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Technology Increases Small Business Profitability

During times of economic struggle, most small businesses end up making cuts and changes to keep their businesses in the green. From laying off staff to decreasing business travel, reducing marketing efforts and ending bonuses and raises temporarily – there are a variety of ways small businesses look to cut their expenses. At the same time, they look for ways improve Small Business  Profitability – especially when operating with reduced staff. Technology becomes even more useful as small businesses strive to increase productivity and efficiency.

There are so many gadgets and technology solutions out there that it can be easy to buy more than you need, or to buy the wrong types of products that just don’t deliver the solutions your business needs. When deciding what types of technologies can help your business reach its goals, here are a few things to look for

Ways Technology Increases Small Business Profitability

Communications – technology is well known for its capability to improve the ability for people to communicate with one another. Whether you’ve got employees on the road or down the hall, virtual phone systems can route calls to cell phones and keep everyone in touch regardless of location. Instant messaging and email provide quick ways to communicate with the written word and keep documentation of these conversations for future reference. Social media and networking sites provide a way to keep in touch with co-workers, customers, and the competition at a glance.

Data Storage, Warehousing and Search – If you find employees are spending a lot of time looking for certain reports, forms or other data that they need to perform their job responsibilities, investing in network hardware and software to keep track of the whereabouts of your data can be useful.

Telecommuting – many small businesses also find that there isn’t a need for all employees to work in the same office building in order to get their work done. Having employees who telecommute requires the technology to make that happen (a secure network for employees to access data they require to do their job; improved communication systems to receive incoming phone calls at their homes or on their cell phones and the ability to keep in touch with co-workers in different locations). Having employees telecommute can save you from needing a larger office space, which keeps your overhead costs lower, too.

Customer Relationship Management – having some sort of CRM software to help you manage your database of clients and prospects is well worth the investment. Many businesses will tell you the “money is in the list”; meaning the amount of money a company earns is directly proportional to the number of people on their mailing list. Some companies use software like ACT, Goldmine or SalesForce to track their clients and leads. Others have custom-built software developed to handle unique needs that can’t be addressed with existing software.

Technology makes it possible for small business to increase productivity and compete with larger businesses on a smaller budget, thereby increasing profitability. Efficiency and organization is improved through the use of appropriate data storage, search and mining, customers are better managed through customer relationship management systems, and it is possible for money to be saved when employees telecommute from home. Before investing in any new technology, identify the unique needs of your business and determine which technology will best meet your needs.

Click here to learn how Virtual IT Managers, Inc. can help you increase small business profitability with our Technology Consulting Services for your business in Miami, FL and surrounding cities.

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Hackers Get New Tools… Managed IT Services Providers to the Rescue?

Two companies have released software that mines information about individuals on the Web. Core Security Technologies dropped its Exomind application, while Paterva released its Maltego program. Can Managed IT Services Providers Respond?

Both applications have one thing in common. They can be used to collect information on individuals from snippets of data dropped all across the web. Of course social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace make that job easy already, but these programs can piece together broken links to create virtual profiles that mimic your real world persona. They can identify who you know, where you shop and what you do for a living.

While Exomind was built to assess the negative impact of social networks on privacy, Maltego claims to have a much loftier purpose, the building up of corporate digital footprints to display relationships and reveal trends, which can be used to take corporate competitiveness to another level.

Individuals and companies alike need to be aware of the dangers of this type of software. The existence of Exomind and Maltego promises to revolutionize the way information is assessed on the web, which means that the user must rethink what they put out there.

Whereas before an individual might keep a Facebook profile for personal use and a LinkedIn or Ecademy profile for business purposes and feel fairly confident that the two were being kept separate, the emergence of this technology smashes this sense of security.

On a corporate level it means that sensitive data is exponentially easier to leak to the competition because they may have access to technology that can interpret spikes in communication between different parties or even pick up on blether on forums and in chat rooms.

How Can Managed IT Services Providers Help?

Managed IT Services Providers can step in to fill the gap in the need for more security. When superior protection is needed it is best to trust the industry giants to do the job. The most popular MSPs in the security business are Symantec and Verizon.

Symantec has a range of service packages tailored to meet the needs of small, mid-sized and large enterprises. They offer a wide range of services from data protection to spam prevention and endpoint security.

Verizon is comparatively new to the internet security business, having acquired Cybertrust in 2007, but they are prior recipients of the Global Product Excellence Award for Internet Security so they have a huge stamp of approval.

As technology continues to advance, security threats will only get more and more ubiquitous, so it is wise to leave the protection of data to the professionals. MSPs are a smart and affordable solution to what promises to be a persistent and costly problem.

Click here to learn how Virtual IT Managers, Inc. can help you secure your reputation with our Managed IT Services for your business in Miami, FL and surrounding cities.

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4 Questions Every Leader Needs to Answer

Why do I want to lead? If you don’t have a compelling reason to lead, others probably won’t have a compelling reason to follow. True leadership isn’t about status, but results; it isn’t what you’re called, but what you do.

A clear leadership purpose creates three payoffs:

  1. It motivates. A higher purpose is the fuel for your leadership efforts. Goals alone don’t motivate you; purpose propels.
  2. It focuses. When you have a sense of priorities, you can avoid distractions and wasting time on things that don’t serve that greater purpose.
  3. It provides resilience. Purpose creates staying power when you meet resistance. Lacking a compelling purpose, many fold when they encounter difficulties and setbacks. Purpose creates leaders who last.

What kind of leader do I want to be? I believe the principles of good leadership never change, but they can be and are applied uniquely by different leaders. Substance is a given for effective leadership, but style is a personal choice. Have you given any thought to the kind of leader you want to be? Authenticity is about being who you appear to be. It is congruency between public presentation and perception, and personal beliefs and behaviors. Style never replaces substance, but it has the power to leverage or diminish it. Choose carefully what kind of leader you desire to be and craft it carefully.

Who will I follow? Leaders are rarely developed in isolation. We all emulate to learn. If we emulate effective leaders, we become effective leaders. Emulate the wrong kind of leaders, and we imprint negative behaviors. You can learn from a bad leader (what not to do), but emulation is about acting like or performing as the leader you follow. Choosing who you follow determines both how effectively you use your time and talent to contribute and the lessons that you learn. (And it is very difficult to learn the real lessons of leadership outside of a living example.)

How will I continue to improve? Sad is the day when any of us think we are as good as we will ever be. Ultimately, no one can force you to keep improving, but it is one of the great opportunities and challenges of life and leadership. The better you become, the harder it is to get better. Improvements in your thinking and skills go from being big jumps in your early years to tiny increments the longer you lead. Before identifying how you’ll get better, it’s important to deal with your motivations. The intrinsic reasons include a commitment to being the best you can be, the excitement of new challenges and a desire to make a bigger positive impact.

Extrinsic motivations include things like competition within your organization for advancement, and competition from other firms who desire your customers and market share.

If you don’t truly desire to improve, you won’t. Important growth doesn’t happen by accident.

Growth in your leadership abilities requires at least three things:

  1. Study
  2. Example and/or Mentors
  3. Experience

The best leaders continue to get better. You’ll never be the best you’ll ever be. You can only be the best you are right now.

 

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international best-selling author and noted authority on leadership, team-building, customer service and change. Mark is the author of eight books, including the best seller The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, which has sold more than 1.6 million copies internationally. Learn more about Mark at www.marksanborn.com

 

 

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Network Connectivity Troubleshooting – Part Two

This is part two in this series for network connectivity troubleshooting.  Confirming the connectivity with the Internet was the focus of the first three steps in our process. We now continue with the remaining steps to help you discover what the problem with your Internet connection might be.

1. Check functionality. Once the network cable has been confirmed to be working correctly, we need to see if the router is working correctly. Since you have already unplugged and re-plugged the router in and rebooted both it and your PC, that should have taken care of any automatic configuration issues that might have become hung up. High speed Internet providers can change the network address (also called the IP address) of your router at any time. This usually requires a re-boot of your router (and sometimes of your PC) in order to pick up that new address and begin communicating. Also, there are other network addresses that are used to get outside to the Internet that are automatically configured as well, but we will deal with those in a later step.

2. Test functionality. If after you have rebooted the router and PC and performed all of the steps above, but it appears that you are still having problems, make sure that you try other ways to get outside to the Internet by launching your email program (if you use one). If it works, but your Internet browser still does not, then something is preventing your Internet browser from resolving website addresses on the Internet.

3. Check virus software. When was the last time your PC performed an automatic update or a scan for viruses? Can you try to force an update now? Is it successful? If it has been a week since the last check for viruses, run a full system scan. If this does not work and no viruses are detected, move on to the next steps.

4. Try another system. Do you have another PC or laptop that you can plug in to your router to try and get out to the Internet, or do you know anyone else with a laptop PC who would be willing to bring it over to see if they can plug into your router and get out to the Internet? If so, that will confirm if you have a good working router and cabling. If you or they are able to get out to the Internet, then the problem lies with the original PC you were troubleshooting.

5. Contact your Broadband Service Provider. If you cannot get out to the Internet with another PC or Laptop, work with their support staff to troubleshoot the connectivity issue.

6. Final options. If all else fails, take your PC to another location like a friend’s house or a relative who has high speed Internet access. Plug into their system and see if the PC will access the Internet. Another option is to take your PC to a local shop to have it examined for any virus or spyware software that is not being detected but is preventing you from accessing the Internet. Usually, these local PC repair companies have the software tools to help detect and eradicate these problems.

Troubleshooting a connection for your PC can be a frustrating thing to do because there are so many variables to address. Be patient, and follow the above steps and hopefully you will find the source of your problem sooner rather than later.

Click here to learn how Virtual IT Managers, Inc. can help you alleviate your network connectivity troubleshooting problems with our Reactive Response and PC Repair Services for your business in Miami, FL and surrounding cities.

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Free Report Reveals 7 Critical Security Measures Every Business Must Put In Place NOW With Mobile Computing

There’s no doubt about it – the Internet and mobile and cloud computing have made our lives easier and our businesses more productive, cost-effective and competitive. But make no mistake about it: the Internet is also a breeding ground for thieves and predators, not to mention an enormous distraction and liability if not used properly. It is causing people to be casual, careless and flat-out stupid about their privacy in an increasingly litigious society where heavy fines and severe reputation damage can occur with one slip-up – which is why you cannot be casual or careless about introducing it to your organization. You can’t turn on the TV or read a newspaper without learning about the latest online data breach. And mobile devices are easily misplaced and stolen.

Because of all this, if you are going to allow employees to use mobile devices – particularly personal mobile devices – to access, store and use company data, then it’s critical that you download this free educational report that outlines in clear English “7 Critical Security Measures Every Business Must Put In Place NOW With Mobile Computing.” If you have given or plan to give your employees the ability to access company data and systems with mobile devices – DON’T … until you’ve read this free executive report.

Download this Executive Report today at:  http://virtualitmanagers.com/go/mobile/

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FBI Alert About Scam Of The Week: Nepal Earthquake

Just in from Cyberheist News:

More than 7,000 people dead and counting. And you can also count on cyber-criminals exploiting the disaster. What else is new. Disgusting.

Scammers are now using the Nepal disaster to trick people in clicking on links, both on Facebook, Twitter and phishing emails trying to solicit charitable giving for the earthquake victims. Here are some examples:

 

  • Facebook pages dedicated to victim relief contain links to scam websites.
  • Tweets are going out with links to charitable websites soliciting donations, but in reality included spam links or links that lead to a malware infection.
  • Phishing emails dropping in a user’s inbox asking for donations to the Nepal Earthquake Fund.Previous disasters have been exploited like this, but the bad guys are going at it again will all guns blazing. Be wary of anything that is about the Nepal Earthquake in the following weeks.

    Please warn your employees, friends and family against this scam of the week. If you want to make a donation, go to the website of the charity of your choice and make a donation. Type the address in your browser, do not click on any links in emails or text you might get. THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK.

    For KnowBe4 customers, we have a new template in Current Events called “Thank you for your donation to the Nepal Earthquake Fund”. Send this to your employees to inoculate them against scams like this as soon as possible.

    Here is the FBI alert about this scam. It might be a good idea to send this link to all employees, an FBI alert usually has a bit more impact.
    http://www.fbi.gov/sandiego/press-releases/2015/fbi-warns-public-of-disaster-scams

    Warm regards, and stay safe out there.

 

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Network Connectivity Troubleshooting – Part One

To most computer support persons, having problems connecting to the Internet via a router and a high-speed connection is not a major issue. However, for those who do not understand some basic technology concepts, solving connectivity problems will be a struggle. The following will give you some tips of where to look for network connectivity problems and how to perform some basic network connectivity troubleshooting tasks.

Most of the initial steps of this process are common-sense and incredibly basic, but you would be surprised at the number of calls to help desks that are solved simply by having someone turn on a power switch or plug in a cable to a device!

1.Check the power. Make sure that the power is turned on to your router and that you can see some visible signs of that power on the front of the unit. Usually green or yellow lights flash or stay on constantly when the unit has power. If you do not have any of those, check the electrical outlet for power. Plug in a radio, clock, lamp or other device to see if the outlet is ‘live.’ If so, continue on to the next step. If not, check your electrical box to make sure that your circuit breakers have not tripped because of an overload or other electrical issue.

2.Check the router. If you still get no lights on the front of your router, then unplug it from the electrical outlet and wait for a while (15 minutes to half an hour) and plug it back into that same outlet. Most of these have what we call ‘wall-wart’ type power supplies that have the square-ish black block on the end which plugs into the wall outlet (or power surge suppressor). Sometimes these can go bad. If you cannot get any of the lights to come on at all on your router, even if you test it in a known “good” wall receptacle, it might mean that the power supply or router itself is defective.

3.Check the cables. Now, if you have confirmed that the electrical outlet is working properly and you are getting lights on the front of your router, then you need to check the network cable between your PC and your router. If you have a wireless router and are having trouble connecting by that method, then you need to troubleshoot first by trying to connect with a hard-wired connection, as it is easier to troubleshoot a hard-wired connection than a wireless one (once you have successfully established connectivity through a wired connection, you can resume troubleshooting wireless connectivity). Normally, your router should include at least one network cable for connecting devices directly to it. Use this cable to connect your PC to your router.. On the front of the router are a series of lights (these differ in color by manufacturer) which indicate the presence of a network connection over the network cable (or Ethernet cable) between your PC and router. Locate the network cable which runs from your router to your PC and unplug it from the back of the router. Does one of the lights go out? If so, that is a good sign. If not, then go to the PC end of the network cable and locate where it connects to your PC. Right around this connection there are usually a set of led lights indicating a network connection. By removing your network cable from the PC, you should see the lights go out. And, with your PC powered on, removing this cable will also usually cause a message to come up on your Windows-based PC indicating that your network connection has been lost. If this happens, then it appears that at least your router and PC are ‘talking’ to each other. This is usually noted by the ‘flashing’ activity of these lights.

4.Reboot both your router and your PC. Sometimes a simple reboot will clear up any anomalies between network connections, and this will always be a step any help desk, ISP or router manufacturer’s support personnel will ask you to try.

In part two of this series we will talk about checking functionality of your router and then determining whether your problem might lie solely with your PC.

Click here to learn how Virtual IT Managers, Inc. can help with your network connectivity troubleshooting problems with our Reactive Response and PC Repair Services for your business in Miami, FL and surrounding cities.

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Five Questions The Financial Industry Should Be Asking About Security

As the mobile market continues to skyrocket and gain new users, financial industries are finding it increasingly more difficult to protect their customers against online fraud. Add in the seemingly never-ending wave of company breaches and data loss, coupled with an increasing number of users relying on mobile for their banking needs, and you have a recipe for potential disaster. As a result, customers are pressuring banks to add features and functionality, but at the moment, the US is behind the rest of the world in rolling out such features. Fortunately, there are ways for banks to mitigate these risks and fight back against these threats to their customers. Here are five questions the financial industry needs to be asking about security.

If you’re interested in knowing the five questions and respective answers, proceed to the following link at Webroot’s blog.  A leading Internet Security/Protection/Anti-Virus Application Provider.

http://www.webroot.com/blog/2015/02/18/five-questions-financial-industry-asking-security/

 

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5 Smart Tips To Know Before Moving Your Data To A Cloud-Based Application

Cloud computing is all the rage these days, and while some companies are moving their whole IT infrastructure to the cloud, many others are choosing to streamline their businesses by moving individual business applications.

If you are considering moving any of your company’s software applications “to the cloud,” make sure to consider these 5 tips BEFORE pulling the trigger:

  1. Back It Up!

Migrating data to any new location is a mess, and anything can (and usually does) go wrong. Therefore, make sure you have good, recent backup copies of everything before you make the move.

  1. Maintain An On-site Copy

At first, moving to the cloud can be a bit scary. What can help mitigate the risk (and the fear) is keeping a local, on-site copy of your data and network image on an NAS (network-attached storage) device. That way you have a local on-site copy in addition to the working cloud copy.

  1. Have A “Plan B” To Access The Internet

One of the biggest questions about moving IT to the cloud is “What if the Internet goes down?” To mitigate that fail point, have a business-class Internet connection as your initial and main way to connect, and then also have a second Internet connection service as a backup. If <<Comcast>> is your main connection, you might consider keeping a <<AT&T U-Verse>> account as a backup.

  1. Use It As An Opportunity To Do Some Housekeeping

You could just copy and paste your files from your local machines into the cloud, but why not take this as an opportunity to reevaluate the structure and organization of that data? Here are some ideas:

  • Reevaluate and/or update your file-naming conventions and file organization. A good file-naming policy will make it much easier to find files and information. Also, consider reorganizing all the folders into smarter, more efficient categories.
  • Consider who will be using what and what levels of permissions are required to access files. Revisiting your permission levels will help keep sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Look at old files and consider deleting them or archiving them so they aren’t cluttering up your server and costing you money for storing and backing them up.
  1. Phase The Move

Don’t try to migrate everything all at once. Create a transition plan and implement it. Make sure you move your files in bite-size pieces so the changes are easy to digest for your clients, employees, partners and everyone else involved. This also gives you the opportunity to test the water before taking the plunge, and it allows you to put out one fire at a time instead of having all systems down or broken.

 

Free Cloud Readiness Assessment And Cost Analysis Gets You Started

     As a prospective customer, you are eligible for this FREE Cloud Readiness And Cost Analysis.

Free of charge (a $497 value), one of our expert cloud computing engineers will walk you through our 3-step Cloud Readiness process:

  1. Cost Analysis and Inventory. We’ll look at your current network hardware, software, data and applications. We’ll also compile an IT cost assessment to reveal your total spend on IT, including Internet connectivity, support and other fees. Our goal is to find ways we can significantly lower your overall IT costs while simplifying and improving your workflow.
  1. Cloud Readiness Assessment. After looking at the above areas, we then look at how you and your employees work and see how well your applications or processes will move to the cloud to improve ease of use and lower costs.
  2. Cloud Action Plan. When the assessment is complete, we’ll give you a comprehensive plan that shows how we can save you money and resolve a number of workarounds and problems you have been experiencing to date. Even if you decide not to hire us, this third-party assessment will give you a good idea of what you are able to do with the power of cloud computing.

Get yours FREE today at www.virtualitmanagers.com/cloud-computing  through the end of May 31st!

or call us at Phone: 305-600-5459

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‘Ransomware’ a Growing Threat to Small Businesses

I thought I’d pass on an interesting article on “Ransomware” that a friend shared.  For those of you that thing that you run a small business and you don’t have to worry about Cyber Security, “Think Again”.  The threat is real and up close and personal.

‘Ransomware’ a growing threat to small businesses http://www.wsj.com/articles/ransomware-a-growing-threat-to-small-businesses-1429127403?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories

If you need assistance with Cyber Security, Network Security or Firewall Management, please reach out to us at sales@virtualitmanagers.com or 305-600-5459.

Here to serve your Information Technology needs,

VITM Team

 

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