Cloud Solutions

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4 Must-Have, Low-Risk Cloud SolutionsCloud

Let’s face it, your business has more competition than ever. And they’ll eat you alive if you fall behind in today’s technology “arms race.”

Maybe your network needs greater security. Or you haven’t yet taken advantage of new cloud-based apps that help your team get more done in less time. Today, the action is in the cloud. And if you don’t know what’s out there, it’s just that much easier for competitors to pull ahead.

To help you stay on top, here’s a quick survey of four ways to put the cloud in your corner, along with examples of each.

Network Security

As devices on your network become more diverse and mobile, monitoring them in real time is absolutely critical to averting cyber-attacks. A good network-security tool probes for weak points and alerts you to potential threats. It can employ both hardware and software technologies. And today’s environment demands a bevy of checkpoints, from access control to WiFi-intrusion monitoring.

But how do you protect against threats that evade your monitoring efforts? Due to the recent spread of “fileless” malware, no antivirus program is 100% “bullet-proof.” However, you should be able to find basic software protection for around $40 per user. Look for features such as e-mail security, data loss prevention, network segmentation and behavioral analytics. And ideally, it scans quickly, takes up little space on your devices and may even be able to recover files encrypted by ransomware.

Collaboration

Giving your team the right cloud collaboration tools can be almost as good as giving them steroids… (Except, of course, it’s legal.) With the wide array of apps available today, the trick is finding the best one – or the best combination – for your company. Top contenders include Asana, Slack, Teamwork, Trello and Google Drive. These and similar apps can improve efficiencies in areas like project and task management, team communications and collaboration, brainstorming, document processing and storage, and more. And with cloud collaboration, you’re no longer restricted to bringing aboard talent from your local area alone.

Contracts & Accounting

Contracts and proposals that get bogged down in logistics can hurt monthly revenues. Is your sales team still asking customers to sign and fax back important documents? If so, they’re losing precious minutes every day. Then there’s the cost of storing and managing physical files. It all adds up. It’s no wonder so many companies now use electronic signature apps, such as DocuSign, Adobe Sign and RPost. They’ll let you manage the signing of important documents entirely online, and will encrypt and store files for you. Some are even court-approved and create a full audit trail.

For small business accounting, industry veteran QuickBooks, now with an online version, and upstart Xero can help you keep the books with relative ease. They both offer a clean, intuitive UI and affordable pricing with a comprehensive set of features. And, of course, being cloud-based, they can be accessed from a variety of locations, adding flexibility to your workforce.

Business Planning

Does your company need to prove its mettle to investors? You’d be hard-pressed to find a better all-in-one planning solution than Tarkenton GoSmallBiz. Created by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, it’s specifically built for small businesses. You get highly customizable and detailed data fields to help simplify your planning process. It then lets you create financial statements and projections without external spreadsheets. And as a subscriber to GoSmallBiz, you also get access to business-planning experts who can help you tweak your plans and proposals.


What Every Small Business Owner MUST Know About Protecting Their Company’s Critical Data And Computers

This report will outline in plain, non-technical English common mistakes that many small business owners make with their computer network that cost them thousands in lost sales, productivity and computer repair bills, as well as providing an easy, proven way to reduce or completely eliminate the financial expense and frustration caused by these oversights.

To download your FREE copy, CLICK HERE or call our office, (816) 233-3777.


The Power of Our Thoughtscloud

By Mike Michalowicz

It’s a paradox. Success requires a clear vision. The more you can see it, the more likely you are to achieve it.

I get it. In fact, I believe in it so much that I repeat a “success mantra” every morning and every night. I have a clear vision for what I have defined as success in my business, in my health, in my spirituality and in my family life.

But I also noticed that sometimes I get way fixated on the vision. Take softball, for example. I play in a pickup game about five to ten times during the summer months. I decided that I wanted to be a regular home-run hitter and set the vision. No mantras needed for this one. Just envisioned myself hitting the ball out of the park every time.

Sure enough, I did. With my newly found hitting skills, I earned the coveted batter’s position – fourth spot in the order.

Then I expanded the vision. I decided I wanted to hit the home runs so far that they went sailing into the distant woods. Something that I believe no other batter has done. This vision was so clear that I played it over and over again in my mind. As I approached the batter’s box, I walked through each step necessary to hit the ball that far. I overthought it.

As the pitch came my way, my mind was going crazy with all the things I needed to do perfectly to hit it that far. I needed to have a slight down to upswing. I had to snap my wrists a little bit earlier. I had to put more muscle into it, for sure. I had to take a slightly bigger step. As I thought, the ball sailed by. Strike! I thought so much that I forgot to swing.

Next pitch. My mind was going more crazy. All the same steps, but had to remember to swing this time. With all the thoughts rushing through my head, I swung too early. Strike two! The third pitch was worse. I swung so late and so hard that I nearly threw my shoulder out. Strike three!

Subsequent up-at-bats, I went through the same mind-talk nonsense. My fluid swing became a mechanical choppy-chop-chop. The more I screwed up, the more I overthought it. And the worse I got. That Sunday was my worst outing ever, even though I envisioned it would be my best. The mistake? Overthinking.

Vision is power. Preparation is necessary. But when you are up at the plate, it is time to stop thinking. It is time to let your natural instincts take over. It is time to sit back and observe yourself. I have found this to be the only way to hit home runs.

In fact, next year I envision myself hitting “into-the-woods” homers.

I’m just not thinking about it.


Useful Tidbits

Ever been at a loss for the right word or phrase?

If you want a quick way to look up that pesky missing word, check out Writefull (writefullapp.com). Just type in the phrase surrounding the word you’re looking for. Writefull instantly offers suggestions from a vast database of commonly used phrasing. Not only that, if you’ve ever wondered how to use a word or phrase in context, Writefull can help. For instance, it can show you examples of where the phrase “less people” vs. “fewer people” is more commonly used. What makes Writefull different from similar apps is that it goes beyond basic grammar to actually improving your writing. It’s available for Windows, Mac or Linux devices or as an extension to Google Chrome. LifeHacker.com, 01.23.17


Bragi’s Headphone earbuds stand out for sound, comfort and price.

Apple has “cut the cord” by pulling headphone jacks from its iPhones. And, unfortunately, their EarPods just don’t cut it for quality if you crave sweet sounds. Other Bluetooth earbuds offer high-fidelity sound – at a high price… Enter Bragi’s Headphone. For just $150 you get earbuds that “scratch the sonic itch in all the right places.” They’re lightweight and fit in the ear comfortably. And in testing, they kept a consistent connection with paired devices. What really sets them apart, though, is the six-hour battery life, almost unheard of in earbuds. So what’s not to like? Well, unlike Apple’s EarPods, the Headphone’s storage case doesn’t charge them without plugging in. You’ll need a USB connection for that. DigitalTrends, 01.30.17


Here’s good news for Chromebook lovers.

Chromebooks made in 2017 and beyond can now run over a million Android apps. So why is that important? It means Chromebook has grown up from having limited support for a handful of apps to full support for over a million apps. Google now also supports a long list of older Chromebooks, good news if you own a pre-2017 model. While many Android apps aren’t as robust as full-blown desktop programs, you can still do a lot with them. All said, the Chromebook now stands out as an easy-to-use power tool at a low price. A variety of manufacturers offer Chromebooks, including Samsung, which wowed crowds at the 2017 CES with its Chromebook Plus and Pro. DigitalTrends.com, 01.23.17


Imagine a giant vacuum cleaner for smog…

A 23-foot-tall tower, built in Beijing last year, sucks in smog, filters out dangerous particles and purifies surrounding air at the rate of 1 million cubic feet per hour. Carbon particles filtered from the smog are then compressed and turned into jewelry. Air around the tower is now reported to be 55% cleaner. Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, famous for design and architecture solutions to worldwide waste and pollution problems, came up with the idea after seeing kids in Beijing playing indoors due to the area’s notorious smog. The tower’s low-energy ionization technology is borrowed from indoor air filters. A similar tower in Rotterdam, Netherlands, runs on no more electricity than a water boiler. Mashable.com, 01.23.17


A new type of app installs instantly, with zero effort on your part.

Google is working on a new breed of app. They’re calling them “Instant Apps,” and you may start seeing them soon. The idea is for the app to kick in as part of the UI on a web page. Let’s say you’re shopping for a camera bag… You google it on your Android phone and find one you like. Tap the “Buy” button and it’s in you cart. Android Pay already has your info, so you don’t need to go through the ordeal of pulling out your card, typing everything in and hoping you didn’t get even one digit wrong… Just hit “Add to Cart” and your bag is on its way. TechCrunch.com, 01.23.17

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