Don't Make These 4 Common Small Business Mistakes

Owning and operating a small business is a lot of work.

Often headed by just one person or a small handful of people, there are a million and one things a small business owner has to keep in mind in order to keep their business running.

small business tips

small business tips

And that’s exactly why the mistakes listed below are so common. But they don’t have to be. Take a look, know what to expect, and be prepared so you don’t get caught in these common traps:

1) You Try To Do It All

It’s not uncommon in small business to tackle anything and everything yourself. In many ways, it’s an essential part of being a small business owner. However, you can take it too far and get in over your head, be overwhelmed with work, or try and do something beyond your capabilities – and all that can add up to trouble.

Solution: Don’t be afraid to outsource essential work that is beyond you or your team. If you’re not a good bookkeeper, for instance, hire someone to do it for you. It’s an expense that could actually SAVE you money in the long term.

2) No Written Goals, No Written Plan, No Clear Direction

This is an incredibly common mistake. Someone starts a business with good intentions – they have a particular skill that is marketable or they see a niche to be filled – and from there they just wing it.

Huge mistake. You can get by for a little while on luck or momentum, but in the long term it’s vital to have clear goals and a clear plan to get there.

Solution: Create a written mission statement, put a set of one-year, three-year, five-year, and ten-year goals in writing, and create a written plan to achieve those goals. You’ll be amazed at how that can refocus and improve your business.

3) You Don’t Have A Website

It’s all too common for small local businesses to think they don’t need to be online because they are a local business serving the local community.

They just assume the locals will find them. Big mistake! These days, nearly 97% of consumers search for goods and services online, and half those searches are for things local to them. Being online is essential to being found by new customers and clients.

Solution: This one is pretty obvious. Get a website! And while you’re at it, get yourself on social media, too. It’s essential to being seen.

4) You Haven’t Embraced Technology

Small business owners usually operate on pretty tight budgets.

We understand that. Because of this, small business owners are often reluctant to invest in technologies that could make them more efficient and profitable in the long run – and while saving money in the short term is nice, in the long term that is a mistake.

Cloud storage, document scanning, digital storage, mobile devices, and other tech can give you a major leg up on your competitors.

Solution: Don’t be scared to invest in your future! The businesses that do best recognize that they have to look further ahead than next week if they want to succeed. You should, too.

Running a small business can be tough, but by avoiding these common mistakes you can make life a lot easier for yourself, and as an added bonus get an advantage on your competition. Good luck!

5 Important Reasons Your Office Should Be Shredding Documents

If you are doing business in the modern world, you have more rules, more regulations, more laws, and more taxes to worry about than businesses of yesteryear – basically more of everything. And that means more paperwork.

All that paperwork may assist you in tracking information, managing your accounting, keeping your staff paid and ensuring the money keeps rolling in, but it comes at a cost: security.

All the paperwork you deal with contains vital information that can be used to do damage to you, your business, your employees and your customers.

That’s why document shredding is so important for 21st Century business owners. It allows you to make sure all that sensitive information does not get into the wrong hands.

So with that in mind, here are the top 5 reasons why document shredding is something you need to take seriously:

5) For Security

Like any other business, you have client lists, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, employee names and social security numbers, internal memos, pay stubs and tax records, and more on file.

This is vital information to running your business, but in the hands of information thieves all that data can be used for nefarious purposes.

From competitors stealing your secrets to thieves stealing your identity, security is a key reason to ensure you are shredding paperwork no longer in use.

4) Going Green

One advantage of document shredding done is that it’s green. Shredding your business documents makes sure paper you would be unnecessarily saving is recycled, and that helps reduce demand for new paper.

Rather than tossing out that paper, the documents get recycled into dozens of new products, including more paper.

3) HIPAA Requirements

If you work in the medical field, you know about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Passed by Congress in 1996, this important law covers patient privacy and confidentiality, including what you can and can’t do with patient documents.

In many cases, HIPAA requires that these documents be stored securely or disposed of, which is where document shredding services and document scanning can be helpful. 

2) It Clears The Clutter

Running a business means long hours, but it doesn’t have to mean a lot of paper. A good document shredding service can help you keep your office clear of unnecessary documents. And that’s good, because it’s far too easy to let them stack up and take over. Shred them to reclaim that space.

1) It’s The Law

Doesn’t get any more direct than this, does it? In some instances, the proper and secure disposal of certain documents is the law. If the other entries on this list don’t convince you, this one should. Shredding documents may be your obligation as a business owner!

6 Types of Documents and Files You Should Be Storing in the Cloud

A case can be made that there is no more powerful an online tool for business than “the cloud,” a term for online storage services that allow you to access your scanned documents from the Web.

cloud staorage

cloud staorage

After all, when cloud services allow you to virtually expand your office to reach anywhere a laptop or mobile phone can go, that is nothing short of a game changer that brings the paperless office closer to reality.

Consider how much you would benefit from having these six types of scanned documents stored in the cloud:

1) Business Correspondence

Letters and emails that go back and forth between you and clients, correspondence that outlines key dates and milestones in a business relationship, and other business correspondence is ideal for cloud storage.

This ensures this data is not only safely backed up, but it allows you to easily share it with relevant parties. These documents will even be accessible no matter where you are, making it easy to reference them from anywhere.

2) Multi-User Documents

If you’re collaborating on a document with others in your company, cloud storage is the way to go. At one time, such documents would be traded back and forth by email.

This was not only cumbersome and inefficient, it was also a recipe for disaster, with it being far too easy to accidentally access an older version of a file. When everyone is working from the same document, such disasters can be averted.

3) Calendars & Schedules

Giving your staff or partners easy access to calendars and scheduling documents keeps everyone on the same page and ensures everyone is working from the same game plan. It should go without saying why that is a major boon for your business.

4) Site Photos

For contractors, real estate agents, and others, the ability to make photos of job sites or real estate locations easily available via the cloud can make life far easier.

They can also be shared so that sales staff can use them as examples for potential clients, other work crews can use them as reference, and so on.

 

5) Price Lists

An invaluable resource for a wide variety of reasons, cloud-based storage of company price lists allow staff to have this vital data available at all times.

No more calling back to the office to check on their numbers, accidentally giving clients the wrong information, and so on. The latest can be shared with everyone who needs it.

6) Password Manager Files

If you use a password manager program, you can consider backing up the program’s database to the cloud – provided it’s fully encrypted, of course.

That way you’ll be able to access the web services you use no matter where you are without having to remember the password. It also serves as a valuable backup.

What are YOU sharing or storing in the cloud that has changed the way you do business? 

10 Types of Documents You Should Be Archiving and Shredding

Smart business owners know their paperwork is more than just a stack of documents. All that paperwork contains the information that allows their business to function – and that means those documents need to be protected.

document protection

document protection

Think about it: you work with confidential information every single day, from credit card numbers to Social Security numbers, checks, pay stubs, private contact information, and more.

Paperwork containing this information needs to be disposed of properly. This is not just for the protection of you and your clients, but often because it’s the law, depending on your type of business.

Protecting this valuable information begins with two things: shredding sensitive documents and ensuring those documents are scanned and securely backed up.

So what documents should you be shredding and backing up? Here is a list of key paperwork you should be shredding and, in some circumstance, scanning:

1. Employee information and personnel files – Your employees will appreciate that you are looking after their privacy.

2. Social security numbers – Anything with a social security number on it can expose people to identity theft, so be wary of documents containing this information.

3. Medical Records – This one is huge, because HIPAA regulations are stringent when it comes to protecting medical information. Violations can result in fines and even the loss of a medical practice license.

4. Canceled Checks – Using cancelled checks to create “new” checks, and in turn bleed an account dry, is an old practice used by savvy thieves. A move towards paperless business operations can help prevent this.

5. Receipts & Invoices – They may seem like insignificant scraps of paper, but in fact they can be used to find out your internal spending, your overhead, data about your business partners, and more. This is sensitive information, so be sure to have this material backed up and shredded.

6. Client Lists – A list of information this sensitive is not something you want to get into the hands of competitors.

7. Credit card numbers – If you have documents with credit card numbers on them, they should be shredded. A common form of theft is to go through a business’s garbage and look for such numbers. Shred them!

8. Bank account numbers – Do yourself a favor and have all your banking documents stored in a secure, encrypted digital environment.

9. Memos & Internal letters – Memos may not seem like much, but they can provide your competitors with information on how you run your business. There may also be information in such documents that could cause privacy concerns or expose you to legal trouble. Have them shredded!

10. Pay stubs – Pay stubs contain sensitive information about your employees. Be sure to properly dispose of them so identity thieves cannot get their hands on them.

11. Tax records – No matter the type of tax documents, don’t let this data get into the wrong hands. This is especially true of W2 and 1099 forms.

No matter the kind of business you run, security is important. In today’s world, criminals have any number of ways of making life more difficult for you, your employees, and your business partners.

But if you’re smart, you can prevent it. It all begins with digital archiving and document shredding.