Guest Post:

As of this writing, I’ve already spent a good 1.5 hours in a coffee shop, had a full breakfast, but still wondering when the Internet connection at home would be back up and running. It’s been out for four days now, the DSL light flashing like there’s no tomorrow.

When I attempted to call my service provider’s tech support Tuesday morning, even before I got to a live agent, the automated phone system was quick to inform me that there was an outage in the area and that restoration was already underway. The problem was that the company couldn’t guarantee when everything would be back to normal.

Since Internet at home is unfortunately out of the question, I’ve already spent a good part of three mornings in this coffee shop, albeit the somewhat pricey breakfast.

Do you have a contingency plan?

If you’re a project manager, an unforeseen event (natural calamities, equipment breakdown, data loss, etc.) that prevents you and your team from using company resources to efficiently perform your tasks may prove catastrophic, especially if you’re trying to beat a deadline. The circumstances behind the delay may be inevitable and totally understandable, but without a backup plan, you’re giving a client reason to look elsewhere to award future projects.

In the world of business, repeat transactions are as important as new ones.

Your workflow in the cloud – the advantages

A workflow software, as it is usually called, is an automation solution employed by businesses to simplify and streamline their operations. This niche software can be used for virtually any part of your business – IT, finance, HR, sales and marketing, to name a few.

The beauty of most workflow software, you can choose to either deploy your workflow in the cloud or on-premise – or both.

Despite the security reinforcements cloud solution providers have incorporated into their products, some on-premise storage proponents still argue that deploying proprietary data in the cloud is not practical. While their reasons for believing so are definitely not unfounded, your workflow in the cloud offers the following advantages:

  1. Accessibility

If your workflow is limited within the confines of your office building, you would have to naturally be there to be able to use it. If emergencies arise and you need to be somewhere for a while, accessing your workflow is definitely out of the question. As well, if the workflow is in the cloud, you should be able to access it either via a computer or any connected smart device.

  1. Cost-effectiveness

Procuring and maintaining your own servers is a costly proposition, especially for small businesses. Your workflow in the cloud allows you to streamline your processes for just a fraction of the cost needed to run your own infrastructure.

Conclusion

When cloud storage was first introduced, there had been a lot of speculation as to the viability of the system. But now that it’s been established that cloud storage works, as long as you understand what you’re getting into, the pros of keeping your workflow in the cloud may just outweigh the cons.

Maricel is a blogger and freelance writer. She currently writes web content for Comindware, a workflow software provider.

{ 0 comments }

Small business owners who are in managerial positions need to acquire a certain set of skills in order to succeed in business. As a leader, one needs to be confident, inspirational, articulate, a visionary, motivational and strategic thinker. In addition to this, they also have to work towards continuous improvement. There are a couple of leadership skills which are extremely important and these are highlighted below.

  • Goal Setting

Every business owner should have an idea of where they want the business to be in a couple of year’s time. This can only be achieved through strategic planning and working towards achieving these goals everyday. The goals set should be specific, realistic, measurable, and attainable. Once they are set, you should start working on them and always go back to see what you have managed to achieve after certain duration has passed. The first year is extremely important as it sets the momentum for how fast and effectively you achieve your goals.

  • Ability to Plan and Prioritize

These two leadership skills are extremely important as well and they come in handy after setting business goals. This is because they make it easy to execute the goals. Leaders who are successful should be in a position to plan and prioritize their wok in order to work effectively and also ensure they manage their time well. Without these two skills, it is highly unlikely any business person can achieve their goal. A weekly reminder is essential for the purpose of ensuring that nothing important is overlooked. It is essential to be proactive as well in order to avoid setting the business backwards.

  • Ability to Embrace Feedback Proactively

Good leadership also requires a commitment to understanding your own weaknesses and strengths. While it is easy to fall into the school of thought that you are a born leader, there are certain skills that need to be learned. For this reason, as a leader, it is essential to accept you are still in the learning process and accept any feedback you get on your leadership skills in a proactive and positive manner. You can obtain feedback from different groups such as peers, employees and any other people you work with. This can help you develop and grow your leadership skills and it also ensures you are on the road to constant improvement.

  • Ability to Foster Relationships

Some of the most successful businesses are built on relationships and as a leader, it is important to have the ability to build strong relationships. Think about how people will perceive you and the kind of impression you create with your skills. Your personality should be one that speaks of self confidence and this will make it easy for other people to trust you.

  • Reward Employees

As a leader, you need to learn the art of rewarding your employees. There are several ways through which you can reward employees not necessarily by giving them money. If you do this, you motivate them to put in extra effort in their duties and this in turn boosts the performance of your business. What is more, you end up with employees who are productive, happy and dedicated to their work.

With these leadership skills, it is considerably easy to build your business and increase the amount of revenue you get.

Katy A. Limbaugh is an experienced news anchors & hosts of a well-known broadcasting company. She draws her inspiration from respected media like NBC, Fox, and CNN. Some of her works focus on William Lauder and other company CEOs. 

{ 0 comments }

How to Make Your Small Business More Efficient

by admin on January 29, 2013

Guest post:

Most people start their own business as a way to get out of the office and free themselves from the daily grind.  During the early days, running your own business is a liberating and satisfying experience, but after a while the excitement of being your own boss wears off and the reality of the workload sets in.

Email email email

Running a small business is a lot of work, and it’s normal to find yourself pulling the occasional late night, or working on weekends.  However if six day weeks are the norm, then you could be leaving yourself at risk of burnout.  In addition, if your usual operating procedures require so much time investment, you could be losing out on profits, and will be at risk of having everything come crashing down around you if you are unable to work for even a short time. The more efficiently your business operates, the more profit you will make, and the more resilient you will be in times of difficulty.

Say No to Technology for Its Own Sake

Don’t fall into the trap of investing in software or hardware purely because it promises to make life easier. Remember that training people to use new technology will take time, and there is a chance you will encounter teething problems and bugs when you adopt a new system. Technology can make your life easier, but it is not a magical solution to every possible problem.

Cut Down on Email

Email may seem like a time saver, but it can easily take over your workday.  If you are checking your email more than a couple of times each day, you may be wasting time.  Instead of emailing clients, suppliers and colleagues, try picking up the phone or walking into their office.  A conversation that may take several emails to complete could easily be resolved in a single phone call.

Consider Outsourcing

When money is tight, it’s natural to try to do as much as you can in-house, but outsourcing could actually save you time and money.  If you find yourself working until 9PM processing orders, maybe you should outsource your internet fulfillment services? If your annual accounts take days to complete, hiring an accountant could save you time, and a good accountant could save you money too.

Work out how much time you’re spending on order fulfillment  customer service, invoicing, and other admin tasks, and consider how much you could earn (or how much happier you would be) if you spent that time in other ways.  You may find that it will be more cost effective to outsource than to do those jobs yourself.

Choose Your Customers Carefully

Turning down work can be a scary idea for a small business, but sometimes it is the right thing to do.  If you have some customers that always pay late, are difficult to work with, or tend to be incredibly demanding, then you may want to get rid of them.

It’s always good if you can part ways with a customer on good terms – a bad customer is irritating, but a disgruntled former customer could be a PR nightmare. Instead of “firing” bad customers, consider increasing your prices, or being firmer about late payments.  Give those customers fair warning of your plans, and see what happens.  They may improve their behaviour, or be happy to pay the higher prices, or they may decide to find another supplier.  Either way, you end up better off.

 

About the author:This article was written by the team at Hallmark Consumer Services  – experts in web fulfillment services. 
(Photo credit: RambergMediaImages)
Enhanced by Zemanta

{ 0 comments }

Most small business owners could do with saving a bit of money, and modern technology offers a huge range of money-saving opportunities.

It can be difficult to persuade people to spend money during difficult financial times, but investing in technology can be a wise decision – as long as you pick the right technologies for the right reasons. The entire point of technology is that it allows you to do things more quickly and more efficiently.  Technology makes complex tasks simple, and can save you time and money. If you spend a lot of time doing a particular job, investing in technology to automate that job will cut down on wasted time and free you up for more important jobs – such as finding more customers and making more money.

Here are a few technology related investments that make sense for almost any business.

The Paperless Office

While a truly paperless office is still something of a pipe dream, most companies can greatly reduce the amount of paper they use. Instead of relying on paper for everything, try to use the computers you already own to do the bulk of your record keeping.  Shred and throw out unnecessary paperwork, scan important papers and file them immediately, and discourage your employees from printing out emails unless it is absolutely necessary.

paperless office?

By moving your paperwork online, you will cut down on the amount of time wasted hunting for information, and you will save on paper and printing costs too.

Embrace the Cloud

Cloud computing is an incredibly useful innovation that will save almost any company time and money.  Instead of buying expensive software and hardware, and paying an IT team to run it, make use of your existing computers and internet connections, and let someone else provide you with CRM software, communications tools, and other software as a cloud service.

Because cloud services are hosted remotely, you can allow your employees to access them while they’re out of the office. Many people would prefer the flexibility of working from home to the offer of a pay rise, so you could cut IT costs and payroll costs at the same time!

Simplify Your Communications

You could save a lot of money by taking advantage of unified communications services. Instead of paying several different providers for your telephone, VoIP, internet, mobile and other communications tools, pick one provider for a unified communications bundle.  You’ll pay less per month, and you’ll have a system that was designed from the start to work well together, so it will be more efficient and easier to use, making your employees more productive.

Go Open Source

Instead of spending less, how about spending nothing?  Free and open source software is a boon for any small business owner.  Open Office is a good alternative to Microsoft Office, GnuCash is a good option for book keeping, and GIMP is a solid image editing application.  All of these can be downloaded free of charge.  Even better, if you have skilled programmers on your payroll, they can modify the source code of these applications to add or change features to your liking.

 

This post was written by business writer Cripsin Jones for Maintel – experts in IP telephony, leased line and remote working. 

(Photo credit: rosmary)

Enhanced by Zemanta

{ 0 comments }

expenses_28sept2009_0522

 

Guest post:

When companies are faced with financial difficulties they can benefit by reducing small business overhead. Try these money saving tips:

1. Reduce Paper Consumption

You should go paperless to save money and the environment. A paperless office can also help to reduce clutter. Instead of printing out numerous documents, you can store documents in the cloud or on portable disk. You could sign all of your contracts digitally and reduce the time it takes to circulate the documents around the office. Digital documents do not require physical manpower to circulate, and this saves incredible time. Save money by reducing paper and ink cartridge costs.

2. Eliminate Needless Expenses

Examine your office expenditures to determine what areas can be eliminated. Eliminate what you don’t need at the office. If you can get away with only digital business cards, why print business cards and waste paper? Rely on your Twitter and Facebook profile also.

If you rarely need a printer, why have one in the office? Simply go to a 24 hour printing location. This prevents your company from being stuck with obsolete equipment that is not serving your company’s needs. Also, consider lowering your expenses for premium web hosting.

3. Invest in an Accountant

Accountants can actually save companies money by finding deductions that you may not be able to find on your own. Professionals may cost at least $100 or more, but if professionals save your company thousands through deductions, the investment is well worth the effort. Consider hiring an accountant to protect your business interests.

4. Find An Office Space

Relocate to an office that is more affordable. Some locations are more expensive than others, and some offices are more expensive than others. If you have a large office, you may consider downgrading to a smaller office or working from home. Virtual office services may be used in conjunction with a home office for added professionalism. This could free up some extra financial resources that the office could desperately use for product development.

5. Switch Your Phone to VoIP

If you want to save money, consider Skype or Google Voice. This VoIP alternative is cheaper than a traditional land line. Small businesses can also use these options with mobile apps. VoIP can save a considerable amount of money. Every company can benefit from saving money. The money saved can be reinvested into the product or services offered.

Reduce Small Business Overhead With a Few Simple Tips

Make an effort to reduce small business overhead by using the tips mentioned. There are many other ways to reduce small business overhead, but not all methods are as effective as these five simple tips. Consider reviewing your company’s expenditures and business practices to determine how you can streamline overhead. You will not regret your efforts to reduce expenses.

 

Timothy is a small business owner  from Sydney, Australia. He provides these tips from his own experience to other small business owners who are looking to maximize their profits by reducing their expenses.

Enhanced by Zemanta

{ 1 comment }

BYOD for the Micro Business

by admin on December 27, 2012

(Photo credit: IntelFreePress)

It comes as no surprise that the United States is the home of one of the fastest, if not THE fastest growing sector of society around the globe.  What is this booming source of growth that I speak of?  The startup or the small business.  Last year, some 6 million new small businesses were created in the US alone.  That boils down to about 550,000 a month. Most of these businesses and startups didn’t enter the game with hundreds of employees at their disposal and a hefty bank account that was capable of supplying the most cutting edge of technology and equipment.  In fact, nine times out of ten, the exact opposite proves to be true.  Most of these business have fewer than ten people at the time of their inception and computer equipment and all associated technology must be acquired with a tight budget.

In business jargon, the term for a business with fewer than ten people is referred to as a microbusiness.  Microbusinesses often hit the ground running with a great idea or a product but generally not a boat load of cash.  Because of this, supplying the employees of such a company with the technology tools that they need to accomplish their jobs can become a financial nightmare.  To alleviate this burden and offset some of the initial startup costs more and more of these businesses are adopting the BYOD philosophy into their business.

So what exactly is BYOD?  BYOD or, bring your own device, is the business philosophy that observes employees bringing their own mobile ready devices into the workplace as a means of either completely replacing the technology available to them at the office or to simply supplement it.  Benefits to such a switch can show an increase in the amount of work done by the employees due to both an increase in moral and an increase in working hours.  One study found that companies who in engage in a BYOD structured atmosphere can see as much as a 20% increase in the amount of time employees log each week.  Why is this exactly?  Well, reports from the study showed that employees with these devices were more apt to check work email after dinner or to and from work and those hours add up over the course of the week.

Aside from additional benefits of employee efficiency and hours logged, a BYOD philosophy also has the potential to save a startup or microbusiness a hefty amount of money in the technology department.  Electing to have employees complement their workload with help form their own devices can reduce the need to supply work phones, tablets or even laptops in some cases.

However, the trend is not without its propensities for missteps and faults.  Using a BYOD system in the workplace will increase the chances that a company’s sensitive data and information can be compromised via theft or lost devices.  To avoid this, invest in a sound antivirus system that is capable of giving up to the minute updates and valuable tools like remote data wipe capabilities.

Facts, numbers and statistics aside, all industry experts can agree on one thing.  The notion of BYOD is not going anywhere.  With new technologies being released every month and at increasingly lower prices, owning the latest tablet or smartphone will no longer be the anomaly but instead be the norm and employees will be bringing these devices into the workplace in even greater numbers.

 

About the author:

Kaito Mori is a father of three rambunctious children that are constantly testing his ability to keep their home computer safe and secure among the plethora of uses it is subjected to each day. When not being the raddest dad alive, Kaito also works with Trend Micro in an effort to keep other family’s online adventures as safe as his. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

{ 0 comments }

Top 5 Apps for Entrepreneurs On the Go

by admin on December 26, 2012

freshbook

We’re always on the go these days and it seems like things will never slow down. How’s a savvy professional supposed to manage it all? Well, we know your gadgets and these days there really is an app for just about everything. Lucky for us busy folks out there, there are several incredible apps to help us stay on top of our professionals lives. Check out my recommendations over on The Tech Peep Show.

{ 0 comments }

Work Smarter, Not Harder

by admin on December 20, 2012

Resolution - better time management (Photo credit: vpickering)

 

The main problem for many people is taking on too much work with not enough time to do it in. Most people believe the answer is working harder, but the true solution is, time-management. Using the time you have available more efficiently, you will eliminate stress and ultimately, get the job done. A lot of people don’t realise the benefit of being smarter and wiser with your time.

 

You do not need to work yourself into the ground to get the job done; here are 7 strategic steps to working smarter – not harder.

 

Plan
It may seem obvious but plan ahead. Write to-do lists of all outstanding work decide on how pressing the project is, be realistic, how much time do you have to complete the work?

 

Prioritize
Did you know 80% of your accomplishments come from 20% of your efforts? So think of it this way; what 20% of your work is most valuable to your business or employer? Focus all of your time and energy on the most essential demands and leave any problems until the end of the day.

 

Set deadlines
Deadlines in any capacity whether it’s an organization or a small company, helps you to focus on completing tasks. It may be tempting to drag your feet on certain tasks but by dividing the more daunting projects into smaller, more manageable pieces you can tackle one piece at a time, focusing on quality rather than trying to reach perfection.

 

Delegate
Don’t be afraid to pass on certain projects to your subordinates at work. An important part of working smarter is working as part of a team. This will not only lighten your work load it will ensure efficiency in the workplace.

 

Have Some Alone Time
Everyone needs some time throughout the day where they will not be disturbed. Do not allow yourself to be distracted, shut the door divert calls
to voicemail and get on with the most important things of the day, don’t allow yourself to get side tracked by trivial things that can wait until later. Schedule an hour or so days to return phone calls and/or emails and spend the rest of the day focusing on the most important tasks.

 

Socialize At Work
One of the most enjoyable aspects of working is socialising with your peers.It also allows you to stay in the loop and build and maintain positive
relationships with your co-workers. Team building exercises, incentives and special staff events can help to boost overall work performance.

 

Organize As You Go Along
Every email, memo or mail you get, check to see if it is important, if it’s not either pass it over to someone else to deal with or move to a separate folder for less important tasks.  If it is something that you really will not look at ever again, delete. Compartmentalize your day into urgent and
not so urgent categories will help you to have a far more productive day.

 

This post was written by Crispin Jones for Name Badges International (www.namebadgesinternational.co.uk/)– worldwide suppliers of prestige name badges for the work place.

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

{ 0 comments }

How to Develop a Strong Brand

by admin on December 18, 2012

Having a strong brand is essential if you want to secure the future of your business, especially in today’s competitive, globalized markets. The more well-known your business is, and the more positively it is perceived, the easier it will be for you to grow your business, acquire new customers, and negotiate good deals.  Developing a powerful brand is a long and difficult process, and it starts not with flyers and magazine advertisements, but with critical thinking and asking the right questions.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }

Running a Shop From Home

by admin on December 17, 2012

home office  (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

 

Running a shop from home is a good way to test out a business idea without taking major financial risks.  By operating from your home, you can keep your overheads to a minimum. If your idea is a failure, you won’t end up too badly out of pocket.  If your business succeeds, you can re-invest the profits and buy a proper business space to work out of.

 

Things to Consider Before Running a Home Based Business

 

If you want to run a shop from your home, you will need to speak to your landlord or mortgage provider first.  Some tenancy agreements and mortgages have clauses that forbid the property being used as a base of operations for a business. Usually, these clauses only object to businesses that involve members of the public visiting the property, so an online store would not be likely to be an issue.  You should always double check
the rules for your home, however.

 

You should also contact your insurance provider to make sure that your home office will be covered.  Some home contents insurance policies do cover business equipment, but some policies specifically exclude it, so you may need a separate policy for that equipment.

 

If you will need to make major alterations to your property or if the work that you will be doing is going to be noisy, smelly or produce a lot of waste, you should contact your local authority to let them know about your business plans. The last thing you want is to get your business up and running, and then be told to shut it down because your neighbors have complained.

 

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }