How To Stop Companies And Individuals Tracking You Online

These days, people are tracked everywhere they go online. Companies want to collect as much data as they possibly can about internet users, and hackers are always looking for opportunities to breach their defenses. 

Recently, there have been a number of high-profile stories that have gone viral discussing just how much the average person is being tracked. The level of detail that corporations now have about individual users is downright scary. 

Remember, even if you avoid the major platforms like Google and Facebook entirely, these behemoths have vast third-party networks of websites that still track you and provide them with data. So what can you do?

Tracking IDs

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Tracking IDs are the traditional way that third-party websites keep tabs on who you are and what you’re doing. Typically, they take the form of cookies – small files stored in your browser that you can delete periodically. Many people like cookies because they negate the need to continually reload web pages, speeding up surfing of the internet. But they are also a liability if you care about privacy. Through them, brands and other organizations can see exactly where you are going and what you are doing. 

One way to stop this is to go into your browser settings and prevent advertisers from leaving cookies on your computer. If you try this approach, you’ll stop transferring data to them that they can use to market to you. However, there are some tradeoffs. So, for example, web pages will load more slowly if you disallow pre-caching on your browser. You’ll also have to put up with less targeted ads, unless you have an ad-blocker.

Location IDs

Even if you disabled cookies, brands and advertisers can still track you using your location IDs. These are little packets of data that give you geolocation – usually because you’ve turned on your phone’s GPS system. 


Service providers can track your location regardless of your setting by using signal triangulation. The estimate your position by timing how long it takes to send a signal from various masts to your phone and then receive it back again. 

In many countries, you have the right to hide your location. If you’re using a home computer and you don’t want anybody to know how you are connecting to the internet, your best bet is to use a virtual private network (VPN). These mask your IP address and prevent third-party companies from determining your precise location. Look for a VPN review on the services that you want to use to check if it is suitable. 

Signing Into Accounts

Once you sign into an account, it makes it much easier for companies to track you. In some situations, like Facebook, you need to sign into your account to use the service. There’s no way around that. On Google, you don’t have to sign in, but the search giant uses every opportunity available to convince you that you should.

If you don’t like individual companies tracking you, resist the urge to sign in. Also, use services from different companies that are more committed to protecting privacy. 

How Your Business Can Significantly Reduce Costs

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Although it is widely regarded that death and taxes are the only certainties in life, those who run a business know of expenses. No business manager likes to see the costs. As a business owner, you should always be looking to minimize costs as much as possible – without compromising safety and integrity, of course.

Accountants are widely employed to scrutinize a business’ income and outgoings, but they can be expensive and, in many cases, unnecessary. While no one suggests that accountants don’t have their uses, they may not apply to your business as much as you may think. For example, keeping track of finances is made easy with modern apps.

Other ways you can save money covered here, include:

  • Effective management software
  • Using free software
  • Outsourcing
  • Embracing the paperless office
  • Employee and client retention

Use Management Software

Any business knows that legal issues can all but eradicate a company. Insurance, copyright, and embezzlement are common issues with which a modern business has to contend. But there are obfuscated problems that can begin relatively small and end up causing a massive legal headache if not promptly addressed. 

For example, employee resignation or termination can cost your business dearly – up to $4,500 per member. This is because filing for unemployment passes their payment cost to you. Unemployment claims management software can help. Specialized software like this keeps track of all terminations or resignations and actively tracks costs incurred. 

Make Use of Free Software

Any business, small, medium, or large, can make use of free stuff. Software licensing is one of those everyday expenses that almost every company is aware of, and some of them are almost scandalously priced. However, you may not be aware that some of the best software is free.

Take Microsoft Office, for example. You may need to shell out for an expensive volume license and renew it annually. However, Google Apps offers a similar package that is almost a good as MS Office, absolutely free for commercial use. For the most part, you won’t need to pay a penny, but you can add extra features at additional costs.

Other excellent free software includes:

  • GIMP – powerful, free image manipulation program.
  • Avira – high-end free antimalware.
  • Linux – various versions of free operating systems.
  • Free CAD – excellent CAD software.
  • Lightworks – superb video editing program.
  • Mautic – powerful, free email automation.
  • Wave – free financial software similar to Quickbooks. 
  • Blender – a great alternative to MAYA and 3DS Max.

Of course, some of the best packages will cost money, and you might eventually require them. But for a startup when money is tight, some alternative free software should be good enough to get you through until you can afford more robust, industry-standard packages.

Outsource Where You Can

The employee wage bill is the biggest cost a business has. But this can be reduced significantly by outsourcing departmental work wherever necessary. This doesn’t mean drafting the help of unqualified and belligerent individuals from another country. There are tons of outsourcing services available across multiple disciplines.

An excellent example is managed IT services. These companies provide IT and network-related services at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time, in-house network administrator or cybersecurity expert. Call answering services are another great example. Hiring a floor of qualified administration personnel is a considerable expense, so take advantage of a service that already employs professional admin staff who can do it for you.

Explore the Paperless Office

One of Bill Gates’ personal and professional goals is to eradicate paper from the office, which is why Microsoft invested so heavily in their flagship office programs. The reasons for Bill are personal, but the principle applies to everyone, especially in today’s world of carbon footprint reduction and sustainability goals where the reduction of waste is a priority.

There are many ways that you can reduce costs by implementing a paperless office. Electronic comminution only rather than printed materials is a prime and practical example. Apps like Note, DropBox, and even email clients are widely used. In addition, you could consider digital business cards with apps like SnapDat and encourage employees to take notes with smart devices instead of paper pads.

Retain Clients and Employees

While paying employee wages is a considerable expense, losing an employee can be just as significant. The cost of replacing a talented employee is considered equal to that of one year’s salary for that employee. This is because you will need to initiate a costly and complex campaign to locate someone equally skilled. You will then need to train them in company procedures, pay a recruitment company to go through various procedures, and suffer losses due to a vacant position.

Additionally, losing a client can be an expensive affair. Loyal clients who engage in repeat business tend to spend around 60% more than standard clients and are essential for maintaining high income. Should a client of this nature be lost, it could spell disaster for your revenue stream. Building trust and consistently delivering on promises will help ensure a long and happy relationship.

Hiring a Contract Manager for Your Company

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If you’re running a business that handles lots of contracts, chances are, you could benefit from hiring a contract manager. This is a relatively new role for many businesses to consider, but it is one that can help your business to operate in a much more streamlined and productive manner. At the end of the day, contracts are essential for any expanding business. Even if you largely deal with the general consumer market, chances are, you have contracts with suppliers, manufacturers, couriers, freelancers and others to keep everything up and running. Here’s more information on the subject to help you determine whether this is a useful recruit for you!

What is a contract manager?

Let’s start out by defining what a contract manager is and what they do. Put simply, a contract manager is an individual in a company who is responsible for the management and administration of contracts. They will also likely take responsibility for the processes in which contracts are agreed, created and signed. They will use tools specific to the industry you’re working with to complete their work. For example, a hospital contracts manager may use hospital contract management software to complete their role to a high level.

What does a contract manager do?

A contract is a piece of legal documentation between you or your business and another party you are deciding to work with. A good contract manager will make sure that these documents move smoothly, accurately and quickly from the point of agreeing to use or provide someone else with services to the work being carried out, completed and paid for. Your contract manager will create contracts, collaborate and negotiate with third parties until everyone’s in agreement and ensure that they are signed. Your contract manager will then make sure that all contracts are saved and stored securely in an organised manner that allows contracts to be pulled out as and when required.

Skills to Look For

If you feel that your business requires a contract manager, it’s time to get the recruitment process started. But what should you be looking for in potential candidates? Here are some key skills that can come in useful.

  • Analytical skills: your contract manager should be able to analyse the different contracts they’re working on and provide key data or metrics that let you see how you are doing with contracts and what can be done to improve the workflow.
  • Negotiation: chances are the third parties will do all they can to swing contracts in their favour. Your contracts manager will need to be a good negotiator to leave everyone happy with the transaction at hand.
  • Attention to detail: as you can imagine, contract managers have to pay a lot of attention to detail to ensure that there aren’t any loopholes in the contracts they’re working on.
  • Use of integrations: the majority of businesses will use different software integrations to compare contract data to other relevant aspects of the business’ operations. See what systems applicants are used to using.

Creating KPIs

As with any other position, your contract manager should have KPIs to prove their value to your business. There are a number of ways you can set fair and achievable KPIs, but they key element here is making sure that the KPIs reflect your contract manager completing their responsibilities. They should:

  • Prepare, submit and review tenders
  • Manage or assist with creating positive subcontractor and vendor relationships
  • Provide the key benefits and risks of any commercial contractual relationships
  • Negotiate preferable changes to contracts that benefit your company
  • Ensure new and existing contracts are legally sound
  • Review customer contract terms and conditions 

Does Your Contract Manager Require Legal Experience?

Sure, a knowledge of the law can come in useful when managing contracts. But your contract manager doesn’t necessarily have to have an extensive legal background. As long as they know the laws, rules and regulations of the industry you’re working in, they should be fine to carry out the role.

Of course, not every business will require a contract manager. But if you do deal with a lot of contracts, it will quickly become a pretty integral role within your company, contributing significantly to your success. Hopefully, some of the insight provided above will help you to determine whether you could benefit from a contract manager and what you should look for when hiring one. The recruitment process can be drawn out, but it’s definitely worth waiting until you find the right candidate who you feel you can trust and who has the necessary personality, skills and experience for the role.

3 Easy Steps To Instantly Make Your Website More Professional

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Professionalism is a big thing in the online game. With so many websites competing for traffic, you need to stand out from the rest and prove your professionalism. If people think your site is professional, they are more likely to click on it and see what's going on. Once there, a professional-looking site will keep people on it for longer and boost your chances of converting users to leads or customers. 

Building a professional site is crucial, and here are three easy steps that will instantly make yours look a lot better:

Build on a reputable platform

Firstly, build your website on a reputable platform that people trust. Users know a few of the big website-building platforms around, like WordPress, Magento, Shopify for eCommerce, and so on. Having a site on one of these platforms instantly ensures it looks the part. You will enjoy modern web design, but you also benefit from the authority that these platforms provide. If people see that you're using them, they instantly find you more trustworthy and professional. 

Get HTTPS on your domain & get a professional domain name

Your domain name impacts professionalism massively. It's the address people see when they go to click on your website in the search results, and it's at the top of their screen when they're on your site. Even if you've built yours on a trustworthy and professional platform – and it looks amazing – people will think less of your site if the domain name is unprofessional. It should relate to your business, and shouldn't contain any numbers (unless they're in your brand name). The ideal domain names are just that; your brand name. Don't overcomplicate things here as a good domain improves professionalism. 

Likewise, you need to use HTTPS on your domain as well. This basically shows that you have an SSL certificate, which is fancy talk for saying that your website has a secure connection. Anyone that uses it will feel safe knowing that their information is protected – particularly if they have to pay for something on your site. A lack of HTTPS on your domain looks unprofessional, so make sure you acquire an SSL certificate. 

Optimize title tags and meta descriptions

If you look at the anatomy of a search results page, you will see that all of the organic results follow a similar structure. You have the title of the page being displayed, the URL, then a little snippet below. Here, you can make your site look more professional by optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions. Doing this will make sure that you have eyecatching titles for every page, drawing the user in. It will also ensure you have a useful snippet providing more information for them to see. Both of these things are basic SEO techniques, but they make a website look far more professional in the search results – particularly if other results don't have optimized titles or descriptions!

Want to make your website look more professional in a matter of minutes? Try any or all of these ideas, and watch the benefits flow. 

Actionable Steps You Can Take To Get The Media To Cover Your Business

As a small company, you don’t always have a large marketing budget. Because of this, you often need to find alternative ways to get the message out about your firm. 

In this post, we take a look at some of the actionable steps that you can take to attract media attention and use the press to generate leads. If you get this strategy right, it could prove to be highly lucrative for your enterprise. 

Guest Blog On Reputable Outlets

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Journalists are continually looking for up-and-coming people who offer something new to the narrative. That’s why they will often scour top blog outlets and channels to find people who are saying something a little different. 

It is a good idea, therefore, to guest blog on reputable outlets. This gives journalists a kind of “anchor” that they can use to see who you are and where you’re from. It also establishes your personal brand, giving them confidence that you are somebody who is worth listening to. 

Attend Networking Events

Journalists and the media also regularly show up at media events. In the business community, many want to see what brands are doing, their new products and elevator pitches. 


These are a great way to introduce yourself to media personalities. You can become their go-to expert whenever they need quotes for stories on a particular topic. 

This is a tactic that technology public relations firms use a lot. When trying to forge closer bonds between their client brands and news outlets, they will often present their clients as experts in their field. This approach helps them to generate long-term exposure in the media because journalists often return to them with more and more questions. 

Host Events And Notify The Media

Leveraging the media also sometimes requires hosting your own events and then notifying the local news. Often, news stations will dispatch journalists to the event to cover it on your behalf and then report it later to their audiences. 

If you can, try to organize an event with a newsworthy twist. So, for instance, you might host an event to help a local charity or do work in the community. The news media loves covering companies that embark on projects for good causes. 

Contact Journalists Directly

Sometimes, your company is doing something so interesting that you can get away with contacting journalists directly. Simply emailing them and telling them that you have a story to share can be enough to pique their interest.

Whenever you communicate with a journalist, try to see things from their perspective. Think about the type of audience they want to appeal to and why. Then craft your proposal around that. 

If possible, build the relationship up ahead of time. Look for common friends that will introduce them to you. Send them emails saying how much you liked their articles when they write them. 

Also, be sure to provide them with plenty of resources that could help them. For instance, you might provide a guide that they can use to write in an informed way about what your company actually does. 

Try to avoid being overbearing. Getting journalists on your side requires carefully crafting a relationship with them. You need to build it up slowly so that you have somebody you can go to whenever you need to increase your publicity. 

Write Press Releases

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Press releases are one of the most powerful ways to quickly and easily start talking about your company. The way the process works is actually quite simple. First, you write a press release describing a newsworthy aspect of your company (such as launching a new product). You can either do this yourself or get a professional writer to do it for you. 

Then you submit it to an agency that distributes news stories across various channels. Usually, their standards for the quality of writing are quite high. However, if you can pass these, you can get the information out to hundreds of publications. Newswires distribute articles among their associates.

Please note, however, that press releases can be a little expensive. The cost of writing them is low, but distributing them is high. Essentially, you’re paying for space on the page which comes at a premium. 

Boost Your Social Media Posts

Lastly, some companies like to attract press attention by boosting their social media posts. Things you put up on social media won’t always perform on their own. Often, you need to pay for platforms to increase your visibility and get them in front of more people. As with press releases, you get what you pay for, so prepare yourself to spend some money. 

Effective Steps To Follow To Build a Unique Brand

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A brand is a unique business concept that allows people to identify a product or company. In other words, it is the way people perceive a particular company or product. Your brand is also how you interact and communicate with customers in the market.

Companies have their unique branding style, but a basic one will include things such as a logo, color, web design, illustration, video, photography, and more. Businesses need to foster a good brand as it significantly contributes to their growth.

Foremost, a strong brand can give your company a competitive edge in the market. If your company wants to launch a new product, having strong brand recognition can make the launching process more manageable and less costly. Furthermore, excellent brand recognition can enhance your credibility with clients, directly connecting to their buying behavior.

Building a brand can be daunting, especially for a company with a deficit of various resources such as time, finances, and knowledge. Even so, building one can be one of the most straightforward processes if you consider the following practical steps.

Define Your Purpose

To begin building a unique brand for your business, you should first define your organization's purpose. Knowing what your company wants to achieve in the long run can jump-start your brand-building process adequately.

By identifying your overall goal, you can create a brand strategy that will guide you to achieve your goals. Your brand strategy is also an effective tool your company can use to communicate to your employees about actions to take.

Know Your Target Audience

Once you define your company's goals and brand strategy, you should identify your target audience and assess their needs. Next, you need to understand your current and potential customers to build a unique brand for your company.

There are several ways to know more about your market. One of the most effective techniques includes interacting with customers via social platforms or physically. For example, Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, sought feedback from his colleagues on the Ethereum white paper to identify how to improve. 

With such inspiration, you should also communicate with your customers to get their honest reviews and feedback about your products. In return, you will be able to work on your weaknesses, allowing you to build a strong brand by satisfying their needs.

Know Your Competitors

Before you make any critical decisions on promoting your brand, it is vital to assess your current and potential competitors within your industry. Learning more about your competitors is an excellent way to build a strong brand allowing you to gain a competitive edge in the market.

To effectively assess your competitors, you must first understand their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what your competitor is weak at can unveil particular opportunities you can take advantage of to foster a great brand. Furthermore, assessing their capabilities allows you to identify where you can improve to reposition your brand.

Assess Your Current Brand State

Another step you must look into is defining and analyzing your current brand state. For example, do people in the market perceive your brand positively or negatively? If negative, what led to that, and what can you do to change such perspectives? And if positive, what is contributing to that, and are there ways to improve it?

If you want to reposition your brand, you need to approach this process from a realistic standpoint. First, you need to know where you currently lie; that is your brand's current situation. 

It is only through this that you will learn how to proceed to the next step. Next, you should identify where to craft new strategies or tweak existing ones to align with the new branding goal. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to attain this. 

For instance, you may issue a questionnaire to your employees, customers, and stakeholders addressing questions ranging from your brand's value to position in the market. Their feedback can enable you to know what to work on.

Choose a Look for Your Brand

Once you know what your customers want, how to outstand from your competitors, and understand your current brand situation, you can choose a new look for your brand. If not, you should focus your energy on finding ways to improve parts of it.

If you are starting a new business, you should start by choosing a unique business name. If you have an existing business, you can change its name to reflect your new identity. It is also advisable to develop a catchy slogan that comes in handy in your social media platform bios. You can also use the slogan as a website header which can help draw more attention to your website content.

Once you have a name and a slogan, you should look into visually representing your brand. This may be in terms of color, logo, and fonts.

Colors

Colors have a significant meaning, so you should be more careful when choosing them. The study of color psychology reveals that colors can affect the behavior and perception of something. Besides, specific colors evoke various emotions, which can positively or negatively impact your level of sales.

For instance, red can command attention to your brand leading to more sales. Yellow evokes positive emotions such as happiness and optimism, which can also mean affordability. And green signifies a connection to nature, attracting buyers who are more into preserving the environment. 

Therefore, it is vital to choose your branding colors carefully as they are a great way to communicate with your buyers.

Logo

A logo is probably the first thing that will come to your mind when you think of repositioning your brand in the market. Ideally, you want your company's logo to be unique to help differentiate you from competitors. So, you need to get inspiration from famous brands with unique logos and create one.

Incorporate Your Brand into Your Business

The last step to building a unique brand is incorporating it across your business for cohesion purposes and setting the stage for interaction with customers in the market. If all business processes align with your branding strategy, it will be easier for your company to foster a unique brand.

The above are some of the most straightforward steps to help you build a unique brand for your company. Whether you are building a new one from scratch or trying to reposition an existing one, they are a guarantee to help you attain this.