Ideas For Learning New Skills Online

Learning new skills is a lot of fun, and it is even more exciting when you can do it at your own pace in your comfortable clothes. The internet has made that a possibility, and it is so diverse you can pretty much learn anything you like for free. It might be something to support your career, or it might be something you just really want to be good at. Either way, here are some ideas for learning new skills online. 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Cooking

If you have always wanted to branch out and cook some great cuisine, then you can hit the internet and find everything you want. From learning how to make dairy-free ice cream, to the ultimate beef wellington. You can check out some recipes on Facebook pages like Tasty, or BOSH for great vegan food. There are some amazing YouTube channels dedicated to food too. Write down a few recipes and hit the internet to start creating. 

Design

Great design is a sight to behold. It looks beautiful and serves a purpose. To learn how to do it to a professional corporate standard might take a few years, but in the meantime, you can use Canva to get used to playing with graphics, layouts, and how to use the space well. If you are interested in developing the skill further, then check out the courses on Udemy and Coursera. You’ll be creating cool stuff in no time at all. 

Computer

Most of us know how to use a computer to some degree. But there is so much more to computer possibilities than just playing a few games or writing emails. Free coding courses have exploded in the last few years, and while they are pretty basic in comparison to what programmers do – they are a lot of fun and will get you started. You might want to check out other skills and IT training too – because you can add these to your CV, they make a great time and money investment. 

Language

Learning a new language is a lot of fun for two reasons – the first is it can help you travel and see more of the world. For example, Spanish is a great option to travel to a lot of Europe and many other countries too. The second is more job-related. You can become a translator, verbal, or written – or you can search for jobs in your new language speaking country. 

Drawing

This one might take more motivation, but the improvement you will see week after week is going to be amazing. We all used to draw a lot when we were little without even thinking about it; as we get older, the time and confidence fade a little. But you can find great free online art courses that can help you explore different styles. Art is great because it adds an element of calm and creativity into our lives – and who doesn’t want more of that? 

Learning online is very convenient and a lot of fun – so what’s stopping you? 

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Keeping Your Small Business’ Online Presence Up to Date

The internet is becoming an increasingly important tool for small businesses. In fact, it is pretty much essential to have a visible online presence if you want to be successful. Just look at the success of online-only businesses such as Amazon and ASOS, and take into account that the vast majority of high street retailers also have a website to complement their brick-and-mortar store. Operating online allows customers to order goods from you from the comfort of their own home, without the hassle of driving and parking. This is convenient for most people, particularly if you offer next-day deliveries. It also allows you to work on 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis. Online stores do not need to be manned, and it also allows you to operate on a global scale, with the simple addition of international shipping options. However, merely setting up a website and thinking that is it is not going to bring the customers to you. No, you have to put work in to make sure your website is up to date and visible amongst the millions of other sites on the world wide web.

 Here are a couple of critical areas to focus on:

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Web design

It is relatively easy to design and build a website, but if this is something you are not confident about, it is best left to the professionals. For an online business, your website is your storefront – it is the first thing your customers see, and it will say a lot about you. Studies have shown that most people will decide whether they will stay on your page within three seconds of clicking on it. What may have been appealing in the past may be outdated, so you cannot guarantee that customers will keep coming back if you never update or revamp your site!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a concept that still remains alien to many business owners, despite being a relatively simple concept to master. In its most fundamental sense, SEO is about choosing the very best keywords for your site – the words that people are searching for your goods and services would use and incorporating it into your website content. However, optimizing your website is one of the best things you can do for your site, so again, getting a professional, such as SEOExplode to give you some assistance is well worth it. It will help you rank much more highly in search engines, above your competitors and give you an edge.

External linking

Another way to get your website high up in search engine listings is to have a high domain authority (DA). Essentially, if you have a high DA, your website has authority. One of the best ways to increase this, as well as producing useful and engaging content, is to have other sites link to you. Working with bloggers is an excellent way of doing this. 

Social media

Social media is one of the most effective – and cheapest – marketing tools you have to hand. The vast majority of the western population are active on social media, so if you are not utilizing that to the very best of your ability, you are missing out big time! Facebook is superb for engaging customers, drawing them in with exciting content and offers. Instagram, as long as you use high quality, curated images, is the perfect place to advertise products, and Twitter is great for conversation and short, to the point information and messages. Again, there are professionals out there who can manage your social media on your behalf if it is something that you feel you can’t do or do not have time for.

Pay-per-click advertising

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) or cost-per-click advertising (CPC) are two great ways to draw in traffic. Essentially, a website such as Google will advertise your business in their banners, sidebars, and their listings under a sponsored tab, but you only pay when a customer clicks on them – hence the name. They work well because most PPC/CPC agencies allow you to really focus your advertising on your target audience. You can select the demographic down to location and interests, and your adverts will be shown to them, making it a relatively low cost and effective form of marketing.

These are just a few ways that you can help to ensure that your small business’ online presence is visible and up to date Incorporate them into your business practices sooner rather than later to bring in traffic and to maximize your sales!

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Absolutely The Most Essential Ways To Safeguard Your Business 100%

More than just money goes into setting up and running a successful business. In fact, its effort, time, and emotional investment as well. Of course, with so much being involved, protecting your business is always a chief concern for owners and managers. Although, with so many varied factors that can become potential threats, it isn’t the easiest thing to do. Happily, you can find some advice on how to best safeguard the success and longevity of your business below. Read on to find out more. 

Picture located at Pexels – Licence CC0 

Crime

No one wants to believe that their business is vulnerable to crime. However, you can never guarantee that the people that work for you, or that those buying your products will treat your company with the same respect as you do. Sadly, that means on occasion, your business can be a victim of crimes such as theft, vandalism, and even fraud. 

Of course, because each of these issues is so different, they do need a range of preventative strategies to be put in place. For example, if the concerns with theft, you have centre around shoplifting by people in-store, boosting your business’s security is a must. Something that you can do by installing CCTV cameras at key points, as well as investing in security tag readers for all of the exits. Some stores even find it helpful to employ security guards as well, especially if shoplifting has become a significant problem. 

Unfortunately, not all thefts are committed by outsiders in a business. In fact, sometimes, a company can be targeted for this sort of crime from the inside by its own employees. Of course, if you are concerned about internal theft, there are some strategies you can use to minimise the risks and protect your business. 

The first is to install lockers and ask everyone to leave their bags and personal belongings in there. This being an action that reduces the ease of getting stolen items out of the building undetected. Additionally, CCTV cameras in critical positions such as by the tills can help to prevent any mishandling of money or returned goods as well. You may even want to introduce random checks as a way to discourage theft too.

Cybercrime 

Then there are the issues with cybercrime that you need to defend your business against. Something that can be a serious problem, with so much of everything companies do now being online.

In particular, it’s crucial that you make sure to implement tactics that will help to protect our company from Malware. This being any software that has a malicious intent such as Ransome wear, viruses, and spyware. 

Recently issues with Ransome wear have come to the foreground because many smaller businesses have been targeted. A situation that often involves the freezing of online resources and systems, and the threat to delete them if a ransom isn’t paid. Of course, paying the ransom is nearly always a bad idea as it just perpetuates this form of criminality and could even make your business into a further target. Although, if you do choose to pay, be sure to negotiate your terms with the criminals first. Something that is often possible because they provide details of how to contact them to make the payment! 

Picture found at Pixabay – License CC0

Alternatively, depending on the type of ransomware you are affected with, it may be possible to cleanse your system. Something that you can try and so yourself, although it’s probably a better idea to get your IT company to handle this for you. 

Of course, doing this will only get rid of the Ransome wear and not give you access to any data that is lost. This means that you will need to reboot your system from any backups you have. A situation that means regular server or cloud backups are essential if you are to protect your business from harm. 

Another type of cybercrime that can threaten the safety of a business is fraud, mainly the stealing of customers financial details to use elsewhere. In fact, this can create a double issue because it does not just present a challenge to the trust you have built up with your customers. It can also cause a potential PR nightmare as well. Something that we will discuss in more detail later in the post. 

The good news here is that there are some things you can do to prevent the theft of customer’s financial details in your business. One is to avoid the use of any USB sticks, as then data cannot be downloaded and taken off-site. Additionally, not allowing the use of mobile or smartphones in the workplace can prevent any pictures of financial details being stolen or recorded too. 

Finally, making sure that your IT security is robust as possible is essential because such a threat can also come from outside your business as well as inside. An issue that your IT provider should be able to advise you on. 

PR / complaints 

Effective safeguarding of your company also requires that you pay attention to public relations. That is how the public at large, and particularly your targeted demographic perceive you. After all, if those you are hoping to sell to do not hold your brand in high regard selling enough units will be a real uphill battle. 

With that in mind, there is a range of tactics you need to put in place when it comes to protecting your company’s reputation. One is to do all that you can to encourage positive reviews, especially on independent sites like TrustPilot. The reason being that these are seen as more authentic and so will have a more significant effect on customers buying decisions. 

Happily, doing this isn’t as laborious as it may seem at first. In fact, it is mostly about paying as much detail to the customer’s experience as possible. From when they first step into your business or search for your website all the way through to aftercare. In particular, making sure your buying process is easy and intuitive for your customers is essential. Oh, and being able to guarantee you can provide the products you need, within the time frame they want is important too. Additionally, providing an easily accessible customer service, that is focused around solving any problems is crucial. The reason being it will help you to go above, and beyond customers expectations to not just deliver, but delight as well. 

Mistakes and oversights most definitely come under the banner of PR and complaints as well. Whether they are from clients or employees, mostly because they have the potential to severely impact on the public’s opinion of your business negatively. 

To that end, you must minimise the chances of any mistakes occurring. Something that you can do by having transparent processes and procedures for any possible eventuality. Quality control is another vital aspect of preventing errors and oversights as well. Lastly, making sure you are covered even if things do go wrong is crucial here. After all, you can minimise the likelihood of mistakes but never eliminate them entirely. 

Happily, by investing in products such as Business Insurance from Krywolt if something does go wrong, your company will be protected and covered. Something that means you won’t have to find the money to fight a court case or pay compensation if things do not go in your favour. A situation that could not only damage your business’s reputation but wipeouts its bank account as well, causing further catastrophe and the inability to continue trading. 

Competition 

Another essential way that you can help to safeguard your business is to make sure you stay ahead of your closest competitors. In fact, without an edge in the marketplace, your business can be left in the dust, even if your product and concept is sound.

Luckily, there are a range of methods you can use to stay ahead of your competition. One of these being to take pains to safeguard your intellectual property. In fact, with the exchange of information being so instantaneous now the spread of ideas happens at lightning speed. Of course, this is excellent news in terms of marketing, but not so useful if you want to stop plagiarism or cheap knock-offs being generated for a quarter of the price in China. 

With that in mind, making sure you protect your intellectual property is vital here. Something that you can do by applying for a copyright or a patent on your product or asset. Additionally, you can further protect your products by branding them in such a way that anyone buying cheap fakes will miss out on the entire experience. This being something that can be surprisingly effective, as, for many customers, the lifestyle that a product represents is just as important as the item itself. 

Summary

In summary, if your goal is to protect your business, there are several things you need to consider. The first is safeguarding it against crime and cybercrime. While the second is making sure you maintain a positive public image. Lastly, you need to be able to keep up with your competition. If your business is to be successful and to continue trading over the long term. 

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10 Top Tips For Finding The Perfect Computer For Your Business

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

When it comes to buying a computer for your business it can be hard to make the right decision. From choosing the right model to finding something that is within your price range, you need to be sure you’re choosing the best possible options for you and your business. Whilst it may seem difficult at first, there are lots of tips and tricks you can try to help ensure you’re buying the right computer for you. With that in mind, here are 5 ways to protect your office building: 

– Consider Your Budget Well In Advance

One of the best things you can do when it comes to finding the perfect computer for your business is to set yourself an overall budget. Although you may have an idea of how much you want to spend in your mind, you need to think about all of the extras that come with it. From accessories to insurance, buying a computer for your business is not cheap. For guidance when it comes to the average cost of a computer, you can visit this site here. 

– Make Sure You’re Doing Your Research

Another important thing to consider when it comes to buying the perfect computer for your business is whether or not you’re doing enough research beforehand. Whether this means researching the most affordable options or researching the best places to buy your accessories, you need to be sure you’re as prepared as you can be when it comes to making your purchase. If you’re unsure, you might find speaking to a technically-minded professional will help. 

– Consider What You’re Going To Be Using It For

When finding the perfect computer for you and your business, you need to be sure you’re thinking about what your computer is going to be used for. Whether you’re using it to complete your day-to-day errands or you’re using it to create high-quality videos or photos, you need to be sure you’re thinking about its functionality above everything else. Although you may be tempted to buy something because it’s affordable, you need to be sure it’s going to do everything you want it to do. 

– Prioritise The Features You Need

When thinking about the features of your new computer, you need to ensure you’re prioritising the ones you need most. 

Although there are computers that are all singing and all dancing, you may find that it’s just a few key features you’re looking for instead. If you’re unsure about what features you need in order to carry out your role in the business, a store assistant will definitely be able to advise you. All they need is a short description of the reasons why you use your computer. For a guide to common features of a computer, you can visit this site here. 

– Think About Where You’re Going To Be Purchasing It From

Another important thing to consider when it comes to finding the perfect computer for your business is where you’re going to be purchasing it from. Although there are plenty of great options online, you may find it more beneficial to go into a store and speak to a professional. Not only will they be able to offer you advice when it comes to choosing the right computer but they will also be able to ensure you’re getting the best deal. 

– Choose Whether Or Not You Want To Buy It Outright Or On Finance

If you’re purchasing a computer that is considerably high in price, you might want to consider buying it on finance rather than purchasing it outright. Although it will ultimately come down to the affordability of your business, you need to be sure you’re doing what is best for you. 

– Don’t Forget To Purchase Insurance 

When it comes to buying a computer for your business you need to ensure you’re also investing in insurance. Although the chance of something happening to your computer is low, the small cost of insurance will be much better than the cost of replacing your computer should something happen to it. If you’re worried about finding the right insurance for your computer, you can visit this guide here. 

– Think About Any Accessories You May Need

If you’re buying a computer for your business, chances are you’re going to need accessories. Whether it’s a high-quality webcam for conference calls or software that allows you to do your job, you need to ensure you’re factoring it into the overall cost of your purchase. If possible, you might find it is more beneficial to buy everything from the same place. Not only will it allow you to put it all under the same insurance policy with ease but it will also give you the opportunity to make your purchase as simple as it can possibly be. 

– Consider How Often You’re Going To Need To Upgrade

Although you’re not going to be upgrading your computer every year, you need to think about how often you’re going to have to upgrade in order to carry out your job efficiently. Whether it means upgrading the amount of space or RAID capacity you have or increasing the graphic capability, you need to ensure you can do absolutely everything your job requires with ease. For more information when it comes to space or for a free RAID calculators, you can visit this site here. 

– Ask Around For Opinions And Recommendations 

Finally, you might want to consider asking those around you for opinions and recommendations. Although they may not be able to suggest the perfect computer for you to purchase, they may be able to offer you advice when it comes to making the best possible decision.  If you’re still unsure about what to do, you may benefit from taking a colleague with you to make your final purchase. 

Are you looking for a new computer for your business? What do you need to consider to ensure you’re choosing the best possible option?  Let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below. 

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4 Big Technology Mistakes That Could Be Damaging Your Business

Technology is essential to the success of all businesses these days and when you use it in the right way, it can save you a lot of money. But so many business owners are not using it correctly because they’re not technology experts. If you make big mistakes with your technology, it can cause some big problems with productivity and in some cases, you could be wasting a lot of money. These are some of the big tech mistakes that your business needs to avoid. 

Image From Pixabay CCO License

Not Backing Up Data 

Cyber security should be a priority for all businesses and you need to invest money in security software to protect all of your sensitive data. But it’s equally important that you have a disaster recovery system in place to recover your data in the event of an attack or an accidental loss. So many businesses put resources into preventing data loss but they don’t spend enough time planning how they will deal with it if it does happen. The problem is, no matter how much money you spend on cyber security, data loss is always a possibility and you need to be prepared for it if it does happen. 

Not Upgrading Tech Regularly Enough

When you don’t have a huge technology budget, it might seem sensible to make do with old computers or old versions of software so you can save a bit of money. The problem is, it won’t save you money. In fact, it will probably end up costing you more in the long run. Old hardware is prone to breaking and that means spending more money on repairs. Outdated software will not be as quick and efficient and won’t have all of the same features as the newer versions, which means that your employees will not benefit and productivity will not increase. You will find that you spend less on maintenance and your employees are far more productive if you upgrade to the latest tech sooner rather than later.

Upgrading Software Faster Than Hardware 

While it is important that you upgrade your tech on a regular basis, you need to make sure that you’re doing it in the right way. One of the more common mistakes that people make is upgrading their software but leaving their old hardware. That means you’re trying to run brand new software on a computer that is 5 years old and is coming to the end of its useful life, and that’s going to cause problems. There is no point in spending money on the latest software if your computers are not fast enough to run it properly. When you upgrade, you need to make sure that you are upgrading hardware and software at the same pace. 

Lack Of Training 

Training is so important when you introduce new technology to the business. You can spend as much money as you like on software, but you won’t see an increase in productivity if your employees don’t know how to use it properly. It’s more likely that you will see a big dip in efficiency until people get to grips with it. That’s why it’s important to train your employees on new technology before you roll it out. 

If you can avoid these common mistakes, you will get a lot more out of your business technology. 

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Nine Data Security Tips

Data security is becoming a major concern for businesses and individuals. We’re all doing more online, from remote working, managing the bills or handling your company’s payroll. With more sensitive data going online, it’s important to protect it, whether you use Managed IT Services or manage your IT needs yourself. 

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  1. Encrypt your data. You don’t need to be a tech expert to encrypt data. There are lots of tools available now to encrypt emails and other information. You can easily encrypt, decrypt, sign and verify emails, protect files and scramble your data to keep it private and protected. 
  2. Backup your data. Having a backup keeps your documents safe if a device is lost, stolen or compromised. Backup documents on something like an external hard drive or in the cloud, so they’re not lost along with your device. 
  3. Protect against Malware. Anti-malware protection lays a foundation of security for your devices. Malware is designed to infiltrate and damage a computer, and can come in the form of viruses, worms, spyware and more. It can get into your device from websites or emails or even hidden in files, freeware or shareware. Avoid getting these infections by running a strong anti-virus program, and do regular checks for spyware. Be aware of what you click on or download too.
  4. Make old hard drives unreadable. If you’re throwing out an old computer, don’t forget to clear the harddrive and prevent your data from being stolen that way. Transfer any files elsewhere. Sanitize by disk shredding, magnetically cleaning the disk or using software to wipe the desk clean. Destroy old computer disks. 
  5. Install operating system updates. Updates can be a nuisance, but they’re needed. These updates often contain critical security patches that will protect your device from new threats. Set your operating system to update automatically so you never miss them and put your machine at risk. 
  6. Secure your wireless network. Always secure your wireless network, whether at home or at work, with a password. This prevents other people from accessing your network, for free WiFi access or to get at your private information. Your network should be secure, encrypted and hidden. 
  7. Turn off your computer. When you’ve finished using your computer or laptop, turn it off. Leaving a device on and connected to the internet could give someone the opportunity to attack it. An on device offers a scammer 24 hour access to attempt to install malware. Turn it off when you’re done. 
  8. Use a firewall. A firewall will assist in blocking dangerous viruses, spyware or programs from getting into your system. Look for hardware based firewalls, like those often built into network routers, to get a better level of security. 
  9. Use a passphrase instead of a password. A passphrase basically works as a longer password, that is much harder to guess. Instead of choosing a single password, use a phrase, like a song lyric or a quote that you can remember easily. Use the first letter of each word in the phrase, with a few numbers and special characters to create a secure passphrase.

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Making Your Business Look Better

When you are a freelancer, if you have just started a small company, it can feel like you will never be taken seriously. It is hard to pitch for work, and you sometimes feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. You are just one person, so how can you present yourself as more prominent without lying about it? 

The chances are you don’t have loads of money to sink into your appearance, but you do have some time to work on it. Having a professional-looking ‘shop window’ means you are much more likely to nab those clients sooner rather than later. Here are some things you can do to look bigger and better. 

Photo by Jealous Weekends on Unsplash

Design

Your logos and all of the imagery on your social media, your websites, your station should be sleek and interesting. Over complicated logos can get confusing – even if they are great to look at. Canva has a great free membership which gives you access to a lot of tools to help you design everything you are going to need from PDFs and eBooks to YouTube covers and Twitter covers. This will mean nothing looks stretched or out of place. Before you start putting up the first design you created, think about the overall image you want to get across. Take your time, draft up a few options and then for with the ones that make the most sense for what you are doing. 

Think about the clients that you want to attract, check out your competition and people in the same field to get an idea of the standard that is expected. 

Portfolio

Your online portfolio tells people who you are, what you do, how well you do it, and sometimes there are packages on there that can be ordered too. You shouldn’t put everything you have ever done on there, but you should curate works that look pleasing together, and have a flow. This goes for anything from design work and videos to copywriting and photography. There should be a clear understanding of your style and what you offer. 

In your about me, make sure that you are transparent and open. Personality can matter a lot when you are hiring or being hired. They need to know if they can work with you or not. 

Remember that your older work, unless it was for a particularly prominent client, isn’t going to be as skilled as your current works. 

Calls

If you take calls about business, you should strongly consider if you want people to call your personal mobile phone. Many people don’t want that and feel it crosses the boundaries between private life and work life. So there are a couple of things that you can do. If you stick with the same number, put your phone to divert after a particular time at night. Secondly, consider a service that will handle your calls for you like Ivy Answer. Thirdly, think about having a mobile phone that is purely for work purposes. 

Email

Your email should be outlook or Gmail. It should be tied in neatly to your website and business name. They just don’t look that great. Even more so if your email address if from years ago and you haven’t changed it. Making a business email is easy and should be an option somewhere in your hosting. It also shows that you care about the details and your personal brand – which is excellent for the clients to see. 

Testimonials

If you have worked for a few clients, it is time to ask them for some testimonials about your work. This shows that you have work and will give prospective clients a better view of what you are capable of. The reviews don’t have to be glowing, but they should talk about your work ethic, did you deliver on time, how the value for money was. These things are important to people when they are hiring companies to work with. If you don’t have any testimonials, don’t be tempted to fabricate something. Instead, you should reach out to friends and offer a small piece of work or service in return for the testimonials. 

Social Media

Your social media is going to matter because everyone is there! Make sure all of your covers are the right size, and that you can see your website clearly on everything. Don’t spam your own links and products all the time, instead create a social media plan that has a defined goal like driving traffic, or securing leads. 

When it comes to looking professional, much of it is time and acting professionally. Present yourself in the best light, and you will look like an agency or larger company without effort. 

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