4 Cost-Cutting Measures Every Business Owner Can Use

By George Otte

Could your company stand to reduce its expenses?

Just about every enterprise can. And you don’t have to look far for ideas: American Express’ great list of tips for business owners serious about reducing their business costs is just one of many publicly available resources for curious entrepreneurs.

Here’s a look at four of the easiest ways to slim down your business. Most require little to no upfront investment or reallocation of personnel resources—meaning you can get started at your earliest convenience.

1. Use Anti-Malware Protection

Anti-malware programs provide valuable digital protection against an ever-multiplying array of cyber threats. By protecting your system with a reputable anti-malware solution that regularly updates with defenses against the latest perils, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of a major systems breach—a costly, reputation-damaging event that can seriously set your company back.

It’s important to remember that no anti-malware solution is totally foolproof. You can further reduce your risk by training your employees to recognize phishing scams and suspicious files, by putting together a digital crisis management plan before breaches occur, and by working with a trusted computer repair company with experience recognizing and addressing cyberthreats.

2. Make the Most of Your Current Space

A growing workforce is a good problem to have. But the most cost-effective solution isn’t negotiating favorable terms on a new office lease. Rather, it’s reorganizing your current space to accommodate more employees and equipment. Consider switching from traditional cubicle or bullpen-style layouts to shared workspaces with open floorplans and a wider range of seating types: benches, huddle rooms, breakout areas, flexible cubes and depending what is most appropriate for your field of work.

3. Cut Energy Waste Around the Office

Conduct an office-wide energy audit to spot opportunities to boost your team’s efficiency. Look for things like:

  • Empty rooms with the lights on
  • Heat or air conditioning running during off-hours
  • Heavy blinds or open windows reducing the effectiveness of the building’s lighting, heating and cooling systems
  • Nonessential devices and systems remaining plugged in and turned on when not in use

Each of these issues is relatively easy—and cheap—to fix. Even with modest upfront investments, such as new blinds to block out sunlight on hot days, you’ll likely see savings in a matter of months.

4. Invest in Proactive Technology Maintenance and Repair

Proactive technology maintenance and repair can significantly reduce your IT costs. Take simple steps like regularly running Windows updates, upgrading programs and operating systems before the end of the support life cycle, and defragmenting your hard disk. And find a trusted computer repair partner to help you with tasks that you lack the time or in-house expertise to address on your own.

Cultivate a Culture of Constant Improvement

If you can follow these four tips, your efforts to streamline your company’s finances and reduce its expenses will be off to a great start. Keep up the momentum by fostering a culture of constant improvement at every level of your workforce—including at the very top. Whatever the day-to-day brings, always look for ways to do things better, faster, more effectively, at lower cost. In the long run, you’ll see the results in your bottom line.

5 Simple Ways To Protect Your Company’s Sensitive Data Online

By George Otte

Though large-scale corporate hacks are more likely to make headlines, smaller hacks are actually far more common.

According to The Guardian, small and midsize U.K. businesses reported a significant increase in hacks between 2013 and 2015. The story is much the same in the United States and elsewhere in the world: Smaller enterprises are increasingly vulnerable to digital threats.

You don’t need the resources of a Fortune 500 firm to protect yourself against cyber intrusion and data theft. These five practices can substantially reduce your risk.

1. Encrypt Mission-Critical Data

Unencrypted data is vulnerable to theft or copying by digital thieves. Newer systems may have built-in encryption tools, like Windows 10’s BitLocker. BitLocker allows you to store encrypted data on a computer’s hard drive or on external drives (which are more portable). You can also encrypt your data in the cloud using a secure backup service like Carbonite.

2. Use a Sophisticated Anti-Malware Solution

Your company needs a sophisticated anti-malware solution with a regular update cycle. Nothing less will protect your networks and devices against the ever-growing multitude of digital threats. There are lots of choices out there, so get started by reading up on how to choose an anti-virus app.

3. Avoid Running Multiple Security Programs at the Same Time

Since no single anti-malware program is perfect, it might seem logical to run multiple security applications at once. Unfortunately, discrete security programs aren’t necessarily designed to work with one another. Running multiple programs in concert can therefore cause conflicts that make your system less safe. Carefully choose a single reputable, well-regarded security solution and stick to it.

4. Use a Virtual Private Network in Less Secure Settings

If you travel for work or meet clients in the field, you’re likely to encounter open Wi-Fi networks. On open networks, anyone with network access can view and potentially capture information you send and receive—including sensitive data like passwords, client records and financial statements. A virtual private network, or VPN, creates an encrypted “tunnel” between your computer and an outside server network that makes it very difficult for attackers to read and steal your data.

5. Create Strong, Unique Passwords

A strong password is an essential first line of defense against unwanted system intrusion and data theft. Password strength is determined in part by the likelihood that it will be “guessed” by human intruders or (more likely) the algorithms they use to penetrate personal and business networks. Strong passwords are generally longer; use combinations of letters, numbers and special characters such as ‘@’ and ‘!’; and aren’t reused in multiple locations. Bottom line: Devote time to generating long, strong, unique passwords for each of your important accounts and system points of entry—and change them regularly.

Beware Complacency

Cyber-criminals are always looking for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities, and small business owners with limited resources are particularly ripe for attack. While these five practices provide critical protection against data theft in cyberspace, they must be paired with constant vigilance—and the steady hand of an experienced computer services provider—to be truly effective.