Your guide to a successful online business!

Did you make any new year’s resolutions as you headed into 2015? Digital is now such an integral part of our lives – both personally and business-wise – that it is highly likely that many of those resolutions or at least aims for 2015 were based around better use of technology and the services it accesses. Here’s an example of a few we’ve heard others mention, and some tips on how you could best work to keep to those resolutions.

Be more careful with Public Wi-Fi

Why? Well, have a read of this article by Dutch journalist Maurits Martijn. It’s worrying stuff and all a very real threat. All is often not as it seems.┬áConnecting to public Wi-Fi such as the kind found in cafes, shopping malls and entertainment venues, means you are also connecting to public network, so that internet access is probably not nearly as safe as you first thought.

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Of course you have a password but that is your only protection with whoever else is connected to that network and on a public Wi-Fi you have no ideas who that may be. Of course public wi-fi can be invaluable in the modern world so how can you make it more secure? Or rather less insecure? Start by turning off sharing (a great tool on home networks for sharing files, printers etc, but not for public ones). Make sure you enable your Firewall software too and use https and SSLs wherever possible.

The safest way though is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to route all your activity. Even when logged onto a public network, if you use a VPN you can do so via a separate secure, private network, giving you the security of a private network whilst connected to a public one.

Keep your passwords updated and secure

The days of a catchphrase or memorable word are long gone. They are too simple for cryptography software to fool and crack, meaning the time they can hold at bay a committed hacker is very limited. A mix of numbers, letters and other symbols is a must as is changing that password on a regular basis and not using the same across multiple platforms. Remember hackers have advanced systems that one they crack one password they will then look to immediately try those same details across a multitude of other popular applications and websites and try to steal access into those too.

Consider using a password manager which will help if you think you will struggle to remember more than just a single password login. A password manager will automatically encrypt your password to a high level of security and also help with the regular updating bit too.

Limit your phone use

With a pending new arrival to my own family, I appreciate I may need to cut back on the time I currently spend on my phone / tablet / computer. The new video baby monitor accessible via an app, may only prove a cover story for a short time. So monitoring my phone usage, in the hope of also becoming more efficient, is a focus for the new year. Work-life balance is important as the barriers between the two consistently overlap in the modern world, so it is probably important we keep an eye on what is taking up our time. Moment looks like it may provide some answers. Only available on iOS, it actually tracks the time you actively spend on your phone every day. Not just social media, but each and every time you use it for something. For the concerned parent you can also use it to monitor usage of devices of other family members too for a monthly fee. It’s perhaps a shame there’s not a physical world equivalent too, to see how traditional interactions work in the modern world.

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Create and protect your personal brand

Before you can understand and control how others see you online, you need to audit your online presence and understand what is out there about you. Do a search on yourself and have a thorough look at what each result links to and what it says. Make this a regular task.┬áSearch yourself once a week and don’t just limit it to Google and Bing, pay attention to smaller search engines and directories too – especially those specialising in areas you want to be building your profile in.

Make sure you stand out too and are memorable. Use visual imagery that is consistent to help recognition by others. Try to keep you handles consistent across all social media platforms too – it makes you easier to find – and if you have a common name, consider including a keyword or initial that helps you stand out.

Make sure you keep track of it all and keep carrying out regular checks and audits. Set-up Google alerts to help you stay aware of what is being said about you.

Have a central hub for people to find out the basic information they need to know that links to further social media profiles etc. A basic personal website for example is easy to establish using a one-click app installation of WordPress.

Engage more

Remember it is all about the social. That means you can’t afford to make it a one-way process. It is all about being social and building a conversation. Instead of waiting to be mentioned in a Follow Friday #FF. Pay it forward and take the lead. Don’t just give the credit to the usual suspects or the current big players either. The future players may also be worthy of your praise and attention. Acknowledge them now and they are sure to remember you when they do get bigger players.

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