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Tips for Setting up a Small Business Network

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Every network requires the foundations of routers and switches – the essential pieces of equipment. Although they look pretty similar, they actually have different functions in the very network. Small business (SMB) owners often confuse the two, and fall at the first hurdle. Well, do not make the same mistake and remember that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. That being said, you should strive to make informed decisions, pick hardware which supports your specific business needs, and stay on the safe side.

The state of interconnectedness

Switches connect different devices like computers, printers, network-attached storage (NAS) and servers that are on the same network, and possess an Ethernet cable port. They basically make the communication and sharing of information possible. On the other hand, routers are used to tie networks together. In fact, these devices connect computers (networks) to the internet, and allow them to share one internet connection.  A router also acts as a dispatcher, choosing the way your information travels, repelling cyber-attacks and assigning priority orders.

Note that, apart from switches and routers, there is some additional infrastructure at play here, such as electrical outlets and wires. However, if you go for switches with inline power, for example, you can avoid this altogether and place wireless access points (WAPS) wherever there is a network wall jack. Furthermore, bear in mind that the hardware you purchase today may become outdated in just a few years. Hence, it pays off to design the network with this redundancy in mind, and stay flexible to future changes.

Moving parts

In any event, for flawless communication, it is advisable to invest in business-grade switches and routers. Consumer and home networking products do not cut it, especially not when business starts growing. You do not want to outgrow them before they become obsolete, do you? Many business owners add Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIPs), video surveillance, integrated messaging and other features. It also goes without saying that you must choose the best data cabling for copper or fiber connectivity and Ethernet networks.

Now, many entrepreneurs opt for switches and routers that are easy to install and manage. For obvious reasons, functionality and simplicity are two guiding principles.  A bulk of small organizations is not eager to pay dearly for IT technicians.  Therefore, one has to comprehend the difference between unmanaged and managed switches. The former is a more likely choice for an SMB, as it works out of the box, providing only the basic configuration features.

As for the managed switches, they give users more control when it comes to modifying how the internet gets consumed. They demand a higher level of technical aptitude, and usually have a proprietary graphical user interface (GUI) for programming and monitoring. In both cases, however, the scalability of the device can be determined by simply looking at the number of ports they have and identifying the number of devices you need to connect.

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Lay the network groundwork

There is no going around the fact that you must grasp the basics of networking hardware. Your goal is to tie the devices together with switches, and utilize routers to connect the computers to the internet.  The aforementioned tips and practices are a good starting point to build a network capable of meeting the needs of a growing company. Remember that the choice of products depends on how you plan to use the network, features you want, your tech capacities and at last, tolerance for risk.

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Business

5 Tips to Improve Customer Experience

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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.

Conclusion

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.

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Business

Universal Guide to Starting Your First Enterprise

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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.

Conclusion

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.

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Business

6 Digital Marketing Ideas for Your Business

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According to some reports, 81% of customers use the web to look up the products or services they want to buy. Moreover, 94% of B2B buyers said they do the same. This makes it obvious that you simply can’t survive in the business world unless you promote your company online. However, not every digital marketing idea is worth investing in. If you’re looking to create a strong online presence for your business, here are six digital marketing ideas worth considering.

Improve your blogger outreach

The first thing you need to learn is how to make a great first impression in the blogosphere. First of all, everyone likes when their work gets noticed, which is why you need to study the person in question in order to check out their portfolio and identify their points of interest. Second, you need to make sure that you are professional and focused, as well as that you have a passion for the industry. Even if the blog does have fine domain authority, if it’s not related to your niche it just won’t seem organic enough. Another option is for you to look for specialized blogger outreach services and leave all of this to someone with more experience in the industry.

Rely on graphics

There’s no doubt that one of the most important factors in online marketing are graphics. Every business out there has to work with professional graphic designers who’ll provide them with visuals to use in their marketing campaigns. Graphics are needed absolutely everywhere from your website to your social media pages. Depending on the size of your business, you can choose to bring in an in-house graphic designer or start working with a graphic design company. No matter what you decide to do, having them design you a beautiful Facebook cover photo and interesting Instagram stories is a must.

Be transparent

People do enjoy browsing the web for stuff they need but that doesn’t mean they’ll turn to just anyone when they need a certain product or service. They’ll always look to do business with companies that are transparent enough and ready to provide them with all the info they need. A good way to make sure people trust your business is to upload the terms of use to your website and make your business look more credible. Grabbing other documents such as vendor contracts templates is also recommended.

Go mobile-friendly

As reported at the beginning of 2019, 62% of users accessed the web from their mobile devices. While PC users will still visit your website often, it’s also recommended that you make it as mobile-friendly as possible. Small screens and short texts require you to use your creativity to the fullest and make sure more and more mobile user notice your business. Fail to do this and chances are you’ll see most of your visitors leave as soon as they realize their experience won’t be the same as if they were browsing the web using a PC.

Use online networking sites

We’ve all heard about LinkedIn and there’s no doubt this platform can help you generate buzz about your business. Create a page for your business and don’t forget to manage it every now and then. Moreover, it’s also critical that you use LinkedIn and networking on a personal level. The best thing about this platform is that it’ll provide you with lists of your friends’ friends you can connect with and grow your career. Not to mention that there are groups on both LinkedIn and Facebook you can join and give your local presence a boost.

Create quality content

One of the biggest reasons why people use the internet so much is that they’re looking for information. And who are they going to listen to more than people who’ve been in the industry for some time? Use your knowledge and experience to create content and share it with people online. If you’re a gifted writer, creating content other people will like shouldn’t be tough. You can even take a look at your old content and see if there are any articles you can repurpose.

Final thoughts

Promoting your business online isn’t easy and with every company now getting on the web, it takes creativity and hard work to stand out from the crowd. Have these six ideas in mind and your company’s online presence will be guaranteed to get a boost.

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