As a network computer technician I’ve come to the choice that I don’t think my small business clients that employ between 2-10 people should even bother with installing what we might consider a regular server nowadays. It is overkill, expensive and a major source of problems if something goes wrong. So what do I recommend instead? I would recommend a file server with local and offline backup. What made me come to this decision? A number of real world issues, actually.

Too many computer consultants come from an environment where they were taught and schooled on how to maintain servers. To me this is the old way of doing things. Unless you are hosting your email in-house there isn’t the need for the old server.

Think about this…what services do you really want to provide that are mission critical for your clients? For my clients the most important need is a way to create and access files that are backed up on a regular basis. I have seen too many small businesses shut down for days on end because they put all of their trust in a old server and a tape backup system. Why are these servers and tapes such a problem?

Think about this for a second. If a piece of hardware fails in your server, chance are that you won’t be able to replace that broken or failing part with something you can buy locally. Often times you have to call the server manufacturer and wait patiently for them to ship you a replacement part, all the while your business is at a stand still.

And tapes for backing up data? Unless you have an enormous amount of data, backing up to multiple hard drives is faster. And these hard drives will be able to access that data in other computer while you get your server fixed.

Another solution I recommend is using a service such as Dropbox to backup files. I don’t completely rely on Dropbox, though. I prefer to have a physical backup of the client’s data at the site of their business and then use Dropbox as a way to get a backup off-site. If anything catastrophic were to happen to the small business, such as a fire of a flood, it is easier to get a computer up and running, re-attach it to Dropbox and the data is back and ready to be used.

Plowing through endless piles of websites is something that most people do not want to do, especially when they have a specific product in mind. In order to eliminate some of the stress, individuals should use small business search engines. What are the benefits of using a site such as Feedster for your shopping needs?

It’s No Nonsense
Sometimes, when you are using other search engines, you wind up with a bunch of scams and phony websites shown on your page. Through small business search engines, the information presented takes you right to the source. No useless junk sits in your way, which allows you to find what you are looking for in no time.

A Brief Preview
Another issue that occurs is when you have no idea what specifically a website is about. By using small business search engines, you’ll see a little snippet under the link to the site. As a result, you, and other consumers, will have a sneak preview as to what the content of the website is about. Instead of clicking on ten different sites only to find out they do not meet your needs, you’ll be able to immediately choose the best site for you.

Connecting with the Seller
Major businesses and companies are often difficult entities with which to communicate. Fortunately, such search engines literally bring you right to the source. When you want to buy a product from a small business, you have the added benefit of receiving personalized attention. Maybe you see something on the site that you like but have an idea as to how it can be customized to suit your specific needs. You need not wonder for long. The sites presented to you on this search engine generally provide much ease for the customer to business communications.

It’s Simple
Fancy and flashy are words to which some people flock. However, when it comes to websites and search engines, most individuals want something that is easy to read and navigate. This search engine lays all of the results out in a simple format. Ads are not flying out in front of the user’s line of vision, and annoying pop-ups are not causing the website to become convoluted.

Essentially, small business search engines are an easy and helpful way for consumers to find the products that they need and to navigate the websites without any sort of difficulty.

Small businesses owners often find that there are certain times of the year when cash flow is not as healthy as it could be. This could be due to the fact that the business has seasonal customers, money being spent wastefully or through outmoded business practices. Regardless of the reason as to why money is being lost one thing is for certain good business owners and managers are all looking for a way to save the business money.

One way to save money in a small business is to implement small business management software. Software such as this enables a business with less than 50 employees to be operated via one software application. By being able to switch to one application a small business owner can save thousands every year as all other applications that require a monthly or annual fee to be discontinued.

As soon as they see just what small business management software can do many business owners and managers are keen to start using it. Not only can small business management software save a business money in terms of slashing the number of applications a business has to pay for it also saves money in other ways such as:

Increasing the number of leads that are converted into sales with ease. When using small business management software an employee can create a quote and save this to a customers file. This will contain their contact details and other relevant information. If this quote is not accepted within a certain period of time, this lead can then be chased up by the sales department.

By ensuring that projects are always completed on time a business will not lose customers. With small business management software projects can be assigned and tracked in real time. Managers and owners can quickly and easily check on projects that are nearing their due date in order to ensure that they are progressing as they should be. By utilizing this feature projects should never be behind schedule ever again, which means that money will be saved in the long run through customer retention.

Small business management software also allows employee calendars to be seen by owners and managers at a glance. This means that projects and so on can be planned with regard to staffing numbers. Money is therefore saved by ensuring that all employees are working to capacity and not being diverted to projects which are already fully subscribed.

As small business management software is web based it means that it can be accessed from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. So if a manager or owner is away from the office on business they can access the application and get any information that they need. This saves business money as laptops and mobile internet is not required when an owner or manager visits potential customers.

These are just a few of the ways in which small business management software can save a business money each month.

All types of businesses, be it home based, manufacturing or a start up business, must have online presence today. Small Business Websites have the possibility to appeal new customers and have many growth opportunities.

What is needed is to make these websites attractive to project a very good image of the business and they should be able to present the exact business activities in a very professional manner. For this, the content material must be full of important information.

There are quite a few website designing companies that provide professional service but out of those companies, choosing one such company that would serve your requirement is tough. Prior to getting into any kind of agreement with these web designing provider, one needs to be certain of the quality of services in the long run and also availability of the support staff. The contract need to be handed over only if the business owner is comfortable with everything the firm offers.

The most important thing to have Small Business Websites would be that the firm developing such websites should have a knowledge of buildig websites for small businesses, SMEs and individuals so that their performance and competence could be checked. It is important to make sure that they look after the needs of the small business and listen to the marketing aspect also.

Such websites hold the ability to create recession proof business so that in times of volatility the marketability of businesses doesn’t get affected. The design of the website can be optimized for the search engines and are accountable to rank high in SEO parameters.

Since a designed website gives the initial impression to a customer about a item, it should be created very carefully. The first impression to website visitors with well designed websites is far greater than that of an in house website and thus it can bring in much greater business.

The cost factor is also accountable for driving a website. The setup and maintenance costs should be estimated properly and competing prices should be compared thoroughly prior to engaging a firm to build a website. It’s prudent to compare the prices of few other web designing agencies to select one that designs Small Business Websites at a fair price and one that understands how to market your business.

One more essential thing to consider is the after sales support. Also, they are supposed to give one month free post sales service to make alterations if needed. Even there should be provisions for add-on features like ecommerce, SEO and others.

The bank a small business owner chooses to bank with is critical to the success of a business. Choose a bank that takes too many fees out, or one that doesnt offer the services a small business needs, and the success of the business is on the line. Conducting research before choosing which bank you use for your small business banking is critical. If you are in the beginning stages of your bank research, the following questions can help you determine if a bank is right for your small business.

The first question you should ask is what banking options the bank provides your small business. Every small business is different, and the banking options one business needs will vary from another. Determining what features are offered, and how they help your small business can help you determine if a certain bank is right for your small business banking needs. Some questions to consider asking include if a bank provides online access to bank accounts, the ability to choose remote checking, and the option to directly deposit checks and money remotely. Once you have determined what features and banking options are being offered to your small business, you can determine what bank offers you the most.

The second question you should ask is what, if any, potential is there for accessing small business loans. Some banks include in their small business banking features the ability to easily gain access to small business loans. If there is reason to believe that your small business may need to apply for a loan sometime in the future, then a bank that offers easy access to a small business loan might be beneficial. If a small business loan is not on the horizon, then the small business loan feature doesnt affect your decision on which bank to use.

The third question you should ask is what bank fees will your small business occur over time. Small businesses will sometimes incur thousands in bank fees over a period of time. Asking what bank fees are can help you assess whether a particular bank is right for your small business banking needs. Banks fees to consider include account holding fees, fees to access online accounts, transaction fees, debit card fees, and remote banking fees. Once you have determined what fees are being assessed by which bank, you can determine which bank is the best choice for your small business.

When running a small business, marketing your products and services is an important aspect your must consider and plan for. No matter what industry you play in you will no doubt have competition. Even if you provide a better service or product you still need to stand out so consumers know. Marketing can be a big cost but there are also many affordable alternative to advertise your business.

Here are three simple advertising ideas and suggestions to give you high visility.

Vehicle back windows

A rear car window covererd with a sticker of your business is an affordable option to promote your business. Whenever your car is being driven around your business is being seen. For as little as one hundred and fifty dollars this is a small investment. Depending on how many years your sticker last, the breakdown cost of purchasing you rear window sticker works out to be even less.

Don’t overload the sticker with too much details. Keep the sticker bright and colorful. Avoid a cluttered look with too much details. Keep it simple. Don’t put more than three items of information. Your logo with business name, phone and tagline is all you need.

Car magnets

Large car magnets are another cheap alternative. These magnets are strong enough to withstand high speeds. To repeat – keep the design simple. Order many at a time and hand them out to your friends for their cars. You can purchase four magnets for as little as fifty dollars.

An alternative to magnets is use multiple smaller sized ones. A stack of twenty five magnets can be bought for about thirty dollars. Get people to take notice by scattering you car with these. When people take your magnets you know they’re working.

Outdoor banners

Ask your signwriter to print you a large banner. The cost of a small banner can be as little as one hundred dollars. We’ve even seen banners from as low as six dollars.

Use the small banners effectively by parking at the front of a busy event or location. Hang the banner from the side of your car. Your car and banner can’t be missed.

These are three simple advertising ideas to kick start your marketing on a budget.

Click Here to see Ryan Johns working these advertising ideas

An Efficient Mailroom Can Help Grow Your Small Business

Enterprises often waste money on mail even though franking machine prices are low, and its computer interface can streamline a mailroom.

Every enterprise needs an efficient method to track costs: how much is spent, and where. Small, medium and large enterprises must all do this and most have franking machines.

Inefficiency wastes money, time and always means additional costs. Even medium and large enterprises often run inefficiently; this is an unnecessary drain on resources especially when renting a franking machine prices can be as low as 15 per month. And in addition, franked mail is 30% cheaper than stamped mail.

Lets Talk About Performance

Franking machines are quieter and more efficient than ever. The technology is neater: they are no longer the hulking eyesores that people expect. They dont take up as much space – for small businesses a franking machines can be a sleek desktop device.

The latest generation of franking machines are a wide range of models to suit any business. Franking machine prices have to reflect a businesss budget and are graded by the quantity of mail the business sends out per month.
A weighing platform makes sure you never pay more postage than you need to, which is one reason why a lot of stamped mail costs the sender more than it should. The weighing platform is controlled from the password protected control centre; here you allocate mail into pre-programmed accounts, eg: public relations department, and can review their account history over a 13 month period.
Franking supplies – ink toner and labels – are as inexpensive as franking machine prices, but you can reorder them using the control panel.

Small Businesses With Low Requirement
If youre a small business with a low budget and requirements you can find franking machine prices as low as 5 per week. Often these include a free trial. NeoPost offer trials of their award-winning Autostamp 2, for example.

Small Businesses With Medium Requirement
Small businesses sometimes send more mail than larger companies – it depends on the nature of their work.
For medium requirements, the U40 is not a bad option at all. It uses digital inkjet technology so can frank a clean logo onto your mail, which is useful for marketing purposes. And if your requirements increase you can attach extra parts many franking machines are scalable, and come with scalable franking machine prices too.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a method of electronic communication that is rapidly increasing in popularity. Used to make phone calls, VoIP technology uses a computer’s internet connection, rather than a cellular wireless or traditional wired telephone line. This technology is used not only by personal consumers, but also by businesses small and large. Here are 5 tips for using VoIP to improve a small business:

1. Use One Company for Internet and Phone – Any modern small business has a website and is likely already paying an internet service provider (ISP) for access to the internet. Rather than negotiating prices and dealing with customer service for two services, a company can save time, effort, and money by using their internet connection as their phone service provider as well.

2. Save Money on Long-Distance and International Calls – Unlike traditional telephone companies, VoIP services work regardless of the distance of the call, so pricing is not dependent on the number of local, long-distance, or international calls. This means that international calls, which can be especially expensive, can be handled without incurring additional costs. For small businesses that do business internationally or have business partners overseas, this can mean an enormous cost savings.

3. Better Voice Quality – Because of the nature of the medium and the wires that transmit the signals, VoIP services can provide cleaner, better-sounding phone calls than traditional phone companies. While it might not seem like a big change, having crisper more professional phone calls can be the edge a small business needs to win over customers or seal a big deal. Dropped calls or poor-quality calls, on the other hand, can devastate a company’s business.

4. Simplify Things for the Technical Staff – For small businesses, the internal technical staff is usually stretched thin at all times, and should be outsourced when possible. Keeping a business up and running smoothly 24/7 is no small task. Consolidating one’s internet and phone systems can provide a significant advantage, in terms of time and sheer number of technologies to monitor, to a company’s technical support and services team. For small businesses that don’t even have a dedicated technical staff, having a single number to call for technical support, rather than multiple numbers, can simplify things considerably. Prompt service and skilled technicians are key.

5. Additional Features Included At No Extra Cost – For starters, useful calling features like conference calls, call forwarding, and caller ID are all included for free. Additional features like video calls and video conferencing are also easy to add to VoIP services.

According to the NY Times, one of the ten reasons small businesses fail is due to improper or lack of accounting. Corporations spend a significant amount of money and hire accountants to report on the status of the company and maintain day to day operations. Yet, many small businesses end up failing to maintain proper accounting.

Accounting Helps with Operating Your Business
Proper Accounting helps pay employees and vendors; helps with customer invoicing, helps post payments; tracks your business assets and liabilities, and most importantly, it calculates any profits and losses. Small businesses cannot operate if they can not pay their employees or ignore vendors bills and continue receiving materials for their products. Often, those functions are ignored by small businesses due to lack of time thus resulting to work stoppages.

Accounting Provides Feedback
At the end of every period, may it be monthly or yearly, as small business owners, you have some idea of how you performed and accounting provides you the validation you need. It will tell you if you made a profit or loss. If you happen to have a loss, it will determine where your biggest expenses are coming from and if you did make a profit and still left with a small cash balance, it will probably tell you which customers havent paid and which customers are now delinquent. Small businesses fail when what they think is not true and this is the most important reason why small businesses need accounting.

Accounting Helps Comply With Legal and Contractual Obligations
The IRS, other government agencies, and banking covenants require businesses to provide a detailed accounting of their revenue and expenses. Depending on the size and entity type, it also requires you to have a balance sheet or listing of assets, liabilities, and equity. Accounting provides you with that information easily. It provides business owners the right amount of withholding, deductions, and back-up just incase they get audited.

Accounting Provides Non-Financial Insights
Many small businesses fail to realize that accounting is not just financial information. It has information on timing, customer information, employee information, and other information that may not necessarily be part of your financials. For example. a key non-financial trend that small business could pay attention to is their customer demographics, you can identify what your customers age, location, and how they order products and services and you can zone in on advertising to that demographics thus increasing revenue and could lead to increased profit. Another, key non-financial trend small business can pay attention to is monthly sales figures, when a small business realize that a continuous trend of slow monthly per year. A small business could either ramp-up advertising 30 days before as anticipation of the slow month or they could plan a family vacation.

To find the ideal clientele for your small business computer consulting, you want to target small businesses by their number of PC’s, (10 to 50) as well as their revenue. Generally, companies that have anywhere from 1 million to 10 million in revenue are the sweet spot of small business computer consulting. In this article, you’ll learn why you should target this type of business. {Tip: Of course if you’re located in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or any of the other more than 21 nations around the globe where our training has been adapted, be sure to convert this to your local currency. (See )}

Beware of the high end of this range
Once small businesses get to the high end of that revenue range, where they start having substantially more than 50 PCs, or substantially more than $10 million in annual sales, often the small business owners lean towards putting a real, salaried IT person on payroll instead of using a small business computer consulting professional. That’s when you start running into some tough competition. At this point, your client will add up your services invoices and try to figure out if they can do it cheaper or more efficiently in-house.

Look for clients that need a real server
Another important aspect is to find small business clients that are big enough to need a real dedicated server. Once small businesses need a real server, they need a ton of other professional services to go along with it. And it’s very unlikely they can handle it on their own, with just an internal guru. Bingo-you become their outsourced IT department!

Multiple locations are a bonus
Sometimes a sweet spot client has one location. A lot of times there’s a main office and some branch offices. The branch offices present a big opportunity for your small business computer consulting because there’s usually a HUGE need for sharing data in real time among employees in different locations.

The Bottom Line about Small Business Computer Consulting
In this article, you’ve been learned more about how to find the sweet spot in your small business computer consulting business.