Category Archives for "Technology"

Does Your Small Business Need a Consultant?

By Randall Orser | Consulting , Small Business , Technology

Most small business owners are very hands-on and want to be involved in all aspects of their business.  They find it difficult to delegate tasks to employees or outside consultants.   

However, as their company grows, they may find that too much time of their time is being spent on activities that others could do just as well or better, so they should consider hiring a consultant.  They  need to decide what their time is worth vs the cost of contracting out some tasks.

Bookkeeping and Accounting

For those who find bookkeeping tedious or if the business has a large amount of transactions it makes sense to let a professional handle it.  A bookkeeper can usually keep your record keeping up to date in a few hours a month.  They can pay your bills, do payroll, submit invoices, pay government taxes and get your accounts ready for the tax season.  

An accountant will keep you updated on tax laws, make recommendations such as when to incorporate and give you financial advice to grow your business.  You may only need them for a few hours a year, but it may be well worth the cost.

Information Technology (IT) Services

Technology changes at a rapid pace and most businesses need the help of an IT consultant to keep up and to solve issues with hardware and software.  They will back up your data, set up cloud computing services, install hardware and software, provide training and advise on upgrades to technology to streamline the business and improve productivity.

Human Resources Services

Most business cannot afford a HR individual or department to deal with personnel issues, so they  hire a consultant to deal with employee relations.  HR consultants are knowledgeable about recruitment of new staff, dealing with discipline and terminations, planning training and orientations and managing employee safety and welfare.  

Marketing Services 

Attracting and retaining customers is an essential requirement for business growth. A marketing consultant can implement an overall marketing strategy and design and implement marketing campaigns. They are experienced in social media, email blitzes, website and blog promotions, press releases, flyers, and arranging educational seminars for clients.  In addition, they can set up charity event sponsorships that give your company publicity and cross-promotions with other businesses.

Legal Services

Although many legal tasks such as setting up a business name, incorporation and setting up contracts with vendors can be done by a business owner. More complex legal issues such as partnership agreements, share allocations, lawsuits, real estate or franchise agreements, and trademarks require the services of a lawyer. 

How to Hire a Consultant:

  1. Assess your needs – whether you will need weekly or monthly service or on-call emergency assistance (especially for your IT consultant).  
  2. Make a list of potential candidates – word of mouth is a common way to find a good consultant.  You can also get recommendations from the local Chamber of Commerce and by networking with other people in your business.
  3. Meet with the candidate to discuss your requirements and their qualifications to see if you are a fit.  Ask questions about familiarity with your business, when they are available especially when needed, how you can contact them and of course their rates and how they bill.
  4. Once you have decided who to hire draw up a contract for their services.

 

How to Protect your Small Business Data

By Randall Orser | Cloud-computing , Small Business , Technology

Backing up your business data is vitally important.  Only keeping data on your computer can be a big mistake.  Programs on your computer can be reinstalled but if you lose all your correspondence, documents and transaction details then your business could be seriously compromised.  Having paper copies is not the answer.  If there is a catastrophe such as a flood or fire, then again, your data could be lost. 

If losing your data will seriously affect your business, then you need to set up a more reliable back-up system.  Your business data should be backed up regularly, should be saved on reliable media or in the cloud, and should be kept in a secure off-site location.

Backing up or Archiving your Data

Your data should be backed up for the short term, but data that is no longer in regular use should be archived.  This includes everything from emails to accounting information.  A good reason to use cloud-computing in your business is that you can retrieve your information should something happen to your desktop computer.  

However, cloud services can still be hacked or sabotaged which can cause a loss of data, so it is a good idea to save it to a storage device such as a USB drive or an external hard drive.  Once you have identified the data to be archived you can install a backup software program that will do that for you on a regular basis.

Once again, do not leave these backups on site unless you have a fire-proof safe, they need to be stored elsewhere.  Some businesses will store their backups in a security box at a bank and others at the homes of different friends and family members.   

If you have a local area network, you can back up files to another computer or server, but it should be in a different location that is secure.  If you want to back up a lot of information for long term storage, then tape backups can be the best option as they are reliable and can store huge amounts of data.

Most importantly make sure that you use strong passwords to protect your data and change them regularly.   For extra security make sure that the backup files are encrypted.  If you use cloud storage this is done for you.