Mobile security

Combat cybercrime: 3 actions every business should take

How your company can combat cybercrime, prevent an attack and bounce back in the event of a data security breach.

Combat cybercrime

Whether big or small, any business is vulnerable to cybercriminals and fraud. However, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may not be ready for cyber attacks, and each one of these can be disastrous. In fact, an incredible 60 per cent of small businesses fold in the six months following a cyber attack.

Although this is a scary statistic, proper procedures can help you prevent an attack or, at the very least, recover from one with minimal damage. Here are three things you can do to prepare in advance and limit the impact of cybercrime.

1. Train your staff to combat cybercrime

According to research by Kaspersky, 88 per cent of SMBs that have suffered a data breach claim that social engineering played a part. What is that? Social engineering is any form of cyber fraud that relies on using human error — such as phishing (getting you to click on a harmful link), pretexting (pretending to need sensitive data for a legitimate issue), or quid pro quo (pretending to provide a service in exchange for access to data).

Human error also comes into play in simpler ways. Employees could leave their laptops in a public place, while others might keep a Post-It with their passwords on their desk. It’s easy to become careless with safety, and these small mistakes can easily be exploited by someone with bad intentions.

The easiest way to prevent these attacks is to train your staff appropriately. Teach them to identify common scams such as phishing and to be extremely careful with sensitive data. Repeat this training regularly to prevent a sense of complacency from developing.

2. Encrypt your data

Combat cybercrime - Encrypt data

“Data encryption” is one of those technical terms that feel too complicated to understand, but it’s actually very simple. Data encryption registers your data as a code, which can only be read with an encryption key or password. It protects your data as it sits in your system and during data transfers.

Encryption is particularly important if your employees carry around laptops with sensitive business data (this can easily be stolen or lost) or if such data is often exchanged by email. You can protect your laptops and system using an encryption software — PC Mag has a useful roundup of the best ones on the market.

For email data, you need a separate email encryption software — specifically, a type called secure webmail is best for small businesses. This is because it is cost-effective and doesn’t require both the sender and recipient to be set up with encryption.

3. Be ready to react quickly

A data breach response plan will make your reaction to a data breach fast and effective. With a good plan, you can prevent loss of service and even mitigate the damage. Without it, you will be caught completely unaware, making the attack much more harmful.

Data breach response plan templates are available online, along with guides highlighting the best practice. Do your research and spend some time developing yours, and remember to revisit it as your business grows and your data protection needs become more complex.

Of course, you will need to determine exactly what happened, both to mitigate the damage and prevent it from happening again. It might be worth investing in a team digital forensic specialists, (search for reputable and certified services such as Secure Forensics), who can put a data breach response plan into action. They may also utilize private investigators to locate the people responsible for the attack.

It goes without saying you can’t bounce back from a breach without backing up your data, so a solid backup and storage strategy is also crucial. Keep full backups of everything — at least two separate online copies and a third offline one, preferably in another physical location.

Why combat cybercrime?

Cybercriminals target SMBs specifically because they expect them to be vulnerable and poorly prepared. It’s your job to prove them wrong. While you don’t have the limitless resources of a large corporation to protect yourself, you can definitely make it harder for the fraudsters and combat cybercrime from within. Taking the time to develop a concrete strategy surrounding your data protection and response to breaches could literally save your business, so make it a priority.


Up Next: Are Your Clients Safe from Hackers?

Combat cybercrime - Safe from hackers

expand your business strategy

When is a good time to expand your small business?

expand your business strategy

Expanding your business can be both an exciting prospect and a daunting challenge. An upcoming expansion may indicate your company is profitable and successful, but at the same time, it requires careful thought, planning and execution.

To say the least, it’s important to get it right. Plenty of companies see major success by building up the business, but companies may also risk financial troubles from expanding too quickly.

For example, one study found that two-thirds of the fastest growing companies ended up performing worse long-term than companies growing more slowly.

Signs you should expand

So how do you know when is the right time to expand your small business? Here are four indicators that it could be the right time.

1. Loyal customer base

If you’ve built a strong base of repeat customers, this could be a sign that it’s time to expand. Repeat customers provide recurring revenue that stabilizes your business, and strong customer loyalty demonstrates a demand for your product or service.

However, a rush of one-time customers doesn’t necessarily mean you have a loyal customer base. Rather, it could just be due to a temporary fluctuation in the market.

2. You can no longer meet demand

Do you regularly turn away new customers because the demand is higher than your current capacity? Expanding your business can make it easier for you to meet this demand. However, you’ll want to make sure this is a true result of increased demand and not just poorly run processes within your company.

3. There is growth within the industry

If your industry is gaining popularity, then you should consider expanding your business to meet the industry’s consumer growth. Spend some time researching industry trends to see if your industry is on the rise.

4. Your business is meeting and exceeding goals

Every business starts out with a plan and milestones they hope to reach. Once you start regularly meeting or exceeding these goals, it’s probably time to expand. However, you need to have the right partners and systems in place to meet these bigger goals.

If you’re ready to expand your business, you’ll likely need to consider how much working capital you have at your disposal to keep up with the growth. Make a cash flow budget that factors in your potential growth, and ensure you’ll have the right financing in place. Now could be the perfect time to discuss options with your funding partner to get your growth strategy in place.

Working desk illustration

7 tácticas financieras comprobadas que todo director de finanzas debe conocer

tácticas financieras comprobadas

El CCE es su «ciclo de conversión de efectivo» y le informa cuantos días se tarda su compañía en transformar sus compras de inventario en efectivo. Cuanto más corto sea el CCE, más flexible será su capital circulante, lo cual es el sueño de todo empresario y director de finanzas.

Con un CCE más corto, usted podrá pagar sus cuentas, pagar nómina, aprovechar descuentos de los proveedores, pedir nuevos productos o inventario y ejecutar su estrategia de expansión con mayor facilidad.

Pero para reducir dicho ciclo, usted necesita encontrar una manera de ajustar tres variables fundamentales:

  1. PCI: Período de conversión de inventario.
    • Número promedio de días en los que convierte su inventario en ventas.
  2. PCP: Período en el que se difieren las cuentas por pagar.
    • Número de días que se tarda en saldar sus cuentas por pagar.
  3. PCC: Período de cobro de las cuentas por cobrar.
    • Número de días que se tarda en recibir los pagos una vez que hace sus ventas.

¿Desea conocer más detalles sobre el CCE, incluyendo el PCI, el PCP y el PCC? Lea la primera parte ahora. 

Para reducir su CCE, sus opciones son:

1. Mejorar los períodos de ventas

tácticas financieras comprobadas

Si su equipo de ventas puede agilizar las ventas, usted reducirá su PCI, es decir el tiempo que se tarda en convertir su inventario en ventas. Vender más rápido es el objetivo de toda empresa, pero a menudo es más fácil decirlo que hacerlo.

2. Mejorar las relaciones con los proveedores

Del mismo modo, el hecho de mejorar su cadena de abastecimiento puede traducirse en eficiencias en su PCI. Entablando buenas relaciones con los proveedores, usted puede aprovechar la práctica del inventario instantáneo, mediante el cual sus productos llegan solamente cuando se necesiten. Para algunas industrias, como en el caso de la fabricación y de los productos perecederos, puede que esta ya sea una opción, pero se está haciendo cada vez más popular también en el caso de las ventas minoristas con el aumento de los envíos directos (o drop shipping), en donde las empresas nunca manejan su propio inventario, sino que cuando el pedido del cliente llega, se compra el inventario de un tercero, quien envía los productos directamente al cliente final en su nombre.

3. Elaborar mejores procesos de crédito y cobros

Sin lugar a duda, un departamento de cobros eficiente mejorará su capacidad de recibir a tiempo los pagos de las facturas enviadas a sus clientes. Los cobros eficaces pueden ayudar a crear un PCC fiable y estable. Sin embargo, para esto se requiere un personal formado, probablemente más horas de personal (lo cual se traduce en costos de nómina) y tiempo de administración para asegurarse de que la gestión del proceso sea eficiente.

4. Pedir la prolongación de los plazos de pago

cash flow tactics - extended payment terms

Al prolongar el plazo para sus cuentas por pagar, usted aumenta su PCP y ayuda a contrarrestar los otros dos factores de su CCE. Pero si prolonga demasiado dichos plazos, esto podría afectar de manera negativa su relación con los proveedores; además, al incumplir los plazos, usted se arriesga a convertirse en la cuenta morosa que está tratando de evitar en sus propias cuentas por cobrar.

5. Reducir sus plazos de pago de 30/60/90 días

Afortunadamente, usted tiene el control de los plazos de sus cuentas por cobrar y puede reducirlos para recibir los pagos más temprano. Al reducir sus plazos, usted aminora su PCC y acelera su ciclo de conversión de efectivo.

Desafortunadamente, muchos clientes piden plazos más largos y esperan que se les concedan. En algunas industrias, se respetan ciertos lapsos de tiempo para efectuar los pagos, lo cual puede que no corresponda a las necesidades de su flujo de caja. Y otros clientes permanecerán en mora sin importar los plazos que se hayan acordado. Usted corre entonces el riesgo de perder ventas frente a la competencia que ofrece mejores plazos.

6. Pagar a tiempo para obtener descuentos

Generalmente, esto no resulta muy efectivo para reducir su PCC y algunos clientes obtienen el descuento así paguen según el calendario normal. En suma, esto puede traducirse en ingresos más bajos de lo esperado, así que esta no es una opción que podamos calificar de rentable.

7. Obtener financiamiento inteligente y estratégico

Ser estratégico en su facturación y en sus cobros es una de las formas más accesibles de mejorar su ciclo de conversión de efectivo; además, usted puede utilizar soluciones de financiamiento para reducir de manera significativa su PCC. De hecho, en lugar de tener un PCC de 30/60/90 o más días, usted puede tener un PCC de un día.

A continuación: Aprenda a calcular su ciclo de conversión de efectivo con esta fórmula básica.

Working desk illustration

7 proven cash flow tactics every CFO needs to know

cash flow tactics for CFO

The CCC is your “cash conversion cycle” (or simply referred to as the «cash cycle») and it tells you how many days it takes for your company to turn your inventory purchases into cash. The shorter the CCC, the more flexible your working capital, and that is every business owner and CFO’s dream.

With a shorter CCC, you’ll be able to pay bills, make payroll, take advantage of supplier discounts, order new product or inventory, and execute on your growth strategy with much more ease.

But to shorten the cash cycle, you need to first find a way of adjusting these three key variables:

  1. DIO: Days Inventory Outstanding.
    • The average # days you turn inventory into sales.
  2. DPO: Days Payable Outstanding
    • The # of days it takes to pay your accounts payable.
  3. DSO: Days Sales Outstanding
    • The # of days it will take to collect on sales after they’ve been made.

Want more details on CCC including DIO, DPO and DSO? Read part 1 now.

To positively impact the three variables and shorten your CCC, you have multiple options:

1. Improve sales times

cash flow tactics - Increase sales

If your sales team can speed up the time to make deals, you’ll be shortening your DIO – the time it takes to turn your inventory into sales. Sell faster – it’s every company’s goal, but often easier said than done.

2. Enhance supplier relationships

Likewise, improving your supply chain can create efficiencies in your DIO. By developing good relationships with suppliers you can take advantage of just-in-time inventory practices, where your goods arrive only as needed. This may already be a common option for some industries, like manufacturing and perishables, but it is also becoming more popular in retail with the rise in drop shipping, where companies never handle their own inventory – instead, when your customer orders arrive you’ll purchase the inventory from a third party who ships directly to the end customer on your behalf.

3. Better credit and collection process

There’s no doubt that an effective collections department will improve your ability to collect customer invoices on time. Effective collections can help create a more stable and reliable DSO. However, this requires staff training, likely more personnel hours (translating into payroll costs) and leadership’s time to make sure this process is effectively managed.

4. Ask for extended payment terms

cash flow tactics - extended payment terms

Extending your accounts payable will increase your DPO, and help offset the other two factors of your CCC. But this could negatively impact your relationships with suppliers if you extend too much, and breaching the terms could put you at risk of becoming the delinquent account you’re trying to avoid in your own A/R.

5. Reduce your 30/60/90 day payment terms

Fortunately, you’re in control of your accounts receivable terms and can shorten them to receive payment earlier. By reducing your terms, you lower your DSO and speed up your cash cycle.

Unfortunately, many customers request and expect longer terms. Some industries abide by certain time frames to pay, which may not match up with your cash flow needs. And other customers will be delinquent on payment no matter what terms you agree upon. You may risk losing sales to competitors offering better terms.

6. Early pay discounts

These are generally not very effective at reducing your DSO and some customers take the discount even when they pay on normal schedules. Overall, this can lead to lower revenue than expected, which doesn’t amount to a cheap option.

7. Smart & strategic financing

Being strategic with your billing and collections is one of the most accessible ways to improve your cash cycle, and you can use commercial finance solutions to dramatically shorten your DSO. In fact, instead of having a DSO of 30/60/90 or more days, you can have a DSO of one day.

Up Next: Learn how to calculate your cash cycle with this key formula.

cash cycle

How to differentiate your B2B company

Tips to set your B2B company apart from the rest

How to differentiate your B2B company…

How to differentiate your B2B company

As a competitor in the business-to-business (B2B) world, you already have a leg up from your typical consumer-based business. B2B entrepreneurs provide products, services and solutions that keep other businesses afloat — and that puts you in an extremely valuable role. So how do you make sure you become a preferred vendor and set yourself about from the competition?

As Business News Daily describes it, “B2B companies are supportive enterprises that offer the things other businesses need to operate and grow.” You are an essential piece of the puzzle, but your industry is likely packed with copycats and similar organizations.

Here are a few ways to differentiate yourself from to convince more prospective clients that you are the right partner for their business:

Conduct a competitive analysis

Research your competitor’s strategies, strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own. Then identify your gaps and clearly outline ways to improve. One great resource for this research is social media. Browse through competitor social networks and make a list of the keywords they use, hashtags, top followers, amount of activity and quality of engagement they receive from the same type of audience as your own.

Tools that may help you in this research stage include Hootsuite, Brandwatch, and Unmetric. And one you’re likely already quite familiar with is LinkedIn, which you can use in sleuthy ways to uncover clues and solve the mysteries of how your competition engages with their customers and prospects.

Create a top-notch website

In B2B sales, your website isn’t the only way you generate traffic, interest and revenue, but it is often the starting point and launching pad. There are several website must-haves to keep in mind. For one, determine the purpose of your website, such as generating leads and downloads or educating clients about your services.

Next, be sure your website messaging reflects that main goal. Provide meaningful (and relevant) content, follow along with an editorial calendar to stay active, and provide a consistent design. To do this effectively, find talent who can help you assemble a website that suits your business’ many needs, whether it’s someone to help streamline your site for mobile devices or a graphic designer to establish your brand with logos and graphics.

Improve your customer experience

How to differentiate your B2B company

Customer experience in B2B can often mean dealing with many people in one company, from front-line staff right up to the CEO. And put simply: The B2B buyers often hold the power.

Forbes contributor Blake Morgan explains that “the space is getting more competitive, so if a customer isn’t happy with the service they are receiving, they can take their business elsewhere.” Your ultimate goal is to get the customer to choose to do business with you. Take time to understand your target market as well as their own needs and goals so that you can create a personalized experience.

More and more B2B businesses are turning to technology as well to meet customer needs, such as help desk software, live chat and CRM software. These tools help resolve customer issues faster, provide a constant source of contact, and show your commitment to helping the customer meet or even exceed their goals.

Improve your public relations

Landing a sale isn’t as simple as making a single phone call. You have to go through various touchpoints and business contacts before a buying decision is made. In fact, most prospective businesses have entire teams of employees whose input ultimately goes into the final buying decision, so you could have an uphill battle.

A good way to reach such a large group is with public relations. You can accomplish this by being featured in a media venue that your target customers will see. Contact the managing editor and give them your best pitch.

Other ways to get your name and expertise out there are even simpler. As a starting point, it’s good to post regular blog articles formatted for SEO, publish press releases on your website, or even offering your insight on a new trend, product or service via a comment or post on industry websites, forums and LinkedIn groups.

Setting yourself up as a strong competitor is important if you want your business to succeed. While the B2B sector is unique, differentiating your business is achievable. It will take some hard work and dedication, but with patience and diligence, you’ll get your business where you want it to be.

Recent Fundings – July 2019