[These are notes for a business seminar I gave at SierraCommons.Com about ‘getting your business tech savvy- especially during a pandemic’]
I mean to cover the technical issues in common between a wide range of business types.
Covid-19 Ahoy! *New For This Session*
Don’t forget to wipe off all the hardware w/ 60%+ Alcohol before & after : )
* This has certainly given a whole new impetus for Teleworking/telecommuting.
* There are one to one, broadcasting and collaborating/interactive ‘platforms’
* One to one is commonplace: Telephone (!), Whatsapp, Facetime, Skype,
Facebook Messenger- And: In Person. Nope, Avoid for now : )
* Broadcasting means one sender can be seen by a lot of people:
Facebook Live, Youtube Live- Interaction is limited generally to Comment/Text
* Interactive with Host: https://zoom.us and https://hangouts.google.com
* Interactive without Host: Whatsapp, FaceTime, Skype Business: you just Add People.
– There are Smartphone versions of these platforms but where possible using a laptop or desktop to Host it is Best as there will be a lot of stuff on-screen.
– Use an Additional Display or Screen. Get an inexpensive USB webcam & tripod.
Some Platforms may buckle under the increased demand.
– Try Several- Know how to use them! Many are ‘freemium’ providing basic service without subscription to experiment.
Group Messaging the meeting time and IDs well beforehand, as Robert X has.
* IDENTITY & FAMILIARITY*
I am not Marketing Person or Ad Consultant But:
– A Good ‘brand’ name, unified identity, logo, font, email address and presence..
– https://cooltext.com/ Just Kidding!
– QR codes can be a fun part of your identity: https://www.qr-code-generator.com/
– IDENTITY. Get Your Business Visible to Google! It’s Free. https://www.google.com/business/
– Facebook Business page, not your personal one https://www.facebook.com/business/pages/set-up (Versus Group)
– Web presence with a Domain Name- even a holding page from http://domains.google.com using free BlogSpot. Consider Your Name Carefully that it not be illegally ‘passing off’ or ambiguous, be memorable, spellable, pronounceable etc
Later: http://www.namecheap.com for more advanced Pages. (WordPress Plan)
– Own distinct phone number http://talk.google.com and https://www.obitalk.com/
– Business cards from https://www.vistaprint.com/
– Flyers from https://www.canva.com/
– Demos & Seminars showing what you do to others https://www.meetup.com/
– YouTube Channel with at least a few short simple videos
– Instagram, especially to share cool things: Example: the refurbishment of the National Hotel to create a ‘buzz’ when it opens again
– http://www.Twitter.Com , if what you do has a ‘timely’ element like classes, seminars etc
– Blogging- a whole seminar in itself. Consider it.
– http://www.LinkedIn.com If Course.
– TIME or delegates to routinely touch up these Media regularly AND TRACK RESULTS using Google Analytics, etc. Consider buying Google Ad Words AFTER improving all possible ‘Organic Search’ results rather than instead of it.
– There are consultants who specialize in this. Never deal with anyone who has no portfolio or who ‘guarantees’ Results.
https://analytics.google.com/ Be sure your Website is properly tagged with Google for tracking how people travel through your site not just reaching it.
– Know and Track your Clients using “CRM” (Customer Relationship Management) Could be as simple as a list of contacts- But additionally CRM maintains relationships in communications, scheduling, issues, and followups.
These CRMs CAN be expensive–
Some are ‘freemium’ and all are Online. Shop Around! I use ‘SuiteCRM” https://suitecrm.com/ which can run on your own Server alongside website.
I also use a ‘Trouble Ticket System’ for my Service-based Industry to track workflow https://osticket.com/ and ‘close the loop’ with Clients during complex staged projects.
– https://www.mailchimp.com Email notification system, Freemium. https://www.constantcontact.com More widely used, no free tier.
– Even Technophobes should get familiarity to the point of contempt not fear
or at least find a place or person you trust implicitly to work IN YOUR INTEREST with technology matching and only slightly exceeding your needs,
“If you do not understand it in principle, do not do it”
Make sure your options are ‘scalable’- that you can Grow or Expand what you are doing without collateral increase in complexity (AKA ‘futureproofing’)
Paper is Still King (I use it) but without a willingness to tackle Tech, don’t bother running a business even if it’s a Back to the Earth Luddite type organisation!
Employees? helpers? collaborators? Go it alone at your peril!
Technically at least, you need Help.
Does not need to be an employee but should be a consultant of some sort on whom you can place reasonable expectations that they concur with : ):
A new profession has arisen:
Virtual Assistant. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_assistant_(occupation)
Check the Three A’s: “Availability, Affability, Ability”.
Watch Out for new AB5 (Contactor) 2020 California legislation about this
AKA Gig Working
Piecework: https://www.fiverr.com/ https://www.upwork.com/ & Many Many More, Sites run Bid & Offer relying on Feedback and Points.
* Smartphone. I cannot imagine any business that can do without one,
ideally set up exclusively for the Business. Discount Add-On Plan?
No need for super smart or super expensive- a $150 Android with a $30 a month plan is perfect. I like at least an unlocked Samsung S5, Something with Android 6 (Marshmallow) or better, iPhone 6S or higher.
Refurbished is fine. On the Road a lot? Verizon has best coverage.
* Reliable Transport, etc, and Documentations. All Tools Cost. Write Em Off!
- Non Profit? You have Special Advantages like stuff other people have to pay for. Use That! http://TechSoup.Com G Suite/Apps from Google etc
Nevada County will give some equipment away to non-profits & not-for-profits.
- Get Good At Grants or know someone you trust who is good.
- Consensus Is Good. The crappy software EVERYONE is using will serve you better than the wonderful software only a few people are using.
An example is https://www.LibreOffice.Org or Google Docs versus Microsoft Office (I dislike Office 365, by the way!…)
- Don’t be afraid to research what your ‘competition’ are doing.
Your niche will be the sweet spot they missed. Or, you may well do things better than they can. Google them!
- Tech is your Slave not your Master- Let Familiarity Breed Contempt there are too many tech slave revolts that can kill businesses…
- Computer: Windows 10 is most likely, MAC, ChromeBook, Tablets. DO NOT use out-of-date or unmaintained hardware or software and have at least ONE other place you can continue to work in case of a failure.
- Backups…. Right! Enough said?
- Security Tools. Most identity & security break ins are the result of hardware theft. Think about that : )
- Limit everything on a need to know basis uch as passwords and access
- Some punters requite HIPAA compliance, etc… BE AWARE: Due Dilgence.
- http://www.yelp.com & other such sites can be Gamed and are highly dubious. Just My Opnion!BASIC DEFNINTIONS
- SAS (Software as a Service) Subscription Based Apps. These can be annoying but are the way the world is going: QuickBooks Online, Adobe Creative Cloud,
Valuable as you ‘pay as you go’ for things you only use occasionally.
Advantages: your collaborators can typically use it too, sometimes at the same time. Independent of MAC or PC and often with an APP version
- Freemium: AKA Demoware or Try Before You Buy. GOOD!
IE; MailChimp.Com for Mailing Lists, ZOOM.us etc
- Cloud: there are Lots, not just one.! Best IMHO are:
https://drive.google.com & https://docs.google.Com & https://Photos.google.com
https://Calendar.Google.Com Don’t Forget: https://Hangouts.Google.Com
All require a free Google Account- it provides a GMAIL Email but you do not Have to use that. There are Apps for Smartphones for each of the above– At least try them.
Personally, I dislike the Microsoft versions but, if they work for you…
The Apple Cloud is a Pain for Photos, by the way but basic syncing. Is Good
- Quickbooks: A De Facto Standard, Subscription, Web-Based or Local
- TurboTax : Intuit. Same Company as above. Integrates well
- Quicken Home & Business for smaller operations
- Track mileage: Smart Phone. Google Maps. Documented Invoices.
- DBA Business Banking Account does NOT need to be Bricks n Mortar.
I use this evaluation site https://www.bankrate.com/
- Payment: https://stripe.com/ No Sale, No Fee.
- Paypal: Per-transaction: Higher.
- Also your bank may well already have a system like https://www.zellepay.com/ in place (Interbank Transfer). Free.
- https://squareup.com/ to accept Credit Cards and Point of Sale relying on a tablet.
- There are others. Again– Consensus and Longevity Count. ALL should have an App capable of photo depositing checks.
So there is a pandemic. So we must work at a Distance, even across town.
These Solutions can allow multiple individuals simultaneous moderated access to a Host or Facilitator who ‘keeps order’ in sharing live video, parts or all of a Screen,
This seminar (hopefully) was conducted using https://www.zoom.us and there are other ways. Such as https://www.gotomeeting.com/ (No familiar with that though) https://www.skype.com/en/business/ and https://Hangouts.Google.Com
Some are unmoderated, like Facetime, http://www.WhatsApp.Com, Facebook Messenger etc meaning everyone is ‘equal’. The more people involved, the crazier it gets. I have tried it.
I perform my tech work using https://www.teamviewer.com Remote Desktop. Zoom I find is also capable of this so there is a blur in distinction between various systems.
All with the exception of FaceTime run on any platform.
The Internet is increasingly riddled with highly plausible lookalikes and fraud. Always Look Twice, then thrity times, and realize there are literally NO tools out there to completely prevent fraud, misrepresentation and subversion. MAC users are MORE rather than LESS likely to be caught in Phishing and Look Alike sites because they believe a MAC is Secure.
It is– But NOT, against misrepresentation, ‘passing off’ and the like
[Draft -1 Mar-16-2020]