Thursday, January 29, 2015

Why We Focused on Safety for Honor Services Office Invoicing

Safety was our number one priority when we developed our Invoicing solution. We partnered with First Data Merchant Solutions and PayPal to ensure you had the best solution for processing online invoices.

 Honor Services Office has Secure Online Payments
First Data and PayPal Secure Payments
First Data
This is the largest acquirer processor in the world. Over a trillion dollars in credit card processing happened last year through this processor. If you do a lot of invoicing or have a high dollar value and wish to receive online payments, this solution is for you. A credit check and monthly fees may apply.

 Automatic BookkeepingEase of use is where PayPal is making strides. Simply sign up for an account, tie it to your business account and you are up and running. This is a simple solution for those who do infrequent billing. It has no monthly fee, but the processing fees can be a bit higher.

Case Study (A Day In The Life Of Jasmine)
As Jasmine sat at her desk she was troubled because she was sending invoices using a Word template and had no idea how much was owed to her or when the invoices were due. Her Do-it-Yourself tactic had backfired.

She quickly subscribed to Honor Services Office and immediately noticed the difference. She was able to add taxes, fees and items she sold, within minutes. After choosing between First Data or PayPal for her processor, she was in business. She sent her clients invoices and had a surprise bonus, she was reminded when the invoice was overdue.

She resent the overdue invoice by editing the invoice. She went to Ledger Management and saw the payment automatically added to her books. "That was so easy" she said to herself.

Honor Services Office is fully PCI compliant!

Why Better Note Taking Builds Your Business

When we asked what is the most important thing a business owner should be doing right now in our featured series earlier this year, we got a great answer... BUILD RELATIONSHIPS!

 Build Relationships, Build Business!You are in the business to grow your sales. Your customers want to me recognized with that special touch.  Prospects love when you remember them and when you customize your product or service to meet their needs.

Here are a few words of advice:

Dream Big Act Small
Yes we would all like to start a company that instantly takes off and makes billions within 24 hours, but until you get there, treat every customer as a precious commodity. Actually you should figure to a way to make your customers feel special all the time.

Make them feel special and they will enjoy your service and refer you.

Write a Note and Act on it!
There is nothing better than a company with outstanding followup. Followup within 24 hours and be excited about each and every prospect. Write notes within Honor Services Office and set a reminder to contact this prospect.

Remain Organized
Every business has snafu's but you want to keep these to a minimum. When your prospect is asking for specific information, keep copious notes to fulfill their need.

Ten steps that can help entrepreneurs bootstrap a startup - Economic Times

Here are some great Steps to growing your business. Original story in Economic Times:
 Why Break the Bank?
Step 1: Ignite your passion: Bootstrapping a startup does not start with great ideas but with a passion to make a mark and solve real business issues. While an idea is very important to do a startup, the best ideas will fail if there is no passion to execute it. A startup needs a huge amount of personal sacrifice and an equal amount of hard work. There will be many days when a founder questions his move to be an entrepreneur and hence at such stages, passion is needed to carry on.
Step 2: Research your idea - Sometimes an idea should remain only an idea. This is the stage where a founder determines if his startup can grow to become a real business. Startup is not a charity and for a founder it is very important to determine if the idea solves a real problem, has an addressable market and people are willing to pay for it.
Step 3: No Plan B: A founder has to realize that a startup is a full time job. Very often than not in a startup, where the founder is moonlighting fails to take off. A startup cannot be bootstrapped as a plan B where the founders have attempted to work on their startup idea part time while working on their full time job. Plan your startup by taking all things into considerations. Ideally, if a founder can have a year's expense in savings, it provides a great cushion to execute the startup without having to fret.
Step 4: Identifying the niche - Every idea must solve a problem in the society or provide utility. It is only when the product or service is really needed that someone is willing to pay for it and the business is sustainable. The entrepreneur needs to focus on specifics and pinpoint how his product or service would bring about change. If an entrepreneur can find an underserved market or can solve a pain point for a category of people or business, it will serve as a sweet spot. It is, however, advisable that the entrepreneur targets a niche that he understands and provides a service or a product that he has knowledge about.
Step 5: Defining the market - Once the need is identified, it is important to define what constitutes the target audience. This can be done on age, gender, religion, interests, where they reside among a host of other factors. Every market is different and it is very important that the founder maps out every aspect of the target audience. The more specifics and narrow an entrepreneur can get in terms of defining the market, the better are the chances of the startup succeeding.

Step 6: Getting the right team - A founder cannot do a startup alone. Every entrepreneur needs a team to execute the idea and sometimes finding the right team is more important than a brilliant idea. The best laid plans can come to naught if the team behind it is not right. A founder should look for people who can compliment his skill sets so that all bases are covered.
Step 7: Creating your first prototype - Whatever may be the nature of the startup it is very important to get a working prototype of the key elements. This will be the starting point for the founder from where he can look to improve his product or services. A prototype is very important also because one does not want to incur huge expenses by building the final version and later finding flaws in it. Even in terms of raising money, investors always want to see a working prototype.
Step 8: Finding your first unpaid customers - Unpaid customers are needed primarily for two reasons. The first being once you have a final version of your product or service ready, the real feedback comes from your customers. Unpaid customers can be a great source of feedback where you get to know the good and the bad about your product or service and hopefully iron out the bad ones. Unpaid customers are more tolerant since they are not spending anything and if your product or service is great, they can also be a very good source of word of mouth advertisement.
Step 9: Prepare to scale - Many startups fail to scale, primarily because they have not planned for it. In its infancy, things are easier to manage for a startup, but teething problems begin when a startup grows bigger and starts addressing the higher volume of clients or consumers. A founder should plan out his execution strategies for scaling up - monthly, quarterly and even yearly. This way he ensured the customer experience is never compromised.
Step 10: Go to market - Timing is the key when launching a product or service. Founders are under tremendous pressure to quickly roll out their services and products, but what is important to understand is that one has to be ready for it. From your marketing to servicing to hiring, all bases have to be covered. More importantly, if an entrepreneur has found the prototype is not having the desired outcome, it only means he is not ready to go to market yet.

Why Honor Services Office Sends Email Marketing

Email Marketing is probably the most engaging way to reach your audience with vital information about your business. Most people check their email at least four times daily.  Here are a few vital tips:

 Better Email MarketingStay away from Spammy Words
Promising the world and delivering nothing can be detrimental to your business. Use words that describe your product or service in a compelling way and stop being gimmicky.

Don't bother the stranger
Ask people to opt in to your email list and you will not be considered a spammer. One suggestion is to host events that you can meet your clients virtually or in person, keeping the personal engagement high.

Remain Relevant 
Be the expert in your field rather than bugging them to buy!  Show that you know what they are going through and describe how you your product or service may alleviate a problem they are facing.

Keep Valuable Metrics
We asked small business owners "How do you know what's working?" They answered "My gut tells me I'm growing." People are wasting their time with gut feel marketing. Honor Service Office provides vital metrics that tells you what your customer likes and dislikes. Use "Open" report and the "Click Thru" metrics to actually see who clicked on your email and how many times they opened it.

Why Honor Services Office CRM Tool Keeps Contacts

We spoke to successful small business owners and found that the more they kept in touch with their clients and potential clients the more they grew their business.
 Easy CRM
We built a Prospect Management system that keeps vital information about everyone you deal with regularly.  No more lost information.

Keep Vital Notes

Each contact has a place to keep general comments, Phone comments, Email comments and more.  No more faulty memory.

Simply click on "Potential Client" or "Client" and click the "Add New" button to enter your new client or potential client.

Scroll down and you will see where you can enter notes, create plans, document their interest level and whether you have contacted this person.  You can also set a reminder date to contact them next.

List Upload
You can upload a list of people you wish to keep in contact with.  This way you don't have to worry about doing this one at a time if you are dealing with a large group of people.

Pew Research Frequency of Social Media Use - Be Careful Interpreting

By: Stan Washington

Pew Research has looked into the most used social media channels of the year. Be careful when looking at this chart. Your audience may live in a place where they may not check the information as regular but they use this information for business decisions. 

 Personally engage your customers!Instagram versus LinkedIn serves two entirely different audiences so adjust your marketing accordingly.

From my observation, Facebook is still the giant that isn't going anywhere. Businesses have invested too much money to develop a strategy for this outlet. LinkedIn remains the giant amongst service industries even though it may be checked less frequently.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Plans to Prosper GREAT REVIEW - Small Business Trends

 Plans to Prosper in Small Business Trends

Plans to Prosper: Small Biz Marketing Doesn’t Mean Small Impact



"Plans to Prosper" offers advice to small business owners on how to take control of their time, marketing, and sales.
plans to prosper
As a small business owner, you have been told more than a million times, “You need to market your business. It won’t promote itself.” And many small business owners would gladly agree.
 Plans to Prosper on AmazonBut implementing that advice is harder than it sounds. With all of the marketing advice out there, how do you know where to start? How much money and time should you spend on marketing and advertising and still make a profit? 
Plans to Prosper: Strategies, Systems, & Tools for Small Business Marketing” by Victoria Cook and Stan Washington is a short, sweet guide to specific topics that are often neglected in most marketing books.
It walks readers through a 90-day program intended for them to better grasp how to juggle the tasks of marketing while also managing the business. Plans to Prosper promises that readers will walk away with not just a marketing plan – but an improved perspective with a process to keep it alive. 

A 90-Day Prosperity Plan for Your Small Business

As discussed above, the core solution provided by Plans to Prosper is the 90-day plan called the “High Achieving Marketing Process.” The plan is arranged in 3 convenient phases, each 30 days:
  • Readiness
  • Execution
  • Follow-up
In this respect, Plans to Prosper follows the trend of other books focused on quick business planning for results, such as the 7-Day Startup and The One Week Marketing Plan. Like those books, this book doesn’t go into extreme detail on topics. But it does provide targeted information on some areas that business owners often have questions about.
As an example, Plans to Prosper recommends creating a marketing calendar, then provides bullet points on what should be done daily, weekly, monthly and yearly on it. 
The plan itself, however is not marked by days. Rather, the authors outline the phases of their plan and provide recommendations and guidance for those phases. Most of the information will be familiar to any person who has ever read a marketing book. But there are a few differences that stand out.
One notable difference in Plans to Prosper is the diminished role of social media. There are no blogger outreach campaigns or tips on which hashtag to use. It’s not that kind of book. 
Cook and Washington recommend that owners engage in social media as a relationship and networking tool. But they encourage business owners to limit their time and participation to the channels that actually brings in customers. Particularly of note is this statement from Plans to Prosper, “In my experience, the more you rely on free marketing channels, the less likely you will experience true growth.” 
Instead of reliance on social media and free channels, Plans to Prosper prefers a multi-channel approach based on market research (carried out in the first phase), relationship building (carried out in the second phase) and marketing/promotion (carried out in the third phase). Marketing and promotion is part of every phase. But a different aspect receives focus in each phase. This makes the plan cumulative, building on the success of the phase before it.

Who Will Benefit Most From Plans to Prosper?

The book will be best suited for two types of small business owners:
  • The small business owner who runs a one-person business.
  • The small business owner who has a growing business and recognizes the need for marketing, but is unsure of how to do it or how much to spend. 
Plans to Prosper is especially targeted to solopreneurs and people who own a business with a small number of people. Because the authors, particularly Cook, have experience with a one-person business, Plans to Prosper goes into topics from that perspective. Some of the topics in that category include:
  • What to charge clients or customers.
  • How to find time to market.
  • How to deal with obstacles to sales (such as guilt, fear, lack of time, etc.).
  • Building referral programs.
Plans to Prosper is also ideal for small business owners who know they want to market, have established a marketing budget, but need specifics to get them started. Cook and Washington provide very specific numbers and percentages that shed light on just what a confused business owner might want to consider.
Plans to Prosper also limits itself to particular issues, rather than general concepts. Some of the topics in that category include:
  • Market research.
  • Developing a marketing calendar.
  • Creating packaged deals.
  • Loyalty programs.
The only businesses that might not benefit as much from this book are relatively new businesses. Since they don’t have the research and customer base yet, the steps may not work as effective. Larger businesses might consider the information in Plans to Prosper as well. But the book is highly geared for smaller business who can implement ideas faster and adapt quicker. 
In summary, if you are a small business owner or solopreneur and want to know what you can do now to improve your marketing process in your business, Plans to Prosper helps in that regard. If you are a person who wants a straightforward answer to a marketing issue, this book helps you approach that issue in a systematic and targeted way. 

About the Authors

Victoria Cook is a trainer, speaker, coach, and founder of The Center for Guilt-Free Success, a business coaching service that helps women. She can be found on thebooks website and on Twitter @Ctr4GFSuccess.
Stan Washington is a coach and founder of the Honor Services Office, a business software company. He can be found on the books website and on Twitter@KunakaNotes.  Plans to Prosper can be found on Amazon. This review was based on a purchase of the electronic copy of the book.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Small Business and Emerging Technologies Conference (Online or In Person)

By: Stan Washington
Date: January 24, 2015

 No More Slow Sales! Grow your business ON PURPOSE!The FCC’s Office of Communications Business Opportunities (OCBO) will host a Small Business & Emerging Technologies Conference and Tech Fair.
When: January 27, 2015, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM EST
Where:  At the FCC Headquarters, Commission Meeting Room
Address: 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC.

This important event will focus on innovation by fledgling entrepreneurs in information technology and telecom. We will be highlighting small businesses, and particularly minority and women-owned tech start-ups. We will be examining some of the challenges that tech start-ups face, as well as some of the more specific issues that often preclude technical innovation in the minority business community.
In addition to the event
Our panel discussions, we are hosting a “Fast Pitch” Program for the afternoon where tech entrepreneurs will have a unique opportunity to present their ideas/products to – and get feedback from – experts on launching and capitalizing new businesses.
This event will be streamed live.  Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request.  The request should include a detailed description of the accommodation needed and contact information.  Please provide as much advance notice as possible; last minute requests will be accepted, but may be impossible to fill.  Send an e-mail to or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

Call to register for  this event OCBO at (202) 418-0990 or via email Persons interested in participating via the internet may do so by logging on to

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

12 Tips to Protect Your Company Website From Hackers - Entrepreneur Magazine

By: Stan Washington
Date: January 20, 2015

Story by John Rampton See Full Story

Making your website live is like unlocking the door to your premises with your office and safe open: Most of the people who visit your physical building will never even know that all of your data is there to discover just by walking in. Occasionally you will find someone with malicious intent who will walk in and steal your data. That is why you have locks on doors and safes.
Your website is just the same, except that you will never see anyone come in unless you have protection systems in place. Electronic thieves are invisible and fast., searching for your website for details of customers’ accounts, especially for their credit card information. You have a legal obligation to protect this data from theft and to report security breaches that occur.
Theft is not the only thing on the mind of a hacker: Sheer destruction is a major motivator. Hackers may want to destroy all your records, put a sick message on your customers’ screens or just destroy your reputation.
You can never undo the damage done by a hacker, you can take steps to prevent it. Even the most basic protection will discourage many hackers enough to make them go looking for easier pickings elsewhere. Thieves are likelier to steal from people who leave their doors unlocked.

1. Stay updated.

You need to stay up to date with hacking threats. If you have at least a basic knowledge of what is possible then you can protect your website against it. Follow updates at a tech site such as The Hacker News. Use the information you gain to put fresh precautions in place when necessary.

2. Toughen up access control.

The admin level of your website is an easy way into everything you do not want a hacker to see. Enforce user names and passwords that can not be guessed. Change the default database prefix from “wp6_” to something random and harder to guess. Limit the number of login attempts within a certain time, even with password resets, because email accounts can be hacked as well. Never send login details by email, in case an unauthorized user has gained access to the account.

3. Update everything.

Updates cost software companies money. They only do it when necessary, yet many people who use the software do not install updates immediately. If the reason behind the update is a security vulnerability, delaying an update exposes you to attack in the interim period. Hackers can scan thousands of websites an hour looking for vulnerabilities that will allow them to break in. They network like crazy, so if one hacker knows how to get into a program then hundreds of hackers will know as well.

4. Tighten network security.

Computer users in your office may be inadvertently providing an easy access route to your website servers. Ensure that:
  • Logins expire after a short period of inactivity.
  • Passwords are changed frequently.
  • Passwords are strong and NEVER written down.
  • All devices plugged into the network are scanned for malware each time they are attached.
Ever since I founded my hosting company, we've had to watch our network security on a minute-by-minute basis not to be hacked. 

5. Install a web application firewall.

A web application firewall (WAF) can be software or hardware based. It sets between your website server and the data connection and reads every bit of data passing through it.
Most of the modern WAFs are cloud based and provided as a plug-and-play service, for a modest monthly subscription fee. Basically, the cloud service is deployed in front of your server, where it serves as a gateway for all incoming traffic. Once installed, web application firewall provides complete peace of mind, by blocking all hacking attempts and also filtering out other types of unwanted traffic, like spammers and malicious bots. This is a great way to avoid getting hacked like Craigslist.

6. Install security applications.

While not as effective as a full blown WAF, there are some free and paid for security applications that you can install that will make life a bit more difficult for hackers. In fact, even some free plugins such as that from Acunetix WP Security can provide an additional level of protection by hiding the identity of your website’s CMS. By doing so this tool makes you more resilient against automated hacking tools that scout the web, looking for WordPress sites with specific build and version, which has one or more known vulnerabilities.

7. Hide admin pages.

You do not want your admin pages to be indexed by search engines, so you should use the robots_txt file to discourage search engines from listing them. If they are not indexed then they are harder for hackers to find. This tutorial from is all the help you will need.

8. Limit file uploads.

File uploads are a major concern. No matter how thoroughly the system checks them out, bugs can still get through and allow a hacker unlimited access to your site’s data. The best solution is to prevent direct access to any uploaded files. Store them outside the root directory and use a script to access them when necessary. Your web host will probably help you to set this up.

9. Use SSL.

Use an encrypted SSL protocol to transfer users’ personal information between the website and your database. This will prevent the information being read in transit and accesses without the proper authority.

10. Remove form auto-fill.

When you leave auto-fill enabled for forms on your website, you leave it vulnerable to attack from any user’s computer or phone that has been stolen. You should never expose your website to attacks that utilize the laziness of a legitimate user.

11. Back-up frequently.

Just in case the worst happens anyway, keep everything backed-up. Back up on-site, back up off-site, back up everything multiple times a day. Every time a user saves a file it should automatically back up in multiple locations. Backing up once a day means that you lose that day’s data when your hard drive fails. Remember every hard drive willfail.

12. You can't hide your code.

You can buy software that says it will hide the code on your webpages. It doesn’t work. Browsers need access to your code in order to render your website pages, so there are simple ways to get around web-page “encryption.”
Disabling “right-click” as a way to view your website code is annoying to users because it also disables every other “right-click” function, and there are simple workarounds that every hacker knows anyway. If you have been told that it is possible then read this article to get in-depth explanations of why you can never hide your code.
Your Experience: Has your website been hacked? How did the criminals get in? Please use the comments facility below to share your story including the changes you made after the attack

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Plans to Prosper Book Signing

 Plans to Prosper Book
 By: Stan Washington
Date: January 17, 2015

We are honored to serve the small business owners who cam out to celebrate our book release.  We now have a Marketing Curriculum that takes entrepreneurs step-by-step through a process to market their business.

Victoria Cook and Stan Washington co-authored the book and it's said to be "simple to read and easy to implement." Great for businesses right now!

The crowd gathered to get their book signed. Felt like a celebrity!

Here is what people are saying about the book:

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PHENOMENAL!!!!December 7, 2014
Awesome find! This author does a masterful job of weaving the critical elements of faith into our plans to develop and prosper personally and professionally. The book serves as a coach with strategies which were easy to follow, understand, and integrate into my daily life. I can't wait for the follow up...

This should be a best seller!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly useful book! Victoria gives clearJanuary 8, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Plans to Prosper: Strategies, Systems & Tools for Small Business Marketing Success (Kindle Edition)
This is a really important, highly useful book! Victoria gives clear, concise information and priceless tips and tools. And what’s really invaluable is that it all feels doable, it takes away the overwhelm. And wow the 30 day checklist of what to do for the next 30 days- what a gift. Ive taken some of Victoria’s classes and this book is all that and more! Love it if you can’t tell!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST read!!!December 23, 2014
Unlike many, this book provides step-by-step strategies on how to grow your business and won't leave you feeling overwhelmed. I recommend it for those who are just starting out as an entrepreneur as well as those who have been in business for a while but could use timeless approaches to increase revenue.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value for small business on a budget!December 12, 2014
This a must read. Most people want to prosper but forget about the plan. The book provides simple but necessary and often forgotten solutions everyone can use in their life plan to prosper. It also provides additional tools that are extremely helpful in your small business. This is a great value!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No-nonsense strategyDecember 23, 2014
Stan is an amazing small business coach. Using tried and true principles, he designs a no- nonsense strategy that is easy to implement and maintain. This is an awesome tool designed to take your business to new heights!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend that you adopt this book into the best practices ...December 14, 2014
This review is from: Plans to Prosper: Strategies, Systems & Tools for Small Business Marketing Success (Kindle Edition)
As a small business owner, I'm always looking for ways to sharpen my approach to doing business. I highly recommend that you adopt this book into the best practices of your business.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear and Easy to FollowDecember 10, 2014
Avid Reader (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
Often, we get so caught up in the day to day operations or just "putting out fires" that we fail to put together a clear plan to get us from where we are to where we want to go in our businesses. This book provides a clear, step-by-step marketing plan that is easy to follow. It is a great resource for making sure nothing falls through the cracks, causing you to waste time and money. The sooner you read it, the sooner you'll get on the right track.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive. Easy to follow. Brilliant find!!December 19, 2014
If you are excited about starting a new business but aren't sure where to start with your marketing, or if your small business needs a boost, you've got to read this book! Great tools, tips, and easy-to-follow guidelines to get you going and keep you on track.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have marketing bookDecember 8, 2014
Motivator in Chicago (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Plans to Prosper: Strategies, Systems & Tools for Small Business Marketing Success (Kindle Edition)
This book is the best resource that I've seen when it comes to being able to help an entrepreneur market their business. It is practical and has things that you can implement quickly and easily. It is a must have if you want your business to prosper!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great marketing resourceDecember 7, 2014
Great marketing resource. This book provides a good framework for establishing a good marketing strategy for any small business. I will continue to use it to further develop my consulting business marketing plans.
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