Business and Finance, Technology

4 IT Solutions Tools That Help Your Small Business Thrive

The fact that you have a successful small business demonstrates you have a firm grasp on your specialty. Through their repeat business, customers affirm the company’s qualities and service.

Still, nobody can get great at everything. Sometimes, it’s wise to handle what comes naturally and outsource other tasks. One of these is information technology (IT).

Technology and business go together. To truly thrive in today’s business environment, you must offer both employees and customers innovative and efficient IT solutions. Here are four tools and services essential to small business success:

1) Desktop Support and Managed Services

Computers have become an essential tool of business. For some employees, effectively performing at their jobs is impossible without a properly functioning machine — including easy access to applications and a strong Internet connection. There are times, however, when computers break down, are infected with viruses, and have other problems that can be difficult to fix on your own.

A dedicated and knowledgeable IT team member can help you with all your computer needs (both PC and Mac), including support, maintenance, repair and upgrades, virus detection and removal, overall performance improvement, and more.

As you focus on building your business, communication complications will invariably arise. One of the most important IT solutions is managed services. This covers remote support, where technicians can troubleshoot and resolve problems without ever having to step into your office — saving you time and resources.

Especially in small business, keeping thorough records is essential. Data backup and recovery (as well as disaster recovery planning) helps ensure you won’t lose valuable information.

2) Cloud Computing

You’ve heard a lot about “the cloud” and might wonder how it can benefit your small business. Along with a wealth of online applications (from time tracking to remote employee management), cloud computing also includes basics such as Microsoft Office 365, Google Docs, Salesforce, and file sharing programs like Dropbox and Sharepoint.

Business benefits of cloud computing include scalability (programs and tools grow with your company), improved collaboration, automatic updates, and more.

3) Networking

Most computer networks are a combination of hardware and software. Effective networking allows devices to “communicate” with each other — sharing business information and other data.

Though many people use recreational technology (smartphones, online apps), as a small business owner you must keep in mind “back-end” processes such as server functions, firewall, virtual private networks (VPN), SPAM detection and removal, and analytics.

A qualified computer technician can help you determine the best IT solutions for your small business regarding networking and other tools, so you can keep your focus on business growth.

4) Consistent IT Innovation

Not everyone is skilled or interested in the details surrounding IT. But as a small business owner, you realize that such details are integral to the success of your company’s vision. That’s why it’s helpful to reach out to a trusted and respected IT team.

by Lina Saldarriaga
Residential Life Magazine 

 

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Business and Finance

Lessons Learned

The theme to the popular 80s TV show ‘The Facts of Life’ advised us to “take the good, take the bad.” That’s the hard lesson for small business owners in the wake of Small Business Saturday. Despite record-breaking attendance, analysts say sales are still down for most mom-and-pop shops, as compared to previous years.

Good and Bad

U.S. companies made nearly $13 billion during this year’s Small Business Saturday, according to the 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights survey. Researchers say 43 percent (four in ten) of faithful shoppers patronized local small businesses. Now in its eighth year, the 2017 event attracted more than 108 million total consumers.

In a survey preceding the event, nine out of ten consumers said it “has a positive impact on the community,” and inspires them to “explore new, independently-owned retailers and restaurants.” Most respondents (80 percent) said they purposely save at least some holiday shopping specifically so they can participate.

However, while more folks are welcoming the idea with open arms, many are still reluctant to open their wallets. Both attendance and spending were down from 2016, when 112 million shoppers spent more than $15 billion. As more consumers opt for the ease and comfort of buying online, a continued decline is expected.

The ‘Facts’

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Analysts say the decline in interest and participation is caused, in part, due to lack of awareness. In 2016, 72 percent of consumers said they found out about the event through social media. That’s a two percent increase from 2015.

However, in an era of ad-blockers and consumer angst toward promotional materials, many shoppers remain unaware of the event. Others have cited difficulty getting downtown, or making time to shop on a designated day.

Still, organizers remain optimistic.

“The momentum that was started with the first Small Business Saturday continues to build,” said Elizabeth Rutledge — Executive Vice President of Global Advertising and Media at American Express.

The credit firm sponsors the event, and also assists small businesses with marketing and promotional incentives.

by Frank Samandari
Guest Writer
Residential Life Magazine

Frank Samandari is an award-winning journalist, web writer, and voice talent based near Daytona Beach Florida.

Business and Finance

Greenbacks

This business of a “cash free society” is a total pipe dream. Though certainly less popular today as it was even five years ago, cash will never completely go away.

So long as there is a need for anonymous transactions, cash will remain the ‘go-to’ choice for many. Also to be taken into consideration are power outages, trouble getting credit, and general distrust of the credit and banking industry.

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Cash is King

I know a guy who pays for everything in cash. If he can’t pony up the cash for something, he’ll either save up, or he’ll do without. He always says: “I don’t trust the banks as far as I can throw ’em, and those banks are pretty big.”

Another dude has real bad credit, and this one guy I know thinks the credit card companies are tracking us, like Big Brother! He’s a bit of a psycho, but who knows? He might be getting the last laugh here soon enough.

The bottom line is that, no matter what they want you to believe, we’re never going to be a cash-free society.

by Stavros “Stolli” Capleton
Residential Life Magazine

Business and Finance

All About the Benjamins

They say “money is a necessary evil.” I say it’s just necessary. They say “money can’t buy happiness.” I say it most surely can!

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Make it rain

Show Me the Money

Recently going from a soul-sucking, dead-end job to a career I loved was almost payment enough. Of course, now earning a salary three times that of before has changed my life. I’m, by no means, boasting about the funds. What I am saying is that, in the first month of my new role, I was able to travel, make a few a purchases (most needed, some frivolous), and finally open savings and retirement accounts for the first time ever.

Is every day now milk and honey? Of course not. But I have to tell you, being in a new tax bracket (and out of paycheck-to-paycheck living) has calmed my nerves, improved my mood, and strengthened my personal and professional relationships.

So while money may not be able to “buy” happiness, there is no doubt that increased cash flow can have a profound impact on people’s lives. We need to stop pretending it’s not important.

by Janie Flahnhoegennloegenn
Residential Life Magazine

Business and Finance

Taxman

Every time ‘tax season’ rolls around, the boasting of huge tax “refunds” crop up almost immediately. I always get a kick of this boasting, and hearing the ways in which people plan to “spend” this “gift.” I’ve even heard it referred to as “free money.”

Get Real

The fact of the matter is, you don’t want a refund. The ideal, of course, is to ‘balance out:’ not owe, but also not get anything back.

The people grumbling about having to “pay back” the government have elected not to have the correct amount of tax removed from their checks each pay period. Maybe they did it on purpose, maybe not. But either way, that is their error. Those who boast about getting a “refund” have given Uncle Sam a tax-free loan for the year. They aren’t getting any money back — they’re simply taking in one lump sum the funds they could have used all year long.

Don’t Fool Yourself

uncle-sam-taxesI even know a fellow who thinks of taxes as a sort of “forced savings account.” A self-described over-spender, he purposely elects to have more taxes than necessary taken out, so he will be almost guaranteed a “refund” at the end of the year. Ridiculous!

There are, of course, many folks that share this sentiment. Never missing a trend, stores and services actually market to this ideal. “Spend your Tax Refund Here!” “Use Your Tax Refund on Something Special for Yourself!” Give me a break.

Do the Right Thing

For many people, taxes are among the least favorite things in the world. But taking the time to understand and accurately enter your withholdings – instead of playing games – is trustworthy, responsible, and simply the right thing to do.

by Angel “Boz” Terwilliger
Residential Life Magazine

Business and Finance

Don’t Assume

Here comes the irony. I’m leaving a job because I found a new one with better pay, but this post illustrates nearly the opposite point. So, that’s some full disclosure for you right off the bat.

Cash is Not Always King

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Dolla dolla bills, y’all!

But here’s the thing. It seems like every time someone leaves a job, everyone automatically assumes it’s solely based on the money. That’s a pretty important aspect, don’t get me wrong, but there are many other factors that go in to most decisions like that.

 

Things like greater responsibility, maybe some family issues, and I’m sure there are many other scenarios that play out in this type of situation.

I know a lady who recently left her job ’cause her husband got a better post, and I have a friend who was making mad money but his co-workers were driving him crazy, so he left. Sometimes you have to look out for yourself in more ways than just paying bills.

As much as people like to think they’ve got it all figured out, they don’t know every situation. So everyone needs to shut it with the money-grubbing digs.

by Stavros “Stolli” Capleton
Residential Life Magazine