3 Tools To Help Your Business Succeed

Every business needs help. No matter whether you’ve never run a business before or you have launched and sold dozens in the past, trying to do it all alone is a slow, exhausting, and ultimately unfulfilling thing to do. By the time you see any form of success, you’ll more than likely be tired out and not want to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’ll even potentially be bored of the business, just as it’s starting to do something exciting.

This is why it’s better to use the various tools that exist to help you move things along more quickly and more successfully. If you can do this, you’ll be happier to stick with the business and enjoy its success, building it up to bigger and better things as you go. Read on to find out more about what some of the best tools are and why they help so much.

A Business Website

You might not consider a business website to be a tool, but it certainly is. It’s a tool that will allow you to sell more, either because it is an online store, or because it allows potential customers or clients to learn more about your business and what you do, as well as the services you provide. Without a good website, you might lose out on sales that your competitors get instead, just because their website – not necessarily their business – is better than yours.

Spend time getting your website right before you launch it. It should be professional looking, it should be easy to use, it should contain all the most up to date and relevant information about your business, and it should be mobile friendly. A good, memorable domain name is also crucial. Prepare this in advance and your website is a tool that will boost your business dramatically.

Outsource Partners

Again, perhaps this is not something you would list under the ‘tool’ category, but having great outsource partners you can rely on is crucial when you’re running a business and you want it to succeed.

No one can do everything by themselves, and it’s far better to engage a reliable managed IT company or someone to help with your finances than it is to attempt to do everything and have to rush or not do the best job you can. Even though you’ll need to pay a professional, the end result will be much more impressive and much more likely to bring you profit. You can then focus on the rest of your business, doing whatever it is you do best.

Employee Collaboration Software

These days, many businesses are working on a remote basis, meaning that rather than having one central office that all the employees attend each day, they instead all work from home. Using employee collaboration software will ensure that this way of working is as productive as possible for the company as a whole and the employees individually.

Focus on these three aspects and you’ll have the right elements in place to succeed.

Why Code Security Matters

Human beings rely increasingly upon code. Code underpins our online bank transactions, the websites we surf and the apps we use to access all sorts of services. When creating these codes, developers need to pay close attention to security. The problem is, security compromises are always evolving: developers need to be willing to constantly update their codebase in order to stay ahead of nefarious actors. It can be rather taxing, but here is why it needs doing:

If Code Secrets Are Exposed, Hackers Can Wreak Havoc

In coding terms, secrets can refer to any authentication code, token or password that is used in communication. Secrets are used by applications to communicate with other applications in order to authenticate their identity. Without secrets, modern applications would be unable to safely communicate with each other.

The issue with this system is that if discovered, secrets can be exploited by hackers. Over half of all security breaches are achieved by hackers finding secrets exposed in code. Hackers that figure out how an application is authenticating communications can work out all sorts of ways to exploit a business. There is a growing security industry centered around detecting and encrypting exposed secrets, with companies like Spectral leading the way.

Security Is No Longer the Responsibility of the End-User

Back when stand-alone desktop applications were king it was generally accepted that security was the responsibility of the end user. This is no longer the case. Because almost all applications are connected to constantly updating and communicating central hubs, any security breach can completely compromise huge swathes of devices – and even the app developer themselves.

For this reason, security has to be coded into an app and constantly updated. Any security failure compromises every single user of an application, so users have to be reassured that developers are staying one step ahead of hackers. Trust in, say, a banking app will be extremely low if updates are not constantly made and developers are not able to reassure users and stakeholders that their personal information is secure.

Code Injection Compromises Security

One reason that security needs to be airtight at a codebase level is that hackers are known to be adept at attacking software at the most fundamental level by injecting malicious code. Code injection is a term used to describe a whole range of malicious hacking tactics defined by their use of inserted codes that alter the way an application works.

Code injection hacks don’t have to successfully alter an application to work. Some only need to get applications to react to injected code – which in turn make them more vulnerable.

The most famous code injection bug was known as Shellshock. Shellshock allowed hackers to execute commands within target systems with impunity. It has been compared to the Heartbleed vulnerability in terms of severity. Millions of unpatched systems were vulnerable to the Shellshock exploitation during its heyday in 2014.

Improvements in code security have ultimately rendered Shellshock impotent, but hackers are undoubtedly working on similar code injections.

Starting a Business: 4 Things to Consider

Starting your own business can be a very exciting time, and there are many different elements to consider. From IT support to marketing ideas, you may often be starting out with a small team and a small budget. Fortunately, there are many ways to utilize the technology and products available to you to their full potential. If you are thinking about starting your own business, here are just four things to consider.

IT Consultancy and Support

Using a company that provides IT consultancy and other types of technical support has many benefits, no matter the size of your business. They can provide you with expert advice and recommendations, helping you save time and money, and can assist you in achieving your goals. They will work with you to develop and implement new systems or update your existing ones. This can boost your efficiency and productivity and give you more time to focus on other elements of your new business. Technology is constantly changing and adapting, so it is important to make sure you are using the correct products and software for your goals and that you are staying up to date with any new changes. IT problems are also very costly, so consulting the experts can help reduce any IT-related malfunctions, saving you time and money.

Social Media

Social media platforms are incredibly useful tools for a business to use. They are cost-effective and can reach large audiences, making them great marketing tools. Many users of social media follow businesses, so it is a great way to connect with new and existing customers, promote products and services and keep people up to date with any developments. It is worth investing in good camera equipment or using a professional photographer to create visual content that shows off your products and will catch the eye of social media users.

Environmental Impact

Being eco-conscious is a huge concern for many people, and there are plenty of ways you can apply this to your business. Basic changes you can make include recycling properly, using energy-saving bulbs, reusing packaging, and encouraging others to do the same. Using products from ethical or local suppliers is also a great idea, as it can also help to boost your profile in the local area and grow your contacts. Choosing renewable energy sources and suppliers where possible will also help reduce your business’s impact on the planet.

Website Design

Having a good website is essential in making sure your business reaches a large number of online users. SEO relies on solid website design, content, keywords, and many other website elements to boost organic traffic to your site by featuring it higher up in SERP lists. Links on your website should always work, as this helps crawlers gather the data they need to push your website to that first page of search engine results. Furthermore, linking your social media sites to your website, and vice versa, can also help increase traffic, and therefore sales.

What to Look Out for When Designing the Perfect Website

From the front page to navigation and everything between, designing the perfect website can be a tumultuous affair without sufficient preparation. Considering the scope of the process, the details that require consideration, and the practicality aspect, simply knowing where to begin might offer up a challenge in itself.

One of the most important points to bear in mind is that the perfect website is not universal, as what works for one particular industry, product or service, may be far from ideal for another.

Here are some aspects to look out for when choosing the design that best suits your individual needs.

CMS

Your content management system is the hub of creation and maintenance, making choosing the right one an essential first step. Thankfully, it is not too difficult to change your CMS should the need arise, but it can be a largely time-consuming process and set you back a number of paces, so it is worth taking the time to research.

WordPress is still among the top contenders, which may suggest its endurance is a testament to its high-quality functionality and compatibility.

Furthermore, fantastic website management options are available through companies such as Pronto Marketing, which can provide a wide range of services such as maintenance and support using expert knowledge of WordPress.

Aesthetic

Creating a beautiful website is a must for businesses wishing to announce their presence and stand out from the competitors. A successful design choice is heavily reliant on the individual’s subjective taste, which is the very nature of the aesthetic in many regards.

There are fundamentals to look out for, however, such as functionality, accessibility, and clarity. For example, excessive use of images on a page, a clashing color scheme, or a wide range of font choices may detract from the important information you want to convey or become unpleasant to concentrate on.

Conversely, a lack of information and content may present a lack of authenticity or professionalism. While white space is a useful tool in the designer’s arsenal, its overuse can lead to a lack of innovation and creativity. 

It might be worth taking some time to think about what your favorite websites all have in common, how easy they are to use, and why you enjoy them in particular.

Who is Your Target Audience?

An immensely important question in many regards, keeping your target demographic in mind when designing your website can be vital to your success in both the short and long-term.

This may impact your design choices in many ways, including the tone of voice in which you write your copy, the images you might use, the placement of your product, and practically every aspect of your brand development process.

In finding your voice in relation to your target audience, you can start to create content on your site that fully engages with your customer and takes their demands as a consumer into account.

Like most endeavors worth pursuing, putting the time into market research and current trends can help you achieve the best possible results.

Unleash the Power of Data to Grow Your Business

An effective growth strategy can enable you to expand your business, increase your market share and accumulate more wealth. However, successfully growing any business can be challenging. In a competitive marketplace, you’ll need to ensure you have a fool-proof growth strategy that will deliver an impressive return on your investment.

Fortunately, data gives you the opportunity to grow your business using accurate, verifiable insights and information. To learn more, take a look at how you can unleash the power of data to grow your business:

1. Acquire More Customers

Customer acquisition is an excellent way to grow your business and the right data will enable you to understand the market more effectively. With quantifiable and qualitative market research, for example, you can learn everything you need to know about your target audience. From this, you’ll have the knowledge required to implement successful marketing campaigns and prompt engagement before turning prospects into sales.

In addition to this, data can give you immediate access to members of your target audience. With data from Lead Lists, for example, you can use specific criteria to create a database of targeted prospects. This allows you to fast-track your marketing and engage directly with the people who are most likely to convert, thus increasing your customer acquisition rate.

2. Set Realistic Goals

When you’re expanding a business venture, it’s vital to set realistic and achievable goals. Going from a start-up straight to an enterprise level business might be an admirable objective, for example, but it’s going to be virtually impossible to achieve. By using the data your company generates, you can set SMART goals to fuel your expansion plans. When you set targets that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based, you give yourself the opportunity to achieve goals that will deliver genuine value and successfully grow your business.

3. Increase Personalisation

Personalisation has been a top trend over the past 12 months, and it’s not going anywhere. In fact, personalisation is likely to become even more important as new tech increases the accuracy and relevance of tailored content. Publishing personalised online content can drastically increase conversions and boost your customer retention rate, which makes it a great way to expand your business. However, to determine what is relevant to a user, you’ll need to analyse data and put the insights to good use.

When you can identify a user’s location, their previous purchase history and track the way they navigate your website, for example, you can use this data to identify the needs of this particular user. In response, you can release personalised content that will entice them to act, thus increasing sales and optimising their lifetime value.

Using Data to Achieve Commercial Success

As Big Data becomes more accessible and useable, all businesses can benefit from making data-driven decisions. By collating and analysing data in the right way, you can ensure that your growth strategies are destined to succeed and get your plans for expansion underway.

Great Reasons to Outsource Your IT Services

Keeping up with the vast array of IT complexities can prove to be a struggle for many businesses, especially for smaller operations that may feel the monetary burden of hiring full-time employees to consistently monitor the situation.

Thankfully, there are some fantastic IT solutions that can help your business to succeed and thrive among the competition.

In the digital realm of today’s business climate, a streamlined IT division can be an integral, essential part of an efficient business. Here are some great reasons why outsourcing your IT services could be the best way to move forward.

Saving Money

The aforementioned monetary concerns that a small business owner can often find themselves dwelling over is no small issue. Keeping a keen eye on finances can be an important part of the establishment process, so managing to save money wherever possible can be greatly rewarding in the long-term.

Outsourcing your IT solutions to a team of reliable experts can ensure that you save a huge amount of money on staffing costs, which, as many first-time hirers will know, can be the making or breaking of a company’s positive growth.

By saving on an entire IT department, you can direct your funds elsewhere, perhaps giving your company a chance to develop in other vital areas such as marketing and product manufacturing.

Furthermore, for the more established businesses looking to cut costs but save on quality, this could be the route to explore.

Safety and Security

If the threat of cyber-crime continues to rise throughout the next few years, an insufficiently protected network could cause major damage to your business in a multitude of forms. From digital assets such as documents and images to any sensitive data you might have accumulated over time, an insecure network can leave valuables open to malicious attacks.

Online security is vital, yet it can be difficult to keep up to date with on a regular basis, especially if you are constantly busy with the daily hardships of running a business. Outsourcing this aspect to reliable managers can ensure that your network stays secure and monitored, hopefully allowing you peace of mind in the digital era.

A Clear and Effective Strategy

IT experts can also be consulted on business propositions in regards to the digital side of the operation, helping you to create an effective strategy that can help realize your vision in the virtual world, alongside the material.

This makes it a great option for those of you with a clear goal who do not yet possess the means of making that milestone a reachable reality.

Saving Time

Time is perhaps one of the most valuable luxuries for a business owner, as having to maintain and grow a business in modern society can undoubtedly take a great deal of commitment.

Sometimes, finding a few spare hours to check out the digital imprint of the company can be impossible, and when there is so much to consider, having a reliable IT management solution to fall back on could save you that extra time you need.

5 Cloud Safety Tips for Your Business

With so many more businesses using cloud computing, no wonder safety has become a major trending issue and a hot discussion topic. Your data is being saved somewhere else by someone else; its safety must be one of your main concerns. Below are five tips that can save you a great deal of stress with regard to your business Cloud safety.

  1. Have a Responsible Person

There should be one responsible person for your business Cloud computing and company or customer data that is stored in the cloud.  Data should be audited and checked regularly. Document what is stored in the cloud and be aware of the risks associated with its loss. This person must also be aware of the regulations and guidelines for storing customer and company data online. Lastly, this key person should also be the main point of contact for any managed IT services that the business has.

  1. Choose your Host with Care

They must be trusted providers in the field, known by your business stakeholders and partners. There are a  plethora of choices, and rather than choosing based on a whim, have a professional advise you in this process. The host must be compatible with your business needs and supply chain stakeholders. Go with a firm that is flexible and possibly provides a full IT managed service. A great example of a fully managed IT service is USWired, #1 in the San Jose and greater Bay area.

  1. Secure End-User Devices

With more and more people working from home, there will be a proliferation of devices accessing your shared drives, shared software, and data on the network. Firstly, make sure that only known devices supplied and checked by your company have access to the network. Secondly, these devices must have end-user security installed to protect the network from external threats. Lastly, all devices, smartphones, tablets, and laptops, must be taken into account. Mobile phones are the most porous surface of the company’s IT security, and to protect your cloud space, make sure that you pay attention and train staff on the safety requirements related to remote access. All company hardware must be protected to in turn safeguard your data in the cloud.

  1. Passwords

It seems a simple thing, and most people make them as basic as they can to avoid forgetting them or use the same password for several applications and log ins. This is incredibly unsafe in an age where data fraud and theft are so rife. Insist on secure or long passwords and check with your provider to see if a password manager service is included in your contract, as this will prove safer than storing these on your web browser.

  1. Back-Up Regularly

Make use of the storage and security in the cloud by ensuring that your company files are backed up on a regular basis both automatically throughout the day and then checked and audited regularly. Insist on having cloud storage and a Network Attached Storage (NAS)  device or external hard drive on-site.

The cloud is an endless opportunity for business growth, increasing reach, and improving communication; make sure your business is safe out there.

How To Find The Right Translation Provider

If your business operates in multiple languages, or perhaps produces content in several languages then you will realize the importance of accurate and correct translations. Accuracy is necessary to your business and you need to ensure that you get the right service provider that ensures you receive top-quality results each and every time. There are lots of services out there that claim to provide accurate language translations, but, do they actually? Lots of services are cheap and cheerful, perhaps only providing you with around 75% accuracy, which is simply not enough. If you are trying to run and grow a business that requires media and content translating into several languages then you need a provider who guarantees accuracy and strives for perfection. You don’t get another chance to engage or impress potential customers, so get it right first time with correctly translated content. Here are some tips on how to do this.

Choosing Your Provider

Poor translations will end up costing you time and money. Inaccurate translations can also lose you customers, who may choose to go with another business that offers more accurate and engaging content, so, with this in mind you need to make the right decision for your business. You need to utilize reviews and recommendations from other users and then also contact providers directly to ask further questions if you are still unsure as to which provider to use. Getting first-hand information and knowledge will allow you to make an informed decision.

Starting Your Search: Questions To Ask

When you begin your search for multimedia translation services it is essential that you know what questions to ask. From cost to accuracy, the more information you gather will ensure you get the best provider for your business, so start by finding out the following:

  • How accurate are the translations? Ideally you will look at translation services that are checked by human translators as well as by artificial intelligence, just to ensure that important/essential information or data has not got lost in translation as can sometimes happen.
  • What is the turnaround time? How long until you have a translation sitting waiting to be uploaded to your site or platform? Does the turnaround time change depending on whether it is an audio file or a video file? If translation time is longer than a day you should probably be looking at other providers.
  • Can captions and transcriptions be added on? Do they offer this, and if so, at what cost? Captions can help content feel more user-friendly and can help reach users you may have missed before.
  • Do they speak your language? This is very important; for example, do they cover the local language that you want to use and are the results just as accurate?
  • Finally, what file type is the translation returned to you in? Can they accommodate the file type that you use? It may sound trivial, but time spent changing file types around is time that is lost and missed on growing, and running your business.

Follow the above advice in order to successfully run and grow your business.

6 Services That Your E-Commerce Store Needs

As a digital entrepreneur, you cannot be adept at every aspect of the world of business, especially when you are dealing with the struggles of the internet and running a business. Then, when you are starting up an e-commerce store, certain professional services can help your storefront thrive, and this guide will detail some of these.

1.   SEO Agency

Digital marketing is core to the success of your business and your ability to attract and maintain customers. However, it can be difficult to succeed in your digital marketing campaigns, especially when you are trying to manage different aspects of your business at once. It would then help if you considered hiring an seo agency that can help direct traffic to your website and ensure your marketing is targeted toward customers who are already on the lookout for businesses like yours.

2.   Website Analytics

Running a website for your e-commerce store can be incredibly stressful, and many entrepreneurs struggle to know whether their website is popular or not. Then, hiring a website analytics firm can help you acquire data that will allow you to understand what you need to do to improve your website and acknowledge that it will enable you to realize your customers’ behavior and adapt your website to accommodate this.

3.   Graphic Design and Brand Identity

However, to make your website as professional and engaging as possible, you should consider hiring a graphic design team who will be able to develop your logo and the brand identity that you display on your website. Not only this, but website designers can also make your website exciting as well as easy to navigate for your clients.

4.   Customer Service

When you own an e-commerce store, it is more difficult to communicate with customers than when you own a physical location, and this can cause issues when your clientele has queries or complaints. It would help if you considered hiring a customer service company that can answer phone calls, deal with live chat queries, and reply to the many emails that enter your inbox each day.

5.   Translation Services

The internet is a vast place that speakers of many different languages use. Whether you want to translate your website or the communications between you and different clients or suppliers, you should consider using translation services. These will ensure that you can maintain clear communication at all times and that you will be able to branch out your business worldwide.

6.   Order Fulfilment and Shipping Services

Once your e-commerce store starts to grow, it can become more difficult to store your inventory within your home or office and complete orders on time. Then, many e-commerce store owners decide to invest in a remote order fulfillment and shipping service where your orders can be packed and sent straight to customers from a warehouse location. Although this gives you less control of your orders, this can ensure that your customers can receive their products quickly and efficiently.

Business Survival Tips For 2021

Everyone is happy to see the back of 2020 after what was a disastrous year due to the pandemic. While things are looking better for 2021, it will still be a challenging year for businesses that will be desperate to bounce back despite the pandemic continuing and the long-term implications to consider. So, what should businesses be doing this year to manage during this tricky year and hopefully find some success? It will depend on your situation and the industry you are in, but here are a few tips that will hopefully come in useful and help you manage.

  • Maintain Visibility

It is very easy for a business to fade into the background if they are not careful in the current situation. Even if your business is currently unable to operate, you still need to maintain communication with your target customer to stay in their mind and maintain solid relationships during this period. Digital marketing is critical in a time like this to stay relevant, plus you should be using social media to communicate and engage with your target audience. This could include creating relevant content that your target market will find useful in a time like this.

  • Reduce Costs

Cash flow is a major issue for many right now due to the pandemic, so reducing your costs is a smart way to improve cash flow and help you when there might not be as much money coming in as you are used to. It would help if you were careful when cutting costs not to negatively impact the quality of the product/service that you provide or to put too much strain on your team, so a few good ideas include:

  • Switching to alternative energy
  • Remote work
  • Energy-efficient equipment
  • Renegotiating with vendors
  • Second-hand equipment
  • Open-source software
  • Embrace Remote Work

Remote work could be here to stay, and many plan to continue with it even after the pandemic ends because it benefits both parties. It is certainly worth embracing for the time being, which will involve making sure that you know how to manage a remote team, supporting your staff, and making sure that you have the best equipment, tools, and software to overcome remote work challenges.

  • Step Up Cybersecurity

As if the pandemic has created enough difficulties for businesses in 2021, it has also created a surge in cyber attacks due to staff working remotely and advanced new Phishing attacks being developed. Therefore, businesses need to invest in the best cybersecurity to prevent these attacks and to keep the operation running smoothly.

  • Be Flexible

Finally, flexibility is critical in times like this, where the situation changes so quickly. Businesses that are flexible and able to adapt to what is happening will always come out on top, which means that you need to be willing to take risks and think creatively. It is also helpful to consider different outcomes in the short and long-term and create plans for all of them.

Hopefully, these tips will help your business to manage during what is sure to be a challenging year ahead for all.