IT Support Business Benefits

IT Support

Anyone running a business will know that managing their business operations in a competitive environment need to be able to work and respond quickly and efficiently. In a world that is seeing rapid technological changes, and a reliance on them for business, managing these technologies effectively is more important than ever.

To ensure you have in place the right business IT infrastructure, it’s important to seek specialist advice and skills – and fortunately IT support companies are there to provide it. So read on to find out more about the benefits of IT support for your business or workplace.

What is IT Support?

Essentially, IT support consultants and installers will analyze your IT needs and put in place and manage the technologies you need. This can include the installation of equipment, such as servers, data storage and hardware, optimizing your data with specialized data storage equipment, and by implementing and managing your IT infrastructure.

IT Support Benefits

  • Streamline Your Business

For a business to operate efficiently, you need systems in place to allow that to happen. By using the correct technology, you can save money by streamlining your computer systems to use fewer resources.

Simplify the storage of data, reduces space and power usage, and reduces the risk of lost data. Reduce the amount of servers used, reduces hardware costs, allows you to use multiple operating systems on one platform, and increases storage space.

A visualized desktop allows you to store a desktop on a remote server. And a cloud based computer system allows you to buy in exactly the service you require, so cutting wastage using unnecessary services. These are just some of the solutions an IT support company can provide, to enable your business to run with the minimum of physical equipment required, so cutting costs.

  • Make Better Business Decisions

Without the headache of managing your computer infrastructure, you’ll be able to focus on the thing that really matters – the business itself.

  • Efficiency

A more focused use of resources through installing effectual systems suited to your business will increase efficiency and productivity. Better processes and faster systems will enhance your entire operations. For example, installing cloud based computing can provide enormous benefits, and is increasingly become the preferred option for business.

Instead of using multiple software packages, cloud based apps take all the headache out of providing the software for employees to do their job, as well as allowing multiple users to access the same systems no matter what their physical location. It is easy to collaborate on files, share information, work remotely and increase mobility, as well as providing the utmost in security. Cloud computing also reduces the dangers of data loss – all of your information is kept securely in one place, remotely.

  • Security

Data is your most valuable business asset, and losing data or allowing it to fall into the wrong hands will spell disaster. By using IT support services you can easily manage all your data, through the provision of maximum storage space, in a secure environment.

How To Increase Your Brand Identity

Brand Identity

A business can’t succeed without sales. Sales cannot happen unless customers know the business exists. Therefore, to get more sales you must do what you can to make sure your potential customers are aware of your brand. Building a brand identity will give people something to remember when they have a problem you can fix.

What is Brand Awareness?

Brand awareness refers to the percentage of your target market that is familiar enough with your business to know it exists. Brand awareness also implies that customers have a basic knowledge of what goods and services you can provide for them.

Brand awareness has a direct link to your sales. If you have a target marked of 1,000 customers and only 100 of them know you exist, your brand awareness is 10%. If you can increase that number to 200 people, your brand awareness will double. It follows, then, that as more people are aware of you and what you have to offer your sales will begin to rise.

Brand identity relates to the image your customers have of your brand. The look of its logo, the colors it uses, its name, the images it evokes… all of this comes together to form a recognizable picture that sticks in your customer’s minds.

By creating a product that people recognize you can increase awareness of your brand. Customers may walk right by a boring product, but if they relate to the brand’s identity they will be more likely to remember it for later.

How Can You Build Brand Awareness?

Brand awareness is all about being in the places your target market spends time. This could be physical – a billboard on their way to work or a display in a grocery store – or electronic – an ad on their favorite website or a profile on their favorite social network. Understanding your customer’s tastes and habits will help you be a presence in the places they are likely to be.

Younger customers tend to spend much of their time connected to the internet in some way. This could mean browsing on their mobile phones for the nearest Chinese restaurant or interacting with their friends on Facebook. Making your brand known online can be done through optimizing your site to show up high in search engine rankings. Having a presence on social networking sites is also an effective way to get your brand out there.

More conventional forms of advertising can also be effective when making your brand known. Ads on television or in newspapers will be noticed by customers who tend to use these forms of media. Print ads in magazines can go a long way to reaching specific audiences. Do you have a product that will revolutionize the way your customers carry their golf clubs? Get in touch with the advertising departments of golf magazines. There are thousands of niche markets that can be reached this way.

If you have a local business, getting involved with charity events is a great way to build both brand awareness and identity. If your logo is displayed prominently at an event more people will become aware of your business and services. The fact that you are sponsoring a charity event will help customers see your brand as one that gives back, strengthening your identity.

Everything you can do to build your brand awareness can help you increase your sales. Brands with a strong identity will stick in the minds of consumers, but people have to see your brand first to know it exists. While building awareness may not be entirely straightforward, there are many tools at your disposal to make it a success.

Funny Time To Set Up A Business

Set Up A Business

Strange as it may seem, the current recession has been a boom time for businesses of the smaller variety. In fact, most recessions, depressions and downturns, have one factor in common in that they see a huge rise in the numbers of people operating their own businesses and becoming self-employed. Although at first glance this may seem odd, the reality is that with jobs scarce, many people find that they have little choice but to employ themselves.

Previous depressions have led to the founding of one or two companies that you may have heard of – Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Marriot Hotels, to name but three. These firms also didn’t start with vast resources and at least one began life in somebody’s garage. So if you’re tired of queuing in the job centre or tired of sitting in the same office day after day, with little chance of upwardly mobile movement and a great risk of the downwardly type, where do you start?

How to get started

Thanks to technology it is easier than in the past to find ways to run your own firm. At one time “businessman” meant just that; but the Internet and associated technology has transformed businessmen into business-moms, business-teens and business-grannies. People from all walks of life are now doing it for themselves and many with considerable success.

Before sacking your boss it’s important to consider different ways into running your own enterprise. In many of the smallest business models you’ll need very little in the way of up front funding and you can start part time, building to full and finally demanding a P45 from your current employer.

Part time start up is often the best way to begin if you do have a job at the moment, but would like to take the chance of improving your life and getting control of the future firmly into your own hands. If you are unemployed it can be harder, but the job centre will be willing to do pretty much anything to get you off their statistics, including offering help and advice on where to find funding and loans to get you off the ground.

What Business to Run?

Your business is your business, but you should consider all of your talents, skills, knowledge and experience in every area of life. There are a range of sites that look for remote freelance workers to provide everything from secretarial support to graphic design services.

Whatever your skills, they’re probably in demand more than you realise and many firms are keen to employ remote workers simply to cut down on overheads. Thanks to technology it’s no longer necessary for support staff to be located in one geographic location and this has provided opportunities for more and more people to sell their services effectively.

Essential Kit for Business

Depending on the profession that you choose, or the business you intend to run, the chances are that technology – computer, laptop, and mobile phone will all be fairly key requirements for your business. They will certainly form the basic administrative tools that you’ll need to run your accounts department, your HR department, your marketing and sales efforts and your web site.

Being self-employed means being the proverbial jack of all trades, and you should consider buying, hiring or otherwise acquiring, the best tech you can afford. Loans, grants and even payday loans sourced online can be used to fund this equipment in advance of leaving the day job and setting up on your own. In many cases the computing power you have to hand will be the foundation of your business and it pays dividends to invest in this kit from the outset.

What should I expect?

You should expect long hours, hard work and very little free time at first – if you are setting up part time this is as much the case as if you go fulltime from the outset. Working for yourself is not for the faint-hearted, especially in the early days, when the absence of regular pay, the amount of time you’ll need to invest and the obstacles you’ll encounter on the way will be daunting.

However, the difference between employment and self-employment is ultimately a significant one. You call the shots, you keep the profits and you’ll find that in terms of freedom you have far more than you could ever have hoped for in the world of wage-slavery. While a recession may seem like the worst time to set up your own business, history has in many cases proved that it can also be the best.

Is Customer Service The Right Industry For You?

Customer Service

With rising unemployment figures rocking the country and depression setting in for a large number of jobless 18-24 year olds, it seems as though the majority of job vacancies at the moment are in the customer service industry. Customer service can take a variety of forms, be it face-to-face, over the telephone, and even online.

With customer service at the heart of the majority of businesses, you may find yourself asking whether it is the correct industry for you.

Jobseeking Alerts

If you’re a current jobseeker who’s signed up to job alerts, you’ll likely find yourself bombarded with customer service vacancies. You may think customer service is just about standing behind a till all day, scanning products. That’s where you’re wrong – customer service is about going above and beyond for the customer.

A common motto you’ll often hear in this industry is that the customer is always right. Whilst this may prove frustrating on a number of occasions, you have to remember that your job is to provide the best possible service to all customers. You’ll have days where you feel exhausted from delivering such a service, but by helping others, you’ll be doing the best job possible.

Customer service jobs can relate to a number of different sectors: retail, banking, healthcare, public sector and business to business (B2B).

Are you a people person?

Taking care of customer needs in a retail environment can be one of the most challenging jobs. You’ll have to deal with endless customers from the general public on a day to day basis. Some won’t always be happy to see you; they may not say hello back to you, or wish to engage in conversation.

They may not even acknowledge your presence other than to ask how much something costs or whether they can have cash-back on their purchase. If you start each day by not smiling, barking the price at your customers, and cursing under your breath if they walk out without buying anything, the chances are, you’re in for a long one.

Stay Cheerful

Smile at everyone, engage in conversation and watch how well the customer responds. A simple, ‘ooh that scarf is a lovely colour, is it for yourself?’ shows a genuine interest in your customer. If you spot someone hovering by the make-up section for a while, don’t assume they’re about to make off with the best stuff under their jacket – go over and offer to help them.

Make personal recommendations. By engaging in conversation, you’ll easily learn exactly what your customer is looking for and be able to help them to the best of your capabilities. They’ll remember that shopping trip as a positive one, and are more likely to shop there in future.

Do you enjoy working with others?

If you enjoy helping others, a job in customer service could be ideal for you. Working in customer service will give you basic knowledge of the day-to-day running of a business, as well as hone your skills further. If you’re quite shy, working in customer service can improve your confidence and make you more comfortable talking and meeting new people. It also involves working as a team as well as taking responsibility for your own actions.

The better the service you provide, the more likely the customer is to recommend you to friends. Always have a smile on your face, and be ready to help further. Having a positive attitude, a friendly and approachable manner, and being polite will take you far in the customer service industry. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, search for jobs relating to customer service today and start building your career.

Accountants Need To Adapt Or Die

Accountants

Australian companies just can’t find enough accountants, and it’s difficult to think of many professions that are currently in higher demand. Forty per cent of recruiters claim they had difficulty acquiring the necessary accounting skills in 2014, and that their search will go on with job growth predicted to continue over the next few years (itbdigital.com). That the number of accountants receiving skilled migration visas doubled during 2013-14 indicates that anyone with an interest in pursuing the career will receive a warm welcome in Australia.

Reasons for rising demand

Foreign investment and a resources boom are two significant factors contributing to the rising demand for financial skills. China’s interest means that Australia is the focus of the world’s second biggest economy, and Australian businesses are scrambling to reap the benefits; or rather, they’re scrambling to find people with the skills and expertise to help them figure out how to reap the benefits.

Of course it’s not just businesses, but also their accountants that are drawing China’s interest, as it looks to satisfy the growth of its own financial sector. When local recruits can’t meet the required numbers, Australia is naturally one of the first places China turns to for talent, and its industries are willing to pay 15 to 20 per cent more than Australian industries to acquire it. Being caught up in a tug of war between Australian and Chinese businesses can only be of benefit to those in financial services.

Another factor contributing to industry growth is tax reforms, which places an additional burden on companies’ financial resources. One of the most notable of these is the Carbon Tax, which was introduced in July 2014. Organizations require professional advice to avoid further costs and to factor those they have already accrued into their budget.

Staying ahead of the pack

Demand is high but competition in the industry is fierce; those offering accounting services know that something extra is required to stand out from the crowd. The traditional analytical skills that accountants are famous for, though still vital, are no longer enough by themselves. Eighty per cent of companies that participated in a Badenoch & Clarke survey claimed that the accounting profession has changed a great deal over the past five years (accountingweb.co.uk), and accountants need to keep abreast of these changes if they want to keep their skills relevant.

Skills that accountants need to build upon include:

  • Communication: Accounting firms are finding advisory services increasingly profitable, leading to a demand for accountants who can double as consultants. Accountants are required to develop skillsets traditionally more associated with the field of consultancy than their own, and that includes communication. More and more, firms want accountants who are as comfortable with being the face of the organization as they are with being behind a desk.
  • Technology: The traditional methods are being supplanted by business software solutions, and companies are increasingly incorporating the power of social media into marketing efforts. Accountants nowadays are required to develop technological skills to a greater degree than what might have been expected of them in the past.
  • Experience: The Accounting & Finance Salary and Employment Insights 2014 report found that 21% of managers are looking for candidates backed up by experience, as firms are more intent on ensuring recruits can apply their skills in practice within increasingly competitive business environments. This makes the ability to include work experience in one’s studies all the more essential.

More Interesting but just as safe

Fifty-three per cent of employees were awarded salary increases in 2014, with 17.5 per cent receiving an increase of over 10 per cent (ibdigital.com). Those who want to pursue a career in accountancy will be entering a profession that is changing in interesting ways, but for all the change taking place, it remains as safe as ever, and even more profitable.

5 Benefits Of Working As A Self-Taught Internet Entrepreneur

Internet Entrepreneur

American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said that, “Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.”  That is because unlike formal education, which is confined to certain limits, self-education has no limits.

Before I made the decision to become a freelance writer, I only looked at the negatives. I was sure I did not possess the dedication it took to work from home. And I thought that lacking a college degree would hinder my ability to find clients.

However there are so many benefits that I had not considered. For example I could set my own hours which would allow more time to spend with my family. Working from home meant sleeping later in the morning, not sitting in rush hour traffic, and a more relaxed dress code.

Why Unemployment Isn’t the End

Although layoffs in the fourth quarter of 2012 were down overall from the third quarter of that same year, more than 130,000 people still found themselves getting a pink slip for the holidays. (www.bls.gov) While some went on to find others jobs, many others are still looking and continue to draw unemployment.

Whether you are one of these people, or you want to replace your daily commute with a stay-at-home job to be more eco-friendly, or you just want to supplement your paycheck, consider a career as an internet entrepreneur.

One place to get started is through an outsourcing company for freelancers, like Elance. Review the types of jobs available, decide on a price that you will charge for doing the work, and then bid on some open jobs.

Internet Entrepreneur Opportunities

It is true that working from home, especially over the internet, takes a lot of discipline and hard work. But the benefits far outweigh any of that. Here are some of the benefits that my fellow freelancers and I enjoy working as internet entrepreneurs.

1. Lower Taxes – We still have to pay taxes, but the amount we pay in now is far less. Computer equipment, cell phones, and other things directly related to the work that you do are things that you can take off your taxes at the end of the year. Ask your accountant about other tax incentives that benefit you.

2. Higher Income – I make more money now as a part-time freelance writer as I did working 40-hours per week at my last full-time job. How much you make means determining how much your time is worth per hour depending on the type of work that you do for each client. Your salary is literally without limits!

3. Better Training – A fellow freelancer who is a Server Administrator, or SA, recently took vSphere 5 training online to get his certification. He said that taking the class online was a great investment because the instructors were more like mentors, and unlike a live conference where everyone goes home afterwards, this allowed him the benefit or forming a working relationship with a professional who has real world advice in the field.

4. Set Your Own Hours – Unlike an office which is only open at certain hours each day, internet entrepreneurs who work from their own computers can be available whenever their clients need them – even if they are halfway around the globe from one another. You can also set your own hours for training, returning emails, and anything else you need to do for your business.

5. Networking Opportunities – When you work online, you are opening yourself up to networking opportunities from across the globe. In addition to gaining clients from other continents and time zones, you can also share marketing tips and promotional ideas with other freelancers in chat rooms and on message board forums.

Another benefit is just the sheer amount of work available. In fact, the opportunities for working online are so widely available that it is easier to get independent jobs working as a freelance entrepreneur as it is to be hired on full-time by a business.

Do Not Give Up!

While it is easy to get discouraged and give up if you do not get hired right away, stay optimistic and be patient. During the time that you spend waiting for a client to hire you to do their job, boost your online portfolio, pad your website with blog articles, and brush up on your skills.

You will want to learn as much as you can, taking online courses through distance learning whenever the opportunity presents itself. As your certifications pile up, clients will see that you are a contractor who not only wants to work, but is qualified to do the job as well.

Most Ambitious Trade Exhibitions Around The World

Trade Exhibitions

Worldwide, there are thousands of trade exhibitions going on throughout the year. For many trades they are important, and for a lot, an essential way for businesses to represent themselves and showcase their forthcoming products to both the public and other businesses.

They bring together all the major players in the represented industry and are an ideal way for exhibitors to develop confidence and trust across the supply chain. Here are some of the biggest and best across the globe.

E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo):

No list of major trade shows would be complete without E3. Taking place annually in Los Angeles, it is considered by many as the biggest video gaming exhibition in the World.

The show attracts major players in the gaming industry including, Nintendo, Sega and Ubisoft, who all use the opportunity to show-off and create a buzz surrounding their new games or game related products, It is well known for being the launching site of later notorious games and gaming hardware, from Nintendo 64 and Crash Bandicoot in the mid nineties to the launch of the Wii U last year.

Media coverage is globally extensive. Major journalists from all around the world attend the event and blogs and websites have devoted themselves to providing extensive details of the event to the public.

The convention even has its own prestigious award show for its best products, catapulting its winners into the spotlight.

American International Toy Fair

The American International Toy Fair has been described by many as the largest toy fair in the Western Hemisphere. Whilst it may not be open to the general public, it receives huge international exposure and is very important to the toy industry who gather to show off their best new products for retailers and to the press.

Hannover Messe

Held in Hanover, Germany, it is considered the world’s biggest industrial fair with an average attendance of about 6,000 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors. Although the show is in one venue and is held over the same period, it is actually made up of 11 smaller exhibitions. This is key to its importance for its representatives, the integration of different areas of industry converging in one place allows ample opportunity for trade and creating contacts.

Recently the show has placed an emphasis on using alternative energy within different areas of industry, trying to promote green technologies as not only an option viable for big businesses, but also a profitable one.

International CES

Held yearly in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Show is one of the biggest and the most hyped consumer electronic shows in the World. The show is normally the first to exhibit technological developments in the consumer electronic industry and has featured the debut of a lot of major products since its conception in 1967, from VCRs and camcorders to blue-rays and 3D TV’s.

Hundreds of distributors, news sites and journalists roam the three-day event, reporting enthusiastically on what they make of the products being launched on each of the exhibition stands, making the CES, for many companies in the industry, simply unmissable.

So there you have it, my list of the most ambitious trade exhibitions in world. Any more you think I should have included? Have your say below.

5 Ways To Save Money On Office Supplies

Office Supplies

For any business, whether it’s a multinational corporation or a one-man band, spending money on office supplies is essential to function on a daily basis. But is your stationery expenditure eating away at your profits while consuming the equivalent of a small forest in paper? We investigate ways to save money on those essential stationery supplies without harming your business’s efficiency.

Think before you print

E-mail has transformed the way we communicate; we no longer have to waste reams of paper sending inter-departmental memos regarding important matters such as asking Finance to kindly replace the milk when they’ve used the last drop (very annoying if you’re making important clients a cuppa!).

Despite the wonders of technology, the nirvana of a paper-free office often seems an unattainable dream. How many times have you printed an important letter, proof-read it and found a mistake? Make sure you, or the signatory, reviews letters before printing, that way any alterations can be made without wasting paper.

Save the ink

Yes, we know you can do a lovely pie chart and make pretty little diagrams in smart art with a rainbow of colours, but is the Sales Director really going to care if last month’s sales figures are printed in colour or boring black? Of course, if they’re really atrocious there may be a case for trying to distract him with the style over substance approach, not that I’d ever recommend that (honestly!).

Colour printing may be pleasing to the eye, but colour cartridges are generally more expensive than black, so only use when necessary. Another way of saving on the ink is to set your printer to economy mode; not every document requires presentation style printing, unless you’re thinking of framing the minutes of that meeting?

Recycle

Is it really necessary to accessories your printer with expensive matching cartridges? You’re in the office, not on the catwalk. Remanufactured cartridges, which utilize empty original cartridges, are not only cheaper they’re more eco-friendly, reducing the waste sent to landfill.

While we’re on the recycling theme, does everything you print have to be on a luxuriously thick pristine white sheet? Recycled paper is a cheaper alternative for printing all those everyday documents that will never find their way into that important client’s hands.

Set up a central stationery hub

While your employees may enjoy the luxury of a well-stocked desk that resembles a small stationers, providing everyone with their own staplers, hole-punches etc. is expensive and unnecessary – after all, you wouldn’t give them all a kettle on their desk would you?

Set up an office stationery hub with a heavy duty stapler and hole-punch (screw them to your desk if necessary) and a supply of essentials such as paperclips and pens.

Not only will you be saving money on office supplies, you’ll be providing employees with an opportunity to stretch their legs by walking across the office. Now who said you were a slave driver keeping people chained to their desks?

Buy in bulk

Buying your office stationery supplies in bulk can save money as many suppliers offer discounts once a certain amount of units are ordered. Keep an inventory of your stationery and reorder items once they fall below a certain level. Don’t just order one ream of paper, order enough to take advantage of any discount and save yourself from the chore of a weekly stationery order.

Have you got any tips for saving money or recycling office supplies? Leave your comments below.

A Guide To Planning A Productive Training Day

Productive Training Day

In the interest of continually moving forward in a tough industry, lots of companies like to hold regular training days for their employees. Not only does this keep everyone up to date with anything new that has recently entered the business world, it is also a great chance to check that everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet and that the brand’s core beliefs are being upheld across all departments.

It can be difficult to plan one of these training days though, especially when you are trying to pull together people from different areas of the country or even further afield. So with that in mind, here are some important things to consider when arranging your company’s training day.

Productive Training Day

Venue

It is very important that you find a venue that suits the event you are planning for. Therefore you need to think about things like how many people will be attending, where they are coming from and the costs that this is going to incur.

For smaller training events, you may want to hold the day within your own company building but this might not be possible with larger numbers. The good news is that conference venues or meeting rooms provide a great alternative.

Most of the time you only pay for the number of people that will be there and for the size of the room you require, which is great if people start pulling out.

Also, you will be able to hire any equipment you need so the day will be conducted professionally and no one has to worry about carrying things like A-boards and projectors to the venue.

Catering

If you are planning an all-day event then the people who are coming will need to be fed and watered throughout the day. Therefore you need to decide whether you are going to give them regular breaks so that they can go and grab something or whether you will provide food for them throughout the day.

If you want to give your training day a more relaxed feel and encourage more of a team building atmosphere, the latter option may be the best choice. Luckily most conference rooms you can hire will also include a price for food if you want to add it.

You could always go one step further and hire out a restaurant and conduct your training during the meal. Something else you may want to think about is whether you are going to provide tea and coffee or just merely water for your trainees. Failing to offer them refreshments may lead to a break down in attention and increased tea breaks being taken.

Getting The Word Out

Once you have planned your training day, you are going to have to spread the word so that everyone knows of the up and coming event. If your training is just for members of your company then this might be as simple as sending out a group email but if you are offering places to people outside of your business then you may have to go further.

For example you may want to advertise your training on Facebook and other social media sites as well as maybe using some of Google’s paid advertising to spread the word online.

Once everyone knows about the event, it is important to make sure that they can all get to the venue. Luckily most conference rooms in London are close to major underground stations or have great transport links in other ways. It might be a good idea to include a map with the information you are sending out and always remember to include a post code.