When listing your company’s assets, your blog probably doesn’t make the cut. Many businesses tend to ignore blogging - which is a real mistake these days. By putting time and resources into your blog, your can transform it from just another webpage to one of the most valuable things to your company’s growth. We’ve complied our own list of things you can do to make that happen.
We’re not here to judge. However, if any one of these scenarios resembles the current state of your blog, it might be time to do something about it. We know you’re busy and that the last thing you want to do is write about your business but, with content that is carefully crafted and curated, your company will have an unique asset that can help lead your marketing, by establishing you as an expert in your field, and promote sales efforts by driving people to your website.
You’re probably wondering where to begin. Well go ahead and reset the password for your WordPress or Tumblr account, because we have a few pointers to help you get started.
Use your blog to build your brand identity
For small and medium-sized businesses, it can be difficult to build a brand identity. You have your logo and colors, but what does your brand consist of beyond that? What is its personality, what characteristics does it have, and what is its tone? These are just a few of the questions you need to consider before you begin writing your blog posts, or having someone else write them for you, of course, which is a good option for busy business people.
A blog that reflects the personality of your business helps to give you a brand identity in the minds of readers by letting them know just what your company is. A hardware store is most likely going to want the contents of its blog to be straightforward, reliable and no-nonsense, while a marketing company is likely to have a blog that shows off its creativity, playfulness and skill at design and wordplay. This is your chance to develop your company’s identity, and explore just how you wish to be perceived by online readers.
Tip: Before starting to write posts for your blog, picture your business as a person, and write down what this person would say and how they would say it. This should be used as the foundation for each and every blog post.
Create a strategy and schedule for your blog
A clearly defined schedule and game plan for your blog will help make sure that once the ball starts rolling, it keeps rolling. Your goal from a scheduling perspective should be to have at least one new post a week. More is always better, but weekly posts will at least let both readers and Google know your site is still active.
In terms of a blogging strategy, don’t feel like every post needs to be a second coming of The Odyssey. Sometimes all you need to do is come up with a quick tip, or share a video you think is useful to people visiting your website. Varying the the length and type of content featured on your blog is a good way to keep things fresh.
Tip: At the start of each month, you should come up with blog topics and a deadline for each post. This should help make sure content is always going up on your blog.
Lead and inform, but do not sell
One of the biggest challenges for small and medium-sized businesses with a blog is to keep the content related to your company without putting on the hard sell. Realistically, the goal of your blog should be to point people in the direction of your business without pushing them into buying something. They should be able to reach that conclusion organically.
Let’s use an auto parts store as an example. A blog on the quality of the windshield wipers it sells is unlikely to generate a lot of interest. That’s because it is not something that resonates with a lot of people. A post on the dangers of driving with old wiper blades, however, will help get readers more interested in investing in new blades. And the good news for them is that they can purchase new wiper blades right, without even having to leave your website.
Tip: In addition to creating informational posts, don’t be afraid to add blog posts about your employees, especially if you do not have dedicated staff pages on your website. This can enable people get to know the names and faces behind your business, and help potential customers to feel more comfortable with your company as a whole.
You made it to our blog, so there must be something to this whole blogging thing. Get in touch with us if you want to know more about how blogging, or any other technology-related tools, can help add value to your business. And of course, feel free to keep reading our blog while you’re here!
Are you making the most of one of your business’s greatest assets? Along with your loyal customers, your team of enthusiastic and hardworking staff, and your tastefully decorated store or office, there is an all-too-often-unsung hero just waiting to help you take your business to the next level: your data. You’ve probably read articles extolling the virtues of data mining, but just how does a small or medium-sized organization actually use data to grow their business?
Many small and medium-sized businesses shy away from data analytics due to the perceived complexities of dealing with the myriad of facts and figures. A head for figures is something many of us lack – and, even if you have no problem with the math, there’s the time involved in setting aside a part of your busy schedule to track your analytics.
But the sooner you embrace your data, the sooner you can start adding real value to your business through this extremely valuable, and often untapped, source. But just how does a smaller enterprise actually set about doing that? After all, even the most humble of mom and pop stores or home-office-based entrepreneurs has access to an often bewildering array of trackable metrics.
The key point is that, if data is to be of any value, it needs to be easy to collect, collate and analyze. There’s no point spending half your working week mired in incomprehensible spreadsheets and charts if you can’t extract useful information and then apply it in a meaningful way that meets your end goals.
When thinking about analytics, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Not only that, but the vast majority of business owners would much rather spend their working lives filling dental cavities, laying flooring, solving legal disputes or selling fitted kitchens - whatever your own particular specialist skill might be - than learning about and trying to apply data analysis techniques. That’s where an analytics dashboard can help. These take the hassle out of unearthing all that data, and present your metrics to you in a more understandable format. But with an array of different tools to choose from, what should you consider if this is the route you decide to take?
- How easy is it to use? There’s no point investing in a dashboard solution if you don’t understand the way the data is presented to you; you still won’t be able to apply it in any meaningful way.
- How deep will the analysis go? You’ll likely want to be able to track trends, compare results over time, and chart your success.
- Is the data easy to apply? You want your dashboard to simplify the application of data within your business environment, and make it easy for you to take action.
- Does it save you time? If you’re currently spending frustrating hours sifting through reams of facts and figures, this is a huge consideration. You need your dashboard to supply pertinent information in an easy-to-read format.
- Is it compatible with other programs and apps? If you’re operating an online store, you will want the dashboard to work with your POS and shopping cart. You may also want it to track website analytics and social media engagement.
Once you’ve decided on a data analytic dashboard, how do you know which metrics to look at? Every business will differ depending on their industry and individual needs or challenges, but there are a couple of points you will want to bear in mind.
Look for data trends
To make the leap from looking at data to making plans and actually doing something, you need to highlight your most important metrics and use them as something to action. Let’s say you find it hard to retain customers; you know this and your data backs it up. Clearly you’re not doing enough to ensure your customers return. That could indicate you’re spending too much time and money on attracting new clients. Now you can take action: do you need to improve your customer service or offer more products or services? Create a marketing plan that targets past customers by telling them about something new or by offering them a discount.
Analyze your past customers
Now you have easy access to data that shows you your best selling products or services, your peak selling periods, and more. This will help you get to know your customers far better, track their behavior, and plan ahead when it comes to adding services, buying inventory, or preparing for busy spells.
Whether your aim is to attract new customers, retain old ones, expand your offering, or discern whether opening a new location is a viable option, your data will prove to be an indispensable friend. After all, customers may come and go – but your data will always be there for you.
If you’d like to learn more about adding value to your business with data analysis, or want to explore data analysis dashboard options, get in touch with us today - we’ll be happy to advise you on the options best suited to your needs.
A dashboard is a single display that provides all the information you need to make important business decisions and facilitate the management of your company. While all dashboards are effective, you need to choose the one that works best for your company’s objectives and goals. With that said, here are three types of business dashboards for you to consider.
Ideal for senior managers and executives, strategic dashboards are designed to help identify potential opportunities for business expansion and improvement. This type of dashboard doesn’t provide information in-depth enough to make complex decisions, and is typically is updated once a month or quarter.
Benefits of strategic dashboards
As the name suggests, strategic dashboards are designed to provide strategic guidance. The dashboards give a bird’s-eye view of your business. They can contain anything from overall sales numbers to sales and revenue comparisons, or inventory levels, making it easy for executives to understand the overall health of the organization.
This type of dashboard provides users with insights from a volume of data collected over time, enabling you to understand why certain things are happening, and what changes should be made in the future in order to accommodate them. The data presented in analytical dashboards tends to be complex, and usually requires advanced training to use. That’s why they are generally used by business analysts, instead of being widely deployed to other employees and across all departments.
Benefits of analytical dashboards
When it comes to creating and implementing strong business strategies, understanding the trends and events in your data is crucial. Analytical dashboards provide detailed information that allows you to compare current against historic data. Implementing analytical dashboards allows you to enjoy in-depth analysis, identify patterns and opportunities in your data, and determine why processes are working in certain departments.
Operational dashboards are used to monitor the real-time operations of employees, allowing them to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of their work performance. This type of dashboard is commonly found in departments where it’s essential to respond to critical information quickly, such as those working in sales and marketing.
Benefits of operational dashboards
Business owners rely on operational dashboards to track their employees’ progress, and to be notified of issues as they come up in order to respond quickly. What’s more, the dashboards provide up-to-date information, all bundled in one place, making it easy for employees to make quick decisions without having to dig through large amounts of data.
Dashboards concentrate all data, metrics, and parameters in one place, bringing a totally new dimension to business intelligence. Your company can significantly benefit from the right dashboard. If you’re looking to implement dashboards for the first time, or to enhance the functionality of your current dashboard, get in touch with us today.
We live in the age of distraction. If it’s not the hundredth urgent email in your inbox that blows your focus, maybe it’s your IT staff pounding on your door with another technology emergency. Whatever the circumstance, you may be tired of looking in the mirror only to see bags under your eyes from too many late nights at the office. That’s why we’ve come up with a few principles to help you become more productive in your business and life, and to hopefully help you get some sleep.
Have a single focus
When Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were asked what the single most important reason for their success in life was, both answered with a single word: focus. It is that important. When you work on one task for an extended period of time, the quality of your work is at its highest. What’s more, you’ll also finish that task in a shorter amount of time than if you had to stop and start it repeatedly due to distractions.
This principle of focus can be applied to many areas of business and life. Whether you’re writing a report, sharing time with your family, or simply reading a book for your own pleasure, the quality of that experience improves with the more uninterrupted time you dedicate to it. Now, when it comes to IT and technology, this same principle can have a tremendous impact on your business. Not only do technology distractions - such as constantly breaking computers, security breaches, and slow servers - hurt your productivity, but they also crush your spirits. How can you focus on growing your business like this? This is where an MSP comes in. They can help eliminate all IT interruptions so you get back to doing what you do best - running your business. What’s not to love about that?
Obey Parkinson’s law
If you ever pulled an all-nighter as a university student, you may be familiar with Parkinson’s law. The principle states that the time it takes to complete a task expands or shrinks depending on the time allotted for it. For example, when you were hitting the books in high school or college, you may have noticed that a few students (and maybe you were one of them) would put off an important paper or project to the last moment and still end up getting an A. While at the same time, other students would take weeks to complete the same project or paper and only manage a B. So how did this happen? This peculiar phenomenon is the magic of Parkinson’s law at work. When you have less time to work on a project, you focus only on the important aspects of it. Oftentimes this is all you need to do a good job.
So whether it’s a company meeting or the amount of time you put towards researching your next vacation, apply Parkinson’s law to increase everyone’s focus and ensure you’re not wasting valuable time on the task. As for your IT, give your in-house staff a reasonable, yet specific amount of time, to complete a task. This will ensure they finish the job in a timely manner, and then move on to other projects. Alternatively, you can simply outsource all of your IT to an MSP for a single, flat monthly fee, and never have to worry about it to begin with.
Use technology to become superhuman
As human beings, technology enables us to become more than we could have ever dreamed of. Apps like Evernote can enable us to remember every valuable piece of information we encounter. Cloud technology can bring a remote workforce scattered around the country together so they can work on the same project simultaneously. VoIP gives you the ability to video-chat with business partners, loved ones, and friends while they’re as far off as Bangkok or Baghdad. Technology is reshaping not only the business world, but also the life of every individual on the planet. So when it comes to your own business, is your company going to take advantage?
We hope that these productivity tips will help improve your life in and outside of the office. If you’d like to know more about how IT can transform your business, to make it more efficient and profitable, give us a call today.
It’s a fact of life. Events out of your control can disrupt your business operations. While you can’t necessarily control the unexpected, you can take some precautions to prevent most business disruptions. Here are some key business continuity strategies that organizations across the globe rely on to keep their doors open.
Backup your data, applications and servers
Today, companies are more dependent than ever on IT and their business data. If these critical components suddenly become inaccessible, can your business stay open? For most business owners, the simple answer is no. This is why backing up these elements is vital to your business’s success. Backing them up ensures they can be restored quickly in the event of a disaster, security breach, or damage to IT equipment.
Obviously, to ensure the accessibility of your IT, you need to backup all your data, applications and servers regularly. The keyword here being “regularly”. While in the past most businesses would do this on-site and with tape backups, today more and more businesses are using the cloud. Some of the prime reasons for backing up to the cloud are as follows:
- Backups can be automated, therefore saving you time
- Cloud providers usually backup your data to multiple locations (so if one of their facilities goes down, your backup is still safe at another site)
- Backups can be accessed from anywhere, whether it’s at an employee’s home or at an alternate office
- If you need to use it, backups can be restored quickly
Virtualize servers and desktops
When you virtualize your servers or desktops, they can be used at any location - be it at your workplace, home, or a coffee shop in the Bahamas. In terms of business continuity, this is useful in case your main office suddenly becomes unusable due to a disaster such as a flood, a break-in, or if you’re simply unable to get there because of hostile weather conditions.
Have a backup power supply
Power outages essentially zap all your employees productivity. No electricity means no work. And that means you’re paying them to do nothing. Having a backup power supply like a generator will ensure that when the electricity goes down, your employees can continue working. A good solution is an uninterrupted power supply (UPS). When you have this, a power outage will not affect your employees ability to work. They can work seamlessly through it, as if nothing ever happened. Also, if you have a server room, the UPS will ensure your vital servers stay cool.
Utilize social media
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Google +, most people are on at least one social network these days. And if there is any kind of weather-related disaster, social media is usually one of the first places customers, colleagues, staff and vendors will check to see the status of your business. This is because even if the phone lines or local power goes out, social media is usually accessible. So when it comes to business continuity, have at least one active social media account you use to keep your customers and followers informed.
Implement Unified Communications
Unified Communication (UC) can essentially create a virtualized communication infrastructure. That means instead of your communication tools - like phones, instant messaging, video calls - all being stored locally at your workplace, you can access them anywhere. So for whatever reason if your office is inaccessible, employees can still use your phones and other communication tools from their homes. What’s more, UC tools can route business calls to your employees smartphones. That means they’ll never miss an important call, even if they’re not in the office.
So there you have it, five tools to ensure your business operates continuously no matter what comes your way. If you’d like to implement business continuity technology in your business or develop a continuity plan, we’re happy to help.
Disasters. They do happen -- it’s only a matter of ‘when’. While most businesses acknowledge it, surveys show that only one in four companies worldwide have adequate protection in the event of a major disruption. We’re not talking about insurance here, but a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan that could save you thousands of dollars in losses and worse, a business closure. If you haven’t heard much about what DR is, this post will help you gain some insight about what it is and how it can affect the future of your business.
As we all know, unpredictability is a fact of life. The aftermath of Tropical Storm Bill in Texas and recent floods in South Carolina are a grim and unfortunate lesson for many overconfident business owners who think their companies are spared from the likelihood of cataclysmic weather, technological malfunctions, or human actions. A 2014 survey by the IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council reveals just how many companies worldwide are at risk: 73 percent of SMBs are failing in terms of disaster readiness. What does this mean? It means that 3 out of 4 companies aren’t prepared to handle emergencies and save their businesses from a worse-case scenario.
If it’s not clear and compelling enough for a business owner like yourself to consider putting a well-conceived Disaster Recovery (DR) plan into place, perhaps it’s time to give it some thought. Doing so can save you years of business loss. Here is some useful information about what DR is all about and how it can ensure your business’s survival in the wake of unforeseen circumstances.
What is Disaster Recovery (DR)?
Disaster recovery is a plan for restoring and accessing your data in the event of a disaster that destroys part or all of a business’s resources. It is a key component involving many aspects of business operations that requires this information to function. The job of a DR plan is to ensure that whatever happens, your vital data can be recovered and mission-critical applications will be brought back online in the shortest possible time.
What kind of disasters are likely to happen?
Business disasters can either be natural, technological, or man-made. Natural types of disasters include floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, and even a pest infestation. On the other hand, technological and man-made disasters involve hazardous material spills, infrastructural or power failure, nuclear power plant meltdown or blast, chemical threat and biological weapons, cyber attacks, explosions, or acts of terrorism and civil unrest.
Why does your business need DR?
Regardless of industry or size, when an unforeseen event takes place and causes day-to-day operations to come to a halt, a company will need to recover as quickly as possible to ensure you will continue providing services to clients and customers. Downtime is one of the biggest IT expenses that any business can face. Based on 2015 disaster recovery statistics, downtime that lasts for one hour can cost small companies as much as $8,000, mid-size organizations $74,000, and $700,000 for large enterprises.
For SMBs particularly, any extended loss of productivity can lead to reduced cash flow through late invoicing, lost orders, increased labor costs as staff work extra hours to recover from the downtime, missed delivery dates, and so on. If major business disruptions are not anticipated and addressed today, it’s very possible that these negative consequences resulting from an unexpected disaster can have long-term implications that affect a company for years. By having a Disaster Recovery plan in place, a company can save itself from multiple risks including out of budget expenses, reputation loss, data loss, and the negative impact on clients and customers.
How do I create a DR strategy for my business?
Creating, implementing and maintaining a total business recovery plan is time-consuming but extremely important to ensure your business’s survival. Many organizations don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to this process. If you would like to protect your company from unexpected disasters but need further guidance and information on how to get started, give us a call and our experts will be happy to discuss Disaster Recovery options and solutions with you.