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5 Things to do to grow your business this 2021

Whether you’re starting out or looking to expand your business, here’s what you need to know to ensure you keep your business afloat.

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Small businesses are among the hardest hit as the health crisis continues to cause economic uncertainty in the country. With the country nearing into a year-long lockdown and keeping up with restrictions, small businesses owners have continued to innovate and work through the challenges, venturing their presence onto online platforms. The convenience of learning how to start a business from the confines of your home, and with the help of other business owners willing to lend a helping hand, has created a space for SMEs to flourish during the pandemic. 

Whether you’re starting out or looking to expand your business, here’s what you need to know to ensure you keep your business afloat.

1. Have a business plan backed-up by research

Before achieving a specific goal, one must always have a general plan to follow – even if this happens to change along the way. Create a business plan as it will help guide for short-term and long-term objectives. With this, it is best to map out main goals for the brand and how those goals can be achieved rather than venturing unprepared. 

Glyza Go, owner of Get Celeste jewelry shop, has no business background and had to learn the ins and outs of handling her own company. Aware of the risks in entering the business world, she found her safety net in partnering with Lazada. 

“I have failed a lot of times in handling a small business but it did not stop me, especially when I decided to partner with Lazada. The tools and webinars helped guide me through my business journey. You can learn so much about selling on Lazada, as well as hear many inspiring stories from other business owners on the platform. Their advice is actually something I still use up to this very day.” 

Glyza Go, owner of Get Celeste jewelry shop, has no business background and had to learn the ins and outs of handling her own company.

2. Create a financial plan

Financial planning is one of the most important steps you should take into consideration when prepping for any business. Running a business requires many resources, which is why it’s important to know how much and what you need to invest before you even start. The financial plan serves as a guide to help navigate throughout a business journey; taking note of significant milestones on the path to achieving a profitable growth. This is important as it can serve as safety net for any unforeseen issues and challenges in the long run.

Kiriko’s Koleksiyon owner Jeffrey Ligutom started his businesses out small, signing up on the platform with only five stocks per item listed on his store. His product offerings include mugs and cups, casual wear and formal barongs. “I wanted to test the waters and see how my business would do,” says Jeffrey. 

As his sales grew, he used his earnings as capital to procure more stocks and expand his product offerings. Today, Jeffrey now has well over a hundred stocks per item in his store inventory.

3. Choose the right product that will stand out

With the wide plethora of product assortment currently being sold online, stores on eCommerce platforms need to highlight key differentiating points. Understanding the needs of consumers and the market will drive stronger innovation on products and the overall business. Business owners should do research, create surveys to find out what products sold are unique and tangible, and caters to a specific consumer need and demand.   

Cely Sy, entrepreneur behind food brand Kenkobei, noticed that instant pancit canton and ramen noodles are quite popular with Filipino foodies. 

“Filipinos love the convenience of having instant noodles. It’s a quick and easy fix that’s both yummy and affordable. But Filipinos also consider rice as a main staple and I thought, how could I marry a little bit of these elements together? And from there Kenkobei was born.”

Kenkobei onboarded on the platform last January 2020, offering a vast range of filling ready-to-eat rice meals, conveniently packaged and ready to serve after just adding hot water. They currently offer a variety of flavors such as braised beef, kung pao chicken and more. 

“It was a hit as it brought together two things Filipinos loved – the ease and convenience of having their favorite rice meals on-the-go.”

4. Choose an effective online location

Knowing where your store’s online location will be the next step. Lazada is the leading online eCommerce platform in the country, opening up businesses to millions of users nationwide. Lazada’s technology offers sellers Along with this, they offer fast and reliable shipping couriers to assure your customers that each product is treated with the utmost care from the facilities to your doorstep. 

Lazada has been beneficial for many, for instance.

Adrian Reyes, owner of Moonscape MNL, joined Lazada in 2017. 

For Winnie Wong, CEO of The Everyday: “Being on Lazada made things a lot easier for us – with Lazada helping us with certain aspects such as with logistics and customer service, we can put our focus on other aspects of our businesses such as expanding our product line.”

Meanwhile, Charisma Sun, owner of Coco Factory, also harps on the reliability of Lazada when it comes to assuring her customers’ orders are fulfilled and delivered to their doorsteps. “Failed deliveries are a reality across different platforms, but on Lazada I’m more confident that the order gets to my customers in good condition.”

Charisma Sun, owner of Coco Factory, harps on the reliability of Lazada when it comes to assuring her customers’ orders are fulfilled and delivered to their doorsteps.

5. Consistency and Excellent Customer Service

Being consistent allows businesses to build trust and credibility with consumers and will prove beneficial in the long run when done right. Consistency applies to both the initial business strategy and implementation. There is nothing consumers value more than great customer service – being able to address all concerns and inquiries, and ensuring a seamless end-to-end fulfillment, to provide a memorable and customer experience all throughout. Keeping up with high quality customer service can help retain existing customer base, while also attracting new customers – a key in sustaining business growth.

Due to the pandemic, Glyza was one of the many business owners who decided to enter the world of eCommerce through the Lazada platform. As a one-woman team and with limited resources at hand, she needed an extra helping hand to sell and curate her jewelry pieces.

As Glyza celebrates opening her own humble office last November due to the increase of her Lazada sales, she admits that it has not always been an easy journey for her. “To other sellers looking to go into selling online, do not be afraid to fail! Every time you fail, treat it as a learning process and always give nothing but your best. You may have a few to no orders today, but tomorrow is another day.”

Want to more about growing your business on Lazada? Visit www.lazada.com.ph/sell-on-lazada to know more.

Strategies

People willing to pay more for coffee that’s ethical and eco-friendly, meta-analysis finds

Overall, ecolabelling worked as intended: people were willing to pay for socially responsible coffee.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash.com

Lesson for coffee biz…

Beyond how much cream and sugar to add to their morning brew, coffee lovers also face more serious decisions: one of those is whether or not to buy ecolabelled coffee, which advertises itself as more ethical and environmentally friendly. But whether customers are willing to pay the extra price for these perks remains an unanswered question.

In a study publishes in the journal Heliyon, researchers combined data from 22 studies to conclude that in general, people are willing to pay $1.36 more for a pound of coffee that’s produced in an eco-friendly way and are especially partial to coffee that’s labelled “Organic.”

“We hear in the media or sometimes read in the newspaper that there is an increasing number of ecolabelling logos in the market, and that these logos are sometimes related or even look alike. This may reduce consumers’ trust and willingness to pay over time,” says first author Nizam Abdu, a Ph.D. candidate and research assistant at the University of Tasmania in Australia. “However, our results show that coffee consumers in some selected countries are still willing to pay a positive and significant premium for ecolabelling.”

As many people’s go-to beverage, coffee’s enormous social, cultural, and economic influence makes it an ideal candidate for ecolabelling, a system that identifies and certifies certain products with ethical and environmental benefits. Common coffee ecolabels include Organic, Country of Origin Labelling (COOL), and Fairtrade (a certification that workers are given fair wages and safe working conditions) and aim to help consumers make informed choices on food safety, health, and environmental impact. However, it’s possible that having too many ecolabel options will instead confuse buyers, causing them to avoid buying ecolabelled coffee.

Many previous studies have tried to quantify the public’s opinion on different types of coffee ecolabelling. But the studies have varied dramatically in their estimates of how much consumers are willing to pay: some found that people are willing to pay more, while others suggest that people actually are less willing to pay for ecolabelling. As a result, it’s been challenging to present a standardized conclusion on the overall effectiveness of ecolabels.

Abdu and his co-author set out to address this gap. They combined data from 22 studies over the past fifteen years, forming an overall dataset of 97 observations across Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia. With their meta-analysis, they wanted to understand what factors give rise to the large range of price estimates and determine once and for all whether consumers are willing to pay more for coffee ecolabelling.

The researchers found that the variation in previous studies came down to a few factors: the region or country under study, surveying methods, types of ecolabels, and publication bias, the tendency for only studies with the desired outcome to be published. For example, there was a noticeable effect on the studies’ results when survey participants made yes/no choices about which coffee they’d buy versus when they were given trade-offs and budget constraints.

After taking these things into account, however, they found that overall, ecolabelling worked as intended: people were willing to pay for socially responsible coffee.

“In general, consumers are happy to pay a premium price of $1.36 for a pound of ecolabelled coffee. In particular, we clearly see that Organic is the most crucial coffee attribute,” says Abdu. The specific ecolabels of Fairtrade, COOL, and Organic all had values significantly larger than zero, but Organic ecolabelling had the highest value of the three – people were willing to pay an additional $1.14 per pound of coffee for just the Organic ecolabel.

That said, consumer attitudes still varied depending on factors like location. For instance, compared to other regions, people were less willing to pay more for ecolabelled coffee in North America, which may suggest that preference for such a labelling system varies across the regions. The researchers were also surprised to find that while people did care where their coffee came from, they didn’t necessarily prefer coffee that was produced near them. “I was expecting consumers would prefer locally produced coffee,” he says.

The authors say, however, that their finding still suggests a clear preference among consumers for certain types of ecolabelling. Abdu says, “Our findings are a good indicator that the policy of coffee ecolabelling is working in the global coffee market.”

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Strategies

10 Security misperceptions that need to be addressed immediately

The list is based on the experience of Sophos Rapid Response, a team of expert incident responders who deliver fast assistance in identifying and neutralizing active threats such as malware infections, compromised data, or unauthorized access, among others.

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Photo by Mimi Thian from Unsplash.com

With June marking National ICT Month in the Philippines and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) adopting the CHIP (Connect, Harness, Innovate, and Protect) framework for digital transformation and underscoring the value of protection,  Sophos compiled   a guide for Filipino businesses so they can avoid  today’s most commonly held security misperceptions.

The list is based on the experience of Sophos Rapid Response, a team of expert incident responders who deliver fast assistance in identifying and neutralizing active threats such as malware infections, compromised data, or unauthorized access, among others.

Misperception 1: We are not a target. We are too small or have no assets of value to an adversary 

Sophos Advice: Many cyberattack victims assume they are too small, in a sector of no interest, or lacking the kind of lucrative assets that would attract an adversary. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. If you have the processing power and a digital presence, you are a target. Despite the media headlines, most attacks are not perpetrated by advanced nation-state attackers. They are launched by opportunists looking for easy prey and low-hanging fruit, such as organizations with security gaps, errors, or misconfigurations that cybercriminals can easily exploit. 

Misperception 2: We don’t need advanced security technologies installed everywhere 

Sophos Advice: Some IT teams still believe that endpoint security software is enough to stop all threats or don’t need security for their servers. Attackers take full advantage of such assumptions. Any mistakes in configuration, patching, or protection make servers a primary target, not a secondary one, as might have been the case in the past.

Based on the incidents that Sophos Rapid Response has investigated, servers are now the number one target for attacks. Attackers can easily find a direct route using stolen access credentials.  Suppose your organization relies only on basic security without more advanced and integrated tools such as behavioral and AI-based detection and a 24/7 human-led security operations center. In that case, intruders will likely find their way past your defenses.

Misperception 3: We have robust security policies in place 

Sophos Advice:  Having security policies for applications and users is critical. However, they need  to be checked and updated constantly as new features and functionality are added to devices connected to the network. Verify and test policies using techniques such as penetration testing, tabletop exercises, and trial runs of disaster recovery plans. 

Misperception 4: Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers can be protected from attackers by changing the ports they are on and introducing multi-factor authentication (MFA) 

Sophos Advice: The standard port used for RDP services is 3389, so most attackers will scan this port to find open remote access servers. However, the scanning will identify any available services, so changing ports offers little or no protection on its own. 

Further, while introducing multi-factor authentication is essential, it won’t enhance security unless all employees and devices enforce it. RDP activity should occur within the protective boundary of a virtual private network (VPN). Still, even that cannot fully protect an organization if the attackers already have a foothold in a network. Ideally, unless its use is essential, IT security should limit or disable RDP internally and externally.

Misperception 5: Blocking IP addresses from high-risk regions such as Russia, China, and North Korea protects us against attacks from those geographies 

Sophos Advice:  Blocking IPs from specific regions is unlikely to do any harm, but it could give a false sense of security if it’s the sole means of protection. Adversaries host their malicious infrastructure in many countries, with hotspots in the US, the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe. 

Misperception 6: Our backups provide immunity from the impact of ransomware 

Sophos Advice: Keeping up-to-date backups of documents is business-critical. However, if your backups are connected to the network, then they are within reach of attackers and vulnerable to being encrypted, deleted, or disabled in a ransomware attack. 

Storing backups in the cloud also needs to be done with care. The standard formula for secure backups to restore data and systems after a ransomware attack is 3:2:1. Three copies of everything, using two different systems, one of which is offline. 

Having offline backups in place won’t protect your information from extortion-based ransomware attacks, where the criminals steal and threaten to publish your data instead of or as well as encrypting it. 

Misperception 7: Our employees understand security 

Sophos Advice: According to the State of Ransomware 2021, 22% of organizations believe they’ll be hit by ransomware in the next 12 months because it’s hard to stop end users from compromising security. 

Social engineering tactics like phishing emails are becoming harder to spot. Messages are often hand-crafted, accurately written, persuasive, and carefully targeted. Your employees need to know how to spot suspicious messages and what to do when they receive one. Who do they notify so that other employees can be alerted? 

Misperception 8: Incident response teams can recover my data after a ransomware attack

Sophos Advice: This is very unlikely. Attackers today make far fewer mistakes, and the encryption process has improved, so relying on responders to find a loophole that can undo the damage is extremely rare. Automatic backups like Windows Volume Shadow Copies are also deleted by most modern ransomware and overwriting the original data stored on disk, making recovery impossible other than paying the ransom. 

Misperception 9: Paying the ransom will get our data back after a ransomware attack 

Sophos Advice: According to the State of Ransomware survey 2021, an organization that pays the ransom recovers on average around two-thirds (65%) of its data.  A mere 8% got back all of their data, and 29% recovered less than half. Paying the ransom even when it seems easier and covered by your cyber-insurance policy is therefore not a straightforward solution to getting your data back. 

Misperception 10: The release of ransomware is the whole attack – if we survive that we’re OK 

Sophos Advice: Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Ransomware is just the point where the attackers want you to realize they are there and what they have done. 

The adversaries are likely to have been in your network for days if not weeks before releasing the ransomware, exploring, disabling, or deleting backups, finding the machines with high-value information or applications to target for encryption, removing information, and installing additional payloads such as backdoors. Maintaining a presence in the victim’s networks allows attackers to launch a second attack if they want to. 

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Strategies

Use rewards effectively to boost employee creativity

The choice of rewards fostered creativity by raising the employees’ belief in their ability to be creative. Alternative rewards also had a powerful impact on boosting the creativity of employees who earlier had scored high on an assessment of creative personality characteristics.

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To boost employees’ creativity, managers should consider offering a set of rewards for them to choose from, according to a new study by management experts at Rice University, Tulane University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and National Taiwan Normal University.

The study, co-authored by Jing Zhou, the Mary Gibbs Jones Professor of Management and Psychology at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, is the first to systematically examine the effects of reward choice in a field experiment, which was conducted in the context of an organizationwide suggestion program. An advance copy of the paper is published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

“Organizations spend a lot of resources and exert a great deal of effort in designing incentive schemes that reward the employees who exhibit creativity at work,” Zhou said. “Our results showed that the effort may be a bit misplaced. Instead of discovering one reward type that is particularly effective at promoting creativity, what is more effective is to provide the employees with the opportunity to choose from several reward types, if they submit one or more ideas that are among the top 20% most creative ones.”

Workers in the study were given a range of options: a financial reward for the individual employee or their team, a self-discretionary reward such as getting priority to select days off, or a donation the company made to a charity selected by the employee. Those choices had positive, significant effects on the number of creative ideas employees generated and the creativity level of those ideas, Zhou and her co-authors found.

The researchers arrived at their findings by conducting a quasi-experiment at a company in Taiwan over the course of several months. Then they conducted a second experimental study that included employees from 12 organizations in Taiwan to replicate the first study’s results and compared the results with a control group.

The studies also found that rewards aimed at helping others, such as making a donation to a charity, might be especially powerful. But for less-creative employees, alternative rewards that benefit those in need might actually lower creativity and should be avoided, the authors said.

The researchers also found that the choice of rewards fostered creativity by raising the employees’ belief in their ability to be creative. Alternative rewards also had a powerful impact on boosting the creativity of employees who earlier had scored high on an assessment of creative personality characteristics.

Zhou co-authored the paper with Greg Oldham of Tulane, Aichia Chuang of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Ryan Shuwei Hsu of National Taiwan Normal University.

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