These tech tips will boost your efficiency

July 24th, 2014

It’s not easy running a successful small business these days. You face larger competitors and a still-struggling economy that makes your customers think twice before spending some of their hard-earned dollars. But you can gain an advantage on your competition by using technology more efficiently. As the TechnologySchools.org Web site says, if you use tech more proficiently, you and your employees are more productive. And the site provides three excellent tips for accomplishing this.

Password power

Hackers can ruin your small business. The proper passwords, though, can keep these cyber criminals at bay. TechnologySchools.org recommends that you create passwords that are at least eight characters in length. The site adds that you should include symbols, numbers and both upper- and lowercase letters in your passwords. And, needless to say, don’t use passes such as “password” or “1234.”

Keep your passwords out of harm’s way

Of course, creating the right passwords is only one step. TechnologySchools recommends, also, that you keep your passwords safe. Don’t, for example, write your passwords on a single slip of paper that you keep in your wallet. What if you lose that paper? Can you imagine if someone nabs it? The best choice is to use a password-storage service such as LastPass or Dashlane to manage your log-ins and passwords.

A speedier machine

You won’t be nearly as productive with a slower computer. Fortunately, TechnologySchools provides plenty of advice for speeding up even older machines. Each month you should delete programs that you don’t use, drop old files, defragment the hard drive and perform a registry scan to identify damaged or corrupted files you can then delete.

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The confusing world of project-management software

July 22nd, 2014

Project-management software can really help your teams stay on task. With this tool, you can clearly organize tasks specific to each team member. And once team members complete their tasks, they’re able to quickly check it off your to-do list. But there are a ton of project-management tools around. How can you determine which one suits your company?

Research

Fortunately, PCMag.com has done the research for you. A recent review of project-management tool Asana features a helpful matrix comparing Asana to its competitors. The matrix lists the advantages and disadvantages with each tool.

Asana

The chart is available in a review by Jill Duffy, of the Web-based Asana program . But business owners can use the story to find out not only about Asana — which PCMag loves — but about its many competitors, too.

The right tool

Finding the appropriate project-management tool, of course, is important. Here’s the truth about project-management software: Some of these tools do far too much and offer features that you’ll never use. There’s no need to pay for features that your business will never use. So do your research and discover the project-management tool that works best for your small business.

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These IT projects will boost your business in 2013

July 17th, 2014

You want your small business to grow in 2013. You have dreams of reaching new revenue records and adding to your staff. You would perhaps love to add new locations. So how do you achieve this growth? You might consider looking at IT. Tackling the right tech projects could make your small business more efficient and provide your staff with the tools they need to snag more clients and sell more products. Here are three IT projects recommended by the Small Business Computing.com website that could increase your business’ bottom line this year.

OnsiteWi-Fi

Maybe you allow your employees to use their own tablets or laptops at the office. This doesn’t mean very much if your office doesn’t have a Wi-Fi network. Small Business Computing.com points out that Wi-Fi networks today serve a multitude of devices, everything from tablets and smartphones to laptops, printers and cameras. If you want your employees to be as effective as possible, whether they are exploring new business opportunities or sending proposals to potential customers, you must give them access to a reliable Wi-Fi network. This can be a task, of course, that is perfect for your business’ IT department.

Ultrabooks

Your employees can do more when they can tote laptops to meetings with customers. Traditional laptops, though, are too clunky. And small Netbooks are often too slow and limited. Ultrabooks, though, are a different story. These laptops are both small and light enough to be portable, and powerful enough to enable staff members to demonstrate multimedia demonstrations and reports to prospective customers. A good way to make your business grow is to give your employees more options for snagging new customers. Ultrabooks are one of these options.

Wipe out Windows XP

Do you still have computers that run the Windows XP ? That’s a mistake. As Small Business Computing.com highlights, Microsoft will no longer provide technical support for this operating system as of early April 2014. The company will no longer distribute regular security updates for the system as of this time. Running Windows XP, then, means that not only will your staff be working on a decade-old operating system, but their computers may also be highly susceptible to virus attacks. Make the smart move and upgrade to a more current Windows operating system.

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How to Use Vine in Your Small Business Marketing

July 15th, 2014

How to Use Vine in Your Small Business Marketing

Ever thought about using Vine for brief, sharable videos for your business? If you haven’t, you should. Creating these videos is most likely already within both your skill set and technology, as many are simply just using their smartphones and publishing these by the boatload.

Why is everyone so all aTwitter about Vine?

So, in case you’ve not yet delved into what exactly Vine is and what it can do on your behalf, here’s the short version: Vine is a video sharing platform on Twitter that permits you to create and upload 6-second videos to Twitter. So what good is a 6-second video, you ask? Well, a lot of good! Check out how a few companies are using Vine videos to further their brand, promote their goods, and otherwise promote their business: RedVines, Urban Outfitters and Nintendo.

These companies found a way for videos to help further their brand, advertise their products and services, and promote their businesses in different ways. They already know this service, which is trending incredibly hot right now, can do for them. One of the main attractions of a service like Vine is the fact that getting your content in front of people is getting harder and harder as people are less willing to take the time to read. Consumers are less eager to read, so a 6-second video is exactly what the doctor ordered, and you’d be amazed at some of the ways people are using Vine. As reported by Biznology.com, businesses are making use of them to introduce new employees, announce events, give an insider’s look into the business, and even creating short commercials to demonstrate their latest product or service.

Publiseek.com offers more innovative options to use Vine. Some of these include:

  • Recording customer testimonials
  • Recording short introductions from the company principals
  • Real estate professionals are finding Vine useful to present virtual tours of new listings
  • Restaurants are eating this up! Sending out daily specials and menus
  • Decorators and designers are utilizing Vine to show off before and after pics

The possibilities are virtually endless, and this is something that can be performed very quickly and make a difference in as little as a day. Check out Vine today!

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Why monitoring employees is so contentious

July 10th, 2014

Want to become a more productive employee? It’s time for a nap. Of course, have it approved by your boss first; you don’t want to unexpectedly become unemployed after getting some shuteye. But Lifehacker writer Melanie Pinola in a recent feature story took a look at the productivity benefits associated with work-time napping. You might be amazed at how a quick nap can boost your energy and brainpower.

A Short One

A power nap of 10 to 20 minutes can supply you with a boost in alertness and energy, Pinola writes. And because this is a lighter nap, you are able to more readily jump back into action once this snooze is over.

Not Short Enough, Not Long Enough

On the other hand, a 30-minute nap could cause more bad than good. That’s mainly because you’ll wake up from a nap of this length still groggy. You’ll fight to focus. And the sluggishness could last for another 30 minutes.

The Best Choice?

Instead of taking an hour for lunch, maybe you should take a 60-minute nap break. Pinola writes that a nap of this length leaves you feeling refreshed and energized. You’ll also find it easier to remember facts and names. The problem? Getting your boss to agree that you really need that 60-minute power nap.

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Why power naps can make you a more productive employee

July 8th, 2014

Want to become a more productive employee? It’s time for a nap. Of course, have it approved by your boss first; you don’t want to unexpectedly become unemployed after getting some shuteye. But Lifehacker writer Melanie Pinola in a recent feature story took a look at the productivity benefits associated with work-time napping. You might be amazed at how a quick nap can boost your energy and brainpower.

A Short One

A power nap of 10 to 20 minutes can supply you with a boost in alertness and energy, Pinola writes. And because this is a lighter nap, you are able to more readily jump back into action once this snooze is over.

Not Short Enough, Not Long Enough

On the other hand, a 30-minute nap could cause more bad than good. That’s mainly because you’ll wake up from a nap of this length still groggy. You’ll fight to focus. And the sluggishness could last for another 30 minutes.

The Best Choice?

Instead of taking an hour for lunch, maybe you should take a 60-minute nap break. Pinola writes that a nap of this length leaves you feeling refreshed and energized. You’ll also find it easier to remember facts and names. The problem? Getting your boss to agree that you really need that 60-minute power nap.

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How to use infographics in your business

July 3rd, 2014

Using infographics in your business yet?

So why use infographics? Infographics have taken our world by storm, as we are increasingly more inclined to process data visually than through the written word. Neuroscience explains why: according to research from 3M (maker of Post-its, among other things), 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text! So some smart person somewhere invented infographics (probably Al Gore) to help us tell our stories. Now, smart businesses are utilizing these visually pleasing, data-rich illustrations to educate and engage new customers. Here’s a fantastic example of how one online marketer is employing infographics to build his business.

There are a number of great reasons why you should consider using infographics in your business. Here’s a handful:

  • They are easily scanned and can be visually impressive, aspects that grab the attention of web browsers today
  • They are excellent vehicles for offering facts easily and in a neat, focused fashion.
  • They help establish you as an authority on the topic
  • One of the best benefits of using infographics is they can go viral, which can often bring about large traffic spikes and search engine benefits
  • As images, they can be easily shared, which offers a number of benefits (as stated by research conducted by social media expert Dan Zarrella, images get more shares and likes on Facebook than any other post type—even video)

And as an example of some of the power of infographics, what better way than—you guessed it—check out this infographic from WebmarketingGroup.co.uk.

How to make your own infographics

Want to generate your own infographic for your small business? There are a growing number of sites and tools coming around now that make it easier to jump in and fashion stunning infographics. At the most basic level you can create them in PowerPoint, which is easier than you may think. If you’re seeking a bit more advanced or polished option, you should look into a tool like Visual.ly, where you can modify existing templates to your needs, or possibly, use a service like PiktoChart or Infogram.

What if you can’t design a whit?

Outsource it! We often don’t have the time, inclination or skills to get this type of work done, particularly if you’ve never done any work with images before. No worries, as there are great designers out there just dying to create your infographics. A few of the places that can assist you in this regard, and usually for a reasonable fee, include 99Designs, Elance, Odesk, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com. You should definitely see samples, set parameters and expectations, and are able to communicate your vision clearly with your outsourcer, so there are no surprises!

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Video games can make your brain younger?

July 1st, 2014

Maybe all of those youngsters are right: Video games aren’t so detrimental, after all. The New York Times recently reported on new research showing that old-style video games might actually help old brains act younger. It’s compelling evidence for all those who’ve long suggested that video games can make us smarter.

Benefits

According to the story, a fairly easy video game requiring players to swerve around cars and pick out road signs can increase the short-term memory and long-term focus of older adults. Amazingly, the story says, some players as old as 80 began showing the same neurological patters of people in their 20s.

Transferred

Researchers found, too, that these features continued after older adults shut off the video games. Which means that older adults again exhibited the neurological patterns of much younger adults when undertaking their everyday tasks.

Space Invaders for life?

So, it could be time for our older readers to break out their long-abandoned copies of Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Something helps build a younger brain needs to be embraced. And if it takes a few hours of shooting down aliens or gobbling dots to get it done? That’s better still.

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Webinar systems too pricey? Google Hangouts Could Be the Answer!

June 26th, 2014

Google Hangouts – The Best Free Webinar Tool Out There!

Google is known for coming up with new programs and then getting rid of them if they don’t work out. Anyone recall Google Wave, Google Buzz and now Google Reader? While many have predicted much the same fate for Google , an addition to this may save the day. Google Hangouts is Google’s latest addition, and one that truly has lots of usefulness. (Particularly for marketers!)

Google Hangouts – So what is it exactly?

A super easy tool for teleconferencing that can replace or augment your current webinar or online seminar solutions. Connected to your Google account, a hangout is a snap to launch, and it has several attractive features for marketers. You and up to ten other participants, along with any number of other viewers can see your hangout live. It can be broadcast from your Google page, YouTube channel, or a page on your site. Google records the Hangout, and then a few minutes after you’re done, sends a YouTube URL to you, which you are able to then use in many ways.

How to utilize Google Hangouts in your marketing

Here are 10 effective ways to use Google Hangouts in your marketing.

  • Webinars - Sick of expensive GoToWebinar fees? Now you have a free alternative!
  • Conferences - Simple to setup teleconferencing makes a Hangout a no-brainer for sharing a conference experience.
  • Meetings - Hold meetings for clients, customer, prospect or affiliates on an informal, yet immediate platform.
  • Product Launches - A creative way to create positive buzz on launch day. (Or before!)
  • Interviews - Interviewing people made easy with Hangouts! Recorded, and transcribed.
  • Product Demos - Show people what you’ve got, live and in person!
  • Virtual Press Conferences - Help make your press releases go viral!
  • Live Streaming Events - Many marketers now use Google Hangouts as their own live TV station, broadcasting weekly shows.
  • Q & A with Customers - Learn what your customers want and need easily. Great trust builder!
  • Podcast from your Hangout - Making a Podcast to share through iTunes is yet another way to share your content.

Google Hangouts is a terrific new tool to include in your marketing mix. Don’t miss your chance to connect with your customers in a meaningful way.

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What the Real Deal About Google+?

June 24th, 2014

What the Real Deal About Google+?

So, have you signed into your Google+ account today, or updated your business page lately? Quite possibly not, and while it’s a rather common scenario playing out across the Web, as Google+ struggles to find its audience and usefulness. Lots of people are still divided, and the jury is still definitely out as to whether Google+ is now or ever can be a practical tool for business.

Why we feel it’s worthwhile now and in the future!

One startling fact that really doesn’t ring true (yet) is that Google+ has become larger in terms of reach than Twitter. This is certainly because of the proliferation of Gmail and the convenience of having Google’s entire suite of web services at your fingertips. Since Google Plus Local Listings already incorporate such small business services as Zagat, StreetView and Google+ User ratings, it has essentially replaced Yelp.

The growth of Google Hangouts, for instance, has a direct effect on where Google+ is headed as well. The cabability to use a Hangout, as an alternative to say Skype, to do any sort of video conferencing, is a tremendous advantage. While it’s true that in its beginnings Hangouts is a bit clunky and difficult to grasp, once you do, it’s miles ahead of the competition. Merely the ability to have your Hangout automatically recorded and uploaded to YouTube is sufficient to swing the scales in its favor.

So what are some ways businesses are using Google+?

There are a number of uses of Google+ in your small business. Here is just a few:

  • Building networks with Google+ Circles
  • Use #hashtags to help posts appear in Google search
  • Be sure and Link Google+ to your blog or site, and obtain the Google Authorship benefit in the search pages
  • Do live video chat with Google Hangouts
  • Use tags to reach out to people directly

To check out a wonderfully comprehensive compilation of strategies and infographic for Google+, see this informative article on Copyblogger. Google+ may not feel like it’s worth the effort just yet, but we feel as though it is both in the present and long run!

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