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Home Office Security – what you NEED to know

Operating a small business may require you to meet many strangers. While this is generally accepted as part of business – and often an enjoyable part of it – how can you protect yourself if you operate your business from home?

Most people we will encounter will be genuine, sincere people who wouldn’t even contemplate doing any harm. Unfortunately, it is difficult to pick the tiniest percentage who do not mean us well. Here are some precautions you can take:

1. Be wary of inviting strangers into your home. To avoid this, perhaps you could offer a free pick-up and delivery service (this can include the use of a courier). If you go to a client’s home to pick-up or deliver work/goods, avoid entering their home. This can be a courtesy issue as well as a safety issue.

2. Consider meeting with prospective clients/new business associates in a local cafe.

3. Ensure that you can see your front door from your office. If not, it is imperitive that you keep the front and back doors locked (this is a good idea even if you can see the door). Ideally, security doors and windows offer protection without you becoming a prisoner in your home. Time and time again you hear of homes/offices being burgled while someone was in another room, and all to often this could have been avoided.

4. Avoid giving out your home-office address on general advertising, stationery, etc. Get a Post Office Box for all business mail.

5. If your workplace is not a part of the main house, ensure that it is adequately secure when you’re not there (even if you just popped up to the house for a bite to eat).

6. Don’t leave any money or valuables on the premises. Bank taking regularly to minimise loss if you are burgled.

7. Consider installing a burglar alarm and smoke detectors (smoke detectors are compulsory in some cities) and make sure you have all your business asssets adequately covered through insurance. Remember, not all home contents insurance policies will cover your home office/business assets.

Email Etiquette

One of the business forums I’m a member of has recently been having discussions about what is and isn’t appropriate in the world of emails. Some members think the points discussed (trimming messages, including signatures, etc) should be common knowledge, but quite obviously they’re not.

I thought it appropriate then to share a few tips to make sure your emails comply with today’s ettiquette:

1. Do not SPAM! (sending unsolicitored email). Although laws surrounding this area vary between countries, it really is not acceptable, ethically, anywhere. Only send email newsletters or promotions to people who have willingly given you their address for this purpose and always give them the option of having their details removed from your list.

2. When sending email to a number of recipients, send as a BCC: (Blind Carbon Copy). By doing so, each recipient will only see their own address at the top of the message and not the addresses of all the other recipients.

3. Check and reply to emails regularly and promptly. I follow the 24-hour rule where I endeavour to reply to emails within 24-hours. Sometimes it’s just a simple acknowledgement such as, “Thanks for your email regardings xxx, Bruce. I’ll keep you in mind. Kind regards, Sam,” or at other times it may be a quick message to let them know that you’ll do such-and-such for them later that week or by such-and-such timeframe.

4. Be courteous at all times.

5. Check spelling, grammar and punctuation before sending your emails. In addition, avoid using ALL CAPITALS as this implies yelling, makes the message difficult to read, doesn’t look professional and is just bad manners.

6. When replying to an email, always refer to the message to which you are replying and/or leave the original message in your reply.

7. If you’re posting to a group/forum, remember to trim excess messages from the bottom. Some members may be on a ‘daily digest’ or dial-up and don’t want to be reading through oodles of the original message over and over. Just leave enough in there so readers know what your message refers to.

8. Always put something appropriate in the ‘Subject’ field.

9. If you are sending an attachment always include a cover note in the email so the recipient has an idea of what it is you’re sending and whether they feel it’s safe enough to open.

10. Always sign off your emails. A standard signature block with your name and basic contact details is great.

This is only the tip of the ice-berg and even these suggestions will vary depending on your circumstances. However these guidelines give you a good place to start. Do you have any tips you’d like to add? If so, I’d love to hear them. Happy emailing!

All Women Blogging Carnival

I was recently reading a blog post over at The Tall Poppy and read about a great concept – The All Women Blogging Carnival.

The idea behind a blogging carnival is to help share blogs of a similar theme. In this case, the theme is ‘women bloggers’, so it doesn’t matter what the topic is – if you’re female and you have a blog, have a look at The All Women Blogging Carnival for more info.

 What a great way to share some of the fantastic blogs that are around.