If You Rely On IT, You Must Know The Risks

Your IT systems can play a crucial role in helping improve productivity, make complicated processes much easier, and streamline workflow. However, the more you rely on it, the more you expand your network of devices and software, the more of a risk it can become. Rather than arguing that you should scale down your tech reliance, instead, we are going to look at how you ensure you cope with that growing reliance and stay protected.

 

Are you protected?

Every business owner, big or small, should be aware of the real security risks related to their tech. From antivirus software to ethical hacking, you need to consider what data is available on your systems and just how much of a risk it can be if that data falls into the wrong hands. The riskier it is, the more you should invest in protecting it. Studies have shown that the majority of businesses that suffer a major data breach tend to close their doors within two years, and if you lose customer data, especially financial data, you could be legally liable for their losses too.

What happens when the light goes out?

What percentage of your employees’ working day involves them using the computer as their main resource? There’s a good chance it’s more than 50%. In that case, does that mean they are 50% less productive when the power or internet goes out? Your business can suffer a huge blow due to downtime. Finding backup power sources scaled to the number of devices you need, as well as alternative internet connections such as accessible Wi-Fi dongles is essential if you don’t want that downtime to shut you down entirely.

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How do you cope with disaster?

Sometimes, a sudden event can do more than prompt downtime. A breach or a power surge can not only shut down your tech, but it can lose you significant portions of data, as well. Besides finding and preventing the risk of such disasters, strategic IT consulting can help you put a disaster recovery system in place. Such systems can help you get powered on and online much quicker, as well as ensuring that you have the data you need backed up so you are never at risk of truly losing everything.

Are you underutilizing it?

Finally, if you are scaling your tech reliance, you should also scale what you get in return for it. For instance, think about the data your systems produce. These can provide essential insights into the productivity of the team, the efficiency of your tech, and much more. Big Data consultants can help you find these insights and provide the answers to questions such as how to make your team more engaged and how to increase end-user adoption of new software, amongst many other things.

There are risks involved in relying more heavily on any one resource within the business. The more you rely on it, the more of a potential weakness it becomes. Ensure you give those weaknesses the time and thought they deserve and safeguard your business.

All The Signs That Your Business May Not Be As Strong As You Think

Are you sure that your business is doing as well as what you think it is? Sure, it can be quite difficult to tell when you are busy all the time trying to run the company; you could find that there is no time for you to take a step back and review your business objectively.

If things aren’t going quite so well, though, there are often some telltale signs that start to crop up. These following ones are some of the signs that happen in the early stages of a failing business. Do you recognise some in your own business? If so, it may be time to find some solutions!

You’re Repeating Mistakes

Entrepreneurs need to learn from their mistakes quickly and move on. And that’s nothing to worry about – we all make the odd mistake from time to time. However, if you seem to be continually making the same mistake without realizing it, then there could be an underlying issue with your company. So, it’s important that you try to get to the bottom of repeated mistakes as soon as you can. Otherwise, it could spell the end for your business.

Your IT Is Outdated

IT and tech are incredibly important to companies these days, no matter which of industry or sector they are in. Does your IT infrastructure appear to be struggling? It could be because it is dated. If this is the case, it’s worth finding a company that offers managed IT services and can help you update all your tech. Not doing this could damage your company’s productivity and efficiency, which won’t help you keep up with competitors.

You’re Struggling To Pay The Monthly Bills

There’s no denying that financial problems within your business are not a good sign. If you find that you are scrabbling around for money at the end of the month to pay all your bills and employee wages, there will certainly be some urgent improvements that need to be made. Simply reviewing and altering your budget could help you see areas in which you can save money. Otherwise, now might be the time to try and source some new investment.

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The Employee Turnover Rate Is Really High

Unhappy employees are going to jump ship very quickly. If you replace these employees without improving the company, then the new hires will also leave not long after they have arrived. So, take a look at your business through the eyes of your employees and see how things could improve. Perhaps you just need to offer regular reviews or make sure you focus more on employee well-being?

The Media Aren’t Interested In Your Business

There needs to be constant chatter surrounding your business. If the media aren’t talking about you, and no one is mentioning your brand on social media, then there is something wrong. Thankfully, an effective PR campaign can often fix this.

Fingers crossed that none of these problems affect your company for too long and that you can get back on the road to success!

Tackle Your Tech Future for Smarter Business Planning

Your business needs to have a plan when it comes to technology. Without a plan, you could forget to review and update the technology you use. This could lead to your company getting left behind your competitors, or you could end up wasting money on outdated tech and things that aren’t working. You might be wondering about the best way to approach planning your business’s tech future. There are several important factors that you should think about if you want to be sure of the best outcomes. You need to know what your company’s requirements are and what you should be doing to develop your technology at a pace that suits it.

Match Your Tech to Your Company Goals

Your company’s overall goals should affect your decision making in different areas. You need to keep them in mind when you’re deciding who to hire, how to market your products, and what sort of clients you’re looking for. Technology is another area that should be informed by your company’s goals and your hopes for the future. You need to consider what your goals are and how technology can help you achieve them. How will your choices in software and hardware support the things you need to do?

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Photo source at Pexels

Work Out Technology Requirements

You should think about your essential technology needs before you consider anything else. Everyone has a minimum level of tech that their business relies on to carry out day-to-day activities. From a computer for each member of staff to the right choice in accounting software, you have to think about what will keep your business ticking. Thinking back to your goals, you also need to make a technology plan that will meet your requirements as your business grows. Don’t just consider what you need now, but also how your needs will change in the future.

Ensure You Have Professional Help

Working out the trajectory of your technology development can be tricky if you don’t know much about tech. If you want to avoid feeling baffled and giving up, you need to get some professional help. By hiring IT consultants, you can ensure you have a plan for what your business tech will look like in the future. They can help you with life cycle planning for your hardware and software. This can help your tech to last longer and ensure you have a plan in place when it’s time to update. Professionals can make recommendations so that you can make better decisions.

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Photo source at Pxhere

Have a Technology Budget

Money is, of course, important when you’re thinking about the future of your business tech. You can’t afford to perform every single technology update available, especially when some of them aren’t going to benefit your business. You need to create a budget for your technology, including buying new software and hardware, as well as paying for any services that might be useful to help keep your company’s tech running.

Don’t just make changes to your business technology as you go. Create a roadmap to get a better idea of what the future will look like.

What is mobile marketing automation?

There have been a lot of new terms that business people, customer service representatives, and marketers have come to know over the last few decades. Take mobile, for example: Where once we used to be desktop or laptop based work spaces and free time, in the past few years mobile has re-made how we do nearly everything. And mobile has grown at a pace that few expected when it was first introduced. In fact, mobile-only users are now expected to top over 50 million in just a few years. That means those people may not even have a laptop, at all.

So marketers have to figure out how mobile users are different than other users, and marketers also have to figure out how to use automation when possible in order to make their more complex job easier. How do they do that? This graphic explains it.

What Is Mobile Marketing Automation?

What To “Tech Away”? To Build Or Buy Your Computer Infrastructure?

When pushing forward as a dynamic entrepreneur, there are so many different aspects to keep a handle on. For most of us, technology is quite an alien concept, and, because there is such an importance on having the right server package, as well as an inappropriate IT infrastructure in place, it can seem like quite a big expense. So, either the topic of outsourcing comes to mind, or, whether you can harness the appropriate balance in house and build your own IT infrastructure. This is something that lots of people now do to build your own, or is it better, and cheaper, to buy?

To build…

Building your own IT infrastructure, whether it’s a server or a vast system, requires a lot more prior knowledge, of course. But in building your own server, there are many different things you have control over. In terms of how you are building the system, you will have the final say over every aspect of the system. From the circuit board design, all the way up to the data capacity, which is great in terms of wanting to save money. Building every little aspect of the system does require the best people on board. If you have limited assistance at your disposal, you will have to put more money into finding the best people for the job. This can be an expense upfront, but it can be worth it further down the line. In addition to this, by having the appropriate staff members on board that have this finite knowledge, you can utilize their unique skills when you want to expand the business. This does sound quite complex as a startup opportunity, but this is why so many of them outsource to external companies…

To buy…

To buy the server, or even to outsource to an external company, means that you have, to an extent, relinquished control over your IT infrastructure. While so many IT support companies make their living supporting startup companies, this means that you are in capable hands. Lots of these companies provide servers that are scalable depending on the success of your business. They can also provide 24-hour help, which might not be possible if you decide to build a server in-house. And while you are paying for this service, lots of these providers can charge through the nose, but some are cheap, depending on what you want out of your IT infrastructure. This begs the question, what do you want from your server? You have to crunch the numbers, especially if you are after considerable results from your tech.

But, in conclusion, this is why so many businesses decide to outsource in the first place. It’s simply, a solution that they don’t have to deal with in house. But, this does mean relinquishing your control to an extent. If you are an entrepreneur that has the overall vision of everything under one roof, this can be a fly in the ointment. So, you need to ask yourself if you can make sacrifices now to make room for this  infrastructure that is purpose built, or if you need to get the business up to a certain level and so, outsourcing becomes the only option. Budget is always the big takeaway from these issues, and you need to check the figures first.

How to Choose the Right Work Laptops for Your Business

Most modern-day businesses require owners to get a laptop for each of their team members. If this is the case with you, putting some extra effort into finding the right work laptops is a good idea. However, with so many laptops and deals offered by tech stores, choosing work laptops for your business can be overwhelming. However, with some help, you should be able to make the right decision and provide our employees with the machines they need for their work. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at our guide for choosing the right work laptops for your business.

Figure out your budget

There’s no need to say that your budget plays a significant role in choosing the right work laptops. Fails to figure out your budget before you start shopping for laptops and chances are you’ll end up overspending. On the other, you don’t want to go for the cheapest laptops out there since they’ll probably cause your team members a lot of problems. The key here is to figure out how much you can spend and stick to it when choosing your laptops.

Depending on how much money you’re working with, there are different laptops you can consider buying. For example, if you realize that you simply can’t afford to buy top-notch laptops for your employees, you might want to stick to cheaper machines. Just bear in mind that this means your employees will have limited storage and slow performance. We recommend buying such laptops only if your employees will use them for nothing but browsing the web. But if you’re able to spend more on your work laptops, you’ll be able to get more powerful models that’ll suit all of your employees’ computer needs.

Compare the important specs

Of course, you’ll need to take a closer look at the specs of every laptop model you seem to like. It’s critical that you go for the laptops that fit all of your employees’ needs.

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First of all, there’s CPU. The quality of your laptops’ processor has a huge impact on how usable they are. This means you’ll probably want to go for midrange or high-end CPUs, which means Intel Core i5 and i7 processors are something you just can’t go wrong with.

Opting for a laptop with enough memory and storage is extremely important. Still, this is also where you’ll first want to think about what your employees are going to need. For example, if Microsoft Word is the only thing they’ll need to use, 2B RAM laptops might be enough. However, it’s always a good idea to go for laptops with 4GB RAM or more.

Another thing to have in mind when choosing your work laptops for your business is battery life. No matter what kind of work you do, you’ll probably want laptops with long battery life that can be used on the road. This means that opting for laptops such as Lenovo X1 laptop with 11-hour battery life is a smart move.

Choose the right operating system

Another important decision you’ll have to make is which operating system you’ll want your employees to use. It’s recommended that you stick with the same operating system for each of your new laptops since you’ll want every employee to be able to use each of our new work laptops. Therefore, when buying you’ll want to choose between laptops that are run on two most popular operating systems out there – Apple OS X and Windows OS.

Apple OS X is something many business owners decide to go for. This is the case because there are plenty of die-hard Apple fans who’re willing to pay more to get a beautiful interface. While Apple OS X-run laptops are a great option, bear in mind that they usually carry hefty price tags.

Windows OS is the standard option for small businesses. Not only that going for Windows means there are more laptops to choose from, but it also guarantees you all of your employees will know how to use them. On top of this, Windows machines are available in every configuration possible which means you’ll be able to find laptops that fit into your budget easily.

Go for the right design

When choosing work laptops, you’ll also want to go for the right design. This is especially the case if it’s in the nature of your business for your employees to spend multiple hours in front of the screen. Therefore, going for laptops with a comfortable keyboard is your safest bet. Larger keyboards are your safest bet since typing on a miniature keyboard can be very tiresome.

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Portability is another aspect of your work laptops that you’ll want to have in mind when choosing your work laptops. If your employees spend a lot of time traveling, going for smaller and more portable laptops is recommended. So, make sure you check the dimensions and weight of every laptop model you like before you make any final decisions.

New hybrid laptops are constantly gaining more popularity. Basically, these machines can work as a laptop and as a tablet, depending on what your employees need at that point in time. Again, we recommend thinking about how your employees are going to use the laptop and determine whether they might need a hybrid laptop or not.

Purchase your work laptops

Once you’ve narrowed down your choice, it’s finally time to make your final decision on which work laptops you should go for. If you’re still unsure which laptops you should go for, you can always take some extra time to read reviews online and put more time into comparing specs.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

6 Steps to Starting a Lucrative Home-Based Business

Running a home-based business is the opportunity to work comfortably doing something you enjoy. As your own boss, you set the hours, make the rules, and keep all the profits. You can even make time to spend with the kids. That is why more and more people are considering starting a home business.

However, when starting any type of business, you have to prepare thoroughly: make a business plan, find investors and potential clients, appropriate workspace etc. A home-based business is no different – besides the workspace part, you’ve got that taken care of. In order to make it a successful one, there are steps you need to take before the opening day.

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Photo Credit: Unsplash.com

Make a Wise Decision

There’s a difference between talents and skills. Talents are traits, like creativity. Skills are things you learn, such as coding apps or building fireplaces. It’s the combination of the two that translates to a business.

Use your skills as business ideas, but eliminate anything that’s wrong for your lifestyle, such as spot-welding in the living room. You can also disregard your corporate skills like “office manager” if you’re planning to work on your own.

You will need talents like initiative, innovation, discipline, and a sense of organization. If you can’t work efficiently and overcome obstacles, you won’t be in business for long.

Find the business concept that best fits your abilities. Whatever choice you make, it should be something you feel passionate about: you’ll have to invest a lot of time and energy into making your business a lucrative one, make sure you enjoy that time.

2. Legalize It

While you may have new-found freedom in your work, federal, state, and local authorities still require accountability. Find out what your business requires for proper licenses and permits.

Inquire about your tax obligations. As a sole proprietor, you’re responsible for your company’s taxes and debts. Compliance with tax law, licenses, insurance, and federal or state regulations can be complex. It’s always a good idea to consult with a business attorney to find the right solution for your business model and goals.

3. Set up the Office

Before setting up the home office, check if local ordinances allow you to conduct your business from home. Then, as you start planning, consider the surroundings. If you’ll meet clients there, both you and your house need to make a good impression: wearing clean clothes isn’t enough when you work at home. Your property must be well-maintained, clean and comfortable. A neat workspace tells clients that you will also take care of their business in an organized and dedicated way.

Even if your business is conducted mainly online, you’ll want a dedicated spot to work in. A separate room is best for minimizing distractions. If you don’t have one, set aside ample space in the living room, bedroom, or kitchen. You have to set boundaries with your family members to avoid distractions. A physical barrier is the easiest way to achieve that – if you don’t see each other, it will be easier to resist the need to hang out. In a separate room, you can be completely dedicated to work during working hours and give all your attention to your family when you close the office door.

4. Mind the Security

Don’t assume that homeowner’s insurance is enough to cover your business assets. You may need a separate policy rider for designated business assets.

To secure these assets, consider burglar alarms and surveillance cameras. You should always have a home-wired smoke alarm and fire extinguisher in your office. If you’re expecting to receive packages, a post office box might be a better idea to reduce the risk of theft.

Digital security measures should include firewalls, anti-malware, encrypted messaging and data storage, and strong passwords. Be sure to back up critical data regularly to devices like external hard drives or flash drives in the event of power outages or computer viruses.

5. Get Acquainted with Technology

In addition to security, you should become familiar with business technologies. Every task you can automate or streamline improves productivity. For example, stick to digital documents rather than paper ones to reduce office expenses, wasted effort, and clutter.

An effective technical strategy might include cloud services, business software and apps. You’ll find free online storage, but you can also invest in affordable paid apps that provide more features. Expense-tracking apps will help you keep organized records. Some include features like identity theft protection and data breach alerts.

You should also have a company website that serves your customers 24/7. Take the time to find the web hosting, site layout, and content that works best with your brand and your market. Consider using apps to track your social media efforts so you can determine which platforms and posts are working best for you.

Take advantage of VoIP (voice over internet protocol) solutions as a cheaper, higher-quality alternative to traditional phone exchanges. You should be able to add useful features like video chat, audio recordings, and automated menus to improve customer interaction.

6. Develop a Work-at-Home Attitude

In some ways running your own business is harder than working for someone else. It takes self-discipline. For instance, it’s harder to get up and start work each morning when you always have the option of sleeping late.

Regard running your home business as you would working for another company. Try to keep to a productive work schedule and ask family and friends to respect it. Establish priorities and keep a daily to-do list. But allow yourself some time to unwind or your stress levels will keep climbing.

In conclusion, a home-based business could be a great opportunity. Just be sure you have the right business idea to suit your particular skills and talents. It’s important that you can stay motivated and be productive. While there are a lot of elements required to start and manage a business, working profitably from home is possible through thoughtful planning and developing good work habits.

 

Author Bio:

michelle_lauryMichelle Laurey is a freelance writer who enjoys fitness, relaxing in the fresh air, trying to live a healthy life and daydreaming about visiting new places (and actually visiting them). Her best ideas and problem solutions appear while she’s riding her bicycle. You can reach her via Twitter.