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Tips for Increasing Employee Productivity

Increasing Employee Productivity

As everyone who’s ever managed or worked in an office knows, staying productive throughout the work day can be tough. There are meetings, coffee breaks, and just stretches of time where you feel tired or easily distracted. There are techniques to make the most of each day though. Try these tips for increasing employee productivity next time you feel a slump coming on.

Create an Inspiring Work Space

A well designed and decorated work space will boost both morale and productivity. Employees report that working in an inspiring space helps them feel more inspired in their work. Consider hiring an interior decorator to add some art and colorful furnishings to your office. You don’t necessarily need an entire re-design (unless you want one), but can simply re-arrange or add art to elevate your work space. Inspired, happy employees, are productive employees.

Allow Working from Home

Despite some contrary opinions on the subject, in general, employees report feeling more productive when working from home. This doesn’t have to mean working from home every day, but allowing employees that flexibility is important. Being able to take home a big project to focus without the distractions of the office can be great for productivity. Working from home also helps the work/life balance when employees can take a day here or there to work from the comfort of their homes.

Technology that allows seamless working from home is very accessible these days. Cloud computing, and using a remote desktop, makes it possible for employees to log in from any device and access the exact same desktop they use in the office – all of their files, all of their shortcuts, all in the same place. With tech that makes working from home so easy, why not allow it?

Discourage Multi-Tasking

No matter how great a multi-tasker you think you are, your productivity is shot when you don’t focus your attention on one task at a time. Encourage employees to sit down and really focus on particular projects, rather than trying to do everything all at once. Distracting multi-tasking habits can be broken with the help of supervisors and project managers by not expecting multiple tasks to be done on the same deadline. Help your employees give their full attention to each project by, as a team, focusing on one thing at a time from start to finish.

Supply Employees with “Brain Food”

Offering work place snacks can help your employees get through that mid-afternoon slump and push through dips in blood sugar during the day. It’s important to put thought into what kinds of snacks you offer workers, though. Food with a lot of sugar and carbs can leave your employees with energy spikes and crashes, or just leave them tired and lethargic. Snacks high in protein like nuts and beef jerky are great “brain food” in the work place.

Increasing Employee Productivity

Every day doesn’t have to feel like a battle against lack of motivation. Practice maximizing your team’s productivity through your work environment, taking on one project at a time, and keeping healthy snacks around the office. There will always still be days where it feels like not enough is getting done, but remember, happy and healthy employees are the best workers there are!

DIY Backup vs. Cloud Provider

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diy backup vs cloud provider

Are you a business owner that has recently started to wonder if you should have your computers backed up? If you have enough client and project information that it would be a big setback to lose it all, now is the time to start looking at backup options. Data loss is expensive and stressful. It’s important to choose the best backup solution for your business’s needs, so let’s start with the basics: using DIY backup vs. a cloud provider.

Time it Takes to Recover Lost Data

If you suffered a major data loss, how long would you be willing wait to for your restored data? If your answer is anything other than a few minutes, DIY backup is not for you. With a cloud provider, a phone call or email is all it takes to have your entire network’s data restored. With DIY, depending on the system you are using, it can take days or even weeks to get your data restored! It is a tedious and time-consuming process to restore a computer when you don’t know exactly what you are doing. This lag time is why many users opt to use a professional cloud provider for their backup solutions.

The Factor of Human Error

We all like to think that we and our employees are error-free, efficient workers. The truth of the matter is though, humans are incredibly error prone. The danger with DIY backup is that you bring the factor of human error back into the equation. Humans can forget to update your backup regularly, make an error while creating the backup and damage/lose data, or could even accidentally delete the entire backup.

A cloud provider will set up an automated system to regularly update your backup; no human necessary. Cloud providers have tried and true systems in place to both protect, and maintain, backed up data to keep it free of corrupted files and away from human mistakes.

Peace of Mind

Managing a backup system yourself can be a stressful task. There is the process of figuring out which type of backup is best for you, deciding how often to run the backup, making sure the backups are done correctly, and then there’s the unknown of it actually working to restore your lost data should anything happen.

By using a cloud backup provider, all of that stress and work is the responsibility of someone else. Cloud providers manage and protect your backup files 24/7. They have the technology to back up data properly and securely and do regular checks to make sure the backups are healthy and can be easily recalled should need be. This is why many businesses leave their backup solutions to the professionals.

Cost

When it comes to DIY backup vs. cloud providers, you would be surprised to learn that a cloud provider is, in fact, often less expensive than an in-house solution. With DIY backup, you must purchase the hardware for a backup and likely hire IT personnel to set it up and manage it. On the other hand, the backup services that cloud providers offer have a monthly fee that covers all hardware costs and time spent by personnel to update your backup and maintain it. Any unpredictable costs (like hardware needing to be replaced or running updates) are taken care of by the cloud provider; you only pay a consistent monthly fee for the service.

DIY Backup vs. Cloud Provider

If you are looking for a low stress, reliable way to backup your business’s data, using a cloud provider is the way to go. By setting up a cloud backup system with a provider, a monthly fee gets you hardware, round-the-clock support, and most of all, peace of mind. Should you suffer a data loss, your cloud provider has your back. Save yourself the headache of trying to set up a DIY solution and leave it to the professionals; your future self will thank you.

Essential Business Accounting Terms You Need to Know

Business Accounting Terms

Do you own a business, but are still a little foggy on some of the financial terms? Having a firm grip on these definitions will better help you understand what your accountant is talking about, or help you manage your own accounts. Read up on these essential business accounting terms to get a good handle on the basics.

Accounts Payable

Accounts payable is the amount that a business owes in the short term. These are purchases that have been made but not yet paid for, such as office supplies or catering costs. This figure is considered a liability. When a debt is accrued, it is credited to accounts payable, and then when the debt is paid, it is debited from accounts payable. This figure tells you what you owe in the short term.

Accounts Receivable

Accounts receivable is all money owed to you for services or items you have given to customers but have not yet been paid for. This figure is considered an asset. When an item/service is given, the debt is credited to accounts receivable, and when the item/service is paid off, it is debited. This figure tells you what money you can expect to come in in the short term.

Assets

Assets are anything of value that a business has. These can be both tangible and intangible things, like real estate, a patent, or accounts receivable. There is also a factor of if an asset is “liquid” or not, which is a question of if that asset can be turned into cash if need be. Keep an eye on assets to know your company’s worth.

Cash Flow

Cash flow is the amount of money moving in and out of a business over a given time period. It’s important to know your cash flow to get a handle on what kind of expenses and debts you can handle. It is different from profit, cash flow is instead what sort of liquid cash you handle each month.

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet is a snapshot of a company’s health and net worth. It should include all assets, liabilities, and equity. Balance sheets should be generated periodically throughout the year to evaluate the state of your business.

Equity

Equity is the amount that has been invested by the owner/s of the company. This can either be the equity a small handful of owners have, in the form of stock options, or collective ownership by shareholders.

Expenses

Expenses come in a few different categories: fixed, variable, accrued, and operational. Having a handle on all of these expenses is essential to running a business efficiently. Fixed expenses are the same every month, like salaries and rent. Variable expenses are tied to the company’s sales and change constantly. Accrued expenses are expenses that need to be recorded but have not yet been paid off. Lastly, operational expenses are necessary expenditures to conduct business – like equipment, marketing, and administrative fees.

Fiscal Year

A fiscal year is the period of time you designate as a year for financial and accounting purposes. It can coincide with the calendar, or be altered to work around other important financial dates for your company. Each fiscal year, all statements and taxes must be closed out to begin a new year.

Profit and Loss Statement

A profit and loss statement, often called a “P&L,” is a report of earnings, expenses, and profits over a time period. Generating these reports regularly is essential to keeping a finger on the pulse of your company’s health and growth.

Revenue

Revenue is total amount of all income without any expenses yet deducted. It is very different from profit or net. Revenue is important to understanding what you are bringing in before expenses, and what you could be profiting with lower expenses.

Become a better business owner by being up-to-date on these business accounting terms you need to know. The world of accounting is a big one, but by starting here, you should be able to get a good start on better handling your finances.

What Does Managed IT Services Mean?

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What Does Managed IT Services Mean

A managed service provider, often called an “MSP,” is a third-party contractor that manages services from an offsite location. IT service providers essentially take on everything that an in-house IT department would normally be responsible for. They provide server space for companies to use, run system updates, and even manage data and cyber security. For business owners, it is usually an “out of sight, out of mind” type of all-inclusive IT partner.

How Does Managed IT Services Work?

Managed IT services often work like this: the contractor (or MSP) owns the IT equipment that businesses use and manages all upkeep. This would mean that the provider would own the servers that the company uses, is responsible for running updates, network maintenance, cyber security, and so on. In today’s landscape, this often includes cloud computing services as well, but not always. Services are usually customizable to a company’s needs.

Payment is often in the form of a flat monthly fee and corresponds with what services the business uses and what sort of memory space their data takes up. This system means that the MSP is just as motivated as you are to keep things running smoothly and efficiently; they don’t profit from problems. It is usually more cost effective that hiring IT staff for companies that are smaller or are just not technology savvy.

Why Businesses Use Managed IT Services

Companies of every size use managed IT services. Many small businesses are stuck in an in-between space where they need the security and reliability of IT staff, but are not quite large enough or need enough services to warrant hiring IT staff in-house. Using a managed IT service provider is more cost effective for small businesses and offers professional cyber security and system maintenance, which many small businesses lack. The consistent monthly payment makes IT expenses predictable.

Managed IT services aren’t just for small businesses though. Many medium and even large businesses prefer to use an IT service provider for a few different reasons. One instance where an MSP makes more sense is for businesses that have many locations and/or many remote employees. If your staff is not all in one place, there is not really an advantage to having an on-location IT department. Another example is companies in industries that are just not in the business of technology. A number of companies in older industries, like construction and manufacturing just to name a few, might realize they need to step up their IT game but just aren’t familiar with it or don’t want to learn. Hiring an MSP becomes simply a more convenient option for today’s necessary data security and mobile computing.

Advantages of Managed IT Services vs. Traditional Model

With a managed IT service provider, you are locked into a predictable monthly cost. Your MSP is truly a partner, rather than a service provider that makes more money when you have technical problems or when systems break down. The MSP has the same goal as your company: to keep things running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. That is why the model of managed services is becoming increasingly popular in the IT world.

Managed IT Services

The demand for managed IT services grows as business technology needs continue to change. With each passing year there is a new trend in tech that businesses need to keep up with to stay competitive. Hiring an MSP contractor to manage your equipment, updates, back-ups, and the whole nine yards is an attractive option. It is often more cost effective, too!

Why are Small Businesses Targeted by Hackers?

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Why are Small Businesses Targeted by Hackers

Although it’s cyber attacks on giants like Target and Chase Bank that make the news, small businesses are actually more often the victims of hacks. You would think that there would be less valuable information to steal, not really making them worth going after. So why are small businesses targeted by hackers? In reality, small businesses make much better targets because they often have outdated cyber security, don’t have the resources to pursue the thieves, and the information to steal is still very much worth the effort.

Easier to Hack

Thieves often go for the easiest target, and hackers are no exception. Small businesses usually have outdated technology and weak cyber security. By going after an easy target, hackers are more likely to be successful in their attack and gain access to valuable the information that small businesses have. Client social security numbers, financial information, and even client lists can be easily sold on the black market.

Less Resources to Fight Back

Attacking a large, wealthy company means a higher risk of being caught and prosecuted. Small businesses are often so devastated by the hack that they hardly have the time or resources to track down the perpetrators and seek restitution.

Large companies not only have the money and legal teams to go after hackers, but law enforcement devotes more resources to large hacks on powerful victims as well. Small businesses are not nearly as capable of fighting back as the big guys.

The Less Media Attention, the Better

How many criminals have you heard of that want to attract attention to themselves? A good thief is one you never know was there. The more attention a hack attracts, the more risk of the thief getting discovered. The hack of a small business with a small amount of data stolen is not likely to attract a ton of media and law enforcement attention. The small business may not even know it was stolen! The smaller the target, the less unwanted attention on the hacker.

Protect your Small Business from a Devastating Hack

The hard truth about hacks on small businesses is that they can be devastating to business owners and easy for hackers to perpetrate. Many company simply cannot recover from huge data losses and wind up closing their doors because of it.

Preemptive cyber security measures and having a cloud backup solution can save small businesses from ruin. Don’t be an easy target and stop the attack before it happens. Read more on cyber security for small businesses and cloud backup solutions to keep your business safe.