Small Business Technology Resources

Small Business Technology Strategies

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Your Backup Plan can Make or Break your Business

Could your business survive if you lost access to your data for a week?

In today’s information economy, businesses thrive on the intellectual property they produce. This is a fancy way to say that your data (Word docs, spreadsheets, databases, customer lists, etc.) is the heart and soul of your business. The problem: Most organizations never slow down long enough to make sure that they are properly protecting their intellectual property – the livelihood of businesses – until something goes wrong.
 

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Tips for Keeping Healthy at Work

Most people wake up, shower, brush their teeth, hopefully down something semi-resembling a “healthy breakfast” and rush out the door for work. For the most part, we like to believe that we’re making our best effort to take care of ourselves. What if I were to tell you there were many harmful things you may be overlooking everyday? At Sage Information Systems, we recently began a Wellness Program to work on our making our workdays healthier. Read on to learn about hidden dangers in the workplace; discover what measures you can take to better protect yourself from these health hazards.
 

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A Crash Course to Google AdWords

What exactly are Google AdWords? Should my company be taking advantage of this advertising channel? How do I get involved? If you are wondering about the answers to any or all of these questions, please read on. Google AdWords is the pay per click advertising service provided by Google. This tool offers advertisers the option of posting their ads on various partner and associated websites linked through Google’s AdSense campaign.
 

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What is SEO and Why Should You Care?

It’s safe to assume that everyone reading this article has made a considerable investment in moving their company’s presence onto the internet. Some of you have had amazing results doing so, while others are probably a bit frustrated that you haven’t seen any real impact on your business at all. So what gives; why are some businesses much more effective on the web than others?
 

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2008 SMB Technology Best Bets

Thoughts for small business success in the new year

If you have any time to spare over the holidays, I urge you to spend a few minutes looking into these seven technology tools – they are my favorites. Each of these tools has the ability to dramatically improve your business, and all are affordable. My bet is that you can find one to use at your business to ensure that 2008 is your best year yet.
 

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What is Virtualization?

In the early 90’s, virtualization emerged as a term known only to the most advanced tech professionals. Virtualization has been gaining popularity, recently becoming an everyday buzzword to even the “not-so-tech-savvy” - namely you and me. I must admit I have heard the term on more than one occasion and was unclear of its meaning until conducting research for this article. Although this piece will only scratch the surface on this complex subject, it’s a good introduction to a topic that will most likely be resurfacing in your future conversations.
 

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Myth: Can dust bunnies take down your company's network?

5 Tips for Protecting the Physical Well-Being of Your Technology

It's overlooking the small things that will get you in the end. Car maintenance, teeth cleanings, and watering the plants all fall into this bucket; so does technology. With so much emphasis placed on internal maintenance efforts, (e.g. installing spyware hardware, etc.,) considering the physical state of technology often gets overlooked. Neglecting this could cause your internal maintenance efforts to be in vain as time presses on. A periodic evaluation of your equipment's external conditions may save you time and money; rescuing you from enduring frustrations down the road. Remember, when it comes to technology disasters, a seemingly innocent dust-bunny can wreak as much havoc as a malicious virus. Find out why:
 

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Whose Team Is Your Technology Playing On?

A 5 Part Plan for Guaranteed Small Business Technology Success

Without access to the internet and computers, most of the business world might as well begin and end its day on its morning cup of coffee. These tools are vital to the success of your company's operation; you cannot afford to have them becoming a burden. Although technology has many business benefits, when mismanaged, it can actually become your worst enemy. On the whole, businesses herald technology as a best friend, but beware, the line between friend and foe is thin. Learn why one of the most important tools your business has may actually be holding you back.
 

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How Does Your Business Compare?

A 9 Point Small Business Technology Checklist

“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don't think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other”. Bill Gates

For most small businesses, Bill Gates’ observation could not be truer. Technology is becoming, if not already, a vital contributor to the overall success of small businesses worldwide. The secret, I’m sorry to say does not necessarily lie with some sexy ultra-cool modern technology, rather in the approach beginning with the fundamentals of a sound network infrastructure. I know that the words “sound network infrastructure” might elicit as much excitement as watching paint dry and I might have even lost half my readers; but here me out. If technology plays a role in your success as a business then know this: Most successful small businesses score 100% on the 9 point small business technology checklist. How does your business compare?
 

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Your Lawyer is Mowing Your Lawn?

9 Signs Your Business Needs Technology Help

While the notion of your lawyer mowing your lawn seems absurd, many small businesses are doing the equivalent when it comes to managing their own technology. Suffice to say, a lawyer's talents are best suited to practicing law, not caring for lawns. When it comes to mowing my lawn, I personally prefer professional lawn care to the $500/hour lawyer. Would you consult your CEO, President, CFO, or Vice President when your computer is running slow or your VPN doesn't work? Sounds just as crazy as having your lawyer mow your lawn doesn’t it? Truth be told, hundreds if not thousands of small businesses are doing just that and more when it comes to managing their technology. Here are 9 not-so subtle signs that your business needs technology help:
 

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This Isn't Your Parents' Small Business

The 5 Critical IT Needs Of Today's Small Business

Without question, technology is transforming today's small business landscape; it vaguely resembles the small businesses our parents once knew. Websites, computers, and email have replaced the need for storefronts, cash registers, and memos. Advances in technology bring with them efficiencies, increased productivity, and greater access to wider audiences, but they also add a complicated layer of new questions for the small business owner. What follows is a simple step-by-step guide for thinking through the critical technology needs of small businesses.
 

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Technology and Your Small Business: A Match Made in Heaven

5 Things You Should Know

Have you ever seen a dog running down the street chasing a car? Most of the time, it’s an exercise in futility; 2000 pounds of steel and 300 horsepower are no match for Buster. Does Buster ever stop and consider what he would do with the car if it actually stopped? In the same way that Buster chases cars, many small businesses chase the newest and greatest technology. Most businesses, however, do not stop to consider next steps if given the budget or approval to actually purchase technology for their business. What follows are 5 things to consider when purchasing new technology for your small business.
 

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Trends in Small Business Technology

7 Hot Technology Trends Small And Medium Size Businesses Are Using To Get Ahead Of The Competition
Don't Get Left Behind

The latest advances in technology are allowing small and medium size businesses (SMBs) to do more with less in quicker time. By taking advantage of tools traditionally found at larger companies, small businesses everywhere have been building prosperous companies using more affordable and accessible technology; there’s no end in sight to the vigorous growth of the small and medium size business marketplace. Small businesses are reaching more potential customers and developing deeper relationships with their existing clients while increasing employee productivity and efficiency. Don’t get left behind. Here are 7 hot technology trends to consider for your small business to keep you at the head of the pack.
 

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Technology for Entrepreneurs & Startups

Entrepreneur's Guide to Simple and Inexpensive Technology Services
ASP's, Saas, and MSP's Revealed

Don’t worry small businesses, there’s certainly something to smile about as more and more companies, sometimes called ASPs, MSPs, or SaaS, are offering not only inexpensive technologies and services, but technologies that are sometimes free. With the help of Taran Lent, VP of Product Development for www.card-smith.com and seasoned entrepreneur, we have compiled a short list of easy to use and inexpensive technology solutions. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or at an established business you’re sure to find something new that you just might use.
 

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The Paperless Office

Paperless Office - Pipe Dream?
5 Tips to Start Saving Money and Resources

The concept of the paperless office is a great theory, but perfection is very difficult to achieve. High initial costs and complicated operational and process changes makes going paperless seem ridiculously unattainable. But hey, not everybody can be perfect. Instead of the paperless office, I would like to suggest the semi-paperless office. The semi-paperless office is a more realistic aspiration and is easy to implement in any business. Everyday I’d bet your company receives, prints, and sends out more paper than necessary. By converting some of this to an electronic format, you can reap the benefits of the paperless office—cost savings, better organization, and more productivity—without actually going paperless.
 

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Small Business IT Management & IT Outsourcing

Putting Small Business on the Map

It may not have occurred to you to notice that recently all of the news about outsourcing has a very negative connotation. While one who proposes such a position faces ridicule, not all outsourcing is bad, particularly in the small and medium-size business (SMB) space, where it has some very real benefits.

 

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Office Move Technology Tips

Moving your office? 5 tips for staying productive

Even if you are only moving to another floor in your building, the thought of relocating probably sounds about as appealing as going totally without carbs for a week. After all, moving your business or home is the single-most stressful life event, according to a 2000 survey by the British health and disability insurance company Unum Ltd. Add to that the prospect of losing valuable work time, and you can understand why small-business owners try to get out of town when the business remodels, relocates or redecorates. But how do you keep your business productive even when your office is in pieces?
 

Small Business Mobile Networking & Communications

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Google is growing

Google is always looking for new ways to build on their services. Recently, they have expanded their Google Apps capabilities; many people in the business world are taking advantage of their new applications.
 

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How to Manage Telecom Costs

Aggressively managing vendor costs is not a high priority for most companies; as their primary focus tends to be on serving customers and building their business. If the vendor costs are reasonable and stable and the service adds value, most companies view vendors as “no brainers.” However, some simple things can be done to greatly reduce telecom costs and show a high return. Every dollar saved is an extra dollar in profits that can be re-invested in the business or returned to the owners.
 

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Will You Be Turning to Microsoft for Your Next Phone System?

Microsoft made a big splash in the small business community recently (whether you realize it yet or not!) with the announcement of their expected entrance into the unified communications space.

Why is this big news?

Microsoft’s entry into this space marks their plan to replace, or dramatically enhance phone systems with a server-based software solution (running on your servers or the servers of a hosting provider). A growing percentage of small businesses have already made the transition to VoIP phone systems; Microsoft’s solution will be in direct competition with these systems. Microsoft’s new method allows small businesses to keep their current phone system, but also gives them access to all of the bells and whistles VoIP offers its users.
 

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Handheld Devices

How to Avoid Handheld Frustrations with 9 Simple Tips

Handheld mobile devices have allowed workers to do more away from the office in less time. The increased mobility and productivity that handheld devices offer can reap dividends for both businesses and end users. Unfortunately, most new technologies and innovations also come with their share of problems; this is especially true of handheld devices. For every user who has sung praises from the mountaintops about his/her handheld - whether it be a Blackberry, Smartphone, Treo or some other model - there's another person ready to throw his/hers off. The good news, however, is that many handheld frustrations are avoidable. With a little homework and these 9 simple tips, your handheld frustrations just might be a thing of the past.
 

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Wi-Fi Access

Wi-Fi On The Road
4 Tips For Hitting The Hot Spots

Before a recent JetBlue Airways flight across the country, I sat in the Long Beach, Calif., airport and waited. And waited. And waited. For at least a few minutes.Not so much for the flight to take me back to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., mind you, but for that reassuring "Wireless Network Connection" message to pop up above the taskbar on my laptop PC. The posters on the wall promoting free in-terminal Wi-Fi access — JetBlue calls them "Hot Zones" — promised a connection as effortless as a Bar-headed Goose coasting with the jet stream. Sure enough, finally, there was the message. At least that's what I thought.My computer "saw" the network, but it wouldn't connect. For another 10 agonizing minutes, I tried to get into the zone, but was denied at every click. I asked a gate agent for help, and she offered to phone a tech-support line. No one answered. I asked several airport employees what to do. No one had a clue. My search for wireless access had stalled, and with my battery running down, I put my PC away for the flight. What's the hold up?
 

Small Business IT Security

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Laptop Theft

What Fidelity Can Teach Us Not To Do
5 Tips For Avoiding Laptop Theft And Losing Sensitive Company Information

According to a recent article in the Boston Globe a Fidelity employee had a laptop stolen that contained retirement account information for 196,000 customers. Oops- there are definitely going to be a few worried and unhappy people. If a large corporation like Fidelity, with endless technology resources can have a laptop stolen containing sensitive company information, what can you as a small business do to protect yourself from a similar fate? I have put together 6 tips for avoiding laptop theft and losing sensitive company information. Read more to find out how to avoid what happened to Fidelity.
 

What Would You Do If Your Laptop Was Stolen At This Very Moment?

In today's information economy, linear and individual-centric ways of working have given way to team-based working and lightning-fast flow of information across different states, regions, countries, and time zones. Relationships once based on proximity now extend to a web of people in formal and informal networks who are dispersed around the globe. These teams work together to create mission critical documents that then become the intellectual property on which your business is based. This fundamental shift in work has left a huge challenge for small business when it comes to backing up and protecting their users' data at a reasonable cost.
 

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Wireless Security

Just When You Thought Nobody Was Looking

I’m sure many of us have been there before: You’re on a business trip or in your backyard with your laptop. “Wireless network detected” flashes on your screen. You know you’re not in range of your company's wireless network or your home network, so you look left and right for witnesses before logging on.
 

Small Business Communications

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Must Have Technology Tools for Companies with Multiple Offices

As you probably already know, Sage Information Systems now has two offices – one located in Boston, and the other located in the Denver-Boulder business corridor of Colorado. Having multiple offices creates exciting new opportunities, but also creates new challenges. Implementing the right technology tools can help you make the most of the situation.
 

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10 Steps to Winning the War Against Your Email Inbox

Email has become our best friend and worst enemy all at once. More often than not, the executives that I speak with mention that the flood of email they receive is a huge burden on their productivity, yet they couldn’t do business without email.
 

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Is Your Small Business Ready for a “Blog”?

What you should know about the possible benefits and potential pitfalls of a small business blog

An important principle of small business technology for any company is that it should be in alignment with the organization’s goals and objectives. In theory this seems simple, yet challenges arise when we are seduced by exciting new technologies. It’s easy to get swept away by the need to “keep up” technologically speaking. My case in point is the blog. Blogs are the personal diaries of the 21st century, albeit public and subject to regular opinion, and they have taken the online community by storm. Blogs are easy to use, inexpensive, and allow the publisher or “blogger” access to a potentially unlimited web audience. Moms do it, dads do it, CEOs do it, celebrities do it, and corporations do it too, but are blogs right for your small business?
 

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E-mail Productivity & Efficiency

E-mail communication: Profit or Loss?
10 Surprising Ways to Save Your Most Valuable, Non-Renewable Resource

Imagine that your email system is down for a week. Oddly enough, work still gets done: People discover new (old) ways to contact others and share information, and attention is only given to the most critical tasks and activities.
 

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New Year's Resolution: Stop Doing Email

...First Thing in the Morning

Mark Friedler, CEO of Gigex, the leading Internet launch, distribution and fulfillment ASP for game demos, video and software, has forbidden everyone in his organization from opening Outlook the first 15 minutes in the morning. And that was just his first move! More from Friedler later.
 

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Email Deliverability

No One Reading Your Emails?
7 Sure Fire Ways to Get Your Emails Read

Arguably, email could be considered the world's preferred form of written communication, essentially relegating the hand written note or letter to the dark ages as a lost art. Apart from its numerous benefits, however, the proliferation of email presents a new and unique set of challenges. Because of its ease of use and availability to the masses, anybody with an email address can flood an inbox with needless junk. The result is that, over time, people become desensitized to email, making it more difficult for emails to reach their intended recipients. What this means for the rest of us is that we need to take extra steps to ensure that our emails are appealing and informative, but most of all want to be read. Keep in mind the following tips before your send.
 

Small Business Technology Tips

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Tech Tip of the Month

Swift Feet with Firefox!

Firefox is built to be a much safer and generally faster workflow browser than its competitor, Internet Explorer. The implementation of tabs in Firefox is possibly the greatest workflow enhance- ment to browsers. Instead of having many annoying windows taking up your entire task bar, Firefox allows you to only have one window open. Firefox opens one brower that contains tabs holding all the web pages you have open.
 

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Tech Tip of the Month

Sharing in Outlook

Users of Microsoft Exchange Server have several options available to share their contacts, calendar, and inbox. Read on to learn how to do much more with Outlook than the average user.
 

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Tech Tip

When was the last time you rebooted?

A simple and effective tip to keep your computer running efficiently is a Monday morning reboot. In less than five minutes you will have a clean slate for your entire work week.
 

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Tech Tip of the Month (New!)

Expert advice right from the horse's mouth

How to Use Excel’s Split and Freeze Pane Option

Need help viewing endless amounts of data in Excel without losing sight of your headers?

Excel’s Split and Freeze Pane option allows you to freeze columns and/or rows. This enables you to continuously view your data’s headers without the hassle of having to scroll to the top!
 

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8 Tips for Those Who "Know Nothing about Technology"

A Small Business Technology Survivor's Guide

Let’s face it….Most of us will never aspire to the technological genius of Bill Gates or ever consider the monumental task of inventing the internet like Al Gore. As mere technological mortals, the rest of us can only hope to make it through the workday without wrestling pesky Microsoft Word Documents, waiting for internet connectivity, and enduring agonizingly slow computer speeds. While I am not suggesting a mass call to Microsoft Certification or advocating technological vigilantism; to all you technological incompetents I offer some quick and easy troubleshooting tips that anybody can perform. What follows is an 8 tip technology-troubleshooting survivor’s guide:
 

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Web Search Best Practices

Cause I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
4 Keys To Success For A Successful Online Search

Online search and search engines are changing the way individuals research and access information. Instead of consulting the phone book, card catalogs, atlas, or encyclopedia we Google, Yahoo, and Ask Jeeves. Endless amounts of information are easily accessible at the click of a mouse. You would think that finding what we are looking for would be a piece of cake. This, however, is not always the case. Many people, including myself, have fallen victim to the trappings of a harmless online search gone bad – Somewhere along the road, while specifically researching a person, place, or topic we all end up sifting through endless advertisements, dead links, and useless and irrelevant websites. In the end, you are only left with a gigantic waste of time and no relevant information. This is why I have compiled a short list of basic tips and a brief review of different search engines for conducting a successful online search.
 

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Power Point Best Practices

Presenting With Power Point
10 Dos and Dont's

Cherie Kerr knows how PowerPoint can be both provocative and persuasive in a business meeting. She's also aware that precisely the opposite can occur. "It can be the very best friend you have," says the Santa Ana, Calif., public relations consultant. "But you have to use it right". While many embrace the values of PowerPoint as a potent business tool, there are others who contend that it's a drag on effective interaction — that it confuses, distorts and even strangles communication. But, as Kerr points out, any discussion of PowerPoint's merits and miscues merely illustrates the importance of using the program to best advantage. Here are 10 ways to use PowerPoint to help make your business look brilliant, not brainless.
 

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Managing Internet Bookmarks

How To: Manage Your Internet Bookmarks

If Internet Explorer Favorites is your primary method for accessing and keeping track of the websites you visit often or like to remember... today is a new day my friend.
 

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How to Perform a Microsoft Word mail merge

Personalization Goes A Long Way

Imagine the time you could save if you properly managed all of your contact information and could easily send a personalized note or email to a few dozen or thousands of people at the same time. All without hiring an outside marketing firm or spending countless hours. Think of the difference when you receive something generic vs. a personalized note or email. With Microsoft’s mail merge feature it is possible to communicate a single message to a large group of people and still add that special personalized element to all your emails, mailing labels, or letters.
 

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How to use Microsoft Outlook's Rules Wizard

Take Control of Your Inbox with Microsoft Outlook's Rules Wizard

How much time do you spend on Monday morning, or after coming back from vacation, sifting through countless emails in your inbox? Most of your inbox can be sorted into one of three categories:
 

Types of Small Business IT Support

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Who You Gonna Call?

The Many Faces of Small Business IT Support

Remember the movie Ghostbusters? If you don’t then you were probably living in a cave in 1984. While it’s been 23 years since the movie sparked the catchphrase “Who you gonna call? You can still bet that anybody within earshot will sheepishly reply “Ghostbusters.”

What about technology issues?
The Ghostbusters are the clear choice for paranormal extermination, but what about IT support? I recently posed the question to a friend of mine at a mid size professional services firm. Her answer surprised me... Find out why:
 

Small Business Website Strategies

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10 Reasons Why Your Website Doesn't Work

The web is one of the most powerful places for communicating with potential clients and your website is often your company’s primary representative. Within seconds, visitors evaluate your business based exclusively on this virtual representation of your company. Your website is a statement about your business; in today’s technology-driven world, it practically is your business. Today more than ever, business owners are turning to the web to evaluate products, services, and make business decisions. How confident are you that your website will bring them your way? More importantly, ask yourself this simple question: “Is my business getting measurable benefits from my website?” If your answer is “no” or “I don’t know” then your website simply doesn’t work.