Technology Secrets to Build Your Small Business

       
 News & Views   

You live in a world that offers tons of options. As great as it can be, it can also be overwhelming.

There are some great technology secrets out there that can help you focus more on your clients and less about where your gas receipts are or if your receptionist called a client back.

Here’s a list of some amazing tech solutions for small businesses. Most of these are either FREE or low-cost options; many are even built to scale right alongside your business.

Google Voice

Visit: https://www.google.com/voice

Google Voice is a great alternative to using landline phone systems. Utilize your current mobile phones and connect several people to one work number. Options include voicemail service, text messaging, notifications, and much more.

If you need something more stationary, try a VoIP service like Vonage, which offers internet-based phone and fax services via touch-tone phones at a lower rate than most carriers.

Online Faxing

Visit: http://www.ringcentral.com

I’ve found email-based faxing to be extremely convenient! Incoming faxes show up as emails in your inbox.

For RingCentral: Just upload the file, enter [email protected], and send it on its way. It even sends a receipt of whether or not the fax was successfully sent.

Square

Visit: https://squareup.com/

Collect money on the go. This is an essential tool for mobile businesses and can be fitting for smaller shops and firms that have simple requirements from their POS system. With an easy & intuitive platform and competitive rates (they’ll establish better rates for those with revenue over $250k/year), it’s hard to deny the excellence that is Square.

Exception: Banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo offer similar solutions as Square, and they have the ability to offer competitive rates as well. Contact a banking representative to get more details – they may be better able to serve your unique needs. If nothing else, you can use Square as a leveraging tool if they start above Square’s rates.

Trello

Visit: https://trello.com

This tool is a great solution for collaborating with coworkers and checking off tasks from your task list. Its cloud-based platform allows users interact with each other projects and assignments. You can even share certain tasks with certain people. It’s perfect for assigning responsibility and tracking implementation.

Evernote

Visit: https://evernote.com/

This popular tool offers document and record management. It’s a great tool for organization and their most useful feature is the text-sensing documentation tool: Take pictures of a document and later search for it using any of the words, numbers, etc. located on that document. There are some “misses” here and there but it’s impressively accurate.

Genius Scan

Visit: http://thegrizzlylabs.com

This tool turns your mobile phone or tablet into a copier. Use the intuitive prompts to snap a picture of your documents to scan and save them, email them, print, and much more!

Zoho

Visit: https://www.zoho.com/

Zoho is a free CRM suite that allows you to track and analyze interactions with customers from leads to purchases and beyond. With great POS, marketing, and customer service tools, it’s an excellent option for startups and small businesses.

The free version is surprisingly robust and offers flexibility and customization. It’s a nice alternative to Salesforce and other more expensive products.

How To Choose A Registered Agent In Virginia

       

If you are starting a business entity in Virginia, you need a registered agent who will transact business on your behalf. Choosing the right registered agent is an important task which is why we’ve created these easy-to-follow guidelines for selecting the right person for such an important job. For even more information about Registered Agents, visit VA Professional Services.

What is a registered agent?

First off, let us define a registered agent. All business entities in Virginia are required to name a person or entity to act as their resident agent. The primary duty of a registered agent is to accept legal documents and notifications from the VA State office on behalf of your corporate entity.

Why does a business entity need a registered agent?

Business owners are often busy with their ventures and don’t have the time to fulfill the tasks of a registered agent. The agent’s role is important because without them you could be completely unaware of a legal claim or judgment that has been filed against you. A business entity needs a registered agent who can be trusted with such confidential matters.

Things to consider in selecting your registered agent

Registered agents require specific skills that can only come with years of education and experience. It’s not uncommon to find agents with MBA or Law degrees. Still, you’ll want to choose the one that will suit your personal preferences and needs. To help in your decision, here is a checklist of important tips on how to choose a registered agent in Virginia:

1. In choosing a registered agent in Virginia, make sure that he/she is a member of the Virginia State Bar. An individual can also be hired as a registered agent if he/she is a member of any management of the business entity. For example, the agent is the director of a corporation, a trustee of a business entity and a member of a liability company.

2. A person can also be a registered agent if he/she has a partnership with a limited partnership firm and with a registered limited liability company.

3. It is also vital to choose a registered agent who is committed to his job. Choose the one who displays passion towards his job. At the end of the day, you will not only need someone who knows what he/she is doing, you also need someone who knows how to love his job because the role of a registered agent can be very stressful.

4. Your prospective agent should clearly explain their process for forwarding your documentation they receive. It’s not unreasonable to expect your registered agent to forward you documents via traceable, overnight shipping. Their communication should include a summary of the documentation and clear instructions about how much time you have to respond.

5. There are many registered agents to choose from and it’s best to complete your due diligence up-front. Reasonable steps can be taken to establish credentials such as performing a background check. You can also consult the internet for information about the registered agents you are considering. Take the time to review their work experience and achievements.

The 3 Biggest Technology Trends to Watch in 2015

       
 News & Views   

Throughout 2014, we’ve seen vast improvements in business technology! 

Big Data this . . . cloud-based that – It won’t be long until our significant others are virtual and mobile-optimized as well!

But what recent technology trends can we expect to see continue to grow into 2015? And what new technologies might appear? 

There are three tech trends that really stand out:

1. Big Data

We can’t talk about big impact without mentioning Big Data! As one of the hot topics of 2014, we can certainly expect big data to stick around and improve in the next year. Look for major progress in predictive and prescriptive analytics and even areas of interest like fraud protection and privacy.

Big data will become easier to analyze and more digestible. We will also need less storage space to hold the data. This will be a saving grace for many companies that have realized the importance of gathering the information but who haven’t quite figured out how to efficiently use and store (or discard) it. It will also allow companies with smaller budgets to get in on the game!

2. Mobile

We can also expect to see even more focus in the mobile realm. Clouds, apps, and increasing mobile capabilities will allow for more flexibility and fewer restrictions in the palm of your hand than ever before. With over 1.2 million apps available for Google and Apple devices, the app market has become more popular than the Rubik’s Cube in the 80’s!

We’ve reached a point where computers are becoming tablets, tablets are becoming phones, phones are becoming computers and Aunt Betty is just confused. But the majority is not confused, and the way we consume material and interact with one another is becoming seamless between devices and we will see major strides from static to mobile technology in 2015.

3. Security

As we venture into more complex territories with mobile devices and cloud-based technologies, there has to be continued adaptation for security measures.

Security is a topic that most of us don’t think about until something goes wrong. But being ahead of the game is essential for developers, manufacturers, and other investors to ensure that the products and services that make our lives so convenient are safe and secure!

BONUS: Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a category that has garnered a lot of attention as of late. In simple terms, IoT is the movement of technology that allows us to connect all “things” to the Internet. It’s been happening for a while now without the title. But look for a more pronounced movement in the near future. Old things. New things. All things will have the potential for Internet compatibility.

Examples of things that might benefit from this are devices in the healthcare industry, equipment for automobiles and homes, and tools in industrial facilities. Increasing connectivity will mean better functionality, improved analyses, and overall better performance from the products we use (even the ones we don’t think about).

5 Ways to Make Gmail More Professional

       
 Collaboration   

If you’re like me, you have multiple personal and business email accounts. Staying on top of them can be a real chore. And when business picks up, it’s even easier for messages and people to fall through the cracks. 

Responding to emails late or not at all can be the difference between great business and no business. But, staying on top of emails is easier said than done.

Many people choose to use Gmail, either thru a domain purchase or thru Google alone. Google has done a fantastic job creating tools and adding options to make Gmail as useful and helpful as possible. Using these tools can help establish a more organized inbox and message management system, and will allow for better response time to the people who matter. 

There are a ton of add-on features that you can employ to create the ultimate email-exchanging machine! The following 5 tools are helpful for almost any type of business email user. 

Mobile Apps for Gmail

There are two Apps that are great for your Gmail account. The first is Google’s own Gmail app. It’s come a long way since it was first launched to create a nice experience that is easy to use and, of course, syncs well with Google’s web-based platforms.

The second app – Mailbox – allows for simplified organization. If you haven’t used Mailbox then you need to check it out as it’s features are intuitive and great for productivity. It even has a feature that helps you “Get To Zero” for those of us who feel overwhelmed by the number of messages in our inboxes. 

Boomerang

This add-on allows you to schedule emails to be sent at later times. So, when you’re up at 2am responding to emails, you can schedule the response you just wrote for 9am instead of waking your clients up in the middle of the night. Boomerang also allows you to archive messages you don’t want to deal with yet and schedule them to reappear at a later date when you’ll have more time – it’s like a snooze button for your email account.

Rapportive

This is an awesome add-on that allows you to see more information about each of your contacts in a cohesive, sidebar profile – right inside your inbox. With so many people emailing these days, this can really be helpful to remember who exactly you’re interacting with. It’s also a great tool to help gauge how people in your circles are interacting socially. 

Dropbox

You’ve probably heard of Dropbox already. It’s an extremely popular file-sharing resource. It integrates well with email and it’s an excellent way to stay in touch with employees and coworkers, business partners, vendors, clients, etc. Dropbox is accessible remotely as well, which makes it very convenient and ideal for people that depend on mobile functionality. 

Canned Responses

Canned responses can be extremely useful for responding quickly to job inquiries, during vacation, or in cases where the same response is always appropriate. The best part is that it’s a built-in option from Google so it’s very easy to configure and use.

BONUS: Undo Send

…Yep. You read correctly. There’s an amazing Gmail feature that allows you to undo sent emails if you decide you shouldn’t have sent them or realize you made a mistake. It’s another feature available in the Google set of tools so it integrates seamlessly with the rest of your settings.