Does the GDPR affect your online business?

On 25th May 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect. It’s a wide-ranging privacy law, and comes with maximum fines for non-compliance of up to €20 million or 4% of annual turnover.


The new legislation is primarily aimed at keeping big businesses in check, reigning in their ability to collect data on millions of people without their consent. It’s also about giving power back to consumers.

But if you’re a small business, don’t just assume you won’t be affected – even if you’re not based in the EU. While it’s true that European countries will be most impacted, the GDPR covers any company that collects personal information about citizens of EU countries.

So, even businesses and freelance consultants in North America could be affected if they collect certain kinds of information.

Say you live in Canada but provide life mentoring services to clients around the world, including customers in Ireland. If you were to record any of those conversations with your Irish clients, or even take notes about them, you may well be affected by the law.

What Does The GDPR Cover?

If you collect personal data on EU citizens, you need to take some extra steps when it comes to the way you manage that information. ‘Personal data’ can mean a lot of things:

  • Name, address, date of birth
  • Gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity
  • Email address
  • IP address
  • Geolocation
  • More here

Many small businesses might be collecting more of this data than they are aware of. All the information you receive from your customers that you write down or otherwise record – their bank details, information about their jobs or partners, their name and email – all count as personal data.

The regulation takes a softer approach to small businesses, so you’re less likely to be scrutinized. All the same, your business will be affected if:

  • You regularly process personal data
  • Fail to report a data breach where personal data was stolen or exploited within 72 hours of the breach
  • You omit to provide information to customers about what you will do with their data
  • Refuse to hand over data you hold on a customer when they request to see it (a ‘subject access request’)
  • Refuse to delete data you hold on a client when asked to (AKA the ‘right to be forgotten’)

How you can get GDPR-ready

Here are some simple steps small businesses can take to become GDPR-ready:

  • Review how you store client information – make sure it’s in a secure, password-protected environment like Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint, or even a folder on your computer
  • Write up a policy document which you share with clients explaining what you do with their data. There are many GDPR-ready templates available online to download
  • Share a similar document with your employees
  • Delete any data you hold on customers that you don’t really need

Being GDPR compliant will involve a little work now, but will improve customer trust in the long run, and will also give you confidence that you’re not in violation of any laws.

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Len is a tech and business writer who covers small business and startup advice and has appeared in many print and digital publications. He lives in London, UK, where he's also a sub editor on a national newspaper. He loves to travel and has lived in France, Spain, Senegal and Rwanda.

5 Awesome Gifts for the Creative Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur’s workplace is where you let your creativity run wild – don’t stuff it full of plain old desks, gray carpets and uncomfortable seats. They say we’re products of our environment – make your environment the best!

The awesome gadgets we’ve listed below will help you be more productive, supercharge your creativity and, frankly, have a lot more fun at the office.

FLUX Delta+

The FLUX Delta+ is a kind of ‘everything machine’. It’s a 3D printer, a laser engraver, a vinyl cutter, a 3D scanner and pretty much anything else you want. Launched form a Kickstarter campaign, the FLUX Delta+ is an amazing gadget you can use to build prototypes and even create one of a kind products. And, it fits easily in your home office.
Cost: $999 with starter kit

Kootek laptop cooling pad

Whether you’re running online meetings, editing videos on your Mac or doing some heavy graphic design, an overheated laptop can slow down your productivity and even damage your hardware. The Kootek cooling pad is the solution. The pad sits under your machine and its five silent fans cool it down and let you work uninterrupted.
Cost: $32.99

Wristomat

If you spend too much time holding a mouse or typing on a keyboard at the wrong angle, you can do your joints some serious damage. But, most wrist-supports are badly designed and don’t allow for much movement. The Wristomat tries to help here. It provides a soft, moveable support which fits exactly to your wrist, allowing you to keep your hands in the best position while typing or using a mouse. The coolest part? The bottom half of the Wristomat ‘hovers’ on a magnet to allow maximum movement.
Cost: from $29.99

The RocketBook

Ever taken notes in your notebook when talking with clients, then lost the paper? The Rocketbook means you’ll never lose your notes again. When you use a Rocketbook, you take notes, then scan your pages with the smartphone app, and the pages are automatically sent to your cloud-based note-taking app of choice. And, the Rocketbook is reusable – once you’ve run out of space, you can microwave it (yup, you read that right) and the ink disappears!
Cost: from $27.00

Trinetic

This isn’t just any old office chair. As a winner of numerous design awards, sitting on the Trinetic is a pleasure. It’s a highly flexible seat which adapts to your sitting position for maximum comfort – and it claims to provide circulatory and musculoskeletal benefits too!
Cost: from $500

New survey reveals marketing managers turning to freelancers more than ever

Good news for freelancers with digital marketing skills. A new survey from the freelancing platform Upwork found that marketers are increasingly looking for freelancers with specialized skills to fill gaps in their own teams.

The study, released at the end of November, asked 1,000 US marketing bosses and hiring managers about the roles they find hard to fill. Among the most in-demand abilities were inbound marketing, demand generation and social media know-how. According to UpWork, hunger for these kinds of skills has grown more than 150 percent year on year.

What’s driving the demand? UpWork’s SVP for Marketing, Rich Pearson, puts it down to a mix of factors.

First, digital transformation has shaken up the industry, meaning many marketers are constantly in need of new skills to produce the kind of marketing that their audiences want.

At the same time, Mr Pearson explains that freelancers offer a more flexible alternative to the traditional route of using a fully-fledged agency:

“agencies have long been the primary solution to help fill these skills gaps, but with the increased availability of freelance talent, marketers have a new, more cost-effective option for getting work done.”

This change is profound. According to the survey, a full 58% of marketing departments across all sectors use freelancers in some capacity, and almost three quarters say that companies who fail to adapt to this evolution will face competitive disadvantage.

Perhaps most significantly, 92% of marketing managers and hiring teams report that without being able to find a freelancer, they would be forced to delay, cancel or extend their projects.

What does this mean for freelancers, then? On one hand, the data indicates there’s a lot of work out there – they will just need to go find it. On the other hand, it also shows that the demand is for freelancers with ever more niche skills. Knowing the basics of SEO simply won’t cut it in today’s market – in-house clients expect a lot more.

The skills that freelance marketing experts will need to win business and stand out are becoming ever more diverse. Indeed, a different study released by UpWork earlier in November singled out Salesforce services and HubSpot marketing as some of the fastest growing skills for freelancers in Q3 2017, as well as Instagram marketing and Final Cut Pro X.

So, there’s no time for freelance marketers to sit on their laurels just yet.