Four Essential Tech Upgrades for Small Businesses

By Gloria Martinez

One of the great things about running a small business in today’s economy is that new technologies are emerging all the time that can help your company succeed. Unfortunately, some of the latest tech trends can feel like they’re out of reach to all but well-established — and well-funded — industry leaders; they’re often just too expensive to fit small business owners’ budgets. The silver lining is that there are plenty of affordable options that can help you grow your business as well.

Having trouble telling the difference between overpriced fads and good investments? Read on to learn about four essential tech upgrades you can’t afford not to invest in.

Updated Software

It’s tempting to assume that if a software program works, there’s no reason to update it. However, updating your business software, from word processing and spreadsheet software to accounting programs, can improve the efficiency of your business.

If it’s been a few years since you’ve purchased new software, you may not know how much of a difference switching to programs that feature cloud computing can make. Word processors and spreadsheet managers like those included in Office 365 use cloud computing, such as accounting programs like Sage and Xero. This allows business owners to access their data from anywhere on just about any WiFi-enabled device, as well as collaborate with employees using centralized online services.

Updated Hardware

Not sure if that dinosaur of a desktop computer will be able to handle software upgrades? If your PC is slow or unresponsive, it might be time to consider buying new office equipment. If the technology is outdated and the computers can’t keep up with workers’ demands, business owners will find that the increases in efficiency provided by new computers will provide a good return on their investments.

Additionally, as a modern business owner, you need to access company data while you’re on the go. That’s why you should also consider updating your smartphone and data plan. Choose a plan that offers unlimited data and multiple lines or one that’s geared specifically toward business owners to avoid overage charges.

Updated Point-of-Sale Systems

Point-of-sale systems allow retail store owners to manage all of their inventory, sales, and returns from one centralized location. If your business doesn’t have an integrated POS system, there’s no questioning the need to invest in this essential technology. It will help you streamline your sales and improve your management practices, making it easier to stay competitive even in challenging markets.

POS systems are the modern equivalent of cash registers. They require both specialized hardware, such as credit card swipe bars and barcode scanners, and software to keep track of customer transactions. One of the best things about modern POS systems is that they can be integrated into other software systems, making it easier for you to analyze data, keep track of employee productivity, and more. They can also be integrated with e-commerce stores, allowing brick-and-mortar businesses to expand their customer bases and begin selling their wares online.

Data Loss Prevention

When most small business owners hear the term “data loss,” they immediately assume that the speaker is talking about cybercrime or employee theft. In reality, however, 38 percent of data loss is caused by hard drive failures. Other factors, such as human error, can also cause costly information losses.

So, don’t wait until something goes wrong. You should have a backup plan for storing data in a safe, separate location from the beginning. Some business owners choose to back up their data offsite to ensure that they won’t lose all that essential information should a burglar or even a natural disaster strike. Others use cloud-based storage solutions such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive or Carbonite to protect their businesses so that they can get up and running as quickly as they can connect to their account, not to mention the added bonus of file synchronization. Of course, the best prevention strategies incorporate both these solutions.

Not every small business owner can afford to invest in the latest and greatest hardware and office equipment, but most can afford to upgrade their software programs and other essentials along the way. In fact, small businesses that want to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced markets can’t afford not to.

Add A Favicon to Your Site

faviconsOK, this is almost fun. You have to know a bit about your platform and how to read and follow technical instructions.

If you are on WordPress, there may be a facility built into your theme. Or, you may want to install a plugin, like the one I’m using on Mousehelp.org – which makes it pretty easy to manage this task. You may also want to simply follow the instructions provided by WordPress if you are not squeamish about modifying the code.

If you are working with the HTML on your website directly, as I do with rouzell.com, you’ll need a bit of code, like this:

<link rel=”shortcut icontype=”image/x-iconhref=”http://rouzell.com/images/favicon.ico” /> – click that link and you’ll see my little icon at the top left of the page.

Here is a link to a page (on websiteplanet.com) you can use to create your favicon from an image you drag and drop, and they give you the HTML code and an explanation with it. Very nice.

Of course, if you need any help with getting this done on your site or sites, you are welcome to schedule time with Mousehelp (at Rouzell dot com), and I’ll provide professional guidance!

BR

Run Your Business on Your Second Computer

virus[1]Can you remember when you had only one computer? If your answer is; “What do you mean? I have only one computer now.” You are welcome to stop reading here and start shopping. If you do have a second computer, you are welcome to skip the next two paragraphs or read them for your edification.

If you need some advice about buying your second computer, here’s something quick and easy. Buy as much processor speed and memory (horsepower) as you can afford. Get a large screen (again – to the limit of your budget.) Excessive horsepower and huge display dimensions translate into satisfaction that lasts a whole lot longer. There’s more to say on this topic, but you are better off running out to buy something now.
So, go. Get something good, and set it up just like your main business computer, same software, same online data storage access, same cloud-based backup system, etc. Yes, there may be exceptions. But, anything you don’t put on this computer now (like your accounting software, etc.), you’ll have to install later, if disaster strikes.

Assuming we don’t have to go into details about your cloud-based backup plan… You do have that, right? Let’s talk about running your business on the new, “plan B” computer. You really MUST be able to do this, to reap the full benefit of this plan.

If you are wondering what is the point to all of this, I’ll make it for you here. When your main computer fails, you should be able to take it in stride. Or, at least not have it completely ruin your day – given that you can continue to do business on your second computer, while you ponder the cost of repairs to, or replacement of, the original workhorse. Is there an equine theme running through this? Need a break, yet? Now comes the hard part!

You need to make your second computer as close to a clone of your main business computer as possible. Ideally, you would have a second computer in your office that you can simply turn on if your main computer fails. Yes, that’s pretty difficult to achieve. It can be done, but more likely is the prospect of creating some reasonable facsimile for this purpose. This is where that cloud-based storage comes in handy! If you are not using Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, or even Carbonite, let’s talk soon. Backup is essential to the survival of your business.

With your second computer in place, you must now conduct regular fire drills. That means every once in a while, perhaps as often as once a week, or at least, once a month, you have to fire up the “plan B” computer and work with it for as long as it takes to convince you that you could, indeed, run your business there. Yes, I’m serious. You need to run your email, open some files, do what you do until you feel pretty confident that you could just keep chugging away at what you do.

Full disclosure: At last count, I think I have ten working computers and I could run my business on at least four of the ten. Three of them have the kind of power and speed I need for my work. And, at least three of them could be substituted for the first three (but, I would curse the lack of performance!) An extreme example, to be sure, but I almost cannot remember when I didn’t have at least two computers. You have to decide if you can live (and work) without your main computer. If your answer is “no”, create “plan B.”

A Blogging Primer for Adults – Extracted from Rouzell

A Blogging Primer for Adults

Here we will begin to explore the value of blogging for people with a lot of history to share. The purpose here is encourage our elders to “put down in words” the experience they have to share with the world. If we fail in doing so, I fear we will lose an opportunity to learn so many lessons from our greatest natural resource – people who have something interesting to share!

Just so we don’t close without a few words to illustrate these lessons, we offer this:

Blogging is a term you can look up using Google or Wikipedia, but here is what you will find: A blog is short for weblog – meaning a place on the web for writing your journal entries. Think of it as a kind of electronic memoir site, where you can write anything you are thinking about that day, or memories from a time long ago; anything you think might be interesting to your readers. The key is to have fun and use your collection of experiences to tell stories and entertain yourself and others.

Search “blog” and Wikipedia will tell you it is a portmanteau – woo hoo! Search “blog” on Google and you’ll find (at least) dozens of sites that are hoping to be the host site for your memoirs.

Come back here for more advice on how to get started. We’ll steer you straight and give you the honest truth about how to get started the right way. In our next post, we’ll discuss some of the websites you can use to get started for free. And, we’ll talk about how you make a good choice, based on your needs.

Brian Rouley – Rouzell Enterprises (Becoming Mousehelp Communications)

Welcome to Rouzell dot net

Welcome to Rouzell dot net –

Most of my websites are hosted on Siteground.

If you are not happy with your current website or your website host, call or write soon and I’ll make things better for you.

A Big Fan of Expressions

Mousehelp at Rouzell may soon become Mousehelp Communications

Why the change? It’s a simple and very complex answer. Let’s just say that Mousehelp does so much more than computer support. Communications is so much more.

Searching for the expression about a shoemaker’s children, I found details on several sources. Since I suffer this malady (or some of my websites do), I thought to mention it and perhaps ask other website makers how they manage to maintain their own sites while working on client sites.

As goes the expression, my websites need “new shoes.” This one (Rouzell.net) should be my first target, but it may be relegated to the archives soon. Most likely, Rouzell will fade away and simply be replaced by Mousehelp.

Having run rouzell.net through a speed test, I’ve found it scores well below the majority of sites and one speed test ranks it with a solid “D” for Performance grade. Sheesh!

On the upside, my Mousehelp Web Design is faster than 99% of the sites tested by this service.

Two Ways to Claim Your Page on Nextdoor

 

Assuming you are already on Nextdoor and you have connected with your neighborhood, what can you now do to attract clients or customers to your business? As is so often the case, the answer is, “it depends.”

If you need assistance with creating your account and claiming your page on Nextdoor, one call or message to Mousehelp.com will get you the help you need. Brian Rouley at Mousehelp will provide “Compassionate Care for People with Computers” – anything you need from network connections, to printer installations, to how-to instruction, and even writing for your blog or website. Mousehelp.com is your electronic communications support expert. In a world full of noise, get the clarity you need, with Mousehelp Communications Training from mousehelp.com.

It seems if you’ve been recommended, you are more likely to be found when people search Nextdoor. The process of claiming your page allows you to enhance the information people get about you and your business on the Nextdoor website.

For now, here are two ways to “Claim Your Page” on Nextdoor.
Feel free to send feedback on your experience to Mousehelp at Rouzell dot com.
And, if you need the services of a handyman or a business and life coach, you can look up Ken Day or Dr. Simone on DNP.

Note: In the Business page version, I am connected via remote access to Dr. Simone’s computer.
You will only hear my side of the conversation.

 

NextDoor or Alignable?

Which is best, which do you like best?

Here we will discuss the value and benefit of each to your business. At first blush, I’m guessing that Nextdoor will benefit service providers focused on homeowners and Alignable will be better for businesses who provide B2B services. I’ll be making a list and checking it twice, guessing that both networks turn out to be nice!

Twitter Moments

Here’s a short and sweet – Twitter tweet – on how to create a moment on Twitter.

JetPack Sharing

Let’s see how this goes. I’ve used ITTT for sharing, let’s see how JetPack does it.

This post should show up on Fb, Tw, and Google+ – have a look.