6 Essential Contacts that Every Business Needs

Posted by Rebol  /   March 03, 2014  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   Comments Off

Starting a business is an exciting venture. Once the idea is vetting, the funding is in place and customers are coming in, it can seem like you have everything you need under control. That is only partly true. While you have successfully kicked your business off, there are some maintenance aspects that have probably not been thought about.

Here are six essential contacts that every business needs to have to make sure things run smoothly:

Landscaper

Don’t under estimate the importance of your building’s appearance. The aesthetics of a place sets a customer at ease. You wouldn’t have trash lying in front of your entryway. The same mindset should apply to carefully sculpted landscaping. Your frontage doesn’t have to be an elaborate undertaking, but a manicured lawn, neat shrubbery, and a cohesive layout are essential to your curb appeal.

Printer

If you are in business, you need printed materials. Even with the advent of social media, there’s nothing like holding a marketing slick in hand to drive the focus of your product or service home. Making color copies and folding them yourself will not scale in the long run. Having a professional printer do this work for you produces a polished end product that you can be proud of.

Cleaning Company

No office can get by without this crucial contact. A cleaning company provides more than just bathroom services. They can care for the carpet and flooring, countertops, dusting, plant maintenance, and window care. Maintaining a pristine office environment and reception area is important to the way that visitors perceive your company. It legitimizes the business in the subtlest of ways and provides a healthy environment to your employees. Using a company that works with green products can also be a selling point in your marketing materials.

Accounting Services

The number crunchers are a necessity. Not everyone is well versed in tax law, how to maximize revenues, and proper allocations. But the good news is you aren’t expected to be. Hire an accounting firm to complete this work for you and take the stress of watching the numbers off your shoulders.

Catering Services

Food rules the day. Lunch and learn conferences, all day seminars, trainings, onsite customer meetings, late night round tables – these are all instances when food is necessary to keep people going. Instead of having everyone leave the building to find food and return at a certain time, a company can cater the event. This does several things at one time: shows the employees and clients they are valued, shows forethought, and keeps the agenda on track. Having a one-stop shop that offers a variety of meal selections is beneficial.

Solicitor

Having a lawyer on hand is essential to the success of any business. Along the same lines of the need for an accounting presence, a legal influence in the business allows you to delegate the responsibility of contract review and other legal matters to someone who knows it inside and out.

Running a business involves more than meets the eyes, but with planning and forethought, you can bring the right people to the table to meet every need.

IT Outsourcing: New Efficiencies and New Productivity

Posted by dawn  /   December 17, 2013  /   Posted in Technology  /   Comments Off

Programmer In Data Center Room by watcharakunNo one wants to have business activity bogged down by IT problems and reach a lull in productivity, but it’s a possibility if a company’s IT infrastructure stagnates and isn’t kept up to date. After all, what’s currently a cutting-edge innovation in a few years will inevitably become an antiquated time waster.

As technology changes, IT’s role is also changing, and your IT department should be keeping your company’s tech strategy streamlined with the latest developments. A growing number of companies, however, are outsourcing many of their IT tasks, such as storage and the automation of updates and backups, to a third-party provider in order to realize some new efficiencies. By doing do, they’re removing a variety of responsibilities off their to-do list and can better focus on company-focused goals. Here we’ll look at how to approach outsourcing some IT duties and offer some suggestions on which tasks can be relegated to a cloud hosting service.

Assessing your current position

The typical IT department is in charge of managing software, hardware and network maintenance. It’s also up to the IT department to control, organize and store information. All those responsibilities are easier said than done, and on top of all that, they’re also expected to make improvements when needed and fix problems when they occur. Keep all this in mind when reviewing your current IT processes to determine what your company can possibly outsource in order to maximize the skills and talent of your IT staff. Also consider that a cloud-based strategy has the ability to scale for future business growth and save you time and money in the process.

Outsourcing IT functions to the cloud

The IT evolution has changed how tech departments work and manage information. This evolution can prevent your IT department from being overwhelmed with all the updates and busywork associated with handling rudimentary tasks. Many businesses are using the cloud as a method of storing important documents that employees can access from any computer, as well as a method for hosting their network services. New efficiencies can be reached by outsourcing your company’s tech needs to an external team, such as a service provider that offers hosting packages for managed servers through a cloud-based system.

Automating basic IT tasks

Automation is the future for certain IT tasks and its use will continue to grow. Automated processes help companies save time and money by allowing the computer systems to back up and update themselves when needed. Also, automation tools can be in a variety of network environments such as public, private and hybrid clouds. An automated process will help keep your system up-to-date with the latest tools and capabilities, and reduce any problems associated with human error.

Taking advantage of the cloud’s benefits

Keeping up with business technology demands isn’t an easy process. With IT continually updating and changing, it’s a full-time job staying current with new developments, and outsourcing a portion of your company’s technology demands to a cloud provider will streamline your IT process. Cloud computing also offers many other benefits, including anywhere-access to resources, and the costs are based on usage levels in a pay-as-you-go format, reducing the worry about peak demands. By switching to cloud technologies, businesses can focus on what’s important and less on the technology required used to run it.

Image credit: watcharakun on Freedigitalphotos.net

5 Ways to Boost Your Business Image

Posted by dawn  /   December 03, 2013  /   Posted in Marketing  /   Comments Off

Businessman Walking On The Red Arrow Street To Success by ratch0013Your professional image is the view that your business projects about itself. It’s the reputation you develop among consumers based on how customers speak about your business, how you respond to questions and complaints, the quality of your products and the marketing strategies you utilize. The more flattering this image is, the more likely consumers will be to choose your business over your competitors. To boost your company’s professional image, consider these five tips.

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6 Tips to Make Every Bite of Your Website Work for You

Posted by Rebol  /   November 26, 2013  /   Posted in Conversions, Marketing  /   Comments Off

everybite

You have tons of hits every month, but your conversion rate, the number who stick around long enough to buy something, isn’t where it should be. You can randomly try to change things around and guess whether the improvement is from your change or from a random shift in search patterns, or you can use proven techniques to improve your rates. These tips will help you do so without a lot of guesswork:

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4 Ways to Attract Visitors to your Exhibition

Posted by Rebol  /   November 19, 2013  /   Posted in Technology  /   Comments Off

Best of Events 2011Promoting your goods or services by means of showing at in-person exhibitions or trade shows is one of the best ways to create brand awareness while also reaching your targeted audience. Exhibiting can allow you to generate leads, secure sales and build relationships. However, it is simply not enough to show at an exhibition, you have to actually attract and entice the attendees once you set up shop or your efforts will be wasted. While the exhibition site serves as a valuable portal for you to reach the masses, it is up to you as the business owner and representative to invite visitors to your stand and engage with them so they see value in what your company is offering.

4 Ways to Attract Visitors to your Exhibition:

  1. Create an appealing stand: For the duration of the trade show, that little stand in the exhibition centre is your storefront, so your task is to create a booth so appealing that it demands attention. Your booth should be outfitted with custom exhibition stands that convey relevant insights about your company and its services. The lighting should be uniformed, your products should be organized beautifully, the colours you choose should be exciting and the visitor navigation should flow easily.
  2. Choose your best representatives: There is no room for wallflowers when it comes to attracting visitors to your exhibition, so choose team members with a knack for naturally engaging. Your representatives should approach passer-by’s in a friendly manner and invite them to visit your stand to learn more about your company. Representatives can “hook” attendees with samples and product demonstrations.
  3. Offer a Hot Beverage: Once you have attracted the attention of the walkers, hot beverageyour new task is to engage with them long enough for them to take a positive action. Offering a hot beverage such as tea or coffee will keep them at your stand longer. While they are sipping on their delicious cup of joe, you can begin building a friendly relationship while promoting your brand.
  4. Use technology: Using informative video demonstrations is a great way to stimulate, inform and engage with your audience. Also, it is a good idea to invest in iPads now that technology is at the forefront of communication. People are more inclined to engage with an iPad over a standard paper and pen, so have your representatives ask your booth visitors to leave their contact information on your tablet.

It can take a lot of time, money and energy to promote your company at an exhibition, there are huge potentials for rewards as well as for failures. You want to make sure that you get the return on your investment, so it is important to research well before you secure your spot at any exhibition site. The show you choose should be relevant to your brand and it should be popular with the potential of reaching large volume of people. Once the show starts, it is up to you and your team to constantly promote, inform, engage and attract. It is also a good idea to give out promotional freebies such as branded decals, magnets, pens or key chains. You want your promotional items to be useful and appealing while also including contact information such as your company’s web address or phone number.

5 Steps To A More Successful Blog

Posted by Rebol  /   November 19, 2013  /   Posted in Marketing  /   Comments Off

More Successful Blog

Blogging is hard work. If you’re starting fresh and trying to get a new blog off the ground, you’ll find it a challenge to gain the exposure you need. On the other hand, established blogs may have trouble growing and expanding into new areas. How do you encourage the success of your blog? Here are five steps you can take to boost readership and encourage sharing.

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Speed up your Business with these Simple Changes

Posted by Rebol  /   November 04, 2013  /   Posted in Technology  /   Comments Off

Is your business not running the way it used to? Are your processes slowing everything down? If so, then you need to be thinking about introducing some new speedy changes to your business.

Start by looking at the performance of your staff; are they slowing you down or is the equipment slowing them down? You can check this by making sure your staff members are filling in a Key Performance Indicator (KPI); this will allow you to see where the problems lie. If employees are not completing as much work as they should, then you need to ask them why. Is it because of the equipment they are using or is it because they do not understand the work? If it’s the latter, then you simply need to provide a more in depth brief about what the task entails and when it needs to be complete; you should also be available for your staff to ask you questions about the work. This is one simple way to improve the efficiency of your business.origin_2462966749

If the equipment your staff members are using prove to be the problem, then you will need to be thinking about introducing some new speedy pieces of technology. Here are a few things you can consider to create better processes for your business:

-          New internet provider – if your processes are being slowed down by slow internet, then it’s about time you switch to a new provider. You should be looking for fast broadband, along with a good deal from the provider. Time is going to be wasted if there is constant waiting for web pages to load, so upgrade to a faster broadband package for your business.

-          Find a super fast printer – if waiting time for your documents to print, scan or fax is increasing then you are undoubtedly wasting time. You might even be late to meetings while you’re waiting for your important documents to print, so it’s time you find a printer that will print in no time at all. Take a look at DNSLimited.co.uk to find the printer that’s going to save you time.

-          Set up alerts for due dates and priorities – all members of staff should have a tool they can use to ensure they are meeting all due dates and are organising their priorities. Google Alerts can help you get your employees prepared and organised for everything they need to do. This means no confusion and no wasted time!

-           Have great Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system– if you have everything you need to know about your customers in one place, this will save you trying to locate their file in a filing cabinet or under the pile of papers on your desk. If you keep everything organised, then you will have a noticeable amount of time left in your day.

Stop wasting time with bad broadband, slow printers and unorganised files. Speed up your business processes with these simple changes that your staff will appreciate. Bad internet connections and unnecessarily time consuming jobs will surely anger anyone; so keep your staff happy and your business flowing smoothly!

An Introduction to .NET Framework

Posted by dawn  /   October 31, 2013  /   Posted in Web development  /   Comments Off

Depending on how prepared businesses are to use a .NET Framework, it can be a brilliant strategy or a major pain. Microsoft first introduced .NET in 2003 as a programming model to help developers build Windows-based applications quickly and easily. However, end users may feel the pain if they attempt to employ those applications while lacking the compatible or most recent version of the .NET Framework, or all their Windows updates, in place. Companies can also feel the pain if they aren’t careful about which .NET Framework platform they choose. .NET Framework 4.5 debuted in 2012.

Benefits of the .NET framework

Despite its faults, .NET Framework can be useful for companies that don’t have the resources or time to create applications from scratch. Companies have been hopping on the .NET Framework bandwagon for business development projects and business solutions, and developers are following suit. Companies are migrating to .NET Framework from WordPress, Drupal and Joomla for their content management while developers are making the shift to .NET Framework from php, java and other languages.

One of the main draws is the final product, with apps created on .NET Framework requiring less time, labor and other resources while still producing dynamic, high-end results. .NET can be useful for any apps meant to employ the latest technologies, along with Web forms and other Web communications that would benefit from SEO and must meet compliance standards.

Startups with limited budgets may enjoy a substantial ROI with .NET, provided they stick with ASP.NET MVC, which is one of the two camps into which .NET Framework development is divided. Unlike the WebForms option that makes up the other camp, .NET MVC embraces rather than struggles against how the Web works. It also has a keen focus on the art of writing code, which makes a good fit for those familiar with open source projects.

Larger corporations, by contrast, generally favor WebForms. It’s known for its lengthy, confusing code and low levels of productivity. The .NET Framework platform of Azure can be equally as tedious, despite Microsoft’s promotion of it as an ideal base for startups.

What businesses need to implement .NET framework

Companies need to prepare before implementing .NET Framework with several actions, the first of which is ensuring the developers they intend to hire can effectively work with it. The ideal developer will be familiar with code-writing basics, a .Net-compatible programming language and an enhanced knowledge base that can be used to produce the desired apps.

On the system requirements end of things, companies must be running on a supported operating system with the proper hardware requirements. Windows Vista and later support .NET Framework, some with required service packs. Hardware requirements include a processor of at least 1 GHz, at least 512 MB of RAM, at least 850 MB of available hard disk space and a 2 GB hard drive. Rather than hosting a .Net development platform in-house, you can outsource it to a .Net hosting provider, allowing your team to focus on creating software instead of managing a server.

Arming a business with .NET Framework can give startups the competitive edge they need to maintain pace with the big boys. Even outshining larger corporations is possible, provided a company has the proper requirements in place and a knowledgeable developer at the ready.

Image credit: hyena reality on Freedigitalphotos.net

 

How To Improve Office Security

Posted by Rebol  /   September 30, 2013  /   Posted in Technology  /   Comments Off

Running your own business is no easy task and making sure what you have worked hard to have is safe is especially important. When you’re both inside and outside the office, you want to have the piece of mind that everything is secure.

Security doesn’t have to be a difficult task, and by following a few easy hints and tips you can make sure that you don’t have to worry about any disasters.

Install CCTV

CCTV can make the difference between being able to identify where and how something has gone wrong. If something gets stolen whether it be during work hours or because of a break in, having video footage will make it much more likely that the person who did it is accosted.

If you have the unfortunate task of going to court due to a thief, chances of a prosecution and compensation on your behalf are much more likely to turn out in your favor. An obvious CCTV presence will also act as a deterrent for any would be criminals who may be casing your office for a burglary, for example. Office security systems are a wise investment.

Make sure important files are not visible

If you handle important documents, including legal files or anything that contains client’s personal details, you don’t want to simply file them away in an unlocked drawer. Make sure that you know where they all are and that they are kept in a secure environment that only trusted people have access to.

Where possible, try and be the only person responsible for these. This way it will be easy to rule out any potential staff that may have misplaced, or worse, have stolen documents.

Use very secure passwords on computers

Your password might seem secure to you, but there any many ways that unscrupulous hackers can guess your password.

By running software that blitz’s through potential passwords that are commonly used as well as generic words, hackers can gain access to your accounts without any real intel. For this reason you should always make sure passwords contain a capital letter, a number and a special character. Ensure the remaining word isn’t obvious either. Eg. Password 123 = unsecure. acTion2013* = secure. Microsoft advises that you change your password every 90 days.

Make sure you have decent locks

Many old buildings still have original locks which can be a problem as some are a lot less secure than others. Even newer locks can fail if you aren’t using the right types for the kind of doors you have.

Getting advice from a locksmith can be a good move to find out if you’re using the right locks, and what you can do to make your office more secure. After all, a little investment into locks will be a lot cheaper than dealing with the initial loss of property and time lost solving the problem if someone breaks in.

Software

The software that your business is built upon needs be secure and powerful, enterprise level. Don’t settle for second best, use industry leading software that is tried and tested. For example if you’re operating in big industries such Finance or Manufacturing where you deal with big data you need to look at something like the Unscrambler by Camo.

It’s the same with things like anti-virus for your computer, don’t just go with regular Norton, go with their upgraded version, Symantec Corporate that’s designed to deal with large infrastructure.

Install a burglar alarm

Many people think that alarms aren’t as effective as is made out. This isn’t the case and it’s been proven time and time again that they can act as deterrents to crime altogether. Often the appearance of an alarm system will be enough to stop a burglar choosing your building as a target.

All of these tips will help you ensure that your office is a safe and secure place to leave at the end of the day as well as work in.

10 Tips to Help You Take Awesome Photos

Posted by Rebol  /   September 27, 2013  /   Posted in Technology  /   Comments Off

Taking a good photo can sometimes be down to pot luck. These days we endlessly snap away with our digital cameras, it’s not unusual to take hundreds of photos in one day. But taking a great shot doesn’t have to be down to luck. These 10 tips will help you to take better photos more consistently.

street

1) Look at your camera’s settings

It might seem obvious, but understanding your camera’s settings is vital. whether it appears to be a simple compact camera or a more advanced DSLR, you’ll need to know how to get the camera to perform at its best in a situation. Simply sticking to auto mode all the time isn’t likely to get you the best results.

Read the manual that came  with your camera – so often these days we start using technology without fully understanding how it works. Learning how to use different modes and settings is integral to taking an awesome photo.

2) Consider lighting

In relation to the settings on your camera, you’ll need to consider the level and type of lighting before pressing the shutter. White balance can be adjusted to compensate for particular types of lighting, such as bright sunlight, fluorescent or shade. If you’re looking to up your game, you might even want to implement a lighting setup. Studio lights such as soft boxes aren’t too expensive, as you can see here. There are also numerous lighting guides online such as this 3-point-lighting guide.

3) Compose

composition

There are so-called rules to photographic competition. The ‘Rule of Thirds’ is a well known technique, whereby a 3 by 3 grid can be imagined over the photograph. Any subjects or focal points on the image are placed on the points where the lines cross.  There are other general rules to composition too, that can help your photos look well.

4) Angle (portraiture)

When taking your photo don’t think about just taking a photo from where line of view is. Thin outside the box! Angle can also be important in portraiture to make your subject look their best.

5) Kit (tripod / filter / lens)

tripod

Add to your photography kit. Tripods are helpful in many circumstances – landscape, portraiture, night photos. If you’ve got a DSLR you could also invest in some lens filters or hoods. These can help correct lighting and colours in your images and protect your lens.

6) Edit

You don’t have to fork out a lot to edit your photos. www.iPiccy.com is a great free tool if you’re not wanting to fork out on Photoshop. If you’re taking a great photo in the first place, though, you shouldn’t need to edit them drastically.

7) Always have you camera to hand

If you don’t have a camera to hand – how can you take a brilliant photo?!

8) Consider the photos you like

What photographers do you admire? What kinds of photos do you like? Take inspiration from them and apply them to your own photos.

9) Get a better camera

nikon

Sometimes taking a great photos can be difficult to do without a camera with decent specifications. It doesn’t mean you have to buy a DSLR, but maybe upgrade to a better compact camera. Not only will you improve the look of  your photos, you could also go on to use these shots for awesome prints. If you’ve got a camera with enough megapixels you can produce a A1 or even A0 sized poster without any detriment to quality through printing companies such as this one here.

10) Rules: made to be broken?

Even though there are valued rules amongst photographers such as composition, don’t feel as if you have to adhere to these. you might still find them helpful, but some of the best photos break these kinds or rules.

To get the best photos, you don’t necessarily have to stick to popular photography techniques. To start with, they might prove helpful though. Taking inspiration from photos or photographers you admire is a great way to create photos that you’ll deem fantastic yourself! If you also take time to learn about your camera and how to get the most out of it, you’ll see that your images will improve too. Finally, creating a great photo doesn’t mean having a top-notch camera, but investing in equipment is smart if you want to make some great prints or take your hobby further.

 

Image credits: Neil Kremer, Michael Hernandez, Zsolt Halasi, Sean McGrath.