Cyberattacks on Small Businesses Can Be Costly

Almost half don’t even know they’ve been attacked.

Almost 60 percent of small businesses have been victims of a cyberattack in the past year, but the vast majority of them don’t even realize it, according to Nationwide. The insurance company surveyed 1,069 businesses with 1 to 299 employees. At first, only 13 percent of companies said they’d had a cyberattack. However, when Nationwide showed the business owners a list of possible methods—computer virus, phishing, Trojan horse, hacking, data breach, ransomware, issues due to unpatched software, unauthorized access to company info and unauthorized access to customer info—that number jumped to 58 percent.

Cybercriminals “are targeting smaller companies on Main Street that often have fewer defense mechanisms in place, less available capital to re-invest in new systems and less name recognition to rebuild a damaged reputation,” said Mark Berven, president of Property & Casualty for Nationwide, when the study was released. More than 20 percent of cyberattack victims surveyed spent at least $50,000 and took longer than six months to recover. Seven percent spent more than $100,000, and 5 percent took a year or longer to rebuild their reputations and customer trust.

Being prepared is the best defense. The business owners surveyed were aware that it’s important to establish cybersecurity best practices, but fewer reported actually following these practices: protecting against viruses, spyware and other malicious code; securing their networks; making backup copies of important business data and information; establishing security practices and policies to protect sensitive information; controlling physical access to computers and network components; requiring employees to use strong passwords and change them often; educating staff about cyberthreats and holding them accountable; protecting all pages on public-facing websites, not just the checkout and sign-up pages; employing best practices on payment cards. For tips on protecting your business, go to: apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-306595A1.pdf. Visit the U.S. Small Business Administration web pages on cybersecurity at sba.gov/managing-business/cybersecurity.

 

No, Gift Cards Don’t Sell Themselves

Here’s how to give their sales a boost.

Gift cards make shoppers visit a store more often and spend more when they’re there. And they can ease storeowners’ cash flow, since they may not be redeemed for weeks (or even months) after they’re purchased.

So how can you sell more of them to your customers (and their friends), especially in this I’m-in-the-mood-to-spend month? “People won’t automatically buy gift cards just because they’re there,” warns retail management software company Vend. Retailers need to market gift cards to maximize sales of them. Here are five suggestions from Vend.

Increase their in-store visibility, displaying gift cards prominently at the cashwrap, of course, but also in other high-traffic or gift-focused displays.

Gift cards should be part of your proactive “add-on” strategy. Make sure you and your staff actively suggest gift cards to customers, rather than simply supplying them with one when they ask.

Promote them across all your marketing channels—in the physical store, by e-mail, on your website, on social media. For instance, during holiday season, in addition to signs promoting them in the store, you might create a banner ad on your website specifically focused on gift cards. Or post a photo on Instagram of your gift card with a tempting fashion leo peeking into the frame.

Create limited editions of gift cards around specific events—Christmas, yes, but also Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays.

Consider marketing your gift cards outside your own customer base. Think about how you could reach the people who would want to buy gifts for your customers—perhaps at local studios or recital venues. Are there local retailers where your cards would be a natural fit? Perhaps you can trade shelf space to display each other’s gift cards.

 

Tracking the Minimum Wage

Many dance storeowners pay more than the minimum wage to attract and keep the knowledgeable help they need. But to stay competitive, it’s smart to keep track of wage trends in your area, since the minimum wage merely establishes a floor for pay rates. Nineteen states and Washington, DC, have upcoming minimum-wage increases (many because of automatic indexing for inflation): Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington state and DC. There are now 29 states and DC that have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum, which has remained at $7.25 since 2009.

Many towns and cities have also adopted minimum wages above their state minimum. For up-to-date information, see the minimum-wage tracker at the Economic Policy Institute (epi.org/minimum-wage-tracker).

 

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