In episode 35, hosts Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks discuss how much passion you really need to start a business. Specifically, we discuss starting a business if your passion is to make money rather than being passionate about helping people. In the first question we talk about ways to instill loyalty in your customers, and in question number two we go over the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant.
Interact With Us
- Sign up for the weekly newsletter so you never miss an episode.
- Do you have a question you’d like Elizabeth and Gene to answer? Submit your question to the Small Biz Ahead Podcast.
- Leave us a review on iTunes and we might read it on the show.
- Learn how The Hartford’s small business insurance can help protect your company.
Download Our Free eBooks
- Ultimate Guide to Business Credit Cards: The Small Business Owner’s Handbook
- How to Keep Customers Coming Back for More – Customer Retention Strategies
- How to Safeguard Your Small Business from Data Breaches
- 21 Days to Be a More Productive Small Business Owner
Elizabeth: Welcome back to another week of the Small Biz Ahead Podcast. This episode we’re going to be talking about customer loyalty and if you should be using a virtual assistant to benefit your business, but first, we got a comment, not really a question, so I wanted to pick Gene’s brain. Oh god, I hate it when I say pick Gene’s brain.
Gene: Oh, I know.
Elizabeth: It’s so gross.
Gene: When people talk about picking my brain, I get those calls, “Hey Gene, can I take you out to coffee? I want to pick your brain.” I’m like, “Oh yeah, I got all the time in the world.” Alright, go ahead.
Elizabeth: We had a question. I believe his name was Bill from St. Louis, and he wrote in that he’s starting a business. It’s kind of a self-helpy business. I’m going to assume it’s like a book or online courses or he’s going to be like a life coach or something. He said that he’s really passionate about making money off of this business, but he’s not that passionate about actually helping people. He’s going to put it out there, and people will hopefully like it. He’s doing a lot of research.
Gene: He’s doing it for the money.
Elizabeth: He knows his stuff, but he’s doing it for the money.
Elizabeth: Is that a bad sign to you? We were talking in another episode about how you can tell a born entrepreneur right away. Is someone that’s not passionate about their work, should they just not open a business?
Gene: Right. See, you have to find what you’re passionate about in your life, Elizabeth. This guy, he’s starting up his business. He’s more about the business himself. When you think about it, there are a lot of entrepreneurs that get really jazzed up from just running a business. I mean, they don’t care if they are selling charcoal briquettes or if they’re selling candy buttons or books or whatever, they like running businesses. That’s why I often times meet people that invest or advise or they’re accountants. I know a lot of accountants, I’m a CPA myself, they’re not really crazy about the accounting work, but they like running an accounting practice and having the ability to hire. They like the challenges of doing that.
You have to find what you’re interested in. I think passion is really an overused word. You always read that about entrepreneurs saying, “I’m passionate about what we’re doing. We’re going to change the world.” You watch episodes of Silicon Valley and every other episode is about these companies are changing the world. Most of the clients that I meet that run businesses, they don’t have that kind of passion. Most of the business owners in this country, the 30 million small business owners, Elizabeth, are people that have inherited businesses from their families or worked in a family business or started up a business because they saw a market need.
They’re running boring, dirty, non-interesting businesses. They’re selling tubing and electrical wiring or piping or off-spec paper, for example. Who’s going to get passionate about that stuff, but what they get a jazz out of is making money from it and all the things that that money then allows them to do. It’s their livelihood. They can raise a family with it. They can enjoy that money for recreational purposes, so they get a kick out of that. Hopefully, when they go to work every day, whatever they’re doing, they enjoy certain aspects of it. Again, even in my business, we sell technology, I don’t have this passion for it. I don’t feel like we’re-
Elizabeth: You’re not passionate about CRMs?
Gene: Right, exactly. I enjoy it. I think it’s fun. I don’t think we’re changing the world by doing it. I like running a business and I like the challenges of introducing a new product and marketing it. One of our goals this year is to increase chargeability of our people by 10%. I find that more challenging to me than the passion about what our products are doing for our customers. I mean, it’s like how can we increase chargeability 10%; what kind of new ideas can we think of that will ultimately help our customers, but it’s more about me and making more money. I enjoy that. That’s fun to do.
I think passion is really overrated. I think that if you’re in it for the money, there is nothing wrong with it. Because it’s a free market system, the markets will ultimately be the evaluator as to whether you at least have enough passion and interest that you’re making the product good enough so that people will buy it.
Elizabeth: Are there any businesses that you think you’re better off having more passion for?
Gene: That’s a good question as well. I meet a lot of people that are very passionate about what they do, but sometimes they’re not very good business people. I know a doctor who is really passionate about his patients and he’s a very, very good doctor, but I’m thinking about another doctor who doesn’t share that same passion but is making a lot more money than the first doctor. They’re both businesses, by the way.
I mean, it depends on what you do. Sometimes if you have too much passion it prohibits you from making more money because you’re trying to get things too perfect, too right, to make too many people happy when people can be sort of happy enough or the product can be good enough and you can make more money by doing more stuff. I don’t know if there’s any specific business. I think all businesses have their rooms for people that are passionate.
Elizabeth: Okay. I want to keep talking about this. I think this is something we should go back to a lot because I think a lot of business owners think about this, especially people starting a business, am I passionate enough about this to do the work necessary to get this done? I think you might actually be better off thinking, I’m passionate about making money so I’m going to do the steps.
Gene: There is nothing wrong with making money and there’s nothing wrong with starting a … Sometimes I get interviewed and people ask me about why did I go into, why’d I start my own business? You knew that the person asking you that question wanted to hear the passion answer, because I wanted to whatever. I don’t know if it was just like I like to give the answer because it’s true; I started my business because I wanted to make money. I was working for a company at the time, and I saw an opportunity to do something that I thought was pretty interesting but would make me more money. That’s why I did it. I’m still the same now.
Elizabeth: And you wanted to have more control over your time.
Gene: All of that, all of that.
Elizabeth: That’s a huge … I mean, that’s why a lot of people start small businesses is because they don’t want to have to answer to the man.
Gene: That’s right.
Elizabeth: They want to answer to themselves.
Gene: It’s funny. When you talk about kids, a lot of times kids graduate from college and mom and dad own a business. It’s a print shop in town or some whatever. The kid’s like, “Ah, oh my god, I’m never going to work for them. I’m going to go out and work for this corporation or that corporation and whatever.”
I mean, how many kids do you meet that they reach their late 20s or 30s and they start looking at their parents’ business and they’re like, “You know what, it all kind of stinks, you know what I mean? Their business is nice. It’s fine. I might as well work with them. It’s a business.”
Elizabeth: I know two people like that who just swore up and down they would never work for their parents’ business. What about your kids, do you think they’re going to want to work with you?
Gene: I don’t think they’ll come into business with me.
Gene: They’re taking up different things. I have no-
Elizabeth: One of them wants to be a vet, and you’re selling CRM systems.
Gene: Yeah, so there’s no connection there. The other’s a mechanical engineer. I have one son who’s studying to be an accountant, so there is some potential there.
Elizabeth: A little crossover.
Gene: Yeah, but he’s like a perfect example because that’s what I did with mine. I mean, I worked at a Big Four firm, KPMG, for nine years. I was a controller, and my dad had his own little … I never thought that I would go into business with my dad in a million years, but then I don’t know, reality. The passion kind of simmers a little bit, and you’re saying, you know, what I’m looking for is something more in my life that can provide me with income, opportunity, challenges and balance, control.
A lot of times you’re like, okay, I might not be so passionate that my mom and dad runs a print shop, but hey, no harm in them, how they’re making a living. It could be a living for me as well and will provide me with the opportunity to have control and flexibility and all that good stuff. Greed is good. No reason why you can’t make money.
Elizabeth: Alright. We’ll be right back with a question about how to retain new customers.
QUESTION #1: Customer Loyalty
Elizabeth: We’re back with question number one. This is from Trudy in Rochester, Minnesota. Trudy writes:
“I run a small pet grooming business. Although I do have a few really loyal customers, most of the folks who visit don’t visit again. Some don’t see the needs to have their pets groomed on a regular basis and others are trying us out only because I offer Groupons every now and again. How can I turn one timers into repeat visitors?”
First of all, I don’t understand why people would get their pets groomed once and never come back. That’s odd.
Gene: I know. That kind of seems like something that you’re like … We go. I hate going because it’s like, oh, you got to take the, but no, it’s a growing business.
Elizabeth: It is, it is.
Gene: It really is a growing field. The question is, you’re right, about how do you bring not just a pet grooming business, but how do you keep your customers coming back. I can tell you what I think would work well in any business is giving them the opportunity to do what you do themselves so that they can learn that they won’t be able to do it themselves.
Here’s the example that I give you is the pet grooming business. If somebody comes in and they come in for a first time and they get the pet groomed, if you can sign them up for a newsletter or get them to like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter or wherever your community is-
Elizabeth: Make a connection with them.
Gene: … that you make that connection. The promise is you’re going to say, “Listen, I’m going to be giving you if you sign up for my newsletter, once a month I’m going to send you out a pet grooming tip, just something to do that you can do on your own to groom your pet that’s nice,” a brush that your pet may like or a certain way that you want to do it. What you do is those things lead to work because people hear from you on a continuous basis. They’re getting good, educational tips about something that you’re expert at, so that’s also really nice. They’re happy.
We do this with all our software. We do free training webinars, free every month for the software that we sell. People come and they get free tips on using the software, just like pet grooming tips. Two out of 10 of them, three out of 10 of them, they come back for services because they’re like, “You know what, thanks for the tips. I tried this on my own and now I see like all the other stuff I got to do.”
Elizabeth: Why I need you.
Gene: You know what? I appreciate what you’ve given. By the way, that’s how you stay in their minds. I think if I was going to a pet groomer and I was getting a communication once a … It’s like, we like our dog, our dog’s awesome. A pet grooming tip is like hey, thanks a lot for that. Then you start doing it and you’re like, this stinks; I think I’ll just take it to that pet groomer.
Elizabeth: Exactly. It’s one of those things that you can just outsource. Now, my dog has really short hair so I-
Gene: We love talking about pets.
Elizabeth: I know, we do. We seem to talk about them all the time. She has really short hair, so I could just give her baths. Sometimes I do, but I hate clipping her nails.
Gene: Ugh, ugh.
Elizabeth: I have to bring her in.
Gene: My daughter, who’s training to be a vet, she works as a vet tech. As soon as she walks in the door, she’s like, “Oh, where’s the dog? I’m going to clip his nails.” I’m like, “Gross.” The same thing with our cat as well, it gives me the skeeves, like cutting your pet’s nails.
Elizabeth: I don’t want to get too far into this, but you can clip their nails where it bleeds and you like hit a … It’s really not good, so that’s just not something. At the training place that I brought my dog, they have lessons on how to clip their nails. I’m like, “You know, I’m not going to do that.”
Gene: But they’re offering it, and then hopefully they’re promoting that to their community on Facebook or with a email. Their community is like wow, that’s cool that they’re doing that. Maybe I will learn how to clip, but the likelihood-
Elizabeth: I probably won’t.
Gene: … is that once you start doing it, you’re like, ugh, I’m just going to have them do it for me.
Elizabeth: One thing thinking about my experience with pet groomers, and this is also true of dry cleaners and tailors, people that do tailoring, they’re not very customer friendly with their hours. We have an article I’m going to link in the show notes called “How Small Business Owners Can Keep Customers Loyal and Coming Back for More.” I just want to elaborate on one of the things the writer talked about. The hours, he actually uses the example of a barber shop. He goes to this barber shop. He loves them. He thinks they’re great, but they’re open 8:00 to 4:00 and he works 8:00 to 4:00.
Gene: Yes, of course. That’s so annoying. I see that too.
Elizabeth: He advised the barber to just open up one day, work from 12:00 to 8:00; just work from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. so you’re still getting that lunchtime crowd. I mean, who is going to get their hair cut at 9:00 a.m., like not that many people; retirees, that’s pretty much it.
I was going to a groomer. It says on their website that their hours are 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. I would call because I work from 8:00 to 4:00, 8:00 to 5:00 every day. I would call and say, “Can I get like a 6 o’clock appointment?” “No, we’re closing early.” Then I’d call back the next month. “Can I get like, you know, I can even come in at 5:30?” They’re like, “The latest we can take is 4:30.” I’m like, “It says on your website you’re open until 9:00.”
Gene: I agree with you. I agree with you.
Elizabeth: Then I googled other people in the Hartford area. I found this other groomer, and they don’t even have the hours on their website. Make sure you’re meeting people where they are. Make sure that on your website it says exactly what the process is. You can drop your dog off between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. You pick them up between 5:00 and 7:00, or we don’t watch them for the day. You drop them off. We will have them out in an hour. Be very, very clear on what the process is.
Maybe people come once and they’re not sure, like oh, we don’t know what the hours are; it wasn’t really convenient for us. Make it as convenient as possible to people. If that means you need to close Sundays and Mondays and be open on Saturdays or come in late one day or early one day, meet people where they are. I think that’s really important. That’s been my experience with pet groomers.
Gene: Totally agree.
Elizabeth: The other option is you could turn your business into a mobile pet grooming business because that’s a major trend right now. You know what? People have tubs. Everyone has a tub, so you do what you need to do in people’s homes. You can probably charge even more because they don’t have to bring their pet there. A lot of pets, not mine, my dog is fine with this, but a lot of dogs when they know they’re going to the groomer really freak out.
Gene: My dog’s actually quite good with it.
Elizabeth: Oh, really?
Gene: Yeah, she likes it.
Elizabeth: She probably gets a little ribbon or something in her hair.
Gene: How did you know?
Elizabeth: I took my dog one place right before Thanksgiving, and she came home with a bandana on or something.
Gene: How long did it stay on?
Elizabeth: She’s pretty good with clothes. It stayed on for a while until I got sick of it. It was cute. Those are our tips for you. It’s really make it easy for your customers.
Gene: Educate them.
Elizabeth: And educate them. Make them realize how hard it is to actually groom a pet.
Gene: They’ll learn for themselves.
Elizabeth: Yes. Alright, we’ll be right back with question number two, which is all about how you can use a virtual assistant.
QUESTION #2: How to Use a Virtual Assistant
Elizabeth: Okay. We’re back with question number two. This is from Heather in Brooklyn. Heather is actually one of my friends. We worked together years ago. She is a freelance writer. She writes about travel, and she actually opened up a travel agency. She is a solopreneur. She works by herself.
Gene: Talk about being passionate about what you do. I bet you’re right. That’s right. That’s right.
Elizabeth: I know. She took some thing that she was writing about and was like, how can I make some money off this?
Gene: Monetize it, sure. It’s cool.
Elizabeth: Here’s Heather’s question:
“I’m always struggling with scalability issues as a solopreneur, so I’m curious about how people use virtual assistants to support and grow their business.”
First, I want to just set this question up for Gene and explain what a virtual assistant is in case our listeners are not aware of this. If you haven’t heard of virtual assistants before, I’m sure you’re going to want to immediately go out and figure out if they can help your business. Basically, it’s an assistant, but you only work with them via email, Skype, phone, text even, how you choose to work with them.
They might be located in Los Angeles and Heather’s in Brooklyn. She emails her virtual assistant in the morning and says, “Update my calendar with these six things. Respond to all of my social media comments. Go through my email box and delete all the spam that’s in there. Then come up with draft responses to some of my most common questions.” As a travel agent she might have that virtual assistant go into whatever system she uses to look up flights and come up with flight options for trips she’s planning.
Gene: Correct. Because there’s so many administrative tasks that every business needs to do that a virtual assistant could be doing. They can clean up files that you’ve got stored online.
Elizabeth: Data entry.
Gene: Data entry, data cleanup as well, like if you have a database and it needs to be fixed up for anything like that. They can just handle just communications out to customers and clients if they’re trained to use your systems in the right way.
Elizabeth: Yeah, they can send out blast emails.
Gene: Correct. Even I have some clients use virtual assistants to answer their phones because they just redirect the phones to the virtual assistant’s number and they answer it that way as well. There’s a whole bunch of different things. Research they can do for you as well. Editing work on your website or brochures they can read through. You and I, we’ve spent so many hours on this podcast talking about productivity issues.
Gene: Delegating, how people can get the most from their time. I mean, so many small business owners just have this issue of being too busy and working too much in the business and not on the business and all that. Virtual assistants are absolutely a solution to that. They cost though. They cost. We can put up a few virtual assistant recommendations under the show notes.
Elizabeth: Yup. We’ll put those in the show notes.
Gene: My clients that have worked with virtual assistants, the ones I’ve recommended before, minimum it can cost anywhere from 300 to 500 bucks a month. A lot of them want you to subscribe. It’s not like you’re just going to hire somebody for $10 a week and that’s what it is.
Elizabeth: You could on like Craigslist.
Gene: Yeah, you can if you want to just go, but if you want to use an actual service themselves, which the benefits of using a service is that they’ve got references and they’ve got a process for hiring the right people.
Elizabeth: Yeah, and they probably handle payroll.
Gene: That’s correct, and they have backup. If the assistant is unavailable or whatever, there is resources, other people to back them up. Again, they’ll ask you for a monthly commitment. It could be anywhere from 300 to 500 bucks a month to start with, so that’s important to know. You’re right, Elizabeth. You can also hire somebody off of Craigslist. Upwork is another really good place to go to find, freelancer.com as well. These are all sites where you can go to find independent people that can act as your virtual assistants.
Very, very good and the technology today enables everybody to do that because with video conferencing like Skype and Google Hangouts, conducting calls face to face is like a no-brainer. With services like Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive and Google Docs, Google Drive, you can save all of your information. Everybody can share it the same way. CRM systems, project management systems that are available today, people collaborate using those systems. The technology is all there to have that person in Los Angeles while you’re in Brooklyn. It makes a lot of sense for a lot of small business owners.
Elizabeth: How would you decide if it’s worth the $500 a month or $300 a month to you? First of all, a problem that I would see with this is you think, gosh, I do so much administrative work, I would love to hire a virtual assistant. Then you do and you can’t really take the time to teach them what you need. There is onboarding.
Gene: There is.
Elizabeth: You can’t just expect someone’s going to, oh, they’re a qualified virtual assistant; they’re going to know exactly what to do. You still need to onboard them like you would any.
Gene: You gave an example before. One of the things you might have a virtual assistant do is check your inbox every day and clear out your spam. How does he or she know what’s your spam or not? You know what I mean?
Gene: There are things you are going to have to invest some time and it’s going to take time. Then of course the virtual assistant then quits. You start at square one again. There’s all that going on. I mean, the idea and the hope is that you get an assistant in place that after a couple of months of getting to know you and your activities and all that is really somebody you can turn to and rely on to get tasks done.
Elizabeth: When you decide if this is worth the money, you can’t just think one month at a time.
Elizabeth: You’ve really got to look at like a year at a time.
Gene: It’s a long-term commitment.
Elizabeth: I mean, hiring an assistant is going to cost you, I don’t know, 15-
Gene: 15 to 20 bucks an hour is usually what it’s going to cost to have somebody as an assistant.
Elizabeth: If you were to hire a full-time or part-time assistant, not a virtual assistant, someone just to come into your office, it’s going to be more expensive.
Gene: It would be.
Elizabeth: This is going to be a little cheaper.
Gene: There’s benefits and health insurance and paid time off and all that. If you’re going to bring on an employee, you’re going to have all those things. Here, the virtual assistant services, you don’t have to worry about any of that stuff. You just pay them a monthly fee and that’s what it is. The person that you hire off of Craigslist would hopefully be some type of a independent contractor or freelancer, so you give them a 1099.
Yeah, it’s a long-term commitment. It’s not just something that you do right away. Everyone that I know who has used a virtual assistant, once they get over the hump of hiring one, across the board they’re like, “I could never do without one. You know, like if my assistant left, I would replace with another assistant. It’s just I have to have one one.” It’s something that I think is a very valuable thing.
Elizabeth: If you think you can take on the cost of $300 a month and that’s going to allow you to make $300, $400, $500 more a month, it’s worth it.
Gene: I would also say a virtual assistant is an interesting tool to use for your personal life as well because remember, you’re a small business owner so everything kind of overlaps each other. Come on, you know, Elizabeth, you get like what the heck was this charge on my cable bill, you know what I mean, or I need to renew this subscription, this prescription. I need to like-
Elizabeth: Got to get my dog groomed.
Gene: Got to get the dog groomed or whatever, just to set up the appointment to get the dog groomed or whatever. You just need an assistant to handle your personal details that also can be available so that you’re more available to focus on your business. Because it’s all time, so don’t think that a virtual assistant is just somebody just for your business. It can be somebody that you could be using personally as well.
That’s productivity and that turns into money. One final thing is though, I’ve spoken to companies. We talk about interesting benefits to offer your employees, and people, they want balance and time saving. Offering a virtual assistant service to your people-
Elizabeth: Whoa. That would be great.
Gene: … is a really cool benefit. You hire that firm. You hire them for 10 hours a month or a $1,000 or whatever, and you divide it among your employees. Think about it. You want to hire that new employee and your like, “Hey, if you come and work for us, we have a virtual assistant available to you. They’ll take care of organizing your kids’ little league schedules and be available to help you.” They clean up any personal items as well as stuff at work. Could be a really nice perk to offer your employees.
Elizabeth: That’s huge. I hadn’t even thought of that.
Gene: Yeah, it’s a cool thing.
Elizabeth: Wow, great idea. Alright, we’ll be right back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.
WORD OF BRILLIANCE: Ransomware
Elizabeth: Alright. We’re back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.
Gene: My Word of Brilliance for today, my sad, depressing word is ransomware, so Elizabeth, are you aware of what ransomware is?
Elizabeth: I think I am, but I’m not totally sure.
Gene: First of all, I’m seeing it happen at a client’s all the time. It is affecting so many small businesses and it’s becoming an enormous issue for small businesses and large. Here’s what it is. Somebody visits a malicious website or they download a file inadvertently like a Word document. They open it up and it unleashes a malware that-
Elizabeth: I’m almost afraid to say this because I feel like it’s then going to go happen to me, but I can’t believe with all the warnings people get that they still open up Word documents.
Gene: You know what? Here’s the thing, it’s not necessarily opening up Word documents anymore. Sometimes you get redirected or you go to a website just inadvertently and it turns out to be a bad website. For example, some ransomware people, they’re putting ads. I’ll explain to you why they’re putting ads on different sites. You click on the ad because you think you’re going to Amazon and it takes you to a malicious website. The minute you hit that website it downloads a file and then launches it. It is bad.
Once it downloads that file and that file is launched, it attacks your files on your server and on your workstations and locks them up. It encrypts them. You can’t get access to them anymore. You can’t do any work with them at all. You get this horrible looking, like it’s something out of Black Mirror if you ever watch that show, like this big message on your screen basically saying, “You’ve been infected with ransomware and you have to pay a ransom, and we’ll give you a code to unlock your files.”
The ransom can be as little as 50 bucks or 100 bucks. I mean, it’s not like some debilitating thing, but you have to pay it in Bitcoin or some type of digital currency. Good luck getting that and then going to their site and paying it to people that like, oh great, so I’m sure they’re very honest people because they just infected my system. I’m going to give them 100 bucks and hope, you’re going to cross your fingers they’re going to give you the encryption key. Oh, by the way, they’ll work with each other is what it’s turning out with because it’s a hugely profitable business. It’s the first virus and malware that is actually making money for a lot of them.
Remember in the good old days when we had viruses and malware, they just infected your system and it was a ha-di-di ha-ha, like ha, we infected. Now all these people, they’re writing these ransomware applications and they’re getting paid to do it because there’s a percentage of people that are paying the ransom. It’s a moneymaking operation.
Elizabeth: What should you do?
Gene: There is. There’s actually three things you must do to make sure you are prepared for ransomware. Number one is you got to make sure all of your antivirus and malware software is up to date. I like MalAware. We can put some again into the show notes, some good antivirus. I use MalAware, M-A-L-A-W-A-R-E. It’s free. It runs on your workstations. It is an ongoing database looking for stuff like this and will block it. That’s a big help, but they’re not perfect of course.
You certainly need to train your employees to be super careful about opening up any documents that they get from somebody they don’t recognize and watch what websites they’re being redirected to. It’s not that difficult to tell if you’re going to be redirected somewhere by seeing a URL of a website before you click on it. Third thing, what I can say, is you got to back up. You got to back up. I like the online backup services, the ones like Carbonite, for example. I’m a big fan of them.
When you back something up to a Carbonite, that’s happening automatically and it’s backing up all your files online throughout the day. It’s whatever. Honestly, you get hit by a ransomware and it encrypts all your files, then you can basically be like, well, to heck with you ransomware people. I’m just going to delete my files and restore it from my last online backup. Maybe you lost a few hours of work or a day’s worth of work, but you’re right back to action. You know what I mean?
Gene: Having a good online backup service set up that’s backing up continuously fixes that problem or at least gets you back up in operation.
Elizabeth: How often do you back up your files at The Marks Group?
Gene: We use Carbonite actually, so it’s being backed up whenever there’s any changes made to files.
Gene: Yeah, it’s being backed up. It’s continuous.
Elizabeth: Okay. So you would only lose a couple seconds.
Gene: Yeah. Now, our databases themselves are being backed up throughout the day, like a few times a day. We would lose maybe an hour or two worth of work, so it’s great. It’s continuous and it’s always being done. You get alerts if a backup didn’t complete or if there was a problem or whatever. You get alerts if there wasn’t a backup done in the past 24 hours like, “Hey Gene, did somebody turn this off or something,” and that kind of thing.
Now I can be like, listen, if I get hit by ransomware, it’s still going to stink because somebody in my office or my IT person is going to have to delete the files and then restore whatever, but we’ll get back in action pretty quickly. I won’t have to pay those jerks a ransom to get back up. I can tell you, once they get the ransom, they share it with all their buddies. It’s like, “Hey, this idiot Gene Marks over in Philadelphia actually paid our ransom, so now it’s your turn. You go and infect them and I’ll take 10% of what you get.”
Elizabeth: Oh my gosh.
Gene: Ransomware is a big issue in 2017. You got to make sure you’re aware of it.
Elizabeth: Okay. The last business I worked for is a small business. We actually had tapes that we used to back up.
Gene: Yes, yes. People still do that.
Elizabeth: We still went into this storage closet that was filled with crap and just boxes everywhere and dusty files.
Gene: You stored the tapes there?
Gene: Which is funny too because if there was a fire, and you know what, now I did some research, tapes happen to melt. You’re storing the tapes there for protection, and God forbid anything ever happen to the facility.
Elizabeth: Not in a fire safe box.
Gene: By the way, even if it’s in a fire safe box, I learned, it gets hot. If there was a fire, okay, it’s protected inside the fire safe box, but then it gets hot inside the box and your tapes melt.
Elizabeth: A fire safe box is meant to protect things like jewelry and paper, not things that are plastic.
Gene: Not tape that’s made out of plastic that’s going to melt. Online backup services are a very, very good thing to have.
Elizabeth: Alright, great. We will be back next week on the Small Biz Ahead Podcast. Thanks for joining us today.
Gene: Look forward to it.