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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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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5 Tips on Tightening Your Office Security

Office security and safety is a very important component of running a business. Not only do you want to ensure that you are safe, but you always want to be sure that your employees and valuable information are safe as well. Employees who feel safe in their place of work are generally better workers, and longer-lasting employees as well. For the benefit of the entire business, investing in security in all departments is vital. 

There are a number of practices you can implement within your company that can help to decrease the likelihood of security breaches. If you’re looking to increase the level of security in your building, consider the following tips on tightening your office security. 

1. Create a Plan 

Just like any other disaster or event, there needs to be a plan in place in case of a security breach within your company. This plan should be written out in your policies and procedures manual once it has been passed by your legal counsel. 

This plan should cover all sides of a security breach, including what employees should do, where they should go, how to react, etc. Make sure the plan is closely detailed concerning the actual layout of your offices so that employees are fully aware of where to go and what to expect. 

Once you’ve got a plan in place, go over the plan with each employee individually. This is especially important if you have a lot of turnaround with employees. Everyone should know the drill and be comfortable practicing it a few times a year. 

2. Have a Sign-In System 

If there are a lot of people coming in and out of your offices, your chances of a breach may increase if you’re not careful. This is especially true if your employees are hosting meetings with outside individuals and companies who will need access to your facilities.

To tighten the security of your office, implement a sign-in system that tracks who is coming and going and when. People who work for you full-time should have badges for easy entry, while those who aren’t full-time workers should require a name and proof of meeting to be allowed access into the building. 

A bright, visible badge or keychain should be worn by visitors at all times to ensure that your employees recognize them as an outside worker. This will make it easier for you to track who came onto the premises and who they were in contact with while inside. 

3. Install Security Systems 

 

This is one of the best ways to combat security breaches in your office, and it’s likely to deter many people from considering breaking and entering. While these kinds of systems may cost a pretty penny in the beginning, the investment is worth it. Consider researching some of the best security systems for offices and speak with a professional about the kinds of designs that would work for your office. 

Not only is having security a great way of keeping unwanted visitors out, but it also has the added bonus of keeping an eye on employees inside. Indoor security can help you keep an eye out for valuable items like quality office equipment and tools, and it can also help you get to the bottom of any problems that occur between co-workers. 

While you’re looking at installing security on the inside of your office, be sure to take care of the outside of your building as well. Stairways, doors, alleyways, and parking lots surrounding your building should be protected, and employees should know that they’re safe should they ever work late hours or experience a car break-in. Investing in outdoor security and adequate lighting will help to increase the safety of your workers. 

4. Implement Online Security 

Once you’ve covered safety procedures in your office space, you’ll want to consider your online property as well. There were some unprecedented online breaches in 2016, including hacks to large companies, including Target, Verizon, LinkedIn, Wendy’s, Snapchat, and Yahoo. 

To protect valuable information and accounts within your company, being diligent and investing in protection is a must. Investing in an online security system is one of the first things you should do to keep valuable information safe, and it is important to keep these systems updated to ensure they can perform at their best. 

It will also be important to keep employees up to date on the current scams to watch out for and to keep them educated about what to look for and avoid when they’re working online. Phishing emails are becoming more common, and hackers are quickly perfecting other company’s branding and voice – making it easy to fall for their tricks. The best way to avoid mistakes and phishing scams is to regularly educate your employees on security, update all passwords on at least a monthly basis, and always try to improve existing security.   

If you ever do experience any security breaches, take the time to make sure you get all of the necessary patching and recovery taken care of. Patching will ensure that there are no points of access into your database, so it’s important to take care of these issues right away. Hackers do not need a lot of time to find holes in open programs, so, the higher this is on your priority list, the better. 

5. Secure Physical Information

While online documents and e-mails are the chosen route for communication and information, these days, you’ll still want to ensure that physical copies of information are properly secured. To keep track of your important documents, make sure that you have a secure safe for things like passwords, checks, printed documents, and other vital information. 

Lock away any paperwork that needs to be shredded, until it can be properly disposed of, and be sure to store away and lock printers and computers that are not being used. Employees should never be able to take home office equipment, and all general passwords should be changed on a regular basis. 

Conclusion 

When it comes to the security of everyone and everything in your company, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Investing in the security of your company can prove invaluable on the off chance that someone decides to try to steal your information or bring harm to anyone in your building. 

Consider the tips suggested above to ensure that your office is a safe and secure place for everyone and everything within it. 

 

 

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Why Entrepreneurs Need To Embrace A Spirit Of Continual Reinvention

Chris Myers, CONTRIBUTOR

I write about my journey as a first-time CEO and startup founder

Entrepreneurship, and life in general for that matter, is a never-ending cycle of creation and destruction. Ideas, beliefs, and behaviors ebb and markus spiske 104913flow evolving to influence our lives in different and often unexpected ways.

Central to this truth is the concept of reinvention. I think that many times, entrepreneurs feel like the act of personal reinvention is tantamount to admitting failure. They’re not wrong.

Failure is an integral part of my life, both personally and professionally. To claim otherwise would be disingenuous. However, I’ve found that failure, while often painful, provides the catalyst for change.

My overarching goal is to acknowledge my mistakes, failures, and shortcomings while working towards becoming a better person and leader.

As Hemingway once said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.”

However, this radical commitment to self-improvement often easier said than done. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along my journey.

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Office Depot Takes First Step in Strategic Transformation to Become Business Services Platform with Acquisition of CompuCom

Adding Market-Leading Provider of World-Class IT Services with Approximately $1.1 Billion in Sales to Create a Powerful Omnichannel Tech Services Platform

Combines CompuCom’s Broad Set of Managed Technology Services with Access to Office Depot’s Extensive Customer Base and Last-Mile Advantage to Generate Substantial Growth Opportunities

Expects Over $40 Million in Estimated Annual Cost Synergies within Two Years; Acquisition to be Accretive in Year One

Attractive Free Cash Flow and Significant Financial Flexibility to Implement Office Depot’s New Strategy to Grow Recurring Business Services Revenue

Office Max

Corporate/Financial News, Products and Services News
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 4:35 pm EDT
BOCA RATON, Fla.

NASDAQ:
ODP
US6762201068

BOCA RATON, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Office Depot, Inc. ("Office Depot” or the “company”) (NASDAQ:ODP) today announced it is pivoting the company from a traditional office products retailer to a broader business services and technology products platform. As the first step in this new strategic direction, the company has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire CompuCom Systems, Inc. (“CompuCom”), a market-leading provider of award-winning IT services, products and solutions that enable the digital workplace for enterprise, small and midsize businesses. The company also provided a preliminary estimate of third-quarter financial results and a lowered outlook for Office Depot’s stand-alone business for 2017.

“Technology is the office supply of the future,” said Gerry Smith, chief executive officer of Office Depot. “Today marks a significant milestone as we move to provide a unique business services platform for our current and future customers. Acquiring CompuCom is the first step in this new strategic direction. The combination of CompuCom’s enterprise IT services with our millions of customers and approximately 1,400 distribution points gives us the credibility and scale to build a sustainable platform and stand apart from the competition. The company will create value for shareholders from a diversified revenue base with a clear opportunity to grow higher value services and business-to-business revenues.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Office Depot will acquire CompuCom from Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. ("THL"), a premier private equity firm, for a total consideration of approximately $1 billion, which includes the repayment of CompuCom debt and issuance of new Office Depot shares. Following the transaction, THL will hold an equity position in Office Depot of approximately 8% of total shares outstanding.

Founded in 1987, CompuCom provides highly-rated managed IT services to businesses with over 5.1 million unique end users. CompuCom’s team of approximately 6,000 licensed technicians is the largest employee field technician workforce in North America, providing remote and onsite technology support. CompuCom procures, installs and manages the lifecycle of hardware and software for businesses, and offers IT support services including remote help desk, data centers and on-site IT professionals. CompuCom was positioned in the Leaders quadrant of Gartner's® most recently released Magic Quadrant® for Managed Workplace Services, North America. CompuCom has established long-term relationships with hundreds of blue chip customers, including six of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies, and many small- and medium-sized businesses, including local franchises of national brands.

Compelling Market Opportunity

The combination represents a unique opportunity to bring world-class IT support services to all of Office Depot’s customers, particularly underserved small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

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