When IT Doesn’t Work

There is no business without IT, but more importantly, there is no sustainable business without reliable IT solutions. Indeed, IT is at the core of your everyday processes, helping you to organize your workload, manage customer demands, handle transactions, and maintain your communication activities. You wouldn’t picture an office without a computer or a laptop. But while we can’t imagine working without direct access to technology, we sometimes struggle to make the most of our IT solutions. Indeed, when IT doesn’t work, businesses are left without any further option to carry out with their day-to-day jobs. More to the point, poor IT system can have dramatic consequences on your company. Here’s why you don’t want bad IT: 

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It affects your business rep

Your IT is the bridge that connects you to your audience. In the age of DIY digital businesses, you can’t afford to neglect your IT solutions. Indeed, poor setup or lack of setup plans can not only cause delays, but it can also hinder your customer relationship. Your customers want to be able to visit your website and interact with your brand without hitting the unpleasant 404 or 500 error page, for instance. Additionally, another setup issue could occur for self-made sites when the contact form isn’t correctly linked to a mailbox. As a result, your business doesn’t appear professional. 

It slows you down

Things break. Even with the best of care, your IT system might fail to update properly or hit unexpected roadblocks. However, without dedicated IT consultancy services, you might find your team struggling to get past issues. Indeed, IT downtime is unpleasant. But with professional troubleshooting and monitoring, you can avoid issues – or get them fixed rapidly. Getting in touch with an IT specialist and making an emergency repair appointment could cost you precious time when you don’t have a dedicated team. 

It costs you money

How much does IT downtime cost you? According to Gartner, the average cost ranks at around $5,600 per minute. However, the majority of companies report that one hour of downtime can cost a whopping $100,000 or more. For global companies, however, the cost of one hour is measured in millions. Ultimately, downtime means failure to process transactions, inability to carry on projects and meet deadlines, and potential loss of customers who turned to a competitor for their needs. The real question is: how much money can you afford to lose? 

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It costs you your team

Finally, your team gets frustrated. Nobody wants to get ready for work just to be met with the blue screen of a failed update, or to be stuck offline all day. Gradually, the frustration can feed their job dissatisfaction. Indeed, your employees don’t want to feel stressed out to meet tight deadlines as a result of your IT problems. Additionally, they don’t want to waste their time trying to maneuver their tasks around IT obstacles. In the long term, if IT disrupts their work, they’re likely to look elsewhere for a new employer. 

IT breaks, and it’s unavoidable. Not everything works all the time. But being able to rely on a professional team for support can ensure that your downtime won’t have any lasting, negative effect on your company. 

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Making The Most Of Being A “Homepreneur”

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As a way to express ourselves, it can seem that so many people out there are thinking about setting up a freelance business and following that trend of being a “homepreneur” where you set up a business from home. But is this a truly effective way to acquire professional and personal freedom? Let’s break down the trend and see what it can really do for us personally and professionally.

Getting Out More

Working at home means that you are, in one respect, operating with the blinders on. You may not be able to get a proper sense of the industry as a whole at home. In one respect, it’s helpful to stay away from bad influences, but conversely, you need to find the right ways to harness business help wherever possible. Because we can fly blind, especially at the outset, we need to make sure that we are protecting our business as much as possible. Minimizing naivety is crucial. And whether this is through IT protection like Safebit Solutions, or actually getting out there and networking with other entrepreneurs to capture a true sense of what is going on, we certainly need to get out more than we would stay in.

Understanding The Difference Between Your Work Life And Home Life 

One of the most agonizing aspects of working at home is that your work life and your home life are under the same roof. You need to understand the difference between the two, not just for the benefit of how you work but also how the people that live with you can fare better under the constraints. In one respect, you are better off setting up a home office far away from proceedings, but also, you’ve got to learn how to avoid checking those emails at 11 at night. It’s a very hard thing to get right, but one of the key components is all about discipline, in work and outside of it…

Bringing A Sense Of Discipline To Your Work 

Because being at home comes with a plethora of distractions, you’ve got to learn how to focus on the task at hand. It all depends on the time of day in which you work, as well as how many people are at home at the same time. A lot of people fare better by working a more twilight shift. But once you decide how you work best, that is when you will learn how to focus more. It’s always worth setting up some ground rules, especially if you have children.

Minimizing Loneliness

In an emotional sense, working at home by yourself means that you are, for a lot of the time, by yourself. Minimizing loneliness may not be a problem, especially if you’ve got a million things to do and plenty of people to speak to. But also, you’ve got to be aware of how isolating it can be. If you feel yourself getting like this, you work from home with a remote internet connection, so you can shake it up a bit and go somewhere else!

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Must-Have Tools To Improve Freelance Life 100%

The working world has been changing, and there are more people than ever that work from home, or that work as a freelancer. There are rising number of people that are skilled in what they do, but are choosing to work from home with a freelance career. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that when you work from home, you could actually be more productive and efficient, as well as saving time and money. But because things have changed in the way that we work, we need to give ourselves some time to equip ourselves with the kinds of skills and tools that are going to improve freelance life, especially if you’re new to it all. So with that in mind, here are some essential online tools that can help digital nomads improve and be the best that they can be.

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Organization 

If you are someone who tends to have quite a few tabs open on your computer, but can’t get away from it all, because you want to keep them for some point down the line, then you need some tools that are going to help to keep things really organized. You could use a tool like OneTab as a way to declutter, which is a browser extension tool that puts tabs all into a list. You could also use boards on a site like Pinterest, as it means you can bookmark things for later. Can be handy when you need to save client pages, and so on. 

Sharing of files

If you have often been sharing files with clients, for example, graphic artists or photographers will have large files to send to others, then you will want to use a platform that is going to make a massive difference and speed things up a little. You could use a VPN to help you to file share with other clients, as it can mean that you can send things much more quickly as you are using a private network. A VPN can also help to keep data and files secure, which, depending on what kind of freelance work you do, could be of paramount importance for your clients. There are different providers of VPNs to choose from, so make sure you look up something like an Opera free VPN review to see what the pros and cons are. It can be simple to do but it does make a difference.

Time Management

If you are someone who has to balance work and life, as well as someone who does things by the hour, then you need to make sure that you are using your time wisely, as well as tracking how long you spend on certain projects. Software like Toggl can let you keep track of your working hours quite easily, and you can assign out the time for the different clients that you are working for. The software can also generate some weekly or monthly reports, which can be a great way to help you keep track.

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Can You Make Your Business Seem Better Established?

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Running a small business is a serious undertaking. Of course, that’s not to say that it isn’t hugely exciting and rewarding because it is, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore just how much work you’ll need to put in. This is especially true for a startup where you a) don’t have that much experience in the business world, and b) are usually working with a pretty small team, perhaps even on your own. This means that it’s pretty easy for mistakes to slip through the cracks. Mistakes that get made in the early stages of a business’s life can have some serious and long-reaching consequences in the future. Fortunately, a lot of them are relatively common and, once you know what they are, they’re pretty easy to avoid. With that in mind here are some of the most common startup mistakes and how you can make sure that you don’t make them.

Overdoing your marketing

Now, this is not to say that marketing isn’t a massively important part of any business because of course, it is. The issue that a lot of startups run into however is that they assume that by throwing out at much marketing as possible then they’re definitely going to bring in the maximum number of customer. This is not only incorrect but ends up being a serious waste of time, energy, and money. Instead, what you should do is to make sure that you’re marketing precisely and effectively. The only way to make sure that you’re doing this is to do your research. Figure out who your target customer and what the most effective marketing methods are to connect with them.

Neglecting your IT

This one is especially true for smaller startups who assume that a well-managed IT infrastructure isn’t something that their business really needs. In the age of DIY online businesses, it’s easy to assume that you don’t need any support to get by but that’s simply not true. Without well-managed IT solutions, you’re going to end up hitting roadblock after roadblock. Ironically if your IT isn’t up to scratch, then the issues will only get more pronounced as the business grows and the strain on your infrastructure increases. By setting up your IT services early on, you avoid any delays or problems further down the road.

Getting too ambitious

It’s important to look to the future, and it’s just as important to think about growing your business, but that doesn’t mean you should let your reach exceed your grasp. Far too many startups end up getting into trouble because they try to grow too fast in a way that ends up being unsustainable. They simply can’t handle the increased expectations and responsibility that comes with running a larger business. Instead, make sure that you’re always working at a level that your business can actually sustain, otherwise you could end up in some serious trouble.

Looking amateurish

It’s surprisingly common for a lot of people to pass over smaller businesses in favor of better-established ones simply because they assume that it’s going to be a safer bet. People tend to see bigger businesses as more reliable and imagine that they would offer higher quality work. It’s your job to try and prove those expectations wrong. As well as improving your web design and overall branding, there are plenty of things that you can do in order to make your business seem bigger and more well established. A virtual office and answering service like VHQ answering services, complete with well-trained receptionists, can make even the smallest home business look well established and professional. It might seem odd to need to do something like this but customer perception is an essential part of business success.

One of the most common mistakes that a lot of people make is that they assume that it’s going to be easy if their business is small. After all, there’s certainly something to be said for how much easier it is to run a smaller business than a larger corporation. However, it’s also important to remember that your business often grows alongside you which means that you’re going to be far more capable as your business expands. In the early days, your business might be small, but you may be inexperienced and unable to fully handle all of the challenges that come with running any kind of business. Understanding this and being able to adjust the way that you do things in order to really make the most of your business is an essential step that you simply cannot ignore.

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How Your Freelance Business Could Gain Customers This Year

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Being a freelancer in the modern world can be a very rewarding career path. Of course, it requires a lot of dedication and perseverance. When you become a freelancer, you have to appreciate the fact that you’re not just starting a new career; you’re starting a new business. So, if you want to be successful in this highly competitive marketplace, you need some entrepreneurial skills as well as some skills in your particular professional field. If you’re going to sell marketing copy to companies, for instance, then you’ll need to be knowledgeable with regards to the latest marketing practices in the business world and you’ll need to be a skilled wordsmith. However, if you don’t know how to push your own company out there, you’ll struggle to build up a substantial client base. So, let’s talk about how your freelance business could gain customers this year.

Create a trustworthy brand.

Firstly, if you want to gain customers this year, you should create a trustworthy brand for your business. People don’t care whether they buy their products and services from a solo entrepreneur or a huge corporation with a large workforce. Consumers just want high-quality goods from reputable brands. So, if you want to turn heads in your particular target market, you need to prove that your company is reliable. For starters, you should aim to gain good reviews from your existing customers. This will boost your reputation in the industry.

But you can go further than good reviews. You should focus on your business’ security. In today’s digital world, plenty of companies have been hacked. When customers see that their data has been leaked, they struggle to trust that business in the future. Consumers want to know that their details are safe when they purchase something from a company. Take steps to keep your data safe. Update your firewalls frequently, get help from IT experts to test your system for weak spots, and so on. In turn, you’ll create a trustworthy brand for your business.

Work on your online campaign.

You should also work on your online campaign if you want to gain customers. Everybody searches for the goods they want on the internet in the modern age. Obviously, most modern freelancers are based online because it’s much easier for solo entrepreneurs to operate that way. Still, the point is that you should focus on digital marketing if you want to reach the largest number of potential customers in your industry. You could get help from an SEO company if you’re struggling to increase your website’s ranking on search engines. Showing up at the top of the first search result page is your goal. That’ll increase the likelihood of you reaching potential clients. After all, people don’t often go beyond the first page of results.

Start a referral scheme.This is another way in which your business could gain customers this year. You might want to start a referral scheme so as to encourage your existing clients to bring in new clients. If customers see that they’ll receive rewards such as discounted prices or even free gifts, they’ll feel more inclined to spread the word about your company to their friends and family. For every person that they successfully refer to your business, you could give them rewards. There should also be a reward for the person who’s been referred to you. That way, it’s a fantastic opportunity for both of them. And, obviously, it’ll benefit your freelance company in the long run because your customer base will grow. You should keep offering rewards to your existing customers to maintain loyal relationships with them, of course.

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Best Ways To Provide The Best Working Environment

It’s no secret that your work environment has an impact on your productivity, performance and mood when at work. If your employees are stuck in a dark, gloomy office with unpleasant workers then they are at risk of becoming demotivated and left feeling as though the company they work doesn’t care about their wellbeing. 

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Have a look below at some of the ways you can provide the best working environment:

Hire A Team That Gels

As a business owner, you should be able to make decisions that are at times hard. However, you need to be able to make tough decisions and deliver bad news at times. When it comes to your team you have to understand that at some point you will need to look at your team and make changes. Don’t be afraid to get rid of bad employees. A good working environment typically starts with the people that you hire. You should try and make sure that your employees are professional and team players. The same should apply to anyone that already works in your office too, When employees work with bad employees they are more likely to become bad too. 

Provide Good Lighting

Providing the right lighting in the workplace plays an essential part in the performance and attitudes of your employees. It’s important that consider adding natural light into your workspace, not only does it improve the mood of your employees but it also helps their wellbeing, attitude, work performance and focus. It’s surprising to find that nearly fifty per cent of worker claim that they have no natural light provided. If you’re not able to provide natural lighting with windows then there are other options such as specialised light bulbs.

Provide A Comfortable Workspace

This doesn’t just mean thinking about providing a comfy chair for your employees it also means thinking about areas such as lighting. Working equipment, extra facilities, airconditioning such as MTA Australasia and many others. Something else that you ould consider is allowing your employees to choose where they would like to work including providing comfy seating areas, raisable desks and outside spaces. Trusting your employees to manage their own time adds an extra level of comfort and allowing them to customise their workspace makes them feel comfortable and relaxed. 

Encourage Communication

Communication is a powerful resource when used correctly. It’s important to focus on communication and consider it to be a priority for ay business. You should encourage open communication with anything and everything,you could even try having an open door policy where you show that you are open to communication at almost any time (of course, you will have times when you’re in meetings). Not only should you think closely about the communication methods used by yourself, your manager’s and supervisors but also the line of communication for your employees. You want them to feel as though they are able to share any problems without worry. 

These four areas should help you on your way to providing the best working environment for your employees. Do you have any others that you can share in the comments section below? 

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5 Marketing Strategies That Are Now Outdated

Marketing is constantly evolving. While there are plenty of new strategies coming in, there are also plenty of older strategies that are becoming obsolete as a result. Here are just a few once-popular strategies that are now outdated – and what you should be doing instead.

Brochures

Companies used to publish brochures and catalogues as informational guides to products and promotions. Nowadays, brochures are regarded as a waste of paper – especially given that they serve the exact same purpose as a website.

Instead of building a brochure, you’re better of putting your time and money into web design. You can update a website at any time, allowing you to constantly promote the most up-to-date information on your company. Apps can also serve a similar function to brochures and could also be worth looking into.

Printed newsletters

Many companies also used to print off newsletters as a way of keeping customers updated. Nowadays, this form of marketing is also dying out due to the convenience of emails.

Emails don’t cost anything to send and are instant. Because of these benefits, many companies are now trying to persuade customers to switch to email mailing lists. A bulk email messaging tool could be the one investment you want to make, making it easier to send masses of emails at once.

Phonebook advertising

It used to be a case that the only way to find the contact details of a company was to use a phonebook. That was until online search engines came along and practically killed off phonebooks.

Appearing on the first page of Google is the modern day equivalent of having pride of place in the phonebook. Boosting one’s rankings on search engines isn’t easy and generally requires investing in SEO services. You can also pay to create search engine ads so that you’re guaranteed to rank at the top until a certain amount people click on your ad.

Billboards

You’ll still find plenty of billboards around today. However, they’re not nearly as effective at building leads as they once were. Billboard advertising is expensive and nowadays fewer people are observant due to other distractions (namely mobile phones).

There are other forms of advertising that could have better results such as PPC advertising. Given that your average person stuck in traffic is also more likely to check their phone than spot a billboard, it could also be worth pouring that extra money into mobile advertising such as SMS advertising or app development.

Cold calling

Cold calling has never been a popular form of advertising among consumers, but it did used to be effective. These days, it’s much harder to call a stranger up and sell them something. There are now fewer landlines and more mobile phones, and you can view numbers on mobile phones before choosing to pick up. There are also stricter laws when it comes to obtaining data such as phone numbers make it more catered to existing customers.

Direct emailing could be a better alternative marketing strategy to cold calling. People find this less invasive, it’s less costly and it allows you to offer more information more quickly without being cut off. Research email sales tactics and try fine-tuning this strategy instead. 

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