Juicy Read: Profit First: A Simple System to Transform Any Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

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Profit First: A Simple System to Transform Any Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

By Mike Michalowicz

A simple yet effective accounting solution that will transform your business from a cash eating monster into a money making machine. This new method is the easiest and smartest way to ensure that in your  business, profits come first.

 

 

Fresh-Picked Gadget the PRIZM

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Prizm streams music from cloud services such as Deezer, Spotify and SoundCloud. More services  are already in the works. It’s a small, pyramid-shaped device designed to make your home-audio experience as hands-off as humanly possible.

 

Want to see these gadgets in real life? Come visit our “gadget grove” of tech toys you can try out yourself.

 

Luck Is For Leprechauns—Is Your Business Prepared for Future Security Threats?

Picture3If your business hasn’t been the target of malicious intruders or cybercriminals, consider yourself lucky. Hackers are a relentless bunch and they want your gold: information and access they can use to exploit loopholes in your business’s Internet security. The last few years have been hard on companies all across the globe. And these cyber-breaches aren’t going to stop simply because the “damage has been done.” In the US and Canada, reported incidents have affected over 215 million consumers and over 7 million small businesses. And that’s only counting the attacks that authorities have uncovered.

For cybercriminals, there is no end game. All too often, small business owners assume they are outside the firing line and hackers aren’t interested in them. While the media focuses on the big cyber-attacks, there are countless other stories playing out at small businesses everywhere. Cybercriminals are constantly in search of loopholes and weak security. And, unfortunately, small businesses often have the weakest IT security.

Security industry analysts predict that 2015 won’t be much different from 2014 when it comes to cyber-security. There are going to be more data breaches. It’s just a matter of where and when. It’s also a matter of being prepared.

During the month of March, we are offering local businesses a FREE 12-Point Cyber-Security Audit to help uncover loopholes in your company’s online security. At no cost or obligation, our highly trained team of IT pros will come to your office and conduct this comprehensive audit. And after we’re done, we’ll prepare a customized “Report Of Findings” that will reveal specific vulnerabilities and a Prioritized Plan Of Attack for getting any problems addressed fast.

Because of the intense one-on-one time required to deliver these Cyber-Security Audits, we can only extend this offer to the first seven lucky companies who request it.

All you have to do is call our office at 314-414-8400 to request yours today.

 

Stay Connected With Clients

wendyheadshot2cropHave you been on one of our remote support sessions? We’ve been told it’s a little creepy—disconcerting, at least—to watch your mouse move around on the screen by itself. Despite that, we’ve heard overwhelmingly that you love how quickly we can respond when we can get on your computer right away, no drive time required.  We like it too—no more racing all around town to solve the crisis of the day.

However, all this remote work leaves us with a challenge: how do we stay connected with you even though you may not see us in person?

There are many ways we try to keep in touch and stay connected to our clients in this virtual world—through email and phone communication from us any time you open a ticket or as the status of each ticket changes, the critical alerts we send addressing any security issues in the news that may impact your business, and client surveys to get direct feedback along the way. We also have face to face Business Reviews Meetings with each client so we can sit down together. This strategic review ensures that our technology recommendations stay aligned with our clients’ company goals.

We’re also very committed to these newsletters as a way to stay in touch—we hope you enjoy them each month. Let us know if there are any special topics you’d like to hear more about.

Of course nothing beats the personal touch, so please know I’m available to you. If you have something you need to speak with me about, give me a shout any time: my email is wendy@cioservicesllc.com.

wendysig

 

Juicy Read: The Customer Service Revolution

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The Customer Service Revolution: Overthrow Conventional Business, Inspire Employees, and Change the World   

By John R. Dijulius III

Numerous companies have made customer service their biggest competitive advantage, are dominating their industries, and have made price irrelevant! DiJulius will show you exactly how to create your very own customer service revolution.

 

 

Fresh-Picked Gadget the iPhone Binoculars

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If you’ve ever wanted to add more utility to your iPhone, SkyMall’s iPhone Binoculars might be what you’re looking for. They feature 36mm lenses, attach onto the back of your phone to give your camera 8x magnification.

Want to see these gadgets in real life? Come visit our “gadget grove” of tech toys you can try out yourself.

 

Three Steps to Disaster Recovery Planning for Your IT

alertDisaster strikes all too often. You may have wondered what would happen if a tornado struck, or everyone got snowed in, but have you ever really thought it all through? Be prepared! Follow this three-step process to lay out a technology recovery plan that will fit your business and budget.

Set Priorities

The first step: decide what matters most. In the event of something catastrophic, what computer systems are most critical? Bear in mind, in the worst case scenarios (fire, flood, tornado, etc.), your office may be completely gone. Which systems will allow you to stay afloat as you start to recover?

For example, most business owners consider email a lifeline. Managing financials – especially being able to cut checks – is high for some companies, while others say they would temporarily rely on handwritten checks. Ability to take orders, see the service schedule, look up customer information…any of these could be at the top of your list. Pick what makes sense for you.

Review Hypothetical Situations

Next, look at what kinds of issues might impact your business. The following list includes a variety of problems that could take part or all of your business down. You can shorten the impact by investing in disaster recovery preparedness. Review the following scenarios and pay close attention to what systems are impacted and how long they could be down.

Office and/or equipment destroyed: this could happen with a fire, flood, or the like. You will be dealing with temporary office space, and you must somehow keep the business running in the meantime. You will need to quickly procure replacement equipment as well as your offsite backups for data recovery. Find out how fast these steps can happen. Any services hosted in the cloud should be fine, as long as you have a way to access them. You may even consider moving critical services into the cloud.

Office inaccessible but fine: in the case of snowstorms or floods, your office may be fine but you can’t get to it. If you have advance notice and many of your team have laptops, make sure they are set up for remote access. Cloud-based services are also easy to access remotely. This can keep you going until you can get back into your office.

No power: if you have no power, your equipment can’t run. Thunderstorms and ice storms can take down power lines; in a worst case scenario, it can take days to restore power. Although you probably have UPSs (uninterruptible power supplies) on your servers, they are usually sized to provide only a short amount of runtime so that equipment can be safely powered down. A generator is your best bet in this situation. You’ll also need power for PCs if people are working onsite, or they can connect remotely from a location with power.

No Internet: if your Internet connection goes down, you will be cut off from the web. There will be no access cloud-based services, and you can’t send or receive email. Usually internet outages are brief, but sometimes they can last for a day or more. There is a relatively easy step you can take here: purchase a secondary Internet connection. Be sure it uses a different technology; for example, don’t get DSL if you have a T1 connection. These may share the same phone circuit and could both go down at once. Cable service or broadband wireless connections are good and affordable backup options. You can also set up a firewall that will automatically switch to the backup connection if there is an issue. Otherwise you will have to do that manually, which could take a little time.

Cloud service is down: if a cloud service is down, you should call support immediately but you have limited control over what they do. The best step is a proactive one: select your vendors carefully so that you know you are with a reputable provider with strong support. In the event of an issue, there’s not much you can do besides wait it out.

No phone service: if phones are down, you can switch to cell phones for outbound calls. However, you don’t want to miss inbound calls. Check with your phone service provider to see whether they can forward calls in the event of an outage. If you have a satellite office, forward them there. You can also forward to someone’s cell phone. You may be able to set this up to happen automatically, but you may want control over this so one of your team isn’t suddenly surprised by a huge flood of unexpected calls that end up in someone’s personal voicemail.

Server failure: if your server goes down, recovery is entirely dependent on your infrastructure. For hardware issues, your best protection is virtualization and image-based backup technology. This combination, when properly configured, allows you to move everything on the failed server over to another server very quickly – at least, if you have another server to move it to. It can also help with software issues, because you can “roll back” the server to a point before it crashed. Without this protection, you are dependent on your techs to solve the problem as quickly as they can. Ask your techs what the timeline on a recovery from backup would be. The answer might be minutes, hours, or days. Also factor in warranty status: if you have same-day parts replacement on your server, you will be in much better shape than if you have an expired warranty on an old server where parts may be hard to find.

Create a Plan

This list does not cover every possible disaster scenario, but it’s a great start. Make a list of next steps: calls to vendors for more information, questions for your tech about what you have in place, and any major concerns. Once you’ve done your homework, you may have some upgrades to do. Finally, document your plans so that they are readily available if and when disaster strikes.