Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Your Small Business can also be Sustainable
All businesses – large and small – should take steps to become sustainable.
By becoming sustainable, large companies will impact the quality of life on a global scale, while small businesses, even neighborhood ones, will have a similar impact on the equally important local level.
These are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted by the 195 UN member-states to transform our world.
GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 2: Zero Hunger
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
GOAL 13: Climate Action
GOAL 14: Life below Water
GOAL 15: Life on Land
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
As you can see, being sustainable is not merely being environmentally friendly and protecting the ecology. There are 17 principles and picking a favorite one is all your small business needs to do to embark on the road to sustainability.
Taking a global view, Barron’s recently published its list of 100 sustainable companies. No. 9 on the list is Clorox, yes, the bleach manufacturer. Hard to believe?
According to the business publication, Benno Dorer, CEO, travels to his office via public transit, buys sustainable products, including his company’s Brita water filters, separates his trash diligently, and teaches his kids to do the same.
Barron’s noted that for a company best known for a toxic product, Clorox has become one of America’s greenest companies, publishing goals on greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, phasing out controversial substances, and adding lines of natural products like Burt’s Bees.
“As a CEO, I don’t think I can be credible without walking the walk,” Dorer says. “At the end of the day, the company’s commitment to sustainability starts with the CEO.”
What is important about Dorer’s observation is that he, as the CEO, has set the tone for the company’s sustainable evolution. He created a sustainable corporate culture that trickles down throughout the company structure, to its branches and offices, and quite conceivably to local communities. Creating such a culture or image by top management becomes the dynamic thought leadership that triggers others to follow suit.
There is also a noteworthy payback. Sustainability is mission-critical to Clorox and the investing world is increasingly agreeing with Dorer’s public-spirited views.
More US investors are signing the United Nations guidelines or joining the UN Global Compact that incorporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria. Paul Smith, chief of the CFA Institute, was quoted as saying by Barron’s: “Consensus is emerging in many countries that it is asset managers’ fiduciary duty to incorporate ESG factors into their financial analysis, especially when material to a company’s long-term prospects.”
Another well-known company, McDonald’s Corp., has embarked on a quest to boost sales and improve its image by vowing to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions.
The world’s largest restaurant chain is adding LED lights and more efficient kitchen equipment, such as grills and fryers, in a bid to reduce emissions at its restaurants and offices by 36% by the year 2030 from 2015 levels. That is the deadline year set by the UN.
Also, changes to beef production will lower greenhouse gases from the company’s supply chain by 31%, the fastfood giant said. Its suppliers are experimenting with new paddock-style grazing practices, in which herds are rotated across sections of pasture. That allows the land to recover and reduces gases from cattle.
The company expects that the combined effect will be the equivalent of taking 32 million cars off the road for a year.
“We believe this will drive growth and drive our business,” Francesca DeBiase, chief supply chain and sustainability officer, was quoted as saying. “These are expectations that our customers have.”
The environmental moves follow the goal the restaurant chain set earlier this year to recycle trash at all of its 37,000 restaurants globally by 2025. As part of that effort, McDonald’s said it would make some food packaging more environmentally friendly. It has also pledged to help protect water supplies, promote animal welfare and preserve forests at cattle ranches that supply its beef.
In addition to Wall Street support for sustainable companies, small business can also reap the benefit of boosting their sales because the all-important millennial age group is keenly interested in sustainable businesses and is expressing its support for them with their purchases.
While these two examples present the 50,000-foot view, small businesses can also jump on the sustainability bandwagon.
  • As owner, be outspoken in your commitment to sustainability.
  • Look how your firm collects and recycles trash.
  • Review what you buy and from which companies.
  • Check your lighting.
  • Urge your vendor and industry partners to follow your example.
  • Inspire, sponsor or contribute to sustainable community projects.
  • Compel your local officials to become sustainable.
  • Spread the word.

Join the conversation in cyberspace about sustainability and its benefits for your small business. If you have examples of how you’re adopted the SDGs, let me know. If you need help, reach out to me.
Scroll through my blog to read about more ways to boost your outreach.
I’d also like to invite you to visit my Thought Leadership website:              
If you’re looking for advice on recruiting, company handbooks and other human resources topics, I’d like to suggest to you this interesting website:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Are You Monitoring Your Online Security?
With all of us – businesses, non-profits (NGOs) and private individuals – on line everyone moment of the day, it behooves us to pay attention to our cyber network.
After all, we protect our homes, businesses and offices from burglars. Small business owners and NGOs would be foolhardy if they didn’t protect their computers, databases and cyber networks from criminal breaches. Invasions such as these pose a diabolical threat to you, your clients and donors, and our democracy.
Just how big is the risk? Extremely big and very real. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, 61% of breaches hit smaller businesses, up from the previous year’s 53%.
UPS Capital reported:
  • ·         Cyber attacks cost small businesses between $84,000 and $148,000.
  • ·         60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of an attack.
  • ·         90% of small business dont use any data protection at all for company and customer information.

According to, the average organizational cost to business in the United States after a data breach in 2017 amounted to $7.35 million.
Almost two-thirds of all cyberattacks are now directed at small businesses and people. Cyber criminals recognize that these categories are most likely to disregard paying attention to preventing cyberattacks.
You have to understand that you have a lot to lose. Small businesses and non-profits store not only their own critical data and information but also customer records (including possibly credit card, social security, and/or other numbers), vendor information, customer lists, passwords, and much, much more. You could be held criminally liable for not protecting your customers and donors’ information. You should protect it like your lives.
A survey of small business owners by Nationwide found only 13% of respondents believed they had experienced a cyberattack. However, when they are were shown a list of specific examples of attacks, including phishing, viruses and ransomware, the figure of those reporting attacks increased to 58%. As a result, you should learn about the types of attacks and oversee your staff’s computer activity.
There is a lot you can do to protect your small business from a security breach. Most often, data breaches stem from the following causes:
  • ·         Hacking/malware
  • ·         Credit/debit card fraud
  • ·         Bad employees
  • ·         Lost paper documents
  • ·         Lost mobile devices, or
  • ·         Accidental disclosure by someone within the company.

As a result, experts suggest that small businesses and non-profits do the following:
  • ·         Regularly test your data security systems and procedures.
  • ·         Develop a data breach response plan that includes a communications response plan how you will notify customers, staff, the media, etc.
  • ·         Getting cyber liability insurance.
  • ·         Train staff to spot the warning signs of “phishy” email.
  • ·         Encrypt sensitive data.
  • ·         Enable two-factor authentication.
  • ·         Dont forget physical security. Not all data theft happens online.

Statistically, attacks remain undetected for 146 days. When you uncover a cyber breach, you are advised to do the following:
  • ·         Act immediately. Contact your IT team, legal counsel and cyber liability insurance agent.
  • ·         Contain the breach. Take affected systems offline, but don’t turn them off. That’s so your IT team can examine the source of the breach.
  • ·         Document every step. Authorities will need to know these details.
  • ·         Communicate clearly. Ensure affected groups are made aware of the issue and the steps being taken.

The takeaway is that data security needs to be at the top of your list of vital daily tasks and be given the attention it merits. By taking the right precautions, and getting professional protection and coverage you greatly reduce the risk of catastrophic business interruption due to a security breach.
For my previous article on this topic, please refer to this post: Cyber Security is Your First Responsibility, located here:
Join the conversation in cyberspace about cyber resilience. If you have examples of how you’ve protected yourselves, let me know about it and I’ll help you spread the word about your success. If you need help, reach out to me.
Scroll through my blog to read about more ways to boost your outreach.
I will be presenting an introductory workshop on social media at Ramapo College on Monday, March 19, at 6 pm. It will be sponsored by the NJSBDC-Bergen County and Ramapo College. If you’re available, please join and become part of the cyber crowd. Registration:
I’d also like to invite you to visit my Thought Leadership website:              
If you’re looking for advice on recruiting, company handbooks and other human resources topics, I’d like to suggest to you this interesting website:

Friday, February 23, 2018

More Evidence SDGs Boost Revenue
Surfing the net, I came across additional, corroborating information that, as I have been writing, businesses that incorporate some or all of the Sustainable Development Goals into their companies’ business plans will reap the benefit of greater revenue.
An article by Madelein Cuff on stated companies are using sustainability strategies to boost revenues, cut operating costs and achieve better borrowing rates.
The findings were released earlier this month by Dutch banking giant ING and were based on the results of a survey, carried out by Longitude, of 210 finance executives from US-based companies with annual revenues of between $500 million and $20 billion.
According to the writer, the survey found the potential to grow revenues was the most important factor when deciding to implement sustainability strategies, with 39% of respondents citing revenue growth as a priority. Cutting costs was identified as the main driver for sustainability initiatives by 35% of respondents, while 30% said they primarily were seeking to boost brand reputation.
Among those businesses with well-established sustainability policies already in place, the opportunity to secure a more competitive borrowing rate than their competitors was also commonly cited as a driver of sustainable strategies, ING said.
Forty-eight percent of executives reported that sustainability concerns have at least some influence over a business’s growth strategy.
“We are witnessing an important shift in how companies in the United States view sustainability,” Gerald Walker, CEO of ING Americas, said. “Our research shows that it is no longer just about cutting costs or creating positive brand awareness ­— sustainability strategies are being deployed as true revenue drivers.”
In other words, embracing sustainability principles by your firms will positively affect all segments of your businesses. It will add revenue to your bottom lines.
The survey also demonstrated how sustainability strategies are starting to play an integral part in overall growth strategies, with 48% of executives reporting that sustainability concerns have at least some influence over a business’s growth strategy. This admission, at least, could influence other CEOs to join the sustainability bandwagon.
It also suggested the business appetite for green bonds could be filtering down from the largest corporates to smaller players in the market.
To date, appetite for green bonds has been greatest among firms with more than $10 billion in annual revenue, but 37% of smaller firms said they were planning to issue green bonds in the next two years.
“The increasing demand for green financing marks an inflection point,” said ING's Global Head of Sustainable Finance Leonie Schreve. “Our survey found larger firms have attracted a new breed of investors focused on meeting socially responsible investment mandates. We expect this trend to now expand to organizations of all sizes, as respondents across the board reported an increased appetite to both issue green bonds and undertake green loans.”
Regardless if you’re a Fortune 500 corporation and a local small business, the Sustainable Development Goals can help our planet, humanity, your marketplace and your bottom line.
Join the conversation in cyberspace about sustainability and boosting your business. If you have examples of how you used social media to boost outreach about sustainability, let me know about it and I’ll help you spread the word about your success. If you need help, reach out to me.
Scroll through my blog to read about more ways to boost your outreach.
I’d also like to invite you to visit my Thought Leadership website:              
If you’re looking for advice on recruiting, company handbooks and other human resources topics, I’d like to suggest to you this interesting website:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

SDGs: Great Opportunity for Small Businesses
Would you like to earn a piece of a $12 trillion a year opportunity in the course of the next 12 years?
Of course, you would. Who wouldn’t?
That’s the expected windfall of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the United Nations.
The SDGs, adopted by the United Nations in the fall of 2015, are the product of extensive multi-stakeholder negotiations involving a wide range of sectors, including business. They set the framework of 17 goals to tackle the world’s most important social, health, economic and environmental challenges in the lead-up to 2030, the UN’s deadline for implementation.
The goals have the potential to unleash innovation, economic growth and development at an unprecedented scale and could be worth at least $12 trillion a year in market opportunities and generate up to 380 million new jobs by 2030. The SDGs hold great possibilities for all businesses.
For cutting-edge businesses with savvy leaders that strategically and tactically comprehend the advantages of dynamic thought leadership, this pro-civilization orientation offers a wide range of outreach opportunities. Small local businesses, restaurants and hospitality, retailers, hospitals and healthcare, manufacturers and others should get on board soon.
Opportunities include: new markets, enhanced reputation, staying ahead of the curve, and obtaining a license to operate in various countries.
Globally and locally, the SDGs will not be realized without large and small businesses. The 17 SDGs and the 169 time-bound targets supporting the principles, represent a comprehensive and interconnected framework. It has resounding universal relevance for all stakeholders and nations. Its ambitions effectively transform every country and situation into a developing country, giving everyone and every entity the chance to build business from the ground up.
Business as usual will not achieve the SDGs, nor will innovation by a few pioneers. A new business plan with as much buy-in as possible is required for success. This is beyond the reach of any one company. Realizing the goals means collaboration among a critical mass of companies at the local, industry, national and global levels.
While the broad concept of sustainability and environmental friendliness isn’t new, the 17 SDGs are so there isn’t a large body of best practices but rather there are many emerging practices. As a result you may understand how your company can protect the environment in your local park but you still can’t get your arms around contributing to such goals as poverty eradication – Goal 1.
Fortunately, the SDGs provide an opportunity for you to think outside of the box. For example, if you’re selling toilet cleaners, paper or supplies, your consumers have toilets but many people around the world don’t. The World Health Organization and UNICEF report that 1 in 3 people worldwide doesn’t have proper toilets. That’s about 2.4 billion people or roughly one-third of the world’s population.
Maybe you can do something about that – Goal 6 Clean Water and Sanitation. Not alone, but in partnership with other businesses in your town or industry. That way you will also be fulfilling Goal 17 Partnerships for the Goals.
Stated differently, the broad scope of sustainable development isn’t only about hugging trees. Yes, it is about improving the planet’s ecology and living conditions for future generations. But it is also about boosting your company’s outreach because there is a demanding consumer.
One of today’s largest consumer segments – your customer – is unabashedly pro-sustainability. The millennials. This vocal group of 14-35 years olds is taking active and inactive actions to achieve the SDGs. Millennials feel a personal connection to their ideals and preferred brands, and their wallets reinforce their preferences. If you support sustainability, they and their friends will become your loyal customers.
“If you look at the millennials, they are the first generation now who are willing consciously to spend more for better quality, for sustainability, for traceability. I think there is a change,” observed Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestlé. “I think that if you’re looking at the success stories in the food industry lately you will see that those successes are normally in products which have a relatively high price and it’s basically a [success] coming from the new generation. So I would say from this respect there is a change.”
But beware of the opposite. If you and your trading partners reject building the SDG principles into your business plans, then millennials and other consumers won’t pay attention to your goods and services.
Millennials use numerous media outlets, such as Twitter, and they have no reservations about revealing to the world that one or another company is damaging rain forests or refusing to live up to the 17 SDGs. Their unambiguous message will be “don’t buy from XYZ Inc.”
Here are some steps that you, an entrepreneur and business owner, can incorporate into your business activities:
Stay informed about the SDGs and make them your business. Keep up with the sustainable development agenda to ensure that your company is well placed to capitalize on opportunities and pre-empt disruptive risks.
Spread the word
Engage your network of peers, owners of other small businesses in your town, your trading partners, on this agenda to create a tipping point for business engagement.
Develop a thorough understanding of how your company’s local and global business activities translate into economic, environmental and social impacts in the context of the SDGs.
Set goals
Plot a course towards enhancing positive and mitigating negative SDG impacts.
Develop business solutions
Apply an SDG lens at the strategic level to harness your organization’s potential to engineer business solutions that make your company more successful and sustainable.
Communicate – Reach out
Regular and transparent communication about your SDG performance and progress is essential. Tell your community, newspapers, radio, TV, elected officials, businesses, vendors and consumers about your plans and achievements.
Sector-level networking
Collaborate with peers, competitors, trading partners, business clubs, and other stakeholders to frame the SDGs in the context of your industry sector. Building a community of likeminded companies builds a strong sustainable community.
Set a collective vision for your industry and collaborate on initiatives to realize sector transformation. Issue calls to action
Call for all companies in the sector to align, collaborate and report on their progress.
Policy-level Advocate
Openly advocate for the introduction of key policy and finance enablers that will help to achieve a tipping point.
Engage with the global goals, the SDGs, and embrace them as part of your identity and strategic vision. With such a hot issue, it’s not smart to be a sustainability follower, waiting for others to show the way, it’s better to be a thought leader and take advantage of the opportunities.
Join the conversation in cyberspace about sustainability and boosting your business. If you have examples of how you used social media to boost outreach about sustainability, let me know about it and I’ll help you spread the word about your success.
Scroll through my blog to read about more ways to boost your outreach.
I’d also like to invite you to visit my Thought Leadership website:              
If you’re looking for advice on recruiting, company handbooks and other human resources topics, I’d like to suggest to you this interesting website:

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

NJSBDC Ramapo Case Study: Hafco Foundry & Machine
Small businesses and even non-profit organizations, which by and large are also businesses with a mission rather than profits in mind, have the good fortune to turn to Small
Business Development Centers for comprehensive guidance on many day-to-day business issues ranging from how to start up a venture, to expansion and even succession advice.
These centers are situated in many locations in every state, oftentimes affiliated with a university or college business school.
I recently learned of an interesting and fruitful collaboration between the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Hafco Foundry & Machine Co., Oakland, NJ. As a result, the company successfully emerged from succession difficulties and set out on an energetic course of prosperous business development.
Hafco is a family-owned distributor of metal castings and machined parts to the rail industry, and manufacturer of industrial pneumatic vacuums and dust equipment for the coal mining industry. Founded in 1969 by Horace Fornaci, the company is managed today by brother co-presidents, Basil and Billy Fornaci, who are third-generation owners of the business. During nearly five decades in business, Hafco experienced steady and consistent growth, achieving more than $6 million in annual sales.
Basil and Billy Fornaci joined the company in 2011 and 2013, respectively, with Basil as the head of sales, and Billy as the chief engineer. Their uncle, Michael Fornaci, served as president for 16 years, and their father, William Fornaci, the CFO.
In September 2015, Michael Fornaci unexpectedly passed away.
With no written agreement in place to cover ownership succession, his widow became the default owner, and placed her trust in a law firm that cared only for her personal gain, without considering the needs of the business or its employees. Having cast CFO William Fornaci as an adversarial party, instead of the next rightful president, the company’s future was anything but certain. Legal and accounting fees were mounting, with little communication with William Fornaci.
Then in March 2016, William Fornaci passed away, before any ownership rights were transferred.
The Fornaci brothers took control of day-to-day operations, while also reviewing a draft of an agreement, proposed by the original lawyers, written to cover the ownership and define the future operations of the company. It was at this point that Billy Fornaci reached out to the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Ramapo College.
Vincent J. Vicari, regional director of the center, assigned the Hafco case to business consultant Jim Palumbo, whose experience and knowledge was a perfect fit for the company’s immediate needs. At the very first meeting, Palumbo pointed out some significant flaws in the way this agreement was written. The agreement was then re-written and accepted based on recommendations of Jim Palumbo. Basil and Billy Fornaci were quick to realize that business people cannot take business advice from lawyers and accountants without verification. The NJSBDC at Ramapo later connected Hafco with a law firm that ultimately served as a neutral party, drafting the formal agreements and handle the transfer of ownership.
Palumbo’s advice turned out to be invaluable for Hafco. In fact, he saved the company from what could have been a disastrous agreement. Over the past year and a half, Palumbo has helped to transform Basil and Billy from family business employees to confident and knowledgeable business owners. In addition to managing day-to-day operations, they’ve learned to create a business plan, generate yearly and quarterly budgets, and forecast the company’s sales. More importantly, they’ve realized the value of implementing all of these business tools.
The company’s growth was recently recognized by the state-wide New Jersey Small Business Development Center. Hafco was presented with the center’s Small Business Growth Success Award.
“The SBDC was a blessing in disguise for us. Our company was at such a fragile point when we reached out to Vince. We were able to use many of the resources and knowledge that the NJSBDC could provide,” observed Basil Fornaci.
His brother Billy noted “Being paired with Jim Palumbo was exactly what we needed. His knowledge and expertise were so valuable to a point where I was ready to make him an offer to get him out of retirement. We will be continuing to meet with Jim once a month as our business is now growing faster than ever and the ability to execute some of his ideas really shows. Thank you and see you at the top.” 
Today, Jim Palumbo and the NJSBDC at Ramapo continue to offer advice to Hafco in areas such as human resources, distribution agreements, marketing plans, customer relations, inventory management, etc. Going forward, Basil and Billy will continue to implement these new skills and knowledge, and carry on Hafco’s legacy of success.
Small Business Development Center locations can be easily searched online. In New Jersey, the main office is located at Rutgers University in Newark. The Center is committed to guiding established small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to create and expand their business enterprises, which will, in turn, result in sustainable growth, job creation and statewide economic development and prosperity. NJSBDC counseling is free. Training workshops are fee based but affordable.

NJ Small Business Development Centers
Rutgers Business School
1 Washington Park, 8th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102

NJSBDC at Ramapo can be contacted at this address:
Vincent J. Vicari, Regional Director
NJSBDC at Ramapo College of NJ
Anisfield School of Business
505 Ramapo Valley Road
Mahwah, NJ 07430-1623

Small businesses will be interested to know that there is a wave of optimism on the horizon. Check my previous blog. In view of this buoyant mood, it would be wise to promote your goods and services now using all traditional and new wave media and social media. Don’t forget to tweet and retweet often – up to a half a dozen times a day – about what you produce and offer.
If you need help, contact me.

I’d also like to invite you to visit my Thought Leadership website:              
If you’re looking for advice on recruiting, company handbooks and other human resources topics, I’d like to suggest to you this interesting website:
Scroll down on the Boosting Your Outreach blogsite to read or reread older posts.

PHOTO: At the NJSBDC Small Business Growth Success Awards luncheon: Brenda B. Hooper, CEO and NJSBDC director, Basil and Billy Fornaci of Hafco Foundry & Machine Co., Joe Palumbo, and Vincent J. Vicari, regional director, NJSBDC at Ramapo College.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Wave of Business Optimism is on the Horizon
Are you prepared to ride the crest?
According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), optimism among small businesses in the US advanced in November to the highest level in more than 34 years as owners became more upbeat about future economic conditions and sales prospects, reported Bloomberg News.
Among the highlights that brought a smile to small business owners are:
·         Index rose by 3.7 points to 107.5 (est. 104), highest in monthly data back to 1986; highest since 3Q 1983 when looking at earlier quarterly figures;
·         Net 48% expect better business conditions in next six months, biggest share since January and up from 32% a month earlier;
·         Net 34% expect higher sales, largest share since October 2005 and up from 21% in September.
Hopefully, you’re also anticipating growing your business.
The NFIB said the small-business optimism index showed all but two of the 10 components increased from a month earlier, including a record net 24% share of small business owners who said they plan to add jobs. Construction, manufacturing and professional services registered notable increases in planned hiring.
The figures indicate the recent solid pace of job growth will be sustained and help extend the economic expansion, the NFIB underscored.
In order to capitalize on this business boost next year, savvy business owners must prepare now. The economic figures demonstrate that your customers are primed to buy. However, they must be aware that you have what they’re looking for.
You should inform them about the products and services as well as discounts and specials that you are offering by regularly and often outreaching to customers.
Reaching out to your existing and new customers cannot be a last-minute effort. If you wait too long, the wave will pass you. You must launch your marketing campaign now in order to whet the marketplace’s appetite for your goods and services. Actually, you should roll over your special holiday outreach effort into next year’s promotion before The New Year.
Social media and Twitter are the fastest and least expensive means to tell the world about your plans.
However, you can’t wake up one morning telling yourself “I’ll start tweeting today.” You have to develop a plan, strategy and community of followers about what you want to accomplish. Making your company well known for its products or services is a legitimate goal for your business.
To succeed in social media or Twitter marketing, you must create a topic or area of expertise, build an audience and invite the world to join your conversation. It’s about talking to your prospects, consumers and vendors, and interacting with them. If you are not going to do this, don’t use Twitter as a marketing tool; it simply won’t work. Make friends, be a friend, follow and reply. Show your followers that you want to engage and be involved with them – this provides ideal customer service and states that you are, in fact, personable – worthy of their attention.
Give people useful information and answer their questions, and they will consider you a valuable member of their community – a thought leader. That’s an important first step to winning new customers via social media outreach.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then adding an image to a tweet will greatly expand what you can share beyond the new 280-character limit.
You can’t build your business by keeping to yourself and you surely cannot have success on social media without virtually shaking hands. Create followers and their followers and readers may become your followers and readers. This builds your recognition in Twittersphere. If you don’t interact with the world, the world will leave you by the side of the road and your products and services will not see the light of day.
Use hashtags “#” that focus on keywords or buzzwords that are used in your industry and also Twitter handles “@” that direct your information to specific people, companies, vendors and industries. This requires that you spend time researching both tools. Don’t underestimate the benefits of hashtags and handles.
Additionally, discuss your sales projections with your vendors and suppliers so they are aware of your plans and can fulfill your grand design.
How will you reach out to the marketplace?
Join the conversation in cyberspace about boosting your business and outreach by using Twitter and social media and let me know your thoughts. If you have examples of how you’ve tweeted to boost outreach, let me know about it and I’ll help you spread the word about your success.
Don’t forget to tweet and retweet often – up to a half a dozen times a day – about your products and services.
If you need help, contact me.
I’d also like to invite you to visit my Thought Leadership website:              
If you’re looking for advice on recruiting, company handbooks and other human resources topics, I’d like to suggest to you this interesting website:

Scroll down on the Boosting Your Outreach blogsite to read or reread older posts.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cyber Security is Your First Responsibility
Read today’s news and you’ll quite likely read about a cybercrime. It’s as prevalent as robbing a bank used to be. You feel sorry for the victims but you go about your business.
However, you must realize that you could be next. Cyber thieves and extortionists are not only targeting multinational corporations and governments. They are also aiming for small businesses and non-governmental organizations.
As a matter of fact, anyone who possesses a computer system with access to the Internet can be a victim of a cybercrime. Anyone who maintains a database of individual customers or business-to-business statistics can be subjected to a data breach.
NGOs or non-profits that maintain fundraising data that include donor names and addresses and how much they donate are as alluring as beehives for bears. Jessica Robinson, founder and CEO of PurePoint International, prompted non-profits to imagine what their fund raising campaigns would look like if last year’s database was breached and your supporters’ vital information accessed.
If you fall into these categories – and who doesn’t nowadays – you must be doubly careful. Unlike victims of other crimes, victims of cybercrimes can be held criminally responsible for being negligent with their customers and stakeholders’ information. Indeed, as a result, the victimized small businesses and NGOs will have their reputations harmed, can inadvertently subject their clients and advocates to cyber breaches, can be sued, and ultimately can be forced to close their doors.
Every person and business is in danger of cyberattacks and it would be the height of folly to think it won’t happen to you. “If you’re a consumer or business, they’re gunning for you,” warned George Waller, co-founder, Strike Force, an expert in cyber security. With breaches at an all-time high, companies should focus on cyber resilience round the clock because security is never guaranteed.
Earlier this month, I attended an informative and sobering daylong session on what businesses and non-profits must do to protect themselves, their clients and stakeholders. Taking its cue from today’s headlines, the Small Business Development Center of New Jersey at Ramapo College organized a “Cyber Resilience” conference about how to diminish the damaging effects of a cyber security breach.
More than 100 businessmen and women attended the timely event at Ramapo College and heard cyber experts offer advice on protecting their businesses. The speakers explored how entrepreneurs can lessen threats and vulnerabilities, what defenses should be developed, and the resources needed for mitigating a security failure after it happens.
Cyber security and cyber liability insurance today have evolved into business necessities. The task of preventing cyber breaches cannot be delegated to one person or department because cyber security is the responsibility of the owner, director, every manager and all employees.
David Weinstein, chief technology officer, State of New Jersey, pointed out that in today’s business climate, small businesses are as vulnerable to cyberattacks as big businesses. Consequently, owners and directors must pay attention to how they do business via the Internet.
According to Michael T. Geraghty, chief information security officer, State of New Jersey, phishing emails is the number one threat facing Internet users. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
“We’re being bombarded with phishing emails,” he emphasized.
Geraghty said the NJ Office of Homeland Security is mandated to protect citizens and businesses in the Garden State against cyberattacks and other catastrophes. Threats come not only from major global players but also local gangs and hoodlums, he pointed out. To protect your organizations, entrepreneurs and civil society activists must “think like a criminal not like an IT expert.”
Eric Hodge, director of Consulting, CyberScout, noted that state cyber actors are not hacking for financial gain but rather for influence or to undermine our confidence in our system of government. Proof of this is Russia’s recent successful cyberattacks that subverted our election system and spread distrust.
The task of protecting your computer system is never ending because hackers know when you are most distracted and create situations to deflect your attention from what’s going on in your groups. The speakers emphasized the necessity of maintaining good cyber hygiene and installing software upgrades when they become available.
Karen Painter Randall, partner and certified civil trial attorney, Connell Foley LLP, detailed the wide extent of cyber threats by saying businesses should understand that the question is not if they will be breached but rather when. Cyber security is no longer an option, she said, adding that cyber liability insurance is a necessity.
Waller of Strike Force warned that another weighty online threat comes from hackers, who transform seemingly safe websites into locations that could violate visitors’ security. Anything on the Internet can be turned into a harbinger of spyware that threatens businesses and NGOs, he said.
The speakers indicated that small computer users are as vulnerable to cyberattacks as large businesses. They are being bombarded by dangerous phishing emails while the greatest Internet predators are hackers – technologically skilled criminals that can break into any computer system. Of commercial and non-commercial organizations that have experienced hacking, statistically, 60% of them have been forced to close their doors within six months due to irreparably injured credibility.
Businesses were advised to keep track of their employees’ Internet usage since 80% of breaches are the result of employee mistakes, carelessness or malice. Entrepreneurs and NGO managers must keep in mind that their trusted employee could be their weakest link due to a lack of training.
Vikas Bhatia, founder and CEO, JustProtect Inc., said people are key in cyber security and urged managers to perform system scans and penetration tests. If not, he cautioned, someone else will do that and that person doesn’t work for you.
Cyber criminals create more than 400,000 viruses each day that unlawfully penetrate computer systems looking for personal and financial information. Ransomware, or extortion, is successful because it is easy to execute. General data breach costs companies $4 million while globally the figure could reach $5 billion. The average payment to cyber extortionists is in the range of $20-40,000. A personally shocking statistic revealed at the session was that 82% of social security numbers have been hacked more than once.
Vincent J. Vicari, regional director of the NJSBDC at Ramapo College, emphasized the importance of the conference by saying “Today’s event was invaluable for small businesses because small businesses have only one chance to get it right. When they fail or they allow their client list to be compromised, they don’t have a second chance to rebuild their credibility. Today’s event gave hard takeaways that clients can use to protect their businesses so they don’t get attacked the first time.”
The takeaway for small businesses and non-governmental organizations (nonprofits) is that cyber security is not an end, it is a value that should be ingrained into the culture of your business and NGO. You will not begin to be cyber safe until you admit that you are in danger. You cannot hide behind a veil of denial.
On the other hand, thinking about cyber security after it occurs is too late. You have to be engaged in your own cyber security from the moment you first open the door to your office. It’s the owners and NGO leaders’ responsibility to instill confidence in clients and stakeholders that their computer system is secure. Failure to do so threatens reputations and damages operations. Businesses and civil society are responsible for maintaining their cyber security otherwise they could be held liable by their clients.
Companies that you do business with that are cyber safe want to do business with companies that are also cyber safe. If your organization doesn’t meet cyber requirements, it will be taken off your customers and stakeholders’ preferred supplier list.
It is impractical to suggest a return to the days of paper records. So it is incumbent upon you to pay close attention to your digital/cyber records.
Join the conversation in cyberspace about cyber security. I’ll help you spread the word about your concerns.
I’d also like to invite you to visit my Thought Leadership website:              
If you’re looking for advice on recruiting, company handbooks and other human resources topics, I’d like to suggest to you this interesting website:
Lao, if you’re in northern New Jersey, I’d like to direct your attention to the free services and consultation of the NJ Small Business Administration of Bergen County at Ramapo College. Tell Vince Vicari, executive director, that I sent you.

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