Displaying articles for: 09-05-2010 - 09-11-2010
Here is this week’s summary of useful news for small businesses owners and entrepreneurs:
Mitch Biggs, the Vice President of Brokers for Bluestone Group, recently had an article he wrote reprinted on Noobpreneur.com where he discussed the three factors that savvy business buyers look for when they evaluate a business to buy. These key factors include:
1) Is the business profitable?
2) Will the business run well without the current owner?
3) Are the financial records adequate?
Mitch also noted that you should begin serious preparation to sell your business 1 to 2 years in advance.
John Warrillow, the author of Built To Sell: Turn Your Business Into One You Can Sell, recently asked the head of mid-market M&A for an investment bank that specialized in selling companies as to why business owners sell their businesses. The reasons he was given:
- Unsolicited bid.
- Health scare.
John then noted that if you want to get the highest price for your business, you should not leave your exit planning up to somebody else or something else that don’t have control over.
Cath Lawson has posted an entry on her blog where she outlined five dangerous small business myths that put people off from starting a business. She then asked her readers if these myths had put them off from starting a business and already a number of them have posted their thoughts and opinions in the comments section.
Arkadij Shkolnik, the PR director for SiteValley.com, has written a post for Small Biz Bee with several tips to help you build a small business website without wasting money. However, he noted that these tips should not be taken as a universal cure all as some projects may need a hi-end solution which cannot be free or done on the cheap.
Seth Godin has written an interesting post on his blog where he wrote that the next time you have to sit through a 40 minute presentation with slides, consider a radical idea: Have a presentation with a slide every 12 seconds and hence, 200 slides in all. At the end of his post, he wrote that he was hoping his exercise will help readers realise that you might not need any slides at all or having 50 or 100 slides might actually pick up your energy level and make your arguments more coherent.
Jeff Bullas has noted on his blog what his readers believe to be the top five social media posts for the past 90 days. These top five social media posts were:
- 30 Things You Should Not Share On Social Media
- The 7 Secrets to Ford’s Social Media Marketing Success
- 20 Things You Should Share On Social Media
- Twitter Reveals 11 New Facts on its Traffic and Usage
- How To Use Twitter For Business: 5 More Incredibly Interesting Case Studies
He then asked his readers what other topics about social media that they would want to learn more about.
James Adams has written a guest post on Noobpreneur.com listing 10 tips for researching the market before starting a small business. These tips will help you know your customers and study the competition as well as set goals which will help your small business succeed.
Intel's Renee Kuriyan Wittemyer has written a fascinating article about computers in the developing world. She argues that they must be affordable and empowering but also "socially viable" which means "meaningfully connected to people's lives an aspirations." The whole article is worth reading but here's a video summary.
Designing a comfortable office work environment is about more than just aesthetics. After all, your employees may spend more time in your offices than they do just about anywhere else – including in their own homes.
Hence, a recent Inc. Magazine article by Lois Goodell, a principal and the director of interior design at CBT Architects, is well worth reading as it is packed full of tips about how to design a productive office work environment. Some of the useful office design tips she gave included the following:
- Heating and Lighting: Temperature and lighting can be the biggest complaints by office workers. And while lighting is easier to address through proper fit-out design, Goodell noted that tenants will need to ask the landlord and other tenants in the building a few key questions before signing a lease to determine just how much control they will have over temperature.
- Open vs. Closed Space: Open space floor plans are designed to encourage collaboration, but Goodell pointed out that such a layout may not be the best design when employees need to concentrate on an important task or project. One possible solution to this problem is “hoteling” where more private offices can be reserved or used when needed.
- Flexibility: Flexible office space designs are more productive than fixed office space designs. Hence, Goodell suggested having workspaces of a common size with interchangeable components that can then be easily customised to the specific needs of a particular user.
- Sustainability: Besides being environmentally friendly, Goodell noted that offices designed with sustainability in mind will also improve the comfort of office workers inside.
- Ergonomic Design: Working with an ergonomic design consultant can actually save you money as ergonomically designed furniture and workspaces will reduce the number of days your employees are absent and lost productivity due to discomfort. At a minimum, Goodell suggested surveying employees to find out what they need to be comfortable.
- Technology: Modern Wi-Fi technology means that the design of your office no longer needs to be dictated by technology and connectivity to network outlets. (HP currently has a special offer that gives you a free access to more than 7,500 Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK and a free Vodafone 3G USB Modem Stick – together worth £150 – when you buy a new HP EliteBook or ProBook – see www.hpultimateconnectivity.com)
Goodell concluded by writing that an office space will (and should) reflect your company’s personality and culture and this “personality” can easily be tweaked as often as you like as your company evolves over time – important points worth considering.
For more advice on increasing productivity, check out the articles on the main HP Business Answers website.
This is a guest post from Microsoft's excellent Small Business Blog.
The importance of IT business solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises can simply not be underestimated.
IT investment may still not be at the top of every small and medium-sized enterprise's (SME) list of priorities, but with each passing day the opportunities diminish for those unwilling to embrace technology.
To some extent, the writing has been on the wall for the traditional, offline business models since well before the millennium, and technological innovation has only accelerated over the last decade.
And while the significance of IT within an organisation varies according to factors such as scale, sector and strategy, it is clear that the broadband explosion of the noughties has revolutionised the small business sector.
Indeed mobile connectivity, unified communications, cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) are not only changing the way businesses work, but many aspects of society as a whole.
While e-commerce is contributing to decline on the high street, online marketing is radically altering the way the media works. Customers are using social media to identity the best goods and service providers, and also the ones to avoid.
At the same time, business conferences are held across different time zones, companies are set up in spare bedrooms and employees telecommute to work via their internet connections.
But it is not just tech-orientated entrepreneurial types who are honing the power of IT –confirmed 'Luddites' such as farmers, shopkeepers and low-level manufacturers are increasingly being pulled into the technological age.
Broadband – the bedrock for small business technology?
Many commentators see the development and proliferation of broadband technology as the catalyst for SME technology adoption, and it would appear that a reliable internet connection is a basic requirement for any 21st century company.
Customers, suppliers and public services are flocking to the online domain, meaning email accounts, websites and, in many cases, an online checkout facility are simply not optional.
As consumers have ditched the Yellow Pages in favour of search engines, those without a website risk missing out on valuable new trade.
But with recent Treasury moves towards online tax self-assessment filing look irreversible, offline businesses risk being alienated if they lack an internet connection.
With this in mind, the government's recent decision to delay the rollout of 2Mbps broadband nationwide until 2015 represents a blow to the SME community – in particular those firms based in rural areas.
For some time, lobby groups such as the Country, Land & Business Association (CLA) and Federation of Small Businesses have warned of the dangers of poor coverage levels outside the UK's main urban areas.
CLA president William Worsley expressed his "shock and disappointment" at the three-year delay in the government's broadband commitment, saying the decision "could seriously compromise the ability of the rural economy to succeed in the future".
Emotive language perhaps, but the comments clearly illustrate the importance of the internet to small businesses, both in terms of driving revenue and compliance.
Hosted services can help reduce business costs
For the majority of small businesses, especially those with low turnovers, large-scale expenditure on internal IT hardware may simply not be option, but various alternatives do exist.
The arrival of the high-speed internet has enabled the cloud computing, web hosting and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) markets to expand at a rapid rate, enabling SMEs to access the tools they need while keeping IT costs to a minimum.
SMEs can now complement their own in-house IT, or even replace it, using hosted solutions which they pay for based upon use. As well as helping to manage finances, this model could also help businesses remain compliant.
According to Doug Miles, UK managing director at Association for Information and Image Management, it is quite possible that cloud computing and SaaS may become mandatory for some business functions in the future.
Should the government see an opportunity to increase efficiency and reduce administrators' workload for certain tasks – potentially for tax filing, payroll or corporate reporting – such a situation could materialise.
And with this in mind, Mr Miles suggested that businesses may benefit from familiarising themselves with the technology at an early stage.
Certain challenges need to be overcome if this is to be achieved, not least the apparent knowledge gap among SMEs over the availability and benefits of hosted services.
A recent Techaisle survey of SMEs within the US, UK, Germany, Italy and Brazilindicated that just 37 per cent of firms had even heard about cloud computing, let alone considered investing in the technology.
This is no doubt understandable given the cloud's relative infancy, and alludes to the fact that it is still a case of one step at a time where SME IT adoption is concerned.
While technology will continue to develop at breakneck pace, driven by the private sector's pursuit of profit, individual business owners will look to adopt IT in their own time, on their own terms.
But as more consumers demand an online presence, and government or other corporate intervention dictates the pace of change, SMEs will have the simple choice of falling into line or falling by the wayside.
Netiquette varies depending on where you are. If you are thinking of getting into social media for your business, lurk - anonymously observe - before you leap. For more information about social media marketing, check out the articles on HP’s Business Answers site.
- Have respect for others when you are online. Never forget that the person reading your mail or posting is a person, with feelings that can be hurt.
- People cannot tell what mood you are in by the way you type. Typing in CAPS is akin to SHOUTING.
- Keep emails short and sweet, use descriptive subject lines and think twice before copying someone into an email unnecessarily.
- Don’t use a business Twitter account for chatting or personal conversation use direct messages or e-mail or instead.
- Don’t tweet too much and avoid writing messages that are more than one tweet long. Tweets should favour quality over quantity.
- Try not to follow more profiles than you have followers as users may think you are a spammer.
- Create user-friendly profiles. An online profile is your virtual business card - it needs to be informative, honest and professional.
- Invite friends and acquaintances to connect, but do not add strangers. You do not have to accept friend requests or event invitations.
- Think before you post. Pictures, comments, blog entries can all be saved and forwarded on to others. Don’t post anything private or unprofessional in a public medium – it may come back to haunt you.
- If you’re a publisher or blogger, you need to pay attention to usage rights for photographs. If you want to use a particular image and it’s not licensed to allow usage, just contact the photographer or buy images from a reputable image library like iStockPhoto.
I'm taking my HP Mini on holiday to Florida soon. How do 'connect' successfully and do I need any accessories for my mini. Also, do I use the adapter you normally take with you on holiday. Do I need to purchase a dongle abroad? Help!
Here’s what I do. To recharge, I bought a cheap plug adaptor at the airport and I just plug my existing power cable into that. HP Notebook power supplies are designed to work with US and UK voltages so you’ll be fine. To get online overseas, I mainly use Wi-Fi wireless networking. Lots of hotels, cafés and airports have free or pay-by-the-hour connectivity. However, you can also use 3G wireless broadband over the mobile phone network. It’s probably easier and cheaper to buy a prepaid dongle in Florida when you get there if you don’t have easy access to Wi-Fi. You can also buy a prepaid SIM card for an existing dongle or built-in 3D mobile broadband modem (which is what I have). If you search the web, you can also find suppliers who will sell you a US SIM card or dongle before you go. The final option, which is the most expensive but most convenient, is to enable global roaming on your existing dongle or SIM card and pay roaming charges when you get there. However, on my smartphone, this runs to £6 per megabyte so the bills quickly mount up. I hope you have a great trip – send us a postcard.
(If you have a question for our IT Agony Aunt, please use the form on the main Business Answers website.)