Microsoft Outlook 2007 and later versions let you easily create a customized signature that will help you market your business and add a professional touch to your emails. The signature can include text, images, links, or a business card you have set up in Outlook's Contacts area.
For example, you could create a signature that includes your name, title, company, and contact information followed by your business's logo. Or, you could create a signature that includes an image of your handwritten signature, with your business card underneath it.
After you create your signature, you have the option of specifying when Outlook should automatically add it to your emails. For instance, you can have the signature automatically added to any new messages you send.
To create a customized signature, follow these steps:
- Click the "New E-mail" button in Outlook's Mail area.
- On the Message tab in the new email, click the "Signature" button and then select the "Signatures" option in the menu that appears.
- Click the "New" button.
- In the New Signature window that appears, enter an identifier for the signature. If you plan on using only one signature, it can simply be your name. Otherwise, it should be more descriptive, such as "Signature for new emails" or "Signature for replies".
- Click "OK" to close the New Signature window.
- In the "Edit signature" box, create the signature. You can change the format of any text you include by using the toolbar at the top of the box. For example, you can put your name in bold and change the size and font of the contact information.
- In the "Choose default signature" section, select the email account in which you want to use this signature.
- If you want the signature to be automatically added to all of your new emails, choose it in the "New Messages" drop-down list. If you prefer to manually add it to new emails, leave the default option of "(none)" selected.
- If you want the signature to be automatically added when you reply to or forward emails, choose it in the "Replies/forwards" drop-down list. Otherwise, leave the default option of "(none)" selected.
- Click "OK".
If you did not configure Outlook to automatically include the customized signature in your emails, you will need to manually add it. To do so, click the "Signature" button and then select your signature.
Note that the new email you opened to create your signature will not include it, even if you chose to apply the signature to all new messages. You will need to manually add the signature to this one message.
Can a cyberattack put your small business out of business? Possibly. Will it cost your company dearly? Most definitely.
Many small business leaders think that a cyberattack will never happen to them because their businesses are too small to be noticed by cybercriminals. However, this is a dangerous misconception that can get a business into trouble. The number of cyberattacks targeting businesses with fewer than 250 employees has been steadily increasing over the last five years. In 2015, 43 percent of all reported cyberattacks were against small businesses, according to Symantec's "2016 Internet Security Threat Report".
The effects of a cyberattack can be devastating to a small business's bottom line and maybe even to its very existence.
The High Costs of Cyberattacks
In a 2015 study of more than 5,500 companies in 26 countries around the world, Kaspersky Lab and B2B International found that a single cyberattack costs small and midsized businesses an average of $54,653. This figure includes:
- The costs associated with downtime (an average of $23,000)
- The money spent on bringing in external help (e.g., IT security consultants, lawyers) to deal with the aftermath of the cyberattack ($10,000 on average)
- The money spent on public relations efforts to manage communications with customers and the public as well as the money spent on marketing activities designed to reduce the cyberattack's impact on the business's reputation ($8,653 on average)
- The expenses incurred from upgrading the IT infrastructure, hiring more staff, and other measures taken to prevent future cyberattacks (an average of $8,000)
- The costs associated with lost business opportunities (an average of $5,000)
The $54,653 figure does not include hidden costs and effects that are hard to monetarily quantify. According to the Deloitte Advisory's 2016 report "Beneath the surface of a cyberattack: A deeper look at business impacts", they include:
- Higher insurance premiums
- Higher interest rate for borrowed capital if the business's credit rating falls
- Devaluation of the business's name or logo
- Loss of competitive advantage if intellectual property was stolen during the cyberattack
While you might not incur all of these hidden and non-hidden costs if your business is attacked, those that you do encounter will deal your company a significant financial blow.
Paying the Ultimate Price
The high costs of a cyberattack might result in a small business paying the ultimate price: going out of business. According to the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small companies experiencing a cyberattack go out of business within six months. This alarming statistic is from 2011, though, and no recent studies have been conducted to confirm it. Nevertheless, the threat is still real. Just ask the former employees of Code Spaces.
Code Spaces was a small company that offered source code management tools. In 2014, a hacker took over part of its IT infrastructure in an attempt to extort money from the company. When Code Spaces refused to give into the demands, the hacker deleted most of the company's data and its backups. Code Spaces went out of business as a result.
Prepare Now So You Do Not Have to Pay Later
No matter whether your business is large or small, you need to do everything that you can to protect it against cyberattacks. You probably already take some measures, such as using firewalls and anti-malware software. However, your IT service provider can conduct a security analysis and recommend additional ways to secure your business.
When preparing your technology budget, it is useful to know the costs associated with downtime. This information can help you prioritize IT expenditures so that critical systems and operations receive the funding needed to keep them running efficiently. Knowing the downtime costs can also motivate you to create business continuity and disaster recovery plans if you have not created them yet.
There are many different ways to calculate the direct and indirect costs incurred from downtime. The calculations presented here are basic ones that you can easily customize for your business.
Calculating the Direct Costs of Downtime
The direct costs of downtime are the expenses you can easily quantify and attribute to a specific downtime event. They include the:
- Cost of lost employee productivity: This expense captures how much money was lost because employees could not work during the downtime event. It can be calculated using the equation: Cost of lost employee productivity = (Average hourly wage for the employees affected) x (Number of employees affected) x (Number of hours of downtime)
- Cost of employee recovery: This figure represents the amount of money spent to catch up on work once the IT component has been restored. Besides the basic employee wage, you need to include any additional expenses, such as overtime pay. The basic equation is: Cost of employee recovery = (Average hourly wage for the employees affected) x (Number of employees affected) x (Number of hours spent catching up)
- Cost of IT recovery: This expense depicts how much money was spent to get the IT component working again. It should only account for the time spent by the in-house IT staff or IT service provider to fix the problem. It should not include the cost of any replacement hardware or software. For example, if in-house IT staff fixed the problem, you can use the equation: Cost of IT recovery = (Average hourly wage of in-house IT staff) x (Number of IT staff working on the problem) x (Hours required to fix the IT component)
Calculating the Indirect Costs of Downtime
The indirect costs associated with downtime are not easily quantifiable. They are usually calculated by using a figure that represents the amount of revenue lost from a downtime event. The equation to determine this figure is: Revenue lost = (Annual revenue/8,760 hours per year) x (Number of hours of downtime)
After you calculate the amount of lost revenue, you can determine the indirect costs. Two common calculations are:
- Projected loss of revenue due to lost customers: This expense represents how much money was likely lost due to customers leaving because of the downtime event. One metric you can use is the average rate of repeat sales. You can calculate it with the following equation: Projected loss of revenue due to lost customers = (Revenue lost) x (Average rate of repeat sales)
- Projected loss of revenue due to damaged reputation: This figure estimates how much money was lost due to potential customers being scared away because of the downtime event. One metric you can use to calculate it is the percentage of sales from referrals (e.g., referrals through social media and shopping comparison sites). The equation is: Projected loss of revenue due to damaged reputation = (Revenue lost) x (Percentage of sales from referrals)
Using the Calculations
Using the direct and indirect cost calculations, you can determine the total cost of downtime. This is helpful if you want to know the cost of an actual downtime event or when you want to see the impact a hypothetical downtime event might have on your business. The total cost of downtime is derived by adding together all the direct and indirect downtime costs you feel are applicable to your business. For example, if you want to include all the direct and indirect costs mentioned previously, the equation is: Total cost of downtime = (Cost of lost employee productivity) + (Cost of employee recovery) + (Cost of IT recovery) + (Projected loss of revenue due to lost customers) + (Projected loss of revenue due to damaged reputation)
For budgeting purposes, it helps to look at the downtime costs incurred when individual applications, services, or IT components are unavailable. For example, you might calculate the direct and indirect costs (or just the direct costs for simplicity) of downtime separately for:
- Each critical business application (programs used by large numbers of employees as part of their primary job functions or programs that are crucial in day-to-day operations, such as billing software)
- Each important technology application or service (programs and services that employees use to help them perform their jobs, such as email software)
- Each component in the IT infrastructure (servers, computers, networks, and communications capabilities)
That way, you can determine which applications, services, and IT components are most critical to your business. With this information, you can budget the funds needed to keep them running at peak efficiency.