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Hi there!


Welcome to my blog. Here I can write my views and opinions to do with small business. My views and opinions are not shared by everyone.  Some people might even get offended.


The purpose of my blog is not to smear any one person nor any industry. The purpose of this blog is help small startups and people running their business wise up to the fact that A) doing what everyone else doesn't work.  B) the marketing tactics used for big business are not the same for smaller businesses. C) show you some tactics used by marketing gurus and advertising companies to get you to buy into their idea or magazine.


I hope that you enjoy reading my opinions and although I know that not everyone will agree with me I hope that you'll leave us feedback. 
Here I can explore ideas of traditional marketing methods and low cost ways to run your business. That said, I am not a marketing guru but I have made many mistakes. My hope is you will take something away from every post and if there is anything that you are not happy with or disagree with, that is OK. Can you imagine how boring the world would be if we all agreed with one another!


All I ask is to leave feedback and if you particularly like a post then please repost it or retweet it.


Enjoy your stay.   

The History:

HD3Outsourcing is nothing new, actually we outsource everyday by getting people to do things for us that we don’t want to do ourselves. Consider for a minute your job, the work that you do, what do you think is happening there? Someone further up the chain had an idea and now employs people to do the job. They tell everyone that they have company and employees but the reality is that they have “outsourced” the function to someone else.

Small businesses are the same. We want to provide lots of services NOT because we want to look big but because we want to offer our clients more services. Consider resellers who sell software, hardware, train companies, airlines and even utility companies, all these outsource.

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Website hosting is the term used for the servers that look after you website. But should you be concerned about your website hosting? Just think about it, when was the last time that you checked that your website was up? A lot of us take it for granted that because we pay a hosting company to host our website that it will always be up. Sadly though quite a few hosting companies are not always up and you might not always be told about it. But, if you don't know about it should you be bothered? mccit hosting pic

Think of it this way: if you had a store/shop in the town center would you care if it was closed? Well, if it was closed you wouldn't be making any money so it is in your interest to ensure that the shop is open. it is the same with your website. if your website is not up when a potential customer makes their first visit then it is highly unlikely that they will return. "Oh, but i don't sell anything on my site" I hear you say, but the point is that if people can't get to your site they won't even know that you exist.

If you are looking for a UK hosting company that offers 99.99% uptime and delivers website around 20% faster than your average hositing company then we need to talk.

Checkout our website hosting terms and conditions here: T's and C's

Check out our website hosting packages here: Website Hosting Packages

Call me today to disscuss this further.

 

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I do a little bit of networking and meet lots of very nice people. Some people have been in business for some time while others are just starting out. And, to those people who are starting out take note of my 10 tips that will make you look more professional.

1. Get yourself some proper stationery, I don’t mean headed paper nor envelopes, but I do mean business cards. Make sure that your cards have all of your details including your company email address and the best way to get hold of you. And, while there are companies offering free business cards these can make your company look cheap because generall the paper quality is shabby and cheap. So spend a few pounds on some proper business cards.

2. Before your cards go to print check the information, then check it again and then give it to someone else to check. There is nothing worse than giving out the wrong information and making excuses such as ”the printers cocked up”

Looking God3. If you get stationery back from the printers that is wrong for whatever reason, don’t use it otherwise you will spend the next six months explaining why the “postcode” is wrong or the email is misspelt. Don’t do it, it looks very unprofessional.

4. Don’t try and be clever with your business name. When choosing a business name make it relevant to your business and avoid anything that can have two meanings or can be misspelt.

5. Got a business idea? Follow it through and don’t keep changing what you are offering. Can you imagine if you went to see you bank manager about a loan and while there you told him that you had a pain in your arm and your bank manager said “oh, you know, with my other hat on, I am also a doctor” Hmm scary.. Same for you. If you have a business idea then follow it through. If you have too many hats on people begin to wonder what it is that you actually do.

6. Use an 0844/0845 non geographical or any other landline telephone number apart from your mobile. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use your mobile but if you just have your mobile on your business card it looks a little dodgy!

7. Domain name (website address). When choosing a domain name take the time to choose something that is simple to read, understand and type into the browser (internet). If your website name is too long it gives the user lots of opportunities to mistype the address and then they’ll a blank page or worse still go to some else’s website!

8. Get yourself a proper email address, don’t use a free email service such as yahoo or hotmail nor googlemail as your business email address. Using a free email address just shows that you either don’t have the skill to setup a business email address or that you couldn’t be bothered to ask some else to do this for you. In both cases it doesn’t make you look.

9. If you are going to get a website then invest the time needed to get your message across. And please don’t use a free service like weebly.com or Wix.com. Ideally get the website designed for you. You should offer input into your website but you shouldn’t design a website based on your likes. Just because you think that a Black and Green website looks funky, your customers might think otherwise. I know that it means spending more money but the amount of money that you will lose if you don’t get it right, can’t be measured! Remember that your website is for some people their first impression of your business so if it looks like rubbish they’ll think that you are rubbish.

10. Meet people: Sitting in your office waiting for business to come to you isn’t going to yield any results so get out and meet people. The are lots of networking events somewhere near you so go to them and tell these people all about your product or service. Give them your business card and take theirs. Next day follow up on the meeting by sending everyone that you took a business card from a quick email saying that it was nice to meet the, but you already knew that last bit..right? If you would like any help or advice on anything that I have mentioned here please contact me for some informal advice.

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Linkedin! Are you linkedin?

The power of linkedin is amazing but you need to know the basics. Unlike Facebook, there aren’t comments such as “I’m about to go for a run” or “I’ve just got in from a hard day working” but instead you get links to business information and business news in general. Linkedin is more about linking people together (the clue is in the name) who can help your network and not necessarily you. An example is that I get involved in company startups so I might try and link in with senior CEO’s, FCO’s or business development professionals and project managers.

Like my business, with linkedin I can link with people who I have never met and may never do business with but should I have a need for help I can just reach out and get it. So, it is a little disappointing when you reach out to someone who might add value to your network only to be asked “do I know you?” or “How did we meet?” and once you have explained that they can add value to your network, you never hear from them again.

I work with international companies from Perth in Australia to the Middle East, the US and the UK. Some company owners and linkedin-logoCEO’s I have never met but this doesn’t mean that we can’t do business together. Similarly if someone reaches out to you and asks you to join their network, don’t question them about how you know each other because they would have volunteered this information if they had known you. Be grateful that someone has taken the time to look at your profile and think that you might add some value to their network.

I have many really good experiences on Linkedin. Recently I linked with Suzi Grala from breezedigital.co.uk who specialise in SEO and Pay Per Click. The conversation went something like this: “hey Suzi, Tino from cloud computing wants to connect with you” Suzi replies, “I accept” and adds” hey, let me know if I can help you in any way” to which I say ”yep, will do as soon as my clients need your help” to which Suzi replies” thanks, that is most kind of you” The above isn’t the exact wording but what a fantastic experience. I reached out to a complete stranger and she welcomed me. The message that I was getting was “let me help you, yes I want to be part of you network” So thank you Suzi!

I currently have a small number of people in my network. I don’t “know” them all personally but I know that should I need help I can just reach out to them. In my opinion and I’m sure that I’m not alone, linkedin is about growing your professional network and surrounding yourself with gurus and experts so that when the time comes that you need help, all that you need to do is turn to my network.

One last bit of advice: if someone reaches out to you and you accept, by all means thank them for connecting but don't hit them with a sales email or add them to your business newsletter..that is just rude!

 

Have a great week!

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What’s in a name?

Your company website name can say a lot about your business, a lot about you or nothing at all!

In my view, you should spend a little time investigating the various options that you can have when it comes to your company or website name. That said the shorter or more memorable your name is the easier it is going to be for people to find you, and isn’t that what we want, people coming to our websites or remembering who we are? I have a very good friend called Sara Maude and she has a website called www.saramaudehynotherapy.com. Now the immediate issue that I can see is this: in total, there are 28 characters that someone has to type to get to Sara’s website. That is 28 chances to get it wrong and end up on a completely different website or not at all. So Sara asked me” what would you called it then?” and to be honest I don’t know but 28 characters is way to long. I’ve been to godaddy.com where I found choosing a namewww.hypnosara.com for only £10!

My brother has a website called www.edge2edgebuildingservices.com, now this is one is 33 characters long and includes a number! The problem with including numbers is that there is a possibility that someone might type the word for the number so the may type “two” instead or “2”! Not only that but they also have 33 attempts to get it wrong.

It is really quite amazing how people choose their company or website name. Just because you think that a name sounds good it doesn’t mean everyone else will think the same. What I have found is that you should spend as much time on deciding a company name as you would a business plan. I have learnt of names that have been created while being drunk while others have come about from market research. Some names are really bizarre and while others can be “cool”. Some people choose their own name and then add their industry to come up with something like “Taylor plumbing” of taylorplumbing.com

My own website needs looking at. You’d be amazed at how many people get these initials (MCCIT) mixed up. I’ve heard MCCCIT , MCITT, MCTIT! Yep so even I need to do something about this.

What about you, what is your domain name called and how did you come about having it? Feel free to leave me some feedback

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Posted by in Email

Email is one of the most powerful tools your company can have. It is used to communicate and store files. We use email as evidence that we have sent a document and evidence that we have sent and received email. We even use email for marketing and yet some companies place so little value on it.

For those of you who are not technical here are a few terms that you may or may not be familiar with.

emailEmail Client: this is the software that your email is viewed on such as Microsoft Outlook, Thunderbird, Entourage or any other software that receives email.

Email server: This is the place where email is sent before it gets to the email client. So, if you have a company called xyz.com and your email address was you@xyz.com, when I send you an email, the email arrives at your email server and waits until your email client (software) connects to the server and draws down the email.

Read further down to understand about POP, POP3, IMAP and Microsoft Exchange.

Email protocols: POP also known as pop3 stands for Post Office Protocol. This is the simplest and cheapest form of email because it usually comes free with your website hosting. The way that this works is that (if you were using Outlook) Outlook would go out to your website and pull down your emails on to your computer. The emails then sit on your computer on what is called a PST file. There are limitations to this type of email. For example, all your email is stored on your computer. There are ways to configure your email client to leave a copy on the mail server but this can be a pain if you need to reinstall your email account because it will push all your old email back again, so you could have thousands of emails that you have already read back on your machine. You are also limited to only using one device to connect and send email at any one time. If you send an email from your iphone or blackberry you won’t see it in your Outlook client. I try to discourage people from using this type of email but not everyone gets the message.

IMAP also know as Internet Message Access Protocol. This is a very easy way to protect your email. With IMAP you have email on your email client as well as the server. The client works with the server so that as you read an email it is shown as read. You can use as many devices as you like. If you send an email from your iPhone or Blackberry it appears in your sent folder on all your devices. IMAP is an easy way to protect your email and have it available on all your devices.

Microsoft Exchange also known as Exchange is the preferred method of email solution for all major corporations. Microsoft Exchange works very much like IMAP with added features. Unlike IMAP, Exchange has a calendar that can be shared across the company. you can have a list of contacts called a global address book that everyone has access to. You can schedule meetings with people with your organisation and the meetings will go straight into your calendar. And, should you have an iPhone or Blackberry, your contacts and calendar get pushed to your device, so you know who you are meeting and when. Microsoft Exchange is what everyone should have but not everyone wants to pay for the services. That said you can buy Microsoft Exchange from as little as £6.99 per month plus VAT. But here is a warning. There are many wannabe IT hosting companies out there. They all make the promises that they’ll be there when it goes wrong. But in my experience you always get what you pay for and if you go for the cheapest option, well you know what I mean!

Avoid using these:

Long email addresses. The problem with a long email address is that as someone types it into the email field there are many opportunities for them to type the wrong letter so try and keep your email address short and simple.

Do not use any Free email facilities as your business you email such as yourcompany@googlemail.com or yourcomapany@yahoo.com or hotmail. Email addresses like these put people off doing business with you. Just take a moment and imagine if you were receiving your bank statements fromyourbank@googlemail.com it just doesn’t look right so, if you have a website and a company name it is always best to have an email address that matches your website or business. (anything else looks dodgy)

If you would like to know more about email, how it works and perhaps what you should be using as a business please call me. And as always, if you have enjoyed reading this please leave feedback

 

 

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • MTA Data Management
    MTA Data Management says #
    I found this post is pretty useful and informative. Thanks and keep sharing it regularly with us.

Hi there!

Today I want to show you how you can get ahead of the competition and get yourself noticed. I’m guessing that by now you know that you need to do more than have a website and tell people about your business. Being enthusiastic is really good but what else can you do to get yoursel noticed?

When I was selling IT support I realised that no matter how many people I spoke to I was never going to speak to enough people in one go to make a difference. What I needed was to be able to communicate my message to a lot of people in one go. I went to a workshop lead by Paul and Sarah Hopwood where we discussed social media and I realised that I had already done everything that we talked about in terms of getting an account with Linkedin and Twitter but I also found that just having an account wasn’t enough. I realised that just being part of the team wasn’t enough and what I needed was to be a team player!

get noticedBeing a team player meant that I needed to learn something new (Social media) and I needed to learn how to use it effectively.

The steps below will definitely get you noticed and show you how you can be a team player. A word of warning to those who say “Social media isn’t for me, that isn’t what I do” or “I’m an expert in this field and don’t have the time for social media” Get on the bus or get left behind. Your competition are on social media and they are probably getting more business from it.

1. Do you have an online profile with a group or organisation? Try adding your photo, website and a bio about yourself. Where possible avoid using your logo, no one really cares about how pretty your logo looks or how long it took to make but they would really like to know what you look like.

2. Get social! By now you should be well aware of social media. To be honest there is no getting away from it, everywhere you look there is an add for Facebook or Twitter. If companies such as IBM, McDonald’s, Sainsbury’s and Ford as well as many others are using social media to communicate with their client's shouldn’t you?

3. If you have a Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter account do the same as above and replace your logo with your photo. I have looked at many profiles only to find someone’s name and website but nothing about what it is that they do?

4. Make time to learn about Facebook, Linked and Twitted. If Like me you don’t have the time to read a book, then book an hour or two with someone who does and then go away and have a play. Once you start Tweeting go through your Tweets and if you find something that is interesting retweet it. People like it when their Tweets are retweeted and they will thank you.

5. Go out of your way to help others. Helping people is so rewarding and while initially it doesn’t sound like a money maker, you will build stronger relationships and people will remember and recommend you.

6. Plan to sponsor an event. I have found that sponsoring an event to be very powerful. Some events let you tell a group of people about your service or product. Sometimes you can have banners and posters. But the mistake that a lot people make is not to follow up. So take cards, and make those contacts. And remember that sponsoring one event may not be enough. You may need to sponsor more than one event to get your message across.

7. Get linking! It is amazing that we all have websites and yet we do little to link to one another. If you ask any Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) guru they will tell you that having inbound and outbound links is part of your website strategy.

8. Create or become part of a social media support group with one intention in mind. “What can I do to get more traffic to my colleagues website” if you all have the same “intention” do you think that in having more targeted traffic you might make more sales, what do you think?

I know that this sounds like a lot to do but that really depends on where you are in the learning cycle. Some of you will pick this up and not find it challenging while others will find it a challenge but if you are trying to learn something new then you are one step closer to getting it right instead of not trying at all! If you are trying to get yourself noticed and are finding it a little challenging please let me know.

Did this information help you? I’d really welcome any comments that you might have.

Do you have any success stories that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about them.

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Posted by in Scams

The Cheque Scam

Hi everyone I just want to share this with you because it is a scam that not a lot of people know about but can cause so much unhappiness and can be your company downfall.

I used to sell computers online. One day I received an email from a company who wanted a quotation for some hardware.
I made out the quotation and within a couple of days I received a reply by email that said something like “great, we’ll send you a cheque”
Sure enough the cheque arrived for around $24000 or £18000.
I went to my bank to see my good friend the bank manager. Waiving the cheque in one hand and a huge grin on my face I told my friend that “this self employ lark is a doddle” and  “at this rate, I’ll be retiring soon!”.

scam-alert-picMy bank manger took my cheque, looked at it and said “Tino, please sit down, there is something that I need to explain to you about cheques that originate outside on the UK”

He went on to explain that he could and would if asked, bank the cheque and give me my £18000, however “cheques originating outside of the UK have a longer cancellation period”! So what could happen is that once the bank has given the money and I shipped out the goods, the cheque owner can still cancel the cheque! And the bank would then chase me for the money that they gave me which would undoubtedly have caused us to go bust! In effect I would have lost the goods, the money that I purchased the good with and the money that the bank gave me.

The bank manger went on to explain that this scam is only possible with cheques originating outside of the UK and that a way to avoid this from happening is to get the purchaser to do a bank transfer. This way the money is in our account and safe.

Well what a lucky escape!

I contacted the cheque owner and asked him to do a bank transfer where upon he explained that bank transfers were very expensive and that if we did it just this once there would be more orders and any future purchases would be done by bank transfer.
We diced not to do any further business with this company but I kept the cheque just to remind me!

Have you been scammed? Do you have any scams that you’d like to share?
If you do I’d love to hear about them.

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Is cloud right for you? Everyone asks this question and it's a good question but the answer is almost always "absolutely yes" Can you imaging how good it is to know that if your computers stopped working you could just go and work from somewhere else? Or, in the event that you couldn't to the office because because there was a fire and the whole building had gone! wouldn't be great just to say "you know what, we can work from somewhere else, we may not have an office but we can get to our work load!"

You may already be using "The Cloud" in things such as Gmail, Youtube, Facebook and many other services that you might be taking for granted.  you that is the beauty of the Cloud is some of us are already using it and have been for may years.cloud-data

Why is The Cloud called "The Cloud" and not something else? For many years (and some of you will remember this) IT people have have drawn the "internet" like a cloud. when they want to explain how two offices connect through the "internet" they often express the internet as a cloud (remember now?). if you search google for network diagrams you will find some that show" internet" and a Cloud.

 

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Hey!

Thinking about using “The Cloud”?

Here are my top 10 questions to ask yourself or your provider before signing up.

10QuestionsThere is nothing more dramatic than losing your data, I know, I’ve seen grown men get tearful at the thought of losing family photos. If you have ever lost your data you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that having some reassurance on the other end of the telephone is a must.

So number 1 question is: If I lose my data or if I get into trouble can I call someone like a support desk? If the answer is anything other than “YES” then what are you going to do when something goes wrong? Are really any better off placing your data somewhere that might not help you when things go wrong?

Question number 2 is: Where is my data kept?

If the answer is anything other than the UK then you need to ask where is being kept and whether they subscribe to the Data Protection Act?

Question 3: If you are a Data Collector and you want to use The Cloud to store your data. According the Commissioners Office, in order to comply with the data protection act, you need to have a signed contract with the cloud provider.

Question 4: Once you upload the data to The Cloud, who owns that data, is it still yours?

Question 5: Once you upload your data to The Cloud, Who has access to that data?

Question 6: Will you do anything to with my data? Almost every cloud provider tracks the number of customers, the type of customer, the amount of storage and the amount of processor time for billing and marketing reasons. Be sure to find out if that information ends up anywhere else. Even though you may own the data, some vendors might use it to tailor advertising.

Question 7: What happens to my data should I move to another provider or cancel my account?

Question 8: Is there a limit on how much data I can upload or download?

Well there you have it 8 questions that you should ask yourself and your provider. I know that there ‘s only 8 questions and I said 10 but you got 8 good ones instead of 10 boring ones. Wasn’t that a pleasant surprise?

If you would like to find out more about the cloud just ask!  

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