Protecting Your Privacy Online

Protecting Your Privacy Online

In today’s modern world, the internet has become an essential component of our daily life. We are constantly connected to the internet, from social media to online shopping. However, this connectivity comes with a risk to our privacy. We leave digital footprints everywhere we go, so it’s critical to take precautions to safeguard our personal information online.

Protecting Yourself from Data Breaches and Cybercrime

When it comes to online privacy, data breaches are a huge concern. A data breach occurs when a hacker gains unauthorized access to sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial information. When a company or website suffers a data breach, it puts its users’ personal information at risk. As a result, identity theft, fraud, and other forms of cybercrime may occur. To protect yourself from data breaches, use strong passwords, avoid sharing personal information on public networks, and keep an eye on your accounts for unusual activity.

Be cautious when sharing your information with third-party apps or websites, as they may lack the same security measures as the sites you trust. If you suspect that your information has been compromised in a data breach, you should change your passwords immediately and monitor your accounts for any unauthorized activity.

Staying Safe on Social Media Platforms like Facebook

One of the most common ways for people to compromise their privacy online is through social media platforms. Facebook, in particular, has become a hot spot for exchanging personal information, and not all of it is secure. For example, you have probably seen posts that say, “Copy and paste this into your feed, and then you’ll see all your friends again… it really works!” These posts are frequently scams intended to dupe people into disclosing personal information or installing malware on their computers. Just ignore those posts and keep scrolling!

One of the best ways to protect your privacy on social media is to be cautious about what you share and where you’re sharing. Consider whether a hacker could use your responses to an online post or quiz to guess your security questions. For example, an online quiz that asks you to list your favorite movie could possibly reveal the answer to a common security question like, “What is your favorite movie?” Be extra vigilant of quizzes that ask for personal information such as your birthdate or location.

Misleading posts on social media can also compromise your privacy. Because the owner of a post can modify it after it has been shared, you may unintentionally contribute to advertising (or worse!) that you do not support. For example, a seemingly innocent post about a missing pet or a fantastic job opportunity could be edited to include spam or links to malicious websites. To avoid this, steer clear of posts that appear too good to be true, and never share anything without first verifying the source.

How Password Managers and 2FA Can Keep Your Accounts Safe

You can also protect your online privacy by using technological safeguards. One of the simplest and most effective methods is to use strong, unique passwords for each online account. Password Manager apps such as LastPass or BitWarden are lifesavers because they securely store all your passwords in one place and generate new, secure passwords.

One of the many benefits of using different passwords for your accounts is that hackers will have a more difficult time gaining access to all of your personal information, even if only one account is compromised. Another safeguard involves enabling two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA requires a second form of identification, such as a code sent to your phone or obtained through an app such as Google Authenticator. Implementing 2FA makes it easier for people and businesses to protect their sensitive data, which is crucial.

Over to you!

Whether you own a business or are a frequent social media user (or both!), protecting your privacy online is critical in today’s climate. When using social media, be sure to create and use strong passwords, get into the habit of using two-factor authentication, and be wary of misleading posts. By following these simple steps, you can keep your business and personal information safe while still enjoying the benefits of the internet without the risks.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Marketing Myths and Why You Need to Nurture Your Relationships

Marketing Myths and Why You Need to Nurture Your Relationships

Why is marketing important? A primary benefit of marketing for your company is that it engages customers (current and potential) and helps them decide whether to purchase your goods or services. Without marketing, your potential customers may never know about your business.

Even though marketing is crucial, business owners frequently slash it first when recessionary worries are pervasive. You might be surprised to learn that reducing your marketing spending during a downturn is one of the worst things you can do for the long-term success of your company. You are putting your company at risk of losing market share, even if it might initially seem like the appropriate decision.

Let’s dispel a few of the most widespread myths about marketing.

#1. I don’t need to do any marketing because I’m so busy and have plenty of clients already.
This is a myth because marketing must be consistent, and the pendulum can swing the other way at any time. For example, if your primary marketing strategy involves billboards, don’t suddenly disappear! Consider your current strategy – are you mostly online or in printed marketing material? If you are investing in a good social media program, remember that social media is all about connecting and staying connected. This is a social marketing strategy and effective to keep and grow relationships.

Think of it this way. You’re too preoccupied to socialize right now. But what about in 6-12 months when you aren’t as busy? Without nurturing and connecting, your relationships will have faded, and you’ll be scrambling to re-establish yourself in the minds of your customers, spending a lot of time (and money) trying to reconnect.

#2. I need to save money, and marketing is an unnecessary expense.
Marketing is more than just an expense. It is a primary source of revenue for most successful companies. One of your company’s objectives is to generate a certain amount of revenue.

During a recession, it is more important than ever to remember that loyal customers are the most reliable and long-term source of cash flow and organic growth. Marketing is not an option; it is a priceless “expense” that is a must for helping to continue generating revenue.

If you spend your marketing dollars wisely and consistently, you will always be the first business that comes to mind when a customer needs your products or services. If you reduce your marketing, someone else’s business will be the first to come to mind. When something is out of sight, it is out of mind.

#3. I have my own website. Someone will find me if they want to.
Ask yourself these questions: How will people find you if you only have a URL and a website? How do you get people to visit your website? SEO alone will not result in a sale. You must have an online presence in more than one location – the internet is a traffic jam.

As we mentioned in a previous blog post, social media provides a ton of opportunity for engagement, allowing you to rapidly react to and reply to customer comments and queries, as well as urge followers to visit your website for more information. Using social media to enhance the human aspect of your business generates an emotional connection, which builds relationships and nurtures trust and loyalty.

#4. For referrals, I only need word of mouth.
Without a doubt, word-of-mouth marketing has numerous benefits. When satisfied customers enthusiastically recommend your company to their friends and family, it helps grow your business.

It’s crucial to keep in mind, however, that many people in today’s culture conduct their own research before even contacting a service provider or making a purchase! Marketing plays a significant role in increasing customer satisfaction as well as boosting awareness and loyalty for your company.

It is beneficial to align good customer service with your marketing efforts to achieve your company’s long-term objectives. Excellent customer service may encourage someone to leave an online review and getting more positive reviews increases a company’s credibility. Remember, much of today’s “word-of-mouth” happens online!

Social media marketing is invaluable for boosting your business’s reputation as well. Simply listening and responding to posts about your company on social media can help you improve customer satisfaction. Businesses that communicate with their customers can increase customer loyalty.

#5. I can handle it myself.
You realize the necessity and value of marketing. However, most people believe that social media is as simple as creating an eye-catching post. Be warned: this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Customers may stop following your social media profiles if you don’t create engaging and unique content. A good mix of blog posts, videos, GIFs, customized graphics, and curated content (content from reliable sources that you want to share) will keep your content fresh and engaging. Your content should be closely related to your overall marketing goal.

Many businesses struggle to create engaging content that reaches their target audience consistently. To promote your products or services, build a community within your target audience, and drive traffic to your website, it takes time and patience to thoroughly research and then create or curate content for social media platforms. An effective social media marketing plan should involve strategic planning, proofreading, and editing before any content goes out on your social media platforms. Choosing which platforms to publish on should also be researched.

We can help you develop and execute a social media plan that works for your business. For more information or contact us online. We’d be happy to email you our guide to planning your social media strategy.

Over to you

A recession can be worrisome, especially for small businesses. However, it can also provide a unique opportunity for them to focus more than ever on their marketing strategy and gain a competitive advantage. Those companies that continue to market themselves during a recession will remain at the top of the minds of their customers. When customers require immediate assistance, they’ll know where to go.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

When is it Time to Fire Your Client?

When is it Time to Fire Your Client?

“Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” – Neil Sedaka

As small business owners that provide services, it’s safe to say that clients are critical to our livelihood. We invest money in marketing, assess pricing to incorporate overhead, contingencies, labour, professional services, and taxes, and join networking groups to meet possible clients.

It’s always exciting to start a relationship with a new client. Relationships, like everything else in life, have expectations. No matter how clearly defined the policies, procedures, and contracts may be, those of us who provide services to others are frequently met with unrealistic expectations, demands, a lack of boundaries from clients who expect service 24/7, and an attitude that because they are paying for a service, they should be “the boss” of the business relationship.

As business service providers, we strive for collaborative relationships in which we partner with our clients and their team members to ensure that we are all heading in the same direction. Of course, we want each of our clients to be successful! But because we are all human, there are instances when a relationship fails to succeed in the way we had hoped for, and a breakup is unavoidable. But breaking up is hard to do, Mr. Sedaka. We agree.

It’s inevitable – as a business owner – for you to encounter clients who are more trouble than they are worth.

We all have had experience with a difficult client or two. They are the ones who constantly question the work you perform for them, instigate conflicts with you or your team, put pressure on you to complete unrealistic tasks, and refuse or forget to give you the information you require. When the relationship becomes tumultuous, they may discredit your work, blame you, and even refuse to pay in some situations.

When a customer becomes more of a headache than a financial benefit, it’s time to make the difficult decision to end the business relationship. The following are five indicators that it might be time to fire a client. If you notice three of them, it’s time to take Ray Charles’ advice to “Hit the Road Jack” to heart.

#1. The client’s behaviour is unprofessional.

Actions such as using foul language, spreading rumours or gossip about colleagues (yours or theirs), sharing private and confidential emails, and disregarding your boundaries (which may lead to an insulting invasion of your personal time!) is a huge red flag. Perhaps they routinely reach out to you through your personal social media profiles with inappropriate messages. This could lead to additional stress that seeps into family relationships or negatively influences people within your circle. In this situation, there is reason to be concerned about slander and defamation of character; however, lean in to your own reputation that you have already built with integrity and put an end to unacceptable conditions.

#2. When a client’s poor behaviour and unreasonable demands divert your attention away from your company’s goals and timetable, you may find yourself neglecting your good clients and staff.

The difficult client who constantly contacts you about their newest drama or overreacts to trivial concerns can easily steal too much of your time. This is especially true when they anticipate a quick response or your opinion, thus dragging you into their chaos. Remember that your company will be more successful in the long run if you nurture your relationships with your fantastic clientele and show thanks to your excellent staff and team members more frequently.

#3. Money, money, money. 

When a client refuses to pay an invoice for work completed and time spent, or when they decide to use it as a tool or form of leverage against something that has already occurred, it’s probably time to consider terminating them. You may choose to work harder to win their favour, beg them for payment, or suspend your services before taking the last resort of a collection agency. Neither action ensures that you will get paid, though. In the meantime, your cash flow is affected and trust within your business relationship has been broken. Perhaps the client consistently requires multiple reminders before they pay. This is also a time-wasting activity that contributes to the same negative results.

#4. The blame is getting out of control.

It is time to move on when the blame is always pointed at the service provider, and the client refuses to accept responsibility for misunderstandings, mishaps, or dropped balls within their team.

You may worry about the impending reality of lost revenue. It can be scary to say goodbye and part ways since there is a financial impact and the other person might turn hostile and spout vitriol in retaliation. A character assassination effort might be made. If you think about it, though, what is the actual price? Your tension, effort, and attention may be more expensive than you realize. When the time comes, sending a well-written letter or email of termination is the best way to go about it.

#5. Simply put, you catch yourself complaining about the client.

When is the right time?

  • When you feel unhappy.
  • When you don’t want to talk to them.
  • When you procrastinate doing their work because you don’t want to spark interaction.
  • When you see their email come into your inbox and you don’t want to read it.

When you reach this stage, it’s time to let them go.

Release the albatross! Think about the time you’ll get back and have available for clients who will interact professionally with you and value and respect your work.

Over to you

When you fire a problematic client, you have done the right thing for yourself and your business… no regrets! After the dust has settled, it’s a good idea to reflect on what went wrong while you were working with this client and consider what you can change to prevent it from happening again.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Why Nonverbal Communication Matters in Today’s Digital World

Why Nonverbal Communication Matters in Today’s Digital World

Nonverbal communication is “the act of conveying information without the use of words.” It’s safe to say that nonverbal communication accounts for a large amount of our total communication. According to some researchers, the amount of nonverbal communication is four times that of verbal communication, with 80% of what we communicate through using our actions and gestures versus just 20% being conveyed with the use of words. (Source: Verywell Mind). In other words (no pun intended!), we can say a lot without saying anything out loud.

Our body language and other nonverbal clues convey a wealth of information to people in our daily lives. These signals reveal important information about our moods, thoughts, and emotions. And now that many of our professional interactions take place in “virtual” conference rooms, our nonverbal cues frequently speak louder than our words more than ever. You may not have even realized that your messages were largely transmitted through nonverbal clues before most communication migrated online. As video chats become the norm, you must make a concerted effort to consider the message you are delivering with your on-screen body language and presence.

Unfortunately, many people approach their virtual conferences far too informally, behaving in ways they would never do in person. Eating during a virtual call may be perceived as unprofessional and unpleasant, especially if you are not muted. And what are you saying if you keep turning off your camera? It could make people wonder what you’re doing that you suddenly don’t want us to see. Either way, it’s quite distracting! And if you don’t turn the camera on in the first place, it might seem like you just rolled out of bed and look terrible. That seems disrespectful, and we would never get away with being disheveled in a face-to-face meeting.

Here are some ways to help you develop trust and enhance engagement in the digital world.

#1. Maintain steady eye contact.

Align your gaze to the same horizontal level as your camera. If necessary, place a book underneath your laptop. Looking into the camera is the same as making direct eye contact. Since eye motions can be easily noticed, avoid looking down, away, or reading other items on the screen.

#2. Sit back from the camera so that all your gestures are visible.

Few people want to engage with a “talking head.” Check to see if your top torso is in the center and if your hands frequently extend beyond the screen. If they do, move the camera back even more.

#3. Remember to smile and nod when appropriate.

On-screen, it’s much more difficult to convey focused attention, so reinforce a positive presence and that you’re listening by smiling and nodding, just like you would in person.

#4. Sit up straight while leaning your head slightly toward the camera.

Avoid slouching in your chair since it makes you appear lazy or bored. When people meet in person, they may lean in to show interest in the speaker. The position you take at a virtual meeting is an excellent method to demonstrate a similar level of enthusiasm.

#5. Keep your hands away from your face and hair.

It’s downright distracting to watch as someone constantly touches their face or flips their hair, whether in person or a virtual meeting. There is also a widespread belief that people who touch their faces when responding to questions are dishonest. While this may not always be the case, it is better to refrain from playing with your hair or touching your lips or nose while on camera.

#6. Mirror the other speakers’ nonverbal cues.

To connect and comprehend one another, we instinctively use the powerful skill of mirroring. Mirroring the other speaker’s posture, gestures, and even the tone of their voice allows us to connect with them, even on virtual calls.

#7. Keep your background simple and quiet.

A sloppy background can give the impression that you are disorganized or uncaring. Some people use virtual backgrounds, but they can make a meeting feel even more “cyber.” Instead, the on-screen experience will feel more authentic if you participate in a tidy space at home and preferably one that does not display your bed. And finally, choosing a distraction-free space without outside noise, children, or pets will also help make the meeting run more smoothly.

#8. Prepare for potential interruptions.

When you’re working from home, occasional disruptions are inevitable. Other interruptions might include someone knocking, ringing the doorbell, or receiving a phone call. When you’re not speaking, one solution is to put yourself on mute. If an interruption is due to a child or pet, it’s also acceptable to politely excuse yourself when necessary because most people appreciate the needs of young children or pets. Be as professional as possible if you must leave the meeting unexpectedly.

Over to you

Remember that the adage “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” applies just as much in the digital world as in the real world. Now that you understand you need more than just your words to effectively convey a message, remember these simple ways to improve your nonverbal communication skills and enhance your next virtual meeting.

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Do You Feel Appreciated?

Do You Feel Appreciated?

Despite the fact that they’re paid in another way, everybody has to really feel appreciated.” – Roger Staubach

In today’s workplace, many employees have one main requirement that’s higher on their lists than compensation; they want to be appreciated. They would like appreciation from their managers, supervisors, business owners, and perhaps even their customers.

What does it mean to feel appreciated at work?

It can be lonely at the top, and owners and management can occasionally feel worn out, fatigued, and overwhelmed. They also crave appreciation! It may be tough to show appreciation to others on your team if you do not feel respected as an owner, CEO, or manager. You want your employees to recognize the sacrifices you make to manage the business as you provide them with job security and flexible lifestyle options. At the same time, you hope your customers recognize and appreciate the excellent customer service they receive. It’s a vicious cycle.

In not-for-profit organizations for example, the front-line staff, especially the Executive Director, desire recognition. But the volunteer board members, who regularly put in excruciating hours, want the staff to recognize THEM. Sometimes, both sides end up feeling disregarded and misunderstood. What is supposed to be a win-win situation may end up being everything but.

Why is it important to make your people feel valued?

There may not be a one-size-fits-all strategy for ensuring that everyone (including the “boss”) feels valued; however, there are many benefits to feeling appreciated. Here are a few of them:

  • Feeling appreciated at work can help enhance productivity.
  • If you receive praise for your efforts, you will likely feel more productive in your position and be able to do more.
  • You will cultivate a sense of belonging, which boosts your mood as well as the morale of your company.
  • Feeling appreciated will help motivate you to achieve your own goals while boosting your confidence and that of your employees and customers.

How can managers help their staff feel appreciated?

Several years ago, Karen, the CEO of Mind Your Own Business, was on a “recognition team” at a previous job. As a gesture of gratitude to the workers, this team decided to bring donuts to work every Friday. She was surprised by the overwhelming number of folks who were offended because they were on a diet or couldn’t eat a donut for some other reason and felt excluded from the “appreciation.” Next, they tried including more people by ordering pizza for lunch. Once again, there was pushback; not everyone ate pizza, or they didn’t like the toppings, hated cheese, were lactose intolerant, or had scheduled that Friday off as a vacation day and missed “being appreciated.” It’s impossible to please everyone all the time. They eventually gave up, and the whole recognition team approach fizzled.

So, how can you make sure that your staff members feel valued and heard? Leaders and managers are both accountable for this. Giving employees meaningful experiences is a terrific place to start. Here are some ideas to consider:

#1. Create and manage a recognition program that is open to all staff.
Recognize your staff’s accomplishments and hard work to ensure they feel appreciated for their efforts. Begin by asking your people what kind of recognition they most want.

#2. Celebrate work achievements.
Celebrating professional development and career accomplishments is key. A new opportunity or achievement, such as a promotion or new skill development, or recognizing weekly wins, such as finishing a challenging project or getting a new client, are just a few of the many reasons to celebrate! These events will energize and motivate your people.

#3. Provide opportunities for learning, development, and growth.
Encourage your staff to stay and thrive inside your company. Allow them to learn new things and build new talents that will help them advance.

#4. Set aside time for your team.
Spending time with your people will help you build trust and connections with them. Seek to understand their ambitions and what they want to achieve in their jobs by getting to know them on a personal level. This will help them feel heard and respected as individuals.

#5. Show your appreciation by hosting company events.
Events are a great opportunity to show your people how much you appreciate them. Company events also allow staff to network, strengthen relationships, be recognized, and recognize others. Consider giving your team company swag as an additional way to show your appreciation.

#6. Keep a finger on the pulse of your organization.
Asking for feedback from your staff is a fantastic way to demonstrate that you value their thoughts and contributions, and it gives them a feeling of purpose, which builds a positive business culture. It is critical to provide a safe atmosphere for feedback, then acknowledge and act on it. Your approaches and tools should be consistent with your culture.

Over to you

As you can see, there are numerous advantages to having happy employees who feel appreciated and have a sense of belonging. Create significant moments that your people will never forget. Both your staff and the company will gain immensely in the long term!

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger

Marketing During This Holiday Season

Marketing During This Holiday Season

Here we go with holiday marketing again! We’ve been seeing it EVERYWHERE for weeks already. ‘Tis the season! We believe that businesses start planning for the following year’s campaigns while executing the current year’s marketing initiatives. In the past, you could begin your holiday marketing in December, but those days are long gone.

It’s only been a couple of weeks since Halloween and Santa is already in London Ontario! The battle for customer attention with a rally to boost year-end sales for 2022 has begun in full force. This is especially the case with brick-and-mortar retail. Restaurants are actively accepting bookings and aiming for sold-out crowds for the holiday season since many people are organizing family gatherings and office events.

With so many businesses vying for our attention, how can a small business capitalize on the holiday season and be the first one that comes to mind, even after the holidays are over? Before we begin, let’s discuss the importance of holiday marketing. Over the holidays, there are many opportunities for businesses to grow. Here are some ways those opportunities may present themselves:

  • People often seek interaction more directly during holiday festivities.
  • During the holiday season, there is an increase in demand for products or services.
  • The holidays give businesses a chance to interact personally with their customers.
  • It’s the perfect time to engage in branding initiatives that can encourage client loyalty.
  • Seasonal holiday shopping periods are an ideal time to try new things and be innovative with your marketing approach.

How can small businesses leverage the holiday season to gain a competitive advantage?

Fortunately, there are more options than ever to keep your company at the forefront of customers’ minds. Here are a few things you can do to get started today.

#1. Post and advertise on social media.

It’s essential to provide quality content for your social media accounts at all times of the year. However, the holidays offer the chance to deliver useful material while also making it fun and festive! The objective is to create social media content that will put you on customers’ radars over the holiday season. Social media holiday contests or giveaways are also a good idea for driving engagement and raising awareness of your company! Another way to stand out on social is to mix up your content without always sharing sales or promotions. Instead, opt for publishing a team photo in Santa hats or a picture of your neighborhood decked out for the holidays to give your subscribers and customers a festive break!

When deciding which platforms to leverage for your holiday marketing initiatives, it’s important to evaluate where your target demographic spends their time on social media. Posting on the channels they frequent is the most effective approach to ensure they notice your holiday posts and ads. Start early to give customers adequate time for online orders and delivery before the holidays.

#2. Organize a value-added sales event.

Invite a large group of people to your store for an exclusive sales event on the same day and time, and let the crowd feed off each other. Everyone loves special holiday promotions! Another option is to hold exclusive crowd-controlled appointments at retail stores. This way, the staff can give the best customer service. Additionally, you’ll receive more purchasers through these appointments than browsers.

#3. Celebrate Small Business Saturday!

Every year, a promotion known as Small Business Saturday encourages customers to support local small businesses. This year, Small Business Saturday is on November 26th, 2022. There are various promotions, such as events, advertising, and public relations initiatives in many towns, so make sure your small business takes advantage of them. You can also participate on social media that day by using the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #FallinLovewithLocal. It’s an excellent approach to promoting your company over the holiday season. Visit for more details!

#4. Decorate your website, too.

It’s always enjoyable to decorate for the holidays. Consider updating your website for the season with a holiday vibe as you spruce up your restaurant or retail space! Even if you don’t make digital sales, seasonal themes can help you imprint your company’s brand in the minds of customers. This is an excellent time to update your website and Google Business Profile with your current business hours, especially if you have a different holiday schedule. If you’re managing a restaurant’s website, be sure your online menus are up to date.

#5. Do door hangers still work? Yes, they do.

Team up with another business and share the cost by each of you advertising on one side of the hanger. Offer a discount or special deal code for ordering. There is still value in putting print advertising into the hands of your potential customers. Our client ordered hangers recently and was able to get thousands in his hands within a couple of weeks – a week for design and a week for ordering.

It’s also a fantastic time of year to give out logo swag! Throwing out a lovely pen or pad of paper is difficult. When potential clients are searching for you, you can make it easy for them with a nice little gift that helps keep your logo in their minds.

#6. Send them a card!

In this day and age, sending anything via “snail-mail” may feel weird. However, sending a physical holiday card can help your business stand out, especially since mail is so limited. Plus, many of us still value a physical token of appreciation. Send out your cards early and avoid a sales pitch. Simply being in the mailbox with a personal touch will make your clients happy!

Over to You

Holiday marketing for small businesses should be fun and does not have to be tough. Of course, we understand that many small business owners are extremely busy and lack the time to even think about holiday marketing. Why miss out on all the fun, not to mention the advantages of holiday marketing? We are here to assist – call or contact us today!

Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger