Key metrics to help measure global business performance

 

 

 

At a time when more small businesses are competing in overseas markets, it’s important to have data that can provide the insights you need to do more business and outperform the competition. That means focussing on certain key metrics. Your business will naturally perform better in different markets, so it’s important to know where and why that is. It’ll help you develop your offerings, positioning and pricing strategy to optimise sales in each marketplace.  

From customer acquisition and retention rates, to lifetime value and ROI, there are key indicators that can help you discover where to direct more of your resources in order to maximise business benefit. If you’ve already cracked the domestic market, then you should have an idea of what to look out for, but be aware that the same rules won’t necessarily apply in foreign markets. Here are a few tips on what to look out for. 

 

 

Guesstimates 

 

Firstly, before setting foot in new global territories, you should already have an idea of what you want to achieve in terms of sales. Start by putting a basic plan together for each market. Your estimates in terms of picking up new business and sales will give you some form of reference point to go on. If you’re performing more poorly than expected, you need to find out why. That means looking at other key indicators. On the other hand, if you’re performing better than expected in certain markets – great! But, still investigate why that is and if you can put those learnings to work in other regional markets.  

 

 

Analyse everything 

 

Every market is unique and different factors can influence how well you do in each marketplace. The challenge is finding out what those differentiating factors are. That’s not easy, so you have to look at every statistic available to you for clues. For example, if your business relies on an app, use this as a point of reference, measuring install and uninstall rates to calculate customer acquisition and retention. After that, you need to consider the context in which installs/uninstalls are happening. For instance, is there a low take up of mobile devices and Smartphones in certain countries? Are certain customers more content to buy online via computer? If so, direct your marketing efforts into that Point-Of-Sale. The learning here is to investigate every angle. 

 

 

Speak to an expert 

 

Of course, one of the best ways to learn about regional differences is to talk to an expert. And there are fewer more qualified than your customers. Ask for feedback as to what you could be doing better, with regards to your product range, as well as how customers prefer to buy. The results could be really enlightening. A regional expert that knows your niche could also offer insights in terms of culture and purchasing drivers that can help you do better in a specific marketplace.  

 

 

Look at what your competitors are doing 

 

Before entering any new market, it’s a good idea to check out the competition. Clearly, they could have a huge impact on your success in that market. Examine what they’re doing well and what’s not working out for them. More importantly, look at how you can benefit from their mistakes. Can you tailor your offering in a way that makes it more attractive to the market? One vitally important benchmark here is pricing. Can you beat them on price, even in the short term, to steal market share and then focus on customer service to hold on to that new business?  

Measuring, interpreting and testing data should be a key part of every business strategy. By setting clear goals for international markets and always going back to them in order to review and fine-tune them, you’ll find that you will do better and grow your overseas business.  

Five effective leadership styles for business leaders

 

 

 

The key to a successful business is a great leader, but there are many different management styles out there and the one you pursue will depend on who you are, company culture and your business model. Here we look at the five main leadership styles in more detail, so you can find the one most appropriate for you and your business.  

 

 

Transformational leadership 

 

This approach is used by leaders who are always looking for ways to help their team grow and develop further, so that workers can consistently learn new skills and make a greater contribution to the business. The goal here is to promote a shared vision, so that everyone is working towards the same objectives. As such, these leaders tend to focus on the bigger picture, rather than the finer details of management. This style of leadership is ideal for people who are empathetic, good listeners and strive for integrity and authenticity. They are good at dealing with conflict and hold people accountable for their actions, including themselves.  

 

 

Democratic leadership 

 

Here, decision-making is based on the views of the team. While it’s the manager’s responsibility to make the final decision, each team member is given a voice and a vote on the final outcome. This can be a very effective leadership style as it gives lower-level employees a say in how projects progress. It can make for a highly motivating and inclusive culture within the business, because everyone has the opportunity to make a difference.  

 

 

Autocratic leadership 

 

This is the opposite of a democratic leadership style and isn’t always effective. In this instance, the leader has all the authority and may not even consult team members before making a decision. As a result, this can lead to poor decision-making, as the manager may not see the full picture from every perspective. However, this approach can be useful if tough decisions have to be made and buy-in from employees is a challenge. That said, for most businesses today, this type of leadership tends to create more issues than it solves and can lead to staff retention challenges. 

 

 

Laissez-faire leadership 

 

As the name suggest, this style denotes a ‘hands-off’ approach to leadership where responsibilities and decision-making is delegated to lower-level managers with minimal interference and supervision. This can be very empowering for team members as it gives them autonomy and the potential to make a real difference to business outcomes. Some employees perform exceptionally well under this style of leadership, especially in start-ups with a loose hierarchical structure, where everyone collaborates to achieve business goals. However, it is important that the leader continually monitors and reviews progress as a result of this leadership style. 

 

 

Transactional leadership 

 

These leaders work from an assumption that rewarding excellent performance and penalising poor performance encourages employees to work to the best of their abilities. This can be effective in certain types of businesses i.e., where workers have targets or performance related benchmarks to meet. 

 

 

Who are you? 

 

Of course, depending on your personality and the type of business you work in, some of these leadership styles can be blended in order to bring the best outcomes for the business. For help in discovering what type of leadership style suits you, there is a management survey tool known as the Leadership Development Profile that relies on a series of 36 open-ended questions that can help you understand leadership styles in more detail and discover which might be best for your organisation. 

Developing a leadership style doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s worth trying and can help you become more self-aware, delivering greater business rewards in the long term.   

Five reasons to take your business global

 

 

 

It’s not until entrepreneurs begin to make the move from selling domestically to selling internationally that they realised what they’ve been missing. Today, new technology means it has never been easier or more cost-effective for a small business to expand into global markets.  

Here are the five main advantages, companies can gain by making the move to expand internationally: 

 

 

Increase your customer base 

 

It might seem obvious but making the move from a domestic market to an international one is a sure-fire way to ensure that your business is exposed to millions of new customers. Hopefully, your product or service will be in demand and provide a much-needed solution in these new territories 

 

 

It’s time to expand 

 

Apart from finding new customers, there’s another very good reason to expand into foreign markets. And that’s if you feel that you’ve already saturated your main market. If you’ve run out of targets in your domestic market, then the natural thing to do is look for new ones in markets overseas. That way, your business – and your profits – can continue to grow 

As an added benefit, expansion into new foreign markets means diversification which can reduce risk, especially if something unexpected happens to business in your domestic market – you’ll still have your overseas business to fall back on. 

 

 

Gain a competitive edge 

 

Most businesses have competitors in the domestic market. If that’s the case for your business, then you could actually do better in overseas markets where there might be less competition. More importantly, move into a foreign market before your rivals do and you’ll secure a foothold, making it much more difficult for them to gain market share further down the road 

What’s more, when you start selling overseas, you may reveal learnings and insights that you can apply in your home market for greater success. Regardless, the increased revenues for operating globally could boost your bottom line to the extent that you’ll be able to afford to invest in marketing and advertising back home – in order to steal further market share from your rivals.  

 

 

Economies of scale 

 

When you make the transition to creating product for one market to many, it won’t be long until you discover that you need a lot more product. This means you can buy in bulk and benefit from economies of scale. As the per unit manufacturing cost falls, profit margins rise. You may even be able to benefit from sourcing cheaper materials and labour in some overseas markets, cutting operational costs further. You can then pass these savings onto the customer to undercut competitors, or create a cash pile for further investment in the business.  

 

 

Seasonal ebb and flow 

 

If your business does better at certain times of year due to seasonal ebb and flow, then you might be able to pick up extra business overseas when business is slow at home. This is worth researching, as you can then divert your marketing budget in order to focus on those regions where it’s possible to gain the most advantage.  

In addition to this, you may discover ways of tailoring your offering in order to create increased demand and new revenue streams in certain overseas territories at different times of the year. 

 

 

Get the tools for success in overseas markets 

 

Of course, to really benefit from doing business globally, you need the capacity to take payments from overseas – and in different currencies. As a global payments provider, KoalaPays allows you to do business in more than 20 currencies at once in countries all over the world. We also have designed our services with business customers in mind, offering the tools you need to expand into overseas markets and full flexibility of your account. If you’d like us to help you succeed with your international expansion, please get in touch with our team today! 

Digital banking vs traditional banks

 

 

 

Digital banking is no longer a novelty as more and more customers discover the advantages of doing all their banking online. And both personal and business customers are seeing the benefits. Due to the technology evolving quickly, new features and services are being added all the time, enhancing what we can do with digital banking.  

Traditional banks are seeing that digital banks are a real threat and are responding by trying to offer similar online services. However, for the most part, these are based on an archaic banking model and simply can’t compete in terms of pricing, functionality or added value features. 

 

 

24/7 banking has arrived 

 

At a time when just about everyone has access to the Internet, even on the move, banking online is easier than ever. Now, you can access your account anytime, making money management effortless, which is especially handy if you’re running a business.  

The new breed of fintech companies have made it easier to connect and manage your financial life on more platforms, such as mobile devices and tailor-made apps, so you can connect with customers round the clock. These days, online banking isn’t simply about checking your balance and paying bills – you can do a whole lot more, such as receiving payments from customers.  And because of Open Banking, you can do it all in conjunction with your old traditional bank account. 

 

 

More convenient 

 

When was the last time you took a cheque from a customerProbably not too recently. Because more people are making payments online, there is less need to go to a physical bank to lodge cheques or cash.  

Even ATM usage is falling as contactless payments are being completed more than ever before. The Covid crisis has added to this as fewer people want to handle money due to the risk of infection. This is set to continue when the pandemic has passed.  

Best of all, many new online banking platforms interface seamlessly with other software packages, such as those that handle accounting, taxation and payroll. 

 

 

More choice 

 

Fintech companies, such as KoalaPays, provide customers with more choice than ever before. For example, we offer unique services targeting specific needs of our business customers, and adding more value than a generic traditional bank ever could.  

Our easy-to-use platform allows clients to hold and convert over 20 major currencies, which makes cross-border payments quick and secure. Furthermore, having a fully digital account, makes managing your cashflow and identifying how you can improve your revenue streams easier than ever. 

 

 

Fewer fees 

 

With no costs for maintaining physical branches, online banks are very cost-efficient, especially as many transactions carried out online don’t require third parties, as it is the case with traditional banks. Automation of many banking processes also means fewer staff are needed. All this adds up to considerable cost savings over the traditional banking model – savings that can be passed onto customers meaning fees are exceptionally low and, in some cases, only charged for premium services. 

 

 

Faster and more efficient 

 

Everything is faster and more efficient online and this applies equally when it comes to banking. Since a lot of processes are automated and stored in the Cloud, paper errors are significantly reduced. Even customer support is better. You can get answers to most of your questions by email, through an app or by using a chatbot. 

The traditional banking model has become outdated. Fintech companies have made digital banking faster, more convenient, cheaper and more useful for customers. New functionality makes it easier for clients and businesses to manage their finances in ways that were impossible before and provide new types of innovative services that meet the unique needs of their customers. 

Four fundamentals when conducting a financial analysis of your business

 

 

 

Financial analysis is crucial when it comes to evaluating where your business currently stands and seeing how you can improve your future performance. Your ultimate goal is to use financial analysis to run the business more efficiently, and consequently, more profitably. 

While a professional financial analyst can do a lot for your business, hiring one can be an expensive undertaking. Fortunately, you can apply the same principles for even the smallest business. Here is what to look at… 

 

 

Revenues 

 

Obviously, the money you have coming in is what makes the biggest impact on how sustainable or successful your business is. By looking at the various ways money comes into the business and where it comes from, you should be able to reveal insights that can help you divert more of your resources to the most successful channels of revenue. 

An analysis of revenue might also disclose risks to the business. For example, if you discover that a lot of revenue is coming from a single customer, then it might be time to start looking for new business in case that customer stops buying from you. This may also be an opportunity to look at your offerings and the strategies used by the business to differentiate products, in terms of uniqueness, profit margin, cost control and marketing. 

 

 

Profitability 

 

Profits are essential to any business. If you don’t consistently make a profit, you won’t stay in business. It’s that simple. Your income must cover your expenses. Anything left over is profit. If you’re just breaking even, or worse, then you might have to review your pricing strategy. Regardless, it’s a good idea to channel some profit into a fund for unexpected emergencies or purchases for the business, so this needs to be factored into your pricing model.  

It’s worth pointing out here, that operating expenses do not include taxes. It’s a good idea to set up a separate account in which to channel your tax liabilities for each month, so you know exactly what’s left over for reinvesting into the business. KoalaPays can help with this by providing ‘spaces’ or separate accounts for segmenting taxes and other expenses.  

 

 

Operational efficiency 

 

One of the key drivers for profitability is operational efficiency. The more efficient your company is in terms of productivity, costs and business processes, then the more profit you’ll have left over after operational expenses. 

Two important figures to look at here are accounts receivable turnover and inventory turnover. If your account receivable turnover is low, then it might be time to look at how you can improve your credit control procedures in order to get money flowing into the business more quickly. Likewise, a fast turnover of inventory means that you’re selling well and you aren’t creating more product than you can sellGetting the right balance here is important as storing product that isn’t moving is an expense in itself 

 

 

Financial statements 

 

The tools to getting the insights you need are your financial statements. These should tell you a lot about how your business is doing. Key figures to examine include asset management and liquidity, profitability, debt, risk and market valuation. Look for trends that stand out, such as fluctuations from previous figures – relative to industry averages or other general economic factors.  

Make sure you critically examine how you arrive at all of these figures. It’s here where accounting irregularities can come to light.  

When this has been completed, you should have everything you need to make forecasts for future financial statements. At this stage, you should also be able to put a valuation on the business, which could be useful, if, for instance, you want to borrow for the business 

More importantly, however, you’ll know whether business performance is improving, or worsening. If it is the latter, you’ll have the insights you need to create an action plan to resolve those issues. 

Eight Don’ts when it comes to being a successful entrepreneur

 

 

 

It isn’t easy becoming a successful entrepreneur. 60% of new businesses fail in the first three years. To have any chance of establishing your business and becoming profitable, there are more than a few mistakes you really must avoid. Here are just eight… 

 

 

Don’t expect to be an overnight success 

 

Every venture, no matter how much you’ve planned, or how much confidence you have in your business model, comes with risks – especially when you’re just starting up. Don’t expect things to go smoothly or to make a profit straightaway. Expect problems and setbacksBeing successful is a long term game. That means commitmenta lot of hard work, patience and, above all, perseverance 

 

 

Don’t forget to make a business plan 

 

Start without a business plan and you’re planning to fail. Even if it’s just a single page, map out what you expect your start-up and operating costs to be, who your customers are, how you will sell to them and how much you expect to turnover monthly and annually. This will give you some idea of whether or not your business is going to be a viable concernContinually revisit your plan to review and refine, add new goals to work towards for the short, medium and long term. 

 

 

Don’t forget your tax obligations 

 

Make sure you follow the rules when it comes to registering your company and paying tax. If at all possible, get an accountant to help you with this and ensure you know exactly what your obligations are. It’s wise to put away enough cash in a tax account each month, so when the time comes to complete your tax return, the funds are in place. KoalaPays can help with separate ‘spaces’ to designate funds so you can manage your finances and your taxes better.  

 

 

Don’t forget contracts 

 

When you’re just starting out, you’ll do just about anything to get a new client on board – to the\ point where it can be tempting not to use a contract. This can be a big mistake for a new venture with limited resources. No matter how good your relationship with a business partner, when things go wrong, if you don’t have a contract, the outcome can be disastrous for your business.  

 

 

Don’t waste money 

 

When you’re starting out, being cost-efficient is critical. So when it comes to partnering with service providers, make sure you get value for money. Do your research and find the suppliers, partners and technology that are most compatible with your business model. For instance, at KoalaPays, we’ve designed our services around businesses just like yours with a range of features that can make it easier for you to do business in more places across the world.  

 

 

Don’t overpromise or under-deliver 

 

If you tell a customer or business partner that you can deliver more than you actually can, you could lose business. Be conservative in your estimates, that way you can always over-deliver and really impress your customers. 

 

 

Don’t be unprofessional

 

Following on from that, be professional in all your dealings with customers, suppliers and other business partners. Professionalism is what makes others take your business seriously. Respect your employees and others you work with, as well as customers. Always be courteous and polite. If you’re lax in any respect of professionalism, the result can seriously cripple your reputation. In the business community, word can spread quickly – anything that’s bad for your reputation is bad for business.  

 

 

Don’t rush when it comes to hiring 

 

The people that work for you are the lifeblood of your business, so it’s important to get recruitment right – even if you need new staff desperately. Invest in advertising and screening candidates. If necessary, outsource. Remember, you’re not only looking for someone who can do the job, but someone who is a good fit for company culture and can even bring more value to the business in other areas.  

What is KYC and why do we need it?

 

 

 

KYC or the Know Your Customer protocol is a legal requirement created for AML (Anti-Money Laundering) purposes. The legislation refers to the process of verifying the identity of customers, either before or when they begin to do business with you. For organisations working within financial services, such as banks and fintech companies, it’s particularly important when it comes to identifying and monitoring customer risk and fraudulent behaviour.  

 

 

KYC protects everyone 

 

In Europe, the fourth anti-money laundering directive (AMLD4) came into effect in June 2017 with a set of rules designed to protect financial entities from being exposed to money laundering. An enhanced version of this (AMLD5) came into effect in January of 2020improving transparency and co-operation between state authorities. 

Clearly, the regulations associated with KYC are becoming increasingly stringent, especially for financial services providers. Companies, including KoalaPays, must demonstrate ‘reasonable due diligence’ when establishing relationships with customers. As such, KYC allows companies to protect their businesses, as well as others who could be impacted by the effects of financial crime.  

KYC involves collecting information and data such as names, social security numbers, birthdays and addresses, ideally using electronic identity verification. Once the information has been collated, the data can then be compared with lists of known and potential financial criminals and those suspected of money laundering, bribery or corruption. 

 

 

Help with assessing risk 

 

By doing so, banks can assess if and how much risk a customer poses, reviewing their account for activity that might be suspicious. Financial institutions and policing organisations are then able to compare client profiles in an effort to see if the same person is operating under different identities. 

In terms of fintech companies, such as KoalaPays, KYC compliance has a significant impact on how customers open accounts and perform transactions on different types of devices. Obviously, we want customers to benefit from our services, but we also want to do our bit for fighting fraud and financial crime. By complying with KYC regulations, we can do this while mitigating risk for our own business. 

Fortunately, the state-of-the-art security solutions used by fintech companies, gives our customers peace of mind when it comes to partnering with us and using our services. It also gives us the confidence of knowing that we are fully compliant with KYC protocols. Our platform is fully PCI compliant with the latest fraud protection technology to ensure all your transactions are safe and secure.  

If you’d like to find out more about how we keep you safe, don’t hesitate to get in touch here. 

Five employee retention strategies for your business

 

 

 

If you have good staff, you’ll want to keep them, which is why it’s important to have a strong employee retention policy in place. After all, hiring new recruits can be costly and time-consuming, especially if you’re a small business.  

The key to keeping your best employees from going to the competition is understanding why they want to leave. 

 

 

Pay attention to pay 

 

Strangely enough, money, or a lack of it, isn’t always the main motivation for someone leaving one firm to work at another, but if you’re not paying market rates, it can be an influencing factor 

If you don’t want a rival company to poach your best workers, then it’s important to make sure you’re paying them what they’re really worth. Reward high performers with bonuses and other incentives. This has the added bonus of creating friendly competition among workers and boosting productivity. 

Be transparent when it comes to pay increases. If you tell a new recruit that there’s a pay review after six months, then make sure that there is one. There’s no easier way to frustrate workers than avoiding discussions about proposed salary increases.  

Make sure that employees doing similar work are on the same wage. Company morale can take a big hit from rumours that someone is getting paid less than someone else in the same job.  

 

 

Perks of the job 

 

When looking for a new job, added benefits can make all the difference to a great candidate who is in demand. Everyone has different needs, such as stock options, a gym membership, family health insurance, or paying for educational/upskilling opportunities. If you can be flexible when it comes to the perks of the job, then you’re much more likely to keep people at the firm for longer. One way of doing this fairly, is to offer a variety of benefit options in a package that employees can tailor to meet their own needs and circumstances.  

 

 

Appreciate and recognise the talent you have  

 

Workers like to be recognised for what they do. Even a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way when it comes to making employees feel appreciated. Better still, when praising a worker for doing a good job, ask for ideas and input on how to improve things at the firm. This is a great way to engage workers and keep them enthusiastic about their role in the success of the business.  

Try to promote from within the company whenever possible. If someone consistently does a good job, make sure they know that their prospects for career progression at the firm are good. Recruiting externally for the role above them, when they feel they’re more than capable, can be a real demotivator. Wherever possible, let workers progress through the ranks and recruit for the vacancy created by that promotion.  

 

 

Be flexible 

 

If your workers are prepared to go the extra mile for you, you should be prepared to do the same for them. Your employees have lives outside work with all the same issues and problems as you, so if they need some time off for an emergency, try to be flexible. Any work-life policies, such as flexible working, will go a long way to making sure employees feel appreciated and valued. These policies will help further when it comes to recruiting new talent. 

 

 

Hire the right person for the job and the company 

 

One sure-fire way of getting people to stay with you longer is to hire the right person for the job at the outset. Hire someone who is wrong for your business, and they’re going to quit sooner or later.  

This means making sure your recruitment processes are effective throughout, from creating a clear and detailed job description to ensuring new hires get all the help they need with onboarding. Be clear on company culture and expectations throughout and get professional recruitment help, if at all possible.  

This applies equally to managers. A bad manager can play havoc with your retention strategy. Hire leaders, not bosses. Ensure your managers buy into company culture and are trained to deal with conflict management.  

If you invest in your people and your retention strategy, you’ll see the rewards in the talent you hire through greater productivity and performance. 

Five strategies for improving cash flow in your business

 

 

 

Being in business is all about keeping cash flowing through your business, hence the term ‘cash flow’. No matter how profitable your product is, unless cash is coming in as regularly as money flows out, your business won’t survive.  

Here are five areas you can look at to improve your cash flow.

 

 

Offer alternative pricing models 

 

Setting the right pricing for your product can be challenging. You don’t want to price too low, as it could make you look cheap, but at the same time, price too high and customer won’t be able to afford you. However, even if you believe you’ve got it just right, there are things you can do to boost revenue further by adapting your sales/pricing model.  

Depending on your offerings, some customers might require a different type of product, or prefer to pay in a different way, by monthly subscription, for instance. By giving your customers different payment options – such as pre-payments, fixed monthly or specific date payments, you have more visibility over your cash flow.  

It’s up to you to decide how you can do that depending on your range of products or services. 

 

 

Early payments vs late payments 

 

Another way you can use payments to improve cash flow is by creating incentives for customers to pay on time, in advance or even by deposit. Likewise, you can create financial penalties for those that pay late.  

Applying a discount for customers that pay on time can help your budget and forecast more accurately, and, of course, keeps money coming in regularly to keep the business ticking over smoothly. An added bonus is when customers pay on time, you spend less time and money on credit control. 

 

 

Invoice on time 

 

Just as important as credit control is making sure invoices go out promptly. The sooner the invoice goes out, the sooner it will get paid (or if it doesn’t, credit control can get on the job sooner).  

It’s a good idea to invest in a system that automates it for you, so the invoice gets sent with the goods or when the job is complete. After all, any technology that makes it easier for you to manage your business finances, get paid and manage cash flow can help you free up time and resources. Research what’s out there that meets the needs of your business. 

 

 

Lease instead of buying 

 

Old equipment can let you down, failing into disrepair or becoming dated and unfit for purpose. Expensive, unexpected repairs and replacements can seriously affect your cash flow if you don’t have a sinking fund for such emergencies. One alternative is to consider leasing some of the equipment you need to do business. By doing so, you know exactly how much your operating costs are each month and you won’t have a nasty surprise when it comes to replacing an essential piece of equipment. What’s more, most leasing companies will let you upgrade as necessary, so you can stay up to date and work more efficiently with the most modern business equipment.  

 

 

Optimise your cash flow 

 

Once you start to focus on improving cash flow, you’ll quickly see the difference it can make and will want to do moreOne way of doing this is by creating a cash flow forecast that allows you to plan for the year ahead. This type of budget will help you plan for big expenses such as new equipment, the rise and fall of business associated with seasonal demand and ensure the cash is there to meet your tax liabilities when that dreaded time of year comes round. It can even predict when you may need to look for additional funding.  

If you are experiencing cash flow problems, it might be time to step back and look at your business objectively, where things are going wrong and where you can make alterations by putting some of these tips into action. By doing so, you should see significant improvements in a relatively short timeframe. 

Protect your business from phishing scams

 

 

 

If you have an email address, then at some stage you would have received a fraudulent email trying to steal your personal information. It’s known as phishing and happens when a cybercriminal pretends to be someone else in order to persuade you to part with sensitive information, such as bank details, credit card numbers, passwords, or log-in details. It might sound like it’s easy to avoid, but most of the time, the email is formatted in a way that makes it appear to come from a source you can trust.  

If you’re running a business, a phishing scam can threaten your entire operation. Every member of your staff with access to company email address is a potential risk, greatly increasing the chances of security breach. So, it’s vital that you take steps to protect your business. Here are some ways you can do that. 

 

 

Know what to look for 

 

We’ve all seen the obvious phishing attempts. These are the ones that typically end up in your junk mail box, such as a message from a prince of small African country promising a large sum of money in return for a favour. But some are much less obvious, using advanced techniques that can mimic the branding or website of the organisation they appear to come from.  

Certainly, if an email promises too much, this is a sign that all may not be right. These phishing attempts could include a tax refund, an interest-free loan, or free product from a supplier – all in an attempt to make you part with your bank details, log-in details or account information. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.  

Look out for suspicious attachments too. Most genuine organisations won’t send emails with unspecified attachments, especially .zip files. Once opened, these can release a virus that could infect your computer, record your keystrokes or steal personal data. 

Other tell-tale signs include spelling mistakes/typos, a strange tone of voice, a sense of urgency or the threat of a penalty if you don’t respond. 

 

 

Check the URL 

 

If you are suspicious, but not entirely sure, it’s a good idea to check the origin of the email or the site where you’re being directed. If you hover over the link, you will see the actual URL, which will allow you to see if it’s a randomly generated URL. Sometimes the address will be a shortened, such as http://bit.ly/xxxxx/. In this case, you can check whether it’s genuine, by going to https://checkshorturl.com/ 

If you right click on the address, you can also copy it to your clipboard and use tools such as Google’s Safe Browsing Tool to check if it’s genuine or safe to visitSome antivirus/firewall products may have features that can help with this too 

Still wary about visiting the link? Try googling the link without the URL. That way, you can check that the link isn’t a fraudulent mirror image of the actual site. 

 

 

Protect your company email 

 

The big problem with email is that it’s a completely open system. In practice, anybody can email anybody else – as long as they have a bona fide email address. One way of getting round this at work, is by using an internal messaging service for communication between colleagues in your business. 

However, it’s equally important to raise awareness of phishing. Train your staff to identify, avoid and report phishing scams. After all, everyone with access to email is a security risk and could become a victim exposing your company’s sensitive data and financial details.  

Finally, ensure your company uses a reputable, up-to-date antivirus and firewall system, ideally with anti-phishing capabilities. If your employees use email at home or on other personal devices, either ensure these devices are protected by the same system, or only allow business email to be conducted on authorised work devices. 

Phishing is on the rise and cybercriminals are using ever more sophisticated technology to scam people into giving out sensitive data. Take these simply steps and you can greatly reduce the chance of a phishing scam affecting your business.  

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