SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

7 New Technologies You Should Adopt in Your Business

By: Annabelle Short

Whether it is the newest smartphone release or the latest gaming system, as consumers, we are always on the lookout for the latest technology.

As an avid Apple user, I can remember several years in a row where I have stayed up all night on that one fateful night in September when Apple made their big announcement and release.

Of course, I wanted to be one of the first to get my hands on whatever new phone they were coming out with this year.

Well, as business owners, we should be as eager and adaptive to new technology.Technology

New technology is exciting, but as a business owner especially, it can also be daunting…

You, of course, will be presented with a few financial responsibilities and you might also endure a few hiccups along the way with integrating a new technology into your business.

But, in the long run, these new technologies are designed to improve your systems, your strategies, your customer experience – and, your business as a whole.

And, if you don’t do your best to stay ahead, you might find yourself playing a very dangerous game of catch-up later on down the road.

So, rather than shying away from new technology – embrace it:

Get more info on how to maintain the health of your new database or new technology, utilize all aspects of your new system, and how to easily integrate it into what systems you already have running.

And, once you are ready to jump on board with the new technologies of today, here are a few you should consider:

1. Remote employees.

From freelance writers to schedulers and personal assistants – more and more people are choosing to work remotely and in just about every aspect of a business, you could imagine.

Thanks to remote employees, you can still have access to some of the best job applicants while reducing overhead and keeping your employees happy.

2. Digital forms of payment.

Have you ever forgotten your wallet and did not realize it until you were at the checkout?

That is the worst feeling in the world. Of course, the embarrassment of admitting your negligence, but, then, you have added an additional trip to the errand you were running.

But, digital payment can help avoid this issue – thanks to tools such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

Accepting digital payment not only offers an added ease to your customer’s experience but it also offers a speedy checkout process and one that is more streamlined.

3. Information security.

In the wake of the major Equifax breach of security, more and more businesses are considering how at risk their customer’s information might be…

In fact, each year, approximately 15 million people are victims of identity theft.

4. Live chat customer service.

One of the most convenient things for a consumer is the ability to online chat. Even if they are not in a place where they can communicate via phone, they can still get help from a live person.

There are several live chat customer service companies that will completely take care of this for you for a small fee.

Live chat customer service will help maintain the most important aspect of success for your business – the satisfaction of your customers.

5. Appointment scheduling software.

Scheduling appointments are time-consuming – so much so, you might even hire an employee to do just that for their job duties. But, adding appointment scheduling software to your line up of business technology can help streamline the process and cut back on expenses.

In addition, it can also make it easier and more convenient for your customers thanks to features such as automatic text reminders and confirmation abilities.

6. Cloud computing.

Whether you are checking the balance of your company bank account or managing your social media accounts, you are using cloud computing. The information is simply being computed through the Internet.

And, cloud computing can offer your business numerous benefits such as flexibility, mobility, reduced costs, automation, and much more.

Technology

When it comes to the success of your business, it is all about having a clear visibility of your customer’s journey – from their very first inquiry to the final sale.

And, you should also have a clear understanding of everything that happens in between.

A CRM is a set of tools and processes that can be used to manage, track, and analyze data of the relationships and interactions your business has with current and potential customers.

Then, this data can be used to improve the process and/or convince the customer to make that final sale.

So, in the overall aspect, a CRM can help improve the conversion rate of your customers.

Of course, new technology can be a bit of an upfront investment…

But, if it improves your bottom line, what are you losing? Nothing – it is just that, you are not losing anything. Rather, you are gaining several things.

Changing technology is a part of life and it is a major part of businesses as well.

So, as a business owner, you should constantly be on the lookout for the “next big thing” and how your business can benefit from it.

Remember, it is all about staying one step ahead of your competitor.

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Is Your Company Prepared Against Cyber-Attacks?

Cyber-attacks are so common, in this day and age, that it’s never a question of whether or not your company will get hacked—it is a question of when. Hackers have been around for years, working their way through your security walls and passwords and gaining access to all kinds of delicate information, including names, social security numbers, finances, and more. 

Even those companies that have the best-of-the-best protection will likely experience at least one cyber-attack per year. Based on cyber-attack statistics, the year 2016 recorded an increased number of attacks when compared to 2015 and 2014, with some of the most active months of the year for attacks occurring in June, July, and August. 

It seems that hackers have gotten increasingly fluent in the language of sabotage, with their ambitions rising in the last year. Banks have experienced multi-million dollar heists, companies have been blackmailed with stolen information, and even the electoral process was disrupted with leaks of valuable information. 

Preparing for Cyber-Attacks 

If you’re worried about the protection of your company, and you want to learn more about what you can do to avoid or lessen the blow, the following information may be able to assist you. Consider all of this information carefully to increase your chances of avoiding hacker chaos in your company. 

Common Types Attacks 

The following are some of the most common attack methods used by hackers: 

Phishing Attacks 

Many hackers take the time to design emails and websites that look almost identical to the regular sites and pages we visit. While there will always be some small details that throw up a red flag, there are a lot of internet users who overlook these differences and can be caught in a hacker’s trap. 

These phishing attacks often come in the form of an e-mail from a business or company you often visit or purchase from, so it makes it more likely that you’ll trust the e-mail and open it. These attacks aim to gather personal information from you, either claiming that you’ve won something or there’s a problem with your account. While many anti-spam websites have worked hard to block these hackers, many people are still tricked into offering their information, which is quickly gathered and taken advantage of. 

To avoid this problem, it’s ideal to have account passwords that require more than one method of authentication, including a phone call or text to your personal phone. A simple login and password are much too easy to get through, so try to incorporate a second method for all of your accounts. This is true for all of your technology in the office—even securing your smart printers will be necessary to ensure there are no breaches. 

Malware

 

Malware is one of the most common forms of cyber-attacks, which tricks an end-user into running some kind of Trojan horse program from a website that they commonly visit and trust. Instead of the regular coding being sent to the user, malware is sent in its place wreaking havoc on your operating system.  

The hacked website will commonly send along a pop-up or message that lets the user know they can’t access their trusted website unless they download some sort of new file or program. They’ll likely be told to turn off any security features to let the file download and, once the download starts, it will begin to take its time running through your system and gathering personal information. 

To avoid this problem, it’s best to make sure that all employees in your company are well educated about this common problem and what they should look out for. Cyber security classes should be mandatory for all employees on a yearly basis, as hackers’ tactics are ever-evolving. All passwords should be changed regularly – monthly should suffice. Documents that are saved with confidential information should be password protected. 

Insufficient Patching 

Many companies know that their programs are being hacked or that their systems are unprotected, and yet many companies overlook the chance to “patch” these holes and, instead, allow them to remain exposed. 

According to a security and breaching report in 2016, 40% of businesses admitted to applying less than 80% of their patches successfully. While this kind of problem is easily one of the most common ways for hackers to exploit companies, there are still those businesses out there who aren’t patching completely like they should be. 

This problem can be fixed by ensuring that every program is patched perfectly or by, at least, making sure that the most exploited programs are fully patched. 

Website Security Tips 

Consider some of these tips to help improve your business’s online security: 

Stay Educated

Follow the news and keep yourself informed about possible hacker issues or problems to look out for. By staying in the know, you can keep yourself and your employees informed about what to watch for, what to avoid, and what to report. This is the simplest way to ensure that your company avoids cyber-attacks. 

Update Software

If your security programs are out of date, make sure that you are notified and that you update those programs as soon as possible. Putting this task on the back burner only exposes you to potential hacks, and cyber-attackers will likely find you much quicker than you think. Even if it costs extra for the upgrade, this is always a better investment than chancing exploitation.

Password Protect Files

Uploading files is one of the easiest ways for hackers to make their way into your websites. To avoid this, make sure that files are always password protected when they contain vulnerable information. This is extremely important when it comes to sending documents outside of the organization or are uploaded to an external server. 

Conclusion 

You’ve worked hard to build your company, so having someone you don’t even know hack and pull it apart with the click of a button is not something you want to experience. Consider all of the information provided to find out whether your company has the potential to be exposed, and what you can do to stop or avoid the destruction of a hacker. 

The best thing you can do for your business is to make security a top priority. Take care of updates, check for new potential issues, educate your employees, and invest in your protection. All of the extra work will be worth it, in the end, to protect your valuable information. 

 

 

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Suze Orman Says This Is the Age You Should Retire—Not a Month or Year Before

Suze Orman
Oct 22, 2017

One of the most popular segments on my CNBC show was "How Am I Doing?" Viewers would call in and tell me everything about their finances and wait for me to judge whether their retirement plan made the grade. Typically the central question was if they could retire in their early 60s.

Let's just say I gave out a lot more D's and F's than A's.

If I resurrected "How Am I Doing?" today, I'd be handing out plenty of failing grades to anyone who thinks they will be able to retire before they turn 171022 suze guide to retirement 270.Yes, you heard me right: 70 is the new retirement age—not a month or year before.

Don't "Oh, Suze" me just yet. Please hear me out.

Look, I totally get that if you are reading MONEY you're probably a diligent saver. But it's always dangerous to assume you're better off than you really are. You likely have plenty saved up to breeze through 15 years or so of retirement. But, people, if you stop working in your 60s, your retirement stash might need to support you for 30 years, not 15.I want to be very clear: I am not talking about a small outlier subset of people who stand to live an unusually long life. Healthy people in their 60s today have about a 50% chance of living into their 90s. Can you honestly tell me you're 100% sure you will not run out of money if you start spending down your retirement funds in your 60s and end up living into your 90s?

 

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Why good business branding is important

Whatever the product or service you offer, or even the market in which you operate, having a strong and consistent brand is essential. In fact, your brand goes a long way beyond just using a logo or graphics. When thinking about your brand, consider the entire ‘package’ or experience that you offer your customers: your company website, social channels, customer service and even your merchandise. Your brand is the way in which your customer perceives and interacts with your business. It’s important to remember that a good brand doesn’t just happen overnight, you will need to implement an in-depth branding strategy.

Recognition

Consider larger brands such as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s for a minute. What does their brand offer that your brand is lacking? These organizations have their branding on track; it is clear and consistent across the business, and their customers know exactly what they are going to experience every time they drink a coke or buy a burger. Using an effective brand strategy helps you stay focused on your business vision and mission. If your brand is strong and correctly positioned in line with business needs, it’s return on investment can be invaluable. Are you doing enough to get your brand recognized? If not, then now is the ideal time to make some serious changes.

Getting ahead of the competition

The world of business is a competitive one. New product launches, shifting trends and difficult consumers can all have an effect on your business revenue. However, if you want to ensure that you remain ahead of your competition – no matter where you operate – then consistent branding is essential. Check that your brand and logo, if you have one, is up to date and used consistently across your social media channels and corporate website, if you have one. If you are struggling with running effective campaigns and promotions, sites such as eventige.com can help you reposition your brand to be the best in the business. So even if you think your market position is fairly strong, there’s no reason to stop now – building an even stronger brand is sure to yield even better results.

Emotional attachment

If people live, love and enjoy your brand on a daily basis, then your branding is achieving its ultimate aim: generating an emotional attachment with your customers. Your brand should present your business or product on a much more personal level. So, if you are alienating your customers, rather than generating new leads, you need to take some time out to see how and why your brand is letting you down. If your brand isn’t engaging with you on an emotional level, then it certainly won’t be with your customer base.

Remember that good branding is built on a strong idea that separates your organization from its competitors, and it allows your customers to identify you in the marketplace. Your brand helps to deliver and achieve your business objectives, and has the power to turn consumers of your product or service into brand ambassadors.

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Expectations For Smartphone Technology in Near Future

It’s been quite a while since the smartphones, whether the android smartphones or Apple, have not been producing anything special. Looks like in the past few years the only thing changing in the new smartphones is the general look of a phone, and the companies produce a better camera with every successive phone.

So, how will the smartphone future technologies be subject to change or what should we be expecting out of them?

Well, considering the smartphone market in the world of today, it seems like perhaps the Samsung smartphoneamongst all android smartphones might be able to produce something new by the year 2018. Here are some expectations we have from the upcoming smartphones in the following year.

New ways of unlocking:

Keeping under consideration the Samsung Note 8, it unlocks through a finger scanner and an eye scanner at the same time. Although several customers have complained about the finger scanner being at a silly place or the eye scanner hardly working, we hope that in the upcoming Samsung android smartphones, these problems will be fixed and the accuracy of the phones will increase.
Facial scanning sounded almost impossible to us, until this September, when Apple announced that their upcoming iPhone X will be unlocked through facial recognition for higher privacy rate. We hope android phones will introduce this technology as well.

Better displays:

The Note 8 has a display unlike any other though, as it uses an OLED display which can be made thinner, brighter and lighter with a better color accuracy and better contrast than the previous display being used, the LED. The iPhone X also uses the OLED display, leaving the LED behind.
The phones that will be launched in the coming year will probably try to catch up as soon as they can, and will definitely get the OLED display as a distinct feature of their own as well!

Better Battery life:

Better battery life can be expected from the upcoming android smartphones of the year 2018. Have you heard? The iPhone X second edition to be released next September, will be the size of an iPhone 7, however, it is believed that it will have a battery life which will run for as long as 2 days on full charge!

Go completely wireless:

We’re expecting that we will be able to charge our phones wirelessly soon. Wireless charging technology is already available and in use, however we still need a charger (charging pod/dock) and phone needs to be "put to charging". Imagine that simply by walking into a room with such "power router" you would start charging your smartphone. Breaking and losing our wires, or having our plugs get fused is just tiring now. And while we’re at it, we also expect to see wireless ear pods in the smartphone future technologies.

Holograms:

It is hoped that the new phones will have holographic displays. You can have a 3-D display in front of you, so that you can experience and look at from all different positions physically. Holograms today sound like "Star Wars" technology, but they might be closer in future than we believe.

It is believed that perhaps the smartphones have now reached their peaks and new technologies can no longer be introduced. However, these small improvements and changings would introduce a new era to the smartphone technology.

 

Written by: Jeffrey Ulrich, CEO, Chinavasion Wholesale Ltd., tech and cool gadgets enthusiast, creator of the Chinese e-commerce shop in 2004, Shenzhen, China.
For more info visit: www.chinavasion.com 

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