9 Common Computer Problems for Small Businesses and Their Solutions

Technological advancements have allowed small businesses to compete more closely with large corporations. However, small businesses struggle with tech issues daily. This is not surprising considering that 27% of small businesses have no IT support.

This makes it difficult for owners to avoid or resolve common computer problems. The first step towards resolving these issues is learning what they are and what causes them. They can either be software or hardware related.

Most computer problems are caused by lack of routine maintenance. As a small business owner, you need to understand that computers need a routine check-up.

The more you learn about these problems, the easier it will be to control and solve them. Here are nine common computer issues faced by small business and tips on how to solve them.

1. Slow Internet

This is among the most common problem in small businesses. Users want fast internet at all times. Slow internet reduces productivity and wastes time. The problem can be as a result of viruses or spyware. Also, sites that use a high amount of bandwidth can slow the internet service down.

Block access to sites such as YouTube and torrent during working hours. These sites take up a large chunk of the bandwidth and slow down internet services. More so, block any pop-ups that may cause viruses in the network. Also, you should get bandwidths that meet your business needs.

2. Account Login Issues

It’s quite frustrating not being able to log into an account. This is common in small business. Someone will say, but I logged in a few hours ago. Sometimes the problem is minor, such as using the uppercase when typing credentials.

The user may also be locked out after keying in the wrong password severally as a security measure. Sometimes it is a network security issue causing a denial of service.

Ensure that network security is up to date to prevent attacks that may cause a denial of service. For suspended accounts, the network administrator can restore the accounts.

3. Printer Issues

Printer complains are quite famous. Sometimes a user may have failed to turn the printer on. Other times, cable issues could be the cause. Also, one should routinely check whether the printer is low on ink and needs a refill.

It is easy to forget that printers need maintenance checks too. Ensure they are dusted and the ink refilled as required. Before printing, ensure that the printer is on and the network cable is plugged in. You should also ensure that the cable is functioning properly.

4. The Annoying Blue Screen

For those using windows operating system, this blue screen is a common problem. It is an error message when the system crashes. The operating system cannot operate after a system error hence the blue screen.

This error is resolved by performing a system restore. Ensure that your operating system updated as required to system errors.

5. Security

Are you aware that 65% of small businesses do not recover from a cyber attack? You should take your network security seriously. Most small business owners do not have any network protection measures in place. They assume that security is a problem for large companies.

Protecting your business from cyber insecurities requires one to invest in network security. Ensure that your firewall is strong and running at all times. Make use of network monitoring tools to detect and avert such attacks.

6. Data Backup and Recovery Are  Common Computer Problems

Ever heard a loud curse from an office only to rush there and find the issue is data loss? The person may have been working on a document without saving it as they progress. A user may have deleted a file and thought it is lost forever. Other times, it is a major issue such as a virus attack.

The solution is to empower your staff with basic computer knowledge. Save the document as you work on it. Let them know that the document goes into the recycle bin before it is permanently deleted.

More so, to prevent major data loss, set up a backup recovery plan. Store your data in a secondary location that you can retrieve after a data loss and continue with work.

7. Integration Issues

Today’s word is a digital one, and technology keeps evolving. The business needs to add on to its original IT infrastructure and progress with new technology. This means that different equipment and software solutions are needed to keep business running.

For every new software or equipment added, ensure there is a seamless integration. If the software development was outsourced, ensure that the developer integrates it fully. It should mesh with your existing environment before closing the project.

8. Viruses and Malware

It only takes one click to infect your computer with a virus. Regardless of how careful you are, such mistakes are likely to occur. Viruses cause many problems for small businesses.  For instance, they expose the company’s confidential data and lead to data loss.

To protect your business against viruses, ensure you have an antivirus installed in all computers. Ensure regular maintenance is done to update software. Also, run routine checks using the antivirus software. Further, caution your staff against clicking on questionable links and emails.

9. Lack of IT Plan

Small business owners fail to come up with an IT strategy. This is a big problem. Many business owners neglect this part of the business until something major happens. By the time this happens, it is already too late to salvage data or prevent a cyber-attack.

It is advisable to have an IT plan as soon as you set up. Work with an IT expert who can help you identify the IT infrastructure needed for your business. Also, you ought to budget for professional IT support for your business. Research and learn more about IT support services for small business.

IT Problems in Small Businesses

The common computer problems faced by small businesses are due to lack of maintenance. Routine checks are the number one way to prevent such problems. Don’t neglect the technology part of the business. It helps in achieving your business goals. Thus, it is important to plan and budget for any computer problems that may arise.

Contact our IT experts for more information on how to improve your business IT infrastructure.

5 Modern Business Cards That Aren\’t So 2000 and Late

If you gotta get that, you can’t have business cards that don’t have that boom boom pow! If modern business cards are your thing, here are 5 that are future-approved.

Business cards might seem like an archaic and boring thing to have. But it’s surprising how important business cards actually are.

You might think that online marketing via social media and search engines is enough. But, despite all this modern tech, there are over 27 million business cards printed each day.

Business cards are a great way to leave a good first impression on any potential client. If you’re looking for the best modern business cards, look no further!

Modern Business Cards That Make a Great Impression

You should be flaunting your business at every turn. Shameless self-promotion is the best way to get your name out there and start making some bank!

One of the most effective marketing tools you can use is business cards. It’s especially important to make ones which have a touch of personality in them. They don’t have to cost much and they’re awesome marketing tools.

If you’re trying to find inspiration for the best business card designs, here’s 5 that are future proof!

1. Comic Book Themed Cards

This business card is by a company called Applied Comics, and the card mimics a comic book design!

It’s perfect as it catches the eye, and it fits the theme of a comic book. The business is all about comic book designs for other forms of advertising or brochures.

It’s niche enough to not seem cheesy or tacky, and the minimalist design keeps it clean and easy to read.

2. Bike Tool Cards

One crafty business by the name of Broke Bike Alley has adopted a very clever design. They have created a card-sized bike tool which fits right in your pocket.

This way, people will use it to fix their bikes and it will remind them of the bike servicing business. It has all their business information on it and it’s super useful! Genius!

3. Plastic Business Cards

Plastic business cards are great for getting creative with your marketing techniques.

Plastic can be unique to your brand with whatever prints you want. A designer Dario Moneti’s cards feature a face on a transparent card. With this, you can hold up to someone’s face from afar and enjoy a cartoon he has designed!

Fun cards are always the way forward, and plastic will last much longer than a paper or card business card.

4. Temporary Tattoo Cards

Tattoo store Tatumi made their business card into a temporary tattoo!

What better way to spread the word than by having your business tattooed onto people? It’s perfect for the brand and it’s a unique, original idea which is bound to impress.

5. Plantable Seed Cards

There are companies selling plant-based products with creative business card ideas.

A great design idea which fits with the brand is cards which are actually packets. Inside these packets are seeds which you can plant and watch grow!

It’s a great, on-brand way to get your information out there and gives you something that will last.

Modern Business Cards Like These Will Take Your Business from 0 to 100

Choosing which kinds of business cards doesn’t have to be dull. With the right ideas, these kinds of modern business cards can make your business shine.

Keep it relevant, fun and memorable. These are the key to a good business card. You want them to fit in a pocket or wallet with ease so that they will be seen on a regular basis.

Most of all, have fun with it!

I hope this article helps.

Is the Business Plan Really Dead?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably come across a few articles proclaiming the Death of the Business Plan. And perhaps you breathed a huge sigh of relief and thought to yourself: “Hooray! Now I can launch my venture without doing a lot of tedious planning!” R.I.P.

Whoa. Not so fast.

These “Death of the Business Plan” articles certainly mean well, but it’s also far too easy for average entrepreneurs to arrive at the wrong (and very dangerous) conclusion after reading them. The conclusions in these articles apply to some people in some situations; however, they are fallacies, not universal truths.

Let’s look at the common fallacies some authors give to support their conclusion that business plans are a waste of time:

Fallacy #1. Investors No Longer Read Business Plans

This is a pretty pervasive argument, and if you’ve heard it enough times, you might even think it’s a universal truth. But it’s a dangerous notion for at least two reasons:

  • Your target audience probably isn’t one of these people. It’s true that some prominent folks in the venture capital community don’t like to read traditional business plans. However, venture capitalists represent only a very tiny fraction of the funding community. Out of millions of companies seeking capital during any given year, venture capital is appropriate for only a few thousand of you. Unless you run a proven, growing company in a “hot” sector like cleantech, biotech, or software, you’re probably wasting your time even thinking about venture capitalists and their preferences. More likely, you’re seeking capital from lenders, friends, family, or angel investors. In most of those cases, a business plan is still very much appropriate. Furthermore, even if your target audience IS a VC who doesn’t personally read business plans, you can be sure that the VC’s associates and attorneys will need to review your plans in detail during the due diligence process.
  • Even if your target audience doesn’t want to receive a “traditional” business plan, you still need to address the Ten Questions Every Business Planner Must Answer. Every entrepreneur needs a “conceptual” business plan – that is, your plan for how you will start and grow your business with limited resources. The medium you use to express your conceptual plan will depend on your target audience and situation: in some cases, a “traditional” narrative business plan is appropriate; other times, you’ll want to use an elevator pitch, a pitch deck, an executive summary, a financial forecast (which is just a business plan expressed in numbers), a multimedia presentation, a business model canvas, a bunch of diagrams on a whiteboard, a product demo along with verbal commentary, a private placement memorandum, a loan application, a grant proposal, or perhaps something else. These are all equally valid ways to express your conceptual business plan, and you need to match the medium to the situation. But no matter what medium you end up using, make no mistake: you need to put in the same effort to fully develop the underlying conceptual business plan.

Fallacy #2. Things Change Too Fast

It’s true that things can change quickly, especially in the tech world. Does that make it a good idea not to do any planning? Of course not. A business plan – no matter which medium you express it in – is a living, breathing thing that will incorporate the best information you have at the moment, and it will evolve and adapt as the known world changes around it.

Think of the business plan as a road map for a long trip. You’re going to encounter detours along the way, and you might discover points of interest that you hadn’t planned on at the beginning of the voyage. Maybe your planned destination will experience a plague of locusts and you’ll decide to do a pivot (in common startup parlance) and head elsewhere on your vacation.

But it’s still a good idea to start the journey with a pretty good idea of where you want to end up. Just be ready and willing to make adjustments on the fly as you receive new information.

Furthermore, disruption isn’t quite as common as some people think. Companies like Google and Facebook are exceptions, not the rule. Most markets don’t get reshaped overnight. Most change is gradual; a good plan gives you a framework for evolving and adapting.

Fallacy #3. It’s Impossible to Predict the Future

You can’t argue with that (if you could, you’d be a trillionaire by now, and not reading this article). So what’s the point of trying to predict how the future will turn out? At a fundamental level, a business is a collection of cause-and-effect relationships. R&D leads to innovations. Hiring the right software engineer results in faster, more stable code.

Generating good web content produces inbound leads. Sure, the exact nature of the cause-and-effect relationships can be uncertain, and a lot of serendipity can be involved.

The forecasting process requires a lot of hard thinking about the nature of these cause-and-effect relationships and the resources you’ll need. You’ll discover that the fate of your future depends more critically on some assumptions than others.

This thought process will help you prioritize your testing so you can identify and fix the flaws in your plan more quickly. You don’t need your predictions to be spot-on in order to get value out of the process.

Fallacy #4. It’s Futile to Plan in Isolation

Many authors argue that the act of retreating secretly into a bunker to write a brilliant business plan for how your incredible idea is going to be the next Facebook is an exercise in futility. They argue that you should talk to people about your ideas, design a minimum viable product and get it in the hands of potential customers so you can test product-market fit, blog about it to the world, and so forth.

And they’re absolutely right. I agree completely that planning and shaping your business and product should not be done in isolation. You absolutely need to interact with the market so you don’t waste years of your life toiling away on something that nobody will buy.

Planning is an interactive, iterative process. In the language of science, your current plan is your null hypothesis – your best guess as to how things will develop. Your market tests represent the experiments that will determine whether or not your hypothesis needs revision.

Fallacy #5. You Don’t Need Investors, or You Already Have Investors

Most people think of business plans as tools for raising money, and if you plan to bootstrap your company, or if you already have money from investors, you no longer need a business plan. Seriously? A business plan – regardless of how it’s documented – represents the collection of strategies and tactics you intend to implement in order to build a successful venture. Without it, you’re flying blind. I sincerely believe that one of the main reasons most businesses fail is because they either followed a flawed plan or didn’t have a plan to begin with.

Finally, it’s important to recognize that most of the value of a business plan comes from the planning process – thinking through and validating your business model, your market dynamics, your competitive positioning, your distribution strategy, and so on. A careful planning process can help identify fatal flaws early before you’ve ventured too far down the wrong path.

You also need a plan so that you’ll understand what resources you’ll need at what times – just as a blueprint tells builders when and how much concrete, lumber, copper pipe, and paint will be required. A good business plan – regardless of the medium it is expressed in – gets you and your entire team rowing in the same direction, in the right sequence.

Business Planning Remains Essential

Whether you run a startup at the idea stage or an established firm planning the coming years, business planning is an essential activity. Once in a while, you’ll hear about a celebrity entrepreneur who manages to raise money without a business plan. You can be sure of two things in this situation.

First, the entrepreneur is a rock star with a track record of building successful ventures. Second, the entrepreneur has a very clear business plan in her mind, even if it hasn’t been committed to paper in the form of a “traditional” business plan.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the individual authors who have written that the business plan is dead. However, it’s too easy for novice entrepreneurs – heck, even experienced entrepreneurs – to misinterpret what they have written. None of these authors, as far as I know, are telling you to go out and wing it, without any planning at all.

So plan carefully, express your plan in a medium that is suitable for your needs, and be prepared to change course often. Long live the business plan.

10 Questions Every Business Planner Must Answer

Are you getting ready to pitch investors? Then you need to make sure that your materials – your pitch deck, executive summary, and business plan – answer ten critical questions.

Conversely, if you find yourself including a lot of material that isn’t directly related to one of these ten questions, you may be better off leaving it out of your documents.

Here are the ten critical questions to answer:

1. What’s the problem?

First, you need to explain what problem you solve. If you aren’t solving a problem that people are willing to pay you to alleviate, then you probably won’t see much demand for your product or service.

The more acute the problem, the more attractive the market. Some problems are dramatic: thousands die each year from pancreatic cancer. Others are more mundane: there isn’t a decent burger joint within 8 miles of this intersection.

2. What is your solution, and what makes it special?

Next, you need to explain how your product or service is going to meet the need created by the problem. This is where you describe your offering. Try not to get into excessive detail – focus on showing how your business will be viewed from your customer’s point of view.

3. How big / severe is the problem?

This is where you describe your market potential: how many people in your target markets are willing to spend money to make their problem go away, and how much they’re willing to spend. This is the “total addressable market” that you and your competitors are collectively targeting.

4. How will you make money?

This is what many people call the “revenue model” or “business model.” For most businesses, this is fairly obvious: you will sell your product or service for some advertised price. Other markets – particularly those that involve licensing, subscriptions, bundling, and other strategies – can be more complex. If you’re a startup, it’s best to start simple and make refinements down the road.

5. Who will buy it, and how will you sell it to them?

You need to identify your target customers and demonstrate an understanding of their buying habits and how you plan to buy from you instead of from somebody else. In other words, this is your marketing strategy.

6. Why are YOU the best team to do this?

Most investors say that the startup team is more important than the idea itself, because a good team can fix a mediocre idea, but a mediocre team is likely to fail even if they are pursuing a great idea. Therefore, you need to convince the investor that your team has what it takes to turn their money into a successful business.

7. Who are your competitors, and what makes you better?

No matter what you may think, you do have competitors. You need to think about all of the different ways in which consumers are currently dealing with the problem that you solve. Some will be direct competitors, some indirect, and some will be substitute products (to a parent trying to keep a child calm on an airplane, a coloring book is a substitute for a Game Boy).

You need to describe what makes your product superior, and how you intend to stay one step ahead of the competition (say, in the form of patents or other sources of competitive advantage).

8. What have you done, and what will you do?

Investors want to know that you have a track record of achievement – that you’ve been busy building your business over the past instead of just dreaming about your idea. They also want to know that you have an aggressive but achievable set of planned milestones for turning your idea into reality – in other words, they want to know you’ve thought things through.

9. What are the economics?

Investors tend to think in terms of numbers, so show them the key metrics for your planned business, and let them know how your business will compare to industry norms. Some examples include per-unit profitability, revenue per employee, expense per employee, revenue per customer, cumulative units to break-even, and so forth.

10. How much do you need, and what will you do with the investor’s money?

Finally, you need to show the investors that you have a concrete plan for executing on your business plan – that you know what resources you’ll need at what time in the future, and that you understand how cash flow works. Ideally, you want to show them that you can achieve profitability soon after receiving your investment.

Note that the exact order in which you address these questions depends on your specific situation. You have a unique story to tell, and you need to think about what order makes the most sense in your situation.

13 Best Business Card Design Ideas to Clients

Did you know that business cards started back in the 15th century and served as calling cards to announce entrance with other individuals? Well, you now have a heads up!

Today, business cards are meant to share your contact details with prospective clients, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be dull or boring.

To make your card stand out from others in your potential client’s cardholder, it takes some creative thinking. This way, in a short time they’ve got to know and remember who you are.

Rather than a boring card that is easily forgotten, use one of these business card design ideas so potential clients won’t forget you.

1. Add Graphical Images

Most businesses will have their logo on a business card. However, if a prospective client doesn’t have an idea on what your business entails, the chances are that the logo will not mean a lot to them.

That said, you should consider incorporating imagery or graphics to remind your clients what your business is all about. Such quick visual representation can also help you stand out from your competitors.

2. Take a Minimalistic Approach

Your business card doesn’t have to bright so that it stands out. Sometimes, taking a minimalistic, refined approach can get you the desired result.

For instance, if you’re looking to convey a sophisticated message, a two-tone card with plain topography printed on thick, matte paper can come in handy.

You should also consider simple color palettes as they embody the print techniques of the past, which were best known for their minimalistic approach.

3. Bright and Playful

One of the most overlooked approaches is the use of bright colors with a fun concept. It only takes a few splashes of color, and prospective client is going to love it.

If your business is light-spirited or fun, this type of approach will blend in with your clientele.

4. Take a Textured Approach

One of the aspects that will make your card stand out is the fact that it can be touched. If your business card is textured, the feel will remain etched on your prospective client’s mind. This way, it’ll be at the back of their mind when they’re ready to buy.

5. Gentle and Elegant

If you’re in the wine, jewelry, or other industries that portray elegance, using soft earth tones are not just soothing to the eyes, but they feel attractive to clients who’re gentle by nature.

Alternatively, you can use a stylish silhouette of a forest scene at night to create a quiet mood that’s in tune with nature.

6. An Alternate Agenda

While a business card is designed to sell your product, you can still turn it into something different. However, you have to make sure that your alternate use is relevant to your business.

For instance, if you’re a gardener, you can design your business card into an envelope full of seeds.

7. Get Sticky

When giving out your card to a prospective client – at a conference – the chances are that they may lose it in the stack of others. While they may be interested in your business then, they may not have a way to get in touch with you.

You can turn this around by designing your business card as stickers. This way, your clients can pin them on their laptop, phone, or notebook, so they’ll hardly forget who you are.

8. Incorporate Social Elements

Your business card may be a physical way to reach out to your potential clients, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t drive clients to your online home. One way of doing this is by incorporating your social media details on the card.

You can list all the channels or feature a QR code that prospective clients can scan with their phone so that they can be redirected to your website.

9. Try Out Different Shapes

If square feels a little mainstream, you should try to break free, and design it into a completely different shape. You can go for diamond or circular shapes or take inspiration from the product or service you’re offering.

This not only helps your business stand out, but it gives prospects insights on what your business is all about.

10. Get Creative With Colors

The first thing your prospective client will notice about your card is the color. So, it’s essential that you work on this to your advantage if you want to seal a deal.

You could try experimenting with different contrasts using a color wheel or splash your brand’s colors for a more eye-catching approach. This concept can be implemented on any outdoor advertising, and you can always learn more so that you’re always ahead of your competition.

11. Consider Alternative Concepts

It’s worth trying out trend-breaking ideas that embrace circular shapes and originality.

It could be light reflecting card edges, specially-chosen holographic pink paper, or interchangeable card designs. These concepts embrace quirks in different businesses and are worth a shot.

12. Weird and Wonderful

It’s vital for your business card to reflect the personality of your brand. For instance, if you’re a law firm representing people in the finance industry, you wouldn’t want to hand in a card scrawled in childish fonts.

So, you have to figure out how to “sum up” the purpose and values of your brand in your business card as it will help prospects to recall who you are.

13. Maintain Its Elegance

Your card elegance gives it a professional look, and this transfers to your business as well. For instance, a black background stands out against white colors

If you want to add a little sophistication, you can make imagery and font bronze, gold, and silver.

Here Are The Business Card Design Ideas You Should Consider!

There are different business card design ideas to consider, but it’s essential not to overlook approaches that use bright color with a fun concept. Also, a textured feel makes your card stand out as prospects can easily relate.

If you’re in the wine or jewelry industry, soft earth tones are not just attractive to prospects whore gentle, but they’re soothing to the eyes.

Are you looking to diversify your marketing campaign? Check out our blog to learn about the marketing tools you need at your disposal.

How to Find the Best 3D Printing Service for Your Business

In 2018, 70 percent of businesses increased their investments in 3D printing technology, and that number is expected to rise in 2019 and beyond.

3D printing is especially beneficial to folks working in the aeronautics industry, but all kinds of businesses are making use of 3D printing technology.

Are you interested in using 3D printing for your business? If so, it’s a good idea for you to pair up with a reliable 3D printing service.

Read on for some tips that will help you choose the best service that will help you achieve your business goals.

Why Hire a 3D Printing Service?

There are lots of benefits that come with investing in 3D printing services. Some of the greatest perks include the following:

1. Save Money on Prototyping

Prototyping is an essential part of the 3D printing and development process. It can definitely be expensive, though.

If 3D printing isn’t going to be a regular part of your business and you won’t be making prototypes very often, it’s probably not worth it for you to invest in an in-house 3D printer.

You’re better off outsourcing and hiring a printing service.

2. Increase Sales

When you invest in 3D printing, you can offer a wider range of products to your customers.

3D printing may also allow you to offer your products at a discounted rate since it can make the manufacturing process easier.

Both of these benefits, in turn, can help to increase your business’s sales and help to boost your profits.

3. Get Jobs Done Faster

When you work with a professional 3D printing service, you’ll often get jobs done faster than if you were printing with an in-house printer.

3D printing services have access to the latest 3D printing technology, and they can print items much faster while still ensure they’re of the highest quality.

4. Work with Experts

What’s the point of investing in an in-house 3D printer if you don’t know how to use it? Do you really want to spend a lot of time learning how to use the printer?

If you don’t have the time or energy for that, why not let the experts who run a 3D printing service handle the job for you?

This will take a lot of stress off your shoulders and ensure that you get high-quality finished products every time.

Choosing the Right 3D Printing Service

There are plenty of benefits that come with outsourcing 3D printing and working with a printing service.

If you’re ready to start working with a 3D printing service, these tips can help you make sure you choose the right one:

1. Know Your Goals

Before you start shopping around to find a 3D printing service for your business, it’s important to take a step back and think about what you want to accomplish when you work with them.

What kinds of products are you going to be printing? How often are you going to be placing orders with the company? Do you want to work with a local business, or are you okay with hiring an overseas service?

2. Consider Available Materials and Tech

No matter which 3D printing service you choose, they ought to have high-quality materials and the latest technology available.

Don’t spend money working with a service that uses outdated equipment or shoddy materials.

Make sure the service’s materials match your needs, too.

For example, jewelers who want to make use of 3D printing technology ought to find a service that has a variety of precious metals available.

3. Consider Design Assistance Options

How much help do you need when it comes to creating a 3D printed product? For example, do you need help with the actual product design process?

If so, it’s important to find a printing service that offers this help.

Otherwise, you’re going to spend a lot more money than you’d planned making sure your product can be printed to match your specifications.

4. Know Your Budget

How much money are you willing to spend on 3D printing?

Do some research and look into different services’ rates so you have an idea of how much you’ll need to spend to get the kind of products you’re looking for.

Price shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when looking for a 3D printing service, but it definitely needs to play a role in your final business decisions.

5. Focus on Quality

While you do need to stick to your budget, make sure you’re not skimping on quality just to get a lower price.

As with most things, you get what you pay for when it comes to 3D printing.

Remember, too, that if you spend less now, you might end up paying more later to correct problems or make up for unsatisfied customers.

6. Consider Customer Service

The company’s customer service matters, too. Make sure they respond to questions and concerns thoughtfully and in a timely matter.

Avoid working with a service that is hard to contact or that doesn’t seem concerned about the quality of their finished products.

7. Read Online Reviews and Testimonials

Last, but not least, be sure to read online reviews and testimonials when you’re looking for a 3D printing service for your business.

Pay attention to what past customers are saying and what their experience was like.

You might want to ask the printing service for references, too.

When you reach out to those references, be sure to ask plenty of questions and find out what they liked and didn’t like.

Find out whether they’d work with this company again. Ask if they would recommend them to a friend as well?

Get More Hiring Advice Today

Now that you know more about the benefits of hiring a 3D printing service — and how to choose the best printing service for your business — it’s time to start shopping around.

Keep these tips in mind and it’ll be much easier for you to sort through your options and make the best decision.

Why Your Business Needs Hosted PBX

As a business owner, you need to make sure that your customers can reach you at any time. You also want to make sure that your privacy is protected by not having everyone call your cell phone.

That’s one of the reasons why you’d turn to a PBX phone system. You have a professional phone system that handles all of your telecommunications needs.

Want to know more about what a PBX is and why you should consider a hosted PBX? Keep reading to find out.

What is PBX?

The big question at hand is what is a PBX? It stands for private business exchange. It’s a voice-over IP system that allows large and small organizations to have multiple phone lines without having to install a landline for every employee.

When you use a PBX, you are using the internet networks for voice communication as opposed to traditional landlines.

Reasons to Have a PBX

PBX has become a major business telecommunications tool. With this type of system, you can do many things that you wouldn’t be able to do with a standard landline system.

For example, if you have someone sending a fax, the PBX can direct it to the right number without you having to install a dedicated fax line.

You can also have a dial-by-name directory, which can be great for your customers and vendors who have a specific person they want to reach.

It’s also easy to set up and operate, which give your staff flexibility to forward calls and transfer calls. It’s a better system for you and your customers.

Benefits of Having a Hosted PBX

Now that you know why you need to have a PBX at your business, you have one more decision to make. That’s how your PBX will be hosted.

Remember, a PBX system works like a website because you have information running across a network. That means that you can opt to have your PBX hosted in the cloud with a third-party provider or have it hosted on your premises.

There are a number of advantages to having your PBX hosted in the cloud. These are the top reasons you should consider.

1. Cost Effective

If you were to host your own PBX on your premises, you would need to make a big investment. You would need to invest in servers to operate the network in-house.

You’d also need to make room in your office for those servers. The more lines you have or plan to have, the more space you’d need.

You’ll also need to hire staff to manage and maintain those networks. There are hiring costs and not to mention the wrong hire would cost your business big time.

Looking at a hosted PBX, you can eliminate those concerns. You have another company managing the servers, they already made the infrastructure investments in servers, and they have the staff in place to maintain them. You just pay them a fee to host the PBX.

2. Better for Your Sales Team and Remote Workers

A hosted PBX allows every member of your team to have access to the network, no matter where they are. This is great news for remote teams and sales teams that are on the road all of the time.

The alternative is to have them use their cell phones to accept and receive calls. That can cause confusion for your customers and vendors, especially when there are different area codes and

They won’t know who they’re calling and what time zone they’re in. Instead, you can have your customers call one number with the proper extension. That gives your business a more professional look and feel, too.

3. Easy to Scale with Your Business

Are you worried that your business fluctuates too much and you’re going to wind up with too many unused phone lines?

That’s often a concern for many seasonal businesses. They may have a full staff during the holidays, but the summers are slow and it’s the perfect time for people to be on vacation.

That would be a big concern if you have to commit to having traditional landlines in your office. With a PBX system, it’s very easy to add and eliminate phone lines or transfer them to another employee.

It’s a great solution for small businesses that know that they’re going to grow quickly. You can scale your phone lines up as you add more people to your staff.

4. Reliable

Reliability and excellent communication are the hallmarks of the customer experience. Without those two things, your customers will leave your company and go to your competitor.

With a PBX system hosted on your premises, you’re really leaving the reliable communications piece to chance. If something goes wrong or if the power goes out, your phone lines go out with it.

A hosted PBX solution will keep the lines of communication open no matter what is happening at your office.

5. Updates Happen Automatically

When you have the PBX hosted on your premises, you’re ultimately responsible for installing any software updates. Failure to do so will result in the entire system becoming unstable.

Not only that, not updating your software could result in a vulnerable system that hackers could exploit. That can mean you have a lot of unwanted users and outbound calls on your network.

A hosted PBX takes care of these updates and offers the latest security patches to make sure that your system is always running smoothly.

Hosted PBX for Your Business

In the business world, swift communication is often the difference between thriving companies and struggling ones.

You can’t afford to leave your business communications to chance. That’s why a hosted PBX solution makes sense. You can adjust it with your business, it’s reliable, and incredibly cost effective. It’s really a no-brainer for a business of any size.

Do you want more great business tips? Come back to the blog regularly for more great articles that are sure to help you grow your business.

How to Drastically Cut Expenses in Your Small Business

Sources show that 82% of small businesses fail due to cash flow problems. Money problems are mainly caused by poor planning, overwhelming expenses, and low revenue.

When it comes to small businesses, every penny counts. This means making any possible cuts on expenses and improving productivity wherever possible. It is often much easier to balance the books by lowering business spending than increasing income.

To keep your business thriving, here are five tips on how to drastically cut expenses.

1. Stick to a Business Budget

Careful budgeting is crucial in managing finances. Cutting down on expenses begins by planning the available resource and predicted revenue. This gives you a clear idea of how to spend the funds that you already have and prepare for the future.

A budget is only useful if followed precisely. Practice a high level of discipline and avoid deviating from the laid-out plan. This way, your expenses will remain predictable, and you can easily find areas to make cuts.

2. Digitize Your Business Operations

Use technology to your advantage. With inexpensive and convenient technologies like VoIP and cloud computing, you can drastically cut down on communication, labor, and time expenses. You could even have virtual offices such as Hoxton Mix, and outsource work and services at relatively low cost.

Entire departments or roles can be made redundant by simply automating mundane tasks such as virtual assistance, data management, and emailing.

3. Cut Down on Energy Consumption

The cost of energy keeps going up, and it amounts to a large portion of recurrent expenses. Find ways to reduce your power bill and bring your costs down. The cheapest way to do this is to go green.

Begin by installing solar panels to generate free electricity. You could also modify the building to consume less energy by improving natural lighting and replacing inefficient electrical systems. The initial cost of changing the energy infrastructure may be high, but it pays for itself in just a few years.

4. Ditch the Print Media

On average, an American office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of print paper every year. Now, multiply that with the average cost of paper and the numbers go way up. Sadly, most of this paper ends up in the shredder or the dump.

And that’s only looking at papers alone without the added cost of ink, printers, and other stationary supplies. Transition to a paperless work environment and make huge savings. Use digital documents on computers and smartphones instead of printed reports, receipts, invoices, and postal mail.

5. Maximize Employee Productivity

Use incentives to motivate your employees to be more productive. Introduce training, rewards, and performance evaluation schemes to boost the employees’ morale and increase productivity. Don’t waste labor expenses on an under-delivering workforce.

Try New Creative Ways on How to Drastically Cut Expenses

These five ways on how to drastically cut expenses should guide you to making significant savings on your business’s running costs.

However, don’t stop there. Find other ways to cut more expenses depending on your business model and operations. Identify any cots that the business could do without and cut them off or reduce them.

Keep in mind that decreasing expenses requires a certain level of commitment and flexibility to cope with the changes.

Explore our blog for more business tips.

7 Things Your Business Should Do to Welcome New Hires

Did you know that the Department of Labor predicted approximately 6.6 million job openings in the US in 2019?

This is an all-time high and as employers are looking for skilled candidates, approximately 45% of them will be raising the starting salaries.

This is good news on both sides – as an employee, you have plenty of job openings available and as an employer, you’ll be able to attract a plethora of new talents.

At the same time, you can also do more to accommodate new employees and make their stay a more comfortable one. You just have to learn how to properly welcome new hires. This is not difficult and it can make a great first impression on your new personnel. As you probably already know, the first impression counts a lot.

Top Things To Do To Welcome New Hires

By welcoming your hires the proper way, you will be able to establish a better relationship with your new employees right from the start. They’ll also get the idea that they are valued at appreciated from the very first day. Here’s what you can do to make that happen.

1. Give Them A Tour of the Office

This is probably one of the most important things to do. Everything is new for your fresh hires and by giving them a tour of the company, they get the chance to learn a lot in a short time.

For example, walk your hires to the kitchen and show them the amenities in there such as from where to get fresh coffee, where is the water cooler, etc. Don’t forget to mention where the bathroom is as well. It can be quite awkward for new hires to ask for bathroom directions on the first day and you save them the hassle.

You should also explore the company with your new hires, letting them know where their office is, where is the office of their superior if they have a question, etc. Lastly, the new hires should also be acquainted with emergency response planning, so they know what to do in case of an unfortunate emergency.

2. Introduce the New Hires to Their Coworkers

This is also a good move because it makes new employees feel at home. You should introduce the new hires to a few coworkers who might share the same job description with them. By doing so, the new hires know whom to go to if they have a question.

However, make sure that you don’t introduce the new hires to each company employee because this can be quite stressful. Let them get acquainted with the other people along the way.

3. Have Everything Set Up for Them

It’s recommended to prepare the office for your new hires right from the start, so they can get to work immediately. For example, have a computer and phone ready as well as a brand new office and chair. It would be great to add a notebook on the office too and other supplies they might use such as a printer, calculator, etc.

Not preparing the office space in advance will eventually make the new hires feel uneasy. They’ll eventually have to stay and look around while you make preparations for them and this is totally unprofessional.

4. Take Them Easy on the First Day

The first day at a new job is usually the most stressful one. There are so many new people and so many new things to learn. Keep this in mind and cut your new hires some slack until they get accustomed to their new job.

Ideally, you should give your new employees something to do right from the start, but those tasks should be simple. New hires are always ready to show off their skills and you should give them this opportunity.

5. Tell Your New Hires Where They Can Go For Lunch

Chances are that your new employees are new to the company location as well. They probably didn’t have time to inspect the area and look for a coffee shop, a restaurant, an ATM, etc.

Again, you can save your employees some hassle by presenting them the location at length. You can pinpoint nearby restaurants, coffee shops or even a gym, for those who want to work out during their lunch break. Best of all, take your new employees to lunch on the first day and they’ll definitely appreciate the gesture.

6. Talk With Your New Hires A Lot During the First Day

The first workday is usually filled with anxiety for most new hires. This is normal, but that anxiety must be eliminated. You can do that by encouraging your new hires to talk and ask questions whenever they feel like.

Talking with your new hires often will also make them feel valued and appreciated at the new workplace. You should do that a lot during the first day and continue this habit in the subsequent days. By doing so, your employees are more likely to remain loyal and be more productive in the long run.

7. Assign A Mentor to New Hires

Some of your new employees might be hired to do complex and important tasks. It would be ideal if you can assign a mentor to these people to help them along the way and to avoid costly mistakes.

A mentor could be an experienced colleague who has done that particular job for years. He will be able to make the new employee accommodate easier. Make it clear that the freshman should ask as many questions as possible to learn the ropes quicker. The mentor should also be an experienced and patient worker who can handle these questions.

Now It’s Time to Put These Tips into Practice

As you can see, it’s not that difficult to welcome new hires at your workplace. You just have to look at this process from the employee’s perspective and treat him/her as you would like to be treated.

If you liked this article, don’t forget to share it with your fellow business partners and friends, so they can learn a lot from this too.

Starting a Business Checklist: 10 Things Your Startup Needs to Succeed

According to Forbes, there are 3 essential factors that make or break a startup. They are mastering your market, having the right founders, and hiring the right team.

But how do you go about perfecting these three main aspects of a successful startup? Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone, or blindly.

Here’s a simple starting a business checklist with 10 things that will help you nail those essential elements and start turning your efforts into cash flow. You got this, now get ready to grow!

Starting a Business Checklist

You can find an endless plethora of online tips for helping your business grow, but sometimes simplicity really is key.

As you review these 10 easy tips, remember that market refers not only to the size of your potential customer base but the timing with which you present your new business.

The founder’s idea is essentially that your business has the ability (and monetary resources) to recruit the right leaders from the start. The team aspect is quite self-explanatory. How well is your business staffed, from logistics to sales, to make every aspect of things run smoothly?

Now on to the simple tips:

1. Make a Plan

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin

Before you even think about launching a business or even a website, you better have every tiny detailed nailed down. This includes everything from employee responsibilities, product prices, hours of operation, your company “vision statement,” how to handle customer service emergencies and more.

If you’re unaware of how to make a proper business plan, then you may be jumping the gun a bit with this article.

First things first, get your business model established and down in writing. Once you have a plan, you can adapt and modify when necessary.

2. Create a Budget

The majority of new startups don’t start making millions overnight. In fact, we can’t think of a single one that did. This is why creating your business budget is an essential first step to a successful startup.

You need to keep careful records of where every penny is invested.

You also need to be aware of where your own personal living expenses will come from for the first year (or several), until your business starts earning. The old saying is true, “you have to spend money to make money.”

But that means you need to know how you’re going to pay your mortgage and buy groceries until you have a steady income.

3. Branding

The topic of branding could be an entire list in itself. Branding is so vital to the success of your business that you really need to get it right the first time.

This is why we recommend giving it thought and research before you throw a logo or cover-photo out there.

Consider color schemes, fonts, and the “life ideals” of your target audience. You are creating a brand that your niche can identify with. The question is, how well do you know your audience? Will your brand appeal to them? Do you have the analytics to back it up?

Don’t brand blindly. Base your logos, images, everything on the research of your target market.

4. Choose a Name

Funny that this important checklist item is often overlooked. Before you can create a website or start selling anything, you need to choose a good business name.

Preferably one that is unique, memorable, and has the potential for ranking high on Google searches.

5. Register Your Domain Name

What’s the good of a clever, perfect business name if the domain isn’t available? You want to register your domain name as soon as you can.

Choosing something like “mybusiness@wordpress.com” makes you seem small-beans and unreliable. Show your audience you’ll be around for a while and get a legit web name and email address.

6. Get Your Legal Ducks in a Row

Even if you’re a brand new startup, it’s wise to have an attorney and/or account help you with incorporating your business so you’re protected and not left subject to losing your assets.

Decide whether you’ll go the route of sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation.

Don’t forget to apply for an EIN, employer identification number. Make sure you obtain the proper business licenses for the state or country you are in. Be sure to do your research on what permits or licenses you need if you are running a business out of your home or apartment.

You can get into a lot of trouble, heavy fines being the least of your worries, if you don’t take care of the legal aspects of starting a business before you start selling something.

7. Plan Your Social Media Strategy

If you plan to run a successful startup, social media is a must. However, it’s no longer enough to simply create a Facebook profile up and call it a day.

You need to develop a thought-out social media strategy before you create any accounts. Things like:

  • Publishing calendars
  • Voice/tone
  • Image styles
  • Font styles
  • Content
  • Budget
  • Editing rules
  • Advertising

And much more should all be decided upon before getting started.

8. Market Yourself

Awareness is a buzzword among entrepreneurs nowadays. Marketing your new business is one of the main major keys to success.

This will include everything from Google Adwords, search engine optimization, publishing of quality, keywords appropriate content, social media advertising, beautiful graphics like these signs, radio spots, t.v. commercials, whatever type of marketing you’ve found will be most effective at reaching your audience.

Again, doing your research beforehand will save you time and money, while raising awareness about your new business at the same time.

9. Start a Revenue Stream

As soon as you can, start generating revenue. New businesses take a lot of cash to get up. Most of the items on this list can be accomplished with little or no money to start.

This is perfect for helping you get things flowing and raking in as much revenue as you can before moving on to more advanced business-growing steps like renting office space.

10. Design a Website

Even if your product or service isn’t ready to be sold, having a website with company information and details helps build your credibility.

It also allows you to start building that ever-important search engine reputation so future customers can find you.

Ready to Roll

This “starting a business checklist” will help you get the ball rolling right. If you create a solid foundation from which to launch your new business or product line, you are far more likely to succeed.

Don’t get discouraged if it takes weeks, months, or even years to get your business off the ground. With perseverance and the right business plan, your business can make it!

Need more startup tips? Keep reading our blog!