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Toll-free vs. vanity numbers: what’s the difference? [TEST ARTICLE]

Your business has gotten big enough that you have customers, prospects, employees and vendors scattered across the country. You don’t want long-distance fees discouraging them from calling you. 


Getting a toll-free number for your business is the logical next step. But now you’ve got some complications to sort out. Do you want an 800 number? Or, do you want a vanity number, like 800-BEST-BUY?

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs vs vanity numbers whats the difference/


The Benefits of a Building a Leadership Culture

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Few things are more important to the sustained success of a company than its leadership and culture. Every company needs a strong leading presence in order to guide its vision, take charge, get things done, make sure that things don’t go off the rails, and chart a positive course forward. All of that is much easier to achieve when a company’s culture is positive.

Combining the two into a leadership culture is thus a savvy move and here’s why.

Leadership and Teamwork

Balancing leadership and teamwork is a tricky business. On the one hand, too many cooks can spoil the broth but, on the other hand, when we all contribute our individual ingredients, the results can be a feast for the ages. Therefore, while it is always a good idea to have a few key central leaders who can take the lead overall, creating a leadership culture in which all players can take the lead from time to time in the areas in which they specialize can be a hugely positive move.

What’s more, when people take the lead in something, they’re bound to feel more involved. If you are looking to ensure that your employees feel committed to their work, letting them take the lead now and again can help achieve that aim while building a positive corporate culture.

Equality and Openness

For as important as it is to establish leadership, you also need to ensure that people feel comfortable being open, honest, and able to contribute. That is easier to achieve when everyone feels as if they are equals on some level; in the corporate world, a culture of leadership can be a great means to that end. When everyone takes turns being the leader, no one feels as though they’re being lorded over or that their voice doesn’t matter.

Motivation and Development

This, in turn, points to another key selling point of cultivating a culture of leadership — motivation. Leadership opportunities can motivate new and younger workers, which in turn can spur growth and development from within the company.

Take the lead by cultivating a culture of leadership in your company.

The post The Benefits of a Building a Leadership Culture first appeared on Lisa Peternel | Business.

from Lisa Peternel | Business

How Data Privacy Is Different Than Data Security

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Most companies face the constant battle of trying to prevent data breaches because they understand the harm that comes with it — damage to their reputation, a hurtful effect on their bottom line, and potential damage to their customers as well.

But there is one point of confusion that needs clearing up: what is the difference between data privacy and data security? We hear these two terms bandied about often but so few of us actually know what they mean.

What Is Data Privacy?

Data privacy means just that: keeping information private and restricted to authorized users. That means that there has to be a balance between a person’s right to privacy as well as how far data security is allowed to go.

A company that records your keystrokes or apps that secretly gather information about you are violating your privacy even if they are protecting your information. Better understanding the process, the ramifications involved, and the necessary procedures to properly handle sensitive data can mean a huge difference when it comes to data privacy.

What Is Data Security?

The unfortunate part of living in a digital world is that there is an increasing number of dubious individuals out there who are trying to improperly access your private information. What they intend to do with that information can vary but rest assured that you do not want your information to fall into the hands of strangers.

Data security is a focus on both the tools and technology that are required to deter cybercriminals from getting their hands on private information such as credit cards, bank accounts, Social Security numbers, and any other personal information that could be potentially valuable to cybercriminals.

There are a litany of different tools that are involved. Things such as identity and access management, data classification, user behavioral analytics (UBA), and permissions management can help IT security professionals protect your information from being stolen or misused.

This level of protection is imperative in an age where information is shared so easily in a digital manner.


The post How Data Privacy Is Different Than Data Security first appeared on Lisa Peternel | Technology.

from Lisa Peternel | Technology

How to Be a More Effective Communicator in Your Business

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Communication is a two-way street, and it involves both speaking and listening. Listening is not limited to hearing the words spoken by another person, but it involves reading body language, tone, and expression as well. To become a more effective communicator, it is important to learn how to listen, read your colleague’s reactions, and acknowledge his or her point of view.

Follow up Conversations with a Note

If you follow up a conversation or meeting with a note, it is possible to acknowledge the other party and restate your point at the same time. Men tend to focus on paraphrasing the conversation, while women often pick up on the emotional context of what was said. 

A man can follow up a meeting with a note that acknowledges the feelings of frustration, enthusiasm, or anything else, and then he can recap what was said. A woman, on the other hand, can express the emotional context and then recap the content. This ensures that all parties feel heard, and communication is improved.

Express Your Feelings

Expressing your feelings in a meeting helps to make the conversation more genuine and authentic. When a person states only the cold, hard facts, he or she appears distant and robotic. Acknowledge that you are excited about a new idea, and listen to how your colleagues feel. Being open with one another will build trust and lead to improved communication.

Include Everyone

When you are in a meeting, be sure to include everyone in the conversation. If you single out one or two people, others may feel left out or insignificant. In discussing a project or tasks, ask for feedback. Try to allow everyone to shine during the meeting. Not only will your colleagues understand what was discussed, but they will feel valuable and walk away more motivated to get the job done.

Poor communication can quickly cause people to feel unimportant or frustrated, and this leads to insecurity and decreased job productivity. Use these tips to be a more effective communicator in your business.

The post How to Be a More Effective Communicator in Your Business first appeared on Lisa Peternel | Business.

from Lisa Peternel | Business

How (and Why) to Mitigate Distractions While Working From Home

Eliminating distractions while working from home — especially with kids running around belting Frozen II and housemates doing mid-day workouts — might not be entirely feasible. However, it is still possible to mitigate distractions. After all, they’re hurting you — and your business — more than you might realize. You might have heard the popular statistic that you need an average of 25 minutes to get back to your original task after a distraction.

But there’s more affecting your productivity than that. We looked through some of the research behind the psychology of distractions and found some interesting insights:

  • Distractions have a demonstrably negative effect on our ability to perform, even when the distractions had little significance.
  • People who consider themselves at multi-tasking may be worse at moving from task to task than others.
  • Even if you attempt to “move on” to another work-related task, you may find yourself distracted by the first task of your day.

With that in mind, let’s dig deeper into the studies and find some better strategies for managing distractions:

1. Too Much Information Has a Detrimental Impact on Performance

In one UK study, researchers had volunteers carry out problem-solving tasks in a quiet environment—then tested them while they were “bombarded with new emails and phone calls.” Even though the volunteers didn’t have to respond to any of these messages, simply being aware that they were taking place had a significant impact on their ability to concentrate.

The result was that performance suffered. The average IQ dropped by about 10 points.

The conclusion is that not only are interruptions distracting, but if you allow distractions to weigh on your mind in even the slightest way, they can have a detrimental impact on performance. Given that volunteers didn’t have to respond to any email or phone call and still found them distracting, we can only imagine the impact distractions have on us when the emails and phone calls do need responses.

So try having an open dialogue with those you live with and creating a chart that hangs outside of your workspace where it will be seen that alerts housemates of your current work status. It may include options such as “available,” “busy,” “in a meeting” or “do not disturb unless facing a MAJOR emergency”.

2. Switching Between Tasks Takes Up More Energy Than You Think

A 2009 study at the University of Minnesota found the existence of what they dubbed “attention residue.” They defined it as the delay that occurs when someone sets aside one task and takes up another.

It turns out that the mental task of switching gears takes more energy and attention than we might have thought. And that led to some interesting conclusions, including the “surprising result that heavy media multitaskers performed worse on a test of task-switching ability.”

That’s right: even experienced multitaskers aren’t as good at switching between tasks as they might have thought. In fact, they may even be worse than the population at large.

This should lead most people to reconsider their approach to multitasking and asking the following questions:

  • Am I really a good multitasker, or do I just multitask often?
  • How long does it take me to “switch gears,” and do I often put off work because of the energy required to start a new task?
  • Where are some areas in which I might combine activities to minimize “switching gears” and improving my overall concentration?

These questions will help you identify some of the habits that may be leading you to lose concentration as you move from task to task. So whether you claim to be a good multitasker or not, try scheduling out your day in the early morning to help limit the amount of times you have to switch tasks and accommodate for the needs of those you live with.

3. The First Problem You Focus On Tends to Get Most of Your Brain Power

They call it “cognitive fixation.” If you like to multi-task, you may find that the first activity during your day is the one that retains most of your attention later on, even while you’re attempting to give 100% of your attention to something new.

This is evidence in favor of the strategy of attacking your most important tasks first. If you were to work on a big work project in the morning and only take on lighter menial tasks later in the day, part of your mind will continue to work on that “big” work project that you started off with. This can work to your benefit, so long as you’re aware of the effect and schedule your day accordingly.

4. Distractions are Disproportionately Affecting the Young

Millennials and Gen Zers—those most affected by the digital lifestyle—are also the groups that report the highest rates of distraction, with a rate of 74% identifying themselves as frequently distracted. This suggests something other studies have observed; the multi-tasking demands of the digital lifestyle have a detrimental effect on our ability to concentrate, which means that strategies for reducing social media usage may have long-term benefits for personal productivity and concentration.

One other reasons many of us may be suffering from distraction issues: using multiple devices at the same time can negatively affect self-control. So try to limit the number of devices you have within your reach while working from home. Allot yourself windows of time during the day — if needed — to check on certain devices.

5. Attention is a “Limited Resource”

Not only is our attention limited by the time we have in a day, but our energy is subject to the demands of being a living, breathing being. We simply don’t have as much energy to devote to willpower and attention as we’d like to have.

One study, as reported by Psychology Today, found that distractions eat into about 2 hours of our daily work lives. Given that our attention is a limited resource, the strategy of working on the most important task of the day as early as possible—while we still have the concentration to do it—may seem most effective.

One Reason to Use Distractions to Your Benefit

This post paints a very dire picture of the impact of distractions on our life. But if you can manage them effectively, you can sometimes use them to your benefit as well.

One study at Carnegie Mellon found that the regions of the brain that handle your decision-making process will still be in use even when you’re consciously focusing on something else. That means that sometimes, actively seeking distraction when you’re stuck on a problem can be a great way for you to relax, loosen up, and allow a solution to suddenly pop into your mind while you’re thinking about something else.

Otherwise, if you want to be productive while working from home, try to keep the distractions at a minimum (as much as possible), schedule out your day, and focus on your most important task of the day as soon as possible. Your calendar will thank you.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs Distractions While Working From Home/

How Multi-Factor Authentication Protects Your Data

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How many times a day do you login to your bank account using your phone? How secure is your PayPal account? 

The truth is that we access more sensitive data than ever before and it needs to be protected. In days gone by a simple password might have been good enough, but these days it’s not enough anymore. This is where multi-factor authentication can help.

What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?

Most people are familiar with using a single password to gain access to a site or account. This typically consists of providing a username or email, and a password. For many purposes, this may be sufficient, but the fact is that more and more sensitive data is being compromised because single factor authentication is easier to break into.

In multi-factor authentication – or MFA – the user needs to provide more than one piece of information to prove that they are authorized to access the information on the account. For example, a user may be asked for their username and password, but they may also be asked to identify a series of images. In this case, two pieces of evidence are needed and it is called two factor authentication, or 2FA.

Of course, 2FA is only one type and there may be even more evidence required to access other information. This makes it harder to break into and, thus, more secure.

How Does it Work?

In MFA, people are often required to provide one or more of the following pieces of evidence that they are who they say they are:

  • A username and password
  • Answering a secret question that the user has previously set up
  • Sending a pin code to their phone and then inputting the pin code into a field to provide that they have access to the device
  • A biometric indicator, such as a fingerprint


In an age when more and more of our sensitive data is online, it’s important to protect it. MFA offers a higher level of security and minimizes the chances of data being stolen.

The post How Multi-Factor Authentication Protects Your Data first appeared on Lisa Peternel | Technology .

from Lisa Peternel | Technology

Managing Employees From Generation Z

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Generation Z includes those who were born from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s. This generation has used digital technology since birth, and they understand the dynamics of constant change and advancement. To manage these employees effectively, it is important to understand what their expectations are.

Development Opportunities

Studies have shown that development opportunities are a driving factor in retaining Generation Z employees, and these opportunities are often a likely indicator of longevity, engagement, and productivity. This generation has grown up with constantly advancing technology, and they embrace and expect change. They understand the importance of staying current.

Managers need to advocate for continuing education, training, and development opportunities for these employees if they want to reduce turnover. In addition, Generation Z expects managers and companies to stay on top of the current trends. A manager who stays informed will have a much easier time motivating this generation. 

Flexibility and Location

Generation Z is unique in that this generation’s digital skills make them employable with less experience. A manager needs to lead these employees with patience and guidance. It is important for a manager to assess each individual’s skills and assign appropriate projects. 

Another priority for Generation Z is flexibility. This generation expects to be able to work from any location using different devices. They do not view their work and their personal lives as two distinct entities, but rather they believe the two are interconnected and can be pursued simultaneously. It is critical for a company to understand this and be accepting of it. In addition, there is an incredible opportunity to increase this generation’s productivity because they are highly motivated.

Generation Z brings an entirely different outlook into the workforce, and it is necessary for companies and managers to adapt to the current trends. This generation offers valuable skills in all things digital, and they come with an understanding of the importance of staying relevant. To effectively manage Generation Z, companies must embrace continuing education, be flexible about working from any location, and assist these employees in gaining experience.

from Lisa Peternel | Business

Choosing the Right Cloud Storage

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Dropbox may have been one of the personal Cloud storage pioneers in 2007, but it has since grown to be one of the biggest file storage services in the world. That being said, there are now more free and paid Cloud services than ever before. This can make it hard to choose the right kind of storage for your needs, so how can you choose? What should you be looking for?

What About Space?

One of the first considerations when choosing a Cloud service is how much space it offers for storing files. While Dropbox may only offer 2GB on the free account tier, this is going to be more than enough for most users. That being said, in the world of HD audio and video, it’s not going to be enough and will mean that you’d need to pay for an upgrade.

Google Drive may be a better option in this case because it offers 15GB for free. This is going to satisfy many people when it comes to simply storage, but may leave photographers and videographers wanting a lot more.

The truth is that you need to be aware of how much you want to store and how big the files are. If your needs are quite simple, then Google or Dropbox may suffice.


If you’re on Windows or OSX, you’re far more likely to find a Cloud service that offers a download for you. If you’re on one of the Linux distributions, then you’re going to have to look a little further.

pCloud does offer a Linux application that is very good indeed. It may also satisfy with its 10GB for free, but this again needs to be weighed against how much you actually need as a user.

What About Charges?

How much is the storage going to cost you? This is where the competition really heats up because those free tiers are great until you need more storage space. 

Some services, like pCloud, have a one-time fee for up to 2TB of storage, which is a great deal if you plan to use it for a long time. Otherwise, services like Dropbox will charge by the month.


The Cloud isn’t going anywhere and it’s important to choose a service that’s right for you. How many files do you need to store? Are you prepared to pay for more? Will it work on your operating system?

from Lisa Peternel | Technology

SEM vs SEO vs PPC: What’s the Right Balance for Your Business?

SEM. SEO. PPC. What’s the best mix for your business?

The question is more complicated than it might first appear. After all, who wouldn’t want to optimize their SEM, SEO, and PPC efforts? But limited budgets, limited capabilities, and limited expertise can be obstacles—particularly if you’re stronger in one area than another. Let’s discuss what these phrases mean and how you can find the right mix for your own small business:

SEM vs. SEO vs. PPC: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve had enough acronyms thrown at you in your time in business to fill a bowl of alphabet soup, you can be forgiven if you sometimes miss the distinctions in these digital marketing terms. But let’s separate SEM, SEO, and PPC from each other and get really clear about what they are—and what you should expect from them.

SEM, or search engine marketing, is an umbrella term. It’s there for marketing efforts (both paid and organic) that are directed at boosting traffic from search engines. However, keep in mind that SEM, as an umbrella term, may sometimes be used to refer to PPC marketing in some contexts, which helps explain some of the confusion.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a marketing strategy aimed at organic search. The concern here is how to improve your natural position in popular search engines without paying anything additional to said search engines. Yes, you can buy a position with PPC, but with SEO, you’re concerned about the quality of the links pointing to you, the quality of your content, and the relevance of your topics to the search queries that users are typing into Google. The goal is to create high-quality content that will continue to drive your SEO strategy in the future.

PPC, or pay per click advertising, is aimed exclusively at paid ads in search engines. In PPC advertising, you can bid on certain keywords to buy your traffic. But it’s not always as simple as that. PPC often requires that you build high-converting advertisements to ensure that the search engines aren’t just putting anyone with money at the top of the listings; they still want to serve their users.

What is SEO?

Let’s dive into greater detail on SEO. Search engine optimization is the art of designing your page and your content for targeted placement in organic search results—no paid advertising required. Although the search engine algorithms are highly sophisticated, SEO remains a top priority for many business owners; 61% of marketers list improving SEO and rankings as their top goal.

Today’s top search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo, with many of the content marketing and internet marketing campaigns aiming at Google and Bing. You’ll find that the majority of your SEO efforts will tend to focus on Google, thanks to its dominant place in the market.

The beauty of SEO is that any business can compete for organic listings; you just have to have the most relevant, valuable information available for any search query. Sound difficult? You don’t have to start creating the world’s greatest blog posts just yet. Search Engine Land has a guide for small businesses so you can begin optimizing your site as soon as possible. From on-page SEO to technical SEO, there are always small improvements you can make to give your site a leg up on the competition.

Here are some of the other terms you’ll want to be familiar with in SEO:

  • SERPs: Search engine results page.
  • Backlinks: The links pointing to your site, used by search engines to determine your page’s popularity and relevance.
  • Crawlers: Automated bots that search engines use to scan your site and log the latest information, which they can then use in their search results. Crawlers might dig through your meta descriptions, title tags, and on-site SEO to get a gauge of what your site is and what your business has to offer.
  • Technical SEO: search engine optimization focused on the technical aspects of your website, not necessarily popularity and relevance.
  • Link building: The practice of promoting your site to as many potential linking avenues as possible in an effort to drive up your relevance. These days, legitimate link building practices tend to be those that are mostly organic, such as guest posting on popular blogs.

What is PPC?

PPC has potential benefits for small businesses in that it offers an opportunity to buy your way to traffic if you have the budget. Small businesses that need growth now will find that PPC generates the quickest results when it comes to getting on the first page, while content and SEO tend to require focus on the long-term future.

To optimize your PPC, you’ll want to make keyword research a hallmark of the way you market. Tools like the SEM Rush PPC tool will help you identify those keywords that are most relevant to your business, all while driving a substantial amount of traffic. Google Adwords, the most popular PPC platform, also has plenty of tools for you to use as you research. But don’t forget that Bing also has keyword tools you can use to gauge interest in keywords.

With PPC, your goal is simple: combine relevance and traffic. Relevance is how well you can answer the “question behind the query.” In other words, relevance is how well your website answers what customers are really thinking. Someone typing in “vacations,” for example, may be looking to book a travel agency. But your travel agency business won’t do well by serving those who were only curious about vacation statistics.

With search ads, your goal should be to get as much relevance as possible, because you’re going to need to optimize your click-through rates.

When comparing SEO vs SEM and the strategies listed above, you’ll find PPC can produce the most immediate returns. After the proper keyword research, a PPC campaign can quickly give you access to a large amount of traffic that is highly targeted to your keyword and your business—that is, if you’ve put in the time to ensure that your business lines up with the search queries you’re looking for.

How to Strike a Balance Between PPC and SEO

There’s no single answer for whether search marketing, SEO or PPC is best for you right now. But if you start with competition research, you should notice opportunities for advancement—whether that comes in specific keywords, sponsored ads, brand awareness, or even simply building a better landing page. Look at your budget and understand where PPC and SEO most help businesses—and make your investments accordingly.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs the Right Balance between SEM SEO and PPC/

Challenges Businesses Face When Advancing Technology

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Advancing technology is critical to the success of any business, but it comes with challenges. How a business handles these challenges can make or break it. Technological advances are crucial to staying in the game, delivering results to clients, and modernizing approaches to free up resources for effective business strategies. The key is to meet and address these challenges in a way that accomplishes all of these objectives.

Information Security and Big Data

As businesses are able to gather more and more data to streamline their services, they need to address information security and how to turn huge amounts of data into a usable resource. Data is valuable intellectual property for a business, but it is also valuable to hackers and cyber criminals. With many people working from home computers or mobile devices, it is more difficult than ever to secure the data that companies collect. 

Big Data poses a challenge as well. With the ability to collect data on every aspect of a consumer’s actions, businesses must be able to organize and transform this data into usable information that will benefit the company. It is useful for recognizing trends and patterns, but it needs to be organized in a way that is understandable and effective. As more resources for collecting data emerge, companies need to implement plans to break this data down into a usable resource.

Automation and Artificial Intelligence

As technology advances, automation is growing at an astronomical rate. Many jobs can be performed by computer software or robotics. This reduces the amount of time needed, as well as necessary manpower in the office. Automation helps to improve efficiency and provides invaluable insights into consumer choices and behavior.

Artificial intelligence takes this process a step further, with computers sorting and organizing data and then offering plans and solutions. Computers can check and cross-reference files, make predictions about customer behavior and ideal product recommendations, and personalize advertising and marketing messages. In addition, artificial intelligence can handle customer service by way of chatbots or automated phone calls.

from Lisa Peternel | Business