Become better with these productivity tips

We live in the age of distraction. If it’s not the hundredth urgent email in your inbox that blows your focus, maybe it’s your IT staff pounding on your door with another technology emergency. Whatever the circumstance, you may be tired of looking in the mirror only to see bags under your eyes from too many late nights at the office. That’s why we’ve come up with a few principles to help you become more productive in your business and life, and to hopefully help you get some sleep.

Have a single focus

When Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were asked what the single most important reason for their success in life was, both answered with a single word: focus. It is that important. When you work on one task for an extended period of time, the quality of your work is at its highest. What’s more, you’ll also finish that task in a shorter amount of time than if you had to stop and start it repeatedly due to distractions.

This principle of focus can be applied to many areas of business and life. Whether you’re writing a report, sharing time with your family, or simply reading a book for your own pleasure, the quality of that experience improves with the more uninterrupted time you dedicate to it. Now, when it comes to IT and technology, this same principle can have a tremendous impact on your business. Not only do technology distractions – such as constantly breaking computers, security breaches, and slow servers – hurt your productivity, but they also crush your spirits. How can you focus on growing your business like this? This is where an MSP comes in. They can help eliminate all IT interruptions so you get back to doing what you do best – running your business. What’s not to love about that?

Obey Parkinson’s law

If you ever pulled an all-nighter as a university student, you may be familiar with Parkinson’s law. The principle states that the time it takes to complete a task expands or shrinks depending on the time allotted for it. For example, when you were hitting the books in high school or college, you may have noticed that a few students (and maybe you were one of them) would put off an important paper or project to the last moment and still end up getting an A. While at the same time, other students would take weeks to complete the same project or paper and only manage a B. So how did this happen? This peculiar phenomenon is the magic of Parkinson’s law at work. When you have less time to work on a project, you focus only on the important aspects of it. Oftentimes this is all you need to do a good job.

So whether it’s a company meeting or the amount of time you put towards researching your next vacation, apply Parkinson’s law to increase everyone’s focus and ensure you’re not wasting valuable time on the task. As for your IT, give your in-house staff a reasonable, yet specific amount of time, to complete a task. This will ensure they finish the job in a timely manner, and then move on to other projects. Alternatively, you can simply outsource all of your IT to an MSP for a single, flat monthly fee, and never have to worry about it to begin with.

Use technology to become superhuman

As human beings, technology enables us to become more than we could have ever dreamed of. Apps like Evernote can enable us to remember every valuable piece of information we encounter. Cloud technology can bring a remote workforce scattered around the country together so they can work on the same project simultaneously. VoIP gives you the ability to video-chat with business partners, loved ones, and friends while they’re as far off as Bangkok or Baghdad. Technology is reshaping not only the business world, but also the life of every individual on the planet. So when it comes to your own business, is your company going to take advantage?

We hope that these productivity tips will help improve your life in and outside of the office. If you’d like to know more about how IT can transform your business, to make it more efficient and profitable, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

LinkedIn tips for the SMB

As a small business owner, you may be a bit perplexed how to gain the most value out of LinkedIn. You may have already spent countless hours trying to leverage the platform with little success. So what are you doing wrong? And how can you make the most out of your time on the platform? Here are a few tactics any SMB can follow to gain more value from LinkedIn.

Know LinkedIn’s purpose

Simply put, LinkedIn is not a content marketing platform. Yes, people do publish articles and posts, but if you have a small budget and are short on time, you will get more bang for your buck on social media networks that are more content marketing friendly. For example, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all far better options in this scenario. Many users are on these platforms to view content in one form or another. On LinkedIn, content can undoubtedly be viewed, but people are primarily there to make connections. Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post an occasional article on LinkedIn. It just means don’t make it the main source of your content marketing efforts.

Another way businesses misconceive LinkedIn is in terms of lead generation. Basically, you shouldn’t expect your LinkedIn page to generate a large amount of leads. As an SMB, your marketing budget is limited, so you’ll be better off using your advertising budget to drive leads to your actual website or even a Facebook business page. Your LinkedIn business page should be used instead to validate your experience, credentials, and professionalism. With that said, make sure your page is polished and updated with all this information.

Double down on business trips

We all know that LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with business colleagues. If you’re active on the platform, you likely have hundreds of connections. So when you make that next business trip, why not tap your network to book additional meetings in the city you’re traveling to? Ask yourself, which of your connections could help you extend your sales in that region or benefit your business in some other way? You don’t have to stick to business colleagues you know personally. You can create valuable new relationships by tapping your current LinkedIn network. To do this, search first and second degree connections using the geographic search option, and filter your results to job titles, industry, and company size of your ideal prospect. Once you’ve found potential contacts, see if you can get an introduction from one of your first connections, or simply InMail them and reach out yourself.

Your page is about your business—not you

A very common small business mistake on LinkedIn is making your company page about you, not your business. You may mistakenly create this page like your personal profile, listing accolades and job experience. What you should really be focusing on, however, is something much bigger: the story of your business or brand. A story will help engage your prospects, creating an impression in their minds, and also give you an opportunity to touch on the value your business provides to customers. Your profile should also include some of the top brands your business has helped. If one of your clients is Target, The Gap, Whole Foods or another big name, make sure to mention it, as it proves your credibility as a business or service provider.

Find talented hires

While big companies have the budget and time to post job openings on LinkedIn, as an SMB, there’s a good chance you’re lacking both. Fortunately, there’s an alternative way to find top talent on LinkedIn. Simply search for them yourself.

Before you get started, you need to know exactly what kind of hire you’re looking for. Think about people you already know who would be perfect for the job. While you may not have the ability or budget to hire them, look them up on LinkedIn and see their career path. What kind of roles did this person previously have? What kind of experience did he or she have before their current position? With this information in hand, now you can search for people who are in or have held similar positions, and will likely share qualities of your ideal candidate. Once you have a pool of potential applicants, reach out to them through InMail or a shared connection to see if they’re interested in your job.

Ask for help, and be helpful

Like all social media platforms, if you don’t engage with your connections, you’ll see little value generated from your time using it. However, with LinkedIn, the type of engagement you participate in can be extremely valuable for your business. All it requires is for you to ask for help or feedback. For example, if you have several logo designs for a new product and are unsure of which is best, share some of them with your network to get feedback. If you’re curious about a new productivity tool and wonder if it’s worth investing in, ask your network if anyone’s used it before. Oftentimes in the business world, people are happy to help you if you just speak up. However, don’t forget to return the favor. If you become the person who seems to only be taking advice without giving any in return, it can have a negative effect on your reputation.

If you’d like more ideas on how social media or technology can create value for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our IT solutions can help you overcome challenges, and create an even more valuable business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Secure your business with these IT policies

Employees are one of your biggest security holes. There is no foolproof prevention method for human error, and this is why employee mistakes are one of the most common causes of a security breach. So what can you do to prevent it? Well at the very least you need to include policies in your employee handbook, and ensure your employee reads through it and signs off on agreeing to abide by them. Having measures in place drastically reduces the chances of a security breach. Here are four areas to keep in mind when developing your own.

Internet

In today’s business world, employees spend a lot of time on the Internet. To ensure they’re not putting your business at risk, you need a clear set of web policies. Here are three important ones to keep in mind:

  1. Employees should be using the Internet for business purposes only. While this is undoubtedly hard to avoid without blocking specific websites, having a policy in place should at least cut back on employees spending time on non-business related sites.
  2. Prohibit unauthorized downloads. This includes everything from music to games, and even data or applications.
  3. Accessing personal email should not be done on business devices. If employees must access their own email account during the day, they can do so on their smartphone or other personal device.

These are just a few Internet policies to get started, but you should also consider including information on your recommended browsing practices and your policies for using business devices (such as company phones) on public wifi.

Email

Just like with the Internet policy mentioned above, company email accounts should only be utilized for business use. That means your employees should never use it to send personal files, forward links or perform any type of business-related activities outside of their specific job role. Additionally, consider implementing a standard email signature for all employees. This not only creates brand cohesion on all outgoing emails, but also makes it easy to identify messages from other employees, and hence helps prevents spear phishing.

Passwords

We’ve all heard the importance of a strong password time and time again. And this same principle should also apply to your employees. The reason is rather simple. Many employees will create the easiest to crack passwords for their business accounts. After all, if your organization gets hacked, it’s not their money or business at stake. So to encourage employees to create strong passwords, your policy should instruct them to include special characters, uppercase and lowercase letters, and numbers in their passwords.

Data

Whether or not you allow your employees to conduct work on their own device, such as a smartphone or tablet, it is important to have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. If your employees aren’t aware of your stance on BYOD, some are sure to assume they can conduct work related tasks on their personal laptop or tablet. So have a BYOD policy and put it in the employee handbook. In addition to this, make sure to explain that data on any workstation is business property. That means employees aren’t allowed to remove or copy it without your authorization.

We hope these four policies have shed some light on best security practices. If you’d like more tips or are interested in a security audit of your business, do get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

BCP tactics to keep your business running

It’s a fact of life. Events out of your control can disrupt your business operations. While you can’t necessarily control the unexpected, you can take some precautions to prevent most business disruptions. Here are some key business continuity strategies that organizations across the globe rely on to keep their doors open.

Backup your data, applications and servers

Today, companies are more dependent than ever on IT and their business data. If these critical components suddenly become inaccessible, can your business stay open? For most business owners, the simple answer is no. This is why backing up these elements is vital to your business’s success. Backing them up ensures they can be restored quickly in the event of a disaster, security breach, or damage to IT equipment.

Obviously, to ensure the accessibility of your IT, you need to backup all your data, applications and servers regularly. The keyword here being “regularly”. While in the past most businesses would do this on-site and with tape backups, today more and more businesses are using the cloud. Some of the prime reasons for backing up to the cloud are as follows:

  • Affordability
  • Backups can be automated, therefore saving you time
  • Cloud providers usually backup your data to multiple locations (so if one of their facilities goes down, your backup is still safe at another site)
  • Backups can be accessed from anywhere, whether it’s at an employee’s home or at an alternate office
  • If you need to use it, backups can be restored quickly

Virtualize servers and desktops

When you virtualize your servers or desktops, they can be used at any location – be it at your workplace, home, or a coffee shop in the Bahamas. In terms of business continuity, this is useful in case your main office suddenly becomes unusable due to a disaster such as a flood, a break-in, or if you’re simply unable to get there because of hostile weather conditions.

Have a backup power supply

Power outages essentially zap all your employees productivity. No electricity means no work. And that means you’re paying them to do nothing. Having a backup power supply like a generator will ensure that when the electricity goes down, your employees can continue working. A good solution is an uninterrupted power supply (UPS). When you have this, a power outage will not affect your employees ability to work. They can work seamlessly through it, as if nothing ever happened. Also, if you have a server room, the UPS will ensure your vital servers stay cool.

Utilize social media

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Google +, most people are on at least one social network these days. And if there is any kind of weather-related disaster, social media is usually one of the first places customers, colleagues, staff and vendors will check to see the status of your business. This is because even if the phone lines or local power goes out, social media is usually accessible. So when it comes to business continuity, have at least one active social media account you use to keep your customers and followers informed.

Implement Unified Communications

Unified Communication (UC) can essentially create a virtualized communication infrastructure. That means instead of your communication tools – like phones, instant messaging, video calls – all being stored locally at your workplace, you can access them anywhere. So for whatever reason if your office is inaccessible, employees can still use your phones and other communication tools from their homes. What’s more, UC tools can route business calls to your employees smartphones. That means they’ll never miss an important call, even if they’re not in the office.

So there you have it, five tools to ensure your business operates continuously no matter what comes your way. If you’d like to implement business continuity technology in your business or develop a continuity plan, we’re happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Can Your Business Survive A Disaster?

Disasters. They do happen — it’s only a matter of ‘when’. While most businesses acknowledge it, surveys show that only one in four companies worldwide have adequate protection in the event of a major disruption. We’re not talking about insurance here, but a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan that could save you thousands of dollars in losses and worse, a business closure. If you haven’t heard much about what DR is, this post will help you gain some insight about what it is and how it can affect the future of your business.

As we all know, unpredictability is a fact of life. The aftermath of Tropical Storm Bill in Texas and recent floods in South Carolina are a grim and unfortunate lesson for many overconfident business owners who think their companies are spared from the likelihood of cataclysmic weather, technological malfunctions, or human actions. A 2014 survey by the IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council reveals just how many companies worldwide are at risk: 73 percent of SMBs are failing in terms of disaster readiness. What does this mean? It means that 3 out of 4 companies aren’t prepared to handle emergencies and save their businesses from a worse-case scenario.

If it’s not clear and compelling enough for a business owner like yourself to consider putting a well-conceived Disaster Recovery (DR) plan into place, perhaps it’s time to give it some thought. Doing so can save you years of business loss. Here is some useful information about what DR is all about and how it can ensure your business’s survival in the wake of unforeseen circumstances.

What is Disaster Recovery (DR)?

Disaster recovery is a plan for restoring and accessing your data in the event of a disaster that destroys part or all of a business’s resources. It is a key component involving many aspects of business operations that requires this information to function. The job of a DR plan is to ensure that whatever happens, your vital data can be recovered and mission-critical applications will be brought back online in the shortest possible time.

What kind of disasters are likely to happen?

Business disasters can either be natural, technological, or man-made. Natural types of disasters include floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, and even a pest infestation. On the other hand, technological and man-made disasters involve hazardous material spills, infrastructural or power failure, nuclear power plant meltdown or blast, chemical threat and biological weapons, cyber attacks, explosions, or acts of terrorism and civil unrest.

Why does your business need DR?

Regardless of industry or size, when an unforeseen event takes place and causes day-to-day operations to come to a halt, a company will need to recover as quickly as possible to ensure you will continue providing services to clients and customers. Downtime is one of the biggest IT expenses that any business can face. Based on 2015 disaster recovery statistics, downtime that lasts for one hour can cost small companies as much as $8,000, mid-size organizations $74,000, and $700,000 for large enterprises.

For SMBs particularly, any extended loss of productivity can lead to reduced cash flow through late invoicing, lost orders, increased labor costs as staff work extra hours to recover from the downtime, missed delivery dates, and so on. If major business disruptions are not anticipated and addressed today, it’s very possible that these negative consequences resulting from an unexpected disaster can have long-term implications that affect a company for years. By having a Disaster Recovery plan in place, a company can save itself from multiple risks including out of budget expenses, reputation loss, data loss, and the negative impact on clients and customers.

How do I create a DR strategy for my business?

Creating, implementing and maintaining a total business recovery plan is time-consuming but extremely important to ensure your business’s survival. Many organizations don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to this process. If you would like to protect your company from unexpected disasters but need further guidance and information on how to get started, give us a call and our experts will be happy to discuss Disaster Recovery options and solutions with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.