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 If the technology is outdated and the computers can’t keep up with workers’ demands, business owners will find that the increases in efficiency provided by new computers will provide a good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

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.

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.

Using IFTTT to Share Posts on Fb, Tw, and Li

How Mousehelp at Rouzell Does SEO

Image source: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1364409

Where does one begin with applying SEO techniques? Is SEO a noun, a verb, a person? I’ve heard the term used in so many ways!

What it is is an acronym, which stands for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Even that expansion does little to enhance one’s understanding. We are NOT optimizing search engines. We optimize the content on your site so the search engines can understand the value of your web pages and provide links to same for people searching for the topic of your pages. Does that help? You tell me.

OK, enough on that. Let’s move on. How I do SEO is quite simple. I look for key words and phrases (and images) on your pages, then build links to other pages based on those words and phrases. For example, if your site is all about, let’s say, pet care, you might have pages on training, grooming, feeding, or perhaps even pet-sitting or boarding pets. There are five potential targets for new links, and if you have a page that discusses each of those topics, links to those pages would be created for those words and phrases on the home page.

OK, new example: See the phrase above that says, “SEO is quite simple?” I’ve highlighted that phrase and I’ve linked it to another post on this site. When search engines send their spiders to crawl the web, they will find that link and add it to their list of pages that discuss that topic. If I do this same thing in enough places, eventually, my content should rise in the ranking on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Yes, I just did the same thing for SERPs. By the way, that “spiders” link above takes you to my original experiment on ranking mousehelp at the top of the SERPs.

Maybe you are wondering about how we factor Social Media into all of this? Well, this post is just one example. Now, I’ll go share a link to this post on Facebook (in two places), then it goes to Twitter and then…. This is a subject for another post, another day, perhaps.

Five Favorite Google Chrome Extensions

Update: 2018/01/19 – It seems I’ll have to work on alignment of images to text on this page. I’m sure there’s a plugin that will help me to do that! In the meantime, sorry for the strange view…


Let’s just look at them, left to right, shall we? My Chrome browser has over 40 of these added to it, so I’m just going to discuss those I use most often. You can get extensions that do all kinds of cool things – a couple I haven’t covered here include the ability to record a webinar and another that allows you to capture all images from a website. Handy stuff to have available at the push of a button, would you agree?

That first one is Print Friendly & PDF. I use that to remove the noise from articles where I just want the text. It allows you to download a PDF file that satisfies a minimalist approach. As the name implies, it can also save you some ink or toner and page count on your printer.

capturepluginprintfriendly

Print Friendly & PDF

 

 

 

 

ColorZilla

ColorZilla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next is ColorZilla and that little eyedropper allows you to take a sample of a color from any webpage. It copies the hex code to your clipboard, so you can use it to color whatever it is you are working on, like backgrounds, fonts, etc. It’s extremely useful when you are trying to match color schemes to colors in images.

 

 

 

 

MightyText – click the image to see the web page. If you are like me, you may struggle a bit to get exactly the text you want into your little smartphone SMS window. With MightText, I’m using my PC to send text, images, website links, whatever…. It is, as the name suggests, one mighty little plugin!

capturepluginmightytext

MightText

 

 

 

 

capturepluginhubspotsales

HubSpot Sales email tracking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best feature of this plugin from HubSpot is the instant notification you get when someone opens your email message. Now you know they are probably available and you can follow up with a phone call. Of course, some email platforms allow you to turn on notification, but there’s no guarantee you’ll receive that message. So far, this little tool has been very helpful by allowing me to track email messages sent to clients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That little green circle with the arrow in it is Grammarly and I’m using the free version. It pops up a message as soon as you misspell anything. This is very handy for me, as I like to think I’m as clear as possible with every word of every sentence. It also checks your punctuation and syntax, so if I add a comma or don’t finish a question with a question mark, it questions the intent of my content!

capturegrammarly

Grammarly

 

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