Advice

by Jonathan Jonathan No Comments

Technical things you can do while staying at home during the Coronavirus outbreak

Article by: Jonathan Burrows
Date: 23/03/2020
Length: 5 minutes

Quote: “When times are bad is when the real entrepreneurs emerge.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Here are a few technical tips and things to do while at home to support your business through coronavirus.

Summary

For most businesses, this is at best a trying time, one in which it will be hard to get through unscathed. But what would life for your business be like when you come out the other end?

That’s up to you, of course, however, there are some technical things you can do to put your business in a much better place when we say goodbye to COVID-19. At least from a technical standpoint.

No excuses, it’s time to learn!

What we will cover

  • Cloud storage
  • Communications
  • SEO for your website
  • Security
  • Learn something new

Cloud Storage

Probably most of you will have some sort of cloud storage in place. This is where you save files to a specific folder on your computer hard drive (such as OneDrive – Personal, and the file is automatically uploaded to the cloud.

If you don’t have cloud storage you might want to look into it. Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive are just a few.

If you can only work with files by using Microsoft Office, then consider OneDrive since some plans come with a subscription to Office 365.

Dropbox has a web version of Office built in so that’s handy too. Google Drive has its own version of web programs to create and edit documents and spreadsheets.

The point about this post though is to encourage you to look into cloud storage if you haven’t got it and to take a closer look if you do.

Tip: Check folders on your computer that are outside the cloud storage folders such as your Desktop as these are not synchronised by default. If you lost your computer or the hard drive died then those files will be lost!

Anything I.T. and Hello Comtec provide business versions of OneDrive and Google Drive. Get in touch to find out how these products can help you.

Communications

Have a look at the way you communicate with your potential customers and existing customers. Here are several things to look into and research yourself:

Cloud telecommunications

Move your phone system away from antiquated and immovable hard-wired systems into your office/home (such as a BT line) to cloud-based telecommunications such as Number Club by Hello Comtec. Contact them on their website or us here at Anything I.T.

Facebook Page Messaging

You can have your Facebook Page (you do have a Facebook Page don’t you?) automatically reply with a customised message to anyone that starts a conversation. You can also setup Frequently Asked Questions so visitors can get the answers they need quickly without having to wait for you to respond.

You might want to also integrate Instagram into your Facebook since you can receive and reply to messages all in one place.

Improve your email communications with Office 365 for Business

Office 365 for Business comes with business-class email. A stable and full-featured product. More on that elsewhere.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for your website

Now that you are stuck at home for a few weeks, why not focus a little on your website?

Check your SEO

Check your SEO for your site by using tools such as Ubersuggest. Once you get familiar with this tool you can then work on your site content to reflect your goals.

Blogging and article writing

Now is the time to create a few articles or blogs of useful information to help your website visitors.

By creating several blogs you can improve the way Google (etc) see your website and therefore improve the visibility of it on search results.

You can normally set each blog with a publish date sometime in the future so you could write about future events coming up and delay their publishing until later.

The important thing here is to write useful information that people will read.

You might also want to try creating video blogs too.

Update your main pages

Take a look at the content on your website pages also. Tweak and improve them. Make sure the content is relevant to what the topic is about. Google likes to see websites updated regularly.

Google My Business

Do you have a Google My Business listing?

Seeing your business in what some people call the ‘map’ section of results can be quite important. Google My Business is yet another way you can improve your online visibility.

If your business has a physical address, then that will help how you appear on the map but the address will need to be verified, usually by way of a postcard sent by Google to the address with a code that needs to be entered into your Google My Business console.

Security

How secure are your computers and the data they have stored on them? Perhaps they should be removed from public view?

Who has access to business files and documents? Did you forget to remove sharing for someone who left the company? Check it now.

Are your anti-virus programs up-to-date? Check them.

What about GDPR? In most small businesses you can check what you have to do to be compliant at the ICO website. There is a Registration self-assessment on the ICO website which will take you through some steps to help you decide if you need to pay a fee or not.

Learn something new

Learn something new. For me, I’m self-teaching myself a new programming language called React. For you? Maybe you have always wanted to get to know more about SEO, or HTML, or how to speed up your computer or to understand your computer network.

Now is the time and there is plenty of information and tutorial websites to help you. Here are just a few:

  • Lynda.com (Business, Higher Education, Programming, Photography, Business and much more)
  • Codecademy.com (Programming)
  • Hubspot.com (Marketing, Sales, SEO, Social Media)
  • Udemy.com (From Programming to Photography, Marketing to Personal Development)

Finally

This post is really just a way of stimulating your mind to get you doing some technical things to help your business and to put it into a better position when coronavirus isolation ends.

Feel free to get in touch if you need any help:

by Jonathan Jonathan No Comments

Atomic Habits in Business Technology

Anything I.T. and the Geek Collective provide an I.T. Support service and Website design to business clients in Plymouth, South West of the UK.


Atomic Habits is a book I’m currently reading and it just makes perfect sense! James Clear talks about how these small decisions or habits can be amazing catalysts in the long run to boost your business.

So how can you make small atomic decisions? Read on!

Small habitual actions

Small habitual actions producing long-term, sustainable results. Success in I.T. is often about making small decisions and changes, rather than high-impact decisions.

As you read this article consider what actions you take automatically that perhaps haven’t been beneficial to you and your business.

Atomic habits in I.T – Just make stopping and thinking a habit before making a decision.

Future thinking

Keeping the future of your business in mind when making technology decisions will not only help reduce embarrassing future high expenses but provide a fantastic tech platform for growth.

I wrote on my personal blog about the concept of Future Thinking. It needs a little more work but I believe the ideas are extremely pertinent to business too.

Small (yet important) choices

Small choices can make all the difference. Did you decide to put off upgrading your file storage systems, web and email hosting last year? Maybe, you now pay the price by:

  • Website reliability and speed issues
  • An inordinate amount of spam in your inbox(es)
  • Too much time taken up with getting colleagues information which they could have had access to with an upgraded system. This could also include failure to provide important contacts with the right information quickly enough, losing sales or important deals in the process
  • Loss of documents or other data due to failure to implement a good backup strategy (by the way, syncing services like Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive are not good enough, I’ll explain later)

Concerns of present costs should not outweigh future-benefits

Are you in this for the long-term or not? Do you intend to be in business for more than a year? I should hope so! Then you need to spend some serious mental energies on your IT/web/telecoms systems. Making the right decision doesn’t even need to be expensive!

Before the nitty-gritty details, here are a couple of questions that must be considered:

How do I know I’m making the right decisions?

How do I know that everything is connecting and ‘hanging together’ correctly?

Seek trusted advice and making atomic decisions. That’s the answer

Consider all your business tech requirements under the following headings:

  • I.T. Systems
  • Web Systems
  • Telecom Systems
  • Bespoke (to your business) Systems
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

I.T. systems

I.T. systems are the things that you use every day such as turning on the computer and loading a program to carry out our duties. It could be sending and receiving emails, writing letters and printing them, entering data into a finance package, and so on. I.T. systems would include the wireless and cabled Internet connections, printers, webcams and microphones for meetings, the list goes on.

Everything about your I.T. systems must work well. The beauty of a good I.T. system is that you hardly know it’s there because it rarely goes wrong. Poor quality systems often throw up little annoying errors which compound over time and disrupt the flow.

In business, flow is so important (I see another blog post in my future) and choosing the right system to enable better flow is one of those crucial atomic choices you can make.

Network cabling from your router to your PC’s and the correct choice of equipment is essential. From wireless access points to routers, PC’s to Macs, door entry systems to CCTV’s. It’s all got to hang together somehow.

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Web systems

These might include the hosting service for your website, the email platform, and how they all interlink with each other.

There are several very good server platforms to host websites and email applications. Amazon Web Services (AWS) being one such. AWS takes the level of server capabilities to another level. AWS might not be the right one for you though. Word of warning, you will need to have a really good understanding of AWS and server technologies to make this work.

You might be better off choosing a hoster who can offer at the very least unlimited bandwidth, unlimited space, and great support when/if things do go wrong.

Many providers of website design and hosting services offer monthly payment options. Anything I.T. and our partner Hello Simon (award-winning freelancer) offer this as a way for our clients to spread the costs of what would normally be a large outlay.

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Ask your current provider if your website is hosted on the latest (and speedy) hard disk technology, known as SSD. These hard drives on web servers are super fast, much faster than ‘older’ drives.

Should you choose a website made with WordPress or one that is custom-coded (hand-written programming)? Around a third of websites made today are made with WordPress.

WordPress is now extremely popular because it not only provides the business owner with a way of creating and editing pages on their site but it has a wide range of ‘plugins’ providing versatility.

Anything I.T. providing WordPress Services

Sometimes that is not enough and you need someone to program a website for you. That’s okay. Handwriting a website provides an opportunity to make it do exactly what you want, BUT can be a lot more expensive than a WordPress created site.

Websites by Anything I.T. and Hello Simon

Please also consider how you market your site. Likely, you will need an SEO service like that provider by Hello Simon (SEO). Again, this can be paid for on a monthly basis. In fact, this is highly recommended since SEO is best planned for the long-term.

Telecom Systems

Gone are the days when a fully-featured telephone system costs the earth. I remember not so long ago it would cost a minimum of £1,000 to get started. That was just for the hardware!

Perhaps thousands of pounds plus huge ongoing support costs just so you could put calls on hold, play them a message so they could choose the right department, or transfer calls to another team member. Then you had the BT line and call expenses on top! You’d need ISDN which was expensive as well.

Nowadays, you can pay as little as £20 per team member with unlimited calls with all the features, and more, of a state-of-the-art telephone system! All this in ‘the cloud’ so no expensive BT lines required.

The system we provide is by a very accomplished provider called Wildix.

Anything I.T. and Hello Comtec offer a service called Number Club. Get in touch if this interests you.

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Bespoke Systems

From a distance, this looks daunting and you’d be forgiven if you don’t see how this fits in with the topic of atomic habits.

Sometimes businesses need to run software that is pertinent to their business. There are countless numbers of them!

From accounting systems to property management portals (by the way, Anything I.T. make one called Posidacious), care home software, car sales.

There are sales systems that help you gain leads and sales sometimes called funnels. Once again, monthly payments are the norm here so if you budget well based on your income then you should do well.

You name it, if you have a business, there’s probably some bespoke software that’s been made for you.

Just be aware of the costs such software as they can be crippling. Maybe you could commission a company to make your own! If you do, you might want to consider something that is cloud-based rather than a piece of software that is installed on your PC.

As for the support of such software, in most cases, you will need to pay for support from the provider, rather than outsource support to a company like Comtec ICT or Anything I.T.

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Ask us how bespoke software impacts on your I.T. systems though.

Cloud-based business-class web and I.T. systems

Here are some examples of business-class software and systems that you really should consider, but with relative low-cost impact on your business.

  • Office 365 for Business – Email, cloud storage (OneDrive) and much more, monthly payments from less than £6 per month (Price List)
  • Shopify – An online store anyone can set up for a monthly fee (you can get us to set it up for you)
  • Xero – cloud accounting package, paid monthly, invoices, quotes, reminders, pay directly from the invoice and much more
  • Canva – Make marketing images for social media, business cards and more. There’s a free version and a paid-for version
  • Hootsuite – Manage multiple social media accounts from one program
  • WordPress – A content management system for your website – A WordPress support and management service can be purchased through Anything I.T. – See Price List
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Summarisation

I know I’ve repeated myself about making small decisions throughout this post. It bears repeating though! You don’t need to make big, expensive decisions when considering technology. Just a small one here and there to nudge your business in the right direction.

The benefits will astound you. Once more:

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"
by Jonathan Jonathan No Comments

How can Integrated I.T Support help your business during healthy growth?

Anything I.T. and the Geek Collective provide an I.T. Support service and Website design to business clients in Plymouth, South West of the UK.


We all love healthy growth in our business. It’s exciting and exhilarating! It can also be a little scary and stressful if you don’t get it right.

Sometimes growth can be quick and sometimes a little slower over a period of time. In either case, if you do not have the processes and framework in place to accommodate the growth, things could go awry.

One area of critical importance is ‘Web/IT/Telecoms’. I’ve grouped them here because if they all hang together nicely then healthy growth can be made so much easier.

Taking an intelligent view and proper planning of your I.T. services can be all the difference to healthy growth and, well, not healthy growth!

How can Anything I.T. help?

Jonathan at Anything I.T. has been a techie since the early 1990’s (showing his age!). With help from collaborators such as Comtec ICT, Anything I.T. can help in all the technical areas of web, IT, telecoms, and indeed other technical services such as door entry systems, CCTV.

We pride ourselves on having an understanding of where our clients are in their cycle of growth. Respecting budgets and areas where they are comfortable.

Aside: Doughnuts can help!

On this point of being comfortable with IT, if a small business is comfortable with a certain aspect of their IT, we are not going to forcibly recommend another way. We will work with our customers in the best way possible. Of course, if the customer is using dated, slow computers not up to the job, then, of course, we will make recommendations.

Some business growth scenarios require the ability to work anywhere. Anything I.T. can set up systems where you can easily access your business emails and files. Also, with telecoms systems such as Wildix (from Comtec ICT), your communications with customers can be seamless and still business-like through web browsers, apps and desktop phones.

Coffee and working

Our Integrated I.T. Support service is a unique blend of traditional support and consultancy and a more closer link with your web and IT provider.

Suffice to say that working with us to ensure healthy growth can not only take some of the stress away but increase the excitement and exhilaration.

Contact us today to have a chat.

by Jonathan Jonathan No Comments

Are you scared of your computer?

Anything I.T. and the Geek Collective provide an I.T. Support service and Website design to business clients in Plymouth, South West of the UK.


Don’t be!

Or if you are, get in touch and you’ll find a helping hand with Anything I.T.

Here’s a short video I made earlier at the Brighter Business Brunch organised by the Six O’Clock Club (thank you Mike Turner)

Something we at Anything I.T. can help with is to ease away a strange fear that many people have of their computers, their website, their Wi-Fi, and their use of computer applications (such as Excel)!

There really is nothing to fear! Sometimes all you need is a helping hand from a someone who knows…

Have you experienced this ‘being scared’? Please let us know below! Don’t be scared!

That’s where we come in!

We’ve just made live a new Anything I.T. website which includes a way of contacting us, useful information about some of the services we offer, and a blog with a growing number of helpful posts which we think will become a very useful free resource.

Get in touch with me direct if you like or through the Anything I.T. Facebook Page, or website (details below).

Homepage
Blog
Facebook Page

Don’t forget to comment below if you have been/or are someone who is a little scared of tech!

Take care,

Jonathan

Anything I.T. Plymouth Limited

Send an email and we will be in touch as soon as possible

The landscape has changed.

The Geek Collective