While animals are undoubtedly stronger than humans, it is the advantage of the human species to adjust the environment to its benefit. Still, we never had the ability to resist the urge created by valuable items, which is why sooner or later every discovery of our civilization gets turned towards making profit. Unrelated to history, anthropology and psychology, when it first came to existence, the purpose of cloud was a safe storage of photos and other personal memorabilia in digital form- but not anymore. Today, cloud technology is one of the greatest weapons that SMBs have against their much larger counterparts. Here are few reasons why.
Lower IT Infrastructure Costs
When you start a business, one of the first concerns you face is whether to buy or rent hardware. The first option may be cheaper in the long run, but it requires more capital and it does make things more complicated when you have to replace what you have with a newer model. Similar thing happens with software (whether to subscribe annually or monthly), business networks and various other issues. All of this becomes much easier with cloud computing, seeing how it doesn’t require much investment. What you use is what you pay for.
When it comes to paying proportionally to the resources you use, scalability is another great advantage of going with cloud because there is no guarantee that your workload won’t increase or diminish over time. Furthermore, some industries face great oscillations in work influx through different seasons but with cloud you can change the size of your operations on a monthly basis. In this way, you save some money without having to readjust your prices or lay people off. This is important because both of these things can act as a deal breaker when you find yourself in the midst of the season.
Everything in One Place
Another advantage of the cloud is that it becomes much easier to integrate all your online presence and confine it into a single spot. Sometimes you won’t deal with a single website, but several of them leading to the same place, and even though they don’t see the same amount of traffic, they should all have support of equal quality just in case. Imagine a situation where you have a .com website, but someone takes your exact domain name with a different extension. This is a disaster you simply need to avert at all costs, which means you should buy some of the most popular variations of your domain names. In order not to spend a small fortune on this, you need to find an affordable place where you are going to buy domain name or several of them.
Much greater security is also a great advantage because SMBs are always an attractive target to hackers. On one hand, they don’t have the same value to their name as some of the major conglomerates out there, but what they also don’t have is the same level of security. Adequate cyber-security team would cost a small fortune in equipment and paychecks (provided you decided to create an in-house department). On the other hand, you can just go with cloud and let your provider’s team deal with this issue.
USB drives can get lost, HDDs can get destroyed and other equipment might get damaged, misplaced or broken beyond repair. Now imagine you had volumes of data and years of hard work on one of these devices. Just thinking about losing all that hard work is enough to send chills down your spine. However, if you store something in the digital environment, all you need is a security clearance and you will have access to all your data. Provided it is safe from hackers (as already mentioned above) your data will be there to wait for you regardless of which device you access it from.
One only needs to take a look at the business world today and notice that things are definitely changing. No longer are only the major brands able to survive and SMBs and startups doomed to failure. The internet, the social media, and most importantly, cloud storage and computing, has changed this situation greatly.
Here is Why You Should Use Web Content Filtering
In today’s hyperconnected era, the internet has become critical for your business performance. It allows your staff members to seek information, collaborate, and share files in real-time. There are also many web-based platforms that can simplify almost any aspect of your business operations, from bookkeeping to project management.
However, do your employees always use the internet the way they should?
To take a break from their complex daily activities, even your most diligent employees will surf the web, share videos, and quickly scan their social media accounts.
Even though taking a selfie and posting it on Instagram or responding to a friend request on Facebook takes only a few seconds, stats say that these activities may harm the overall workplace performance and cause greater costs. According to Office Team, employees spend 5 hours weekly on non-work activities, which may lead to a worrying loss of $15.5 billion in lost productivity.
One of the most effective solutions to this problem is web content filtering.
Web Content Filtering Defined
When you’re filtering online content, you’re using a piece of software to identify and exclude any forms of inappropriate or dangerous content for your company. These tools recognize character strings that, if matched, indicate that the content is not appropriate for your organization. These could be suspicious files, spammy website content, pornographic content, and even social networks.
Now, let’s see what the benefits of web content filtering are for your business.
Tightened Network Security
The number of cyberattacks is growing. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that this trend will die down in the next few years. Namely, today’s online hacks have evolved, which makes them harder to predict and recognize.
Above all, most of them target small businesses. Research says that more than 70% of companies that are hacked are SMBs. The reason for that is simple – small businesses still don’t understand the importance of cybersecurity and are not equipped to fight sophisticated online threats.
One of the most frequent types of cyber threats is phishing attacks. The hacker’s goal is to deceive a user to steal their valuable data. This form of online breaches involves a myriad of tactics that are carried out through emails, social networks, IM platforms, etc. Some well-versed cybercriminals even build fake sites that look trustworthy and then ask users to provide their sensitive data.
Unsurprisingly, employees’ negligence is the greatest cybersecurity risk. Most of them will click on spammy ads, odd links, and download files from unreliable resources without thinking about the consequences of these activities.
This is where web filter solutions help. Namely, they provide services like information control, URL filters, traffic control, proxy control, behavior analyses, and online bandwidth management to prevent infected files from reaching your employees’ inboxes. And, even if an employee receives a malicious file or link, web filters will instantly block their access to such content.
Greater Workplace Productivity
Social networks are often being referred to as workplace productivity killers.
Still, is banning them a good option? Probably not.
First, this may hurt employee satisfaction and indicate that you don’t trust them enough.
Second, social networks are important for building brand awareness. When reposted on your company’s profile, your employees’ behind-the-scenes photos and videos may help you humanize your brand.
However, web content filtering lets you set stricter rules on what kind of content should be accessed at work. You don’t have to block social networks, but you can always filter out not-suitable-for-work (NSFW) websites, such as online shopping platforms, as well as gambling, torrent, gaming, or entertainment sites.
Maintaining Brand Reputation
Your employees’ lack of knowledge may not only hurt your network’s security, but also ruin the reputation your company has been building for years. Just remember that U.S. Airways’ social media manager accidentally published an X-rated photo on the company’s Twitter account. Even though they reacted fast by deleting the photo and apologizing, they still received lots of negative press.
Therefore, web content filtering may be one of the most effective ways to maintain a spotless brand reputation in the digital world packed with spam. URL filtering and real-time monitoring of online activities will reduce the disasters caused by employees misusing the internet, such as publishing offensive content, illegal file downloads, or publishing inappropriate content on your corporate accounts.
The power of web content filtering goes far beyond improving cybersecurity. This is one of the most effective ways to limit your employees’ access to non-work sites and, in this way, increase their productivity and prevent them from sharing any inappropriate content.
Sure, to get the most out of this strategy, don’t forget to educate your employees. They need to know how their use of the internet impacts the overall image of the organization. Most importantly, they should be aware of the major cyber threats and know what to do if they come across them.
Hope this helps!
5 Tips to Improve Customer Experience
One of the biggest challenges that a lot of Australian enterprises are struggling with is the question of how to improve your overall customer experience without changing too much of their current business model. The reason why this is so important is due to the fact that a customer experience tends to be the number one reason why people return to your business and there’s an estimate that it’s five times cheaper to retain a customer than gain a new one. In order to make all of this work to your benefit, here are five tips to improve your overall customer experience.
1. Simple navigation
From the moment people enter your website, they need to be able to discern what is what and where they should go next. Some people make a mistake of presenting website visitors with too many clickable elements and information early on, in fear that they won’t be able to see all that their website has to offer. The problem is that this only makes it harder for people to make up their minds. One study shows that the more option you present a person with, the less likely they are to actually make a choice. With that in mind, make sure to let them explore your domain one step at a time.
2. Listen to customer feedback
The next thing that you should consider when you decide to improve customer experience is asking people what they want. Sometimes you don’t even have to ask, seeing as how people might already be actively complaining about what your business lacks. So, check out some reviews and social media comments with your brand mentions in order to see what people want. Other than this, polls and surveys can also be a great source of information and you should never neglect this vast potential. This way you can get the answers on questions that you find relevant, thus gaining actionable information instead of raw data.
3. Look for professional help
In the past, entrepreneurs, especially those running digital businesses had to face all of these ordeals on their own. Nowadays, on the other hand, both locally and globally, it’s quite easy to find affordable professional help. For instance, as an entrepreneur behind an NSW-based enterprise, you can just look up management consulting firms from Sydney and schedule a meeting. Due to the fact that these agencies specialize in improving your company’s interaction with its customers, the improvement to the customer experience is both immediate and easily noticeable.
4. Be consistent
The next thing you need to understand is the concept of nostalgia and the fact that people tend to be emotionally entangled with familiarity. In order to exploit this phenomenon to your own advantage, you need to learn how to become more consistent. For this to work, your brand needs to have its own identity and even if you decide to change a thing or two in order to stay in touch with the time, this change shouldn’t be too drastic. People don’t usually react positively to change, especially if it’s drastic or sudden. For your content marketing, make sure that you have the same people behind it all the time.
5. Don’t be too pushy
There’s a saying that if you love something, you should let it go. The same principle applies in the business world, as well. You see, by being too aggressive with your post-sale follow up you’ll scare people away. People are always interested in what they need and rarely in what others need from them. The fact that you want them to come back means nothing to them, however, if you make a good first impression, once they need you, they’ll be sure to come back.
As you can see, each of the above-listed tips is fairly easy to implement and it doesn’t require you to deviate too far from the path that you’re already on. In other words, you gain quite a bit without having to make unnecessary sacrifices or compromises. This is a clear win-win scenario and a great boost for your business model.
Universal Guide to Starting Your First Enterprise
Regardless of how happy you are with your current employment, at one point in the future, you may decide to start your own business. There are so many benefits of this kind of a career move, ranging from the fact that you’ll be your own boss, all the way to the fact that your income will drastically increase, once your business grows out of its proportions. The best thing about this is the fact that never before was there a better climate to start a small business or a startup. In fact, as many as 97 percent of startups employ less than 20 people, which means that by starting modest, you’ll quickly be able to catch up with them in size. Here are five guides to help you get there in no time.
1. Put your thoughts on paper
One of the most important things that you need to understand is that no matter how great an idea sounds in your head until you put it to paper, you won’t know what you’re dealing with. Writing a real business plan is one of the most effective methods of verifying your business idea. Second, if you decide to look for investors, later on, they’ll insist on seeing your business plan (possibly even checking out a prototype). Either way, it’s something that can come as incredibly handy.
2. Decide how you will fund your business
The next thing that you need to understand is various options that you have available when funding your business. The majority of entrepreneurs use their personal savings or loans to start a business, which leaves them with full ownership of the enterprise in question. About 38 percent of these startups and small businesses are financed from funds borrowed from friends and family members. Other options that you have available are venture capital or angel investors, yet, attracting these investors is not an easy task. Finally, in some fields, it’s possible to go for crowdfunding as a fundraising method.
3. Determine a business structure
Depending on the origin of your initial capital, you might need to opt for a more complex ownership structure than you’ve initially intended. Still, even if you don’t plan to run as a partnership, it’s crucial that you determine a business structure of your enterprise as soon as possible. If you’re a sole owner, running as a sole proprietorship may seem like an obvious choice. Nonetheless, this is a scenario that can be quite risky, due to the fact that, if things go wrong, you risk even your other personal assets. Therefore, it’s advised to go for an LLC (limited liability company) for the sake of safety.
4. Take your first steps as an enterprise
Once you’re done with the groundwork, you need to take steps that will legally make you into a business. First, you need to register a company which will require you to submit necessary paperwork or go via an online platform, which is a lot simpler. Second, you need to get a tax ID number. Once this is done, you can start establishing both your online and offline presence. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get to the point where your business is making a profit.
5. Don’t rush in
The last thing you need to understand when it comes to running your first enterprise is that you can’t afford to be reckless. First of all, no matter how good your idea may sound, there are so many ways a startup can fail and, even if you’re careful, some of these things might happen to you. Therefore, take it easy, don’t invest more money than you can afford to lose and start by taking calculated risks in order to learn the industry. Most importantly, if your enterprise doesn’t require too much time, it might be wise to keep your day job for a while.
In order for this guide to be universal, we had to focus on those issues that aren’t industry-specific. Acquisition of specific tools, experts and getting your hands on all permits and certificates is something that you can worry about later on.