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Category: Tech

Four Experts That Your Business Needs

When you work for yourself, you often find that you have to wear many hats. You can be the maintenance officer one minute, then the receptionist manning the phones and five minutes later, a product designer. It can be enriching taking on so many different facets of the business and it is often part and parcel of running a small business. However, there are some elements of your business that might be a little beyond your area of expertise. There are occasions when you are going to benefit from getting some professional support, and we share these in today’s post, 4 experts that your business needs.

IT consultants

You are going to need to use technology effectively for your business.

Whether you are searching for the best vpn or you are looking to create some bespoke software, IT consultants can be invaluable to your business.

Businesses normally require a website as a minimum, and it can be beneficial to use IT experts to help you with this. They can do anything from designing an internet presence for you to updating it to helping you to improve your SEO to monitoring its security and more. You can work with them to support you with whatever you are not comfortable doing yourself.

Graphic designers

Your business will benefit from strong branding and eye catching visuals. Unless this is a field that you have some experience in, you are going to need to hire a graphic designer to work closely with you to get this right.

Graphic designers can turn your ideas and visions into designs, however abstract your suggestions are. Talk to them about your business, your products and services and what you want to convey through your branding. They will then come up with several suggestions for you to look over before developing one of them further.

Graphic designers will be instrumental in working with you on your signage, logos, packaging, website and social media icons, and potentially any merchandise that you wish to sell or gift.

Accountants

It is essential that your bookkeeping is kept up to date and accurate. You need to meet your tax obligations and there is no room for error. As such, accountants are a necessary expense.

You can work with your accountant to varying degrees. You might use your own software and keep your own books and then have your accountant review and audit them for you. Alternatively you might choose to hand over all accounts to them, which will be a greater expense but less work for you if numbers are not your thing.

Human Resources

Human resources experts can be invaluable if you have a team.

If you have a growing business, you might choose to keep an officer on staff. Or you can consult with them on any matters around human resources, the legalities and looking after your team properly.

You might choose to consult experts when you are recruiting, perhaps using them to help you to interview and assess. They can lend you their experience as well as ensuring you are conducting your recruitment within current policies and laws. You can then enlist their support when managing staff to help you to get the best out of everyone and adhere to employment law.

What You Need To Know About Installing Solar Street Lights

Solar energy has been harnessed over the years due to its renewability, cheap price tag, and durability. Since its clean energy, many people have started using it for an opportunity to save the dying planet and reduce pollution. Previously, it was only used as a lighting and heating alternative in homes and industries whose power consumption bills would skyrocket, but that has since changed. It is now a viable and dependable power source on its own. This has seen people use solar and stay off the grid for years. It has also brought with it solar street lights that solely depend on it to function. If you are looking to harness this power for your street lighting project, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Location

For your streetlights to work optimally, you need to install them in an ideal spot. Avoid spaces with shades or shadows for long hours as they reduce the light and heat uptake. Consider solar street lights by Solar Lighting International as they engage experts before installation. They help you calculate the maximum insolation and irradiance. However, when there are no open spaces, consider using longer poles or placing adaptive solar lights in high spots. Since the lights require spacing, check the space available for your project as this might hinder your plans.

Cost

To start with, you need to have an estimated cost of installation. This figure can be sourced from several companies that handle installations or from different packages within one company. Compare these prices to ensure you get value for money at affordable rates. You should also consider maintenance and servicing fees as these costs could ruin your budget. In areas where there are known calamities and robbery, consider increasing the maintenance funds kit amount to cater for any eventuality.

Power Output

When installing streetlights, start by having a feasibility study on your power needs. Each space requires different illumination, and you need to have yours figured out. For large spaces, get potent lights and vice versa. The study also helps you determine power output, battery wattage and capacities, lighting options, and fixtures. It also helps you determine the expected light hours each day for correct street light installation. This helps you get customized street lights for your space.

Safety

Despite the power source being the sun, the streetlights can be a threat and risk to those around. For streetlights in public spaces, ensure you do not interfere with the layout and hinder movement or transportation. Consult local authorities first to avoid breaking the law or losing your investment if forcefully brought down. Use quality material to avoid breakages and accidents that can be costly to replace and to compensate victims. Additionally, consider the material that does not put those around it at risk through electrocution.

Return on Investment

Before installing the lights, you must have a motive behind it. Most people install them to enhance security while others do it to increase the work hours within premises. Ensure the cost does not outdo the expected returns as this makes it a non-viable option. Consider cost-effective street lighting options to ensure you recoup your investment and even make more out of it.

Four Tips to Help You Retain Your Employees When Your Business Works Across Time Zones

One of the biggest logistical challenges companies face when expanding across time zones is retaining a team that works in different locations.

One of the top reasons that employees cite as a reason for moving on from a company is that they feel overlooked by management. Not surprisingly, losing your employees is a big risk when you expand your business across more than one location, as your team may start to feel that they are not receiving the oversight, support and attention that they deserve.

If your organization is stretched across several time zones, these strategies offer solutions to help you keep your talent happy.

Embrace Technology Freedom

When your team works from multiple locations, it doesn’t make sense to have your talent tied to a desktop. Your employees may need to travel between offices or work from home or even a hotel room when meetings draw them to far-flung cities.

A useful strategy for managing this mobile workforce is giving your team choice over the devices they use. Thanks to advancements in mobile device management, allowing your team their choice of technology needn’t be cause for worry in terms of security. In fact, MDM is one of the ways that technology can improve security in business. Not only does MDM give you content visibility across your company’s devices, but Electric MDM can reduce business risks and support costs. Allowing your team to use a device of their choice is also a great way to boost retention. Bonus!

Focus on Employee Wellness

Investing heavily in employee wellness is vital, as it signals to your team that you value their contribution. Providing great office facilities with comfortable break-out areas is a great way to demonstrate that you are concerned about the quality of your team’s work environment, wherever they are located.

Prioritize Transparency

When the time comes to expand across time zones, it helps to be as transparent as possible about the future of your business, highlighting what the geographic expansion means for your team. Underlining that expanding your business will open doors for your team in their own careers is a great way to assure them that the transition period and challenges of expansion will pay off for them as well.

Accept Unusual Work Hours

When your various teams span multiple time zones, it won’t be unusual for your team to work odd working hours to cater to the requirements of your business. Some employees may struggle at first, and it’s important to support them if they can’t adjust, ideally offering transfers to other cities as an option. But now and then, one of your staff might embrace the unusual business hours and wish to work all their hours on the 24hr clock. And why not? A nine-to-five does not suit everybody, as research has shown that circadian rhythms vary, so different workers will be naturally more productive at different times. As far as possible, it makes sense to allow your team to work the hours that suit them best. Not only will they be more productive, but they are more likely to want to stay in their jobs, as they will feel supported and valued.

Whether you employ a staff of three or thirty, managing your team across time zones can be tricky. These tips will help you ensure that none of your work (or team members) slips through the cracks, and your business continues to thrive.

Go, Gadget Go! (5 Gadgets That Will Get You More Tooled Up Than The Inspector Himself!)

Whether it’s for work or play, gadgets have become a massive part of our lives. Of course, it can seem as if so many come out, so often that it’s almost impossible to stay on top of everything. Luckily, we have that sorted for you. In fact, all you need do to emulate that legendary hero that is inspector G is read on. 

Tablets

First off, if you want to get tooled up in the tech department, one thing that you have to consider investing in is a tablet. Of course, the market is the iPad Pro, which is the latest iteration of the very popular Apple tablet.

What separates the Ipad pro from their predecessors is that they are the thinnest and lightest model yet. They also have edge to edge screen and a pretty sweet Liquid Retina display too. However, the best thing by far is the fabulous Apple Pencil 2 that you can get to go with it. This being a device that allows you to use your iPad as a drawing screen. In fact, if you had to come up with a mugshot of an evil supervillain inspector G style, it would be the perfect device!

Of course, there are other options if the Apple Ipad Pro is out of your price range. One to consider is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 as it comes with not only a compatible pen but a keyboard as well. Something that gives it a more 2 in 1 feel.  Although, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 with its 8th-generation Intel Core and its 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display is also another popular option.

Fitness trackers

The next gadget to consider is a fitness tracker wearable, of which there are many to choose from. The good news is that there are options for nearly every budget, with unbranded versions going for as little as 30 on Amazon and other sites online.

Just like with anything else in this world, you get what you pay for when it comes to fitness trackers. What this means is investing a little extra in some of the best-known brands is never a bad idea.

Obviously, one of the best-known devices that has fitness tracking capabilities is the apple watch. Although there are some other brands and models that are pretty sleek and effective too.

In particular, Fitbits’ latest offering, the Versa is a great tracker with watch capabilities to try out.

The reason for this being that it monitors heart rate, and steps, and allows you to take calls and tracks your sleep as well. Something that is of course hugely important for staying in peak physical condition to rundown bad guys!

Laptops

Whether you use it to collate your case files, or research bad guys getting the right laptop for your needs is crucial. In fact, choosing the correct machine can be something of a conundrum! Especially with so many brands, offers, styles, and technical specifications on offer.

Of course, the best thing here is to identify what you will be using your laptop for. For example, some folks will primarily be using it for watching media, while the other will be playing online games. Still others like the inspector himself, will want them for work tasks and so will require a different type of spec.

The next task is to consider how much you want to spend on a laptop. Something that varies wildly because it’s such a massive market. In fact, Apple or Alienware machines, used for creative pursuits and gaming respectfully tend towards the top of the market on price. Although they are often well beyond the capability that many people need.

In fact, if you can, it’s always best to set a budget for your laptop purchase early on and shop around for the best deal you can find. It can even be worth your while to research the best time of the year to buy a laptop, as shopping in the post-Christmas sales can often get you a hefty discount. One that means you can buy the next laptop specification up if you so choose.

Home hubs

I wonder what inspector gadget would have thought about home hubs? I reckon he would have liked them. After all, they can be used to control the basic functionality of your home and hitched up to your smart security system as well. Something that he would have found really useful for keeping Dr Claw and his MAD agents out of his base. 
You may not be aware of it, but there are so many home hubs to choose from too. It’s not just the Alexa or Google Home versions. In fact, there is the Vivint Smart Home, Almond 3, Samsung SmartThings and even the Wink Hub 2.

Of course, the key thing to look out for hear is compatibility. The reason being that not all hubs work with all smart devices, such a Hue lights, Nest home, or Google assistant! Something that could make a massive difference if you have already invested in these smart systems for your home.

Also, be sure to test the inference of the hub thoroughly before you buy. After all, once you have it, you are stuck with it. Therefore, if the interface doesn’t gel with the way you do things, you could be letting yourself in for a whole heap of frustration!

VR

Lastly, one gadget that you absolutely cannot ignore is VR glasses like the PSVR, or Oculus Rift! Of course, these are mainly used for playing games and entertainment right now, but that isn’t necessarily what is in store in the future. In fact, over the next few years, its highly likely that you will see communications blossoming into the VR world. Something that will allow people to be in direct contact without leaving their location. 

Of course, until then you will have to make do with crime-busting games, and simulations like London Heist that will help to train you up to an inspector G level. Who knows maybe one day there will actually be a full Inspector Gadget experience playable on VR! Go, gadget go, indeed! 

Keeping Your Website Safe from Hackers: A Few Considerations

If you are thinking about making money off your website, you will need to ensure that you have ticked all the boxes and your protection is up to date. What would happen if your site suddenly went offline or got redirected to another page? Would your business survive? Chances are that it wouldn’t. Below you will find a few tips on how to manage your site’s security and protect your intellectual property at the same time.

WordPress Vulnerabilities

WordPress is by far the most popular blogging platform, and you can even build eCommerce sites on it. However, you will have to ensure that your host does everything possible to keep your site secure. Check the uptime before you would sign up for a package, and find out whether there are regular server backups on your page. Installing WordPress security alone might not prevent hacking alone, so you should look for advanced plugins and software.

Backups

It is crucial that you generate automatic backups for your site. Most hosts will allow you to do that and save a copy to a cloud account or even your computer. Backups will allow you to restore the site whenever there is a problem, and it is recommended that you do this every time you install a major software update or move to a different host.

Spam Protection

Spam protection is only working if you set it up properly. On WordPress Askimet is the most popular solution, but it is not a hundred percent accurate, if you are on the free package. You can also use OWASP Attack Surface Detector to check your applications, too. Make sure that you are setting your comments to be awaiting moderation all the time, so you don’t get your site hacked or flooded with fake comments. Another thing to consider would be to monitor your website traffic, so you can check where visitors are coming from. If most of them are from Asia, and you are in the Western world, you can suspect that hackers are trying to gain access to your account.

Keeping It In House

The best way to fix your site is to do it yourself, so nobody else has access to the infrastructure and the content. You might want to check your blog posts on CopyScape from time to time, to be sure that nobody took it and used it. This would have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. You might set up a VPN network at https://vpncoffee.com/ to keep your site shielded.

Setting Up Temporary Passwords

Whenever you use a contractor for working on your website, or to fix an issue, you will need to give them a separate temporary password that you can control. You don’t want a disgruntled contractor to break your site because you had a disagreement. Remove the account as soon as the work is finished, to keep your data secure.

Your website is your virtual business and shop front, so you have to protect it as much as you would protect your physical business.

The Tech Tips That Will Save Your Business Money

Being able to do things easier, quicker and better helps to streamline your business and save some money. This is where technology can be really useful. Thanks to different tools and applications, you can help to improve your business, speed up processes and get better results from your employees.

Knowing what’s out there and the difference it can make will help you achieve some amazing results. Take a look at these useful tech tips that will transform your business and help you save money.

Save on your travel costs with video conferencing

While traveling for work can sometimes have its benefits, there are several negative elements to business travel, with time and cost being two of them. If you have employees who regularly travel for meetings, why not encourage them to try video conferencing instead?

There are many benefits that come with video conferencing, but the benefit of having your staff in the office instead of out on the road will help increase productivity. You will also soon start noticing the difference in cost and the greener benefits it will bring to your business.

Use cloud storage for added security at a lower cost

When you’re relying on servers and internal memory to keep your company’s data safe, there’s always a danger that things could fail. More and more businesses are switching to cloud working instead as a way to get instant access to files and data, as well as making sure that they are all safely stored. Cloud computing is a great way to cut costs for your business, and allows you to benefit from having better access to software subscriptions over paying hefty costs for a program.

Cloud working will speed up your work, allowing your employees to do more, while also spending less.

Benefit from online tools that will grow your business

Today’s consumers want to be able to do things quickly and hassle-free, and in most cases, this means using online tools. Being able to make bookings online and managing account and payment info from your website is an appealing prospect to your clients or customers, and could drive your business forward.

Acumatica Rental demonstrates the ways that having an online platform can grow businesses, providing a low-cost option that’s worth the ROI. If you’re not already offering your services online, then it’s time you got started. Don’t forget to market your new services so that your customers can take advantage of them.

Go mobile the easy way

Does your business endorse flexible working? If not, perhaps it’s time you embraced it. With mobile working technology, your employees can work securely and effectively from any location. This allows your teams to enjoy home working as well as other benefits that will help make for a healthy work/life balance. While there are both advantages and disadvantages of flexible working, it is worth considering making the move to help your business embrace more modern ways of working and reflect current workplace trends.

If you want to help get the most out of your employees, consider upgrading your tech and boosting your security systems to put mobile working on the table.

Enable easier collaboration to achieve better results

Collaboration has never been easier than with technology. With the right tools, your teams will be able to work better together, as well as benefit from instant updates to make projects more cohesive and to provide greater results for your business. Whether your employees are all in the same office or spread out across different locations, online collaboration tools help make collaboration much simpler.

If you’re looking for suggestions for the best online collaboration tools to try, take a look at Asana, Podio and Flock. These types of tools can also be used across multiple devices to help workers stay on top of projects wherever they are.

Help employees to be more productive

If you’re hoping to help your workers be more productive, then you should consider some other tech tools that could make it happen. In addition to collaboration tools, online project management tools like Trello can help employees plan their days, manage tasks and provide updates as needed. By enabling better productivity, you can make the most of your resources to achieve bigger things for your business.

Stay on top of your finances

If you run a small business, then it’s likely as the owner that you wear multiple hats, including that of the accountant. This can be difficult, especially if you’re not confident with figures. With online accounting tools, however, you can get a grip of all of your outgoings and make sure you stay up to date with everything. Online accounting tools can also make light work of generating invoices and other tasks, which will help free up your time to focus on the more strategic elements of your business.

Make the most of using freelancers

Many of the tools above have been used successfully by businesses to establish a more ‘digital workforce’. With the right tools in place, employees don’t need to share the same physical office in order to work effectively. For many small businesses, having several full-time employees isn’t always feasible, and using freelancers can help ease the burden without committing to full-time, permanent staff. You can hire freelancers on an ongoing or project basis, and you’ll save money by having them work from home or from their desired location over being physically present in the office.
No matter what the size of your business, there are several ways that technology could help save you money. From cutting your costs to getting the most out of your workers, there are many approaches that have been proven effective for saving your business time and money. While bringing new tools into your business could require some initial investment, you can be sure of making savings in the long-term. Looking at effective ways of using technology in your business could bring some much-needed changes that will help your business achieve success.