Category: Small Business Advice

 

Excel and Access applications to the cloud economically and safely with Amazon Workspaces

Recently there has been a major new development in cloud platform tools that allows your Excel and Access applications to the cloud economically and safely with Amazon Workspaces. This development by Amazon is truly standing them apart from other cloud providers at this stage.  We have tested and can verify excellent results with MS Access, MS Excel and other proprietary Software applications.Amazon Workspaces

So, let me explain to you, as a business owner, what this is, without the technical mumbo jumbo.

In short, Amazons new function, “Amazon Workspaces”, is a set of tools that will allow users to put their Excel spreadsheet, or MS Access application, or Word templates on to the cloud and allow all their staff to access this information.  This new feature also has backup option and security.  It allows the user to access this information via a login to the cloud on what is referred to a as a remote desktop (e.g. a window inside your operating system), so they can use whatever their business has loaded there.

It allows users to print locally where the user is located. In addition, the user has the ability to use programs and data that are remote.

Here’s a practical example of this

Last week, a client of Accede’s came to us to help them solve their dying server.  Logic dictated to move to the cloud.  They have a MS access application, a PHP based intra-web, and a proprietary software product loaded to their new Amazon Workspaces.  We loaded A few extra tools so that our client could handle

  • their shared documents and shared images,
  • auto backups,
  • photocopier/scanner document transfers
  • a range of other unique software applications.

My client uses Office 365 for all their Office Software and for their business outlook. My clients peripheral devices include Macs, tablets, hubs, printers, scanners and Windows PCs.  All my clients software and data has now been loaded to the Amazon Server, and all peripherals have been transparently  connected. As a result, all their staff can locally and remotely use this server.  We have turned off their old server locally (as this was dying and needed a full replacement or an alternative solution).

A lot of testing  has been performed on this new function and we have found that even though this client has no NBN and very poor ADSL he is getting good results from this cloud option.  This is because all of the processing and work is actually done on the server and by sending data up and down very poor internet lines.

Why Go to cloud?

Simply put; ease of use and it’s also very cost effective.  Many customers use Office 365 exchange simply because it works better.  So does this cloud feature.  It just works better, easier and has more flexibility than what most small business companies currently offer their own staff with their own servers and IT facilities; and it is so much cheaper.

I have often been asked about security.  You will find that security for exchange on office 365 is better than it was when exchange was on the average small business server.

What Amazon Workspaces offer is also more secure than what the average business offers.  So much so, that even the CIA has moved to Amazon purely due to its security.

Lack of security for cloud access is really an outrageous fear put into most business owner’s heads, due to IT people being afraid of loss of revenue.  I see this time and time again.

Cost Review of Amazon Workspaces

Based on a small business server, whose hardware, software and installation costs about 20K (this is a very average type server for say 8-15 terminals).  This 20K would be amortized over the average 4 year life span that technology and servers generally offer today.  So, the monthly cost excluding interest etc. would be $416 per month.  Plus, the average server of this type, costs about 5K per annum to maintain.  All up costs would be closer to $833 per month.

Now, if one used the Amazon Workspaces as their server, and Office 365 for their exchange one’s server maintenance is included.  On’s space, backups etc. is all included.  The monthly cost average for 10 users is just $275 per month.

The difference is clear, $833 versus $275.  Security is safer. The accessibility is easier.

Why are people not advertising how to use Amazon Workspaces?

Simply put – IT Technicians that advertise this will lose revenue.

Accede do not source their revenue from network or hardware maintenance as we are Software developers.  Our clients seek solutions to their particular needs.  Amazon really does offer a full solution for loading simple based applications to the cloud.  We continually review other cloud service providers, however Amazon is a clear leader in this area.

How could you test your Excel and Access applications to the cloud economically and safely with Amazon Workspaces without committing?

As Amazon offer this service on a monthly fee, customers can try this for a month and turn it off if it is not good enough for them.  We did this for the example I gave you at a monthly fee of about $60.  We have also loaded a single application for a client and given them access so they can test the viability of this before  investing in setting up their own virtual server etc. and this has cost the client just $40.

What does Amazon Workspaces and its setup cost?

Price varies depending on space, users, facilities etc.  If you are IT literate, you could do this yourself. However, as with any server setup, I suggest you use skilled IT people to do this for you.  An average application cost would be about $250, but a full server replacement cost, could be between $1500 and $5000, – about half the cost of a physical server setup in your office. This is really a great break through with Tools and options offered for Cloud Users.

So why not move your Excel and Access applications to the cloud economically and safely with Amazon Workspaces.

 

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Business Security Insights: Is your business safe using cloud technology, cloud data?

Cloud Uploading (Database)

“Data is the new oil? No: Data is the new soil.” – David McCandless

SOIL DATA
Grow your livelihood on, food, house etc. Grow your business with
Protect from external damage, e.g. pestilence, pollution, wind etc. Virus Protection
Protect from Theft with fences and security Security, firewalls, good IT practices, backups

This analogy is really quite apt once considered.  Therefore knowing how safe cloud technology is it is vital you plan to use this technology for your business.  Most companies have or are already using cloud technology due directly to the lower costs that are associated with this technology.

The answer of safety relies on legal and trust aspects in its response and generally this relates to the dollars invested and the federal laws that apply to your cloud based location.

In this article, I will explore some of the areas of Safety that you have control of.

In House Server, Rent Infrastructure, or Rent Space and Infrastructure?

Recently I chatted with a corporate IT manager, and we discussed the pros and cons of exactly this option.  Due to a company mandate, this companies board has selected that this company may not “rent” space on another company’s server.  They feel the risk is too high. Instead they have opted to have their own server – in house.  This has led to all sorts of bottle necking, as they simply do not have the internet resources to service their own needs.

So what to do.  They either need to invest in massive infrastructure – which frankly is a waste of money, or they can rent the infrastructure and still have their own server.  There are many companies that offer this, one of which is a new SA based company called YourDC.  The advantage of such a solution is that this is a halfway step.  You control your own server. You own your own data. You manage your server.  You have access to your server and you decide who else will have access.  Totally in your control.  The only part you are renting is the infrastructure to house the server and supply the access e.g. internet access to and from your server.  For this corporate company, this is the right way to go, based on the board decisions.  This is not a cheap option, as maintaining and caring for a server, costs quite a lot of money.

In short the infrastructure for this cloud solution is like a countries infrastructure.  You still own your own land, and you pay rent to use the roads, sewerage etc.

Now, if you elect to have your data Hosted, this means, that you are renting not only the infrastructure, but also the physical space for your data to reside.  If this is your option, you really ought to read on about other safety considerations.

How to select a Safe Hosting Solution.

We are all still reeling from the events in Paris on the 7th of November. Obviously the terrorist had an impact, and the governments stand against terrorism, has a direct impact on stored data.  So if you wish to have control of your data, the government rights over your data must be considered.  My recommendation is that you should locate your data in the country that your business head office resides.  E.g. if you work in the USA, your data should reside in the USA.  If you work in Australia your data should reside in Australia.

This statement has a cost associated.  It is initially cheaper to have data reside in a 3rd world country, but what are the long term costs.   The question is – what is the cost to your data if it is not residing in your own country.

So what if you have an international company, e.g. you sell or work in more than one location.  There are still solutions for you.

There are quite a few hosting companies that offer multi location servers. E.g. Amazon and Rackspace.  You can actually have multiple servers based in different countries.

In fact this is just 2 of the main players in this arena, there are literally thousands of such companies. This leads us to the issue of how to choose a safe company to be with.

How to choose a Safe Hosting Company?

I have learnt from years of experience as a business manager, that generally the old proverbs are true.   “You get what you pay for”. This scenario was almost tailor made for this statement.  I have used many hosting companies.  Some are really cheap and some are really expensive.  But each offers different levels of data safety and protection.

To give you a specific example.  As a database developer, I often need administrator level access to work on databases for my clients. One internet hosting company, once they provided this to me, I had access to ALL their clients’ data, not just my clients. I could have copied, shared and deleted data from any company.  All this access was given to me freely.  By the way, this company was an Australian promoted and located company based in Victoria.

I have also had very economic companies that really gave great value and service for money.  Once such company is Azure. This discounted option, is discounted because it is limited to servicing ONLY MS SQL solutions.  So in fact Microsoft have discounted this service as part of a marketing or promotion solution to promote their own products.

For Accede’s development we mainly use Amazon, however we have also used Rackspace for quite a few clients.  The reason we do this, is because these companies offer the best flexibility, safety and reliability that we can viably afford.  So why do we say Safety so easily and what do I consider when I say the word Safety.  Accede also use Azure for its MS SQL datbase solutions.

Safety with the hosting company consists of:

  • Security for your data
  • Is their server reasonably well protected – how easy is it to hack?
  • Do they invest in the security of their servers
  • What do they have to lose if they are hacked and it becomes public information
  • How easy is it to communicate with their technicians if we see or find an issue.
  • What country holds the server
  • What partners etc. are they linked with that may have an impact.

Now, these are the points that I review when considering were to allow our valuable data to reside.  All this information is quite easily available in reviews, company website, and general blogs.

Finally Protection

Most hosted servers, have one or more levels of firewall protection. Most also have virus and malware protection.  However, is that enough and what other options are available?

This is where data encryption, security certificates, and the server settings are vital.

It is so easy to allow anyone access to your data – in fact it is easiest.  But the issue then is that the data is public-ally available.  So getting your host initial set up established correctly is vital. Plus this is something that should be periodically checked, as upgrades, changes etc. all can affect your setups.

My suggestion, is that this should be reviewed regularly and reported on as part of your disaster recovery checks. Microsoft recommend this be done done monthly or at least quarterly.  With that stated, I suggest that if you care for your data then don’t defer this any longer than twice a year.

Level of Desire/Competition will increase your risk.

Many years ago one of my clients – involved in Manure Sales, was being targeted and regular hack attempts where being made our of India.  Reverse checks, showed that a competitive business really wanted the data, and this meant that they were paying others to “get” the data for them.  We increased the security and the problem went away.

If your data is desired, then expect that you will have to invest more in time and money to protect your data.  Realize that even the highest invested companies have been hacked.  So there is nothing, cloud or local that cannot be hacked.  What you need to do, is make it so hard to hack, that is just not worth the effort.

So often friends have asked me if I can “hack” their data.  Generally these businesses have no real lock on their firewalls, their password is often Password, date of birth or 123, and they have not altered their password in months.  This is not what I would call hacking, I really call this looking.  For these people the shock I see when they realize that getting to all their data is easy.   What is often not understood, is that when you can’t get your data, it is corrupt, locked, forgotten passwords, etc.  It is companies like Accede that get your data for you.   So I suggest you have some good IT standards, checks and backups in place.  Remember your backups contain your data, so security of these also matters.

Is my business safe using cloud technology, cloud data?

That depends on:

  • How you set up your cloud service
  • Desired level of security
  • Checking
  • Caliber of companies you partner with
  • And the level of desire your data holds.

I hope this article has given you an insight and areas to consider.  Remember as a manager, you don’t have to know all the answers, but you have to know who to ask, and the right questions to ask.

If you have any questions or comments. I am happy to not only receive them, but I will respond to them also.

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Are you sure your business data is safe?

Or is it just what you have been told?
Photo of Data backing up to the cloud

If I had a $1000 for each business that told me its data was safe, and then I found out that it was not, I would be able to buy a new house – Truly.

So why is it that your IT person says they have a backup and they can restore a file and it is all fine, and I am telling you here, it is not?  It is because for those of you who use a Database e.g. MS SQL , MYSQL, Dataflex, Oracle etc. these are Multi User databases.

A multiuser database has a unique method of backing up.  Most of these databases create a specific backup file e.g. a BAK file.   These files are created even if someone has the database open and is using the data.  Now here is where things become even more interesting.  Some people have really Old versions of databases, and their Bak Files need to be restored in their own version of the database, which may only work on certain operating systems etc.

So how do you make sure you are safe?

Simply, ask your IT person to do a restore and give you access to your data as it was yesterday.  Check that entries you have made this morning are not there, and that you can access, add and edit your data from yesterday.  Once you have done this – you are then sure that your data is safe.

What if you don’t have time for this idea?

Well, you are running a bit of a risk, but give these instructions to your IT person, and ask them to tell you what invoice ABC which was entered yesterday is for.  If they have the same information that you do, then you know the restoration was a success.  If not, then do not consider that the restoration worked, and get someone involved that does know about this style of database backup to review and check your backups.

What else do you need to watch out for?

UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) are really necessary in Australia as we get such extreme heat, and regular power drop outs or interruptions.  So if you don’t know when you purchased your UPS, or if it is over 2 years old, it is time to get a new UPS.  They are no longer a huge investment, and frankly, if you don’t have laptops, you may want to have a couple of UPS’s so that you can keep your server and a terminal going during a power drop out.  These should really be replaced every about 2 years.

What about how long you could be down if the server is lost?

Cloud backups are great – until you need to get going in a hurry.  I know this personally and only too well. I really suggest you need a mix between local and cloud backup technology.  If you can restore local data and get up and going quickly, then you are only updating the changes that have happened since the last backup, and that means that you are not going to take a week to get your data back.  Getting data down from the cloud is generally faster than Up to the cloud, but even so, it could take days if you have a lot of data – and if that is the case, you can’t afford to wait days to get data back. So having a mix between the two is really necessary.

 

Remember – We only need a backup at the worst time.  Never are backups used when everything is going well – it is only necessary – just when you don’t need it.  So check that if you do need to use it – at least it will work.

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How a Business Cope with Staff Loss

image from saveup.com

image from saveup.com

2 weeks ago, one of my Key staff  in fact a person I have been training for 3 years to replace myself was head hunted and decided to go with the offer given to him. This was a shock and a blow not only to myself, but to clients and fellow employees. So how does a business recover from this?

In the IT trade, moving jobs is a common occurrence. This is not something I am proud to express, but it is a fact. So many people are working on contract today, and the demand for quality programmers is so high, that contracts constantly overlap each other, that a person can really choose not only where they wish to work, but the type of IT work that they wish to do. So at all times I prepare for staff to leave and make sure that all people duplicate each other and that all information is recorded.

We have systems that cover for staff turnover. So the core work is always being achieved, and clients are not being disadvantaged by changes of staff in a technical sense. However the human sense is affected.

This occurrence can cause impact on current staff, as they have to learn to work with a new staff member.

CRM in word tag cloudSo one part of the solution to this problem, is that for core work, you need to have good systems, in fact a good database. What can you expect from such a system? A CRM or customer relationship management systems can control not only your customer, but generally link the data you need to retain about your customer, your contacts, your quotes, your invoices can link to this as well if it is a good system.

At Accede we have recently been interfacing off the shelf CRM’s to Accounting products, estimation packages and other products. By creating this interface for the client, it is a seamless way to see the whole of the customer’s information.

Other places I have created solutions for include knowledge based systems. These systems in fact hold expertise, experience etc. from key people. Knowledge bases for a user is like talking to the expert about a problem. The knowledge base take a person through a potential issue, what questions they should ask, what possible answers they may get, and what to do next. It is a like having the expert right beside you without having them there. I have noticed, however, that this is generally the main reason that the loss of Key staff is hugely impacting.

The other part of the equation, being the human affect, is solved only by communication. This communication is essential if you wish to retain clients, build new clients and retain existing staff members.

Losing staff and clients is a fact and generally not in your control (unless you need to review your management). However retaining clients and staff is something you need to constantly work on. The key to this retention is communication. Take the time. Discuss. Share. Find ways to openly communicate in a respectful manner. Praise where praise is due. Discuss problems without being personal or denigrating. Work as a team.

Insurance of key staff, often helps with the financial aspect, but good systems will help with the core work and management. Plus make sure your staff’s work is overlapped, so that people can take holidays and the loss of a staff member can quickly be covered.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Traits of a Not-So Average Entrepreneur

image from pixabay

image from pixabay

In this modern time of creating a potential business empire, hardwork is not enough for entrepreneurial success. Most of the time, it requires a centered mind and a handful of skill set to establish your business. Let us focus on what traits entrepreneurs should possess to make him extraordinary among others:

 

  • Go-Getter in almost Everything Every entrepreneur should be enthusiastic to accept and take challenges. It is essential that they balance their optimism and their perception of any risks involving a certain project or decision. They must also be rational in making decisions and mitigating tasks to their subordinates.

 

  • Determined to Go for their Business goals Business owners must emphasize their goals not only for this year but for also 5 to 10 years prior. They must also align their employees with their perspective goals. In addition, entrepreneurs must not only possess a tremendous work ethic but also not a quitter. He/she should see failures as stepping stones for improvement and not a roadblock of failure. With these traits, they not only overcome obstacles, but also inspire others to work further.

 

  • Creative in Finding Solution and Information for Business Growth An entrepreneur must be a visionary, one that knows the trends and how to use it to his advantage. They must acquire in-depth information that will make their business grow or stable. Lastly, they must explore options and solutions to solve their problem. As the old idiom goes, Leave no stone unturned.

 

  • Confident and Independent As a businessperson, they should know how to present their selves well in public. They should have that confidence that they can build their brand well and initiate new trends among competition. They also can communicate well their vision and ideas efficiently. Apart from that, they are proactive, can multi-task, and possess a strong sense of responsibility among their subordinates.

 

  • Builder of Harmonious Relationship in the Workplace What entrepreneurs should understand is the art of making your people work with you, not for you. Their employees must feel confident and secure working in your organization. They must feel that you, as a business owner are open, positive, and socially aware.

 

Building a business not only requires entrepreneurs technical, marketing, and accounting skills. Most importantly, they must highlight their exceptional talent and traits in order to inspire others and work with them to achieve success.

 

We at Accede Holdings provide the best in accounting and database management technology for business owners in Australia and around the world. For over 30 years, we have created over 600 business applications in every business industry. You can attest that your certain business requirements and needs be met by our experienced pool of developers and coders. Call us today for a free quote at (08) 8363 5699.

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7 Great Ideas to Earn Money Online

work-space-232985_1280Nowadays, people spend 5 or more hours online for browsing, watching videos, reading articles, and update their social accounts. Have you ever thought that you can use the internet to make money online? At this point, you might have read ideas about startups, studied your target market, or might even setup your own website and email. Let this guide provide you with ideas on what kind of business you can setup online.

  1. Online Sale/Auction House Setup an online store or auction house using Ebay and other sites to sell your goods. You can either specialize in one item type (example apparel, cookware, gadgets) or generally sell all types of items anytime, anywhere. With online sales/auction, a person can make as much as $1000 with just working two days a week. You can also contact local and regional businesses and collaborate with them. Sell their goods and services to your website in case they have no budget setting up their own.
  2. Online Art Gallery If you have the eye for detail, you can setup an Online Art Gallery. Contact local artists and sculptors, take pictures of their artworks or art pieces, and post it on various auction websites. You can also setup your own website to sell their artwork or offer your online advertisement space to local art supply stores, local framers, etc. This way, you can make even more money using your website.
  3. Virtual Classroom You might have a special skill or talent that you want to share like arts and crafts. Start by writing a course about it and teach it online or create modules/guides that users can download. You can also contact learning centers and offer your services to teach technically challenged people to use the internet.
  4. Online Travel Service If you like traveling or know a lot about places, try setup a travel website. Collaborate with local travel agencies or travel stores and post their travel goods and services on your website. You can setup a blog or bulletin board about traveling and encourage others to participate.
  5. Online Events Organizer Do you know any groups or organizations in your area? They might need someone who will organize their trips, parties, and special events. Setup a website to drop inquiries or attract them to use your service.
  6. Survey Business The internet is also a great avenue to start your own survey business. You can conduct surveys and polls for companies. The data you can get from your subscribers is essential for market or product research.
  7. Online Magazine and Talk Show If you are confident that you have online followers, try setup your own magazine or talk show. Write about community or local events, affairs, politics, etc. In addition, engage your local establishments and businesses to advertise their goods and services to your site. You can also setup Q and A sessions featuring local celebrities or prominent people in your area. Consider setting up a YouTube or podcast channel to broadcast your talk show.

Source:

Online Opportunities Small Business Opportunities Magazine Jan. 2015: page 66. Print

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Life Lessons I Learned in Renewing the Business

As a Christian, I am currently in the period we call Lent. Lent for me is a time of year that I review, repent and then begin renewal. While I was studying in my Lenten study group last night, I noticed that what we studied had a great similarity to the circle of life.

renewWhen I considered the idea of a circle of life, and how this circle of life in a micro sense is a circle of my Christian life, I really began to appreciate the need to Die/Renew oneself, and how energizing this is.

I also realised the necessity for routine and ritual in this process.

In our own lives, we are born, we grow, and we review our lives and repent or try to do better. We often as people do major sacrifices to start a new form of life, e.g. being a parent generally means the end of a single and sometimes selfish life.

So this circle really has a lot of ways it can be applied in our lives.

As a director I know I am responsible for my business, and to make sure I give it the care and attention, I generally consider that business to be that of a helpless child, one I have to care for, protect, watch out for, and help to develop. With this mindset, I wondered what applying the circle of life idea would have on my business.

 

Check, Fix, and Renew…

If I review my business on an annual basis, work out what I need to repent/ fix/ rectify and then renew my business. I will naturally bring about the death of out of date routines and bring about new goals and ways of growth. This new birth would need to be done with some form of recognition and acceptance by staff. It would also have to be a regular event. By doing this process, I would be bringing new life to my business.

 

In business, Energy = Income

annual-report-61851_640Up until now, bringing about energy and life in a business can really be either by the staff one employs, irregular ideas or promotions, or an external reason that brings about a surge in the company or forces a change.

The concept of me making this happen on a regular way, and having control to bring about energy and new life in the company never really occurred to me in this fashion. I can see that this will be far less stress than any past ideas I have considered.

So as this is my first week in Lent I plan to use this week to Review. Next Week I will consider how I can repent, then the best way to put the past to death and bring about the New Accede.

 

Wish me good luck!

For those of you, who like me are working through your own Lenten circle of Life I send blessings.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Dissatisfied Customer = Business Harassment

telegraphcouk

image from telegraph.co.uk

As a business, we need to be cost effective, make profit, staff care and the list go on. So part of this has meant that we have automatic phone systems and services e.g. reminders. Nevertheless, have we gone over the top?

I recently had an incident that meant I was late on a credit card payment. On the day following the due date, I received 8 phone calls, from the name phone number in a matter of 2 hours. None of which I could not answer as I was in a meeting. So when I finished my meeting at 2 hours and 10 minutes, the 9th phone call came, which was a machine informing me I was late on my payment.

I feel that 9 calls in less than 2.5 hours is harassment. We have pressed privacy, but it seems that now we need to press what are the rules of harassment.

If I behaved in this manner, I can honestly state that I would lose clients and my reputation will suffer. Why do banks and corporations feel that automated systems do not have to follow the same rules?

The same effect comes out be automatic phone answering systems. I elect to use AAMI because as an insurance company they do not have a phone answering system, but a human operator. I have gone through phone answering systems and waited for 40 minutes for a response from a person e.g. Australian Taxation Office dreadful. I love it when a product you have purchased is faulty, and you call up and for 20 minutes play with phone responses I purchased a bad product where are the customer’s rights?

image from metaopsmagazine.com

image from metaopsmagazine.com

Here is a great form of harassment. Filling contact forms on a web site. The site has a fault of their automated email does not send e.g. it bounces back to your email service, so you call them to ask the question and inform them of the situation. Then you get the inquisition. What did you do wrong? Did you not do it the way they expected? Therefore, when they finally check it, and they have an error do you get a thank you, or a discount, or anything No! Instead, your time is wasted, you are treated awfully, and you get no recompense, in fact, you should consider yourself lucky if you got an answer to your question.

So the question is, do we accept this treatment? With age comes experience, I now know, that Person A cannot change Person B. Therefore, I know I cannot change this treatment. However I can refuse to accept it, and I am. If I see an unknown phone number on my mobile I won’t answer it. If they call more than once, I will save the number in my address book, and mark it as a banned number. This stops the 8 calls in 2 hours.

If a company’s phone answering machine is more than 3 steps, I will use webs and contact forms rather than sit on a machine. If the web contact bounces back, then I will find an address and write a short note to the address.

In short, I will no longer comply. I will not assist companies with feedback, unless it is in person. I will not play this abusive game anymore. If enough people think the same as I do, well then businesses will elect to change or else they will not grow or attract users.

If I continue to be abused, then I will write in a forum, such as Trip advisor. This is why these websites are becoming so popular and so many people use them.

I think businesses in 2015 really need to review how they plan to service customers. Data is essential, but so is service. Let us all support good businesses that have good business practices.

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Accounting Software Packages Which way to go?

Welcome back to work and 2015. I get this question so often, and this year is no exception, that I have decided to blog about this. The question I get, We are reviewing our accounting and have heard about, what you think about this?

In the Market place there are many Accounting Packages and they all target different style businesses. What I will focus on here is the Small to Midrange business size packages that are most popular in the market.

Here they are… Accounting packages for your Business

xero4Xero  This is a relatively newer product to the market place. Xero I have found to offer a wonderful cloud based solution for small to mid range businesses. If you have fair to reasonable internet, then this product is one that is definitely worth investigating. I have found that their speed to do jobs, e.g. invoice, remit, pay, reconcile is excellent for a cloud based product. They have a good backup option and data can be easily exported. Disadvantages, if a business wants more or the business needs change, then you will probably end up having to change product suppliers. This product was specifically created for the small to mid cloud based accounting market. It is very good in this area in terms of performance and usage. Xero created a developers area and this is dynamically growing. Xero is definitely the leading kid on the block. This product is now being taught at most Major Tafe colleges and WEA, but as yet, this is not big in the schools area.

myob2MYOB MYOB was a little slow in getting a good cloud based solution for the small to mid business range, but it has that now. The reason it was a little slow, is due to a massive advantage that Xero does not offer. That being that MYOB has a lot of other products in its range. For example if you have MYOB Account Right Premier and are supported, you automatically get the cloud version included in your support free. You can upgrade to MYOB Enterprise if your business grows. They purchased the accountants version of Sol6, a document manager (not so good for accountants), and a range of other accountant tools that automatically integrate with MYOB Account right, Essential or Enterprise. So in truth, MYOB has the range and accountant support. MYOB also has a great developer range. This is a set of products that developers have created that plug into MYOB to make MYOB do so many other things e.g. Subscriptions, Onsite Technician and auto billing, Pricing there are many options with MYOB and if you want flexibility and expect growth MYOB would be the tool to look at. This product also handles all the Australian Payroll rules.

MYOB is also the product most taught with WEA, Tafe, Schools so getting qualified users or temps is really easy.

quick4Quicken This is not as popular in Australia as Xero or MYOB, but World Wide, this is a top seller for small to mid range accounting. One of the best features of Quicken is its ease of use and terminology for Non Accountant Managers. Quicken just makes sense to Managers and Business owners. Quicken is one of the oldest accounting products and really started as a cashbook based product so it came from the perspective of managing a business not the Accountants perspective. Quicken Cloud is fast and stream lined, but not so nice to develop applications with. This area is still a limited in flexibility. I have also found that this is not as Australianised in respect to reports, payroll and changes in legislation. This is rarely taught in Tafe, WEA or schools, so generally you are seeking people that already have experience or you have book keepers that are able to learn this product via on line courses.

So Cloud or Not?

In short this is a money question. Today if you have a non cloud based system, your only cost is support. If you wish to go to cloud, you will have a monthly fee. Cloud however is the way to go if you are new to an accounting product and yes there is a fee so be prepared to pay, but you will have no purchase fee and that is the benefit of cloud based. In the end you will find the pricing is pretty similar.

Cloud is the way to go. However for some total cloud is not an option as yet due to speed, product performance, etc. However if a business is not using cloud for backup, storage and other base functions they really need to review their IT and the costs of their IT.

So how do you decide?

Start by asking your accountant what they use and they suggest. Accounting costs are huge and if using the same product as them will save you money do it. Look at your business plan, model, developed products, costs. See what your competitors use and what they think of their tools. Finally read the above I have no affiliation with any product. I have customers using all of these products and I therefore see these products from quite a different perspective. In short they will all do book keeping. But which is the best product for you, well in the end you need to decide this, but don’t be surprised if with experience you change products.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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When Startups Failed, How will you bounce back?

startupBudding entrepreneurs take the first test on the entrepreneurial ladder but not all of them succeed. According to Small Business Association, 7 out of 10 entrepreneurs survive at least two years of operating their business. Experts are everywhere spreading their advice on keeping your startup afloat the entrepreneurial seas. Here are some of the things they think might sink your business forever:

  1. You started the business with all the wrong reasons – Most startups begin with the idea of a worker thinking that they will be much better as a boss than someone who follows orders. If you got the same mindset, think again.

In order for your startup to succeed, you need to have passion in what you are planning to put up. That means you will allot time and resources to be the best at what you do. You must prepare yourself physically and mentally to withstand the challenges of being in charge. You need to have the drive, determination and perseverance no matter how bad the situation might be. Having a positive attitude goes a mile away as it not only inspires you to do well but you are also channeling that energy in your employees or team.

  1. Mismanaged business or team – Some incidents of failed business venture lies mainly on poor management. Most business owners are having a hard time managing finances, production, purchasing, selling, and most of all people. Other entrepreneurs are neglecting their business putting much trust on others to run their business that eventually leads to betrayal and fraud.

 

It is the task of every entrepreneur to carefully study, analyze, plan, and control all aspects of their business. If they feel overwhelmed by the responsibility, they can always seek help of their employees but see to it that you still know what’s going on. Market research is also essential for you to know the trends and how will you keep up with the competition. As an entrepreneur, you must have the eye of choosing the best people to train and delegate tasks in the business. Finally, strategic thinking and planning makes entrepreneurs have the vision of possibilities that their startup can take for the future.

 

  1. Lack of Funds – Ideas maybe good but for them to make it happen, money is a must. This aspect of business is taken for granted by most entrepreneurs thinking that they can handle everything with the amount of money that they have. The bad news is you will need money not only to begin but also stay in your business.

As an owner, you must consider funding for two years as this is the critical years for most startups to establish. This means that you will need money to get your business going until such time that revenues can pay up for your costs. You may seek help from the pros in projecting how much money you will need to make your business up and running.

 

  1. Bad Business Location – Choosing where to setup your business is crucial especially if you are planning to put up a retail or service-oriented startup. A good business location enables you to succeed whereas to a bad location with an evenly managed business.

You need to consider the location that matches your target customers, its accessibility, safety conditions of the building or area, and lastly the reception of your business at the prospective area. You can also check if your target area offers incentive programs for startup business and possible competition within the area as well.

  1. Little to No Online Presence – Most entrepreneurs take for granted the advantage of using the Internet to promote their services. They think that it is a waste of money to hire or outsource people that will take care of their online presence. They didn’t realize the benefits they can get with up-to-date online presence.

By online presence means not only a website for your business but also requires you to be active in social media. Every business should setup a professional-looking website with all the information about your business. Make sure that your website is accessible and easy to find by your target customers. With the advent of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, this makes it easier for business owners to promote their business. Make sure that you don’t only promote but also interact with your audience to create an impression that you are someone they can rely on. (Check out on Accede Holdings Internet Marketing Solution for your business)

 

Success in startups will always depend on the business owner. Armed with passion, drive, determination, funding, and optimism entrepreneurs will see problems as opportunities to learn and improve. It might take time but always keep eye on the prize and that is phenomenal success and staying power.

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