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A number of Apple small business initiatives have helped tiny companies become bigger ones, says the Cupertino company, in the run-up to National Small Business Week.
A number of business have shared how Apple products, apps, and services have helped them grow – and anyone wanting to follow their example can take place in special Today at Apple workshops, Grow Your Business With Apple …National Small Business Week
National Small Business Week is a US government initiative.
For more than 50 years, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has celebrated National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.
A number of companies are offering free presentations, though a lot of them do look rather spammy …Apple small business support
Apple is highlighting the support it offers to small businesses, through Apple Business Essentials, Apple Business Connect, and Tap to Pay on iPhone.Apple Business Essentials
Apple Business Essentials is described as “one complete subscription that seamlessly brings together device management, 24/7 support, and cloud storage. With Apple Business Essentials, your small business can easily manage every iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV – every step of the way.”
The company says that it helps manage every step of putting a new Apple device to work in your business:
UpdatesApple Business Connect Tap to Pay on iPhone
Tap to Pay on iPhone is a way to use your iPhone as a payment terminal for contactless payments, without any additional hardware.
Payment apps can now accept contactless payments from contactless credit or debit cards, Apple Pay, Apple Watch, and smartphones with other digital wallets — right on iPhone and without any extra terminals or hardware.
With over two thirds of all credit and debit cards in the U.S. issued as contactless-enabled cards, and rapidly increasing adoption of contactless payments, merchants will be able to seamlessly accept payments through a simple tap on their iPhone from most customers.A “street food phenomenon, powered by iPad”
Apple gives three examples of small businesses which have grown using Apple devices and services, one of which is Señor Sisig.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, Señor Sisig, originally a small food truck business powered by iPad, has expanded into a local Filipino street food phenom using Apple Business Essentials and a fleet of Apple devices […]
With their fleet of four food trucks and three brick-and-mortar restaurants across the San Francisco Bay Area, Evan Kidera and Gil Payumo are on a quest: bringing sisig — a tangy street food staple in the Philippines made of minced pork — to the masses in the form of burritos, tacos, nachos, and fries.
The masses came forth and devoured, and the business grew from there. “Being a food truck was pretty hard when we started out,” Kidera explains. “There wasn’t much out there to support mobile businesses, aside from iPhone. And then the original iPad came right after that. I think iPad was really the thing that allowed us to grow as a mobile business; the timing of it was just great, because we were able to take payments on the go without having to rely only on cash.”
Señor Sisig’s employees use Apple devices to keep track of inventory, monitor sales, and communicate between stores.
Other examples given are streetwear brand Kids of Immigrants, and formalwear rental company Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo.Grow Your Business With Apple
Apple is also promoting workshops available at some Apple Stores, and online.
To celebrate National Small Business Week (April 30 to May 6), select Apple Store locations in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago will host Today at Apple sessions titled “Grow Your Business With Apple.”
These free sessions offer small businesses expertise on how to make it easy to customize their presence across Apple apps with Apple Business Connect, accept payments with Tap to Pay on iPhone, and get support and manage devices with Apple Business Essentials. Businesses can also sign up for a virtual session scheduled for June 14.
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The best time to set up a recordkeeping system that saves you time and money is at the same time you set up your business. You can always change and adapt your system later, but do yourself a favor and have something in place from day one.
Even small, repeat expenditures add up and can make a big difference in the final tax bill for your business. Try to keep up with current tax laws so you don’t miss deductible expenditures that could benefit you.
Did You Know?
Accounting solutions are available to use and maintain all year round, not just at tax time. However, if you’re also looking for a tax-specific solution, check out our guide to choosing business tax software.6. Consider mobile apps to track mileage and other items.
You can still track business mileage on a notebook you store in your glovebox, but that’s not the most efficient method. There are numerous mobile apps that can help you easily track expenses, time, invoices and so on.
The first place to look for mobile apps is your accounting solution or financial institutions. They may offer free apps you can use on the go to keep track of your expenses and other information.
You can also find apps that use your GPS to track your mileage expense. For example, for $59.99 per year (less if you pay annually), MileIQ automatically tracks your miles so you don’t miss out on valuable deductions.7. Plan now for your next business tax year.
Without planning, you or your tax professional can only do so much to improve your tax situation. The decisions have been made throughout the year, and any damage has been done. Tax planning should include both better recordkeeping all year and planning your strategy for tax optimization.
Regarding recordkeeping for last year, Yoneda recommends that you reflect on items or issues that made the tax season stressful.
“Were you unsure of total income? Was it difficult to categorize expenses?” she said. “If so, changing your accounting software or procedures for using it may help you better keep up with recordkeeping this year.”
Tax planning should include estimating your income or loss for the coming year or years and taking steps to minimize your tax load. For example, you may want to consider timing large equipment purchases or other major expenditures to offset higher income years, evaluate retirement plans and their tax benefits, and balance capital gains and losses in years when they best offset each other. If you are not sure how to plan for next year, consult a tax professional.8. Evaluate your business organization type.
Having the right business organization type affects many things, including the amount and kind of recordkeeping you are required to do and the amount of tax you pay. For a very simple business, owned and operated by one person, a sole proprietorship is generally all you need. The recordkeeping is less complex than with any other type of organization, and you file a simple schedule with your individual income tax return. Your income is taxed once for federal income tax purposes, as ordinary income.
If you operate a business with other people, you may need to form a partnership, S corporation, C corporation or other type of organization. These organizations require their own tax return filings and are subject to different rules.
Especially as your business grows, you should make sure you still have the business organization type that works best for you.
Your business organization type affects how much time and money you spend preparing and filing taxes, as well as how much tax you pay.9. Deal with tax problems promptly.
If you get behind on estimated or payroll tax payments, or get a letter from the IRS indicating a problem with your account, it’s easy to put off resolving the problem. Small business owners are busy running their businesses, and they don’t always have the cash flow to clear an IRS bill right away. Unfortunately, letting a tax problem slide can be a big mistake.
Always face tax problems head on, before they get worse or lead to a tax audit. Reply promptly to any letters you receive. If you can’t pay a balance, pay what you can and work with the IRS on an installment plan, or in the worst-case scenario, an offer in compromise. If you disagree with the IRS, consider getting professional tax counsel.Tax management is a vital part of your business
New business owners may consider dealing with taxes to be a once-a-year hassle, or something to be gotten over with so they can get back to running their growing businesses. If they’re paying attention, however, they soon discover that year-round tax planning, recordkeeping and tax preparation are vitally important to running a business and can make the difference between business success and disaster. By following these tips, you can run your business more profitably and rest assured you’re optimizing your tax results.
These are frugal times for business, and an organization starting out might have very little money to spend on IT. Even if you’re part of an established business, you’re probably feeling the pinch.
1. Google Apps For Business
If your organization has under 50 employees, then Google Apps for Business (formerly called Google Apps for Domains) is for you. It offers free e-mail under the umbrella of your own organization’s domain name (You can pay Google $10 to reserve a domain name, if you don’t already have one). You can also have your own private Google Docs system along with your own Google Calendar system.
It’s all hosted on Google’s computers, so you won’t need your own mail server computer. You’ll benefit from almost zero configuration and maintenance, plus a promised 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. Put simply, Google takes care of everything for you. The spam filtering is the same excellent system as Gmail, which is to say your employees just won’t be bothered by anything dodgy.
There are some limitations on the free version. As well as the 50 user limit, each user account can send e-mails to only 500 recipients per day. This won’t be an issue for most of us, but it’s easy to imagine an enthusiastic sales person hitting that ceiling now and again. You also can’t send attachments larger than 25MB, although this will only be an issue for those working in the media industries who have to ship around large photographs or video files.
Dropbox is a sync and backup tool that makes use of the cloud to remotely store files. Once the Dropbox software is installed, you’ll find a new Dropbox folder on your hard disk. Anything stored in this folder is instantly transferred to Dropbox’s cloud storage system. This is done invisibly, and using the Dropbox folder is just like using any other folder on your hard disk.
Perhaps the chief benefit for business is that, should a notebook get stolen or lost, restoring its files is as simple as installing Dropbox on a new computer, entering the username, and letting it sync the contents (provided your employees have been trained to always save their files in the Dropbox folder, of course).
Dropbox offers free 2GB of storage per user, which is enough for hundreds of modest office documents, and I couldn’t find any restrictions on business users signing-up for free accounts. All you need is to download the client software and sign up during the installation process, using your e-mail address.
Before you ask, yes, it’s massively secure. SSL connections are used to make the transfer of data to and from the cloud, and all data is stored using AES-256 encryption. Even if a stranger were to somehow pull your data from the cloud, it would be gibberish.
My colleague Rick Broida discussed a similar new service called SugarSync, which offers 5GB of free storage – 3GB more than Dropbox. However, my personal preference is to stick with the long-established Dropbox.
3. Microsoft Security Essentials
License fees for antivirus software are taxing for those who use Windows. We’d rather not pay, but there’s no way of getting around it. Most free antivirus products, such as AVG, are free only for home users.
The new Security Essentials looks good. It’s certainly good at spotting viruses, although it can be a little slow when scanning compared to competitors. However, considering the $0 price tag, I’m sure we can all live with this. Security Essentials is available for all recent versions of Windows, from XP up.
In terms of technology, Ubuntu offers Samba, which can effectively recreate a modest Windows-like file and printer sharing setup. Both Macs and Windows computers will have no problems connecting, and will be unaware that they’re not connecting to a Windows server.
If you have an old PC you can mess around on, try downloading Ubuntu Server and giving it a try. You might have to reach back into your memory to remember those Unix 101 classes, but there’s a wealth of free documentation out there to help you get started.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you probably already know about chúng tôi the open source (and therefore free-of-charge) office suite. This keeps getting better with each release and is now a definite contender for lighter-weight office tasks. If you haven’t looked at it recently, it’s well worth a trial.
I find it very useful for those upgrading from an older version of Office and who are confused by the ribbon-based user interface, found on recent releases of Microsoft Office.
Maybe you started your business with a couple of desktops. When that quickly multiplied to a dozen, your staff wandered the corridors with floppies in order to swap data from one system to another. Then you added a server — and another server and yet another. But each time you add a server, it seems to fill up with data even faster than the last one.
If this scenario seems familiar, maybe it’s time to take a look at network-attached storage (NAS), which is by far the easiest type of storage networking to set up. “Simply put, NAS is storage that is connected directly to your network,” said Joe Trupiano, director of marketing at MicroNet.
The best way to think of NAS is as a very specialized kind of file server. If you have ever used a server as a repository for work files, then you should easily grasp the concept of NAS. Instead of saving a file to the C drive on your local desktop, you save it directly onto the file server or NAS box (represented as another lettered drive on your PC, such as N) that’s connected to your computer network.
While a file server has a limited supply of storage, NAS can provide terabytes (TB) of of instantly accessible space to anyone in the office over a standard Ethernet connection. And if you are able to hook up a server, installing NAS should present no problems – although some of the larger machines may require some outside help.
“We see strong demand for NAS systems aimed at easing the pain associated with managing file-based data,” said Brad Nisbet, an analyst at IDC.
Much of this growth is being fueled by the small business sector. And the reason is understandable. IDC reports annual storage capacity growing in small businesses at a rate of 50 to 60 percent. That data has to be placed somewhere. And NAS is increasingly the answer.
The Net App StorVault S300.
Buy buyer beware. NAS now encompasses a wide range of offerings. These range from ultra cheap boxes with little sophistication to pricier models that may require trained help to install and configure. It’s a case of finding the right blend of price, performance and features.
“Key factors to consider when buying NAS include how well the system scales, how much the software costs as you grow and how easy it is to manage,” said Rob Commins, director of product marketing at Pillar Data Systems.
If your company has a handful of staff and just needs raw capacity, it is probably safe to install an inexpensive NAS box. It may not have the fastest performance but that won’t matter if only a couple of people access it at the same time. It’s when you have a lot of people accessing the NAS simultaneously that the performance limits of a low-end box start to show up. In that event, pay more attention to how well the more expensive NAS products may function when half the office jumps on it at the same time.
Another point to consider is scalability. If you start with something inexpensive and run out of room in six months, how easy or difficult will it be to hook a couple of them together – or else purchase a bigger model and transfer the data over.
Tip: Choose a vendor that offers several size and price points. Ask the sales rep what you’d have to do if you ran out of space and wanted to add a second box, or swap the old box for a larger one. If the answer is cloudy or complex, shop elsewhere.
Also, a particular NAS box might be easy to scale, but suddenly you find that software costs are spiraling out of control. Some vendors demand more licenses for every person that connects. Others require more feature rich management tools that sometimes come at a premium. Discover all the possible costs – including the hidden ones – ahead of time.
If you thought cybersecurity was something only big businesses had to worry about, think again. Small companies are at risk of cyberattacks too, and it would be a mistake not to prepare your organization to defend against them. Fortunately, a five-step cybersecurity plan could be enough to keep your business protected.What is a cybersecurity plan?
A cybersecurity plan is designed to repel threats from online criminals. The most effective cybersecurity defenses are investing in technology and staff training. Training staff is particularly important because 85% of data breaches are caused by employee mistakes, according to a study by Tessian.
Cybersecurity plans not only serve as methods of prevention, but they can also include what to do in the event a breach does occur. The goal, of course, is to mitigate any damage and recover as quickly as possible so your company can get back to business as usual.
Did You Know?
According to a Cyber Readiness Institute survey, only 40% of small businesses implemented a cybersecurity policy as remote work increased with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.How do you create a cybersecurity plan?
To create an effective cybersecurity plan, you first need to identify which assets need protecting and where your vulnerabilities lie so you can apply the right technological and human patches. Once put in place, companies should regularly review their cybersecurity policies to identify and defend against new threats.
From assessment to implementation, follow these steps when creating a cybersecurity plan for your business.Step 1: Decide what’s important.
In your initial cybersecurity risk assessment, do the following:
Determine what data is essential. Over time, businesses accumulate massive amounts of information on customers, suppliers and employees. Figure out what data you need to operate your business and eliminate the rest.
Decide who should have access to data and why. Some data may be needed by your accounts team only. Make sure each employee can access only the data they need to perform their role successfully.Step 2: Identify and fix technical vulnerabilities.
Before you start to build your technical firewall, understand where your problems are now and why they arose.
Check for malware. You may have malware and ransomware already on your network. Purge your system of them as soon as possible.
Delete any software you no longer use. If you no longer use a piece of software to operate your business, chances are you’re not updating it with the latest security patches. Delete it to eliminate potential threats.
Consider banning BYOD (“bring your own device”). Personal devices generally have lower levels of security than business devices. If staff currently use their own laptops to connect to your network, consider purchasing equipment for them to use instead so you can set the ideal security levels.
Know what connects to your network. Create a list of devices with permission to connect to your network, and update the registry frequently. It’s much easier for a hacker to gain overall control of your system if any device can connect to it.
Decide account privileges. Create a virtual barrier, known as ringfencing, around parts of your computer system depending on employee seniority and data needs. An admin is not likely to need the same access to programs and data as your CFO. So if a hacker does break in via the admin’s credentials, the areas the hacker can access would be greatly restricted by default, reducing the amount of damage they can do.
Want to know how secure your business really is? Hire a white-hat hacking firm to test how hard it is to gain unauthorized access to your company’s systems and data.What does your business have that cybercriminals want?
Cybercriminals are looking for specific information when they hack businesses.
Sensitive commercial data: Cybercriminals know the market value of the data stored on a business’s computer system, and many gangs offer industrial espionage-as-a-service. Instead of sending thieves to break into competitors’ physical premises, companies can pay hackers to break in electronically to get copies of rivals’ customer databases, obtain details on research and development projects, and more.
Customer databases: Information about your highest-spending customers can be sold on the black market or to competitors.
Customer payment details: Unencrypted debit or credit card information is not as valuable as it used to be because banks are getting better at spotting and stopping fraudulent payments. A compromised credit card may work for only an hour or two before it’s blocked, but that’s enough time to inflict serious damage.
Your company’s identity: Many cybercriminals attempt to change company details held at government agencies to open accounts with suppliers to order goods and financial institutions to take out loans.
Money in the bank: Although successful checking account breaches are quite rare, cybergangs can still cause significant financial damage to businesses with ransomware and phishing attacks.What is cybersecurity insurance?
As the threat from cybercrime has grown, so has the number of cybersecurity insurance providers. These insurers provide compensation for incident investigations, data recovery, computer system restoration, income loss, reputational damage, ransoms paid and notification costs.
Extended cybersecurity insurance also includes coverage for legal bills incurred defending yourself against claims related to a breach, as well as for settlements and damages. Insurers will generally not cover lost profits, loss of company value caused by intellectual property theft, or replacing or upgrading technology to become more cybersecure.
Did You Know?
As of 2023, the average cost of cyber insurance was $1,485 per year, or $124 per month, with per-incident coverage ranging from $500,000 to $5 million. Check out our overview of the best business insurance providers for our recommendations.
Research showing how Marketing Automation can support the lead-sales pipeline
Marketing automation has received a lot of attention over the past year. But you may still be sceptical, asking how can it actually grow my business’?
In this post, I want to dig into some of these benefits to explain precisely how marketing automation can help you grow your business.
In March 2014, Regalix conducted a study to identify the most common benefits of marketing automation, as told by marketers who had implemented the software.1. Improve your lead nurturing 2. Improve your lead response times
A study from Harvard found that you’re seven times more likely to qualify a lead if you respond to an enquiry within an hour, compared to responding even an hour later and more than 60 times likelier than if you waited 24 hours or longer.
Yet, the same study found that, on average, the majority of companies take at least 12 hours to respond to an enquiry.
With marketing automation software, you can create automated email responses to ensure that every lead is responded to within the hour.3. Improve your lead qualification process
This is partly as a result of better targeting and personalisation of marketing, but also largely due to the fact that marketing automation software provides a framework to improve your lead qualification process.4. Reduce your sales and marketing overhead
This has two important consequences.
First of all, it reduces your sales and marketing overhead by reducing the need for additional staff. In fact, a study by Nucleus Research found that companies that implemented marketing automation software had a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.5. Increase your sales productivity
In their New York Times best-selling book ‘Switch’, authors Dan and Chip Heath explain that, when it comes to changing a person’s behaviour it’s often best to change the environment and use ‘nudges’ rather trying to change behaviour directly.6. Align your sales and marketing team
An interesting side effect noted by many companies implementing marketing automation software is that it tends to align the sales and marketing teams around the same goals.
By using one platform that shows both CRM and marketing data, marketers get instant access to the insights gathered by the sales team, and visa versa.7. Enhanced targeting and personalisation
Perhaps one of the most obvious benefits of combining CRM and marketing data into a single platform, is the ability to precisely target your audience with personalised communication.
You could, for example, send a series of emails triggered by certain actions, such as repeatedly viewing a pricing page on your website, or by criteria such as whether or not they’re a CEO / director.
Ultimately, the more personalised your communication is, the more relevant it will be to the recipient. Relevancy increases the likelihood of purchase, which is just one more tangible benefit of marketing automation software.Effectiveness of Marketing Automation
There’s no doubting the power and impact that marketing automation software can have on a business when used properly, but it’s important to end on the caveat that it’s not a silver bullet.
The effectiveness of automation software, or any tool or tactic for that matter, is largely dependent on your business and how you use it.
I hope the seven examples above provide inspiration for you to explore this software in more depth, and consider different ways that you may be able to use it to grow your business.
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