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10 Essential Tools For Entrepreneurs and Startups

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Ideas can strike anytime. An idea may wander in your thoughts waiting for the best time when it can be implemented. A process of thought in your mind can be worth millions. In the present era idea and innovation is they key for a successful business. Addition of new game changing ideas, thoughts and young entrepreneurs are making the business world more dynamic and human life simpler and easier. If you can earn money from your hobby, then what can be a better and more satisfying job than that? You are your own boss, you manage your own money and you have more time for your friends and family!

When a group of colleagues or students think of a startup they are initially not much organized. Often people start with a hobby and when they observe that they have started making good money or money equivalent to their salary they plan to make it bigger and take it to another level, taking it to a complete professional platform. At this one needs to be professional and should create a professional environment that keeps the team motivated and give them the feeling of working on a big change. To help with this we are going to list some ten tools which will definitely help you in managing and running your startup.

1. Dedicated Contact Numbers

A visible complete office address, professional website and a dedicated line number can make your business look more professional and established. For examples having a toll free easy to remember number or 0845 numbers in case you are in UK can help your customers to connect with you without spending much. While having a toll free number will help your customers to connect with you for free, a 0845 number will help your customer to connect with you by paying only for a local call no matter wherever you are. A number of companies are available to provide you dedicated numbers hosted on their telecoms network making it sit on  top of your existing numbers. Thus, avoiding any need to install additional lines. You will also get additional features like call statistics, disaster recovery and online call management.

2. Wave

Wave is a very famous free tool that helps you be your own boss. Wave can help you with invoicing your clients and get paid by them, Accounting, managing Payroll and receipts and personal money management. Wave provides everything for free, only the Payroll feature is paid where they charge $1 per employee. You can connect your banks directly with Wave and it will help you keep a track of your transaction, your earnings, and will tell you where you stand financially and how you can manage it. All the features of Wave are inter-connectable, i.e any money earned through invoicing will automatically be updated in the accounting tool, similarly any bank transaction you make will be updated there. No need for manual entry, although Wave provide manual entry feature for those who are uncomfortable connecting their bank with the tool.

3. Skype

Skype has proven its supremacy when it comes to VoIP. It is quick, free and connects you with your team members around the world whether they are on computer or mobile. After the recent purchase of Skype by the Microsoft it has been nicely embedded in latest Windows OS and Windows Phone devices. Skype is available for almost any platform, not just Windows. There are a number of apps supported by Skype that can enhance its ability to be used as official communicator for your company. There are apps that provides complete PBX (Private Branch Exchange) solution. With Skype you can record your calls, divert your incoming calls to another number or voicemail, call people on their mobile or telephone for a very low price, etc.

4. Cloud Storage

Today with improvement in mobility and degree of freedom we need our data where ever we go. It will cost a lot of space if we start copying everything from our computers to tablet and mobiles and then a lot of effort to keep them on sync. Here comes cloud storage in picture. You can store your file on the online servers and access them, make changes and do whatever on any device. You can also share your documents with your team members and can give them authority to make changes as well. Dropbox is a famous cloud storage provider. With its free 2 GB space and desktop apps you can keep your systems at sync and upload files on the server so that you can access on other devices. Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive are one step ahead as they provide essential Google Docs apps and Microsoft Office web apps respectively for creating and editing documents, spreadsheets and notes. When it comes to storage and costs, Skydrive is slightly better as it provides 7 GB of free space when compared to Google Drive’s 5 GB and Dropbox’s 2 GB. Also when it comes to extending your storage, Skydrive with its yearly plans comes to be cheaper. You can extend your storage capacity by 500 MB for free in Dropbox by inviting your friends to use it.

5. CrowdFunding

Often you have great ideas that when implemented can bring a good change and generate a large amount of revenue, but to implement such an idea and convert it into a startup requires some investment. If you do not have money to invest and if bank is unavailable to provide you loan, then crowdfunding is the solution for you. As the term suggests it is a platform where crowd (individual people, investors or companies) can fund your idea (can be anonymously) if they really like it. In return you can either give them momentos or gifts or a part of your profit when your business will be a success. There are a number of online services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo which can provide you robust platform to get started and raise money for your idea or cause.

6. Mailchimp

Often you disregard communication and service mails from websites and uncheck “send me communication and promotional mails” while signing up for a service, but there are people who do select it. Interested people want to hear what is new with your company, or when can they expect a new exciting announcement from you, or may be you will provide discounts and offers directly to their inbox to keep them engaged. Never undermine the power of emails. Even if you are not sending any such mails at present, it is a good idea to at least have contact information of your regular readers/viewers/customers as anytime in future you might require to send them a communication mail. For this reason Mailchimp is there to help you out. It can build a list of your customers for you and can help you to contact them with appealing email templates. This service is free up to 2000 customers and sending 12000 mails per month.

7. Website/Blogging Tool

It is very important to have your online presence whether your business require direct online involvement (like e-commerce, online journalism) or not. Having your company online connects you with your potential customers who may be out of your reach in the real world. Customers can find you and easily contact you online. Wix is a platform that can help you create free and beautiful website for you quickly without any requirement of coding. When it comes to online customer engagement, you need to have an updated blog about your company, containing updates, offers, communication etc and anything that is official. WordPress and Blogger are two most popular and powerful blogging platform. Whatever you write is available for everyone and can generate even more potential customers as blogs are indexed by search engines and they can be shared on social media websites generating more views and expanding your reach.

8. Domain name and Professional Email

When you have created a website and blogs for yourself, you need domain name and professional email. Just like point number one that we discussed, having a professional domain name www.somecompany.com and then directing it to your website and having professional email [email protected] can make your business look more professional and established. Godaddy is one such popular service that can provide you domain name and email Id for your company. You can even chose Google apps and that can buy you a domain via Godaddy or any other service and provide you its premium email features on Gmail.

9. Personal Productivity

You have a lot of ideas and things in mind but you forget one thing while doing the other thing? You note down at your desk or on papers creating a lot of mess and clutter. Often startups do not exactly start with an office space you might have your own private space and your team members might have their own. So if you are at any other location you will not be able to access or refer to your notes that you had pointed down on the papers or on the desk. There comes Evernote to help you. Again it is a multi-platform application and you can use it on your mobile, tablet, and computer no matter what operating system you are using. It can capture anything from your ideas, your thoughts, and anything that you think might need to be referred later. When you need to refer to your notes you do not have to search in the clutter of paper, but all you have to do is type some search keywords and Evernote will present you your notes. You can even share your notes, ideas and collaborate on project with your teammates. A similar service exclusively for Mac and Apple products is Omnifocus. If you are already using Skype and Skydrive, then you can use Microsoft Office OneNote, another service by Microsoft like Evernote.

10. Hootsuite

It is the time when almost every company is trying to make their presence on social media bigger. It not only keeps you connected with your followers and customers but also extends your reach to potential customers. Social media is not about time pass and killing time when moms used to scold their kids for wasting a lot of time on Facebook. Today it is a virtual market and with the help of customized Facebook pages you can even sell your products. Hootsuite is an application that can help you manage all your social network profile at ones. In a free account you can add up to five social media profiles. You can not only post, track each posts, respond to notification, view analytic, but also schedule posts. Scheduling a post at night can help you target the people on the other side of the globe even when you are asleep. keeping your social media pages active 24X7.

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Editor | The World Reporter. An economist, IT specialist and a post graduate student from Romania.

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5 Main Advantages of Colocation Hosting for Your Business

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Your organization requires a data center business plan if it is going to move forward to expand smoothly. Thus, you must look at your IT needs and decide what is to come so that your business can grow. If you are not sure whether outsourcing to a colocation facility is right for your organization or not, read on to learn what to consider.

1. Many Connectivity Options

Rather than building a private data center, which is a major capital expenditure, many companies choose a migration of their data instead. The range of connectivity choices available makes colocation a great choice in several cases, particularly if expanding the company’s infrastructure is necessary. Rather than laying down and integrating expensive cables, it is often more budget-friendly to use colocation facilities that easily connect to leading providers of internet services, network services, and more.

2. Scalability

When your current data solution is no longer enough, then it is time to consider scaling the IT infrastructure so that your business can continue to grow. Using a colocation provider allows you to agree together on service terms that allow you to scale services as necessary. If you’re interested in this scalable solution, check this page out for more information.

3. Less Downtime

A big benefit of colocation hosting is less downtime. An outage is costly for any company because it means less work is being done then, which equals fewer sales. Significant work must go into catching up on operations afterwards too. Thankfully, colocation data centers reduce downtime and maintain hardware because they have many supports, including different power sources and physical security.

4. Data Security

This point is essential. Your business has data that you need to ensure is secure for your customers and for the organization generally. Keeping patented data out of competitor hands is important, and you have an ethical obligation to your customers to safeguard their personal details too. Thankfully, colocation data centers have cutting-edge security measures in place. The colocation facility also has many policies that align with compliance regulation for various types of data, which means you won’t have to worry that you are vulnerable to lawsuits.

5. Lower Costs

Finally, colocation reduces costs in many ways for your growing organization. For example, you will save money as you will consume much less power after the relocation. Not only that, but you won’t have to own and operate hardware for networking because that is taken care of by the trusted colocation provider.

Deciding to Make the Move to Colocation Hosting

If your business has complex needs for an internet infrastructure, colocation can offer significant benefits, including saving money, state-of-the-art security methods, and scalability. It’s nice not to have to worry about infrastructure anymore too.

When your business moves to a colocation data facility, you can then focus on daily operations and an expansion strategy, rather than spending time managing an on-site data center. You can spend your time efficiently by outsourcing in this way, which makes it a successful part of building your company’s future.

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4 Ways To Improve Business Technology Management

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Notebook work with statistics on sofa business
Notebook work with statistics on sofa business

Technology can improve your business in so many ways, but a lot of business owners don’t see the full advantage because they are not using it in the right way. It’s important to recognize that investing in technology is not enough, you need to make sure that you are using the right tech for your business and you are managing it in the right way. Failure to manage technology properly can lead to increased security risks and even a drop in productivity. If you don’t have a coherent system for managing your business technology, here are a few important tips to help you get more out of your technology.

Take Advice From IT Consultants 

There are so many amazing pieces of business software out there that can help you to streamline things, boost productivity, and save money. However, some pieces of software won’t really be that useful to your business and you can easily end up paying for features that you will never use. Many business owners make the mistake of spending a lot of money on software that doesn’t improve their business because they are taken in by a good sales pitch. That’s why it’s a good idea to take advice from an IT consultant because they will know which applications are going to benefit your business. They will also help you to implement that technology in the right way so you can take full advantage of it. 

Use A Mobile Device Management System

A mobile device management (MDM) system makes it so much easier to manage all of the devices in your business and perform vital updates. Here is an overview of mobile device management features and how they can benefit your business. By having all laptops, tablets, and other devices connected to a central management system, you make it easy for your IT team to push out updates, implement new software, and carry out routine maintenance. 

Understand How Technology Impacts Your Business

Implementing technology without a clear idea of why you are doing it and how it improves your business will usually lead to waste and possibly a drop in productivity. It’s important that you know how technology affects your business in a tangible way. How will new software improve things for your employees on a daily basis? Will it save you money? Is there a cheaper alternative? By answering these questions, you can ensure that you are only investing in technology that actually has value.  

Choose Compatible Applications 

When you are choosing new business applications, you need to consider how well they will work with the existing business technology that you are using. It doesn’t matter how many amazing features a piece of software has if it doesn’t work seamlessly with the rest of the software that you rely on. If you want to get the most out of your business technology and avoid any productivity issues, you need to have a clear systems integration process in place. This allows you to bring all of your independent applications together into a cohesive system, so everything works seamlessly together. 

Managing your business technology properly is vital if you want to take full advantage of it, so make sure to follow these tips.

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How To Reopen Your Restaurant After Lockdown

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Restuarant lockdown covid

It seems like lockdown is going to be lifted a little earlier than economists may have predicted. This is great news but it presents a challenge for your retail businesses; especially restaurants. How do you get people back to your establishment without spooking them? It’s all about bolstering their confidence in your health and safety procedures while marrying this narrative with a ‘back in business’ approach. Use alluring visuals to entice customers to your restaurant and reassure them with the help of your staff. There are also some tried and true marketing tactics you should be using and slowly building up the confidence of the locals.

Train your staff

Although lockdown will be lifted soon, you still need to retain your staff to be conscious of COVID-19. It’s not a good idea to act like nothing ever happened and just carry on. Retrain your employees i.e. waiting staff to be extra courteous and careful when interacting with customers. Tell them not to touch them and don’t wipe your face or nose in their presence. Your waiting staff as well as the managers for that matter should be carrying wet wipes or antibacterial wipes that they can use to clean their hands. Wearing face masks may be something you don’t want to do because it sends the wrong signals, but it’s something you may need to do. So give your staff PPE like plastic see-through gloves, face masks and aprons if need be.

Reassuring signs

Place a sanitizer bottle on every single table; including those that are outside. Something as simple as a blackboard sign with chalk writing that reads, “all staff have been tested and are clear of the virus” would really reassure some worrisome people. You should also place signs outside and inside your restaurant that instruct customers to be careful and courteous of each other’s space and health. Signs such as ‘don’t shake hands’ or ‘cough/sneeze into your elbow’ would go a long way into showing customers, you’re not letting anyone get away with poor hygiene standards. 

At arm’s length

You want to minimize as much risk as possible, but waiting staff are supposed to be hospitable and interact with customers. One way you can make everyone’s lives easier is by using a smartphone card swiper. People who use Samsung Pay or other electronic accounts via their smartphones, to pay for their goods, can make transactions without touching your staff. They won’t be passing any contaminated real money either, which would rapidly spread germs around the restaurant. The system can also read credit cards too, so non-touch payment technology is really something you should have in your business. 

Back to basics

Restaurants have always used chalkboards and standing signs to attract business. Go back to basics and just write what your specials are, what your breakfast menu looks like and any discounts you might be doing. The more normalcy and less panic, in your brand tone, the quicker customers will flock back to your business. 

It’s been a rough few months for restaurants. Part of the excitement of eating out is being among company. It’s time to slowly but surely, reopen and use these strategies to reassure, inspire confidence and get people back to booking tables again. 

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