Archive for March, 2012

March 3rd, 2012  Posted at   Small Business

Outsourcing is one of the fastest growing trends in the small business world today, and for good reason. By outsourcing parts of their operations, small businesses almost always save money and often end up with higher quality service than they’d be able to afford otherwise. When one considers overhead and training associated with internal hiring, the amount of expertise that can be had for a given budget is much greater with an outsourced partner than a full time employee or team of employees. This is especially true in the field of IT, where quality technicians are paid high wages and it’s nearly impossible for an individual to be an expert in everything.

The only downside to the outsourcing model occurs if a business enters into a lengthy contract with a provider that isn’t a good fit. Unfortunately, as technology continues to become more essential to everyday business practice, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for small business owners to know what to expect from an IT provider and which of each provider’s merits are reliable indicators of outstanding service.

Here are some surefire qualities of a good small business IT provider:

  • Flexibility – Above all else, in order to properly serve the small business community, an outsourcing company needs to be flexible. Choose a provider that’s willing to customize a service plan for you, both in terms of pricing and level of service. If you only have a handful of computer users at your company, it may make the most sense to pay your provider at an hourly rate on an as-needed basis. On the other hand, if you’re supporting a dozen or more users and have more frequent needs, it can be much more cost-effective to operate on an unlimited-service basis at a flat monthly fee. Even with an unlimited service plan, however, you should never have to pay for service you don’t need. For example, if your backup service is managed by a third party company and you don’t need your IT provider to touch it, have them deduct that service from their price. One-size-fits-all does not equate to cost-effectiveness in the small business marketplace, and a good provider will be willing to work with you to find the best plan for your specific situation.
  • Responsiveness – One of the biggest advantages of having a team of IT guys on your side instead of just one or two is the ability for them to respond to issues quickly. That doesn’t mean you should expect your IT provider to get to everything instantly, but you should be able to expect them to clearly lay out their standards for responsiveness and meet those standards consistently. The bottom line is this: every minute a technology issue prevents you or one of your employees from working is a minute that your business is losing money. When you’re shopping for an IT provider, you need to be able to trust that your provider can be responsive to the degree that your company requires – no matter what. (more…)
March 2nd, 2012  Posted at   Business Cards

Presenting yourself in a professional manner at work is a skill everyone has to adopt in order to succeed. Different industries will require specific behaviors and norms but looking the part is essential to advancing in your career. One way people present their services in business is through business cards. Whether calling on a client, introducing yourself to a vendor or offering a prospect a way to contact you, business cards are an extension of your business and when it comes to design should match your industry. When you offer a card that matches the specific industry you work in, be it finance, healthcare or automotive repair, it’s that much easier for the recipient to associate you with a the specific service you offer.

No matter how intricate or plain you plan on making your card make sure it fits the industry you are in. Having wild and colorful animals on the front of your card is great of you work in a zoo but not exactly appropriate for an investment banker or lawyer. People like to express themselves and their uniqueness but when it comes to business its best to stick to the fundamentals. There are many ways to design a business card and once you have found the right image and graphics that suit your industry it will be much easier to create a card that best represents your services.

People in business are often inundated with business cards. No matter what are you work in chances are you have to deal with clients, vendors, salesmen and representatives and this can add up to a lot of contact information. In order to stand out from this crowd it’s important that your card is remembered and one way to achieve this is by matching your card design with the industry you work in. Having images of heavy machinery and cranes on a construction business card or cameras and film for a photographer are a great way to reinforce the products and services you offer in a professional way. Someone skimming through a stack of plain white cards may take pause when seeing a four-color card that includes an image of the exact thing they are looking for. (more…)

March 2nd, 2012  Posted at   Business Cards

If you are still carrying around a physical business card, you need to do a rethink. Most of us exchange business cards when we meet other professionals and carefully store them in our wallet. But, there are many times when such cards get misplaced, torn or just lost. Also, your contact’s details could become obsolete in the long run. These problems can be taken care of by creating a virtual business card.

A virtual business card is smart, slick, handy and very useful.

These are Five Benefits of a Virtual Business Card

  • Paperless: You don’t need to carry anything physically. Just your mobile phone or laptop is enough to transfer the card to another person’s phone or email id. You are also doing your bit in saving our already stressed-out environment by cutting your usage of paper. You also carry a lighter wallet.
  • Self-updating: These cards stay updated, as you can make changes to any details of the virtual card, and these changes are directly made to the virtual database thus preserving them. Thus, each card stays updated, and you do not lose any important detail of the contact.
  • Shareable: Share your virtual business card via email, put it on your Facebook profile, or display it on your website or blog. There are multiple ways in which a virtual card can help share your contact details including by adding them as signatures in email clients.
  • Versatile: You can change the template, the colors, the fonts, modify the logo and do so many innovative things with your virtual card. A physical card is boring and mundane and once you have a few of the printed ones with you, you are stuck with them. There is no way to modify them even if some detail of yours has changed. You really have to wait for the next batch to make the change.
  • Create a virtual Rolodex: By adding more contacts that use the same virtual business card format, you can create your very own online virtual Rolodex! Now keep all your contacts handy at the flick of a key. You don’t lose any contacts. And, your contacts never become outdated. (more…)