Is the paperless office right for your company?

The paper-free office is becoming more and more popular. The idea of going paperless or having a work environment which eliminates or greatly reduces paper can be overwhelming to think about. Probably the most difficult part of transitioning to a paperless environment is setting up the needed infrastructure and getting employees on board with making the switch. Once those two items are addressed, the benefits far outweigh the initial burden.

We live in a digital world and most business is conducted via the internet, email and digital document sharing already. Making your documents readily available in the format you need to increase your productivity and ability to operate efficiently in a digital world is key.

According to the CompTIA CDIA+ Certification Handbook 2016:

  • The average office worker makes 50 trips per week to the fax machine, copier or printer.
  • On average, 6 minutes are wasted every time a document is retrieved and then refiled.

There are multiple business benefits from going paperless but the number one reason is cost reduction. You can reduce the costs associated with paper, printers, copiers, fax machines, ink and toner. You can also reduce or eliminate the need for filing cabinets and additional office space to hold them, off-site storage and the cost related to organizing paper files. Other examples include hanging file folders, folders, labels, shelving, storage boxes, not to mention the manpower related to moving and archiving files.

Obviously, there are cost related to a paperless office, but they are controllable and significantly less. Cloud storage space is very inexpensive looking at overall costs. Services such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon Drive and Google Drive are just a few products that offer free, instant online storage which is often a good starting point until you determine how much space you need. Take care that any digital storage solution you choose is secure for storing sensitive documents.

Once you decide to go paperless, don’t get bogged down with archiving existing paper files. At some point you might choose to scan and digitally archive key documents such as employee files, customer contracts or tax returns, but often you will not find the need to archive all paper files and eventually many can be purged after a certain period.

Start by breaking down your operations and consider which processes rely heavily on paper. Pick one or two key functions in these processes that you can start digitizing. Choose a specific date to start (i.e. the beginning of quarter) so you have a reference date of how to look for data in the future. Then, create a digital storage policy and structure, train your employees and set about saving important information digitally. After you have mastered digitizing one process, move to the next until your entire operation, or much of it, is paperless.

Ready to make the switch? Contact BCN Services and we will can help you with the basics and how to get started.

David Pilon, Controller

One employee, one email, one click can cause big issues for employers

The cyber security landscape has changed drastically in the last decade. We hear it all the time with the databases of large, trusted companies being hacked: Yahoo with 3 billion user accounts, Marriott International with 500 million customer accounts, credit reporting agency Equifax with 143 million consumers and TJX Companies with 94 million credit cards exposed.

These are only the data breaches that we see in the headlines. What about all the small- to medium-sized companies that never make the headlines? Could your company be next?

Consider this scenario: It is a normal day at work and you see strange file extensions as you scan through your emails. You open one of these files and a strange message appears on your screen demanding payment with a timer counting down to your companies’ network demise. How did this happen? A malicious phishing email and it only took one employee, one email and one ill-fated click.

What is Phishing?

A phishing scam, or phishing attack, occurs when a cyber criminal sends an email posing as someone else to entice or lure you to provide sensitive personal or company information. They try to extract sensitive information such as usernames and passwords, credit card information, personal identifiers and account information. They attempt to elicit fear, a sense of urgency, or curiosity causing you to open an attachment or click on a link which may install malware, spyware or a virus on your computer.

“Phishing attempts have grown 65 percent in the last year,” according to PhishMe’s Enterprise Phishing Resiliency and Defense Report. Verizon reports that “93 percent of cyberattacks originate via phishing, with a total yearly cost to U.S. businesses of $500 million.”

Here is an example of a recent phishing attempt published on Apple’s website:

While this looks legitimate, the point of the scam is to have the user click on the link to cancel the subscription. Once they click, they will be asked for a range of sensitive information. While most of us would catch on to the scam at some point, some do not. Admittedly, it is a convincing email.

More recently, there is an increasing amount of targeted attacks referred to as “spear phishing.” This occurs when a criminal uses a more personalized approach to lure its victim. These attacks can be highly effective because the perpetrator uses language tailored to the targeted individual. The email may appear to be coming from a client, your boss, an internal department or a vendor. Imagine, for example, if your boss invites you to attend a webinar and asks you to confirm your attendance by logging into your outlook account. Using a malicious link in the email, the spear phishing allows criminals to go after your sensitive information and, if credentials are gained, the possibility of causing significant damage to your business.

Three ways to keep your business safe

There are a number of steps that employers can take to lower the number of problems with security breaches. Increase employee training and make it a part of your company culture. Continuous security awareness training, on average, provides 37 times the return on a company’s investment.

Invest in a security awareness and a phishing defense tool. There are several companies that offer tools (free and paid) to filter and provide a defense in phishing email attacks against your organization: Phishme, KnowBe4, Webroot, Barracuda, and Duo are just a few. Do the research and find a tool that best fits your company’s needs and reduce your likelihood of a successful attack.

Make sure you have successfully implemented the following authentication methods in your domain. These are standards that will help validate your email and are designed to protect your email from potential spammers and phishers. Research and implement these:

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework) validates that your email address is coming from your mail server by authorizing your sending email address to your company’s internet domains IP (internet protocol) address.
  • DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) proves that the contents of an email have not been tampered with, that the headers in the email have not changed since the original sender sent the email, and that the sender of the email owns the domain or is authorized to send the email by the owner of the domain.
  • DMARC (Domain-Based Message Authentication) is an added authentication method that requires both SPF and DKIM to pass, determining that at least one of them is aligned. This prevents accepting malicious emails that are pretending to be someone else. Google recommends this method for bulk email senders, plus Gmail and Microsoft are quickly adopting DMARC into their filtering methods.

It’s time to get in front of these threats. Become knowledgeable on how to install the proper tools and educate your employees in security awareness to protect your business. Contact us at BCN services to find out how we can help or for more information on this topic.

Marcus Merillat, IT Manager

Be ready when employees wonder ‘Should I stay, or should I go?’

If you talk to any business owner today and ask them what their biggest challenge is, they will likely say finding and keeping good people. They would engage you in a long conversation about the challenges they face when losing their good ones and how they have a very difficult time recruiting or finding replacements. This is a time and money drain for any organization.

Don’t wait until your good people leave to learn what it takes to keep employees or why they stayed as long as they did? Conducting “stay” interviews is an easy way to take the pulse of what is happening in your business. If you want more great people, simply ask your current great employees for their input. Stay interviews will help build employee engagement and foster a good culture as you build trust with employees.

How to get started

  • Select a few of your key employees and ask them to participate. You want more of these engaged and honest individuals on your team.
  • Explain why you are asking them to take part: that they are a valued member of the staff and that this is to help you retain and recruit more employees with their gifts and skills.
  • Conduct these stay interviews once or twice each year and do them within the same timeframe. Do not wait until employees become disengaged, or even worse, leave, to understand what’s going on.
  • Make it known you desire their honest feedback. That includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Employees must feel safe to express their opinions and that the manager will have an open mind and not get defensive. They should never feel there will be retribution for any of their comments.
  • Focus on the positives/wins that they express. Create and share your action plan from the results of the stay interviews. People want to know they have been heard and are making an impact.

Following is a list of the best questions to get the stay interview process started. They are open-ended, easy to ask, get the conversation energized questions, and the response will contain valuable insight and make a difference in keeping your employees.

  • What do you look forward to when you come to work?
  • Why do you stay working here?
  • Do you feel that we fully use your talents in your current role? Are their additional talents/interests/experiences that you could offer?
  • What are the frustrations or less desirable parts of your role that you would like to do less of?
  • What is an example of any recent recognition or acknowledgement that you received that increased your engagement to the company?

Make the process a win-win

Stay interviews are an inexpensive and effective way to drive your business improvements forward quickly. The management team receives honest feedback and the employee feels valued and empowered to help make the business better.

Take the feedback and put it into action. Communicate your actions with your company and recognize the impact the feedback has provided. It will be a win-win for both employer and employee.

Do you need additional help and tips for employee retention? Contact your BCN Services representative, your partner for all of your company’s HR needs.

Corey Decker, Sales Manger

Retiring Boomers Continue To Lift Small Business Sales

Sales of small businesses in America remain elevated, according to an updated report from BizBuySell. Specifically, there were 10,312 closed small business transactions in 2018, a 4 percent increase from 2017 and the highest full-year total since BizBuySell started tracking this data in 2007. The report’s authors attributed 2018’s continued acceleration in transactions to a variety of factors, such as strengthening revenue and profit numbers, as well as more people looking to buy and sell.

The uptick in sellers is in part being driven by the aging U.S. population, i.e. Baby Boomers, and 80 percent of surveyed business brokers said that they expect even more Baby Boomers will look to sell their companies in 2019 than in 2018. The main reason for this is that a rapidly growing number of these older Americans who own a business have reached the age at which they will want to stop managing the day-to-day operations of their company. Further, around a third of business brokers and small business owners in a separate BizBuySell survey said that they feel higher minimum wages, rising healthcare costs, and concerns over upcoming regulations are likely motivating many owners to sell sooner rather than later.

Such owners have probably also been motivated by a favorable market that has seen the time it takes for a business to sell fall considerably, along with a 9 percent jump in the median selling price in just the past twelve months. Adding to older owners’ increased willingness to sell is likely a desire to avoid the challenges of managing a company during another recession. Indeed, while there are not any major warning signs of an imminent recession, some sort of economic downturn occurring within the next few years would not be surprising since the current expansion in America has already been going on for more than 114 months, making it the 2nd-longest on record and more than twice the historic average (48-months).

For some owners, passing on the management responsibilities, along with ownership, to one’s children is another option, but many may instead wind up simply selling their company to an outsider. Why so? There are several potential answers to that question but one reason could be to help fund retirement because roughly one in five Baby Boomer small business owners in a recent SunTrust poll admitted that they are still not financially prepared for retirement. In fact, an earlier FPA/CNBC study on succession planning found that more than three-quarters of surveyed small business owners plan on selling their company in order to satisfy 60 percent to 100 percent of their old-age income needs.

Such a large dependence on a single asset could put the financial security of these soon-to-be retirees in a precarious situation should their company not sell for the price they had anticipated (and developed an old-age budget around). Just as stock market investors should diversify the equities they hold in their portfolio, small business owners should aim to diversify their retirement savings vehicles (401(k)s, IRAs, real estate, etc.), and in turn lessen their overall sensitivity to the eventual selling price of their company.

 

Copyright @ 2019 Slavic Investments (http://blog.slavic401k.com/retiring-boomers-continue-to-lift-small-business-sales-1). Republished with permission.