Reduce Paper for Efficiency

It’s easy for busy offices to overflow with paperwork. Access to endless digital file
storage applications, showcases how useless paperwork is today. Paperwork
dramatically decreases your businesses productivity, and creates extra costs. Here,
highlighted are some steps you could take to reduce your paper usage.

LESS PAPER = BETTER BUSINESS

We often forget to acknowledge that paper is all around us. Businesses put a lot of
money and effort into organising and actively moving paperwork around. Two decades
ago analysts had forecasted that offices would be completely paperless by now,
however every year there’s more paper being generated.

Paper isn’t necessary and could be completely removed from within most business
sectors. Digital files and documents are more efficient, simpler, manageable and can be
stored without taking up any physical space.

It is a challenge for businesses to become completely paperless. This guide will
introduce tools that could help you reduce your paper usage and also incorporate digital
documents.

WHY IS PAPER STILL BEING USED?

Before leaping into the positives of a paperless business, it’s important to note why
paper is still being used heavily. Here are some factors of why paper is still being used:

  • Government regulations
    Government organisations often suggest that you hold onto paper files, and there isn’t much you can do about that. However, Government departments are changing with the digital times and have begun accepting electronic documents.
  • Legalities
    Signed paperwork is often used for loan applications, or selling a business. Lawyers are also making the shift to paperless offices and this practise has become less common.
  • The convenient hardcopy
    Paper documents have been stored for centuries and are accessible today. Whereas, almost every 20 year old electronic document can’t be accessed anymore. Paper for permanence can seem like a better option. Electronic storage systems have improved, and are still being upgraded. PDFs and JPEGs can now outlive their own creators or businesses.
  • Haptic Perception
    People often choose paper over digital storage due to the physical feel of paper. Data stored on computers or cloud can at times feel unreal. Though with generations growing more accustomed to computers, paper becomes less relevant.
  • Cost
    Paper is easy to share amongst employees and cheap. However, it’s the printers, toners, servicing, maintenance, cabling, connectivity, user support and all other miscellaneous costs that make paper usage expensive. Not to mention the cost of storing files.

POSITIVES OF A PAPERLESS OFFICE

A paperless office is easier than most think. Here are some benefits of operating as a
paperless business:

  • Less jumble
    Paperwork can easily become a mess, which can decrease your office productivity. Organising electronic documents is effortless and overall makes your office tidier – helping your head stay clearer to focus on work.
  • Accessibility
    Digital files can be retrieved faster, managed and stored; compared to physically doing the same with paper.
  • Disaster recovery
    An entire business’ documents can be kept on one laptop versus a storage room filled with endless shelves with paperwork. If a disaster occurred, a fire or flooding, repossessing digital documents would only take a push of a button.
  • Cost efficiency
    Going paperless will mean saving on printing, postage and miscellaneous expenses in receiving the paper. Rent could also become cheaper after clearing out that one room used for document storage.
  • Moving forward
    As your business grows, so might your staff and you might require bigger space. A paperless business would make it simpler to move locations, rather than dragging heavy filing cabinets along with you.
  • Environmentally friendly
    To put it quite simply, printing less means a decreased demand for logging, transportation of paper and less power used to create paper.
  • Speedy communication
    Posting letters takes a minimum of 3 days to arrive at an intended destination. Whereas emailing takes no time at all. A paperless office would help your business reach productivity much faster.

10 WAYS TO ACHIEVE A PAPERLESS OFFICE

It’s not realistic to go completely paperless overnight, you should consider planning the steps you’ll need to take in order to function without paper. Here are some steps that could help.

  1. What’s your printer mostly used for?
    Create a system to audit what’s currently being printing, and who is in need of the printer. By taking note of your printing jobs, you’ll be able to plan ahead of what will need adjusting or replacing with a new paperless system.
  2. How much will you save?
    Utilise an accounting software that will calculate your internal and external printing expenses. In this calculation include printers, ink, paper, services, storage and technical support. Then calculate how much would be saved if for example, you began sending out electronic newsletters, rather than printed ones.
  3. Make the move to online platforms
    Cloud­based applications will help you share data to your clients and suppliers, without having to use different file formats. Find out whether the companies you mainly interact with are happy to use cloud too. Examples of some easy cloud­ based applications:

Google Docs (collaborative documents)
Dropbox or Box (sharing files)
Basecamp (project management)
Evernote (digital notes)
PayPal (funds transfer)

The more you use cloud applications, for payroll and accounts, the less time and money you’ll have to invest in technical support and file formatting concerns.

  1. Train staff
    Ensure that your staff understanding the paperless changes you’re going to go ahead with. Making sure that your staff know how to use electronic applications such as documents and invoices is vital.
  2. Bring your staff aboard
    Introduce a printing allowance for your staff and offer rewards for printing less.
  3. Scan, scan, scan
    If you receive hard copy documents from others, just scan them. Scanners are wonderful, as they are cheap and can be stored as a PDF. If there’s too much to scan you can always rely on scanning companies to do the work for you.
  4. Digital signatures
    Signing documents electronically has become a reality. Most countries have made digital signatures legal and binding.
  5. Online banking
    Always ask for paperless banking statements and documents. It’s now possible to set up notifications to remind you when bills or other important invoices are due. It’s also very accessible to pay bills and suppliers online.
  6. Re­shuffle your office
    By cutting down on paper storage, you’ll soon realise the extra space you have. It’s your opportunity to improve the office. Look into investing in larger monitors or dual monitor setups for your staff to better view documents.
  7. Update old technology
    Various organisations still use fax machines to send or receive documents. There are options to fax electronically. Less paperwork and expenses.

THE TRANSITION

After the decision has been made, to dramatically reduce paper usage it’s up to you to
set a timeline for the transition.

There is the option of going ‘cold turkey’ – by going completely without paperwork. However, you would need to act fast and move everything to cloud, reduce office printing dramatically and store all of your documents electronically.

Though, that would be taxing on you and your staff whilst you’re trying to also run a business. Strategically it would be better to start the paperless process at a department at a time. You’ll also be able to see what works and doesn’t after your first try, and then improve your approach with the other departments.

USEFUL TOOLS

Going paperless in the office will all depend on how experienced you are with technology. If you’re not so comfortable with electronics, here are some ways to make it less stressful:

  • Secure your documents
    Encrypt all your documents to ensure the safety of your business.
  • Schedule backups
    Digital files are easy to save but also very easy to delete. Make sure you regularly backup your files online. Services such as blackblaze.com or carbonite.com can help you with storage. There are offline options also, such as USB memory sticks, external hard drives, CDs and even DVDs.
  • Create indexes
    It’s easy for electronic documents to linger in various locations so make sure you index them. It will make it easier for you to find, and search for them when needed. For searchable scanned documents use OCR (optical character recognition) software. Scanning service companies can arrange this for you.
  • Don’t be over ambitious
    Always remember that going paperless is only a goal and a tough one. There are various industries such as real estate that heavily rely on paperwork. So be realistic with the industry you’re in and how much you can achieve.
  • Go easy
    Try as much as you can to go paperless, but take small achievable steps. If you need to print a document, make sure you use both sides of the paper to reduce the amount of sheets you use. If you’re printing a PowerPoint document, squeeze as many readable slides onto a page. Going paperless is about becoming more conscious of unnecessary paper usage or storage.

PAPER IS HISTORY

We have never been closer to having all the utensils to become a paperless society. We have technology such as cloud­ based applications to thank for the progress. There are numerous positive examples of how a paperless office can offer you and your staff more freedom. From saving money, to flexibility of moving your business to various locations and still being able to function.

A paperless office eliminates any physical aspects of organising documents. Also, allowing you to have more office space and store all your business documents securely in one place (using cloud), and takes no time at all.

Say goodbye to cluttered paperwork and hello to organised digital documents!

Cloud computing for the office

Are you puzzled by cloud computing? You’re not the only one. ‘The cloud’ is often spoken of without an overall understanding of what it means. This guide will give you all the important facts about cloud computing and highlight the advantages for small businesses.

WHAT IS ‘THE CLOUD’?

The cloud is a space where you can store all your data, files and software – all of which can be accessed from multiple devices, whether it’s your computer or a handheld device. In comparison to traditional ways of doing business, the cloud always comes out on top.

  • Traditional banking vs. internet banking
    Only a decade ago, the only place you could view your financial data was if you were physically at the bank. Today, with internet banking you don’t have to walk a metre to access your financial data. It’s all accessible anywhere, anytime and on any device.
  • Traditional mail vs. web mail
    Originally, written communication was predominantly done at the post office. Web mail has made communication available anywhere and anytime, when you’re online, and from any device.
  • Traditional filing vs. cloud storage
    Files used to only be accessible at the office. Cloud storage allows you to access all your files, conveniently from your home, on the bus or even at a park. Allowing you to take your work elsewhere.
  • Traditional shopping vs. online shopping
    As 9 to 5 remains the main working hours and business hours, customers are limited to free time to view and potentially buy your products. Online shopping has freed up that time frame. Customers are able to shop anytime, anywhere and again on any device.
  • Traditional accounting software vs. cloud accounting software
    Traditional desktop software used to limit you to store your data on one device – either on your computer or laptop. Cloud software has opened up possibilities to store your data online, and make it completely accessible to whoever needs access, and anywhere where there is internet connection. Enhanced cloud software also allows limitless amounts of people to use the data, at the same time.

TRUE OR FALSE

The cloud can be difficult to use and at times confusing. Here are the facts you need to know in order to move your small business to the cloud.

  • Does cloud computing need the internet?
    The internet is needed in order to connect your devices to the cloud. Though your data remains stored within the cloud.
  • Is it possible to lose data in the cloud?
    Data stored within the cloud is more secure than it lurking on your computer. Computers can be stolen or easily infected by a virus. Cloud organisations spend billions on protective systems for your data.
  • Is the cloud an Apple product?
    Most are familiar with Apple’s product iCloud which operates using cloud technology, however many other organisations have created their very own cloud product – Google, Dropbox and Xero all provide cloud products.
  • What happens when there’s no internet?
    Internet has never been more accessible. Almost all businesses, households and public places have access to the internet. Internet has become as important as electricity. If the internet does crash, your data is instantly saved, and safe in the cloud.
  • Is Cloud computing a fad?
    Cloud computing has been operating for years and only grows stronger, and more popular by the minute. Internet banking has been around for 15 years. It’s never been faster or as cheap to run.
  • Is cloud computing expensive?
    In comparison to your usage, cloud computing is quite cheap. You save on endless software upgrades, system maintenance, support fees, hardware and backup systems.
  • Is it easy to lose control of data?
    It’s never been easier to organise your data. It’s easily accessible, shareable and connected to your information – anywhere and anytime, on any device. You also have the capability of controlling who has access, and when.
  • Is cloud designed only for tech people?
    Incorrect! The cloud has never been more user friendly. It simply requires a quick log in and wallah! The cloud is installation free and with no upgrades needed.

TAKE THE FIRST STEP TO CLOUD COMPUTING

To emphasise again, cloud computing allows you to access your data anytime, anywhere, and on any device. The cloud has eliminated the separation between your home computer and office computer – information is available anytime.

When you’re on the move, whether it’s going to a meeting or interstate, you’re able to access your business bank account. You’re able to buy office supplies whilst you’re traveling to work on the train. It’s never been easier to be organised.

The cloud has opened up sharing possibilities. Your applications and files no longer need to sit on one computer. You’ll be able to stress less about backups, theft, data loss, support and upgrades. It’s all been left to dedicated technical teams.

The cloud has taken the pressure out of understanding computing. Opening up various device usage, such as computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices. You no longer need to run into the office for data, it’s all there and secure. Log in, and do business anywhere and anytime.

Optimise Your Reception Area Checklist

Unless your business operates online only, run by a single person or happen to be a top secret government office, you’re going to have visitors. Whether they’re customers, clients, investors, job candidates, suppliers, salespeople or a representative from HM Revenue Customs, they will have to walk through your work space.

The first thing guests will see, will be your reception area. Your space could have a palatial atrium, simple hallway, or a red carpet; whatever it may be, visitors will always have first impressions of your business; based on what they first encountered.

In terms of ‘visitor management systems’, it is essential to fashion a great first impression from visitors.

RECEPTION CHECKLIST

DESIGN

The interior design (furniture, layout, colours) should always coincide with your business’s ethics – focus on creating harmony. For example, if your business is based around traditional values, then your reception area shouldn’t resemble the interior of a museum or a playground.

SEATING

Unless your business can assure visitors that there will be no waiting, then it’s probably a wise choice to find a place for them to sit comfortably – it shows that you’re thoughtful. Providing books, magazines or tools for entertainment would also enhance visitor’s impression of the office. Remember tacky magazines resemble doctor’s waiting rooms, so think of new and creative ways to entertain. Also, importantly remember to provide enough seats for your visitors.

WAY FINDING & SIGNS

A clearly written and visible sign post of your business’s name couldn’t be more necessary. Visitors will need to know whether they are at the right place or not. There is nothing worse than the feeling that you aren’t. Always make sure your guests know the layout of your space – where the toilets, offices, board rooms are. From a safety aspect have signs in place for fire evacuation procedures, with exits clearly marked. If by any chance your office will need to evacuate, your visitor will know exactly what to do.

ACCESSIBILITY

Don’t forget to consider “easy access” in the layout of the office. You have a legal responsibly to welcome everyone into your space and by creating an “easy access” you’re allowing individuals with disabilities to enter also. Always keep in mind visitors in wheelchairs, it’s usually these disadvantaged individuals that can’t access most buildings.

WI­FI

Wi­Fi is essential, everyone is ‘connected’, almost all of the time. Providing visitors with a password for the Wi­Fi could be a wonderfully thoughtful tool to keep them entertained – giving them the opportunity to flick through emails. HEALTH &

SAFETY

It’s always a great idea to think of ways to check visitor in. Health & Safety regulations require you to keep a log of the visitors coming through that day – in case of a fire. The log will give you the ability to know who has come into the building. You could collect information through a visitors book or maybe even through a visitor management system. If you choose to use a visitors book, remember to figure out a system to protect the visitor’s information.

CLEANLINESS

Regardless if the space is old or new, it should always remain clean and the fresh. No One wants to walk in, and sit in a grimy place. It’s important to keep the floor swept or vacuumed, the surfaces dust free and rubbish emptied regularly.

HUMAN TOUCH

If your reception area is staffed, then it’s worthwhile letting your receptionist know what sort of greeting various visitors will require – “enthusiastic yet professional” is a great one to go by. To conclude, however you decide to personalise your reception area, it’s always important to remember that it must be welcoming, secure, professional and practical.

Top 10 Ways to get (small) business done!

There have been many trending tools for small businesses in 2015. We’ve put together a list of the top ten. This year technology platforms have transitioned to Cloud and Mobile Computing. Both platforms are essential and powerful, remaining as lasting drivers of change. The growing rate of small businesses operating on Cloud and Mobile Computing are changing ways which business is being done.

1. Cloud Automation is a tool which simplifies established applications often used by small businesses – accounting, payroll, inventory management, HR and benefits administrations. Companies such as Zenefits (HR administration), Intuit (QuickBooks Online), Nible (CRM) are active users of cloud tools – breaking down complex processes. By sparing time and money companies are able to re-direct their energy towards creativity, engineering and operational functions.

2. Ambient Proximity is more than just a great buzzword it allows smartphones to interact effortlessly and automatically with its surroundings – made possible by connecting to “Beacons”. Bluetooth is used as a tool to converse messages between computers in close range – information traveling back and forth. Apple and many other major retailers utilise Beacons for operational use – customer service notifications, special promotions and marketing.

3. 3D Printing could be noted as the most intriguing technology to have come forth in the past few years. 3D printing has come a long way since creation – better-quality hardware, affordable, enhanced materials and performance. 3D printing has become a successor as a prototyping tool and assisting small businesses.

4. Security and Privacy protection of data and information has never been more of a goal for consumers and businesses. High profile internet security violations at Target and Sony have drawn business’s attention to avoiding being targeted by cybercrime – small businesses are usually targets of automated online bots. 2015 is a year to focus on security and privacy.

2015 Economic Trends

The economic slowdown globally in 2015 has remained concrete, though in the U.S the GDP has slightly grown – increasing by 2.75% to a 3% range.

5. Energy industry is a vital part of the U.S’s economy. The price of oil has dropped from over $100 in July per barrel to about $57 now. The drop will be noticeable within their economy. There are positives, with lower energy bills. However, there are negatives also, as oil prices decline. The energy industry has been the U.S’s primary source for economic growth, causing direct and indirect opportunities for small businesses. Firms will suffer the consequences, as the energy sector draws cutbacks due to lower prices. Even though oil prices are positive, small businesses will need to re-assess their energy stability due to the lower prices.

6. Crowdfunding Moves Towards the Mainstream and a great to tool for small businesses to finance their organisation. Crowdfunding platforms give firms the ability to speedily raise funds to go towards the success of their business. This year growth has been continual with the expansion of equity crowdfunding. With legal support, crowdfunding campaigns are bound to cultivate further and will soon become a common tool for small businesses.

7. The Shift from Jobs to Gigs has stirred up the norms of traditional jobs. Individuals have now taken up creating portfolios of their diverse skills and professions to either work independently, part-time, freelance, or a mixture of them all. These gigs don’t necessary have a set career paths – usually motivated by earning income passionately, differently, and/ or interestingly.

8. Corporate HR Departments Wake Up about the Contingent Workforce, as interpretations of the independent workforce (freelancers, contractors, independent consultants) has shifted – now as a strategic resource for HR departments, to save money. Businesses small and big have begun taking on independent workers in order to gain flexibility and consuming time when hiring new staff for the workplace. The increase of independent workers has created more opportunities for individuals working independently.
2015 Social Trends

The instability of jobs and the economy have caused changes to the social structure and consumer habits.

9. The Lean Years a notion created by Millennial blogger Melina Coogan, “The Lean Years” explains the anguish of people, as personal economic dependence is unreliable – slow growth, inconsistent wages, and the lack of job security. Resulting in people less willing to make long-term or big commitments, in their personal lives and as consumers. The “Lean Years” have seen a decline in marriage, children, owning a home and spending big. Small businesses will need to take the “Lean Years” into consideration and evaluate the effects it will have on their firm.

10. Just in Time Learning refers to cost effective and professional business education – specialised training courses and programs available to everyone. Various programming camps usually run between 8-10 weeks – educating people how to program. These courses prove that complicated topics can be taught time efficiently. The programs have helped small businesses and independent workers improve their knowledge and skills.

The Paperless Office

The notion that paper and businesses need one and another is outdated. Today, organisations are shifting their businesses into paperless zones.

There are a number reasons why paperless businesses are great – it’s environmentally friendly, cheaper and clutter free.

Like most things, it’s easier said than done. Technology is a useful tool when transitioning into a paperless business. However, it can be difficult to get rid of paper all at once. The transition doesn’t have to be immediate – with strategic planning and putting a timeline forth, can help ease your employees, and partners into your paperless initiative. Once everybody has adapted to a paperless environment, they’ll understand the benefits.

Here are some easy steps you could take to achieve a paperless business.

1. Who’s printing?
Use a software to record every document that has been printed in your office. This will help show your staff the excessive use of paper and can be used to drive everyone to use less.

2. Count the costs
Paper alone is cheap, however most forget to calculate other costs that come along with an office that uses paper. Paper usage comes with extra costs such as printers, ink, toner, storage and maintenance. Go through your spending records and see for yourself. Measure how much you’ll save if you were to shift to digital alternatives. You’d be surprised at how much you would save.

3. Introduce cloud
Cloud applications will become your best friend. It’s never been so easy to store, share and collaborate with documents. As cloud applications are online, it makes accessible using a computer or even mobile device and everything is stored in one location, so you’ll never need to fret about different document formats.

4. Train your staff
Be aware that not every staff member will feel comfortable using technology. Make sure you go through the various digital processes to correctly store, use and find documents – it’s vital for your staff to be familiar with cloud ­based document solutions. Once your staff’s feeling confident using online applications, they will understand the full benefits of going paperless.

5. Reward your staff
By motivating your staff to reduce their paper usage, will help you speed up your paperless office goals. It can enhance teamwork – by everybody working together to achieve a paperless office.

6. Scan and store
Vital documents that are in paper form can always be scanned and stored using cloud applications.

7. Digital signatures
Document signing is one of the reasons why paper is predominately used. More, and more countries and organisations are allowing digitally signed documents to become legally binding.

8. Online banking
Every bank now has an online banking presence, whether it’s accessible through their website or an app – online banking has never been so easy. Online baking instantly reduces excess paperwork. You can request to receive statements through email and you can request invoice notifications. Cloud also allows you to use accounting softwares t o organise your accounts.

9. A new office
Without paperwork taking up so much space – it’s your chance to reshuffle and give your office a good spring clean. The printing, or paperwork storage room could now become a new office, meeting room or lounge.

10. Say goodbye to old technology
Fax machines are outdated and unnecessary – they use too much paper. Either shift to paperless faxes or get rid of it all together. Anything that can be replaced by technology or practical, paperless systems, should be gotten rid of.

POWER TO A PAPERLESS OFFICE!

Getting rid of paperwork systems couldn’t be easier with applications such as cloud. There’s no reason why anyone should be clinging to paper. Digital documents, not only save your business money but also reduces the demand for logging trees. A paperless business gives you the flexibility to work from anywhere, and on anything, whether you’re using a computer, phone or tablet.

Start reducing paper usage now.

Social media for small business

Social media can be a new way for organisations to reach out to diverse groups, and have direct contact with customers – allowing you to brand for yourself. Here are some ways to achieve a successful but professional presence on social media.

THE HYPE AROUND SOCIAL MEDIA

There are plenty of businesses that aren’t active on social media, and have consciously done so. Some, don’t understand social media or are unaware of the advantages. These are the usual reasons why businesses haven’t yet transitioned to social media:

  • they feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin
  • can’t grasp the various roles social media platforms play (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • frightened away by horror stories
  • believe it’s time consuming

The truth is social media can be a great way for your business to excel on another level. This guide will emphasise all the advantages and help you adjust to social media’s mechanisms.

10 BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA

If used strategically, social media can present your business with unique benefits. By using social media you can:

  1. Build your own brand
    Using various social media platforms you can create a personalised brand that will help your business stand out from the rest – you can highlight your business’ specialisations.
  2. Create a name for your business
    Post frequently on certain subjects that will interest your audience. Starting discussions and conversations online could also be a great way to showcase
    your knowledge. Respond to customer’s questions quickly, it’ll show dedication to your customers and could win you referrals; or even brand new customers.
  3. Gain trust
    Transparency on social media will help you gain authenticity. If customers see that your goods or services are trustworthy, then they’re more likely to buy from you. Social media will make is easier for you to build personalised relationships with customers.
  4. Eliminate competition
    As a small business you’re less likely to have a big budget to spend on advertising. Advertising on social media helps even out the playing field with larger organisations, that usually have more money to spend on marketing. Strategise and market your business for cheap.
  5. Lure people to your website
    With tight marketing funds, your website is presumably your main marketing tool. Your website would have all relevant information on your business, and the goods and services you have for purchase. Social media is great way to draw attention to your website and help you increase customers.
  6. Keep on trend
    Social media is fast paced. To keep up to date with news or trends that’s relevant to your business, you can follow partner, local or similar organisations to yours.
  7. Use social media for research
    Twitter and Facebook are wonderful tools to interact with prospective customers. Social media can not only be used to reach out to potential customers but also used for research – to better understand who your customers are.
  8. Engage with customers
    Asking for recommendations or ideas on how to develop further as a business, gets the customers more involved and feel like they’re apart of the experience.
  9. Maintain your reputation
    Social media gives you the opportunity to reply to customer complaints or queries. Replying quickly and thoughtfully proves your ability to deliver great customer service, which will only improve you business’ reputation.
  10. Market yourself for free
    Marketing and selling your products for free has never been easier – cleverly promoting your products, or services will help you reach a wider audience. But, please note that you will need to take time to successfully target the right audience.

WHAT’S UP FOR OFFER?

It’s important to understand the various social media platforms up for offer before opening a business account.

  • Research Facebook, L inkedIn, T witter, Google+ and Instagram
  • Ask clients which social media platforms they use the most
  • Understand each network’s’ etiquette and inform your staff

Social media etiquette is vital and varies from network to network. Having the opportunity to reply instantly isn’t always the best idea for your business. Think, plan or don’t respond to inappropriate or abusive conduct on the networks.

WHICH ONE FITS BEST?

Organisations often sign up for all or the most popular social media platforms. Though, it’s important to always have a strategy and/ or outcome you would like to achieve from an online presence – In order to have a successful rate of traffic coming into your social media accounts, you should:

  • Know the different social media networks
    Understanding the inner workings and appropriate ways in which each social media platform works is vital – Instagram doesn’t work the same as Facebook, and LinkedIn doesn’t exactly work like Twitter. Every social media network attracts different demographics or groups of people. Having a strategic approach to each, and every platform will help you reach the right audience. Statistics and evaluations have shown that more females use Facebook, and that there’s a certain age group that uses Twitter more. Research users of each social media network and then decide whether they’re the right audience for your business.
  • Measure your success
    With Facebook and Instagram you’re able to measure how many likes you get for your posts, and with Twitter you’re able to see how many people follow your business. These interactions with customers can give you a brief idea of how popular you are on social media.
  • Take advice
    If your social media accounts are generating enough flow, or interactions then it’s a great time to evaluate. There are many ways that you could be approaching social media wrong – you may post too much, or too little. It might be a great idea to hire an expert to help you create the right presence and teach you strategic ways to create flow.

TIME MANAGEMENT

Managing social media accounts takes time and energy; and usually becomes an everyday task. Social media is fast paced and if you leave your accounts untouched for a few days, it can affect your business’ appearance – people could assume that you’re unorganised.
People mistakable think that Twitter is the easiest platform to use, however it’s not the case. Tweets only contain 140 characters and need to be carefully thought out. Twitter needs constant attention, and consideration.

BE GENUINE

Social media can seem slightly more out of touch, than communicating face­ to ­face with a person, however remember that ‘real’ humans are at the other end of your social media accounts. Remain on ball, unique and approachable as if you were communicating with someone face ­to ­face. You can:

  • share a media story about your business
  • tell them about new services or goods you have up for offer
  • notify followers of your discounts or special offers up for grabs
  • prepare and share useful links

Remember to never use business social media accounts as personal accounts. The accounts should always remain customer focused, and professional. Think about the value customers are getting from your social media accounts. Interaction is the goal.

SHARING LINKS

It’s important to link your online accounts with other forms of business documents or marketing tools. Such as:

  • business cards
  • adding links to email signatures
  • headed notepaper, slips, invoices or stationary
  • any live links off your website, or to your website
  • online feeds from your website
  • speak about your online presence or reference them in meetings
  • try your best to link all your accounts

SOCIAL MEDIA ETIQUETTE

As social media becomes more popular, so does online public shaming. It’s important to follow the etiquette rules already put in place.

People online can become erratic and quite irrational if something has angered them. It doesn’t take long for word to travel across the social media platforms – faster than it would take for someone to calm down, and think rationally again. These sort of outburst could be damaging to your business. At all costs avoid upsetting your customers.

DO

  • Post frequently
  • Keep your content fresh
  • Respond fast
  • Remain energetic and positive
  • Install software that monitors your shares, likes and favourites – allows you to understand what your customers like, and don’t like
  • Always triple check grammar, spelling, facts, links and your message before pushing ‘send’
  • Remain open minded – social media attracts many personal opinions

DON’T

  • Be impolite – customer’s always right
  • Only market your business – people want fresh, innovative and interesting posts
  • Bad mouth your competition
  • Be negative
  • Allow all staff members access – you want to keep your messages focused, it could get confusing with so many people posting

ALWAYS REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE USING SOCIAL MEDIA

It’s important to create a set of goals for your social media accounts and refer back to them if you’re feeling lost. Always remember social media is a tool to help you expand your business. The better your sharing skills become, the bigger your audience gets.

A tactical approach to social media will help you better understand your customers and give you the opportunity to interact with them on a personal level – without having to leave your desk. Also, it’s an easy and free way to market your business.

It’s all about branding yourself correctly, and notifying your audience about your goods or services. Practise makes perfect, and once you know social media inside out, it’ll become an easy practise.

A guide on cloud computing

Are you puzzled by cloud computing? You’re not the only one. ‘The cloud’ is often spoken of without an overall understanding of what it means. This guide will give you all the important facts about cloud computing and highlight the advantages for small businesses.

WHAT IS ‘THE CLOUD’?

The cloud is a space where you can store all your data, files and software – all of which can be accessed from multiple devices, whether it’s your computer or a handheld device. In comparison to traditional ways of doing business, the cloud always comes out on top.

  • Traditional banking vs. internet banking
    Only a decade ago, the only place you could view your financial data was if you were physically at the bank. Today, with internet banking you don’t have to walk a metre to access your financial data. It’s all accessible anywhere, anytime and on any device.
  • Traditional mail vs. web mail
    Originally, written communication was predominantly done at the post office. Web mail has made communication available anywhere and anytime, when you’re online, and from any device.
  • Traditional filing vs. cloud storage
    Files used to only be accessible at the office. Cloud storage allows you to access all your files, conveniently from your home, on the bus or even at a park. Allowing you to take your work elsewhere.
  • Traditional shopping vs. online shopping
    As 9 to 5 remains the main working hours and business hours, customers are limited to free time to view and potentially buy your products. Online shopping has freed up that time frame. Customers are able to shop anytime, anywhere and again on any device.
  • Traditional accounting software vs. cloud accounting software
    Traditional desktop software used to limit you to store your data on one device – either on your computer or laptop. Cloud software has opened up possibilities to store your data online, and make it completely accessible to whoever needs access, and anywhere where there is internet connection. Enhanced cloud software also allows limitless amounts of people to use the data, at the same time.

TRUE OR FALSE

The cloud can be difficult to use and at times confusing. Here are the facts you need to know in order to move your small business to the cloud.

  • Does cloud computing need the internet?
    The internet is needed in order to connect your devices to the cloud. Though your data remains stored within the cloud.
  • Is it possible to lose data in the cloud?
    Data stored within the cloud is more secure than it lurking on your computer. Computers can be stolen or easily infected by a virus. Cloud organisations spend billions on protective systems for your data.
  • Is the cloud an Apple product?
    Most are familiar with Apple’s product iCloud which operates using cloud technology, however many other organisations have created their very own cloud product – Google, Dropbox and Xero all provide cloud products.
  • What happens when there’s no internet?
    Internet has never been more accessible. Almost all businesses, households and public places have access to the internet. Internet has become as important as electricity. If the internet does crash, your data is instantly saved, and safe in the cloud.
  • Is Cloud computing a fad?
    Cloud computing has been operating for years and only grows stronger, and more popular by the minute. Internet banking has been around for 15 years. It’s never been faster or as cheap to run.
  • Is cloud computing expensive?
    In comparison to your usage, cloud computing is quite cheap. You save on endless software upgrades, system maintenance, support fees, hardware and backup systems.
  • Is it easy to lose control of data?
    It’s never been easier to organise your data. It’s easily accessible, shareable and connected to your information – anywhere and anytime, on any device. You also have the capability of controlling who has access, and when.
  • Is cloud designed only for tech people?
    Incorrect! The cloud has never been more user friendly. It simply requires a quick log in and wallah! The cloud is installation free and with no upgrades needed.

TAKE THE FIRST STEP TO CLOUD COMPUTING

To emphasise again, cloud computing allows you to access your data anytime, anywhere, and on any device. The cloud has eliminated the separation between your home computer and office computer – information is available anytime.

When you’re on the move, whether it’s going to a meeting or interstate, you’re able to access your business bank account. You’re able to buy office supplies whilst you’re traveling to work on the train. It’s never been easier to be organised.

The cloud has opened up sharing possibilities. Your applications and files no longer need to sit on one computer. You’ll be able to stress less about backups, theft, data loss, support and upgrades. It’s all been left to dedicated technical teams.

The cloud has taken the pressure out of understanding computing. Opening up various device usage, such as computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices. You no longer need to run into the office for data, it’s all there and secure. Log in, and do business anywhere and anytime.