Survival tips for small businesses

You may a local merchant with 150 employees; whichever, however or whatever—you’ve got to know how to keep your business alive during economic recessions. Anytime the cash flow in a business, large or small, starts to tighten up, the money management of that business has to be run as a “tight ship.”

Some of the things you can and should do include protecting yourself from expenditures made on sudden impulse. We’ve all bought merchandise or services we really didn’t need simply because we were in the mood, or perhaps in response to the flamboyancy of the advertising or the persuasiveness of the salesperson. Then we sort of “wake up” a couple of days later and find that we’ve committed hundreds of dollars of business funds for an item or service that’s not essential to the success of our own business, when really pressing items had been waiting for those dollars. Continue reading “Survival tips for small businesses”


The Trojan of the Month Award goes to: Avril Sparrowhawk CWIH8974 PAYMENT RECEIVED

I just got a bit of malware spam: “CWIH8974 PAYMENT RECEIVED” / “Avril Sparrowhawk []”

This fake financial spam does not come from Les Caves de Pyrene but is instead a simple forgery with a malicious attachment. How did I know it was spam? I don’t buy wine. 🙂

If you receive this e-mail, delete it immediately and contact your IT Support company. Do not open the attachment(s).

virusThe attached file is a malicious document “CWIH8974.doc” which has a low detection rate. There are likely other variants of this virus going around but in the cases we’ve seen it downloads a malicious executable file from.

The virus itself allows the hacker to compromise the web browser so that when the user tries to log in to their Internet Banking, the details are leaked to the hacker who attempts to withdraw funds from the user’s bank account.

From: Avril Sparrowhawk []
Date: 22 December 2015 at 11:14
Continue reading “The Trojan of the Month Award goes to: Avril Sparrowhawk CWIH8974 PAYMENT RECEIVED”

How can I report a person attempting to hack me?

There are a number of laws regarding hacking a computer you don’t have authorization to hack, the CFAA in the USA, the CMA in Great Britain, the CHM in Australia, and the list goes on. All of which make it illegal to do what you want to do, and in some cases have pretty strict penalties for even the smallest of actions.

The term most often used to describe what you’re talking about is Hacking Back. It’s part of the Offensive Countermeasures movement that’s gaining traction lately. Some really smart people are putting their heart and soul into figuring out how we, as an industry, should be doing this. There are lots of things you can do, but unless you’re a nation-state, or have orders and a contract from a nation-state your options are severely limited.

There’s always an “Abuse” email address on the whois of a netblock for reporting misuse of an IP address.

You can use to do a whois lookup to get the address.


If you are using WordPress, use Wordfence! They are really good!

Continue reading “How can I report a person attempting to hack me?”

Hang On To Top Employees

08The best way to keep your top employees is to know them better than they know themselves.  Use this knowledge to create the career of their dreams, and they’ll stick to your company like glue.  The new “biz-speak” for this is called Job Sculpting.

The concept of Job Sculpting as defined by career experts, Timothy Butler and James Waldroop, in the Harvard Business Review, is that good people will stay only in jobs that “fit their deeply embedded life interests—that is their long-held emotionally driven passions.”

To adopt this strategy, spend a lot of effort listening to your company stars.  For each one of them, try to identify what life interests are dominant with them, and then offer them the assignments that satisfy this interest.  It may mean simply adding another assignment to the existing responsibilities, or it may mean switching one set of tasks to another employee.  It may even require moving your “star” employee to a different position altogether. Continue reading “Hang On To Top Employees”

Business Dress – Women

Like it or not, the first impression people get from you is your appearance.

When engaged in an interview or you are already hired, you always want to look best.  Clean cut, professional looking people get treated like a professional.  How you dress sends specific signals to people.

Let’s start from head to toe for women.

Subtle email marketing might prove successful for new customer attraction
Subtle email marketing might prove successful for new customer attraction

Continue reading “Business Dress – Women”

The 100 Greatest Ideas for Building Your Career

Are you stuck in the same old job for ages? Why not have a look at what the upper boys are playing at?

shutterstock_101575579-300x300Career clue from the boardroom
My way was to plan what I wanted, try to distract the quarry by conceding generously on minor points, and hope the big ones slip through. The key is to listen first. Let them dig a hole for themselves. In one case I had planned to ask for fees of £10,000 per month, but I didn’t answer the straight question of ‘how much?’ Eventually the client, after a preamble about how hard and competitive times were, asked us if we would mind working for a fee of’just £20,000 a month at first’ until he could justify a budget increase to his boss. Surely the best return on investment for lunch at the Groucho an adman could hope for.

Richard Humphreys (serial Chairman)

If you make a move to a new company, you are at some disadvantage against your fellow managers. They know the ropes and how to shine in the existing environment.
It is therefore a very good idea to do something very early on in your new career to question that environment and change it in a high-profile way.
So, think about it when you are making a change of employer. Look at why the company has hired you. If you are coming in at a fairly high level it is likely that the people who hired you saw you as a change agent (rule of 20% Idea 44), for a part of their culture with which they are dissatisfied – new blood and all that.
Career case in point
A manager moved from a telecommunications company to another larger and longer established company. He knew, from his competitive knowledge and from things said at the interview, that senior management were implementing a huge change programme aimed at knocking the old-fashioned corners off their longserving managers. These people were accustomed to a hierarchical rather deferential culture where seniority counted highly. They were also struggling with the concept that the customer was king. The first thing the new boy did on his first day was to remove every car parking space allocated on the basis of management seniority. He re-allocated the best spaces to customers only.

Also in his tour of the car park, he realised that there were some areas that were not only dark but also outside the range of the security cameras. Accordingly, he allocated the next best spaces nearest to the entrance to those women who sometimes or regularly worked late. At a stroke he got the support of those of his people who felt held back by the old guard, and of the more ambitious women willing to work long hours. It also became high profile without his having to tell a soul. The old guard were in furore. They sent angry letters to human resources and senior managers in all parts of the organisation. They themselves gave him the oxygen of publicity. By the end of literally his first day his name was very high profile, he had sorted out the resisters of change from the enthusiasts and impressed on senior management his grasp of what they were looking for in terms of cultural change. Senior management congratulated themselves, modestly of course, for hiring the right person for the job.

We recommend this read to any person who is looking to succeed and wise enough to accept advice from the people who have been there before him.

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Strong Leaders Are Lifetime Students

page1_pic3Entrepreneurial leaders do not have a mindset that adapts to failure.  Things go wrong, of course, but entrepreneurs don’t call them “failures” they call them “glitches, mistakes, bungles, setbacks” – but not failing.

When one such entrepreneur was asked about the hardest decision he ever had to make, he answered that he didn’t know what a hard decision was.  An entrepreneur will approach decision-making with the idea that there’s a strong likelihood that he/she will be wrong.  This doesn’t dissuade them – to the contrary they just do the best they can and worry about handling obstacles as they arise.

Another way of looking at it is to realize that you will make mistakes, so make them as quickly as you can in order to learn from them.  A good leader doesn’t view making mistakes as negative or irrevocable, he/she feels free to press on and try something new. There is the belief that something useful has been learned, and hopefully not at a high cost.

Let’s face it; if you’re going to live this life you’re going to make mistakes.  Make use of them as learning tools and don’t make the same ones twice.

Entrepreneurs also know the value of “intuition”.  While you shouldn’t act on the results of tossing a coin, there is something to be said about your “gut” feeling about the situation.  Very often business people become so involved with systems and checks-and-balances that they forget about that “gut” instinct they had when they started.

While not strictly logical, intuition does draw on a combination of experience, knowledge, and analysis as well as a lot of “gut” information you may have forgotten that you have.

You become a strong leader in your business by “practicing” being a leader.  It’s not a course you can take at a business college; it’s learned in the school of life as you’re doing business.

As a leader, you have to set standards and higher standards for your own behavior.  You must do this because appearances are sometimes more important that facts.

Consider for a moment that as an entrepreneur with a small business you’re planning on approaching a bank for a loan.   You know that you must present a well thought out and concise Business Plan, with all the projections for the use of the capital you’ll borrow and the repayment of the same.  You learned that from all those seminars you attended when considering becoming an entrepreneur, but is there something that you weren’t taught in seminars?  What about “presentation”?

I don’t mean the presentation of the Business Plan, we all know that must be well done and attractive.  What I’m talking about is YOU!  Do you maintain the appearance of leadership?  Do you project a confident appearance of a successful entrepreneur?  You may not have the faintest idea today how you’re going to pay for that advertising bill coming due on the 15th, but you’re not going to give that banker that information.

Presenting yourself as a confident entrepreneur, filled with the excitement of your business idea, and a strong leader of your team (whether it’s 1 or 10 employees) is what will make you a winner and add untold weight to your Business Plan.  After all, you are your business to that banker so you’d better look good and confident.

To protect that faith that your people and your customers have in your organization, always ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Could this be interpreted by anyone in a way that would shake their faith in my leadership?
  2. Could this be misinterpreted and held against me or the company?

Strong leaders know that leadership is a lifelong learning experience, and when they make a mistake they simply continue to move forward.  The ability to bounce back is a quality that every entrepreneur I’ve ever known has in abundance.

When you blunder, get up and try again quickly.  As one high-tech executive I knew put it, “Our strategy is to fail forward fast.”