Protect Your Business Information

Protect your information and your business

It is not uncommon to encounter media accounts of a data breach or loss. The consequences are usually severe, including monetary loss and loss of confidence in the organization. In fact, a study completed by Symantec in 2006 determined that 60% of organizations that lose their data shut down within six months of the loss. You don’t want to find yourself in this number, but where can you begin to make a difference?

What information do you have?

In order to effectively and efficiently manage information, it is necessary to first confirm what information assets the organization has and also to identify people in the organization that “own” the information. The owner of the information is responsible to determine who can access information and how it will be used.

What types of data do you have?

After information assets are identified, they should be classified according to their sensitivity relative to unauthorized disclosure. For example, there may be legal or regulatory requirements that specify that certain information must be protected. There may be industry guidelines that address information protection, for example the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard that outlines requirements to protect credit card data. When classifying information, it helps to consider information in broad categories, for example, corporate intellectual property, human resource information, financial information, information to access systems and records (user-ids and passwords) and information that could typically be found in the public domain.

It is important not to develop too many classifications of information because such a scenario will likely become unmanageable. Quite often, three classifications are often sufficient. For example, information that should only be shared amongst management may be classified as restricted. Information that is less sensitive, but should not leave the organization may be classified as confidential. Information that typically exists in the public domain may be classified as non-sensitive.

Getting started?

  1. Make a list of the information: who is responsible for it? Who should have access to it?
  2. Determine the different categories of information: remember, probably no more than 3 categories should be enough.

Business Information – SWOT it For Benefits

In most situations, business decisions are prompted by information that has come into your possession. Sometimes this information comes from the information system within your business but often it is from external sources.

An interesting thing to do is to quickly apply a swot analysis to new information. If you are not familiar with the term “swot”, this stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The idea of a swot analysis is that you objectively try to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your business and also the opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses are aspects of your business that are particular to your business. These are internal issues. The opportunities and threats are matters that are external forces that impact on the enterprise. It is a good idea to conduct a swot analysis from time to time.

On the assumption that you have conducted a swot analysis and therefore have objectively determined your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you can apply the results of this analysis to new information that comes to you. Let us focus on information from external sources.

For example, you visit a trade show for your industry. At that trade show you observe a new technological advancement in a particular aspect of your industry. You then apply the results of your swot analysis to this new information.

As an example, you may have identified that one of your strengths is low overheads. Due to this, your enterprise is flexible and can change quickly. Accordingly, you might conclude that you could quickly adopt the new technology and steal a march on your competitors. So, off you go to your bank or other sources of capital to get the funds to adopt the new technology – and you know that this won’t be a problem because of your low overheads.

Alternatively, you might have identified the heavy capital investment in your company as a weakness. This means that it is difficult to alter the production process without very significant cost and disruption to customer requirements. When you see the new technology and realise that your competitors might be able to adopt it faster than you, perhaps this will prompt you to the decision – albeit difficult – of reinvesting in a new production process involving the new technology.

Let’s say you have identified rapid changes in technology as an opportunity for you. This maybe because of a particular set of skills that your people have. Because of their training, experience or knowledge they are able to rapidly understand the new information and apply it in a profitable way. So, you are alert to any changes in technology. You seize on this new development and give it to your people.

And, of course, if you see advances in technology as a threat, hopefully you will take action to minimise this threat.

Applying your swot analysis to every new piece of information would be too tedious. But it is a very useful practice to apply it to important information that you come across. The more regularly that you do this, the more alert you will be to developments in your industry and the more quickly you will be able to turn new information into profits or other benefits.

How to Start a Business Information As a Unique Christmas Gift

Starting a business in no “walk in the park” for most of us. There are expenses to consider, the likely hood of success verses failure. A person has to take their time to research their idea, find out every scrap of information they possibly can about this business. In truth starting a business from scratch is a whole lot of hard work. Just when you think you have asked every possible question there is a dozen more pop up. Would it not be a unique Christmas gift to find a way to help your friend or loved one with some of that much needed information?

When searching for a business to start many of us do not have thousands and thousands of dollars in liquid assets to invest in a franchise. Today’s new business owners have had to get creative and find “real” businesses that can be operated from home. This is where the word “real” applies, there are many scammers out there trying to get your money. You will see overwhelming amounts of sites that offer to make you rich while you are lazy, asleep, in your pajamas – you name it! And get this – it will only cost you 29.00 to start your business. Get real; it is not going to happen so easily.

Creative people need to think outside the box to find a business that they can work from home. Look at service businesses especially. Mobile gyms, mobile pet care, mobile car wash, mobile windshield, mobile oil change and mobile lawnmower repair. People are starting cleaning businesses, delivery service and daycare centers in and from their own home. These businesses allow you to start and run them from your own home at a much lower cost than your typical “sticks and bricks” businesses.

Back to the unique Christmas gift, that is easy. If you know someone who is looking to start their own business but needs guidance, support and most of all information why not do a little research yourself and print it out, put it in a binder and present that as a gift? Or better yet, if you can find a “How to Start” manual that applies to the subject your friend or loved one is interested in buy it as a gift. It not only shows that you are a crafty shopper but a person who cares about their dream. It shows your support for their idea.

Just a thought…

Building Your Coaching Business – Information Marketing in Networking

Here’s another step in information marketing (see the other articles on Information Marketing), this time applied to networking.

This is a way to take a prospect through a step by step warming up that results in 20% to 70% of them moving forward….this time through networking.

As a coach, you should be an unlimited resource for helping your clients. A part of that can be continually sending them emails, articles, and just plan face-to-face opportunities to expand their business (business coach, executive coach), or answers to their life or career problems (for life coaches and career coaches). This should apply to any kind of coaching. Just provide as many of the answers to the problems that your client is facing.

The more you give, the more value you have established that you provide. If you are really good, you can establish such value in a very short time that they will be begging for more.

Some coaches respond with, “People will drain me, take it all for free.”

Let me state what I said earlier, IF you are good, you can give a little, prove so much value in that short time, that they will clamor to want more. So, you encourage them to want that next meeting…and the next…and the next. Each step is a bigger commitment in time, and eventually cost. This is all about giving value until they want more, then asking them if they’d like more at the next meeting.

So, how do you do that in networking?

When you are talking to someone at a networking event, start asking them what they are struggling with. Then say something like, “I wrote an article about how a client of mine did ____________, and __________ (state measurable results). Would you like to have a copy?” Send them a copy, and make sure that you sign them up for your weekly emails, Hints and Tips on _________________. The email is a way of continually nurturing that relationship. If you are using an autoresponder, then it can be nearly on autopilot.

In most cases, I offer to send the first article to them by email, IF they’d be willing to discuss how it might work for them, and then we set a time for a call to discuss if that will work for them.

Sometimes I email them a copy, sometimes I mail them a printed copy, sometimes I send them a link to the articles that are published in online articles. In any of those cases, I make sure that they see that I am a published online author, an expert in the field. And, I am there to help them through this issue.

At no time am I trying to sell them anything. I want them to want me after exploring how those articles helped someone else with exactly their problem.

Of course, I will always be asking, “was that helpful?” “How helpful?” “Do you think something like that would solve your problem.”

And if all of those are “Yes, it was great.” Then I will be asking “would it be helpful if we set down together to work through issues like those that helped the client in that article?”

The “Yes,” in that instance is the first step toward closing the sale.

You do have to ask for it, but it isn’t a high pressure sale at all. Most of the time the prospect will be asking you for the next step.