Securing Your Google Account

By Rutu Ruparel

In an era where cyber threats are constantly evolving, securing your online presence has never been more important. Google accounts, which often hold sensitive personal and professional information, are frequent targets for hackers. One of the most effective ways to fortify your Google account is by enabling Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). This added layer of security ensures that even if your password is compromised, your account remains protected. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to set up 2FA using an authenticator app to keep your Google account safe.

Step 1: Sign in to Your Google Account

  1. Open your web browser and go to Google Account.
  2. Enter your email and password to sign in.

Step 2: Access Security Settings

  1. Once signed in, click on your profile picture or initial in the top-right corner.
  2. Select “Manage your Google Account.”
  3. In the left-hand menu, click on “Security.”

Step 3: Set Up 2-Step Verification

  1. Under the “Signing in to Google” section, find “2-Step Verification” and click on it.
  2. Click on “Get Started” and enter your password again if prompted.

Step 4: Choose Your Verification Method

  1. Google will first prompt you to add a phone number for text message or voice call verification. Enter your phone number and choose the method you prefer.
  2. Click “Next” and enter the code sent to your phone to verify it.

Step 5: Set Up Authenticator App

  1. After verifying your phone number, you’ll see an option to set up the authenticator app. Click on “Set Up” under “Authenticator app.”
  2. Choose your device type (Android or iPhone) and click “Next.”

Step 6: Install Authenticator App

  1. If you haven’t already, install an authenticator app on your mobile device. Popular options include Google Authenticator, Authy, and Microsoft Authenticator.
  2. Open the authenticator app and select the option to add a new account. This is usually done by tapping a “+” icon or selecting “Scan barcode.”

Step 7: Scan QR Code

  1. Back on your Google Account setup page, you’ll see a QR code.
  2. Use your authenticator app to scan the QR code. This will automatically add your Google account to the app.

Step 8: Enter the Verification Code

  1. After scanning the QR code, your authenticator app will generate a 6-digit code.
  2. Enter this code on the Google Account setup page and click “Verify.”

Step 9: Backup Codes

  1. Google will provide a set of backup codes. These codes can be used if you lose access to your authenticator app.
  2. Click “Download” or “Print” to save these codes in a secure location.

Step 10: Finish Setup

  1. Once verified, click “Done” to complete the setup.
  2. Your Google account is now secured with Two-Factor Authentication using an authenticator app.

By following these steps, you will have added an extra layer of security to your Google account. Stay vigilant and enjoy a safer online experience!

Find the Spanish version here.

Free AI Marketing Hacks for Startups: Conquer the Basics

By Shruti Batra

Feeling the pressure to launch a killer marketing campaign, but strapped for cash? Many ambitious entrepreneurs face this challenge. Thankfully, there’s a secret weapon in your arsenal: free AI tools! These can help you tackle basic marketing tasks efficiently, freeing up time and resources to focus on what matters most – growing your business.

Research & Content Creation:

  • Perplexity ([perplexity.ai]) can be your secret weapon for research. Stuck on a data point or need to confirm an idea? Perplexity provides accurate information with links to source articles, saving you hours of digging. The paid version offers access to even more powerful AI models, but the free plan is a great starting point.
  • Craft Compelling Copy: Harness the power of large language models!
    • Bard by Google AI  – Bard or Gemini excels at answering questions and generating creative text formats. Feeling stuck on a tagline or social media caption? Provide it with a rough draft and it will offer three different options, allowing you to choose the best fit or even create a hybrid incorporating your own voice.
    • ChatGPT (OpenAI Chat GPT) ([openai.com]) – This pioneering AI tool remains a valuable asset. Need long-form content or want to experiment with different writing styles? ChatGPT can whip up engaging copy in seconds. With the right prompts, it can even create social media calendars, suggest key performance indicators (KPIs) to track, and develop scripts for videos and online ads.

Design Magic:

  • Canva ([canva.com]) – This design powerhouse offers a treasure trove of free templates for social media posts, presentations, and even basic infographics. No design experience needed – just drag, drop, and create!
  • Pictocharts ([piktochart.com]) – A great resource for crafting visually compelling content, especially complex infographics, timelines, and illustrations. While the free plan limits downloads, it’s perfect for solopreneurs like myself.

Workflow & Organization:

  • Hive ([hive.com]) – While not strictly an AI tool, Hive acts as a lifesaver for managing multiple projects. Its user-friendly interface lets you keep track of tasks and deadlines across your personal and professional life, just like a lower-cost alternative to Azure.
  • HubSpot ([hubspot.com]) – This free CRM goes beyond basic contact management. You can create forms and landing pages, and access training modules to learn the ins and outs of managing a CRM with ease.

Bonus Power-Ups:

  • Unsplash ([unsplash.com]) – Elevate your designs with free, high-quality images.
  • Midjourney – If you’re comfortable navigating Discord, Midjourney is a popular choice for creating stunning images and caricatures. Many of the AI-generated images you see online come from this powerful tool.

Keep in Mind:

  • AI is a Tool, Not a Replacement: While AI can be a valuable asset, always edit and personalize the generated content to match your unique brand voice.
  • Fact-Check Before You Post: Double-check all information and data before publishing it online.
  • Privacy Matters: Most AI tools retain data for at least 180 days. Avoid sharing sensitive information or project details if you’re under non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
  • Human Touch is Key: Remember, human-crafted content consistently outperforms copy-pasted AI text. Use AI as a guide and collaborator, but never lose sight of your own creativity.
  • Track & Adapt: Monitor your results and refine your strategy for continuous improvement.

Go forth and conquer the marketing world, ambitious entrepreneurs! With a dash of creativity and these free AI tools, your brand can achieve impressive results, even on a limited budget.

Find the Spanish version here.

How to Take Control of Your Spend Management

By Anwuli Chukwurah

The steps you need to take to transform your bill and spend management from a chaotic mess that controls you.

The team knows that their current process of managing their bills is wrong, but they’re so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to start. It’s better for such a team to continue with the wrong process than to try to change. Something or someone has to come in and be that element of change. The current team can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. They know that things need to get done regardless of how convoluted the process is.

So, what can you do to transform your bill and spending management? Below are steps you can take to start to take control of your spending management. A complete overhaul will take months but at least you can start to have quick wins to help keep the team morale up and start to break the cycle of torment.

1. Current Process

a. Carve out the time

b. Document the current process with the team member responsible for each task

c. Remove redundant and unnecessary steps in the current process

d. Implement updated process

2. Update Process with Automation

a. Implement software to automate the majority of the tasks

b. Softwaretraining
c. Update process document

3. Embed the new process into the company culture.

Current Process

You can’t fix anything if you don’t know what you’re currently doing. So, the first step to take when transforming your process is to document it. Make sure to tag which team member does what in each step. This is a painstaking process; you must carve out the time to do this as a team. Blindly choosing any software and implementing something new can be a deterrent to giving your team the needed breathing room. The inertia of doing the current process will make it hard to find the time to document it, but you can’t skip this step.

By documenting your current process task by task, you can clearly see what redundant and unnecessary steps can be removed. The team will be able to see and question why they’ve been doing something one way instead of a more optimized way. Once all unnecessary steps have been removed, have the team try it out and see if it works. This is taking the tiny steps needed to find the right software in the future. Implementing a software on a crappy process will produce crappy and unsatisfactory results.

Update Process with Automation

Once you have figured out your new updated manual process, you can start looking at which tasks can be automated via technology such as Ramp or an industry-specific one. You won’t know what to use unless you’ve done the previous step and looked at your company’s technological needs as a whole. You can use software to help you remove the need to give employees direct access to the bank account or debit card to pay bills. Along with this new software, it’s imperative to have adequate software training to make sure the team is comfortable with the technology. If the team isn’t using the software, then what’s the point?

You can use software to schedule out payments, process the bills, pay vendors via ACH or check, collect all necessary vendor information, and automate the necessary approval workflows. If one of the changes you’re making to your process is to have standard payment days, make sure to alert your vendors and contractors of what days you process payments. This way, if they don’t get their bills to you in time, they’ll have to wait until the next round of payment processing. You control the bill processing, not the other way around. It also puts the onus on the vendors to make sure they’re on time and gives them the confidence to know the days they’ll always get paid.

Embed the New Process into Company Culture

Embedding this new process and software into the company culture will take the concerted effort of the team leading it. You’ll need to gradually remove avenues to the old process and forward all requests and needs toward the new process and software. Everything related to spending and bill management should be in one control center. Everyone in the company should automatically think of this software when they need to spend money. You’ll know you’ve succeeded when random team members come up to you and are excited about doing something in the software — “I finally used the reimbursement feature, and it was so cool!” or “Omg, I can’t believe how easy it was for me to increase my spend limit.”

I believe any new process should be easy and comfortable for the team. It shouldn’t be as cumbersome as your old one. If your team has more stress on top of their old stress, then you know you messed up. Implementing this new process can take up to 6 months to 1 year. Try not to rush your team; take time for each new step. Remember, people don’t like change. But, if you can show how much time they can save and any other benefits, they’ll slowly use the new process. Unless your team is so fed up and grasping for something to save them, you may have an easier time.

About the author:

Anwuli Chukwurah is a versatile finance professional with a track record of starting new finance organizations and scaling them for growth in fast-paced entrepreneurial environments. She has over 6+ years of experience working with small business owners, startups, and nonprofit organizations to help connect finance with their business goals. She aims to ensure her clients become comfortable and adept at navigating their numbers. She works with clients
at Woolichooks and writes a newsletter for non-finance folks. 

Find the Spanish version here.

How to Secure Your LinkedIn Account

In today’s digital age, protecting your online presence is crucial. LinkedIn, as a professional networking platform, holds significant information about you and your career, which is why it’s important to make sure your account is secured. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to secure your LinkedIn account using two-factor authentication (2FA).

Step 1: Log in to Your LinkedIn Account

  1. Open your web browser and go to LinkedIn.
  2. Enter your username and password to log in.

Step 2: Access Your Account Settings

  1. Click on your profile picture at the top right corner of the page.
  2. Select “Settings & Privacy” from the dropdown menu.

Step 3: Navigate to the Security Settings

  1. In the left-hand menu, click on the “Sign in & security” tab.
  2. Look for the “Account access” section.

Step 4: Enable Two-Factor Authentication

  1. Under “Two-step verification,” click on “Turn on.”
  2. You will be prompted to enter your password to verify your identity.

Step 5: Choose Your Verification Method

LinkedIn offers two verification methods:

  • Authenticator App: Recommended for stronger security. Apps like Google Authenticator, Authy, or Microsoft Authenticator can be used.
  • SMS Verification: Codes are sent to your mobile phone via text message.

Using an Authenticator App

  1. Select the “Use an authenticator app” option.
  2. Open your preferred authenticator app on your mobile device.
  3. Scan the QR code displayed on the LinkedIn settings page using the app.
  4. Enter the code generated by the authenticator app into the LinkedIn verification field.

Using SMS Verification

  1. Select the “Use phone number” option.
  2. Enter your mobile phone number and click “Send code.”
  3. Check your phone for the verification code sent via SMS.
  4. Enter the code into the LinkedIn verification field.

Step 6: Confirm and Save

  1. Once you’ve entered the code, click on “Verify.”
  2. LinkedIn will confirm that two-step verification has been successfully enabled.

Step 7: Backup Codes (Optional but Recommended)

  • LinkedIn provides a set of backup codes in case you lose access to your primary verification method.
  • Download or write down these codes and store them in a secure place.

Additional Tips for LinkedIn Security

  • Regularly Update Your Password: Change your password periodically and use a strong, unique password for your LinkedIn account.
  • Be Cautious of Phishing Attempts: Always verify the authenticity of emails and messages that appear to be from LinkedIn.
  • Review Active Sessions: Periodically check the list of devices logged into your LinkedIn account and log out from any unrecognized devices.

By following these steps, you can significantly enhance the security of your LinkedIn account and protect your professional network from potential threats. Stay vigilant and keep your online presence safe!

Find the Spanish version here.

Governor’s Small Business Resource Portal

By Rutu Ruparel

Texas has long been recognized as a hub of economic growth and opportunity, consistently setting records for job creation and economic expansion. Now, small businesses are the backbone of this success, employing nearly half of the state’s workforce and contributing significantly to Texas’s vibrant economy. In recognition of the vital role that small businesses play, the Governor’s Office of Small Business Assistance offers a wealth of resources to support both budding entrepreneurs and established business owners. Among these resources is the Governor’s Small Business Resource Portal, a comprehensive tool designed to provide tailored assistance and information to help businesses thrive in Texas.

Who Can Use It?

The Governor’s Small Business Resource Portal is invaluable for a wide range of users, including:

  • Aspiring Entrepreneurs: For those considering starting a business or becoming self-employed, the portal offers essential guidance and resources to help turn ideas into reality.
  • Early-Stage Start-Ups: Businesses in their initial stages (0-2 years old) can find targeted support to navigate the challenges of early growth.
  • Businesses Moving to Texas: Companies relocating to Texas can access resources to facilitate a smooth transition and integration into the local economy.
  • Established Businesses: Whether a small business with 1-3 employees or a larger enterprise with up to 100+ employees, the portal provides ongoing support and growth opportunities.

Benefits

The portal offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Tailored Assistance: Customized resource lists are provided so that users receive the most relevant information and support based on their specific needs and business stage.
  • Comprehensive Support: The portal covers a wide range of topics, from funding and licensing to business growth and networking.
  • Convenient Access: The portal is easy to use, with resources that can be printed or emailed directly to you.
  • Local and State Resources: Allows users to connect with local and state resources so that they can tap into regional support systems and opportunities.

Key Features

The Governor’s Small Business Resource Portal includes several key features:

  • Federal, State, and Local Resources
  • Business Advice and Growth Assistance
  • Funding Sources
  • Licensing and Permitting Information
  • Additional Specific Resources
  • Small Business Assistance Team Contact Information

How It Works

Using the Governor’s Small Business Resource Portal is straightforward and user-friendly. The process involves answering five simple questions to generate a customized list of resources. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Fill in Your Current Business Position: Select the option that best represents your business’s current position. Choices include thinking about starting a business, early-stage start-up, moving to Texas, or established business with varying numbers of employees.
  2. Add in any Special Business Designations: Indicate if your business is non-profit, veteran-owned, woman-owned, or minority-owned to receive resources specific to these categories.
  3. Add Your Location: Provide your city in Texas to connect with local resources.
  4. Select Your Industry and Business Type: Select your industry and the specific type of business. This ensures that the resources provided are relevant to your sector.
  5. Specify Any State Agency Services: Specify any state agency services you are interested in, such as business registration, permit information, state taxes, or employer services.
  6. Choose Any Additional Resource Options: Choose from additional resources, including start-up support, funding information, exporting advice, public procurement, networking, business training, and emergency management resources.

Once you complete these questions, this portal will generate a customized resource list that you can print or email for easy reference. This tailored approach ensures that you receive the most relevant and helpful information to support your business journey in Texas.

Find the Spanish version here.

Importance of Using Hashtags for Social Media

By Shamitha Ramanan

Enhancing Discoverability

Hashtags may guide users to content relevant to their interests. When you attach hashtags to your posts, you index them under specific topics or themes. This allows your content to be discovered by individuals searching for or following those hashtags. For example, if you’re a fitness enthusiast posting about your workouts, including popular hashtags like #FitnessMotivation can help those with similar interests find and engage with your content.

Amplifying Reach

You can reach a broader audience beyond your followers by leveraging trending hashtags. When your post aligns with a trending hashtag, it becomes more likely to appear in searches or trending sections, exposing your brand to a broader demographic.

Fostering Community Engagement

Hashtags serve as community magnets, bringing together individuals with common interests, hobbies, or causes. Creating branded hashtags specific to your business can encourage user-generated content.

Organizing Content Campaigns

Hashtags organize and track content campaigns across various social media platforms. Whether running a promotional campaign, hosting an event, or launching a product, creating a unique hashtag for the initiative allows you to monitor its performance and measure engagement.

Conclusion

In conclusion, hashtags are vital for achieving visibility, engagement, and growth. By strategically implementing hashtags into your social media marketing, you can enhance discoverability, amplify reach, foster community engagement, and organize content campaigns.

Find the Spanish version here.