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 [Avril.Sparrowhawk@lescaves.co.uk]”

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 [Avril.Sparrowhawk@lescaves.co.uk]
Date: 22 December 2015 at 11:14
Subject: CWIH8974 PAYMENT RECEIVED
Continue reading “The Trojan of the Month Award goes to: Avril Sparrowhawk CWIH8974 PAYMENT RECEIVED”

Business Party Do’s and Don’ts

Here it is holiday time again, and while Ms. Abby and Manners takes care of our social etiquette I’d like to share some practical tips for business holiday parties.

page1_pic3Here are some DO’S….

  • Attend the Event:  It’s an unspoken expectation that showing up may not be mandatory or can it be required, but attending isn’t really optional.  That is if you want to be working there next year.
  • If you RSVP – by all means ATTEND: Many business functions are paid on the basis of the number who attend, and that is calculated by the number of RSVP’s.
  • Mingle, Mix, and Move: Talk to different people and learn something new.  Don’t stick with your usual watercooler pals.
  • Pay Attention to Start and End Times on the Invitation: This is there for a reason, and you don’t want to overstay your welcome.
  • Remember that Any Business Party is Really a Business Event: Although it might be outside the standard office meeting and be accompanied with food and beverage, the same rules of conduct apply.
  • Limit Gift Giving:  Colleagues will often feel obligated to give gifts in return for receiving gifts. If you do give, give from the heart and keep it simple, and priced at a minimum.
  • Dress Appropriately and Professionally:  All eyes are not meant to be on you, and this is not the time for provocative dress.  Lean toward the conservative or classic look.
  • Give Thank-You’s:  When appropriate write either a note of thanks, or if at a private home tell the host/hostess in person that you enjoyed the celebration.

Now for the Don’ts…..page4_pic5

  • Say “yes” to a Blind Date:  You don’t know who the person is or who he/she might know.  Rule of thumb – when in doubt, go stag.
  • Be Flirtatious or Get Frisky: This is crossing the line of appropriate and adult behavior at a business event.
  • Drink Too Much:  it’s not worth taking the chance that you’ll say something you wish you hadn’t.  Rule of thumb is- limit  yourself to 2 drinks.
  • Talk All Business:  BORING!! After all it is a social gathering.  The guests are supposed to have fun, get to know each other, and have a different experience outside of daily office routine.
  • Prospect for New Business: TACKY!!
  • Assume Everyone Celebrated the Same Holiday:  If you say “Merry Christmas” to someone who doesn’t observe the holiday it might offend them.  Be generic and say “Happy Holidays.”
  • Give Gag Gifts:  This is not the place to risk offending or embarrassing someone.
  • Gossip:  Gossiping in any situation is usually damaging and not a good practice, but it’s especially not appropriate at a business-related event

Hopefully with these tips under your belt, your appearance at you next business holiday event will go successfully.

The majority of business professionals know these things, but there’s always some newcomers to the firm who may not be as seasoned as some of us.

Helping your consumers to gain more profits

Personalised Marketing

maximizing-profitsConsumers are individuals or households that consume goods and services generated within the economy. Since this includes just about everyone, the term is a political term as much as an economic term when it is used in everyday speech.
Typically when business people and economists talk of consumers they are talking about person as consumer, an aggregated commodity item with little individuality other than that expressed in the buy not buy decision.
However there is a trend in marketing to individualize the concept. Instead of generating broad demographic profile and psychographic profiles of market segments, marketers are engaging in personalized marketing, permission marketing, and mass customization.
A consumer is assumed to have a budget which can be spent on a range of goods and services available on the market. Under the assumption of rationality, the budget allocation is chosen according to the preference of the consumer, i.e. to maximize his or her utility function.
In ‘time series’ models of consumer behavior, the consumer may also invest a proportion of their budget in order to gain a greater budget in future periods. This investment choice may include either fixed rate interest or risk-bearing securities.
In the context of mental health, consumer is also a term applied to describe a person living with mental illness. Literally, it is not really what is states. They are the people seeking for help in their own profile of their mentality. You can let them gain their life back on track and achieve your goal at the same time.
Problems may also arise when dealing with your possible prospects.
Many patients are frustrated because, despite their best intentions, they seem unable to adhere to an exercise or “diet” program. Actually, there are several proven strategies that can be used to help us be successful in our efforts to improve an aspect of our lifestyle.
First, make a plan and make sure it fits their lifestyle. For example, if you’re planning on beginning an exercise program, think ahead about how you’re going to carve out the time in their already busy life. In this respect, anything you can do to make the exercise program a regular, daily part of your routine will be helpful.
It’s often a good idea to ask those around you to help you in your endeavors. Anything you can do to help assure the support of your family, friends and co-workers will increase the odds of success.
Remember that most of the changes you make, whether changing what you prefer to eat, or changing your schedule to include exercise, will affect those around you. One of the best examples of this is the difficulty that smokers have trying to quit when those around them are smoking.
If you strictly adhere to a “proven” program that has succeeded for others, however, and fail to produce the results you want, you may become discouraged or filled with self-doubt. There are many reasons to explain why self-help techniques fail, and many steps to take to feel good about yourself regardless of the result. Like every other field, the “experts” in self-help disagree on just about everything.
Always remember this: no matter how smart or “successful” someone is, how much “proof” you’re given, how much you trust or respect someone, or how logical something seems, it’s just an opinion, just what worked for someone else, just a possible pathway to success.

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.”

 

Dispelling 8 Misconceptions of Organization

Some people were born organized and then there are those of us who struggle with organizing every year at this time.  It seems that it’s always at the end of the year when that little annoying bug begins nudging you to clear things up and start the new year organized.

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Different people have different skills for organising their time & life.

Well, I’ve read just about everybody’s directions, books, and helpful hints about getting organized (in fact, I’m thinking of writing one myself), and I’ve got to tell you there are some misconceptions being fostered by every organizational guru.  It will be my pleasure to give you the “skinny” on that in today’s column.

Here are the 8 misconceptions that we can throw out:

  1. Handle paper once.  This is not only impossible, but in most cases it’s unrealistic.  Instead of handling paper once, get in the habit of doing something with each piece of paper to move it forward.  If you get some information about an upcoming seminar/trade show, for example, decide if you’ll attend or not.  If you’re to attend then note the date on your calendar and sign up.  If not, then toss the information immediately.  If you want to wait to sign up, then make a note in your planner to respond well before the deadline and file the paper in your “to-do” file.
  2. Always keep papers stored out of sight: Some of us work better when their desk is clear, whereas others feel stifled if they aren’t surrounded by stacks of paper.  If you’re an “out of sight – out of mind” type, keep papers you use often nearby in files or stacking bins.  They’ll be accessible, yet not clutter your desk.  When working on a project, spread out the papers related to it, and when you’re done put them away together in one place.
  3. Everyone should be organized to the same degree.   Different people work differently.  Don’t feel that you have to work the same as someone else.  Find a comfortable level of being organized, and make the necessary changes to maintain that level.  I usually draw that line when I’m looking for something and can’t find it; that’s when I know things need to get reorganized.
  4. Soon we’ll be a “paperless” society. Don’t you believe it.  Experts have been saying that for years, and we won’t be paperless for a long time.  It’s not technology that’s the problem, it is human nature that’s the culprit.  We’re creatures of habit and used to seeing things in print rather than on a computer screen.  The younger generation is now being trained on computers at an early age, so when they join the workforce, the “paperless” society will have a better chance of becoming a reality.
  5. One planning system should fit everyone.  When used correctly, daily planners are an ideal way to stay organized.  Keep in mind, however, they are designed by a few for many users.  When buying a planner, whether paper-based or electronic, determine what you want it to do and choose a system accordingly.  If you can’t find one to suit your system, design your own based on your individual needs.
  6. You have to be born organized to be organized. We learn both good and bad habits at an early age.  It’s possible to change any bad habit, including disorganization.  Youngsters raised in an organized environment sometimes rebel as adults by being disorganized.  The opposite is also true, but neither is carved in stone and behavior can be modified.
  7. You MUST use a “to-do” list. Planning day-to-day is not realistic for everyone.  Someone may do the same task every week, but others find their plans changing daily.  Consider your particular need, then plan by the day or the week.
  8. Being organized means being a perfectionist. A perfectionist may spend time on insignificant details while disregarding the big picture.  When others complete a project quickly and on time, the perfectionist continues to work until the project is perfect.  A perfectionist becomes more effective when he/she lowers his/her standards slightly and concentrates on ways to increase productivity.

Misinformation, when taken seriously, can hinder you from doing what you want.  The next time you hear one of those “Organizational Gurus” espousing one of the above misconceptions, consider its value and work to develop your own style of organizing.

Business – Prepare yourself for Crisis

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

A personal crisis doesn’t have to spell disaster for your business if you’re prepared.  Every business occasionally endures a crisis, but what happens when your dilemma isn’t falling profits but personal.

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Because we have no idea what type of personal crisis may await us – an ugly divorce, debilitating disease, or ailing parent/child/spouse, we must be prepared. Just as you plan for advertising and promotions, you must plan for life’s surprises.

Paul Krasinski, founder of Lion Strategy Advisors, New York, suggests finding somebody NOW who can take over your responsibility and carry on for at least 20 days.  He/she needs to be someone who can communicate well with staff and command respect, and may or may not be the person you feel closest to in the company.

Once a personal crisis hits, Krasinski recommends “full disclosure” to your employees. This avoids the feeling of being hit by a bomb, and that business will go on as usual.  In case you think this doesn’t work, let me give you a case history.

Dana Weidaw, 28 and president of her own PR firm had only been in business 1 year when she tested “full disclosure” with her employees.  She was diagnosed with an aneurysm which required a surgeon to drill through her skull.  She had just landed her first major client and was publicizing a major hockey arena.  If all didn’t go well with the project, this client could turn out to be her last.

Before missing 7 days of work, Weidaw prepped her full-time employee, another agency she was working with, and her client by sharing the nitty-gritty details of her crisis.  She assured them everything would run according to plans and smoothly in her absence, and found that everybody was willing to work around her crisis.  Weidaw found that, by nature, people are very sympathetic.

A word of caution though, you need to know when to talk.  During and after a crisis – full disclosure is great.  If you’re “contingency” planning though, it might be prudent not to advertise that if your personal life goes in the tanker good old Gary or Suzy will be in charge.  Your employees may needlessly dwell on why they weren’t picked to run the show instead of them.  Above all, you don’t want to cause widespread distress or distract your staff from day-to-day operation.

Just as surely as you plan for financial allocations for your business, always have a crisis plan in place.  This may need adjustments from year to year as staff leaves and are replaced, so when planning for each year’s business needs include your crisis plan.

Your Business Checkup

Whether you’re thinking it’s Spring Cleaning Time or time for an annual checkup, your business needs to undergo a checkup each year.  No matter how large or small your business is, you cannot gauge the effectiveness of any changes you’ve made without analyzing the benefits and bottom line.

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Here are 10 questions to get you started:

  • How do your year-to-date sales compare to the last couple of years? Don’t be satisfied if you managed to match them because if sales stayed the same then you’ve achieved zero growth.  With inflation, this flat growth line is a warning sign for more trouble down the road.
  • What percentage of your business is from repeat customers? This is important to know because if it’s too low, then it needs to be improved.  The estimated cost of getting a new customer versus retaining an existing one can be as much as five to one in terms of dollars spent.  Keeping customers is more cost-effective than constantly seeking new ones.
  • How long has it been since you offered a new product or service?  Loyal customers like to see you changing and progressing with the times.  If you’re stuck for an idea, ask your customers what they need.
  • Do you consider marketing and advertising expenses or investments?  How you look at the money spent in these areas affects your willingness to spend money at all.  Would you look at prescriptions as a waste of money?  Marketing is really investing in you, your vision, and your company.  The old adage that you must spend money to make money is true, but you must spend it wisely.  Spend it on ads that are pulling responses and orders, and if they’re not maybe you need to change publications.
  • Do you know what PR is and how to use it to positively position your business in the media?  I’ll bet that at least one of your competitors does.  Nearly every mention of a company or business in the newspapers and magazines is a direct result of publicity efforts.  Being quoted or featured in an article speaks volumes to your clients and readers who are your potential prospects.  A good PR consultant can do that for you and show you ways to extend the shelf life of that article beyond its publication.
  • Are you listed in the yellow pages?  If you only have a line listing, consider including a small ad in the yellow pages.  If you can afford it, it will pay dividends throughout the year.
  • Do you teat your regular customers better than your drop-ins?  You should.  If your customers don’t feel special when coming to you for products of services, why should they remain loyal to you?  Have a customer appreciation day or a special invitation only sale for your regulars.  Create a mailing list of your regulars.  Send occasional post cards or greeting cards for special events or just to keep in touch.  Learn to recognize them on sight and greet them by name when they visit you.
  • How long has it been since you really talked to one of your customers?  Just as you appreciate when your Doctor takes time to talk to you, your customers will appreciate you if you take an interest in their needs.  If you have a service business, have lunch or coffee periodically with some regulars – even if they only contact you once or twice a year.  The personal touch in an impersonal world will be remembered.
  • How is your business doing compared to your competition?  Every company, no matter what the size, has competition – even home-based businesses.  Is their business growing or downsizing? Is their pricing or service better than yours?  If so, what can you tell potential customers about the price difference?  Think about how you can improve your service to meet or exceed your customer’s expectations.
  • Are your employees happy?  Don’t ask them directly, but observe them throughout the day.  Watch, listen and learn.  Employees who like their jobs don’t watch the clock for quitting time, aren’t habitually late, don’t have poor body language, don’t spend time on personal phone calls, and don’t look like they never smiled.  Observe how they interact with customers.  Not everyone is a match for direct contact with the public, so make sure you don’t have an employee who is driving business away.

I can remember when I was working at my very first job out of school.  It was a service business with just the owner and me at work.  There was direct contact with the clients, and there was never a problem with smiling when talking face to face with them.  I was given the best business tip of my life by that employer, when he pointed out to me that when talking to clients on the telephone I should smile too.  For some unexplainable reason, when you smile as you talk on the phone, the exchange with the client becomes more pleasant and more productive.  It’s as if that smile went right through the phone wires to the person to whom you’re talking.