The 8 Best Apps for Small Business in 2009

Posted by nlvari in small business, software December 11, 2009
The 10 Best Apps for Small Business in 2009
1. Google Apps – its fee to setup and can grow with you as your needs grow. If you need more features the annual fee is fairly reasonable. Email, web workspace, calendaring, and document collaboration all in one. It’s a great alternative to Microsoft Exchange but it doesn’t have all of the features of exchange. Also, if you’d like to integrate with some type of industry specific software package or a CRM, exchange is usually the better way to go if you have 5 or more employees.
2. Simpleology – The Simple Science of Getting What You Want. Talk about a catch phrase, who could argue with the value in that?? Does it work? I think so. Why don’t you try for yourself, after all, its free to setup an account, for now.
3. QuickBooks – Without a doubt it’s the top choice for small businesses when it comes to accounting. With flexibility enough for a solo-entrepreneur and a larger account department, it’s a good choice for small businesses. Not to mention there are quite a few line of business applications that integrate with QuickBooks. Also, if cash flow is something you are watching closely you may want to consider the online version. It’s usually best to consult with professional before you make your final decision. Changing it later can really cost you hundreds and maybe thousands. FreshBooks may be a suitable alternative and even gives you the ability to add on services to further streamline the process.
4. Microsoft Office 2007 – Still the staple for businesses of all sizes. Microsoft has again improved the way users interact with their software as well as the features that are important. They make it easier than ever to create professional looking documents. Just make sure you keep your product keys in a safe place! It would be a good idea to give a copy of them to your IT consultant for safe keeping. We keep a record of all of our clients’ licenses just in case they misplace them. Software costs money, why spend extra if you don’t have to with just a little extra care?
5. CRM – This is not an easy category to decide on. According to votes Act! and Microsoft Office Business Contact Manager got Top Votes. I think these are okay for very small operations. To me, speed is the ultimate competitive advantage these days. You need accurate information and you need it available to you right away. This is why I would opt for a solution like Salesforce.com or Maximizer CRM. Consult with a professional to find out which is best for you.
6. Microsoft Windows Vista Business/Ultimate – Yes, Apple makes a good product but there are still a lot of limitations for software compatibility. Macs are still best used at home, design, and creative. Microsoft is the leader in business computing by a long shot. If you’re not in the creative field and you are thinking about buying a mac for business it is highly recommended that you seek expert advice first. I can tell you of specific instances where not doing this cost folks their business.
7. AVG Anti-virus – Don’t want to buy licenses up front? We need to talk. Yes you can purchase licenses or, you can pay for them monthly and get them at less cost… Shh, don’t tell anyone I told you this.
8. Line of Business Software- Weather that is PSA, practice management, etc. your business needs an application to help you run your business. The more automated and integrated the software is the better for you. Look for ease of use, integration into existing business processes, easy of maintenance, and cost of support.
1. Google Apps – its fee to setup and can grow with you as your needs grow. If you need more features the annual fee is fairly reasonable. Email, web workspace, calendaring, and document collaboration all in one. It’s a great alternative to Microsoft Exchange but it doesn’t have all of the features of exchange. Also, if you’d like to integrate with some type of industry specific software package or a CRM, exchange is usually the better way to go if you have 5 or more employees.

2. Simpleology – The Simple Science of Getting What You Want. Talk about a catch phrase, who could argue with the value in that?? Does it work? I think so. Why don’t you try for yourself, after all, its free to setup an account, for now.

3. QuickBooks – Without a doubt it’s the top choice for small businesses when it comes to accounting. With flexibility enough for a solo-entrepreneur and a larger account department, it’s a good choice for small businesses. Not to mention there are quite a few line of business applications that integrate with QuickBooks. Also, if cash flow is something you are watching closely you may want to consider the online version. It’s usually best to consult with professional before you make your final decision. Changing it later can really cost you hundreds and maybe thousands. FreshBooks may be a suitable alternative and even gives you the ability to add on services to further streamline the process.

4. Microsoft Office 2007 – Still the staple for businesses of all sizes. Microsoft has again improved the way users interact with their software as well as the features that are important. They make it easier than ever to create professional looking documents. Just make sure you keep your product keys in a safe place! It would be a good idea to give a copy of them to your IT consultant for safe keeping. We keep a record of all of our clients’ licenses just in case they misplace them. Software costs money, why spend extra if you don’t have to with just a little extra care?

5. CRM – This is not an easy category to decide on. According to votes Act! and Microsoft Office Business Contact Manager got Top Votes. I think these are okay for very small operations. To me, speed is the ultimate competitive advantage these days. You need accurate information and you need it available to you right away. This is why I would opt for a solution like Salesforce.com or Maximizer CRM. Consult with a professional to find out which is best for you.

6. Microsoft Windows Vista Business/Ultimate – Yes, Apple makes a good product but there are still a lot of limitations for software compatibility. Macs are still best used at home, design, and creative. Microsoft is the leader in business computing by a long shot. If you’re not in the creative field and you are thinking about buying a mac for business it is highly recommended that you seek expert advice first. I can tell you of specific instances where not doing this cost folks their business.

7. AVG Anti-virus – Don’t want to buy licenses up front? We need to talk. Yes you can purchase licenses or, you can pay for them monthly and get them at less cost… Shh, don’t tell anyone I told you this.

8. Line of Business Software- Weather that is PSA, practice management, etc. your business needs an application to help you run your business. The more automated and integrated the software is the better for you. Look for ease of use, integration into existing business processes, easy of maintenance, and cost of support.

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How to “Sanatize” Your Documents

Posted by nlvari in Microsoft Office, computer security, email, how to, small business December 2, 2009

Are you inadvertently sharing information with your competitors, coworkers, or colleges that you may not knowingly wish to share?

An attorney client of mine forwarded me an article today from a legal publication about attorneys that inadvertently share “meta data” with the opposing party.

For example, if you use the markup and editing features of Microsoft Word frequently you need to pay close attention to this.

Let’s say you finished making revisions to a document and accepting changes that were made by one of your peers and now your ready to send the document. If you send the final copy in Word format you risk the chance of sharing “meta data” inadvertently. In other words, its possible that the person you are sharing with could see all of the markups, notes, and editing history.

This could be potentially dangerous, embarrassing and costly if done unintentionally. The best practice is to print the document to pdf and then distribute the pdf electronically. PDF readers are widely distributed and most pdf printers allow you to add a password to restrict what can or can’t be done with the document.

Now if your intention is collaboration, then you ought to review the “meta data” in the word document and be sure that it does not contain anything that you wish to keep confidential.

This mostly comes down to training your employees and keeping your companies policies up to date. This is especially critical for small businesses.

We live in the information age. Staying up to date on best practices and understanding how to take full advantage of the technology you have at your fingertips can be a competitive advantage. Not keeping up to date can be costly.

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Syncronize, Backup and Remote Access to Important Files with Dropbox

Posted by nlvari in Backup and Disaster Recovery, how to, small business November 29, 2009

What a great concept! If you have not looked at Dropbox check it out now… If not for work than at least for home use.

https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTMyMjI5Nzk5

Here are some uses for dropbox:

1. Backup your important data

2. Access to your files from anywhere

3. Syncronize your files accross multiple devices

4. Syncronize your files accross multiple platforms

5. Auotmatic copies of older versions of your file

6. Syncronize important files with your iPhone

7. Undelete files and folders

8. Access your important files from other smart phones as well

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Windows 7: When is the Right Time for a Small Business to Upgrade?

Posted by nlvari in small business, windows 7 November 2, 2009

The short answer for this is to wait until the first service pack comes out before you buy an upgrade or purchase new PC’s with windows 7.

The more detail answer is it depends on your business needs and goals. Every business is different and so there is no one size fits all answer. The best thing you can do is find a trusted business and technology advisor to help guide the decision making process. After all, most businesses rely heavily on computers and technology for their existence these days.

That being said, here are some things to consider:

1. Do your current business applications run seamlessly in the Windows 7 environment?

2. Are you running a windows server in your office? If so, which version?

3. Is it compatible with hardware, software, and printers that you currently have or are planning on ?

4. Are you planning an upgrade, a fresh install or an entire new system?

5. If your like most businesses you are probably running Windows XP still. How will this affect your plan of moving to Windows 7?

6. Are you currently meeting your other critical business needs such as business continuity, disaster recovery, data backup, application development and business process optimization? If not, then you may want to consider investing in these areas before/in conjunction with rolling out a new operating system unless it helps support your end goal.

7. If your office is buying new computers and your still running Windows XP on most machines then you may want to consider buying new PC’s with XP loaded now and plan a rollout Windows 7 as part of a hardware refresh plan.

Nathan Vari is a professional computer consulting for small businesses in Charlotte, NC. He specializes in helping small businesses get the most bang for their buck with the technology they currently have and plan to invest in. Find more by visiting his main site at http://www.charlottecomputerconsultant.com or http://www.ccnsteam.com

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Is your business wasting money?

Posted by nlvari in small business June 5, 2009

I recently was able to help a client save $4200 a year on their phone and internet service.

Talk about making an impact. If your a small business owner sometimes you accumulate expenses you don’t realize you have. It really helps to have an outside expert come in and evaluate your business.
When you are so close to the daily grind it just becomes a part of what you do and you end up overlooking stuff.
On the same note. It really helps to have an expert come in and evaluate your business and how you might be able to make effeciency improvements.

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How much does spam cost you? Google will calculate

Posted by nlvari in computer security, email, small business, spam March 22, 2009

The following is a great story I found about the true cost of spam:
By Robert McMillan , IDG News Service , 11/19/2008

How much is spam costing your company? Google unveiled a nifty little calculator Wednesday to help you add it up.

It’s part of a marketing campaign for Google Message Security, the online spam-filtering service based on the Postini technology Google acquired last year. “We know in these tougher economic times that companies are trying to figure out how they can save,” said Adam Dawes, a Google product manager.

To figure out the cost of spam, you enter things like the number of workers at your company, how much you pay them and how much spam they have to deal with, and presto: Google figures out how many days (and dollars) in lost productivity this represents. Of course it also tells you how long it would take for Google’s service to pay for itself at your shop.

For companies doing their spam-fighting in-house, there’s also a “Total Cost of Ownership” calculator to show how inexpensive Google thinks its service really is.

Last year, Nucleus Research reported that spam costs U.S. companies US$712 per employee each year. A $31,000-per-year employee spending 16 seconds each on 21 spam messages per day would cost about this much, according to Google’s calculator. That adds up to about $70 billion per year in lost productivity, Nucleus said.

While Google may be helping people figure out how much spam costs, the company could do a thing or two to lower spam itself, said Richard Cox, chief information officer with the Spamhaus antispam group.

He would like to see Google do more to block spammers from using Gmail service and to start including the Internet Protocol addresses of Gmail senders in its message headers. “If you could see how many anonymous Gmail drop boxes are being used as the registration addresses for domains that are being used in spam, you’d understand just how much this is costing the community,” he said of Gmail spam.
The IDG News Service is a Network World affiliate.

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How often should I upgrade my server?

Posted by nlvari in how to, servers, small business January 9, 2009

Q: As a small business owner, how often should I upgrade my server?

A: Great question. It really depends on your business goals. As a rule of thumb I tell clients to plan on changing out thier computers every three years. That includes servers.

Server requirements change fairly rapidly. To keep up in a changing marketplace and improve the productivity of your employees it is important to invest in technology. Just think. If you have 30 employee’s and your new server add’s an extra 30 minutes of productive time. That is an extra 15 hours a day… Almost like having two additional employees at a cost that is far less than hiring someone.

For more information on how we can help you with your server upgrades visit our main site at http://www.ccnsteam.com

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