Monthly Archives: May 2016

How to Build a Website from Scratch for your Small Business

In today’s world, having a website is no longer a luxury for your small business; it’s an essential extension of your business. Websites allow you to connect with your customers by setting a tone for how your product is perceived in the marketplace. The trouble is, few small business owners have any experience setting up websites. Recently, a wave of new website builders have made it easy for small business owners to create and customize websites for their businesses that they can tailor to their specific needs.

Many of the popular website builder products such as Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace.com all offer you the option to host the site as well as register domain names, but usually comes at a cost. These sites also allow the basic website novice to build a beautiful site without much design experience. You can always use a site like GoDaddy or Register.com to host your site, but because of the ease that many of the website builders provide, it’s much easier and more convenient to go through whichever builder you end up choosing.

DO: understand the difference between hosting sites, domain names, and website builders. Check to see if your preferred website builder also offers hosting abilities and domain registration. You can usually import a domain and hosting duties with the popular website builders, but make sure that’s all taken care of before you move on to the next step.

DON’T: choose a host before determining your website builder. While it might be cheaper to have a separate host and builder, a lot of times it’s more confusing and can lead to issues down the road.

Today, website builders make it easy for novice computer users without any coding skills to build attractive websites that offer a range of services that fall in line with just about any small business’ needs. Of course, if you want a truly customized site, there will be a learning curve and some coding involved. If your end goal is to have a user-friendly site for things like e-commerce, attracting more customers to your physical location, or even something as simple as giving your business an online presence, there are simple solutions that can get you off and running in just a few hours.

Once you’ve chosen your website builder and have set up hosting duties and registered your domain, you’re ready to create your website. You might want to start with a template that has already been created to get started. While builders allow you to start from scratch, a lot of the difficult legwork has already been taken care of and you just need to add text and pictures.

E-commerce sites that offer point of sale (POS) systems and allow you to take payments often can be found on the same website builders, but there are specific templates you’ll need to use. A lot of times the costs are higher with these templates, but there are useful and convenient apps that will help you get off and running without much trouble.

DO: look through the most popular website builders to determine which one best fits the needs of your small business. If you don’t want to pay a third party to help with coding, make sure to choose a site allows novice users to launch.

DON’T: forget to do your research. Sometimes the most popular sites offer the most customization features for websites, but can be difficult to understand. Know what you want from your site and make sure you match your website builder with the site that aligns best with your small business’ needs.

Most website builders and hosting sites offer unique business emails that go along with the name of your site for an additional cost so you don’t have to use a personal email once your website is set up. Many other features can be accessed through your website builders, like the ability to make newsletters, blogs, monitor traffic, upload social buttons, and manage comments.

The final thing to remember is that you can design a site and see what it would look like before you ever have to pay a dime. Make sure you try a few sites to see what each has to offer, then choose the one that’s right for your small business.

DO: start building. You can basically build a site to the point that it’s ready to launch before you pay, so the best thing you can do is to play with some templates and find what is right for you.

DON’T: choose a plan before you recognize what features you’re paying for and what all comes with a certain plan. Templates are usually free, but there are costs associated with registering domain names and monthly hosting fees. There can also be costs with upgraded features that you need, so recognize what you’re getting and only get what you need; you can always upgrade if there is something else you need.

Building a website to fit your specific needs is no longer as daunting as it once was. Today’s new tools remove much of the complexity so that you can be up and running quickly—and making your presence known.

Must-Read Business Books for SMBs

The year’s nearly half over, and small business owners are likely looking eagerly ahead to a summer break to recharge their batteries, refuel their relationship, and rethink their businesses. To prepare for that break, it’s time to start looking for invigorating summer reading, and that includes finding the best business books for small businesses.

Maybe you’re chasing a new angle on web marketing, or seeking innovative sales insights for your team. Maybe your staff just needs a refresher on general business practices. In all cases, these books below will help offer plenty of new knowledge and wisdom to drive your company’s fortunes ahead for the rest of the year.

A Company Of Owners: Maximizing Employee Engagement: Dallas, Texas-based PhD and sought-after keynote speaker Daren Martin has written a very helpful book for business owners on best practices in working with employees. How can an SMB owner motivate and captivate employees, to try to turn them into business owners? Martin’s book (his second published this year) lays out clear insights and thought-provoking solutions to better manage a small business’s most important assets—its employees.

Tech PR Blueprint: How Any SMB Can Become an Industry Giant: Written by public relations pro Dave Costello, this book shows SMBs how to use technology and great PR tactics to help your company earn brand awareness, product reviews and industry recognition. Costello writes about successful PR and marketing strategies that he’s used for hundreds of clients, using modern web marketing practices like content marketing, SEO, and social media. For SMB owners who feel they are falling behind on modern Internet marketing practices, this book’s a sure winner.

Small Business Financial Management Kit for Dummies: Yes, it’s one of those “dummies” books, but one that can help any small business owner in the challenging world of financial management. How does a business owner best decide whether to invest in new capital expenditures or make some quick talent hires instead? The answers might lie in this guide that helps an owner understand the company’s financial status, how to plan budgets, manage financial forecasts, get a handle on cash flow, best ways to increase profits, and much more.

#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness: #AskGaryvee is the latest great book from social media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. This self-made hustler has written other essential business books, delivering insights earned from his background as a wine store owner to a multi-media superstar in the world of fast-moving Internet and media businesses. Gary writes with a plain, clear, and sometimes hilariously profane urgency, encouraging business owners to take risks in new avenues and find new ways to succeed in business.

These are just among the many new books that have been published in 2016 around the needs of small business owners. If you’re not an avid reader, and have missed some of the classic business and leadership books, here also are a few quick links to get you up to speed.

•     The Small Business Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Succeed in Your Small Business
•     The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
•     Think and Grow Rich!

 

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3 Must-Have Apps for Small Business with Remote Teams

More small businesses and startups are turning to the virtual team concept to help keep costs low. Thanks to the Internet, your employees can work from virtually anywhere. While that’s great, the question that still lingers in many small business owners’ minds is this: “How do I ensure my staff members function as a cohesive unit when they aren’t operating in the same physical location?”

Thanks to some terrific apps and technology providers, there are many slick solutions to help your team function harmoniously. Here are three of my favorite small business apps focused on communication.

3 apps for remote team communication and collaboration

1. Jell

Even with the best video conferencing platform, daily or weekly “stand-up meetings” can be a groan for your remote employees. If I’m honest,  they can be a groan in person, too! Jell takes the tedium out of the stand-up meeting by turning it into more of a reporting process that’s quick, easy, and transparent.

Each day, team members fill in the answers to three core questions:

•     What did you accomplish yesterday?
•     What are you planning to do today?
•     What challenges stand in your way?
Once Jell captures this information, the status update is distributed to the team and recorded in a central location. On paid plans, you can set organizational goals, add additional questions, and more. Jell integrates with Slack or HipChat, and there is an app for smartphones, too.

2. Grasshopper Virtual Phone System

Depending on the type of business you run, you may need a toll-free line or local line along with extensions for your employees. Fees for telephony services and hardware can get costly. That’s where Grasshopper can save the day. Grasshopper offers a variety of features that make your small business look and sound more professional. With Grasshopper, you can get extensions for employees, a company directory, main greeting, voicemail, professional text messaging options, and more. Your employees can use their existing home office or mobile phones to make, take, and transfer calls.

The mobile app is one of the nicest features of the Grasshopper service. The app, available for both iPhone and Android smartphones, allows your employees to call customers, prospects, and vendors while displaying your toll-free or local business number on the caller ID. This capability keeps their mobile numbers private. Users can also manage call forwarding, listen to company voicemails, send texts from your business, and manage faxes directly from the Grasshopper mobile app.

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite has been around now for several years and is used by countless individuals, thanks to its easy-to-use features and free plan option. But there is a lot more to Hootsuite when you move to the Pro plan. (Disclosure: I am a Hootsuite Brand Ambassador, which is a volunteer position.) With the Hootsuite Pro plan, you have access to more social platform profiles and have the option to add additional team members to help you manage and monitor social media marketing efforts. You can set user roles and create approval workflows, too.

While it’s a useful tool for marketers, a Hootsuite Pro plan can be an excellent solution for small customer service teams as well (up to 10 members). Imagine having your reps at the ready not only to answer phone calls and emails but to tackle those publicly posted customer complaints, too! Your customer service supervisor can assign customer issues through Hootsuite to a particular rep. Plus, well-known support desk platforms such as ZenDesk and FreshDesk integrate directly with Hootsuite. It’s an opportunity for your team to turn possible social media disasters into customer delight.

What are the right apps for your remote team?

These are just a handful of the collaboration and communication tools available to small business owners. Although the above are my favorites, they are not necessarily the right choice for every business. When considering solutions for your remote team, determine what you are trying to accomplish with each app. Take a free trial. Ask for employee input, and then help your employees through the change process.
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10 great but inaccurate quotes from technology

Can you remember a time when you said something you wish you hadn’t said? You’re not alone. Each of us is guilty of that. Even the brightest minds have said things they wish they hadn’t said, especially if what they said was a bold statement or proclamation that never came to pass, not even sort of. But that’s OK; such statements make for good conversation even years later. Enjoy our latest infographic!












The greatest tech minds of the 20th and 21st centuries were responsible for great discoveries and insights that changed the way we work, think, relax, and play. But those same great minds also allowed their mouths to say a few things that today cause us to shake our heads and wonder, and maybe even chuckle. Oh, well, no one’s perfect. Take a look at the 10 quotes in our latest infographic and then see if you can guess what year it was said. Answers are at the bottom of the infographic.

The Quotes
1. “Two years from now, spam will be solved.”
2. “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”
3. “But what…is it good for?”
4. “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.”
5. “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.”
6. “Linux is not in the public domain. Linux is a cancer.”
7. “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
8. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
9. “If you’re wrong, you will die.”
10. “Apple is already dead.”

Who said it and when
1. Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates made this prediction in 2007 at the World Economic Forum. Maybe he meant SPAM, that canned precooked meat product? No, that’s still around, too.
2. Scott McNealy, CEO and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, speaking about online privacy in 1999. All these years later, he’s probably right, but privacy should be the goal nevertheless.
3. Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division at IBM, commenting on the microchip. Of course, most of us would have probably agreed if we were working in tech back in 1968.
4. Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, said this in 1995. But we can forgive Metcalfe; after all, he is credited with inventing the Ethernet.
5. Even Apple’s Steve Jobs made a few mistakes about technology, like how he responded in 2008 when asked about the likely success of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader.
6. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s former CEO, was known to be volatile when discussing the competition. It’s understandable that he would be resistant to any free open-source software.
7. Alphabet Inc. (formerly Google) executive chairman Eric Schmidt’s response when asked in 2009 about whether users should be sharing their information with Google.
8. Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, made this statement. But, hey, 1977 was a very long time ago.
9. Intel’s former CEO Andy Grove in his 1996 book, Only the Paranoid Survive. Of course, all of us have been wrong at least once, and we’re all going to die eventually, so technically he’s right.
10. Nathan Myhrvold made that statement when he was CTO of Microsoft. To be fair, Apple stock was down to about $7 a share in 1997. (Yeah, we wish we had bought shares back then, too.)

Experiencing a CATastrophic data loss

Recently, we asked our dear readers to submit a favorite story about how Mozy has saved their bacon. We’ve received numerous accounts that underscore just how important backup (and a quick restore!) is. Some of your stories are funny, some not so funny (who likes to lose data, even temporarily?); however, all of the stories have a happy ending, thanks to Mozy—and your good judgment in choosing the most trusted cloud backup software.

The following story and photo were submitted by Karie Ford, who works at Mozy. Karie’s story and photo remind us of how backing up without Mozy is like trying to herd cats: it can be done, but not easily and not always successfully.

My daughter Josie is currently attending her last year at Utah Valley University. When she is not in school she is at work or in her room studying or writing papers. She basically has no social life, except for Callie. Callie is her 10-year-old cat, who wants ongoing cuddles and attention. In short, this feline believes that my daughter is here to serve her. Callie loves to knock stuff off of dressers and sleep on the laptop keyboard when my daughter is trying to do her school work.

The accompanying photo was taken about two weeks prior to our data-loss incident. Callie is a diva and, it seems, felt like the laptop was getting all of the “love.” Callie decided to “own” this laptop and peed on the keyboard. The laptop is not only disgusting, it is also TOAST.

Mozy online backup and restore to the rescue! We bought a new laptop and restored all of my daughter’s files over the weekend. Yes, we still have the cat.

Thanks, Karie, for sharing how Mozy saved your bacon!

The takeaway from this account? When it comes to backup and restore, anything other than Mozy should make you nervous, kind of like a cat would be in a room full of rocking chairs. Don’t take chances—insist on Mozy cloud backup!

We would love to hear more from our users. There are two opportunities to win a gift card for your submissions:

•     This contest is open to MozyHome and MozyPro users only:  For a chance to win a $200 gift card, tell us how            Mozy has saved your bacon for you or your business. Submit your entry by May 31, at which time we will randomly            select a winner. Your story may be published in a future Mozy blog or newsletter! For more information, visit our blog.
•     This contest is open to Mozy Resellers only: For a chance to win a GoPro camera, submit a photo in the Comments            below of the most bizarre or funny way that someone can lose data (real or not). A winner will be selected by the Mozy            marketing team at the end of the quarter (June 30). We will publish the winning photo in a future Mozy blog or Mozy            Reseller newsletter. Interested in becoming a Mozy Reseller? Click here.

Sorry, but Mozy/EMC employees are not eligible for these gift cards (but you may still submit your stories and photos).