Setting Up an Online Business

Setting up an online business looks easy. You probably have several friends who are selling their works on Etsy and eBay and you think that’s what an online business is. That’s just part of it.

Many sellers are simply putting up ‘displays’ in online shops, but that would be like a coincidental marketing strategy. It’s a coincidence a buyer would go to the shop, and it would be a coincidence that the buyer would see the seller’s goods. It may earn some, but it could not hold up in the long run. A real online business goes beyond these electronic shops that only act as a middleman.

We have here some tips you could think about before you set up your online business.

Business documents

Many online sellers skip this. That’s because they’re just riding on the electronic shop’s permit to operate. Although you may opt later on to also display some items in these shops, your business is a separate entity. Make sure you’re doing it legally, get the right documents, and pay the appropriate taxes. The only difference between an on-site shop and an online business is the market, the people you are targeting to reach to sell your products.

Your base: a website

Your website will contain everything your target clientele would need to know beyond the items you’re selling. The importance of your website is important for your visibility. It will have content about your company, contact details, and possibly even a feedback mechanism for those who would want to share their experiences about your business.

The most you can show in online shops and social media are parts and portions of your business. You would want to offer answers to questions your clients might have without necessarily having to communicate with all of them individually. You will have all of this information on your website.

Search Engine Optimisation

To make sure your target buyers will find their way to your website, you need to maximise search engines like Google and maybe DuckDuckGo. For this, you could find anSEO company to do the job for you.

As what had been pointed out earlier, buyers seeing your products in online stores depend on chance. But what you need is purposive marketing. Meaning, they would intentionally find you. To compare it to an on-site store, going to an e-store is like going to a department store, they would find your dress because they looked through a rack. On the other hand, making a search engine work for you is like having a personal shopper bring your dress to the client because it fits the descriptions the client wants.

Building Your Team

You might want to just work alone at first, cutting costs. But as your business would expand, so would the work increase. You can hire part-time staff instead.

First, you will need a social media manager. Although it seems to be easy work you can do, doing marketing in social media is not as simple as your personal postings on Facebook and Instagram. You will need to make fresh posts so that you have more chances of getting into the feed of strangers. Remember that you’re not posting for a group of friends who are already following you, but people who may not even be interested in your products at first.

At the start, you might be doing all the logistical work. You monitor the orders, shipping, and stocks. But once your business takes off, it might be too much. You could hire an assistant to oversee parts of these. You could even just get a virtual assistant who will be dealing with inquiries, customer relations, and orders.

The financial records should be handled by you. But if you lack this expertise, get someone who could guide you with it. Hire an accountant to periodically work on your books so when the time for taxes and other matters comes, you wouldn’t have to worry about it. Once you expand, you should hire a financial manager who will ensure you’re not incurring losses.

Finally, you could get an Information Technology expert. Since they tend to cost a lot, you could just get a consultant. Aside from the usual online marketing strategies, you could ask your IT expert to develop specific programs that could benefit your business. For example, your website could be made more navigable, you could have a mobile app, or you might want a comprehensive database that would gather information from all your online engagements to develop better strategies.

Setting up an online business, again, is not simply posting goods and getting orders. Like any business, it needs you to build networks, be part of a business community, and adhere to rules and regulations.

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How To Choose The Best IT Support

When they’re scaling their business, a lot of companies decide to outsource some or all of their IT needs. There are a lot of companies out there offering IT services, but choosing the best one for your business can be hard. Handing over a business-critical function like IT to someone outside of your company can be a daunting idea. How do you know who is reliable/ Is there service good value? What happens if it goes wrong? To get the best IT support, interview each vendor and ask these questions. 

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Where Are You Based?

It doesn’t matter that much where your IT support has their head office, but you should know where their servers are. The location is important if they will be offering you services like cloud hosting, computer networking, or VoIP. Server location can impact on the quality of your services. Local law about GDPR may also have implications on the way your data is stored, especially if your company works in an industry with a high level of regulation.

What Geographical Areas Do You Cover?

You don’t need your IT support vendor to be based in the same city as you these days. However, you do need to know what areas they cover, especially if you might move your premises in the future, or want to expand your business into new areas or different countries. You need to know that your provider can keep supporting you. 

Do You Offer Different Levels Of IT Support?

IT support companies usually offer a few different levels of service, which can suit different budgets, businesses, and requirements. For example, you can choose between:

  • Pay-as-you-go or ad-hoc support
  • Break-fix support
  • Managed service support

Look for a company who can offer the level of support that you need and can afford. 

What Exactly Is Supported In The Contract?

You should be careful with a company who says they support everything, without giving detail about what that actually means and what is included in the agreement with them. It’s not unusual for companies to assume they will get complete coverage, only to find out that they can actually only log a maximum number of support tickets every month, or that some services will be charged as an extra. Get this laid out clearly from the beginning, so you understand exactly what kind of support you will get. Otherwise, you run the risk of signing a contract that doesn’t actually work for your business. 

What Isn’t Covered In The IT Support Contract?

You could assume that this is covered by asking what is included in your support, but it’s still wise to get more detail by asking this question as well. There may be some services which are not covered by your contract. It’s better to know in advance what will be billed separately so you can budget more accurately. If there are any services that are not included in your contract, then you need to know about ad-hoc or hourly pricing. 

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Simple Tips to Transitioning to Working-from-Home

If you’re one of the many office workers who have recently transitioned from working in an office to now working remotely from home, you might be pulling your hair out trying to figure out exactly how to make the environment work best for you. 

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Working from the comfort of your own home has huge pros, and a few cons. The lack of social interaction can be rough, and learning how to navigate meetings and face-to-face discussions via Skype or Zoom can make even the most introverted person wishing to be in the same room as their coworkers. 

One of the ways to reduce that stress though is to make sure that your home office environment is a welcoming place, thoroughly equipped to make your job easier to perform. If you haven’t already, now is the time to consider a dual monitor system. Whether you’re working on spreadsheets, going over a project with coworkers over the phone, or switching between two websites to compare, having two monitors greatly increases productivity. According to a survey performed by Jon Peddie Research, a second monitor increases your average output by 20 to 30 percent. 

Next, let’s talk about docking your laptop. If you’re accustomed to working on a larger monitor, and suddenly only have your laptop, you can consider docking your laptop. This will save on the cost of an entirely new computer, but allow you to use a larger or second monitor, as well as a traditional more ergonomic keyboard and mouse. For short amounts of time, a laptop can be a great machine to work on, but having a docking station is key in making sure your work station is a comfortable place to work. Not all laptop docking stations are made equally, though. If you’d like a thorough breakdown of some of the best options on the market in 2020, check out this review here

Finally, let’s address that persnickety video conference issue. 

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When you set up your video camera and microphone to hold meetings with coworkers or potential clients, take these tips into consideration:

  • Angle the video so that viewers are not looking up at your chin or into your nose. Have a straight-facing camera, or slightly higher than eye level.
  • Even though you’re at home, make sure your area looks professional. That means clear out any clutter from behind you that can be seen.
  • Consider the lighting. Lighting from behind is going to put a shadow on your face, so have your lighting in front or to the side of you. This could be as simple as changing the location of where you sit so that you’re using natural light from a window 
  • Use the mute button. Large conference calls can get noisy. Touch-to-talk can make a meeting much easier to deal with when several people are in attendance. 

If you’re new to working from home, it can be a stretch, but well worth it in the long-run. You may need to remind kids and family members that while you are at home, you do need to focus on work during specific hours. This can greatly decrease interruptions and have you focused and productive throughout your workday.

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4 Cyber Security Apps To Protect Your Business

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Protecting your business encompasses many different tasks and priorities. It would be easy if running a company was plain sailing, with no risk or setbacks on the horizon. Unfortunately, this just isn’t realistic, and so it’s essential to take precautions to protect your company. Commercial insurance is a must-have so that you are covered if a member of the public is injured on your property, or is put at risk due to one of your products.

Property insurance is essential to cover the expenses associated with damages incurred to your building or equipment. Worker’s compensation means that you are protected if your employees fall unwell. Many companies forget about cyber insurance when they are choosing their policies, yet cyber crimes continue to grow. As well as choosing the appropriate Commercial Insurance options, there are several apps you can use to protect your business online.

1 . Perimeter 81 

Perimeter 81 is a VPN platform designed to simplify online security. Using Perimeter 81, you can work remotely while accessing high-level online security protection. With this application, there’s no need for expensive hardware and a lengthy installation process. Perimeter 81 offers professionals full network visibility and the opportunity to identify unusual activity. The software-defined perimeter architecture ensures that users are fully protected when accessing data centers, SaaS apps, and private cloud networks.

2. Flowmon

Flowmon is a security and network monitoring platform that uses IP flow tracking tech to provide users with network visibility. Flowmon detects security threats early and stops such threats before they begin to compromise the network. The application can improve the process of fighting off threats using antiviruses, firewalls, and IDS. One of the best features of Flowmon are the network probes, executed in real-time. This software also provides stats in relation to IP flow and then stores this data for further analysis.

3. TokenEx

TokenEx is a cyber security platform that can help your organization to protect it’s confidential and sensitive data. The application works to lessen the impact of a security breach in a worst-case scenario. External and internal systems commonly use tokens to make transactions. TokenEx functions to ensure that hackers don’t have the chance to break into these systems and steal data. The key benefit of TokenEx is that it provides an end-to-end unified tokenization solution; other features include file transfer, encryption, and various integrations.

4. Netwrix Auditor 

Netwrix Auditor is a governance and visibility platform for IT security operations. It’s been described as an easy to use type of IT management software, making it simple for users to determine risks and threats in their hybrid environments and cloud systems. With Netwrix Auditor, you can track access to data and create reports on any changes deployed by users. Other features of Netwrix include monitoring user behavior, detection of insider threats, blind-spot analysis, and security analytics.
With one of these applications in place, your business can relax about your security, and get on with your critical projects. In our current climate it’s vital to consistently improve your IT systems and security.

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How Poor IT Support Damages Your Business

There are a lot of elements in business that all contribute to the overall success of your company. And when it comes to your IT support, a poor service can be really damaging to your company. Here’s how poor IT support damages your business.

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It Impacts Productivity Levels

When you’ve got a poor response time for IT problems, then productivity levels will drop. They drop because the work that was supposed to be done can’t be done, and then you also have periods where we all naturally get bored and start procrastinating. Our productivity levels can definitely be impacted when we’re finding something difficult, and that can often be to do with slow-running computers or electronic devices that aren’t playing ball. Improving your productivity levels as a business is important, and it’s something that should always be maintained. If they aren’t, then there’s a lot of consequences that can come from it, such as a loss of staff or earnings. Neither of which you really want to happen, right? IT services need to always be on top of their game regardless of the size of the business.

You’re Likely Frustrating Your Staff

Frustrating your staff is something you don’t want to be doing because not allowing them to do their work efficiently, could cause a lot of problems. It’s important that you’re fixing IT problems as soon as they crop up else they’re the ones who won’t be able to get their work done. If they can’t get it done, they either need to spend more time in the office working, or they fail to reach their deadlines because their time was wasted due to under-performing IT equipment. And if the expectation to reach deadlines and complete tasks is pressured on staff, then they’ll likely snap.

It Can Leave You Vulnerable To Cyberattacks

A poor IT support service can leave your business vulnerable to cyberattacks. If something like a virus was accidently downloaded onto a computer and your IT support was very slow to respond, who knows what damage could be done. Within just a few minutes or hours, you could be seeing a huge and negative impact to your business. By leaving yourself vulnerable to cyberattacks, you’re likely to risk more than just your data but your company as a whole.

You Allow Your Business To Fall Behind

With very little support in the way of IT services, you’re allowing your business to fall behind. Not having the support and guidance to further protect your company and provide your business with the right resources, can be impactful to your staff and business. It can be very easy for a company to fall apart if an area of it isn’t working properly, and IT support can definitely be a part of that.

When you’re trying to improve your business, it’s good to make sure your IT support remains at its very best at all times. If it isn’t, then you know what needs to be changed in order for it to improve.

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Four Tech Skills Everyone Should Learn

There’s no escaping it – we live in a digital, technological, computerized, online world. Going “off the grid” may appeal to some, but most of us are fully assimilated into a lifestyle that allows us to order food delivery from a tiny smartphone, hop online to have a meeting via Skype, or read a book on a handheld device. 

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However, when your life is digitized in every way, you become reliant on technology. Not enough people know how basic technology works or how to fix these “smart” items when something goes wrong. Many are able to utilize their technology without any true understanding of it, and that’s a shame. 

We’ve detailed four tech skills that everyone should learn, to better equip themselves in our digital world. 

How the Internet Works

Practically everyone on earth uses the internet, and yet you’d be surprised if you knew how many people have zero clue how it works. 

Having a basic knowledge of the internet, what it is, how it functions and how to do basic troubleshooting is a good rule of thumb for literally everybody. We all use the internet; we should all know the basics. If nothing else so you can reset your own IP address or figure out how to fix an issue with your modem. 

How to Fix your Computer

Now, of course, we’re not talking about major issues here, but it’s a good idea to have a basic working knowledge of how to fix your computer if something small goes wrong. Knowing how to troubleshoot basic software issues, how to clear out the memory a defrag, and even how to replace basic parts (and where to find IT parts, such as on Interbyte), are things you should know if you use a computer often. 

Basic HTML

These days, with sites like wordpress and even apps that do the work for you, nobody really feels the need to use HTML anymore for their blog or website. But you should take the time to learn it. HTML is a valuable language and it’ll serve you well if you know how to write basic tweaks and small bits of code. Those “build your website” platforms are cool, but they’re also slow, clunky and not very intuitive. If you learn HTML, you can whiz through website design in a snap and avoid those overused templates. 

How to Type

Another thing that seems like a no-brainer. But in the day of the smartphone, less and less people are actually learning how to type properly, and instead chicken-peck keys in the rare instances they use a computer. Proper typing has become a bit of a lost art. Failing to type properly, though, slows you down and can hurt your accuracy. 

The ability to type properly (and quickly, not to mention accurately) is an incredibly useful skill and one that will carry you very far in the world of tech. 

These are just four tech skills that the average person should definitely know. If you take the time to learn these, you’ll find the technology as a whole is so much easier for you. You might even open up whole new avenues for yourself in technology.

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How to Succeed in the World of eCommerce

You have a brilliant idea for a new product, so entering the world of eCommerce seems like a natural step. You may have little business experience right now, but you can succeed as long as you’re willing to learn. Whether you’re concerned about the quality of your products or you don’t know how to manage a website, there is a lot to get your head around. If you don’t know how to start selling products, here are a few pointers that will help you get started.

Make Quality a Priority

Even if you know exactly what you want to sell, you need to carry out high quality research. You can’t just hop online, buy a tonne of wholesale products and then sell them on for a higher price. You need to have integrity as a business owner and take pride in the products you’re selling. If you’re looking to import from China to USA, you need to try and minimize your risks too. Getting high quality goods at an affordable price is very doable, but you need to understand what is feasible for you. Once you have done some research on how to import goods, you will be able to decide how the entire process will work for you.

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Always Deliver What Is Being Advertised

If you’re promising a product that is able to do x, y and z, you need to honor this in everything you deliver. You want to build a well trusted brand that your target audience is proud to talk about. Word of mouth means absolutely everything to small businesses so you need to make sure you’re always delivering above and beyond your customers’ expectations.

Make Your Website Easy to Navigate

When you’re running an eCommerce business, your website will make your break your company. If your potential customer doesn’t know exactly what they need to do as soon as they click onto your website, you are going to lose their attention pretty rapidly. Display your products beautifully with high quality images and make sure your item descriptions are grammatically correct and accurate. If you have no idea how to create a website, you can enlist the help of a web designer, who will be able to portray your brand beautifully to the online world.

Analyze Your Competitors Closely

Although you don’t want to focus too much on your competitors it is important to carry out regular research to make sure you’re on the right track with your own business. Having a couple of businesses who do the same thing as you isn’t’ a bad thing; if anything it can help you with inspiration for your own business.

These are the most important things to consider when you are first starting out in the world of business and eCommerce. You should never rush into any quick decisions when you are trying to build a business. Thorough research, proper implementation and well thought through products will bring you long term success rather than quick wins.

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The ABC Of IT Protection

If you have landed on this article then it is likely that you are beginning your search for data racks and you need a bit of help regarding what to look for. First and foremost, it is important to be reminded of the fact that selecting the right server cabinets is something which is highly important because you need to ensure that your equipment is stored in a secure place and that it is in the right environment in order to operate to its optimum level. Luckily for you, finding the best server racks is as easy as A, B, C – literally. When on the lookout the three things that you need to consider are accessibility, brand and cost. These are the most important factors which will guarantee you sever rack shopping success.

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First and foremost, accessibility is highly important and this relates to several different concepts that you need to look out for when shopping for a server rack. First and foremost, it is advisable that you opt for a cabinet which is accessible via the use of a key – in other words, go for a rack with a security lock. After all, servers not only tend to be rather costly, but they are likely to be integral to the operation of your business. Therefore you need to ensure that they are in a safe place whereby only those with a key can access. Furthermore, when considering accessibility you also need to think about things such as whether the cabinet you are considering has a space for cables to be accessed through. Moreover, make sure that the tech cabinet or wall mount rack is in a position which is easy for you to access the server from the front as well as the back.

Once you have considered accessibility, you should then contemplate the brand of the server racks you are contemplating. After all, this is one of the best indications as to whether the product you are opting for is of a high quality or not. Before you buy the product in question you should search around online and read reviews and feedback in order to determine as to whether it has a credible reputation. Moreover, if you are considering buying a data rack which is of the same make as the website itself, then the site should have a section dedicated to testimonials which will make this easier for you.

And finally, you need to contemplate the cost of the server racks you are going to purchase. This is the last factor you need to consider, after all, quality is important first and foremost. Nevertheless, because there are so many different data racks available today, this also means the prices of the products are vast as well. Therefore, budget before you begin to shop in order to ensure you don’t spend over your means. Nonetheless, be careful that you are not blinded by a bargain, as mentioned – quality is the most important thing. Consider your costs as a whole when it comes to IT. Managed IT Services are arguably the most important in today’s tech-heavy environment.

All in all, if you contemplate the points mentioned in this article then finding a server rack will be as easy as A, B, C! 

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5 Things To Consider When Starting A Blog For Your Business

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The internet has opened up a whole new world of marketing possibilities, with one of the most common and successful being, content marketing. Content marketing is a marketing approach focused on the creation and distribution of relevant and valuable content with the goal of attracting and retaining an audience. In terms of businesses, this audience is then nurtured into paying customers, meaning that content marketing can be a relatively inexpensive way for businesses to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise as well as to increase their online presence and boost their bottom line. When starting a content marketing strategy the first thing businesses need to do is decide where they are going to publish their new content, and for most, the answer can be found in the creation of their own business blog. 

Here are a few things to consider if you are thinking of starting your own business blog.

Where will you host it?

Business blogs typically exist as a page on a companies pre-existing website and enable the business to easily link through to their products and services as well as to promote their content through other digital channels such as social media. There are now a number of ways to host a blog and website from google WordPress hosting through to website builders such as Squarespace and each has its own set of pros and cons. In the beginning, just host your blog wherever your website is hosted. 

What will you write about?

For content marketing to work you need to be writing about things that your ideal customer would want to be reading and so deciding what you want to write about is very important. Sit down and think about the pain points of your customers, what would they be searching the internet for? What value can you provide them? With your answers to these questions, begin brainstorming some content title ideas, or if you are still a little stuck then take a sneak peek at what your competitors are doing for some inspiration.

How often should you post?

The key to successful content marketing is to create consistent and valuable content, and this means posting reliably but not for the sake of it. As a general rule once a week is a good place to start when beginning your content marketing, but you may find that this eats up your content ideas quite quickly. Rather than sacrificing the quality of your content, opt for a slightly more spread out publishing rate of perhaps once a fortnight and remember that one of the tricks to content marketing is the repurposing of old content. 

Where should you promote your content?

If your blog posts are SEO optimized then they should appear naturally in Google search results but there’s no harm in also promoting them to your audiences across your social media. When thinking about where to promote your content the question to keep in the back of your mind is ‘do my customers hang out here?’ if the answer is yes, then share away, if it is no, then you may be publishing your content in the wrong place. 

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Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Advertise Your Small Business Online

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As a small business, there are many ways that you can advertise and market your products or services. Whether you opt for traditional advertising techniques, such as TV/radio advertisements or for social media posts and placing an advert for your business on a marketplace platform, there are many benefits that you can reap.

Keeping your small business’s online presence up to date is essential in the modern-day. A way of appealing to a wider array of customers, the word will get out faster about what you’re offering. 

But what are the other reasons why you should advertise your small business online? Here are three key benefits that you can reap from the moment you become active online – no matter what your business is selling.

Website Traffic and Leads

By advertising on an online marketplace or though one of the other above platforms, you’ll start to get business leads. It’s proven that online ads can drive a lot of traffic to your website when they start to pick up traction. Increasing the chances of new custom, it will make your business a lot more successful in the long term. 

In order to ensure that your advertisements increase conversions, for online content, it’s always worth hiring an SEO expert to assist your business. Aware of the latest trends and industry practices, they will make sure each of your advertisements is correctly optimized. 

Increase Trust and Brand Awareness

As a small business, you need to increase brand awareness where you can. And there’s no better way to do this than through online advertising. Keeping your business at the forefront of customers’ minds, they will start to think of your business as a household name. Opting for your service over others, the possibility of referrals also comes into play.

Through online adverts, you can also showcase your professionalism and credibility within the industry. Reinforcing that you are a legitimate business, your reputation will be very positive. 

It’s Quick and Easy 

One big reason why so many businesses – both large and small – advertise online. And that is because it’s flexible, quick and easy. Offering instant access to update and edit your ads (as well as post them when you want), it’s a modern tool that you should take full advantage of.

Planning a giveaway? Post about it on social media. Launching a new product or service? Utilize the internet to advertise it to your customers. With so many opportunities and possibilities, you won’t be lost on ways to advertise.

Not only do you get flexibility, but by advertising online, you’ll be able to track the success of the adverts when you want. Seeing who’s clicking on them, including the most popular times in which it’s being done; you can use the useful data to determine future marketing campaigns.

Final Thoughts

There you go! Those are the top 3 reasons why you should advertise your small business online. Of course, those aren’t the only reasons. There are dozens of benefits you can take advantage of. So what are you waiting for? Unlock the possibilities today and invest in online marketing!

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