Burton Kelso @burtonkelso is an entrepreneur, TV tech segment contributor, and the Chief Tech Expert at Integral. They are a computer service company that offers on-site and remote tech support for every device that is used in homes and businesses. His vision is to remove the frustrations and complexity of computers and technology and open people up to a world of new ideas, experiences, and opportunities. He’s read all of the manuals. He loves helping people conquer their fears and frustrations with technology and he’s serious about making technology fun and exciting for everyone. For more information www.burtonkelso.com
SmallBizLady: Why should small businesses take a moment to plan out their path with technology in the coming year?
Burton Kelso: Technology plays such a large role in how businesses operate and it’s playing a larger role more and more. There are so many choices businesses have to make when it comes to the technology they use. It would be nice if the technology was a one solution fits all, but unfortunately, that’s not how things work.
SmallBizLady: There are small businesses moving to a mobile workforce. Are there any special steps they need to take to stay safe?
Burton Kelso: First, you need to think about how you’re going to secure your data. Passwords are great for those online accounts, but passphrases are better. A passphrase is two words put together mixed in with a series of numbers and special characters. phrases like humbacktaxi4298 or rubberknife3148 are two good examples of a passphrase. Encryption for those who aren’t familiar is the process that scrambles all of your business data. Encryption works well because if your business mobile devices are lost or stolen, all someone gets is your device, not your company data. If you or your staff are working from home, make sure they are using a firewall to protect any information being transmitted back and forth
SmallBizLady: One of the tips you recommend to small businesses is to ‘Be Kind To Your Data’. What does this mean?
Burton Kelso: One of the biggest things I see where small businesses fail, is not backing up their data in case the business experiences physical damage, technology failure or it’s ruined in a ransomware attack. Data recovery is a very expensive and time-consuming process. If your data can even be retrieved in the event of data loss, you’re looking at a week or more of downtime. Be kind to your Data means that you understand technology is going to fail and making sure you have a plan in place to protect that data such as backing up your data.
SmallBizLady: What forms of backups do you recommend small businesses use?
Burton Kelso: In your business, you can backup your information with external hard drives, a NAS or the cloud. Cloud backups offer the most secure form of backup as your files are backed up automatically and you have multiple backups to choose from if you need to recover your data.
SmallBizLady: Cybersecurity is one of the top concerns that are on the minds of business owners. What things should they be worried about?
Burton Kelso: 2019 was the year of Ransomware and it’s only going to get worse in 2020. One of the most important things small business owners need to understand is that a majority of cybersecurity attacks require user interaction. When you keep your business computers, smartphones, tablets and servers up to date your risks of your business being a victim of cybercrime are pretty thin. The businesses that fall victim, do so because an employee clicks on a link or an attachment in an email that opens the door for a virus to come in and infect the business network.
SmallBizLady: How can a business keep safe from the cyber threats out there?
Burton Kelso: Educating yourself and your employees are key. Since most of the cyber threats that affect small businesses are socially engineered and are designed to trick people, it’s important you make sure you and your staff are aware of the different types of cybercrime that are targeted to small businesses.
SmallBizLady: You talk about ‘Showing Your Devices Some Love’, what does that involve?
Burton Kelso: Showing your devices some love also means that you are making sure you have the latest security updates for them to eliminate the possibility of security threats and computer glitches. Businesses should also make sure they are using the latest versions of their productivity software or switch to a cloud-based solution that will automatically provide updates for you. 2020 will see the end of Windows 7 and Server 2008 so businesses will need to upgrade or replace desktop computers and servers accordingly.
SmallBizLady: How big of a role does being active on social media play in the list of resolutions for the new year?
Burton Kelso: The approach that businesses need to take with social media in 2020 is to not focus on getting tons of likes and followers but to connect with the people you do business with, develop relationships, and tell your business story. The wonderful thing about social media is that you can instantly reach a wide range of people and showcase your brand.
SmallBizLady: Does social media mean that you can give up meeting face to face?
Burton Kelso: We’re all physical beings and we require face to face interaction. Yes, the connection can start online, but the relationship starts when you take time to interact in the real world. I recommend businesses use social media to keep tabs on their connections on social media such as birthday wishes and interacting with posts … but get out once in a while and connect.
SmallBizLady: Are websites still important for a business to have and maintain? What’s the best way to optimize your website?
Burton Kelso: If you want to make sure your website is ready for 2020, you’ll want a website professional to take a look at your company page, here are some things you should ask for: Make sure that it is mobile-ready. Google loves mobile-ready websites. If your company website is mobile-ready, it will put you higher on the Google SEO list. Make sure your website will load quickly on all platforms and that your company website has the text to help it be noticed by Google’s search engine. Like your social media channels, your website should contain useful content that will have people coming back for more. Informative videos, blog posts, and customer resource centers are great forms of user-friendly content.
SmallBizLady: Is it still okay to use free email services?
Burton Kelso: That’s a big no-no. I get it Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo and AOL accounts are free and most offer you a way to access your email from any device. Even though these accounts are free and are easily accessible, it doesn’t make your business look professional, and these free accounts also put your business at risk for a cyber attack.
SmallBizLady: Is there a way to prevent getting overwhelmed by all of this technology?
Burton Kelso: It’s very important for business owners and employees to take a step back from technology from time to time. Sunday is a day that I choose to unplug from technology and reconnect with life around me. You’ve seen the posts on social media with people always bragging about how they are grinding, hustling trying to build their empire. While that mindset is great, we all need to take a break. I mean, God rested on the 7th day, businesses can too.
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