Does a Small Business Really Need IT Support?

Does a small business really need IT support? They might.
Photo by CC user Marko Puusaar on Wikimedia Commons

If you are running a small home business, the chances are you still have an accountant. Most new entrepreneurs realise quite quickly that keeping their accounts and filling out there tax return accurately is not as easy as it seems on paper. Many try to manage in the first year, by which point they see the wisdom of hiring a professional to take care of this aspect of their business. Does a small business really need IT support? In many instances, they could badly use the assistance of third-party tech specialists.

IT support firms do offer packages that are suitable for SMEs

Yet when it comes to IT support, most small business owners never give it a second thought. Unfortunately, it takes a disaster to make most of them see things in a different light. Many entrepreneurs struggle on looking after all of their technology themselves.

This is partly because they do not realise that they can actually get help, for a low cost. Many business owners wrongly assume that because they only have a small network that IT support firms will not be interested in supporting them.

In the past, this would have been true. However, these days it is easy for a small business owner to find IT support in Leeds, and other large cities.

The IT support industry woke up many years ago to the fact that by focusing only on big companies they were ignoring a huge potential market. In the UK, a phenomenal 99.3% of private companies are classified as small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs), employing between 1 and 49 people. As a result, a lot of IT support firms now target small businesses, and tailor their service and prices to meet their needs.

Why you need IT support

Letting someone else look after your IT needs brings many benefits to a business. Top of the list is improved security.

By keeping your hardware and software up to date, and following proper protocols you can keep your data and that of your customers safer. A good IT support package will include regular updates, and help with setting up robust and safe protocols for your network and equipment.

There is a tendency for small business owners to believe that a cyber attack could never happen to them. Sadly, these attacks are becoming more common, and shockingly some firms never recover after an attack. There are profitable businesses out there that are folding following data attacks. You can read more about the level of the problem, and the terrible affect being hacked has on a small company on this page.

More time for you to invest in your business

Letting someone else take care of your IT needs can really free up time. There is no longer a need to take the morning out, to set up your new laptop, or update your kit. Someone else can take care of all of that for you, leaving you free to focus on growing your business, and serving your customers.

Help when things go wrong

The other great thing is that you can get expert help when things go wrong. There is no longer any need to spend hours digging around the internet trying to work out what is wrong with your system.

You just have to pick up the phone and talk to an expert who will know immediately what the issue is, and how to fix it first time. This allows you to get back to doing what you need to serve your customers, as soon as possible.

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Identity Theft Can Prove Quite Taxing

Identity theft can tax your well being ... protect yourself against it.

Photo by CC user Brian Ronald on wikipedia.org

With identity theft a noticeable problem on many fronts these days, what exactly are you doing to protect yourself and/or your business?

It should not come as a major surprise that tax season is one of the biggest targets for identity theft thieves.

Stop for a moment and think about all the financial information that is sitting around out there when consumers and/or business owners are compiling their tax information. For identity theft thieves, this can seem like Christmas morning, with oh so many gifts to open up.

That said there are means by which consumers and business owners can protect their personal and financial well-being online and when not using the Internet.

Thieves Want to Tax Your Well-Being

When was the last time you did a full review of how you protect yourself both online and off when it comes to your finances?

With tax related identity theft a growing problem, it is important that you not give identity theft thieves an open pass to your personal information.

Among the ways to go about this:

    • Protecting your Social Security number – Never for a second think about giving out your SSN unless it is required for an official document or other matter that you fully trust. There are times when you may be asked to provide your SSN, but make sure you can verify those times. If an identity theft thief gets ahold of your number, he or she can use it to tap into your financial and personal life, setting off a chain of negative events;

 

    • Protecting your bank account/s details – Whether you have just one bank account or multiple ones, keeping that information locked up (so only you and your significant other have access to it) is imperative. Along with keeping it safe online, avoid accidentally (or sometimes purposefully) giving it out over the phone (unless you can 100 percent verify the requesting source) or leave it sitting around in public. Identity theft thieves just need the slightest of gaffes on your part to strike, a strike that could leave your finances in peril. One such example is when you go to the bank to conduct financial transactions. If you fill out a deposit slip for instance, don’t leave it unattended for a minute or two. Also avoid having it in plain sight of others who could copy your account information down in a matter of seconds. Practicing extra caution is worth the time, especially given the alternative of having the information swiped from you;

 

  • Protecting your credit cards – Even though more consumers are going to debit cards and using mobile devices to pay for items, the credit card industry is still huge. As a result, identity theft thieves know it is a lucrative gold mine for them when they gather one’s credit card information. Along with never giving out your card information (unless for legitimate purposes), be careful not to leave your card unattended for even a minute. Per example, you go to a public setting (library, coffee shop etc.) and use a computer to order and charge an item. Perhaps you want a copy of the transaction, so you step away briefly from your computer to print out the receipt. While at the printer retrieving your receipt, and identity theft thief sitting next to you at your computer glances over and copies your credit card information down. If this happens to you, you could be opening the door to a world of trouble. Also be careful not to leave credit card receipts sitting around at restaurants or other facilities where you may charge something. Lastly, be sure to shred any credit card receipts once you no longer need them in checking your financial records.

 

Today’s digital world offers so many opportunities to make your financial life easier.

That said it also provides identity theft thieves with an open invitation to cause trouble in your financial world.

While taking a few extra minutes to err on the side of caution may seem time-consuming, it is well worth it.

Remember, the identity theft thief can be patient in waiting for you and others to make a mistake.

The question then becomes, will you make that mistake or will you outwit the bad guys?

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Don’t Let Identity Theft Fraud Cloud Your Life

Do you have enough to worry about in life?

If the answer to that question is yes, why then would you want to add the possibility of becoming an identity theft victim to that list of concerns?

Unfortunately, countless individuals find themselves becoming just that on a yearly basis.

Whether by pure fate or by putting themselves in a precarious situation to begin with, many people end up having their identity stolen over the Internet, leaving them scrambling to get it back.

With that being the case, what are you doing to protect your online identity?

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Educate Yourself on Online Safety

For starters, don’t leave yourself vulnerable whenever you go on the Internet, even if it is just for a minute or two to look something up or check your email.

As many identity theft victims have discovered in the past, it only takes that one slip-up to open the door up to trouble.

That said use these tips to better protect your online experiences:

  • Use commonsense – Your first line of defense against identity theft thieves is simply using commonsense. Cyber-criminals are hoping that you let your guard down even just for a minute, allowing them to swoop in and get the personal and/or financial data they need to cause you problems. When you go on the Internet each and every time, don’t do it in a hurried state of mind; that is generally when people make mistakes. Don’t download any attachments (see more below) appearing suspicious. Also make sure you do not share your log-in details with anyone outside your immediate family. Even then, family members are better suited having keeping their own log-in information to themselves;
  • Have a plan – What are you doing to protect your online time in the first place? By looking into identity theft protection plans, you can choose one that is best suited for your online needs. Whether you buy a provider’s standard plan or go with the best upgrade available, it is important to have one that all but eliminates the chances of an identity theft thief breaking through. When searching for the right plan provider for your needs, see not only what plans they offer, but how long they have been in business. Do they have a good track record of success versus failure? How good is their customer service outreach? Finally, do they offer deals and other rewards for current members when it comes time to renew a plan? With the right plan in place, you can feel better about your time spent on the Internet;
  • Test the system – So that you can be as sure as possible that you have a formidable firewall against identity theft thieves, test your system from time to time. Are you able to penetrate it? Do you recognize any cracks in the wall and/or weaknesses that an expert criminal could very well exploit? Keep in mind that online criminals are likely testing your site and hundreds and hundreds of others on a daily basis. Beat them to the punch by making sure your system is as impenetrable as possible;
  • The business of identity theft – Identity theft is bad for everyone (except of course the perpetrator of the crime). If you run a home business (or any business for that matter), having your business or personal data breached can lead to all kinds of trouble, especially from a financial standpoint. This is why it is important for business owners to protect the personal and financial data of all their customers. In the event there is a data breach, be sure to alert your customer/customers that you are working on rectifying the problem ASAP. The biggest mistake you can make is taking your time to address the problem. When you do that, the impacted customers may totally lose faith in your ability to guard their personal financial data.

Falling victim to identity theft can be something that has a negative impact on your finances for a long time to come.

While you may never feel 100 percent protected against online criminals, do everything possible to limit the options they have to breach you and your personal and/or business data.

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Groupon’s now offering big discounts on Harmon Audio gear

Many travelers spend lots of time traveling on planes, trains, buses and automobiles, and it can get pretty dull while doing so. We all love to travel, but the actual ‘going there’ part can be quite boring.

To keep you from dying of boredom it’s important to have some sort of entertainment, or at least have some music to listen to. Luckily for you, we’ve got a great tip. Harmon Audio has just teamed up with Groupon.com to offer a range of discounts on its best audio gear, including MP3 players and other items. Check out their page today!

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The Countries With The Fastest Internet

Countries With The Fastest Internet

Thinking about living the life of a digital nomad? Or maybe just need to get some work done while on vacation? Well check out this list to see the countries with the fastest internet. While it is often hard to determine who has “the fastest” internet due to many variables such as averages, cities, and wireless; these a few nations that stand out for the outstanding and cutting edge dedication to high speed internet connectivity.

Countries With The Fastest Internet
The United States
Let’s start out with the big one. The U.S. has at average speed of over 8.6mbps per second. This is only getting faster as plans for massive fiberoptic are being completed including ambitious plans by Google. Wifi is also abundant and often “free” with purchase at most bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. Due to America’s massive size and diversity, the accessibility and speed of internet can vary greatly depending on your specefic location. Some cities have even began implementing city wide free wireless Internet.

South Korea
South Korea has possibly the fastest average speed at an astonishing 22.1 mbps. This blows away most other countries and sets up an infrastructure to allow for massive economic growth. With close to 95% of the population using the internet, South Korea makes good use of the high speed bandwidth. South Korea’s reputation as one of the countries with the fastest internet is credited to a hybrid approach including  governmental planning, private section competition, a dense urban populace, and a culture thirst for the information, online games, and live streaming YouTube celebrities.

Denmark
This northern European country boats some of the fastest and most widespread high speed internet connectivity in the world. Despite lack of competition, the danish broadband market provides excellent speed and accessibility. Denmark is also leading the pack with wireless broadband with a recent promise of  99% of the population to be covered with 4G (10mbs) in 2015. Denmark also repurposes existing infrastructure such as out of use smoke stacks as antennas.

Northern European and and North East Asian countries  are consistently ranked  to have the fastest internet. The commonalities seem to be small prosperous  nations with urban populations. It is much easier to get all your citizens on a single high speed network when they all live in same city, other developed countries such as China, Australia, and the United States face a more difficult time keeping up due to their size. Also it is important to know these numbers seem to be increasing by the year, so a country with limited internet access today could have wide spread broadband by next year. Also the amount of high-speed cellular data networks is rising exponentially and it is not hard to a imagine an entire world connected by a 4G network.

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What Can Virtual Assistants Do For You?

Virtual Assistant

No, a virtual assistant is not something out of a science fiction movie. A virtual assistant is often a freelancer working from home (virtually) who can help you with your business. So what can virtual assistants do for you? Well, they can do just about anything a physical assistant could; often at a fraction of the cost. Here are some ideas:
Virtual Assistant
Presentations
Last minute meeting and you don’t have your presentation ready? Your virtual assistant can help you with this. Maybe you have all the content ready to go but you don’t have the time or expertise to put into a shareable format. This is a great task to assign to your virtual assistant, simply provide some instructions and wait for the results.

Research
Is your business set to expand into a new arena? Do you need to do some research on potential clients or competition? Give this job to your virtual assistants and let them loose. They will scour the world wide web and bring back a well written data driven document on the topic of your choice. This is not only time saving but can be crucial in making your next big move.

Emails
Out of control inboxes are far to common these days. This is something your virtual assistant could help with. Imagine waking up Monday morning to a single email from your assistant telling you the highlights and must does from the weekends messages. I couldn’t think of a better way to start your week.

Chasing Clients
Maybe you know there is business out there but you don’t have the time to chase up all those leads in your Rolodex (or digital equivalent.) Share these ideas with your digital assistant and have them send personalized email or physical mailers. Instead of using a mass email service you could be having your assistant write customized personal messages geared at each client. These emails could pay off big time and you will be thanking your virtual assistant.

Vacation Planning
Its not only business, you could also have your virtual assistant help with something more fun. A digital assistant is the perfect tool for planning your and your families next getaway. Your virtual assistant can look up the perfect hotels, restaurants and flights. They can also find unique things for you to do while on vacation. Imagine having your next trip all sorted out before you even leave home, so all you had to think about are the waves rolling up on the beach.

These are only a few of the possible things your virtual assistants can do for you. The sky is the limit on what tasks you can assign your virtual assistant. Once you get used to your virtual assistant you will be wondering how you ever lived without one.

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Best Homebased Businesses To Get Into

Homebased Businesses

Tired of your morning commute? Sick of your boss or career?  Want to spend more time around the house with your family and pets? Maybe you want to be able to travel more? One solution to all this problems is to work from home. If you are not sure where to start here are some of the best homebased businesses to get into.

Translator
Knowing two or more languages can be a head start in many ways, and it is definitely a major advantage if you want to be a part of a homebased business that deals with translations. Working through an agency or as a freelancer there is plenty of money and flexibility provided through translating. So long as you can read and write or in some cases just speak more than one language you will likely be able to find a job in this lucrative industry.
Homebased Businesses

Jewelry Maker
Jewelry is something that can requires very little space, inventory, and start up cash; this makes it a very tempting idea for a homebased business. If you are a creative, hip, and business minded person, there is no reason you can’t start a business selling unique jewelry via the internet. Whether you sell through your own site or an online marketplace, if you have a product people want, you can make a good living selling unique earrings and necklaces form home.

Copywriter
Was language arts your favorite subject in school? Or do you have a natural gift with words? How about working as a freelance copyrighter. No, unique skill set is required just a good understanding of the english language and the knowledge of the subject the matter is helpful too. A copyrighter can make a good living writing for advert agencies or on a freelance basis. Though it is sometimes a difficult field to get your foot in the door, once you get going there is a plenty of lucrative work in this field. It is also a notoriously flexible position with the ability to work from home.

The primary trick to getting into a successful home based business is to utilize a skill you already have. If you have a knack for creativity or fashion, perhaps selling unique handmade clothes or jewelry is for you. Maybe you know multiple languages (including computer programming languages) you can utilize these skills to make a large profit from home.  You look through your previous work experiences, educational history, and personal passions and try to find an idea that utilizes two of them. Once you have that idea do the math and see if there is a way to make this economically feasible from your home. Remember life is short and the sooner you get your idea off the ground, the faster you can be relaxing and working from your couch.

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