How Penetration Testing Tools Can Help Secure Your Business Operations

When it comes to online selling, one important thing you should remember is that there will always be customers who will abandon their shopping carts. For one, there are consumers who visit online retailers merely for research and do not really have an intention to finish a transaction. There might also be issues that hinder them from completing the purchase. These may include poor user interface, hidden or high shipping costs, or a lengthy checkout process. Another issue that online merchants have to face is security.

If you work hard for your money, then it follows that you simply won’t hand it over to an online entity promising to exchange a product or service for it. Consumers want to feel secure when they are making an online purchase. Your buyers want to make sure that the exact item they purchased will be delivered to their doorstep.

At the same time, they’d want their credit card information as well as other sensitive data kept secure. As an online merchant, you’d want to keep cart abandonment to a minimum. That is why it is worthwhile to invest in website design and SEO and offer the best pricing, shipping and payment options. But merchants should never put customer safety and even their own network security as an afterthought. One significant step toward guaranteeing your network’s and your customers’ safety is PCI credit card compliance.

From there, several things can go awry if you remain complacent. Although many would like to think of the Internet as a true democracy, it is still far from that. The truth is that it is somewhat akin to a public market place where there are legitimate businesses plying their wares alongside shady sellers and even pickpockets biding their time, waiting for an unwitting customer to make a false move.

It doesn’t help that these baddies are shrouded by the veil of anonymity and even geographical distance. A proactive approach that online sellers use and even enterprises which rely on an IT infrastructure, is to enlist the services of specialists in penetration testing tools. Hackers have, rightly or wrongly, gotten a bad rap for compromising network security and even stealing sensitive information. Indeed, many of these hackers have made a living out of these illegal deeds.

However, some have reformed their ways and now help organizations pinpoint weaknesses in their network infrastructure through network penetration testing. Through this test, a business can learn its vulnerabilities and put into place the necessary remedies that will reinforce security. With the aid of these experts, you do not have to watch at the sidelines.

Tips for Successful Luxury Coach Business Trips

It’s not unusual to find a company that has hired a coach to take its employees to a seminar, conference or simple social event but who have subsequently been disappointed with the results.

Here we’ll examine some of the common causes and their solutions.

Poor turnout / response to invitation

This is a commonly expressed frustration in many organizing departments.

Ignoring mechanical causes (such as poor communication of the “we weren’t told” variety or insufficient notice) this is often attributable to:

low morale in the company;
a lack of interest in the event concerned;
conflicting priorities (your event has been scheduled at a time which clashes with other things).

There is no easy answer to this and simply making attendance mandatory isn’t likely to be the answer. You may need to analyse the causes in more detail.

Dissatisfaction with the quality of transport

In the 21st century, professional people expect corporate transport to be modern and comfortable.

If an “old banger” of a coach arrives at the outset, then already your session is in trouble due to creating the wrong impression.

Be prepared to spend a little money here to get a comfortable limo bus.

Impacting personal lives

Today, most people expect and demand a professional / personal life balance.

So, anticipate dissatisfaction and disgruntled attendees if they’ve had to get up at 4am to make your planned departure time and/or they won’t be getting back home until the early hours of the morning.

A luxury coach might help alleviate some of this through comfort during the journey but it won’t, in itself, be the solution.

Impacting professional lives

On a similar theme to the above, asking people to get back very late to their homes, while expecting them to be back in the office at 8am and firing on all cylinders, is likely to be a recipe for ill-feeling.

Provide or arrange for refreshments

If people have been asked to get up unusually early and been on a coach for some time, then it’s really good psychology to provide (or stop for) some refreshments.

A little caffeine and a calories boost can ensure people arrive at the destination eager to get started rather than tired, jaded and looking for reasons to complain.

Railroading

Ideally, your corporate event should be so desirable by its very nature that your colleagues should be fighting for the chance to participate.

Only use “attendance is mandatory” approaches as an absolute last resort, as touched on earlier.

If you see a lack of interest and voluntary participation, something is wrong and a re-think is required. People typically don’t respond well to being forced to attend company events.

Relate to the wider world

Remember that a corporate event will be seen by many against a much broader backdrop of the wider business world you share with your colleagues.

So, expect a very negative reception for (e.g.) a company team-building exercise held at an expensive external venue, if just a few days before the company has announced major ancillary benefits cuts for employees due to the prevailing economic circumstances.

Procurement Skills: 9 Steps to Boost Your Persuasion Skills Through Improved Presentations

Presentations are an inherent part of today’s workplace… business presentations, public speaking and general communication. All involve formal and informal levels and ultimately impact your career progression. So here is a 9 step process for how you can improve your persuasion skills and so become a more effective persuader.

  1. Understand the issues faced by your audience. It is often said that a busy person (and who isn’t busy these days?) can only deal with 5 topics at any one time. If you are going to get air time with busy people you need to make a connection from the very beginning with what is currently on their mind. So you need to link the subject matter of your presentation to one of these key items which means you need to research your audience.
  2. Decide what kind of presentation it is. Is your presentation a pitch for something (such as resources for a project, agreement to go ahead with something or even a pay rise), is it informing the audience or is it to build goodwill (for example at a supplier event)? Is it a formal presentation in front of many people, an informal presentation to a few or even a one-to-one conversation with someone?
  3. Decide your objectives. What is it you want as a result of the presentation? Do you want people to leave feeling enthused for your project? Do you want commitment to give your project money? You need to decide what you want before you design your presentation.
  4. Create a “hook”. This is a vital part of your presentation. You need to grab your audience’s attention from the very beginning. For example, Robert Cialdini has found that the most absorbing presentations and articles start with a mystery. The presentation then engages the audience as they unravel the mystery together.
  5. Create your memorable opening. This is closely linked to the hook. In their book “Made to Stick” Chip and Dan Heath tell the story of someone pitching to venture capitalists for investment in developing a new laptop computer. He started by throwing onto the table a plastic folder and declaring that this was his new laptop. Clearly it wasn’t but it started a discussion about how a laptop could be made so thin and small.
  6. Craft your action focused ending. Too many presentations follow the formula “tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you have told them”. This might work if your objective is to inform the audience. For every other type of presentation it is insufficient. What you want is action of some kind so finish with what you want them to do – a “takeaway” list of actions.
  7. Use graphics for impact. Most people respond better to images than to text. Think about all of the slide shows you have had to sit through that are crammed full of text and bullet points. Images have more impact as long as they are relevant to the topic and are unique. Avoid stock photographs that bear no relation to the point you are trying to get across.
  8. Pull it all together into a coherent story. Do not underestimate the power of a story. We are conditioned from a very young age to engage with and respond to stories. Don’t get “cute” but do have a story that unfolds with a well-crafted opening, middle and end.
  9. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. As a golfer once told me, amateurs practice until they get it right – professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.

Know The Various Factors Determining Container Shipping Costs

Container shipping cost involved in international or multi-national shipping is determined by a number of factors, the two most significant among which are freight charges and port fees. Port fees are charged by these companies in order to meet the costs of custom clearance once the goods are dismounted from the ship.

The value of the services provided by freight forwarders and international cargo depends on a number of factors. Let us discuss in this article some of the significant aspects that you need to know regarding the international shipping costs:

  • One of the most important factors determining the service charges of the international shipping companies is the cost of the container. As you proceed from one country to another, the cost of container starts varying depending on the change in currency values. However, reputed shipping services that are involved in innumerable shipping projects, are not actually bothered about the petty changes in the container costs. Their service charges therefore remain unchanged with slight changes in the container costs.
  • It is extremely important for you to obtain thorough information regarding the cost values of the shipping company if you are planning to move from one country to another. This is important because you need to make sure that you know the service charges you need to pay with regard to the current value of the country you are currently residing in. Often people are unaware of these details, and eventually end up paying more than they are supposed to.
  • Another important factor determining container shipping costs is the method of shipping. For example, opting for liner vessel shipping can cost you less owing to their operating methods where they use fixed routes and fixed schedules. On the other hand, it might cost you more if you opt for charter vessel shipping that works on the basis of market conditions. In this case, the container costs vary in accordance with the changing market conditions.

If you have to trade your goods internationally, or want to relocate from one country to another, there are some important things that you need to determine before hiring a shipping service in order to choose the most appropriate shipping methods:

  • Determine how fast you want your goods to be shipped to your desired destination.
  • Consider the type, nature and size of the goods you want to ship.
  • Consider the total distance between the current location and the final destination of the goods.

In order to avail the most efficient services, it is important to hire the right container shipping service. Let us discuss some of the important points that you need to consider:

  • Make sure you hire a licensed and authorized container shipping company that can offer a wide variety of container sizes and packages.
  • Know the container shipping costs charged by various companies and make a thorough comparison between them in order to get the best deal.
  • It is a good idea to talk to the customer services of various companies to know how well they are able to respond to customer queries.

Business Package Become A Casualty

Every holiday season, from late October through January, finding a reliable courier or shipping company can become a nightmare. Time sensitive packages are not always given top priority by the big courier services because of their high demand for deliveries during the holidays.

Businesses who rely on courier services throughout the year know the holiday season will become a problem for them due to the overwhelming of daily consumer shipments. Whether it’s a gift being delivered across the country or a medical lab needing sensitive packages transported a few miles away, all packages are treated the same. That means without proper care!. How many times have you seen “FRAGILE” on a package only to receive it smashed. It almost seems some courier services enjoy damaging packages. They think tossing it into the back of the truck is careful. Or rolling it like a bowling ball is fun. Well, not to the medical labs, dental offices, hospitals or other businesses that hope their package is treated with care.

Unlike a consumer who can pre-schedule their package to be delivered, many businesses do not have that luxury. Flexible delivery dates are not part of the business world. Too often a special delivery package needs to be sent within a few miles. It could be within a 100 mile radius or just a 10 mile distance. No matter how far, the package needs to get there NOW.

Don’t wait for your packages to have these issues with your existing courier service during the holiday season. One reason why this happens is they hire temporary drivers and those drivers might not be familiar with the area. And more than likely, they are paid by the hour, so what’s another hour or two on the road to them it’s more money! Managing time-sensitive packages like medical supplies, medial lab tests, or legal documents can get lost easily during this busy season. Local same day courier services are small enough yet large enough to give you the personal care for all same day deliveries.

Isn’t it be time you find a local courier service that is reliable and doesn’t hire temporary drivers? If your business has packages that need to be delivered within 100 miles, ask your business friends on who they use for their deliveries and if they are satisfied. Be sure they have a solid reputation with medical labs, hospitals, pharmacies, dental labs and other businesses that require sensitive packages to be delivered on-time. Many businesses require same day delivery!

Do Not Scrap It! Find the Scrap and Make Money Instead

Do you know which scrap metal pays the most? Well, if you know the price, then you can get a handsome price for it. When people realize the value of a few specific metals, then they put all their concentration in collecting those metals. However, you must not just look for particulars. The best is to take them all and get something magical out of the one you thought was less important. So, the next time you find people discriminating scraps, you will understand how much money they are leaving in the curb just like that. Here is an unofficial list of the scrap that can fetch you money. It will give you an idea on what kinds of scrap you should sell.

Items

1. Stoves

2. Lamps

3. Water Heaters

4. Toasters

5. Batteries of all kinds

6. Air Conditioner

7. Lawn Mowers

8. Tire and basketball rims

9. Pet cages

10. Cabinets

11. Ironing boards

12. Strollers and Shovels

Other items from which you can extract metals include: Music instruments, metal drums, television, computer, screws, nails and bolts and so on. From the following list you can understand that there is money even in the small things. Now that you know, you need to find places where scrap is easily available. The street is waiting for you, so collect as much as you can.

The few places where you can find scrap:

1. Kitchen – An excellent source indeed! Look for those old cooking pans, spoons, cookie sheets, copper pots and the likes.

2. Living Room – Television, lamp bases, window frames – aren’t these some of the common things that we see in a living room?

3. Bathroom – This room too has a number of things like dryers, washers, plumbing pipes and etcetera. If you like to deck up your bathroom, then you must also have a nice collection of bathroom fixtures. These can definitely yield a fair price.

4. Garden and Attic – Both these places are a storehouse of junk and you never know how much money they can bring forth. Iron railing, swing sets, rusty metal table, old metal chair, broken appliances, ornaments and other accessories which you do not use any longer.

5. Garage – Last but not the least is the garage. You can refer the garage of your house as the treasure trove of scrap metal. There are a number of things in these places that are in one word “precious” in monetary terms.

What are you waiting for? Get your hands dirty now and strike a good scrap deal at a nearby junkyard!

Finding a Great Job

Many businesses have high turnover rates due to unhappy, unsatisfied, and/or unappreciated employees. There are several ways a company can create loyalty, happiness, and more positive attitudes towards employee’s jobs. One such approach is through increased company functions and gatherings that help develop office friendships throughout the company. Also, the creation of management teams and developing a teamwork mentality will help employees gain the feeling of ownership in their company. Instead of an us versus them attitude between departments, friendships throughout the company will also help build a complete team attitude. Many prominent companies create outlets for their employees to volunteer, fundraising, and help their community. The following suggestions will also increase employee pride, happiness, and ownership of their responsibilities at work.

• Family Atmosphere – This type of environment creates a climate of fairness, equality, respect, and makes it safe to express dissent. This atmosphere is welcoming and creates a friendly environment to introduce new ideas. Employees teams may encourage a challenging but supportive environment and strengthen loyalty and teamwork throughout the organization.

• Recognition Programs – Company programs that recognize hard work, commitment, effort, and contributions breed organizational success and loyalty. The recognition program should include monthly awards and gift cards or a free lunch. Recognition from a supervisor at least two ranks above an employee makes a meaningful, engaging difference in employee morale.

• Organizational Pride and Belonging – Promote activities that development and establish pride and loyalty which is the backbone of any businesses long-term success. Employee turnover is extremely expensive and productivity and product or service development suffers. An engaged employee is a person who is enthusiastic about their work. Improving employee engagement directly impacts measurable business outcomes. Employees who are committed to success, emotionally attached, and socially involved with a company demonstrate qualities that business managers thirst to have. Engaged employees are more productive at work, take less sick days and exhibit other favorable behavior, promote the business to others and show their happiness to customers.

• Mentor Programs – Thinking long-term for future company success. A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser that assists in developing competent employees and future leaders. Mentoring program train and encourage seasoned employees to be mentors. A mentoring program can facilitate dynamic skill growth throughout an organization. Informal learning can be as important as formal learning programs.

• Volunteering Options – Look for opportunities for your company employees to get involved in the community. Allow your employees to volunteer their time or fundraising for a good cause. It is good public relations for companies to show their communities they care about their customers. These activities will create good-will among the local community and your employees. Create a team to decide what cause your company will offer financial support for a charity or cause.

Employee engagement can be improved by aligning the goals of individual with the goals of the business. Employee motivation should be associated with traditional rewards, such as pay and compensation, but also with emotional rewards such as personal growth, working for a common cause, being part of a high-performance team, and being recognized for achievements.

How To Keep Your Manufacturing Business Safe And Productive

There are many types of manufacturing facilities that must be operated according to standards to ensure they are safe. Depending on the types of products manufactured, there are always risks associated with the operation. Every manufacturing facility needs a well-planned risk management strategy to address the different situations that occur as a result of the manufacturing process. Although this will help reduce risk a great deal, there is never a guarantee that accidents cannot occur. Manufacturing insurance is designed to give manufacturing companies the protection they need when the precautions they take aren’t enough.

The reason that many manufacturing facilities fail to reach their maximum productivity level is their lack of understanding that productivity and safety are dependent on each other. Putting a risk management strategy in place and having appropriate manufacturing insurance will result in their keeping safety incidents to a minimum and having financial coverage when incidents do occur.

Creating an Effective Risk Management Strategy

Just as different manufacturing businesses operate differently, they also have a different approach to risk management. Those who have successfully implemented risk management into their operation to make it more productive and safe are likely to start by assessing the likelihood of diverse events for assets and operating procedures and then continue with assessing the impact of these adverse events. Next, they will rank the risk for adverse events in these areas and then create a closed loop process to mitigate the risk in each area. This basic structure incorporates identification, quantification and mitigation.

Backing up Your Strategy with Manufacturing Insurance

Nearly every manufacturer needs insurance regardless of the products they make. There are laws imposed on the need for manufacturers to carry insurance that may vary on a state-by-state level. Even in those situations where the rules and regulations are limited, manufacturers should consider their risk potential when determine the degree of manufacturing insurance they need to protect them. Insurance can cover the cost of equipment repairs and replacement, damage to the facilities, or for medical liability in case employees are injured on the job.

General liability is a type of insurance that protects the manufacturer when an injury takes place on their property and they are found to be at fault. Lawsuits can be devastating to your business if you do not have the protection you need to cover any losses that may be awarded. General liability should be the basic part of your coverage that is included in addition to that which applies to your specific risks.

Value of Insurance Your Business

When accidents occur, it can have an impact on your manufacturing business at any level. Loss of equipment or employees can lead to downtime that has a significant impact on your bottom line. Lawsuits or excessive damage to the facility could cause you to lose your business altogether. Understanding your risk and having the manufacturing insurance to cover your losses can often be the difference between a business that fails and one that is both safe and productive.

Importance Of PR (Public Relations) For Small And Medium Level Companies

It’s not only large companies that can make use of public relations (PR) firms; small and medium businesses can also benefit from these professional firms.

If you have a small or a medium sized company and you are wondering how a PR firm can be of importance to you, here are some of the benefits that come with Public relations:

Create a positive Image

A PR firm not only promotes your business, but also puts your business in the limelight. This plays a major role in creating a positive image about your company.

One of the ways in which a PR creates a positive image is by getting you, your products, or your business featured in newspaper or magazine stories. By doing this, many people read your story and form a positive image about your business.

Increase profits

Other than helping you to create a positive image about your business, a good PR firm will also help you to increase your profits. A good PR firm will do this by identifying your target market and help you to advertise your business in an area where you will make more sales.

For example, the firm will help you get an opportunity to talk about a product on television or radio and this will increase your exposure. When many people know about your business the more they will buy from you and as a result the more you increase your profits.

Reduce costs

Although, it can be expensive to hire a PR firm, it tends to be cheap over the long run.

For example, you may be required to part with thousands of dollars to hire a good PR firm, but the firm will help you or your representatives to be booked for interviews on television shows and newscasts which will give you a lot of exposure which would have cost you millions of dollars.

Offer intelligent advertising

Newspapers, magazines and online platforms may not be interested in promoting your business, but they may be interested in giving information to their readers.

If the information is related to your company, the PR will help you in drafting an intelligent press release that won’t sound like an advertisement. The release will not only give information to the readers, but it will also give your business the much needed exposure.

These are some of the benefits of hiring a public relations firm if you have a small or medium sized business. To ensure that you hire the right firm, you need to do a lot of research.

Best Expense Management Solution By Thinking Outside The Box

This is how not to handle expense management in your business. Whilst a substantial part of managing expenses can be compartmentalized into how people make claims, and how those claims are processed, there are times when you’d benefit from thinking outside the box.

To illustrate the point, I’m going to look at telephones, the way your business uses them, and the way changing that can be part of an expense management strategy. Many years ago, in another life, I asked a senior manager how much he spent on line rental and calls for the fax machines in his business. He didn’t know, and asked his secretary to being in the relevant invoices.

She appeared carrying two large ring binders. Looking at them, he asked her for just the fax machine invoices. She pointed at the binders. “Those are the fax machine invoices,” she said.

He had no idea at the scale of the costs involved, and we immediately set about reducing them. And there’s the lesson: Show me any cost you’re not controlling, and I’ll show you an unnecessary expense.

Of course, fax machines are consigned to history with quill pens and carbon paper, but let’s stick with telephones; we still use those. Here are some areas in which you might be spending too much for mobiles, (and here’s the important part) without being aware of it.

1. Data roaming: Set up a company policy that it should be turned off except for short periods to allow emails to be delivered or sent, rather than being on 24/7. Data roaming charges can be high, and can mount significantly if you have a large number of employees travelling

2. Use one company: Don’t have a series of providers. Restricting services to just one allows you to negotiate better deals for new handsets and connectivity

3. Go for VOIP: For office phones there are lots of ways to use the internet to make calls, giving the traditional desktop phone a new lease of life. VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and means there’s no need to have a traditional phone contract, so long as you have good broadband connectivity. Providers of phone systems like this will usually deal with you on a rolling monthly contract, and their systems are extremely, so you can add or subtract handsets almost at will.

4. Be careful with perks. If employees are able to use company phones for personal use (and we’re back to mobiles here), then that permission should be restricted. OK, make short personal calls, but talking for hours to an aunt in Australia, or streaming a box set to a hotel room in Berlin could soon set you back a considerable – and unwelcome – amount.

5. Don’t leave legacies. When an employee leaves the company, make sure to cancel or transfer their part of the phone number, and don’t toss the handset into the back of a drawer. Re-use it, or send it for recycling _ once you’ve cleared any company data from it.

More than just number reduction

Consider the benefits that come alongside mobile phone use, and blurring the distinction between company and private life. When you’ve automated your expenses by implementing a solution based on business expense management software using an app, everyone’s going to need a phone so they can use your system.

Allowing an employee to make personal calls, to that agreed cost limit, might have a payback in loyalty. It might mean they’re more amenable to taking a work-related call out of hours, as part of a bit of give and take – but make sure that you track the benefit so that all the necessary tax is paid. There’s no future in saving money by cheating the taxman.

Applying this kind of thinking to all aspects of your business can make a significant difference to your bottom line, and be a useful ally to your business expense management software.