home business
Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Management, Productivity, Technology, Work at Home

This Is How You Can Come Up with a Home Business Idea

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to start and run your own business from home. Whether you plan on turning your business into a full-time enterprise or you simply want to make some extra money on the side, with just a few tools, you can indulge your entrepreneurial ambitions.

Of course, having the tools to start a business is not the same as having an idea for one. You may know you’d love to be your own boss and work from home, but you might have no idea how to get started.

Don’t get discouraged. Coming up with an idea will take some time, but if you put in the effort, you can generate a plan that may turn into a legitimate business. To start, keep these tips in mind.


Assess Your Abilities and Experience

You’re probably not going to succeed in your goals of running a home business if you start one that requires a skillset you don’t possess. Thus, if you’re struggling to come up with an idea, you should start the brainstorming process by listing all the skills you have that may be valuable. While doing so, review all of your previous work experience and try to determine if you’ve acquired expertise in a particular area.

For instance, if you have a reputation as a strong writer, you could start a freelance business. If you have artistic talent, you may be able to provide clients with freelance graphic design services.

It’s important to incorporate hobbies into your list. Many people who enjoy creating arts and crafts projects in their spare time eventually discover that people want to buy their creations. Although not all hobbies can generate business ideas, you may be surprised by how many can.

The most important point to keep in mind during this exercise is simple: spend more time on it than you think you should. People often find it difficult to list their skills at first. They think they don’t have much experience or expertise they can leverage into a money-making enterprise. However, if you spend a decent amount of time trying to grow your list, you’ll likely find you actually have more valuable skills than you initially assumed.


Determine What Resources You Have at Your Disposal

Some people who start home businesses choose to take out loans to fund them. Of course, this involves some degree of risk. You need to decide whether or not you’re confident enough in your idea to take that kind of chance.

If you’re not, you likely won’t have a lot of money for equipment, employees, and other resources. You’ll need to take stock of what resources are already available to you.

Luckily, you can start plenty of home businesses on a limited budget. If you’re starting a freelance writing, graphic design, or even consulting business, it may be possible to do so with nothing more than a computer and a fast internet connection. As your enterprise grows, you can hire others to work for you or invest in additional equipment.

Either way, it’s very important to be honest with yourself at first. Don’t take financial risks for which you are unprepared. Once you know what resources you currently have at your disposal, you can more easily determine what type of business to create.


Write Down 10 Ideas a Day

This is a tip from serial entrepreneur James Altucher. It’s also a surprisingly effective exercise.

Each day, set aside a little bit of time to list 10 different business ideas. Don’t stop until you’ve reached 10, but don’t censor yourself because you assume an idea isn’t strong enough to be worth putting on your list.

James Altucher himself admits that when he started doing this, many of his ideas were bad. The goal isn’t simply to come up with 10 business ideas you can develop into profitable enterprises. Ideally, this exercise will yield a strong idea at some point, but that probably won’t happen right away. Instead, this exercise will help you train your mind to start looking for business ideas in your daily life. The longer you practice it, the easier it will be to start seeing the world the way an entrepreneur sees the world.

These tips are primarily useful because they help you overcome the hurdle that prevents so many people from succeeding in their goal of working from home. Too many people give up early because they assume they simply don’t have any ideas. If you actually spend the time to brainstorm, this won’t be a problem.


Business, Education, Entrepreneurship, Management, Organization, Productivity, Technology

Here Are the Best Tips for Entrepreneurs Designing a Business Plan

For many entrepreneurs, choosing to finally go into business for yourself is an exciting decision that is the first step toward accomplishing a lifelong dream. While many people who choose to establish their own company have likely conceptualized a business idea long before they ultimately choose to go into business, not all are aware of the early steps they must take to set their company successfully in motion.

If you are a new entrepreneur who has recently settled on a business idea, your first order of business is research—entrepreneurs must thoroughly investigate the market they are about to enter to test the viability of their business concept. After this initial research comes the first true step you take toward officially establishing your company: the creation of a business plan. Listed below are eight useful tips to help you write a business plan that successfully serves your new company.


  1. Consider your audience.

The first thing to do when developing a business plan is to think about the primary purpose the document will serve. For example, if your main goal is to find funding for your company, you will want to write a business plan that caters to potential investors. Conversely, if you already have the capital you need to get your business started, and instead need to attract a client base, you will want to design a business plan that answers a different set of questions than those investors would ask about your venture. Determine what you want to accomplish before you sit down to write, and then keep your audience in mind as you develop your plan.

client phone call

  1. Start with a vision.

Begin your business plan with an explanation of your company’s values, mission, and short-term goals. A simple outline that demonstrates your overarching vision for your venture will give your readers a succinct idea of the business and set them up to better understand the details you provide further in the document. If you aren’t comfortable expressing a vision for the company and would like to be more direct, start the document with a simple executive summary that explains your company’s basic purpose and achievements to date.


  1. Demonstrate your research.

Once you get into the details of your business plan, make sure you demonstrate the extent of the research you conducted prior to writing. What’s most important to convey is that there are people willing to pay for your product or service. Include information about the market size, contrasting its current status and its projected growth for the future. Show that you’ve studied your competition and make it clear how your company will enter the market, what hurdles it may confront, and how it will overcome them. In contrast, if you are pioneering a whole new category of products or services, explain how you’ll be able to successfully create a market for your company.


  1. Be cautious in your financial projections.

Financial analysis is an important part of creating a well-rounded business plan, especially if your primary use of the document will be to attract investors. When you do assess your budget and create a financial forecast, stay realistic and root every projection you make in reality, rather than your own feelings. You may have high hopes for your enterprise, but those who read your business plan need to see your idea as credible, which can only be done if you back up all of your numbers with facts. No matter how ambitious you are about your company’s potential, try to be conservative with your estimates and realistic about your financing needs. If you’re inexperienced in working with financial data, enlisting the help of an accountant for this aspect of your plan can help immensely.


  1. Introduce your team.

If you have brought other management employees on board before your company has been fully established, include their credentials in your business plan. This doesn’t have to be an extensive section of the document, but it should represent the work that each person has done prior to joining your team and what he or she will contribute moving forward. Many investors are keen to see this information; it’s sometimes said that investors invest not so much in ideas, but in people. They have to trust you and your team—your experience, passion, and diligence—before they will give you money.


  1. Use visuals.

Break up walls of text within your business plan by including helpful visuals that illustrate key concepts. Consider using graphs and charts to make a powerful impact on your readers when communicating numbers. Include pictures of products or samples of advertising within your plan to give your audience a better idea of what your business is about and how it will function. These elements can strengthen the overall impression your business plan makes and encourage the audience to feel more confident about your ideas.


  1. Get creative.

Though your business plan should demonstrate a commitment to professionalism throughout, don’t be afraid to get creative with elements like template or design. Weed out unnecessary information, but include personal elements that show your readers who you are and what kind of entrepreneur you will be as you lead the company. A few unique elements can go a long way toward grabbing the attention of investors or customers and make your business seem more authentic.


  1. Get an objective opinion.

Once you’ve finished your business plan, make sure you have an objective third party review it before you present it to anyone within your professional network. Even if you feel completely confident about the work you’ve done, having another person with experience look over your work can help identify potential weaknesses and raise questions that end up making the plan even more compelling.

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, Entrepreneurship, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success, Work at Home

5 of the Best Time Management Tips for Home Business Owners

Time – it’s one commodity that all professionals want to have more of, and yet always seem to be chasing. For the home-based business owner, time can be doubly elusive. While home-based business owners actually have many opportunities to recoup time in a way that traditional workers may not, it can be easy to manage time poorly and allow the day to get away from you.

If you want to be a successful home-based business owner, time management is one of the most important skills that you will need to cultivate. Listed below are five useful tips to help you develop the time management skills that will allow you maintain control over your schedule.


  1. Be a list-maker.

to do list

To-do lists can help you manage your work tasks on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, but it’s important to use them correctly. Don’t overload yourself by making long lists of tasks that you cannot feasibly accomplish in the time you’ve set for them.

Professionals suggest keeping to-do lists as simple as possible, and some even promote the idea that there should be no more than three things on your list each day. However you choose to organize your list, set aside a few minutes to write the next day’s list out the night before. This will help you streamline the next workday before it even begins.

Similarly, when you sit down to tackle your to-do list, do not attempt to multitask. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking can actually waste more time than it saves by requiring you to switch mental gears more often, which breaks concentration. Putting your focus on one task until you’ve seen it through can increase your performance level as well as your productivity, saving you more time overall.


  1. Don’t co-mingle your home and work life.

Establish a daily routine and set work schedule to keep your home and work life separate when they occupy the same space. During your workday, make a concentrated effort to keep your mind focused on professional tasks. Save your personal responsibilities for after work hours. Failing to keep personal projects out of your workday can lead to serious time loss and leave you struggling to get important tasks accomplished.


  1. Take up time-logging.


Identify the areas where you might be wasting time during the workday by recording a daily log of your professional activities. The log should be recorded for at least one day, but the longer the period of time you record your activities, the greater point of reference you will have.

Go about your daily schedule and write down everything that you do on paper or in a spreadsheet. Once you’ve logged your activities for a designated period of at least one day, review your log in order to determine where you’re spending time unnecessarily.

Areas where entrepreneurs may find themselves wasting valuable hours include running errands, taking calls, holding meetings, personal breaks, or responding to emails. Reduce these activities where possible in order to engage in better time management and a more efficient workday.


  1. Engage in popular time management techniques.

If you’ve already cut the major time-draining activities from your day, you may benefit from looking into popular management techniques that can help you conduct your necessary, day-to-day tasks more effectively. One such method is the Pomodoro technique, in which you accomplish tasks in 25-minute bursts of concentration, followed by five-minute breaks.

This can be especially helpful for people who struggle with focus, and can be an efficient unit of measurement when it comes to devoting time to long-term projects. For example, you could set a goal of spending 8 “Pomodoros” on your social media marketing campaign each week.

Another useful time management technique is “blocking” your time. Sitting down with your monthly calendar and dividing it into blocks of time devoted to specific tasks can help you stick to a schedule and leave you with few unallocated hours. This helps some entrepreneurs maintain a tidy, efficient agenda.

For example, you can block out the same hours each week for working on making sales calls, updating your website, or taking meetings. This keeps you in a routine that can help you to regularly accomplish tasks each month. Whichever time management methods you use to get more things done, make sure to remember that methods should be modified to meet your personal business needs.


  1. Work with a mentor.


Sometimes, applying time management best practices is easier to conceptualize than to actually do for yourself. If you find yourself trying to practice good time management but are unable to do so effectively, consider enlisting the help of a mentor to set you on the right path. A professional mentor may be able to provide an objective eye and identify the areas in which you can up your productivity at work without pushing yourself too far.

As an added bonus, an effective mentor will have personal experience with many of the same struggles that you experience as a home-based entrepreneur. He or she may offer a wide range of advice to make you a more efficient business leader all around.

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.