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PCI Compliance: Protect Your Small Business from Cyber Threats

woman at hotel accepting a credit card to represent PCE compliance

Originally Published by Prosperity Bookkeeping

Does your business accept credit cards? If the answer is Yes, is your company PCI DSS compliant? If your answer is, “What does that mean?” then read on. PCI DSS is short for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. All merchants who accept credit cards for payment are required to follow certain guidelines – the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The PCI Security Council develops and promotes these global data security standards to support safe transactions for everyone.

Is My Small Business Required to Be PCI Compliant

You’re probably wondering if you, as a small business owner, need to become PCI compliant. PCI DSS pertains to all organizations that process card payments, regardless of the organization’s size or transaction volume. You might use Intuit QuickBooks applications to process credit card payments. QuickBooks is secure and PCI compliant. However, other factors aside from QuickBooks can compromise the security of your payments. Using QuickBooks payment services isn’t a silver bullet to become PCI compliant.

What are the Requirements of Becoming PCI Compliant?

PCI standards cover 12 requirements related to the secure handling, processing, and storage of sensitive credit card and debit card data. Read the 12 requirements to learn about QuickBooks PCI data security services.

Why is Compliance So Important?

Protecting your customer’s payment information is important because hackers are a real threat. Cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data can protect your small business from a data breach. If a data breach occurs, your company may be liable for fines, penalties, legal fees, and remediation. The increased security of being PCI compliant helps ward off this threat.

What Services Offer Compliance & Validation?

For some Prosperity Bookkeeping clients, this isn’t their first time hearing about PCI Compliance. Intuit recently sent a reminder to active QuickBooks Payments clients. As part of the Intuit Terms of Service, businesses are required to be PCI compliant. Additionally, credit card companies like Visa, Discover, and MasterCard also require PCI DSS compliance validation. More reasons to check out PCI compliance! Several cybersecurity companies offer services that lead to becoming PCI compliant. Intuit partners with SecurityMetrics and offers a partner discount to active Intuit QuickBooks Payments accounts.

Can My Company Become PCI On Its Own?

If you’re like most small business owners, you don’t welcome an annual fee for PCI compliance validation. Fortunately, you can become PCI compliant on your own. Start by completing a Self-Assessment Questionnaire that fits your level of credit card transactions. Next, review the 12 requirements of PCI DSS compliance. Complete the requirements, and keep documentation of your compliance efforts.

Where Do I Look for More PCI DSS Information?

PCI DSS compliance certainly takes time and effort, but a strong data security foundation benefits your small business in the long run. By protecting customer payment data, you prevent data breaches that can potentially put your company out of business. PCI Security offers multiple data security resources for merchants. For more information about credit card payments and other accounting practices, contact Prosperity Bookkeeping, a Wisconsin company providing professional bookkeeping services to manage day-to-day business finances, contributing to an organization’s stability and prosperity.

Summer Bookkeeping Strategies for Small Business Owners

family on the beach to represent summer vacation.

Originally Published by Prosperity Bookkeeping
Summer is a great time of year in Wisconsin. Because of the warm weather and longer days, we have more opportunities to spend time on the beach, on the water or at the campground or ballpark. Now that the kids are out of school, it’s the perfect time for road trips and summer vacations. Unless your small business is super-busy in the summer, business owners can use summer downtime to relax and recharge. Everyone needs a break once in a while. Vacations help business owners lower their stress, resulting in a more positive outlook and renewed energy for their work. For many Wisconsin companies, business demands decrease in the summertime. Here are some ways to take advantage of the summer slowdown to propel your business forward.

Catch Up on Your Bookkeeping

Summer is a good time to tackle the tasks that you have been putting off. Busy business owners often let their bookkeeping slide. Maybe it’s been a few months since you reconciled your accounts. By keeping your accounts up to date, you won’t have the stress of recreating the past 12 months for year-end reports. QuickBooks makes it easy to reconcile accounts. You can set up your books so multiple accounts, like a savings account, checking account, and line of credit, automatically feed into QuickBooks. Reconciling the books is easier when you can see all of your accounts, current balances and the most recent transactions.

Dig Into Your Business Financials

We’re half-way through the year, so take some time to evaluate your finances. With a few clicks, you can view QuickBooks Online reports to compare the current financial year against the previous year. Have profits grown? QuickBooks enables you to create custom reports to evaluate key financial benchmarks. To do so, select a period, like a month, quarter, or year, and compare it with the matching time period from the past. For example, if your receivables are significantly lower, try to determine the cause. Are you behind on billing for the period? Did you lose a primary customer or experience weather delays? You won’t necessarily know these things unless you have a report system in place.

Explore Technology and Automation

Summer is a good time to assess your current bookkeeping systems and research technology and automation to streamline your business-finance tasks. Look for products that will speed up and improve the bookkeeping process. Test out the latest in artificial intelligence: Chat GPT, Bing Chat or Google Bard. AI can assist you with industry research, brainstorming, marketing content, and data entry. An AI virtual assistant can understand voice commands and perform tasks that make the business run more efficiently.

Declutter Your Office

Bookkeepers consistently put things in order, and your office is no exception. Cleaning and decluttering your office will make paperwork easier to find and your workspace a more welcoming place to spend your time. Reinvigorate your work space by deep cleaning your desk and office. Sort through the papers that have piled up. Discard any that no longer provide value, and scan and file the important documents before recycling or shredding. Organize your desk drawers by weeding out the extra pens, notecards, and office supplies. Place the most-used office supplies within easy reach. Discard or find a new home for anything that doesn’t belong in your office. Wipe down all surfaces, including the phones and computers.

Let Prosperity Bookkeeping Handle Your Finances

Summer gives us a golden opportunity to slow down and recharge, yet tackle some side projects, too. The Prosperity Bookkeeping staff is here to handle your bookkeeping when things get hectic. Contact us to manage your financial statements, payroll, and business advisory needs.

Will AI Tools Replace Me? 6 Reasons Humans Beat AI in Marketing

Wonder Writer Joan Koehne at her computer writing about AI vs. human murketing.

I just participated in a webinar that shocked me: “Will AI Tools Replace Salespeople?” AKA “Will AI Tools Replace Content Marketers like Me?” If it takes 15 minutes to write a blog versus 2 hours, why write a blog? Artificial intelligence allows you to type in several prompts which the bots use to churn out a first draft in moments. With a few more prompts, AI edits the blog to your liking. It’s like having a copywriter at your side – a writing assistant with access to more knowledge than you could ever comprehend.
My mind raced: Should I use AI to write marketing content? Why not? How? But the thought that shocked me even more was this: Will my clients use AI instead of me? Is human writing, either ghostwritten or byline copy, now obsolete? Will I be out of a job?

AI Churns Out Marketing Material

In case you’re new to AI, its use is already widespread. The webinar I watched focused on ways AI is used in sales. AI completes tasks like researching prospects, developing personas, and taking notes at virtual meetings. Additionally, AI produces content marketing material. For example, AI drafts emails, website content, social media posts, customer letters, product descriptions, blogs, proposals, marketing presentations, and on and on. AI can develop everything from a catchy subject line to a 600-word blog. Where does that leave me? Instead of fighting AI, it’s best to leverage it instead. Let computers do what they do best, and humans do what we do best. Instead of comparing my worth to a computer’s, I need to look at what value I bring to the table as a human being.

The Value People Bring to Marketing

First of all, as a professional writer, I understand the nuances of language. Because of this quality, my blogs and website content have a conversational tone. My writing encourages readers to settle in for a good read and hopefully, join the conversation. Words aren’t used out of place, which is a telltale sign of computer-generated text. Second, my instincts allow me to write and structure text in a way that flows, transitions, and reaches the audience on a personal level. After 15 years working in journalism and marketing, I developed the intuition for writing in a way that people want to read it.

Original, People-First Content Writing

Third, my writing is original, not duplicated in hundreds of other places online. The anecdotes and brand messaging are mine or my client’s, not computer-generated and impersonal. Google loves helpful, reliable, and people-first content. According to Google, original content is one of the key best practices to improve a website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and ranking on Google Search.

Creativity & A Personal Touch

Fourth, creativity is another advantage I have over a computer. Of course, marketing content isn’t written like a poetry book or spy novel. Yet compelling creative writing trumps automated text every time. A human touch helps to engage a human audience. Along those same lines, a human writer builds rapport with an audience. From what I see, AI language models are getting really good at word flow and tone, but AI always struggles with personalizing content for a small businesses and organizations. Unlike AI, I can have a conversation with clients to get them thinking about a target audience, theme, and first-person accounts. I know my clients and their businesses, so I offer them a personal touch. Truly, that’s a big advantage I have over AI. AI can’t understand the person or organization I’m working with the way that I can.

Trustworthy & Authentic Interactions

When readers see my byline month after month, they feel a connection. As a writer and reader, we form a relationship. Of course, anyone in business knows the value of relationship-building. Computers can’t show empathy or camaraderie like we can as humans.

Lastly and probably most importantly, is trust. Trust plays such an important role in starting and maintaining relationships. People buy from brands they trust, and authentic, personal interactions build that trust. AI isn’t always good at differentiating between true and false information. I can ask AI to write an article, but the information in the article might be totally wrong. Erroneous information damages a client’s credibility and destroys trust.

AI is a Tremendous Tool But Not My Replacement

So, despite my knee-jerk reaction, I’m confident that I won’t become a dinosaur in the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI presents tremendous tools for small business marketing and management, but AI isn’t a replacement for the human marketing teams – or little ol’ me. That’s a relief! Let’s get together, human to human, to talk about content marketing.

Lent: A Time for Change

Lent

What are you giving up for Lent? That was a popular question when I was a kid. I was pretty good at giving up treats like chocolate or ice cream. After a while, I decided to stop giving up and add instead. One Lent I prayed the rosary on my drive to work. Another Lent, I attended Mass at the local Catholic school each week.

Do Something With Love

A couple of years ago, I was struggling to decide what to do for Lent. It was Ash Wednesday, and I still hadn’t hit on the right thing. That’s when Fr. Judah Pigon at St. Pius threw out this suggestion. Instead of giving up something, why not do something with love instead? That question got me thinking. What could I change in my faith life to be more loving? Then the answer came to me. I would stop being antsy and pushy when it was time to leave for church. My worry about getting to church on time spoiled the Sunday morning drive. Plus, my stressed-out attitude didn’t get me to church any earlier.

Developing a Calm Attitude

Obviously, people have different concepts of time. For some, being on time is arriving 10 minutes early. Others routinely arrive fashionably late, and that’s acceptable. Clearly, my husband, Bill, and I didn’t share the same perspective regarding time. So, I decided to change the before-church rush during Lent. Instead of nagging or rushing Bill, I would be calm and relaxed. I told him, “I’ll be in the car.” I have to admit, for the first few weeks I sat in the car and stewed. After a while, things started to change. I didn’t mind waiting. By the end of Lent, Bill was getting to the car before me! Not exactly the miracle of Easter, but I was surprised.

Lenten Practice Brings Peace

I realized I wasn’t just loving Bill more that Lent, I was loving myself. I let go of the needless Sunday morning stress and felt better. I’m happy to report that this Lenten practice had long-lasting effects. Bill and I decide on an appropriate time to leave for church, and I don’t pressure him out the door anymore. Our rides to church are more peaceful, and we always arrive early. I learned a valuable lesson about love and patience that year.

What will you do this Lent to show love?

content marketing

Why Content Marketing Fails – and Making Sure Yours Doesn’t

content marketing

Where have you been all my life? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you published one article or launched one email campaign and people flocked to your business to buy your product or service? You were a godsend – just what they needed at that very moment. Instead, your message is greeted with silence. Don’t be discouraged, because one and done isn’t going to cut it. You’re in this for the long-haul, because content marketing is all about building relationships over time.

Be Patient

Here’s how content marketing makes an impact. As prospects see more articles, emails, and posts, they begin to view you as an expert. You’re someone to trust. They grow familiar with you over time and learn more about your brand. They read more of your articles and see themselves in your stories. Instant gratification certainly would boost egos, but that’s not what typically happens with blogging or email campaigns. Relationships take time to marinate. Realistically, you don’t just meet someone one day and propose the next.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

In content marketing, what’s important is putting yourself in your prospects’ shoes. What do your prospects struggle with? What are their pain points? Once you have identified their struggles, you can craft a response. What solution or “cure” you can offer to ease their pain? Similarly, what information can you share that will make their lives easier? Instead of talking about your business, write about what’s happening in theirs.

People don’t mind reading emails or articles as long as the topic is interesting and relevant. Above all, you want a prospect to sees themselves when they read your newsletter, email blast, or blog. Essentially, you tell their story better than they tell it themselves. Therefore, focus of content that’s enriching, more than selling and promotional. Remember that persistence pays off.

Content Marketing Makes an Impact

So, if your team is struggling to find the time or the right words to connect with prospects, consider calling in reinforcements. Writer to the Rescue is a content marketing professional with experience in writing and marketing. Consider taking content marketing off your plate and calling a writer to your rescue. To read more about content marketing, check out How Good Content Builds Your Customer Base.