are good for finding the resale value of used books.


  1. Local tour guide company

If you live in a city that attracts a large number of tourists, you may be able to leverage your knowledge of the area to create a thriving part-time business. Starting a company that offers walking tours of the place you live in can be a way for entrepreneurs to not only make extra income, but also to show others the hidden beauty of their hometown. To get started with this type of business, you will first want to ensure that there are no local ordinances that will prevent you from offering tour services to visitors. You will then want to ensure that you conduct sufficient research to produce interesting facts about the history of your city in order to design a tour that highlights some of the things that make it unique. To recruit your first customers, you can contact your local visitors’ bureau to see if it will help you to connect with tourists, or sign up with websites such as Vayable.com to generate a clientele.

Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success

4 Challenges You Learn to Overcome as an Entrepreneur

Choosing to pursue a career in entrepreneurship is a decision that today’s professionals may make for any number of reasons. Some are drawn to it when they find themselves in awe of the incredible accomplishments of other entrepreneurs, some find that the typical 9-to-5 job doesn’t inspire them, and some are drawn to the risky adventurousness of creating a business from the ground up.

No matter their reasoning, entrepreneurs have one undeniable thing in common with each other: they all tend to face a similar set of struggles as they attempt to build a successful company. Listed below are four of the most common challenges that new entrepreneurs must overcome on the path to success.

  1. Finding funding.

Though entrepreneurs of all experience levels may find it challenging to finance their venture, first-time entrepreneurs can find it especially difficult. New founders often lack the professional connections of their more experienced counterparts, and may have a more difficult time finding investors or other forms of financing for building a business.


The first step that first-time entrepreneurs must take in securing the necessary capital is to evaluate the options available to them. Common ways that small business owners choose to finance their companies include taking out bank loans, long-term work at a typical job to build savings, attracting an angel investor, or seeking out investments from friends and family members. Venture capital may be an avenue for some entrepreneurs. Yet another form of financing that has gained popularity in recent years is crowdfunding through websites like kickstarter.com. Through these types of websites, entrepreneurs can lay out their business plan and solicit donations from anyone on the Internet. Once an entrepreneur manages to raise enough capital through any of these methods, they must create and operate within a responsible budget to avoid problems with cash management.

  1. Hiring and developing a cohesive team.

Having the right team of professionals to run an enterprise is key to driving growth, and hiring the best talent to fill positions can be a daunting task for a new business owner. Not only do employees need to have the right skillsets to perform well, but entrepreneurs need to hire them at a cost that is affordable to the new business. It is also important for entrepreneurs to consider a candidate’s personality and work style to ensure that he or she will work well with other members of the team.

To build a great staff, entrepreneurs should think comprehensively about the specifications of the position they are hiring for, considering what they truly need from the person who will fill it. They should come up with a list of the nonnegotiable skills and attributes that are needed for the role, and think carefully about the ways they want the employee to impact their business. Doing so will help entrepreneurs develop criteria to evaluate candidates.

Additionally, entrepreneurs need to keep their company’s mission and core values in mind so that they can seek out candidates with similar perspectives. Entrepreneurs should also use a consistent interview process—for example, by asking the same questions in the same order, or administering the same test under the same conditions. A standardized process will allow entrepreneurs to more easily and objectively compare applicants to determine who will be the best fit overall.

  1. Finding the courage to leave a full-time job.

Many entrepreneurs start their business while still holding down their full-time job in order to provide themselves with a bit of security. Though this is a good decision for people who lack the savings or support in the early phases of growing a company, there comes a point in a successful business’s growth when it will demand the majority of the entrepreneur’s time, beyond just nights and weekends. This can be an especially difficult challenge to overcome for first-time entrepreneurs who have only ever known the security of the typical 9-to-5 job.

business suit

While different people choose different times to leave their full-time job and focus on their new company, there will come a pivotal moment when every entrepreneur must find the courage to do so. Entrepreneurs should think carefully about the right time to leave, making sure that they have a financial plan in place. Health insurance and debt can be big factors in this decision. Entrepreneurs should also be comfortable with the fact that, going forward, they’ll need to plan for life with a higher degree of flexibility and stick to a stringent budget until the business takes off.

  1. Grappling with self-doubt.

To enjoy life as an entrepreneur, you must be tenacious and able to move past doubt and negativity. Starting your own company is a gamble, and it is easy in the early phases of business development to succumb to fearful thoughts that leave you questioning your abilities as a business leader. Self-doubt is common among first-time entrepreneurs, but those who are successful in their endeavors are the ones who learn to mitigate the inevitable, stress-induced uncertainty.

The best ways to overcome self-doubt as an entrepreneur are to remember your past accomplishments and have an excellent support system in the form of family, friends, and business mentors. Additionally, learn how to gracefully accept and move past the mistakes you will inevitably make in the process of establishing your company. An entrepreneur who cannot accept his or her failures will be plagued by anxiety, which can lead to crippling indecisiveness. You can overcome self-doubt by acknowledging mistakes when they happen and applying the lessons you learn from the experience to avoid similar missteps in the future.

Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Productivity, Success

10 Important Habits that All Entrepreneurs Should Have

Entrepreneurs are a unique cohort. Though they share no particular age, gender, or nationality, these individuals do tend to have a few things in common, including certain personal characteristics like curiosity, passion, and the ability to see the big picture.

While most people have no control over their inborn personality traits, anyone interested in entrepreneurship can adopt a number of tried-and-true beneficial habits. Listed here are 10 things that successful entrepreneurs do:

  1. They plan everything.


No matter what kind of business they are trying to build, entrepreneurs have long to-do lists that require effective planning to complete. They plan their workdays in advance, blocking out specific time for priority tasks and sticking to a schedule to avoid letting themselves be pulled in too many directions at once. They also look beyond day-to-day activities to plan out weekly and monthly tasks in an effort to keep their operations moving forward.

  1. They know the value of goal-setting.

Talented entrepreneurs understand that they can only make an effective plan if they have established goals to work toward. Goal-setting is a habit that helps entrepreneurs work more effectively, preventing them from wasting time on tasks that won’t necessarily improve a company’s likelihood of success. Further, as leaders, they communicate these goals clearly to the people they are working with to make sure that everyone works cohesively toward the same objective.

  1. They get up early.

wall clock

Though there is no indication that late-night workers can’t become successful business professionals, research shows that most successful entrepreneurs are early risers, whether naturally or by choice. The early morning hours can be extremely valuable for organization, productivity, and preparation. So, entrepreneurs should use this time of day to their advantage.

  1. They hire intelligently.

Successful business owners select great employees. These leaders are good at assessing people’s skills and bringing individuals on board who are a good fit with company culture. Additionally, they are not intimidated by the professional abilities of others and are willing to put together good offers that attract top talent. Great entrepreneurs make a habit of hiring strategically because they know that they will not succeed without the support of a competent team.

  1. They keep the right people in the loop.


Entrepreneurs who manage to build successful companies are good at keeping those involved in their business updated on its progress. This includes their own staff as well as financial backers. These professionals keep an accurate measure of the results of their work and are open about achievements as well as setbacks. This habit can help investors feel more confident in their decision to financially support a fledgling company. Additionally, it helps create a greater sense of job satisfaction among employees, who are better able to understand the value of their work when they have a clear vision of the company’s growth.

  1. They recognize their limits.

Entrepreneurs must be self-aware enough to honestly evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses; therefore regular self-reflection is valuable. Many successful entrepreneurs have “type-A” personalities, which make them feel like they need to push themselves to their limits and do as much as possible without any help. However, great entrepreneurs know their limits and delegate where they can in order to work more effectively. They also recognize when another person on their team could perform a task better and faster than they can, and they aren’t afraid to admit it. This helps entrepreneurs save time and direct their talents toward other areas where they can contribute in a more meaningful way.

  1. They stay healthy.

healthy food

Starting a company is a labor of love, but it still causes ample stress. Consequently, many successful entrepreneurs practice good diet and exercise habits in order to combat stress and fatigue. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and taking the time to exercise regularly helps these professionals maintain a healthy mind and body, which helps them perform to the best of their abilities every day.

  1. They actively network.

Networking is second nature to a talented entrepreneur. Even if social skills do not come naturally to them, smart entrepreneurs leverage good communication tactics to establish meaningful professional relationships with other people. Entrepreneurs who underestimate the power of networking rarely find the kind of success they imagine for their companies. Those who do ultimately build a strong business tend to be those who are willing to help out fellow entrepreneurs through collaboration or by facilitating new networking connections between previously unacquainted members of their professional community.

  1. They listen instinctively.


Those who achieve success as entrepreneurs tend to be constant learners who are naturally curious. As such, they make a habit of listening to others. They welcome outside input and keep an open mind when they hear new ideas. Moreover, they know the importance of adapting quickly to changing circumstances and are always looking for ways to evolve. They also recognize that listening to other people can help them achieve these goals.

  1. They ask for help.

The last habit that entrepreneurs have is a lack of ego: they put aside feelings of pride and reach out to people for assistance when they need it, even when it’s hard to ask. They also may enlist the help of a mentor to coach them through the stages of building a business. A large number of famously successful startup founders have relied on the support of mentors to build their companies, and many among the next generation of successful entrepreneurs are sure to do the same thing.

Business, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success

5 Easy Ways to Establish a Positive Workplace Culture

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based philanthropist and business executive Don Gayhardt has over 25 years of experience as a leader in the finance sector, with previous professional roles that include a position as the president of international firm Dollar Financial Group. Today, he functions as the president and CEO of CURO Financial Technologies Corp—an organization that oversees a number of accessible financial solutions brands, including Speedy Cash, LendDirect, and WageDayAdvance. In his work with CURO, Don Gayhardt focuses on fostering a positive workplace culture that motivates his employees to perform to the best of their abilities and enables them to feel comfortable contributing their ideas.

Positive workplace cultures can have a significant impact on the success of a major corporation like CURO Financial Technologies Corp, but they can also be extremely valuable in a small-business workplace. If you’re a small-business owner looking to create a positive workplace culture for your employees, then you should take these five steps to make your vision a reality:

  1. Make your vision clear.

goals vision

Expressing the vision that you have for your small business is an important part of helping your employees understand your company as a whole and the role that they play in helping it grow. Make sure that your staff is clear about your company’s purpose, core values, and customer-service standards, as well as your definition of excellence in business. Apart from explicitly articulating these things to your team, make sure that you demonstrate a commitment to the company’s vision in the work that you do. Employees are more likely to respect and follow your example than your words.

  1. Bring the right people on board.

Hiring great employees is about more than finding people with the right skill sets and professional experience. While these elements are important, another, less definable but equally valuable characteristic is whether a job candidate has a personality that suits the kind of business culture you want to create. Studies have shown that staff members with values and personalities that are a good match for the company they work for may feel greater satisfaction in their jobs, remain in their positions for a longer period of time, and may even demonstrate better job performance.

When recruiting new employees for your company, determine ahead of time what type of personal qualities best suit your business culture and add them to the list of traits your ideal job candidate should have. In the end, mindfully hiring employees who fit your culture will contribute to a positive overall environment in which like-minded people work together for the best results.

  1. Implement strong training and development programs.

Once you’ve hired employees who fit in well with the culture you’re trying to create, it’s important to have comprehensive, efficient training programs in place to help set them up for success in your organization. No matter what kind of work environment you are trying to establish for your company, you can only maintain it if your employees feel content in their roles. By providing new employees with comprehensive training when they first take a position, you will help them develop the skills necessary to perform their work with confidence and efficiency, which can lead to greater job satisfaction.


Additionally, you should be sure to communicate with your employees about their professional goals and offer development programs to help them work toward the futures that they envision for themselves. Doing so establishes a supportive element to your workplace culture that keeps individuals optimistic about their experience with your company and may help you retain valued team members.

  1. Require two-way communication at all levels.

Healthy communication between yourself and your staff is an important part of creating a positive work culture. This means being clear about the expectations you have for your employees and addressing problems and issues that arise in the workplace. It’s also a good idea to keep your staff reasonably informed about your company’s progress and growth.

When you share this type of information with your staff members, you show them that you value them and consider them integral to the success of the company. Communication, however, is a give and take. While it’s important to routinely convey information, it is also vital to listen to ideas and feedback from your employees. Make a habit of asking your employees for their thoughts and opinions and listen to what they have to say. Encouraging openness between executives and employees creates an environment of honesty and innovation, both of which are important for company growth and a healthy workplace culture.

  1. Don’t let achievements go unnoticed.

If an employee or group of employees reaches a milestone or makes a major achievement, then you should make an effort to recognize the accomplishment. The method and degree of recognition you use is a matter of personal preference, but remember that the simple act of showing employees that you appreciate them has far-reaching effects. By acknowledging your employees’ contributions, you can help boost morale within the company and show staff members that their work has meaning. As a result, employees will feel a greater sense of fulfillment in their work, which can lead to a more positive work environment overall.

cyber security
Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Success

6 of the Best Basic Cyber Security Tips for Small Business Owners

Technology has given small business owners countless advantages, from the ability to sell to customers around the world to software that streamlines bookkeeping, inventory management, and other processes. However, the benefits that modern technology has to offer are accompanied by an increase in security risks for business owners, especially for home-based companies and other small businesses. According to recent data, over 70 percent of cyberattacks are focused on small businesses, and many attacks occur within the company’s first half-year in operation.

While larger corporations have bigger budgets for cybersecurity, there are still plenty of actions that small business owners can take in order to protect themselves and their customers from data theft and exposure. Six of these helpful tips are listed below.

  1. Invest in reputable anti-virus software.

anti-virusThe first step in protecting a small business from cybersecurity threats is to choose reliable, high quality anti-virus software to protect your PCs. Choosing a paid security program for the computers you use is a simple yet effective way to prevent exposure to malware and other malicious programs. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent, affordable options to choose from. According to the website TechRadar, some of the most highly recommended security programs for small businesses in 2017 include Symantec Endpoint Protection, Avast Endpoint Protection Advanced, and Avira Antivirus for Endpoint. Once you’ve chosen and installed security software, make sure to always install updates and patches as they become available to minimize weaknesses or gaps in protection.

  1. Create strong passwords.

While it can be tempting for the sake of simplicity to use an easy, universal password to gain access to all devices and accounts you use for your business, doing so poses a significant security risk. To create a strong password, professionals suggest phrases that are 10 characters long at minimum and incorporate a series of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The more complicated, the better.

In addition, try to use different password for different accounts. This way, if a hacker uncovers one of your passwords, the discovery will not compromise your other accounts. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, consider using a password management app to store them. Remember to change passwords regularly as well, as often as once every three months.

  1. Establish protocols for the use of personal devices at work.

smartphoneDue to budget constraints, many small business owners choose to have employees use their personal devices to do work. If you’ve chosen to implement this approach at your company, make sure you’ve created security protocols for employees and taken measures to protect company data in the event that an employee leaves the company or has his or her device stolen. Consider instating a policy that requires employees to use a specific security system and participate in routine password changes in order to help keep your business’ information safe.

It can also be helpful to use mobile device management (MDM) software in order to separate company data from an employee’s personal data on a device. MDM solutions make it easy for all company information to be wiped from the hard drive of a personal computer in the event that an employee leaves the company.

  1. Keep access to sensitive information limited.

When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s generally best to limit access to your company’s data, network, and financial information. This means controlling which aspects of your business’ programs and data that your staff can access. Give employees permissions only for the software and systems they need to do their jobs, and make sure that you approve of any new software before it is installed. This is important because studies show that a company’s employees are statistically more likely to be at the root of a data breach than outsiders, whether they mean to cause harm or not.

  1. Make sure your employees are trained in basic security protocols.

securityTo prevent well-meaning employees from accidentally opening your company up to cybersecurity threats, it’s important that every member of your staff be trained in basic online safety. At minimum, employees should know how to securely store passwords, connect to protected Wi-Fi networks, and safely transfer files. They should also be familiar with the common signs of a cyber security threat and know how to report a potential threat to management.

  1. Make a plan ahead of time.

Because the threat of breaches only grows as technology develops, one of the most helpful things that a small business owner can do is to create a contingency plan for the best course of action if your company’s cybersecurity is compromised. Consider hiring an IT consultant to help you understand what to do in the event of a cybersecurity emergency. If you don’t have enough room in your budget to bring in an IT professional, there are many online tools to help you develop a comprehensive cyber security plan, including the Cyberplanner tool provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The planner can be found here.