Hardware VPNs or Software VPNs? What’s the Best Option?

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | Hardware VPNs or Software VPNs? What's the Best Option?

When talking about VPNs, you might hear people referring to either “software VPNs” or “hardware VPNs.”

Fancy and interesting terms, but what do they mean exactly?

Well, this quick 5-minute article will tell you everything you need to know about them (including which option would be ideal for you).

What Is a Software VPN?

Software VPN is the app you use to run VPN connections on your device. VPN providers or independent developers create software VPN and make it available on their websites. Pre-installed clients on your operating system also count as software VPN.

I should also mention that VPN software is what VPN providers use on their servers to establish and handle client-server communications. That’s not really of interest to you, but it’s useful info to know.

What Is a Hardware VPN?

Hardware VPNs are devices with dedicated processors that offer VPN, and firewall features. Unlike software VPN, they are completely standalone. That means they can handle every single VPN function on their own.

To give you an idea of how hardware VPNs look like, here’s a good example – the hardware VPN from Zyxel.

Which Type of VPN Is Better Suited for You?

Well, just reading the definitions won’t help you make a decision on the spot, so I’ll compare the two types of VPNs with a focus on user convenience.

Alright, so let’s get started:

1. Software VPNs Are Much Cheaper

Let’s get one thing straight – hardware VPNs are not budget-friendly at all. Just one of them might cost anywhere between $100 and $500. If you’re looking for high-end features, the price can easily go over $1,000.

Sure, you might (emphasis on might) find hardware VPNs that cost less than $100. But don’t expect them to be as powerful as their more expensive counterparts.

And while a cheap hardware VPN can be a good option for your home network, software VPNs are still better price-wise. I mean, at most you’re looking at anywhere between $3 and $9 per month. Usually, the longer the subscription period, the cheaper the price.

Now I know what you’re thinking – if you use software VPNs, won’t you need to pay for tons accounts for all your employees?

Well, not really. Depending on the service you pick, you can get support for multiple simultaneous connections, like six or seven. In fact, some VPN providers might even offer you unlimited connections.

2. Setting Up the Hardware VPN Is No Walk in the Park

If you’re expecting to just buy the thing, set it in your home or office, turn it on, and relax, you’re in for a nasty surprise.

Basically, if you want to set up a hardware VPN, you’re going to need an experienced IT team by your side. You can try to handle everything on your own, but if you make a mistake, you’ll end up with annoying errors and unsecure VPN connections.

Plus, get this; hardware VPNs don’t have the same configurations like corporate firewalls and routers. So, even a skilled IT team might need some extra training to get everything 100% right.

And that’s not all. Once the hardware VPN is set up and running, the job isn’t done. You’ll still have to configure your network to accommodate the new addition. Also, you’ll need at least one dedicated person to monitor the hardware VPN and perform maintenance when needed.

I mean, you can do it yourself, but it’s going to start feeling like a full-time job fast (it pretty much is anyway).

Well, on the plus side, once you handled everything, you get instant remote access whenever you want.

Though, that pales in comparison to software VPNs. You just download and install the client, run it, connect to a server, and that’s pretty much it. Takes just a few seconds at best, or a few minutes at worst.

3. Both Software and Hardware VPNs Offer Good Security

There’s really not much difference between them. Sure, hardware VPNs use dedicated connections, so you could say it’s a bit safer because you’re not sharing the VPN server with tons of other strangers.

But here’s the thing – there are also risks associated with a hardware VPN.

For one, connection errors can pop up if the IT team didn’t properly set up or monitor the device. What’s more, cybercriminals actually prefer targeting hardware VPNs.

With software VPNs, you can at least relax knowing the VPN provider is taking care of everything for you.

4. Business-Wise, Software VPNs Are More Scalable

If you’re running a small business, you get better scalability with software VPNs. If you hire more people, you just have to get some extra subscriptions to cover the new remote connections.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | Hardware VPNs or Software VPNs? What's the Best Option?

With hardware VPNs, things aren’t as simple. You’ll need to spend money on add-ons to support the new employees. And if your company really grows, you’re going to have to just buy an extra hardware VPN (or more), or a new model that supports more connections.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I’d say that there’s no need to use hardware VPN if you’re an average online user. I mean you can do it if you have the money and skills, but let’s be honest – hardware VPNs are more suitable for large companies with very skilled IT teams and large budgets that want dedicated VPN connections.

As a regular Internet user, you’re better off with software VPN. It’s cheaper and easier to set up. Plus, you can even use it for your business to secure your VoIP calls, get around geo-blocks, do SEO research, and encrypt remote employee connections to your network – not to mention save money too.

If you need help to find reliable software VPNs, take a look at ProPrivacy. The website has tons of useful guides, and reviews that will help you make a smart decision.

Could You Be A Better Entrepreneur?

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | Could You Be A Better Entrepreneur?

The answer is probably ‘yes’, and the most successful entrepreneurs know that. You need to be confident and aspirational if you want to build a profitable business, but you also need to be humble enough to accept your flaws. If you can continually pinpoint the weaknesses of your company and your leadership skills, then you’ll be able to continually develop solutions which improve your business. It’s up to you to make that happen, however. Simply hiring professionals and delegating responsibilities isn’t enough. You have to guide your team. You have to help them to become as invested in your business as you are. Could you be a better entrepreneur? Probably. Here are some ways in which you could make that happen.

Do your research

Do your research if you want to become a better leader. No entrepreneur knows everything, though many of them give that impression. You can outwardly present the image of an all-knowledgeable business owner, as long as you’re inwardly aware of the fact that you need to continuously learn new things to keep up with the ever-changing business world. Make it your goal to read entrepreneurial books regularly. This will help you to keep your knowledge fresh, even if some of the things you read are things that you already know. The best business leaders keep researching. That includes your target market, of course. Talk to consumers. Learn about the mistakes being made by you and your competitors so you can develop innovative new ideas to win over potential customers in your market.

Keep taking training courses

You should also keep taking training courses if you want to be the best possible business leader. This goes beyond conducting research to learn more about the business world and your particular target market. This is about developing your technical knowledge so you can be more than just a delegator. You might want to consider doing online sales training. You probably have a sales team at your company, but you could help to guide them with more efficient sales strategies if you understand how it works. To be a good leader, you have to understand the different aspects of your business. Take training courses in web design, business finance, and other areas to help the different departmental teams which keep your company running.

Talk to your employees

If you want to become a better leader, then talking to your employees would be a good place to start. Your members of staff could tell you what improvements need to be made to the business. They could give you advice regarding your style of management and the structure of your business’ daily operations. Remember, being a good leader isn’t about doing things on your own. It’s about being a good team player. That means you have to be able to listen to your workers.

In turn, your company will be able to improve because you’ll be pooling the collective creativity of your team members together. This is essential to your growth as a leader, too. Additionally, if you respect your employees, then they’ll respect you, as well. Effective leadership is all about being respected in the eyes of your staff members. Otherwise, whilst they might still appreciate your role as their boss, they won’t feel as if they’re being led by you. That could affect the productivity levels of your workplace, so don’t underestimate the importance of talking to your workers.

The Entrepreneur’s Roadmap to Success

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | The Entrepreneur's Roadmap to SuccessWhen speaking with groups, questions arise on how and where to get started on going into business for ones self. Often times a new entrepreneur feels he or she has done their due diligence only to learn later that they barely scratched the surface. They checked out the market, discussed the business idea with friends and family and feels they can come up with enough capital to set themselves up for success.

Unfortunately, often the amount of working capital needed to fund the project is simply not enough to account for all the expenses that arise with a new business. It seems that most businesses fail, not due to the validity of the idea, but rather that the project was under capitalized or underfunded from the start. The simple fact is that if you cannot preserve your working capital, “You won’t make it”. We have all seen great business ideas go down in flame because of working capital issues. Too often, the unforeseen – which were not budgeted for, will consume the cash that the business was relying on to bridge the gap between idea and implementation. If nothing else, budget and plan for the unknown – because if something can go wrong – it will.

Being in business for yourself, according to many entrepreneurs, is the greatest job most individuals will ever have . In doing so you have the potential to impact other people’s lives in a positive way while leading an organization to success. This can be both a blessing and a curse. If you are confident enough in what you are doing, and you have truly done your due diligence, you can have a prosperous business. If you don’t put in the time and effort to cover all your bases, you are not only setting yourself up for failure but you are doing yourself a disservice. A successful entrepreneur not only plans for the unexpected, but anticipates that it will invariably happen.

Ask yourself, “Why do I want to go into business for myself?” The first answer most of us give is that we want to be our own boss. A great perk is that most entrepreneurs can live and work wherever they want. Entrepreneurship, if done correctly, can not only be rewarding from a financial perspective but also from a quality of life perspective.

How someone with a limited amount of experience and resources thinks they can go into business and be successful is beyond me. Furthermore, what financial institution would ever loan this type of person any money? Does this mean there is little or no hope for young adults to make it as budding entrepreneurs? Not necessarily. Since most young entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury in making a lot of mistakes, they must go about this very differently. Having a partner with the experience and resources to make this idea or business a reality is a route these young entrepreneurs must take. Finding a business mentor can be the difference between success and failure. You may have to give away more ownership in this type of arrangement than you wanted, however, if successful, it should be well worth it.

About the Author

Randy Steele, author of The Entrepreneur’s Roadmap to Success, is a lifelong entrepreneur and has had tremendous success in the financial service business, real estate, real estate appraising, greenhouse growing operations, and the mortgage industry. Through these experiences, the knowledge he has gained is invaluable to someone wanting to start a business or someone wanting to take their business to the next level.

How to Raise Revenue for an Entrepreneurial Start-Up

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleThe first step in raising revenue for an entrepreneurial start-up is to outline a detailed marketing strategy. It is important for start-up entrepreneurs to test their assumptions as soon as they can. A big reason for the success of established companies is that they never invest large capital or significant time on any project unless they have determined that it has an overwhelming probability of success. The corporate world taught me that most ideas fail in the marketplace. When this happens, it should fail quickly and cheaply. You just want to make sure that you are not overwhelmingly hurt when you experience this inevitable fact.

Complete the following exercise carefully before you launch your marketing campaign. Accuracy in this exercise will be crucial to your future business success:

1. Decide who is your ideal customer – Most entrepreneurs start with a great product or service idea, but fail in correctly identifying their ideal customer and instead will sell to anyone who buys from them. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes I still see today, especially in the online world.

There are two main reasons you want to determine who these ideal or dream customers are: first, your ideal customers will appreciate your offers and will pay for it based on your value, not price; and second, they are more likely to refer more business your way.

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About the Author

Ajay PrasadAjay Prasad owns GMR Web Team, a digital marketing agency dedicated to helping businesses maximize revenue from internet. He also invests in web-based start-ups. Ajay also operates a seven-figure web based business, GMR Transcription, which he built from scratch and grew it by using strategies that he uses for his digital marketing clients.

Refining Your Craft: 4 Aspects of Business Every Restaurant Owner Can Improve

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business | Entrepreneurship | Restaurant | Refining Your Craft: 4 Aspects of Business Every Restaurant Owner Can ImproveMany restaurateurs get started with visions of rave reviews and prestigious awards dancing before their eyes. Running a real restaurant, though, almost always turn out to be more difficult and demanding than expected.

Fortunately, there are a number of proven ways for restaurant owners and operators of all kinds to raise the bar higher. There are at least four important facets of the restaurant business that can almost always use some attention.

1. Double Down on Accounting

Laypeople sometimes believe that the most popular restaurants get by entirely on the quality of their food and service. In reality, every successful restaurant rests on a firm, carefully laid financial foundation.

When a restaurant does not feature plenty of enlightening, useful accounting behind the scenes, its days will necessarily be numbered. Upgrading a restaurant’s accounting processes and systems can easily end up being the best way to ensure its long-term viability.

Fortunately, that is easier to achieve than at any time in the past. From focused franchise accounting services to one-off consulting projects, the required kinds of support are now readily accessible.

When a restaurant’s accounting game has become truly well-developed, the entire establishment will be a lot more resilient. Accounting is so important to every restaurant that it often proves to be the best place to look for ways to improve.

2. Cut Down on Waste

Well-run restaurants tend to feature menus that account for every bit of expense tied up in each dish. Even when a great deal of planning has gone into developing a business-informed menu, though, excessive waste can alter the equation significantly.

From scraps that get thrown out instead of being turned into stock to misfired dishes that end up in the trash, waste is a pernicious problem in the restaurant industry. Having strong accounting processes in place will make it easier to identify areas where waste can be reduced or even eliminated.

Over time, that will contribute directly to the continued viability of almost any restaurant. While some level of food waste will typically prove unavoidable, keeping on top of this universally relevant problem will always be best.

3. Make More Efficient Use of Workers

Most restaurants spend just as much on labor as they do on procuring fresh, delicious ingredients. In many cases, though, restaurant workers find their talents being misdirected or even neglected.

Looking to make the most of every employee hour can cut a restaurant’s costs significantly. Having a salaried sous chef handle some additional duties might make it possible to reduce the number of hours scheduled for prep cooks.

Of course, workers have rights and limits, and these always need to be respected. In most cases, simply taking a regular look at how staffers are being employed and when will reveal opportunities for improvement.

4. Speed Up Service

Restaurateurs who are passionate about food never want guests to feel rushed. That generally hospitable approach to the business can encourage excessive slowness if not properly controlled.

Keeping things moving along in the dining room and the kitchen can allow a restaurant to serve more diners each day or night. That can end up raising revenues significantly without adding much to the operation’s costs. In some cases, this can even turn a formerly unprofitable establishment into a successful business.

There are Ways to Improve Any Restaurant’s Operations

Tactics like these consistently help restaurant operators make much-needed progress. Some of the most successful restaurants got there largely because of behind-the-scenes efforts like these. While great food and refined service will always help, restaurants that rest on solid foundations tend to have the best chances of success.

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