StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Managed IT Services|Factors to Consider When Choosing Managed IT Services

Factors to Consider When Choosing Managed IT Services

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Managed IT Services|Factors to Consider When Choosing Managed IT ServicesTechnology is on the rise in every sector of the world, including the business sector. Technology demands for business have made it a necessity to have a department managing IT. Management of IT has today become a vital aspect of every business.

As a result, most businesses have opted to have an internal IT department to help manage the technical aspects of a business. However, some companies have opted to outsource IT management services from professional managed IT service providers. Being that technology is an integral part of business IT, it is essential to always choose a provider with high levels of skills that will provide you with excellent services. Settling on a provider is not easy because there are numerous managed IT service providers.

Here are some if the important factors that you should consider when choosing a managed IT service provider.

Security

With the high levels of cybercrime, security has become an important aspect of a business. However, ensuring a high-end securing can be difficult and costly. With that in mind, you must choose a service provider that does not just monitor your information system and infrastructure. But you must consider a company that can also offer strategic security plans.

With a rigid and reliable IT security, you can ensure all customer and employee data remain safe and secure. Reliable IT managed services ensure to encrypt your network to prevent people from accessing it not unless with permission. Network encryption also allows you to monitor any activity that is conducted on your network. This gives you a straightforward way to detect suspicious activities, giving you an opportunity to come up with an appropriate measure to counter it. With this, you can guarantee that you can minimize and prevent risks of cybersecurity threats from infecting your IT system and infrastructure.

Due to the nature of their work, IT support providers gain access to sensitive company information and private data. As a result, you should ensure the company has a high level of confidentiality. Or you can limit the extent of information they access to have some discretion. You should identify the initiatives the company will take to guarantee the confidentiality of your sensitive information and customer data.

Availability

One of the most essential factors to consider about manage IT companies is their service availability. The company should provide service and support 24/7/365. Quality IT managed services company will provide you with qualified IT personnel to take care of your IT needs on a shifting basis. IT service providers assure constant delivery of top-notch managed IT services through continuous and round the clock IT support.

Determining the availability of the company is crucial. This is because it will help you ascertain how proficient the IT service provider can be. 24/7/365 IT monitoring means that the company will be in a position to offer updates and provide technical support as quickly as possible. On top of this, the constant monitoring of systems also allows them to detect IT related issues in a timely manner before they became a major problem in the organization.

With early detection of problems, your provider will be able to quickly come up with solutions to the problems. This guarantees that your business can prevent worse system problems and IT disasters in the future.

The managed IT service provider you choose must be capable of addressing all your concerns. Apart from 24/7 system monitoring, the company should also provide a responsive service desk where your employees can be able to reach them for support, either through call, email or chat. This allows you staff to have a faster resolution to any IT challenge that they might face, such as problems logging in.

Scalability

You should always remember business growth when selecting an IT managed services provider. Your business demand today may not be as critical to what your business will have in a few months or years. That is why it is important to hire a service provider that understands your ever-changing business needs.

Reliable and experienced IT managed service providers offer scalable services. This means that their IT services will adapt to all the technical needs of your business. For instance, if the number of employees in your organization increases by a large number, say from 3000 to 4500, the IT service provider should be able to provide you with enough skilled personnel to provide quick and timely resolutions to prevent a decrease in productivity. This allows the It service providers to meet all your IT requirements smoothly and effectively. Through this, you can ensure that your IT system and infrastructure will be able to adapt to the changes as a result of business growth.

Experience and expertise

It is imperative to consider the experience and skill of the company. Should the personnel have the right skills, knowledge and expertise? The IT service company should have a team of professionals in IT who are certified to offer these services, thereby preventing amateur companies from experimenting with your IT infrastructure. Reliable service providers are ones that have successfully handled a number of clients from different industries.

Every industry is unique. Similarly, every organization and company has its own way of handling day to day operations. Consequently, every business has varying and different IT requirements. As a result, you must choose a provider with a proven reputation and experience of handling IT needs of a diverse set of clients. This shows the company can offer unique IT services that your system needs.

Additionally, you should choose a company with the ability to provide cloud back up and data recovery services. Generally, the company should be able to provide solutions to any problems with your network and computers. If you hire a company that does not offer full IT support, then you will have to incur additional costs of hiring a new company or losses from unsatisfied customers or clients.

Conclusion

Outsourcing managed IT services allow you to focus on other vital needs of your business. With the best IT service, you can ensure that your network is secure and stable. This allows you to maintain smooth business operations. You need to ensure you only outsource services from a well proven and reliable company.

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article |Small Business|8 Things Every Small Business Needs To Consider When Expanding

8 Things Every Small Business Needs To Consider When Expanding

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article |Small Business|8 Things Every Small Business Needs To Consider When ExpandingExpanding your business can be a daunting time as a small business owner or entrepreneur but at the same time, it can also be very exciting. The fact that you’re even considering some form of business expansion must mean business is going well, and that you’re doing something right. However, there are many things to consider when taking your small business to the next level, especially if you don’t have any prior experience with business expansion. Luckily, it’s far from impossible and today we’ve put together a guide on things that every small business owner needs to consider before expanding.

Affordability

One of the first things you have to consider is how much expanding nationally and internationally will cost your company. It comes with a variety of costs to conduct your operations overseas, from commercial space to travel, customs, shipping, and production. These expenses range considerably across countries and international regions, as well as unique expenditures that apply only to international expansion.

You don’t want to face unforeseen cash flow problems, so it’s a good idea to build a list of all the expenses to ensure that they balance with the future income and profits you will earn. If expanding your business financially seems like a good idea, then with the right planning it might prove quite successful.

But if it appears that costs, including start-up costs, would take years to recover, it makes more sense to concentrate your resources on local expansion or diversify your products/services instead of entering the international market. Sometimes starting smaller and gradually working your way up proves to be a smarter financial option with business expansion.

Employment regulations and tax laws

When it comes to taxes and employment, various countries and regions have different regulations. For example, through OSHA, the US has stringent regulations on employee safety, while other nations may have relaxed laws regulating workers’ safety. And, it isn’t always that easy. For example, Mexico has a variety of different entities that control employee safety, each with its own laws that are often inconsistent.

You also need to think about other laws when it comes to health and welfare benefits. It is now more important than ever for employers of all sizes that sponsor group health and welfare benefits, to have a formal plan document (ERISA Section 402) and Summary Plan Description (“SPD”) (ERISA Section 102). To remain compliant, all employers must also issue various required notices to employees. For these health and welfare benefits, you will need valid Compliant Wrap Documents to ensure you’re abiding by the law.

You can not afford to disregard these legal rules, since they affect everything from the recruitment and selection of employees in each country to the proper filing of your tax returns. You will need to remember how your home country handles internationally earned money, as this could have a direct effect on earnings. When planning an expansion, minimise risk and look at these regulations earlier instead of later. The sooner the procedure regulations reach the decision, the better.

Brand consistency

If you’re expanding your business overseas, there’s a large chance that your brand is brand new and will have little or no recognition. Your brand consistency is important, but you also need to think about how your brand will appear in foreign languages. What might mean something great in your native language might not in another and therefore could directly affect sales of your product. Take the time to conduct thorough research on how your brand is going to appear internationally to those that might not have heard of your brand before.

This doesn’t, however, mean that you need to change your branding. It simply means that you may have to tweak the wording or names of your products to suit the new audience. You should continue to try and keep your branding as consistent as you would normally, as changing it could directly affect sales in other areas. Keeping your brand as recognisable as possible is imperative.

Marketing efforts

Clearly, your marketing efforts have been pretty good so far, especially if you’re planning on expanding your business. Much like with your brand consistency, you need to adapt the marketing strategies and messaging to match standards (and laws) in different countries while expanding internationally. Language is an obvious factor, but success can be greatly affected by the deeper sense of messaging across some cultures. There’s a rule in marketing: think internationally, behave locally, which translates into a single brand that adapts advertising to suit distinctive aspects of the culture. Also, hiring a local marketing company allows locals to put the brand in the best light.

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article |Small Business|8 Things Every Small Business Needs To Consider When ExpandingDon’t leave existing customers behind

It’s important not to forget the customers that have helped your business this far, and this is often forgotten by expanding businesses. If they now turn away from you, expanding might end up being an expensive catastrophe. While an expansion is a great time to make a fresh start with your business, don’t do so at the expense of the people that helped you get to where you are today.

It will always go down badly with some people if you implement some kind of change into your company. There is no such thing as the perfect plan, but to make your expansion a success, you can’t let this fear stop you from introducing the improvements you need. Strike a balance between your new market being pursued and your current one being preserved.

A great way of keeping your existing customers involved in your business expansion is by rewarding them for their loyalty. You could send a mass email out to your customers providing them with a small discount on their next purchase. Not only will it show that you’re thankful for their custom, but it will help drive more sales to your business. Noone can resist a discount!

What are your competitors doing?

No matter what kind of industry you’re in, you’ll always have competitors. Even if you’re not physically at war with them, the simple fact is that it’s your business against theirs. What are they doing right? Who are they targeting? What are their marketing efforts like? Have they expanded overseas? Is there anything you could use as inspiration for your expansion? There’s nothing wrong with keeping a close eye on your competitors to better your own business.

Business collaborations

Businesses collaborate to help expand their market and of course, make more profit. Therefore, if you’re trying to transition out of the small business category, collaborating with another business could really help boost your visibility, especially if you’re teaming up with an already-established international business. Approach businesses that you could see yourself working with, and make sure you have an idea or two in mind! For example, if you’re a smart home technology distributor, you could approach events organisers with the intent of letting them use your technology at their events. Be creative!

Preparation is key

Nothing bad has ever come from preparation for something, and the same goes for your business. Detailed research into the marketplace you are planning to enter should be involved in your preparation, along with product testing (if applicable) and marketing research.

Ultimately, the last thing you should be doing when it comes to expanding your business is rushing into things. Take the time to make sure it’s the right decision financially and lawfully and you’ll find that things begin to fall into place. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your business expansion.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Interior Design Business|5 Tools To Invest In To Help Grow Your Interior Design Business

5 Tools To Invest In To Help Grow Your Interior Design Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Interior Design Business|5 Tools To Invest In To Help Grow Your Interior Design BusinessAll businesses need the tools to function properly and your interior design business is no different. From handling client queries, managing your team (or yourself) to drafting ideas for the next project, it all requires assistance. Making sure you’ve picked out the best tools for the job is important because it makes your job a lot easier as a result.

With that being said, here are five tools to invest in to help grow your interior design business.

Use 3D Interior Design Software For Clients

When it comes to bringing an idea to life, whether it’s your own or through the client’s own vision, it’s good to see it in a 3D format. For some clients, you may find that showing them a sketch or flat design of their space is not really helping secure they’re faith in you.

However, being able to present them with a close visual of what the space will turn out to be like, is going to be more effective. That’s where a 3D interior design software is going to come in handy because it helps bring that vision to life in the best way.

Picking the right type of software though is a difficult one because there are so many to choose from. It’s all based on what you need and require. For example, you might find one that is affordable due to having multiple employees. Or it could be that you need something more complex in the effects and choice it has when furnishing a 3D space.

You’ll be spoilt for choice as there are many on the market. There are some reputable ones like Foyr Neo for example. This one offers good value for money and it includes a free 14-day trial. As well as incredible design tools and over 50,000 built-in models to pick from.

When investing in your interior design business, having visuals to refer to and work on before putting the plan into action can be very helpful. It can also be the difference between securing another client or having little to no work coming in for the following month.

Showcase Your Portfolio With A Website

As an interior design business, a lot of your business comes down to showing visual examples of your work. When you start out, it may be word of mouth or simply knowing those who’ll happily pay you to design for them.

However, when you create a website to display all your recent work, it can be a great insight for any potential clients to see what you’ve done previously. A website is easy enough to make, especially as there are plenty of platforms that allow you to host and design a basic one at least.

It’s worth getting a designer though to design your website if you’ve not got the technical knowledge to do it. Being able to use your website as a way of promoting your services is something that will come in handy now and further down the line.

You should also utilize your social media platforms too as a way of advertising your interior design business. Connecting this up to your website is great for cross-promotion. Invest in a website and it hopefully secures yourself some additional clients, paying you back time and time again.

If you’re seeking inspiration on what websites to choose for hosting your website on, then Wix and WordPress are all worth looking at. They’re certainly the best place to start when needing reputable platforms that most people use nowadays.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Interior Design Business|5 Tools To Invest In To Help Grow Your Interior Design BusinessOrganize You & The Team With Business Management Software

When handling a team, it’s difficult to manage everyone when you might not all be in the same place at once. With an interior design business, employees might be out meeting clients, sourcing materials and overseeing projects. With that said, there might not be a lot of time spent within the office environment.

What’s needed in that case is a software that you can easily manage the entire business on. This might be a communications platform that’s combined with project management. This combination is usually the best because it allows for your teams to communicate with each other in real-time and to also manage any joint projects.

Keeping the team organized is important and is part of the job that you have as an interior design business. If you’re a solo business owner and have only yourself to look after, then this tool can also be useful for you too. You might want to get one that’s more focused on the project management though.

The better streamlined your business is, the easier everything becomes. There’s plenty of specialized software out there that’s been made specifically for interior designers in mind. From managing projects and crafting reports, it’s good to have as much at your disposal as possible. Automating your time-consuming tasks can also be done when you have a project management system in place.

If you’re trying to invest in your business, then it’s essential to use this tool to help keep things running like clockwork. And time is something you need when running a business. The more you have left to spare, the better!

Remember Everything With Note-Taking Apps

For interior design businesses, retaining clients and having a good reputation to get new ones is obviously important. With that being said, everything you do needs to be impressive from the initial client meetings you have, to the final reveal of the project you’re working on. Using technology to your advantage, it might be worth looking into a note-taking app to help capture all the relevant information needed.

For example, if you have a number of client meetings where you’ll be walking around a site. You don’t have the luxury of sitting down at a table to note everything down comfortably. Therefore, a note-taking app on your phone or electronic device, allows you to type or at perhaps record voice notes, as you go.

By doing this, you don’t miss any important information and that information might be key to impressing your clients. It’s something that as a business, the rest of your employees would benefit from too.

It’s also helpful for those who perhaps don’t digest quick conversation so easily and having that option to take notes or record the meeting can be ideal. When your clients are critical for business, it’s important to do everything you can to make sure all their needs and requirements are met.

If you’re after some note-taking suggestions then Evernote is a great choice as well as Apple Notes for any Apple users.

Manage The Books With Accounting Software

Managing the books is something every business needs to do and it’s something that can be vital in keeping your company afloat. For a solo business owner, you may be in the position to outsource but for most, it’s a one-person does all job when running it by yourself. That means that you’ll need to have something in place to keep everything in check.

The same goes for a business with multiple staff as not only do you have to deal with the expenses of the business but you also have to pay your staff. If you don’t have the right software in place, then things go wrong. For bigger interior design businesses, you may have multiple software platforms in your finance team, so it may be good to streamline this.

Accounting software like Quickbooks as an example is great for accounting. You can see what comes in and what goes out, draft invoices and process expenses efficiently. Having it all under one roof can be a lot easier to manage and it’s something that’s easy enough to understand.

For many business owners going it alone, it can be hard to handle a part of the business that maybe you’re not skilled in or particularly familiar with. When it comes to accounting, it’s not typically everyone’s speciality, so it’s good to have something like Quickbooks to rely on.

With platforms like this, they usually have a subscription service or perhaps a one-off fee which you pay for a lifetime membership or download of the software. It’s a great opportunity for those who need a bit of flexibility or are looking for something for the long-haul. Regardless of what you go for, it’s certainly something that you need and should think about getting.

Another problem with finances in a business is that it’s important to keep cash flow healthy and that doesn’t always happen. With clients paying late or problems out of your control, it’s important to have a good system in place that keeps it all moving forward as it should do.

These are just a few examples of what tools to invest in when it comes to your interior design business but there may be more that you need and find suitable. It’s good to pick what is going to not only help you in your interior design business but what will also make your business processes as an interior designer, a lot easier.

StrategyDriven Tools for Professionals Article |Tools for Professionals|Essential Tools Professionals Need to Manage Their Money

Essential Tools Professionals Need to Manage Their Money

StrategyDriven Tools for Professionals Article |Tools for Professionals|Essential Tools Professionals Need to Manage Their MoneyProfessionals may not all be high earners, but they usually earn a decent amount of money in return for their skills. When you start earning more, it can really make you start thinking about the best ways to make the most of your money. If you’re a professional who wants to manage your money better, there are some tools and resources that can really benefit you. Sometimes it can be useful to use technology to manage your money, while sometimes it’s the advice of experts that can really help you to get your finances into shape. Take a look at these tools and resources that can make money management easier.

Online Banking

It might seem like an obvious tool to use if you’re already somewhat financially savvy, but having a bank account with online banking can be a gamechanger. If you don’t already have one, you should look into online banking from your current bank or consider opening a new account. Online banking makes it easier to do everything from setting up automatic payments to checking on your balance. Some banks, called challenger banks, are now entirely digital and can provide you with plenty of tools to manage your money.

Money Management Apps

There are all kinds of apps that help you to budget and manage your money. They give you the tools that you need to keep track of your spending, set savings goals, and do a whole host of other things. You can use apps like Mint or YNAB (You Need a Budget) to start budgeting your money and taking control over your finances. You can also use apps like these to help you keep track of what you have in different accounts and your investments, as well as find ways to save money. It can also be useful simply to keep a budgeting spreadsheet if you don’t want to bother with an app.

Investment Apps

Investing has become more high-tech too, and you can now use various apps to start investing in different ways. Investment apps such as Acorns, Betterment, and Invstr can help you to invest using a few methods and tools. Some apps will give you advice, sometimes using a chatbot or robo-advisor, while others make it easy to start investing in certain assets and financial products. There are also investment apps that have a community aspect to them, so you can chat with other investors and share your stories and advice.

A Financial Advisor

Even with all of the tech tools available for managing your money today, there’s one thing that hasn’t gone out of fashion. A financial advisor will help you with your finances to ensure you make the most of your money. The ARQ Wealth Advisors website shows you the benefit of fee-only financial advice. You can save time and avoid losing money when you have expert financial advisors on your side. Smart financial planning can help you to get ready for the future.

If you’re a professional who needs help managing money, get some useful tools in your life that make it easier. The right resources can simplify your financial management.

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Show Employees You Care|How Companies Show Their Employees That They Care

How Companies Show Their Employees That They Care

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Show Employees You Care|How Companies Show Their Employees That They CareGone are the days when companies would treat their employees as cogs in the machine. While there are still businesses that do take this approach, the consequences of doing so are too severe — it results in low productivity and high staff turnover, and can even cause more severe problems if the issue isn’t addressed.

No, it’s much better to treat members of staff as what they are: human beings. In doing so, you’ll find that there are a lot of positive side effects, such as a higher output and generally improved atmosphere at the workplace. Plus, you’ll feel happier too! In this blog, we’re going to take a look at some of the key ways that companies show their employees that they care. Be sure to incorporate any that are applicable to your own venture.

They Get To Know Them

When you hired your employee, you will have done so based on their professional merits. But that’s only one side of them. They’ve also got rich inner and personal lives, too. So why not take some time to get to know your employees on a deeper level? While work should, first and foremost, be a place of professionalism, there’ll always be time and space to chat more informally. Everyone likes it when another person shows an interest in their life. Also, by doing things like getting to know about their family and interests, you’ll be developing a deeper bond between you and your employee, which will make it easier to work together.

They Help Them Know Each Other

A company that does not want its workers to mingle is not a good company. They do this because they’re afraid that if everyone’s too friendly with one another, then they won’t work as well, or that they might gain too much collective power. But this, of course, is a cynical view for a company to take. Plus, it’s not one that’s backed up the studies conducted by researchers, which shows that having a friend at the workplace can significantly boost productivity.

So be sure to give your employees a chance to get to know one another. It’s easy enough to do — simply hosting after-work drinks at the end of the week will be a good start.

They Invest In Their Skills

Your employee won’t be the finished article. They’ll know that. The sign of a bad company is when it tries to limit the knowledge or growth of its employees. They fear that if they become too educated, then they might leave for another company, or ask for a raise. And this is true — it could happen. But holding someone back for your own reasons is a selfish attitude, and your employees will know this. So invest in their skills. Pay for them to go on training courses, attend seminars, and so on. Doing this will also benefit your company since you’ll be gaining access to well-trained employees.

They Stand Up For Them

Someone once said that the customer is always right, but whoever that was must have been a customer, because it’s rarely true. This is a good thing to keep in mind generally, but it’s especially important when you’re dealing with your staff. If a customer targets one of your employees, what is your response? Do you back the customer in front of the employee, or do you defend your member of staff? Of course, there’ll be a fallout no matter what path you take, but one is less severe than the other. You might lose a client if you back your employee, but you’ll lose the trust of your employee — and possibly other members of the team — if you back the client.

They Don’t Question Illness/Off Days

Everyone gets ill from time to time. It’s just the way life goes. If you’re a good boss, then you won’t question the trustworthiness of your employees, or force them to come back to work before they’re ready. This can be the tempting route to take, but ultimately, you’ll just find that it causes more problems — and that you don’t come across as uncaring. Also, if a member of staff has an emergency — such as an ill family member or a logistical issue — then let them get on with it. Your business might be a priority for you, but it’s a secondary concern for your employees, especially when they’re dealing with an emergency.

They Give Raises

You’ll have started your employees on a set salary, but it doesn’t mean that you should keep them there, even if you’re legally allowed to. If they’ve proven that they can produce work to a high standard and have become a valuable member of the team, then you should reward them. There are plenty of employees who end up growing resentful that they never get a raise, and you know what they do? They leave to find another job. In making it a company policy to review your employee salaries from time to time, you’ll be helping to boost your employee retention rate. Of course, there may be times when the company is unable to give raises, for various reasons. At those times, it’s important to communicate the reason for the lack of raise, and mention that things will change when things improve.

They Focus On Wellness

Wellness has become a big corporate trend in recent years. This has been driven, in part, by a need to address the rising stress levels that many employees are beginning to experience. We know now, in a way that we didn’t in the past, that it’s important to find a balance between work and relaxation. The only problem is that employees are working so much that there’s usually not enough time for wellness. This is where you can come in. By offering some wellness activities and treatments at your workplace, you’ll be showing that you care about the mental health of your employees.

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Show Employees You Care|How Companies Show Their Employees That They CareThey Focus On Site Safety

Of course, while there are plenty of things you can do to push your employee wellness program forward, it’s important to first take care of the basics. Offering a morning yoga class won’t do all that much good if the basics of employee care have not been handled. First and foremost, your workplace should be safe and free of hazards. How you create a safe workplace will depend on the type of business you run, but could include installing industrial dust collector filters, having a secure access system, or investing in safety clothing/equipment for your employees. In essence, it’s all about identifying the potential threats to the wellbeing of your team and taking steps to address it.

They Offer Employee Perks

The salary of your employees is important, but it’s also important to offer more. What is your employee perk program, for example? If it’s currently non-existent, then perhaps now is the time to get one going. There are plenty of different things that you can offer your team. Can you offer a flexible working schedule, which allows them to choose their hours and where they work? Could you offer more than the minimum vacation time? Or what about simply having coffee and donuts available? It’s amazing what a difference these types of things can do for the happiness of your employees.

They Take On Feedback

It’s hard to feel as if someone cares if they never listen to you. It’s always a good idea to look at the dynamic of your relationship with your team. Is the conversation always one way? Or do you present an opportunity for your employees to talk, and then take their ideas on board? If it’s anything other than the latter, then work on making changes. It’s not so much about having an open door policy as it is about getting rid of the door entirely.

They Improve the Work Environment

People look primarily at the work they’re doing and the amount of money they’re getting paid. But they also look at secondary factors, too. For example, the work environment in which they’re working. So take a look at your workplace. Is it as inspirational as it could be? Is it pleasant, clean, and trendy? If not, then invest the time and effort required to make it so. Your clients will be happier to work in an environment that they like.

They All Pitch In

If there’s one thing that employees dislike, it’s feeling as if they’re the ones doing all the work, while the people at the top take breaks. If you want to show that you care about your staff, then it’s important that you pitch in to help. A family member would rightly assume a lack of care if you let them do all the housework. The same principle applies for regular work, too. If there’s a deadline, don’t leave the responsibility of meeting the deadline just to your team — make sure you’re the one that’s not only helping out, but the one leading the charge and setting the example.