You have come a long way in the business buying process if you get to the final business inspection stage which occurs just prior to you taking possession of the business. However, be warned, this is not the time to be complacent or let your excitement blind you.Case in point – Lynn – a first time buyer who purchased a business herself earlier this year only to find after the possession date that not everything was as it had been presented to her. Lynn’s experience should be viewed as a lesson learned and not as an opportunity for criticism. In fact, her experience is a common experience for many entrepreneurs buying a business who do not have representation, or as it was in Lynn’s case – not having “competent” representation.I have therefore taken the liberty to outline what you must do during the Final Inspection of the business. This list is not to be used as an alternative to hiring a savvy business broker but is provided as a means to help you understand why these particular items are important. These are not the only items that need to be covered in a final inspection but are certainly 5 things you must do regardless of the type of business you are purchasing.5 things you MUST do during the final inspection:1. Inspect every square inch of the business yourself!Take the time to inspect the entire business – inside and out. Look for anything that stands out as being unusual or of concern, such as bare electrical cables sticking out of the wall, mold, missing lights, large cracks or water damage in the structure and animal feces to name just a few.2. Check that there is no missing equipment that should have been included in the sale of the business. A list of equipment included in the sale should have been included as part of the Offer to Purchase. Print this list out and visually check that each piece of equipment listed is present and accounted for.3. Check the operation of the equipment, that it has an operating manual and that it is in a good state of repair.While checking that all the equipment is present, be sure to check it is operating normally, for example computers, printers, ovens, fridges and freezers to name just a few. Any equipment not operating normally should be repaired at the sellers expense unless otherwise agreed upon.4. Count all the inventory included in the sale.As with the equipment a list of the inventory should have been included as part of the Offer to Purchase. Again print this list off and check each inventory item. For large inventory based businesses this might mean you need to hire a inventory company to come in and count the inventory.It is important to note that for many businesses, inventory is a fluid dynamic so when it comes to inventory, there may be a need for a financial adjustment to be made in favor of the buyer or the seller.5. Have the seller confirm in writing that they have paid all supplier accounts to date in full.The reason we mention this is sometimes there is the assumption that the lawyer will take care of such matters. That may be so but consider the following. As an example assume for a moment that you are taking over an existing account, say the Point of Sale system at a retail location. If the seller has not paid the bill to date, then the vendor of the Point of Sale system may deactivate the account until the outstanding balance gets paid. This immediately effects the operation of your business and intern turns the excitement of business ownership into a high stress, mission critical, situation.From what I understand of Lynn’s situation, problems started when the person who was brokering the sale did not turn up to the final inspection. Lynn was therefore left to handle a situation without experience or representation – by representation I mean someone impartial to the sale, ensuring that the best interests of the buyer are met.Upon taking possession of the business, Lynn found out that the computer system was constantly crashing, the toilet was not working and cupboards had to be replaced due to damage from animal feces. A key supplier account had not been paid that effected the operation of Lynn’s business.Lynn was fortunate to have the financial means to replace computers, cupboards and complete the necessary repairs to the business however it came at a considerable cost that amounted to thousands of dollars. The key is to identify and address such issues before you take possession of a business. This, we believe, only comes from experience.Even if you want to handle the purchase of a business yourself hiring a business broker as a consultant can literally save you tens of thousands of dollars. Certainly for us being hired to provide a buyer with a second opinion is an opportunity to share our knowledge with the buyer, support the buyer and share in their excitement of purchasing a business.
I am sure you will all have seen the recent global WannaCry Ransomware outbreak on the news and I am sure you have all been left with questions surrounding how this happened and as such have concerns about your own computers security.The good news is so far this attack has only affected medium-large organisations due to the method the attackers have used to load the virus onto computers, but the windows systems the ransomware has been affecting are identical to the windows systems people run at home and as such your computer may be open to the same exploitation as those in this attack.So what is Ransomware? Let’s start with the basics, Ransomware is just a label for a group of malicious software (or malware) programs that lock your computer in some way and demand a ransom to unlock it. These packages are often attached to malicious emails in the form of either infected files or by way of an internet link that downloads the file to your computer.Ransomware typically operates in one of three ways:3. Rogue Anti-Virus Software – The most basic level often presents as a form of anti-virus software informing you that you have a number of viruses on your system and inviting you to buy the software to remove them. Despite the look, these are usually simple infections and a regular scan of your system with an anti-malware package such as Malwarebytes or similar should rid you of the pest.2. Locky type – This form of malware often displays a full screen window shortly after booting up that informs you your computer has been locked and demanding a ransom to unlock it. The software also hides icons and files on your desktop and documents folders to give the impression they have deleted your files. It can be difficult to know whether this software has encrypted your files but a fairly easy way to tell is to boot your computer in safe-mode without networking, login as the default administrator account and see if your files are still there and accessible. If they are good news, your files have not been deleted or encrypted and the virus can usually be easily deleted by remaining in safe mode and completing a virus scan using a dedicated anti-malware package such as Malwarebytes.1. CryptoWare – By far the worst of all types of ransomware, this evil software will infect your computer entirely and will encrypt all files, display a full screen warning informing you that your files have been locked and demanding a ransom by a specific date before the cost either increases or your files are deleted. The software also often has the ability to replicate itself and infect other computers on the same network. If you have been infected by CryptoWare then your only hope is that you have a backup of all your important data as the only way to ensure a completely clean system is to wipe the computer and re-install windows.As you can imagine seeing any of these on your computer can create a great deal of alarm and distress and you may be tempted in a blind panic to just pay the ransom and get your files back. Our advice would be to avoid payment at all costs as there is no guarantee the attackers will return your data and you could just be wasting money and fuelling the fire.If you have been infected with any of the above, the first thing you need to do is stop, physically disconnect the device from your network either by unplugging the network cable or by disabling your WiFi. Next you need to establish what level of infection you have, if it looks like an anti-virus software that you don’t recognise and it is saying you have a virus infection the simple thing to do is complete a scan with Malwarebytes or similar and then reboot your computer. This should fix your problem and all your files should be safe.If you have a full screen warning informing you your files have been locked then the solution is a little more complex. First you need to boot the computer in safe-mode without networking and, as said above, establish by logging into the administrator account if you can access any of your files. If you can the solution is to perform a scan with Malwarebytes or an equivalent package to remove the infection and then reboot your computer. If you cannot access your files because they have either been deleted or encrypted then your only option to ensure a completely clean system is to wipe your device completely and reinstall your system either from a backup or from scratch.Often this can be a very daunting and confusing process to carry out if you are not familiar with the process and I would recommend that if you get stuck or become unsure at any point then you consult an IT professional for advice.How to prevent an attackThe good news is the latest string of attacks have exploited a vulnerability that Microsoft has since repaired so providing your computer is up to date with the various Windows updates you should be fairly safe. That said, here are three steps to keeping yourself as safe as possible:1. Windows Updates – Microsoft release large numbers of updates to repair the vulnerabilities identified in its operating systems. As painful as it can be sometimes to let these install and update, they really are the most important step you can take to protect yourself against an infection. Waiting 20 minutes or so for updates to install will be far less painful than being told you have lost all your data and need to start again. It is also worth ensuring your Windows Firewall is turned on and up to date to prevent against the initial infected files even reaching your PC.2. Good Anti-Virus Software – Second to the Windows updates is the necessity to have a good reliable Anti-Virus software and again keep this up-to-date with the latest definitions. Kaspersky and Sophos are excellent packages and while these cost they will pay dividend in stopping infections and removing malicious files. Often these premium packages come with additional features that scan your emails and rate the websites you visit to alert you as early as possible to malicious material.3. Internet Etiquette – Finally the most practical step to avoiding infections is simple internet etiquette. In relation to emails this is as simple as not clicking on links or attachments in emails from an unknown sender or that appear in your junk/spam folders. It is also worth checking the web address of a link in a Google search and if it looks suspect or you don’t recognise it – DON’T CLICK IT!The bottom line is Ransomware is a nasty collection of software packages that are there to cause nothing but misery and pain for the victim but it could be incredibly simple to protect yourself against it by following the steps above.
In the modern business world, computers are king. Widely present in offices of all types, from law firms to doctors’ offices to the business world, these machines have the ability to store and quickly manipulate large amounts of data. Computers have been around in one form or another since the 1940s; however, it was only since the 1980s that computers enjoyed widespread use in business, with personal and networked computing truly gaining popularity when the Internet became widely available in the 1990s.Accordingly, the number of computer-related careers has expanded considerably in availability and scope since then. There exist jobs for high- and low-level programming professionals; user interface designers; and software engineers. These jobs typically require extensive schooling, with additional experience acquired on the job.There are, however, information technology and computer jobs that require significantly less schooling. Individuals are employed as network administrators; technical support professionals; and computer repair technicians — and often, they are eligible for this sort of employment after just several months of study. This article will discuss some types of quick-study computer education and career training programs that lead to professional certification — and often, directly to technology careers.The A+ certification is designed to prove a student’s abilities as a general computer technician. A+-certified technicians understand computer systems inside and out. They are as comfortable working with hardware (the “guts” of the computer) as they are with operating systems, software, networks, and files. They have the ability to troubleshoot computer problems and to achieve resolutions to those problems.Students seeking technical support, computer repair, or networking administration careers often begin with the A+ certification. This certificate is recognized as showing worker competence and achievement in several computer- and technology-related fields. CompTIA sets the standards for this exam, which provides a good foundation for further competency classes and exams, such as Linux/UNIX exams and various network certifications. This certificate can lead to an entry-level technology career, from which the worker might eventually move to an advanced technical support or networking career.The Network+ certification is also a CompTIA standardized exam. To prepare for this exam, students will study the basics of computer networking, as well as more advanced networking concepts. These concepts can include networking hardware; Ethernet setup and configuration; cable interface; network protocols like TCP/IP protocols, and wireless networking. Students will also study how to connect networked systems and to set up clients and servers for remote Internet access.CompTIA suggests that individuals who wish to seek a career in the networking field should have 9 months of experience, or equivalent training, before sitting for the certification exam. There also exist a number of adult learning institutions and quick-study programs that can give students the appropriate levels of experience they will need for such an exam.Like the A+ certification, the Network + certification also enables students to pursue further technology certifications, or to seek increasingly advanced computer technology career positions. The Network + certification is also good preparation for other certifications, such as those required by Cisco or Novell.The Security 5 certification is established and administered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants. This organization considers it to be an entry-level security certification. Nonetheless, it is recommended that students or network administration career professionals possess the equivalent knowledge of A+ and Network + exam material if they wish to seek careers in network security.This exam covers a variety of network and desktop security principles. Students will need to have a solid foundation of basic computer security concepts, like firewalls and hack-proof log-ins. They will also need to understand computer cryptography, e-mail and communications security, secure site and Web browser procedures, and file transfer/FTP security. Desktop and hard drive security, portable and wireless security, and secure computing with third-party devices are additional topics covered.This exam, when combined with another professional certification or prior networking and information systems experience, can be a powerful career asset. For those computer users who are not employed in the networking or information sciences sectors, the Security 5 certification can be a great asset in protecting the privacy and integrity of personal data.The Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) certification is specific to information technology applications in the Windows desktop environment and Windows operating system. It is considered to be a beginner-level credential, and it demonstrates that an individual is competent in assisting end users and helping to test and troubleshoot Microsoft desktops and applications. This Microsoft certificate can be completed in tandem with other certifications supported by Microsoft, including the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification and the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDA).Currently, professional Windows environments are in a transitory phase between Windows XP Professional and Windows Vista. Vista’s large allocated operating memory requirements and compatibility difficulties have caused XP to remain widely used in the workplace — so there are some career environments in which the MCDST, MOS, MCDA, and other certifications are necessary. Network administration specialists and information sciences students should be aware, however, that Microsoft is changing the certification requirements in accordance with the new Vista user interface and desktop functions.