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Tech Happens, Don’t Ignore It

Every year tech changes, grows and evolves. If you want the best example of this, look no further than the TV industry. Last year, everyone couldn’t stop talking about 4K. This year, well, it’s actually still 4K, but now there are two new buzzwords attached to the devices: Dolby Vision and OLED. This provides a brighter clearer picture without increasing the number of pixels while Dolby Vision uses the raw data to constantly improve and perfect the picture on the screen.

What does this mean for you as a business owner? Actually, unless you’re selling the darn things, you probably shouldn’t pay that much attention to new TV models. You can’t impress clients with a 4K OLED monitor on your wall rather than just a plain old 4K TV. In fact, you probably won’t find anyone who can tell the difference. But it does illustrate an interesting point about tech in the fact that it is constantly moving forward and this is what, as a business owner, you need to understand.

To highlight this point further, take a look at these recent tech advances that show exactly why you should be paying attention to certain changes.

Google radically reinvents the importance of site security

HTTPS and SSL aren’t a new idea. In short, they are a way to make sure that information sent through channels on your site is encrypted. However, these days there is far more emphasis on this software, and that’s thanks to Google. The search engine giant decided to make search results safer for the masses and released an update. If you own your site, open it on a new tab right now in Google Chrome. Do you see a ‘not secure’ label in red on the search bar?

That’s because Google is marking your site as unsafe because it doesn’t have an SSL. They are easy to get, and this highlights a key reason why you must keep up to date with tech and software changes. If you don’t, you might miss something that is crucial for the future longevity of your company. According to a report, over eighty percent of users won’t buy from a site with that ‘not secure’ label.

Automation sweeps the nation and the world, but are you paying attention?

Automation has slowly crept into every aspect of the business world. Even heavy industrial sectors like manufacturing now rely on services like Parasyn SCADA and RTU solutions. These provide key software that allows you to manage assets in business effectively and efficiently which is perhaps the most important point to remember about automation. It has the potential to save you a lot of money and tech always brings this possibility. Particularly, new, innovative tech that brings fantastic new developments to the business worlds.

Logistics owners should be licking their lips at the thought of fleets that drive themselves, and restaurant owners should be rubbing their hands together at the thought of never paying a waiter/waitress again. As this tech continues to evolve their won’t be a single industry that will not benefit financially from automation.

This is just two ways that keeping up to date with the latest tech will benefit your business. New tech has the potential to change your business completely. You can use it to offer fresh, exciting, immersive experiences for your customer and make them forget all about the competition. Tech is constantly changing and evolving all around us and as a business owner, you’d be crazy not to keep an eye out for the latest advances.


Creating A Stellar Website

Creating a website for your business is one of the first steps to take in any marketing plan. It’s one of the things that cements the reader to your brand and really allows them to explore who you are, what your business is all about. It also tells them why they should use you for your stellar product(s) and or service(s). Think of it like a window into the soul of your business, because that it essentially what it is.

Your site should be exciting, clean and straight to the point. Lay out who you are, what you do and any other information you think will be useful. Sell yourself and your products.

Think about the way you design the website to begin with. No one wants to be looking at a screen with 20 different colours, a flying unicorn going across the screen and flashing lights, do they? Refer to this article to give you some ideas on how to start off.

Simple, clean and refined is the best place to start. You can build on that and make your website reflect who you are as a business after that. The key is to build your foundation first.

Typography and calligraphy is what comes next. Take a look at some different fonts and find one which is dynamic, unique but easy to read too. Then once you’ve decided on that you should look at your line spacing, the size of the text and the colour. Black is traditional however slate grey may add that air of modern to the site.

Image Credit: Pexels

When you pick your colour scheme, don’t think that more is more; because it’s really not. If you try to incorporate every colour of the rainbow into your website you will fall flat and the customer will be confused as to what your theme is supposed to be.

Think about the implications of certain colours and what they will mean for the tone of your website. Here are a couple of examples of colour schemes to get you started:

Grey, Yellow, and White – Monotone colours with a splash of vibrancy can make your website spring to life and feel incredibly clean and modern.

Red, White, and Pink – Using different hues of the same colour is a clever way to add tone and depth to your design when you want to stick to just one colour.

Green, White, and Blue – Cool tones will always make you think of the great outdoors or a sense of calm. Using pastel shades is a way to make the space feel larger and more sleek, whereas splashes of colour add that element of character.

Your logo and branding is possibly the most crucial step in creating that website which is ready for your information and content. Designing a logo that represents the tone, mission and overall feel of the brand can be difficult, but it is a rewarding mission once you have completed it.

You will need to take extra time making sure that the banners and headers for your website and social media platforms are cohesive with the logo and fit your tone of voice well.

Finally, once everything is designed you can look at the content. Remember to stay engaging, informative and to be transparent in your delivery. Gaining trust as a company takes time, and the website is the perfect place to start.

8 Apps to Turn You into a Productivity Machine

For the entrepreneur or small business owner looking to stay ahead of the curve and on top of every challenge, it’s essential to have the right sort of tools at hand to deal with every eventuality that might arise, and to aid performance wherever it can be aided.

In the 21st Century, many of those tools will be in the form of various types of software, with computer programs and web-based apps and services available for just about anything you could imagine, ranging from debt collection software, to programs which monitor the productivity of your employees during the working day.

Whatever the industry you work in, and whatever the structure of your business, you can be sure that there are apps to help you up your game to the next level.

Here are a few specific recommendations.

RescueTime for catching you red-handed when you procrastinate

RescueTime is arguably the most popular time management app out there, and for good reason. While many bits of software do a great job of allowing you to record timesheets or determine how long you’ve spent on a project, RescueTime goes behind your back and holds you accountable in ways that self-reporting tools seldom can.

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There are two key parts to the RescueTime system. The first is a desktop program which runs quietly and inoffensively in the background. The second, is the web-based app, which features your RescueTime dashboard and the assorted reports, settings, and tools that you’ll be using.

The desktop program records the time you spend in various programs, or visiting various websites. It then reports this back to the web service, which creates graphs for you, breaking down your recorded time that day, and categorises it into various productivity scores.

If you’re on Facebook, for example, that will be recorded as unproductive time. Microsoft Word, on the other hand, will be tracked as productive. Fortunately, in case the program has misjudged a site, or program, you can reclassify their productivity scores which will affect future records.

RescueTime also allows you to create “focused” blocks of time, by blocking sites and programs rated as “distracting”, for certain blocks of time.

Toggl for tracking your projects

Toggl is the king of manual project-focused timers, and does exactly what you’d want from a program with that kind of focus. With Toggl, you create different task entries (and can assign them to specific project categories) and simply click on the start button to begin timing.

Toggl will show you how much time you’ve spent in total on a given project or task — even if the total contributed minutes span days, weeks or months.

The program will also allow you to track how well your actual working time lines up with your estimates for a given project, by allowing you to set an estimated time, and budget, for each project.

Finally, Toggl also allows you to create straightforward, effective timesheets, to allow for easier invoicing for different projects.

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Time Doctor for nudging you to stay productive

While RescueTime keeps an eye on what you’re doing, in the background, and while Toggl allows you to focus on the total time you’ve spent on a given project over a particular span of time, Time Doctor’s focus is in forcing you to remain aware of how you’re spending your time, minute by minute, throughout the day.

The Time Doctor setup is quite straightforward. It includes a desktop program, where you enter various tasks (which can be grouped by project).

As you enter a task, a timer for it automatically begins. If you want to stop the timing, you have three options; click “pause”, which causes Time Doctor to start a separate “break” timer, switch to a different project, or click “finish work”, where Time Doctor stops recording any time.

Whenever you’re away from the computer but Time Doctor is left tracking a task, it’ll bring up a “were you on a break? Yes/No” pop-up when you return. And whenever you leave the timer on a “break” but are still active on the computer, it’ll periodically ask if you’ve returned to work yet.

StickK for holding you to your commitments

StickK is a web and app-based service designed specifically to hold you accountable to your pledges. The way it accomplishes this is by having you create “commitment contracts” and then pledge money to achieving them.

The system allows you to bring in “referees” — friends, colleagues, or family — to double-check that your reports are truthful. If they turn out not to be, or if you fail to report, your pledged money will be deducted.

Where does this money go, you ask? You can either nominate a friend to have it sent to, or a charity of your choice (from a pre-selected list), or an “anti-charity” (an organisation that you’d hate giving your money to. There’s a list to choose from.)

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Beeminder for building positive work habits

Having the right habits in place is one of the keys to productivity in work and in life. Beeminder is an accountability system aimed not at getting you to achieve a certain task by a certain date, but rather at developing the right habits and sticking with them on a day-to-day basis.

The way Beeminder achieves this is by having you pledge to do something “more” or “less”. You can set the specifics for each habit, including the number of units of that thing you’d like to do on a daily or weekly basis.

Beeminder then creates you a graph, with a carefully marked off section, known as the “yellow brick road”, which is the sweet spot you’ll want to stay in. If you fall below the yellow brick road, by not failing in your task for several days in a row, you get charged money.

Each time you fall below the yellow brick road from that point on, your financial pledges will grow in size.

Nozbe for keeping track of your projects and tasks

Tracking your time is all very well, but it’s even more essential to keep a list of the various tasks and projects you need to accomplish, and for that list to make sense to you, and allow for an effective, comfortable working situation.

Nozbe is one of the best of task manager services on the web, and it’s free. It uses the famous “Getting Things Done” method, pioneered by David Allen, and popular in boardrooms across the globe, as its template and goes from there.

With Nozbe, you enter in your tasks that later appear in an “inbox”. The goal is to empty your inbox fast, by assigning each task to a project. The tasks then group together into their project categories, and provide a clear picture of what you need to do before the project is complete.

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Remember the Milk helps you remember the milk and everything else

Even the most organised project management system can still fall apart if you forget to carry out your tasks when required. That’s where Remember the Milk comes into the picture.

Remember the Milk is a way of making sure that you don’t forget anything important, for any reason, at any time. It features a system for tracking tasks and their deadlines, and then setting email, pop-up, and even text message reminders when they’re due to be carried out.

Trello for team collaboration

Trello is a system which allows you to create workboards, where team members can sign in simultaneously, see, organise, and work on assorted tasks for various larger projects.

When you manage a team who might be working remotely, or on different shifts, having a tool like Trello is critical for effective collaboration, not to mention avoiding a situation where team members end up stepping on each other’s toes.

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