Thursday, September 24, 2015

Honor Services Grows to Michigan



Honor Services now provides cloud payment solution consulting to Michigan! PCI compliance must be established firmly on all payment systems to avoid steep fines. Are you ready?


Friday, September 18, 2015

Why I'm Temporarily Moving to Microsoft's Edge Browser


By: Stan Washington
Date: September 18, 2015

By the time I finished writing this article, my Chrome Browser would have crashed about three times! Recently I upgraded to Windows 10 and I was pleasantly surprised with the new interface. I stayed away from Windows 8 altogether because of its terrible interface and hard to find applications.

Here are my thoughts:

Microsoft Edge Browser Works Well

Skeptically I went back to a place that used to be home, namely Microsoft. With previous dominance, who didn't use Internet Explorer? In recent events of security issues, I had to abandon the browser for Chrome and Firefox. When I loaded Windows 10, Chrome stopped working. There is a known problem between Chrome and Win10 so I decided to try Edge.

The browser is fast. I noticed webpages loaded faster than other browsers. This goes along with the spirit of Windows 10. It seems like they heard their customers complaints about the horrible Windows 8 interface and backtracked to the easy to navigate Windows 7 look and feel.


Security is in the Design

Next year cloud applications with payment solutions will be required to use a stronger cipher suite TLSv1.1 or TLSv1.2. SSLv3.0 will be a thing of the past and browser capabilities will change. If you have an older machine then you will need to upgrade your operating system and browser to be able to use these sites.

Minimal is Maximum

I like the minimalist design of the Edge Browser. With few icons and only a couple of options, I feel I can browse and go about my business. I am probably a typical internet surfer. I want to go to my site without the browser bugging me for plugins and other stuff. So far Edge meets my browsing needs.

Will I go back to Chrome? Probably so, but I now have added Microsoft back to the list!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

PCI Compliance Milestones and Meaning to You

 Honor Services Office - Secure Payments for Small Business

By: Stan Washington
Date: September 09, 2015


What does it mean to be PCI Compliant?

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that ALL companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. Essentially any merchant that has a Merchant ID (MID).

What are the penalties to small businesses for being non-compliant?

The payment brands may, at their discretion, fine an acquiring bank $5,000 to $100,000 per month for PCI compliance violations. The banks will most likely pass this fine on downstream till it eventually hits the merchant. Furthermore, the bank will also most likely either terminate your relationship or increase transaction fees. Penalties are not openly discussed nor widely publicized, but they can be catastrophic to a small business.

It is important to be familiar with your merchant account agreement, which should outline your exposure.


What is PCI Audit Relief for EMV? (October 2015)

If more than 95% of merchant Visa transactions originate from Euro Pay, MasterCard, Visa (EMV) -compliant POS terminals that support both contact and contactless transactions, the merchant may apply for relief from the audit requirement for PCI compliance (but is still mandated to be PCI compliant).

What happens on October 1, 2015?

Visa
The party that has made investment in EMV deployment is protected from financial liability for card-present counterfeit fraud losses on this date.  If neither or both parties are EMV compliant, the fraud liability remains the same as it is today.  This date excludes automated fuel dispensers.

MasterCard
Fraud Liability Shift.  MasterCard liability hierarchy takes effect.  The party that has made investment in the most secure EMV options is protected from financial liability for card-present fraud losses for both counterfeit and lost, stolen and non-receipt fraud on this date.

Account Data Compromise Relief:  On this date, if at least 95% of MasterCard transactions originate from EMV-compliant POS terminals, the merchant is relieved of 100% of account data compromise penalties.

Discover
TBD

American Express
Fraud Liability Shift. American Express will institute a fraud liability shift policy that will transfer liability for certain types of fraudulent transactions away from the party that has the most secure form of EMV technology.



Honor Services Office gets checked monthly on 300 or more points of compliance. Visit http://www.honorservicesoffice.com for safe payments.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Computer Security Tips to Consider


By Stan Washington
Date: 07/27/15

National Computer Security Update (Click to see what the NIST is saying) but we broke it down here.

Recently the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) issued a statement that shows the cloud industry is fighting against those who attempt to attack the innocent. While rules regulations and standards were being enforced in a few countries, others ignored the plea for tighter security controls.

The NIST is working towards tighter international security standards which have already had a positive impact on security.
 Safely Manage Your business 
Here is what you need to prepare for in the very near future:

Microsoft Outlook Users
For those using older versions of Microsoft Outlook (2003 - 2013) you will more than likely have to move to a new version by June 30, 2016.  Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is dictating more rules. Tougher Cipher Suites will be necessary to be used and the old versions of Outlook may not be updated (check with Microsoft for the correctness of this statement).

Android and Apple Users
Yes the updates will affect your smartphone. The use of SSLv3 will become extinct and replaced by the stronger TLSv1.1 and TLSv1.2. What this means is if you have an older phone then you may not receive an update to the operating system which in turn will render your email useless.

Chrome / Fire Fox / Internet Explorer / Safari and others
Security updates will affect how browsers communicate to servers to prevent “Man in the Middle” attacks and “Click Hijacks.” You will need to update to the latest browsers in order to keep up with the latest security updates.

What to do now
  1. Stop reading this article and back up your computer (Why are you still reading? Back up your computer!)
  2. Check to see if you have the latest version of your virus scan and do a “full scan” tonight. Older computers will take longer.
  3. Delete temporary files and cookies on your browser. Yes this in inconvenient, but necessary to do regularly.
  4. Empty the trash on email and computers. Just because you clicked delete doesn’t mean you have fully trashed the email or document you tried to get rid of.

Honor Services works with First Data, PayPal, GoDaddy, TrustWave and other partners to ensure the safety of your information. Honor Services Office provides payment and business integration solutions to manage what you do best!



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Build Your Brand as You Build Your Business

 Our Founder on "Straight Talk"

Too often business owners focus on their product without considering their brand. Listen in as our founder and president speaks on the topic of branding.


Honor Services Office is a business integration tool that enables micro and small businesses to grow! Check out the software and ask for assistance on how to grow your business!

 Grow Your Business Today!

Friday, June 19, 2015

People Who Started a Business Over 40 - Business Insider

Photo by AP

http://www.businessinsider.com/people-who-became-successful-after-age-40-2014-9
By Business Insider







Visit www.honorservicesoffice.com to start your business today!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

5 Steps to Acquire New Customers

 Events Change Weekly

We will discuss:

  • The types of Sales events you should host
  • How to personalize your product or Service
  • When to prepare for Rapid Growth
  • How to "Advance" the sale to get customers to purchase more
  • Loyalty and Referrals




Friday, June 5, 2015

Leaving Corporate to Become a Successful Entrepreneur






By: Stan Washington
Date: June 05, 2015


“This is going to be the best company” was the thought I had placed in my mind when I entered my last corporate position.  When I approached the company with that attitude, it actually was a great experience. I rose through the ranks and assumed a great deal of responsibility. Each move I made had new challenges, new problems, new people to meet and relate to.

When I transitioned to become an entrepreneur I was in for pleasant yet sometimes rude awakening.  Know yourself! Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

1. Years of training can pay off
 What are you waiting for?As a corporate leader of a Fortune 100 company, I had some of the best training available to me. When transitioning to your own business, leverage this great expertise you have acquired. Whether through training or on the job learning, your experience is valuable.

2. They don’t have to listen to you
I used to speak in front of very large crowds about the new thing we were rolling out and people had to listen. Your customers have many choices and they do not “have” to listen to you. Be humble and leverage the negotiating training and skills you have acquired.

3. You may have to delegate to yourself
If you had a staff of people you used to delegate to do things, you may have to change your mindset. When starting up, you may have to do many things others would do for you. Be balanced though. Find the right resources that can help you get things done well and pick up the slack only where needed.

4. It’s a marathon not a sprint
I ran a marathon recently and learned a ton of parallels. Don’t start off too fast or you will exhaust yourself. Running the long race takes practice and preparedness similar to business. Even when I hurt my ankle I had to finish the race and being in business I’ve had to shake off the temptation to give up. Celebrate every mile, sometimes every step, forward progress is key.

5. You are blessed and in a new stage
Make and mold this new stage in life rather than reminiscing the good old days of your rise. Just because I received high academic honors in third grade doesn’t make me want to go back through school. Leverage the great experiences and achievements as fuel to your new life as an entrepreneur. Treat people with respect and know you are blessed and watched over.



Sunday, May 17, 2015

Teens and Twenties are becoming Entrepreneurs - Here is some advice


By Stan Washington
Date: May 17, 2015

Move over! More and more people under 25 are solving major problems through their business! They look at what problems they can solve rather than uttering the deadly words "I'm going to start my own business." Starting the business is not their goal. They focus on the needs of others and require no begging or coercing!

Entrepreneurs solve problems not start companies. They thrive on developing new and exciting things to help society run better, but sometimes people think they are "too young." That label is used by those who are probably stagnant in their resolve. One way is no longer the only way. These bright people have found ways to develop their idea into a product and will not sit still!

Here are a few tips to the young entrepreneur:

Develop your idea into a prototype
I love to see ideas in concept. Prototypes help others see your vision. Be careful who you show this concept to. Show it to people you can trust and who can provide the right feedback you need to make adjustments.

Find your market
The quicker you can find your crowd the better you are. Don't tackle the world, just your slice of the world. Target a group that makes sense for you. Narrow your audience into something realistic.

Use but don't overuse social media
Social Media is a blessing and a curse. People find it easy to communicate, but find themselves online every waking minute of the day. Use Social media to communicate vital information about your business and measure the building  of your brand.

Look for Mentors
Becoming an entrepreneur is scary and exciting at the same time. Being tech savvy is not going to be enough. There are sound business principles that mentors can give. These tips won't guarantee earned success but every bit of information helps you reach your goal.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Help Your Small Business Get into "Big Box" Stores


Image credit: Jay Reed | Flickr
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246005 (Entire Article on Entrepreneur Magazine)

by:

AMBER COLLEY
CONTRIBUTOR

Business Credit Expert and Director with Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.

Successfully working with big-name Fortune 500 companies to get your product in front of their consumers can be both incredibly rewarding and tricky for a small business learning the ropes.  It’s important to know what you are getting your company into before you dive head first into a supply chain deal that might look great on paper but may not actually be so good for your business at all.
If you believe your business has progressed to the point of seeking these kinds of supplier relationships, consider taking the following steps to help make sure you’re fully prepared before you enter the negotiation phase.

1.  Do your homework

There is a lot of information out there about supplier programs, and your first assignment is to use these resources to find out which companies might be a fit for what your company produces. 
Every program is different. For instance, let’s say you have something you’d like to get into a big-box store.  You need to be familiar with their store, the products they carry and who shops there. Walk the aisles of your local store.  Note what is unique about the store and the particular products it sells. Look around at who is shopping there. Determine whether or not you think your product is a fit.  Understand and be able to articulate what is unique about your products or services. There is only so much shelf space. Is there a competing product you could displace?
The homework that you do can be critical to positioning your product and its benefits in the event you speak with a Fortune 500 supply chain decision maker. 

2.  Seek out possible diversity programs

Did you know that 93 percent of Fortune 100 companies have supplier programs designed to encourage contracts with small-business owners?  And many Fortune 500 companies have diversity programs designed specifically for women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses. You can find 93 of those businesses and their programs here.
One note of caution:  generally these programs require 51 percent ownership to qualify. 

3.  Understand your deal terms including net-pay terms

All large companies are going to have different types of deal terms and you should read the fine print every time.  No matter how excited you are, don’t just sign on the dotted line.  This is the time you want to have a lawyer on call that can review any offers and contract language.  And ask questions.  Don’t think that you have to act like you know it all. 
There are some big-box stores that will charge your company back for any unsold products.  Would your business be able to handle that kind of cost?  You also need to know when you are going to get paid.  Are you going to be the last company in the supply chain to get paid?  Are you going to have to carry net-payment terms of 30, 60, 90 or 120 days?  Really consider how your business will fare under long net-payment terms. 
Thankfully, in 2011, the White House launched the QuickPay initiative requiring federal agencies to pay the smallest of the businesses in their supply chain first.  Launched in 2014, the administration’s SupplierPay program similarly urges private companies to pay smaller companies faster, but just a small number of companies have signed up.  You’ll want to make sure you know your terms before you sign on the dotted line.

4.  Get your finances in order

Just like all the other parts of your business, you should make sure that your financial recordkeeping and accounting are in shape. For instance, the company I work for, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp, provides a D&B D-U-N-S® Number, which most supplier programs require and is linked directly to your D&B® business credit report. Some programs may require that your D&B® Supplier Evaluation Risk (SER) rating in your business credit report meet minimum requirements. (Anything above the minimum number is usually considered too risky.) 
Companies tend to do business with companies they feel they can trust to deliver what they need. Bids could be lost and contracts dropped if credit is an issue and the company you want to do business with won’t want to work with a business that would represent too high a risk. 
consider whether you are keeping your own house in order.

5.  Be sure that you can deliver the product you’ve promised

If you have a product that has been selling well in smaller retailers and you want to introduce to larger businesses, or you are a manufacturer that has a part being used on a small scale that you are now selling in to a supply chain program, you’ll want to know how you will respond to much bigger orders while still maintaining quality, on-time delivery and profits.  
Some companies need larger space or need to move production of products overseas.  Let’s say you are producing a new type of guitar and have been hand producing them up until now.  You have interest from a major retailer and they want the product in store by a certain date.  Are you able to respond quickly?  Be prepared to address your plans to scale your business to keep up with demand.
When it comes to participating in supplier programs, especially with Fortune 500 companies, knowledge really is power.  Understanding as much as possible about the Fortune 500 business you are approaching can help separate your company from other small businesses entering the supply chain. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

National Small Business Week is Officially OPEN! - President Barack Obama


Date: May 4, 2015

The White House
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/02/presidential-proclamation-national-small-business-week-2015


Here are remarks from the President:

Presidential Proclamation -- National Small Business Week, 2015

NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK, 2015
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
 Receive 20% off until Saturday May 9, 2015America's small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing half of our country's private sector workforce and creating nearly two out of every three new jobs in our country. Representing the quintessential American ideals of hard work and ingenuity, small businesses -- from startups to mom-and-pop shops -- are crucial to our national prosperity and economic security. During National Small Business Week, we recommit to advancing these vital enterprises, and we celebrate their contributions to our collective American story.
From day one, my Administration has made supporting our Nation's small businesses a priority. We have fought to ensure our tax code reflects our values and encourages growth, and part of that effort includes making sure those who take risks and do the hard work of turning a good idea into a great business get a fair deal. That is why I have signed into law 18 different tax cuts for small businesses, which are helping them thrive in the 21st-century economy. By investing in our infrastructure, expanding access to credit, and assisting entrepreneurs as they start out and scale up, we are continuing to bolster America's small business community.
My Administration is committed to ensuring small businesses have the tools, resources, and expertise they need to succeed. Last year, we built on the success of my QuickPay initiative -- which has already generated over $1 billion in cost savings for small businesses -- by launching SupplierPay, a new partnership with the private sector to strengthen small businesses by increasing their working capital. The Affordable Care Act is working to expand insurance coverage, reduce health care costs, and improve the quality of care -- all of which help small businesses and our economy. Additionally, the law allows small businesses access to SHOP, a competitive marketplace where they can look for coverage that meets their needs and where they cannot be charged more for operating in blue-collar industries, employing women, or insuring people with pre-existing conditions. We are also focused on injecting capital into emerging, entrepreneurial communities, supporting ventures operated by women, veterans, and underserved populations. And we continue to work to open new markets for small exporters because we know trade promotion bolsters our small businesses and their employees.
Our small businesses represent what is best about our Nation -- the idea that with determination and responsibility, anyone can build a better life for themselves and their loved ones. For more than two centuries, American innovation has sparked ideas that have changed our lives and the course of our history for the better. This week, we recognize the role small businesses play as pillars of our communities and engines of our growing economy, and we rededicate ourselves to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit that has forged the strongest economy the world has ever known.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 4 through May 8, 2015, as National Small Business Week. I call upon all Americans to recognize the contributions of small businesses to the competitiveness of the American economy with appropriate programs and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Do Some Analysis Before You Leap



By: Stan Washington
Date: April 27, 2015

 Add value to your business!!
A business owner asked me if I knew if her business was viable. This is one many questions people ask when they go into business. My answer is "Look before you leap." Gut and intuition are the norms for many entrepreneurs. They sometimes guess their way to a place that is not so good. Before you spend a huge amount look into the viability of your product or service.

Do Some Home Grown Research
Mom, dad, siblings and friends are not the place to start when you desire to get an opinion about your business. Chances are they cannot offer the unbiased opinion about your product or service that you seek. You can ask their opinion but only to receive anecdotal feedback which is valuable, but can be biased. Crawl out of a shell and meet people. Find strangers who are willing to give an unbiased opinion.

Look for Statistics
Check out business and government databases. Get your head out of the sand of building your product or service for one minute and research your customer.  Check out http://fedstats.sites.usa.gov/data-releases/ which has various databases of information to comb through and help you figure out the size of your audience. Be careful, data can be old (for example census information is not timely). 

Prototype if you can
Create your product or service and have it tested by a company who specializes in prototyping. If you cannot afford a company like this then create it on a small scale and be meticulous about collecting metrics about your product or service. This will help you in the long run.

 



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Admitting When Your Book Needs Life


Date: April 23, 2015
By: Stan Washington

It was around midnight and my excitement reached a crescendo as the final words of our book made their way onto the pages from my speedily typing hands. Done! I yelled as I danced around the room. I was so busy writing that I forgot to read the content. To my dismay, the content wasn't flowing. I mean I had a lot of words, but it seemed to be missing something. I had no idea what to add.

We Cried Out For HELP
We sent our information to LMarie and she took it from there. Shocked was the look on my face as the first few pages came back with what seemed like an infinite number of corrections! Taking a deep breath, I reviewed her comments and made or accepted the corrections. When I reread the information she corrected, the book finally flowed. Every sentence was reviewed and every word scrutinized.

Changes were made
She told us when to elaborate and when to be quiet. The book turned out wonderful with her help. She leveraged her 30 years of writing and editing and applied it to our concept. She also gave vital suggestions she pulled from her vast background of writing. She has worked on a very diverse set of books ranging from children's books to adult fiction, to the crane operators test of some state.

Her advice was invaluable!

LMarie can be reached at lwashin301@comcast.net



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