Five awesome geek-approved office items for techies

Your office is a place in which you spend a lot of time, so why not make it a home away from home? Adding your own personal touch to your space can end up doing wonders for your state of mind, productivity levels and overall attitude during those work days at your desk. As technology and creativity continues to advance, a variety of fun and interesting gadgets are making their way into the world, much to the delight of techies everywhere.

 

Your office is a place in which you spend a lot of time, so why not make it a home away from home? Adding your own personal touch to your space can end up doing wonders for your state of mind, productivity levels and overall attitude during those work days at your desk. As technology and creativity continues to advance, a variety of fun and interesting gadgets are making their way into the world, much to the delight of techies everywhere. Say goodbye to drab, boring office spaces and hello to these super cool items for which even the savviest of tech-geeks are sure to be giving the thumbs-up.

 

The time master: World Clock

 

If your job involves dealing with multiple time zones, then you’ll definitely want to get a World Clock by South Korean design house, 11+. It’s an interactive desk clock that can tell you the exact time in a time zone simply by rolling it across the surface of your desk. To start, you set your home time zone and then the autonomous hand will adapt as you roll to your desired location, before returning to the original time zone. The hardest part is really just having to remember to check that you’re reading the time in the right time zone.

World Clock

The USB guru: Mr Robot USB Port

 

This cool little guy will light up your life, in more ways than one. Not only is he designed to hold USB ports as well as SD cards, but when he’s not sending information to your PC as his eyes light up, he’s marching across your desk, providing you with hours of entertainment – after all, who would say no to a wind-up robot that doubles as a USB guru? We thought so.

Mr Robot USB Port

The king of hard drives: The Seagate Seven  

 

You’d be hard-pressed to walk into a techie’s office and not find a hard drive of some kind making a home for himself on the desk. The Seagate Seven  ͫ  ͫ is a 500GB hard drive that measures an impressive 7mm, making it the slimmest of the slim. It can easily be slipped into a bag, but better yet, it rests rather nicely on any desk surface. The added bonus is that it’s also super-light and has a stainless steel finish, making it elegant yet rugged – it really is the Rolls Royce of hard drives.

The Seagate Seven ͫ ͫ

The ultimate headphones: B&O PLAY H8

 

Audiophiles will love these trendy and powerful headphones from B&O. These beauties are where style meets crisp sound quality, but the best part has to be that they are wireless and can last for up to 14 hours on full charge. The sound can be controlled on the right ear and with subtle gestures, listening pleasure it literally at your finger-tips. Plus, this feature even works while wearing gloves, which means that they can easily go from office to home. So if you enjoy shutting out the world and putting your head down to work, then these bad boys are perfect for you.

 

 

The must-have piece of art: The Swinging Sticks Kinetic Energy Sculpture

 

Do you remember that completely mesmorising sculpture on Pepper Potts’ desk in Iron Man 2, the one that drives Tony Stark bonkers? Well, this is it: the one and only Swinging Sticks Kinetic Energy Sculpture. So whilst it looks like its motions are free-running in a counter-intuitive manner, it’s in fact just battery-powered (but no one has to know that). This decorative piece is that must-have bit of art that every techie will love having adorn his desk, simply because it’s just downright hypnotic – and the perfect distraction when you need a break from the boring stuff.

The Swinging Sticks Kinetic Energy Sculpture

Whilst these items are not readily available in South Africa, that doesn’t mean that tech-geeks can’t add them to their wish-list, and why wouldn’t they? We guarantee that at least one (if not more) of these cool contraptions have caught your eye and made you go “I want that”. And the tech-geeks? Well they’re drooling for sure.

 

You may be interested in reading this too: Helpful Tips for a Desk Makeover

 

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Technology and small business

In an ever-evolving technological age, it’s vital that businesses embrace the technology around them and use it as effectively as possible. The world of business is a highly competitive one, so it’s one of your responsibilities as a business owner to educate yourself about the latest technologies and to integrate them into your business as much as possible.  

 

This will enable you not only to remain competitive, but also to meet the expectations of your customers, reduce costs and stay ahead of regulatory demands. Utilising the right technologies can also help a business to improve its relationships with its clients, enter new markets, as well as to increase efficiency and revenue – something that can ultimately lead to the impressive expansion of business operations.

 

With the introduction of cloud computing, businesses have multiple options when it comes to business management solutions. From digital platforms, to business applications and reporting tools, it’s now possible for businesses to have access to a range of solutions that are not only effective and reliable, but most importantly, affordable. The cloud offers simplicity and flexibility, and you’re able to access all your data from wherever you are, any time. Plus, all the information stored on the cloud is safe and secure, so you never have to worry about backing up data or losing it. What follows is five ways your business should be using technology to its advantage.

 

Accounting and Payroll Software

 

Online accounting and payroll software, such as that available from Sage One, means that those days of thumbing through file drawers and battling with complicated, inefficient systems are behind you. Sage One allows you to see your profits and losses at a glance as well as manage all your accounts, payroll and budgets quickly and easily. The best part is that you can do this where ever, whenever, all you need is an internet connection.

 

Automated Marketing

 

One of the common reasons for businesses failing within the first two years is a lack of marketing savvy. If your small business makes it past the two-year mark, then it’s up to you to find effective yet affordable methods to market the business and what it offers. There are many cloud-based marketing applications available that provide the perfect solution when it comes to marketing technology. Small businesses don’t have to rely on sophisticated and expensive technology to do a great job when it comes to marketing, and when used correctly, the cloud-based marketing applications available can achieve the same results to that of larger companies.

 

Social Media

 

Social media is one of the most powerful technological tools available and when used to its full potential, can help a small business grow in the best possible ways. A strong social media presence allows a business to interact with customers regularly, something that helps build brand loyalty, but also extends the business’s reach. For example, having a simple blog on your website that is updated regularly with relevant content will increase customer engagement and hopefully attract new business through it being shared across social platforms.

 

Planning Software

 

Every business should have a calendar system or some kind of planning resource in place. This will help you to be more organised as a business, meet deadlines and run daily processes more efficiently. With so many demands needing to be met on a day-to-day basis, business owners and their employees will benefit from a system that helps them manage their time effectively, because at the end of the day, time is money.

 

Mobile Technology

 

This is something that has become a “must” for all businesses. People are able to do more and more on their phones/tablets, and so it’s not surprising that they expect to be able to do everything via their mobile device. It’s in the best interests of a business to ride the mobile wave, both in terms of its utilisation of mobile applications as well as ensuring that its customers are able to connect with the business via their mobile devices.

 

When it comes to technology, it’s important that small businesses use it in a lean and smart way. It’s become a huge part of the business world and the reality is that it needs to be embraced in as any ways as possible, so keep up with the times and make technology your friend – it’s sure to serve you and your business well.

 

 

Featured image: http://www.technology-in-business.net

Lumkani: Saving South African lives

South Africans are many things, but with the number of start-ups that have been launched in recent years, it’s easy to see how “enterprising” is fast becoming an accurate way of describing them. More and more aspiring entrepreneurs are attempting to make their mark in South Africa’s burgeoning entrepreneurial market, many of who are driven by their need to make a difference in society and help their fellow brethren – and Lumkani is one such start-up.

South Africans are many things, but with the number of start-ups that have been launched in recent years, it’s easy to see how “enterprising” is fast becoming an accurate way of describing them. More and more aspiring entrepreneurs are attempting to make their mark in South Africa’s burgeoning entrepreneurial market, many of who are driven by their need to make a difference in society and help their fellow brethren – and Lumkani is one such start-up. We take a closer look at this social initiative and how it’s attempting to save lives, not just in South Africa, but in other parts of the world as well.

A harsh reality

While conducting research for his Honours thesis in engineering, co-founder Francois Petousis found the devastating 2013 fire in Khayelitsha (in which more than 4000 people were left homeless) to have an acceleratory effect on his study. The unfortunate reality that many members of urban informal settlements face is that the outbreak of a fire can have devastating effects on the entire community. This is mainly because of how densely packed the settlements tend to be, and as a result, fires spread rapidly and leave a trail of damage in their wake. The 2013 fire further highlighted the great need for a solution that would create a social impact and finally address the challenge of shack fires.

The birth of Lumkani

Together with UCT electrical engineering lecturer Samuel Ginsberg, Petousis founded Lumkani, after which they were soon joined by other team members, including the start-up’s director, David Gluckman. Their mission was to design an affordable product that could function as an early-warning system in the hopes of increasing the chances of safety for informal settlement community members when fires break out. Beyond the issue of safety, there was also the need to help reduce the amount of fire-damage caused.

How does the technology work?

The Lumkani early-warning system is based on heat detection technology, as opposed to the traditional smoke detector. This is because many lighting, cooking and heating methods used by people in informal settlements produce smoke. Lumkani’s rate-of-rise of temperature technology was designed to monitor the temperature within a home, resulting in an alarm being triggered when the temperature becomes alarmingly high. The main goal here is to alert people earlier when a fire breaks out, giving them enough time to get to safety and call for help. Grappling with the core issues surrounding settlement fires, Petousis and his team acknowledged that it went beyond just a single shack and extended to the entire community. In short, in order to tackle this problem, there was a need for a communal alert. The answer: detectors that are networked within a 60 metre radius. This means that when one alarm is triggered, all the subsequent devices within its radius will ring as well, leading to a community-wide response to the danger. This makes for far more rapid detection, as well as faster and more effective responses, all of which mean less damage. The system also stores GPS co-ordinates and when an alarm is triggered, text messages are sent off to the affected members.

Looking forwards

The Lumkani team is now working on the next phase, which involves an alarm sending off GPS co-ordinates to emergency services – something which aims to reduce response time and limit the amount of damage by dealing with a fire before it becomes unmanageable. The start-up also has its sights set on the globe, where it hopes to bring about change in areas beyond South Africa.

In the meantime, since November 2014, Lumkani has made its way into many communities and offers close to 2000 households a fighting chance of beating devastating fires. It walked away with the prize for the best start-up in Global Innovation through Science and Technology at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in 2014, and has recently won the South African leg of Chivas Regal’s Win the Right Way competition. It will now join 20 other entrepreneurs from around the world in Silicon Valley for a mentorship programme later this year, where it stands the chance of winning $1 million. Good things have already been achieved, but great things are yet to come for this amazing South African start-up.

Trust Sage One’s effective software to be by your side as you make your entrepreneurial dreams become a reality.

Featured image: http://www.destinyman.com

Cloud-based applications for SMEs I Cloud myth-busting

South African SMEs are enthusiastically embracing cloud-based applications such as Dropbox and Google Apps. Though the market is becoming more sophisticated, there are still a few myths that prevail about the risks and benefits of cloud computing, says Ivan Epstein, CEO of Sage Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa. “The cloud promises to make the use of business IT resources online and on-demand as easy as services such as Gmail and Dropbox,” says Epstein. “It’s about having a flexible new way of buying technology applications and services you need. Many of the fears that surround the cloud are now out of date.”

South African SMEs are enthusiastically embracing cloud-based applications such as Dropbox and Google Apps. Though the market is becoming more sophisticated, there are still a few myths that prevail about the risks and benefits of cloud computing, says Ivan Epstein, CEO of Sage Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa.

“The cloud promises to make the use of business IT resources online and on-demand as easy as services such as Gmail and Dropbox,” says Epstein. “It’s about having a flexible new way of buying technology applications and services you need. Many of the fears that surround the cloud are now out of date.”

Myth 1: It’s not secure

Many SMEs worry that their data will not be safe with a cloud software provider. But provided you choose a credible vendor, it will host and manage your application and data in a top-tier data centre underpinned by world-class technology, says Epstein. Such a facility will feature the latest and best information and physical security, he says.  “These facilities will be as secure as those where your bank keeps your confidential financial information locked up. No SME can afford to spend as much on security as a good cloud service provider does.”

Myth 2: An ordinary mobile broadband or ADSL line isn’t good enough

Many SMEs are already using cloud services on standard ADSL and mobile broadband connections with no problem. The user experience is more than acceptable for most services including accounting and payroll software. “You don’t need a fast, uncapped fibre line to use cloud apps,” he says. “Your ADSL line will do just fine and you won’t burn through huge amounts of bandwidth.”

Myth 3: You have to commit fully to the cloud or stay off it

Many SMEs think that taking advantage of services in the cloud means throwing out their existing applications and committing completely to a cloud provider. That’s not true, says Epstein, since you can opt for “connected services” that allow you to move over to the cloud at your own pace. “Connected services offer hooks into the cloud so you can benefit from working online while still using a PC software package,” says Epstein. “For example, a desktop accounting solution might allow you to access a range of digital transaction and payment solutions from within the package’s interface. We believe the future is in the cloud, but not everyone is ready to move completely over to using their software online.”

Myth 4: It’s just about cost-savings

The cloud can help you to save money on buying servers and installing software. It can also allow you to pay for your software per month rather than committing a big some upfront to buy a software package. Those are important benefits, but they are not as significant as the way the cloud gives your business more flexibility, he adds.

“The cloud turns IT consumed into a utility, transforming fixed costs into variable costs,” Epstein says. “It allows you to buy applications such as accounting not as a software suite but as a collection of services. You can buy what you need and increase your use of these services with a few clicks when you need to.” And the cloud makes information and business services available everywhere your employees have Internet access, making your workforce faster, more responsive and better informed.

Gathering clouds

“Judging from the demand for our online solutions, the cloud is gathering traction in South Africa’s SME sector. As the next step in Sage South Africa’s continued investment in the cloud, we have consolidated our Sage Pastel My Business Online, Sage Pastel My Payroll Online and Sage VIP Liquid offerings under the Sage One brand name.” Sage has built on this solid South African foundation, and applied global insights gleaned from the Sage One businesses in Europe and the US, to bring Sage One to South Africa, he adds.

The rise of smart machines I The internet of things

If you’ve read any business or technology blogs lately, you may have encountered the buzz phrase “The Internet of Things”.  This is a trend that is starting to change our world, promising new ways of automating business processes and gathering data that enables us to make better and faster decisions.

If you’ve read any business or technology blogs lately, you may have encountered the buzz phrase “The Internet of Things”.  This is a trend that is starting to change our world, promising new ways of automating business processes and gathering data that enables us to make better and faster decisions.

What is the Internet of Things?

Let’s start with a definition of the Internet of Things: it is basically a network of intelligent devices and machines that can monitor themselves as well as gather contextual information using sensors, and share it with other devices and services. As these machines and devices become smarter, they can potentially even take automated actions – such as an overheating machine shutting itself down before it is damaged.

One example is a vehicle telematics system, which can provide an insurance company with information about your driving behaviour – for example, how often and how hard you break, your driving speed, and your mileage.

Another example is a fitness “wearable”, such as Nike’s Fitness Band. This product tracks your physical activity, and allows you to view a range of graphs and visualisations relevant to your fitness goals on a computer. It also lets you share this information with your friends on social media.

What does it mean for businesses?

Market researcher Gartner projects that the Internet of Things will include 26 billion units installed by 2020, which is an almost 30-fold increase on 2009. These will not just be consumer toys, but also things like plant machinery, fleet vehicles, home automation, building security systems and more.

Businesses will be able to monitor and control these machines from anywhere. That means:

  • More data will be available to make good business decisions.
  • The ability to find new efficiencies – for example, automated triggering of restocking processes on retail shelves.
  • Cost reduction – for example, you could do preventative maintenance if a factory machine alerts you that it is overheating.
  • Better safety and security – for example, detection of gas levels and leakages in industrial environments.

When will it affect my small business?

Many of the applications are still a few years off, but you can already start benefitting from using tools such as vehicle telematics to monitor your cars and drivers. In future, more and more of the devices and machines you use will be in some way connected to the internet, bringing a range of benefits to your business.

Four ways the cloud will help your small business

As an SME, you know that you need solid computer systems such as payroll and accounting to effectively grow and manage your business. Yet the newest technology can seem prohibitively expensive when you’re just starting out. This where cloud computing can help you to enjoy the benefits of technology while freeing you from many of the costs and complications. 

As an SME, you know that you need solid computer systems such as payroll and accounting to effectively grow and manage your business. Yet the newest technology can seem prohibitively expensive when you’re just starting out.

This where cloud computing can help you to enjoy the benefits of technology while freeing you from many of the costs and complications. Cloud computing is about consuming computing as a service rather than a product that runs on a system on your premises. Here are four ways the cloud will help you succeed:

Work anyplace and anytime

When you choose to run your accounting or payroll system in the cloud, you can work nearly anywhere you have an Internet connection available. That means you can check on your financials and keep business running smoothly, even when you’re spending a day dashing from meeting to meeting.

And on nearly any device

Your accounting or payroll package is no longer tied to one licensed computer when you opt for a cloud application. If your hard drive crashes or your computer is stolen, it will not be a problem. Simply log in through nearly any device with a modern web browser – including your tablet – and you can keep working as if nothing happened.

Enjoy peace of mind

Keeping a technology environment running smoothly involves a lot of drudgery. You need to do backups to make sure that you don’t lose any data if something goes wrong. You must patch your applications software with the latest security updates as well as install new versions as they come along.

And you need to maintain your server hardware. With cloud computing, these tasks all are the service provider’s job. You can keep focused on running your business rather than on running your IT.

Pay as you grow

If you decided to install and run software at your own premises, you’ll need to pay upfront for the licences. Depending on your needs, you might need to invest in servers and other infrastructure. And you may need professional help getting all of this technology up-and-running.

With the cloud, all you need to do is sign up for a service on a website and pay a modest fee for it each month. If your business grows and someone else needs to use the software, adding them is as easy as signing up for a new user name. The best part is that you get to keep your capital so you can invest it in growing your business.

Reasons why you should consider getting SnapScan for your SME

The technological world is one that is constantly evolving and producing new and exciting products very often designed to make our lives easier. Once your small business has gotten off the ground, you’ll begin to look for ways to streamline things so that they run more smoothly.

The technological world is one that is constantly evolving and producing new and exciting products very often designed to make our lives easier. Once your small business has gotten off the ground, you’ll begin to look for ways to streamline things so that they run more smoothly. This is where technology can really step in and save the day, it’s just about finding those things that suit your small business and will only help it be a success. Introducing SnapScan, the relatively new mobile payment app that is revolutionising small businesses, once swipe at a time. Here’s why you should consider bringing SnapScan into your business family, but before that, here’s a brief summary of how it works.

Anyone with a smart phone simply needs to download the app which can then be used whenever the special SnapCode is displayed by a merchant. Scan the SnapCode with your phone and then confirm the transaction using your unique PIN. The credit card you have linked to the app will automatically be debited and the business will receive the funds immediately. It’s really that easy. So why should you choose SnapScan as a small business owner?

It’s safe

SnapScan uses a patented security model that means that all transactions and information exchanges are safe and secure. This will ensure that your clients feel comfortable enough to make a purchase because it’s one thing to offer a simple payment mechanism, but another to offer one that is also secure.

Sign up is quick, it’s affordable and easy to manage

Signing up for SnapScan for your business takes less than five minutes and there are no set-up fees.  In just a few minutes you can be ready to go and get trading. There are also no monthly rental fees and no minimum transactions customers need to make – everyone’s a winner. You don’t even need to have a bank account to use SnapScan as a merchant. It also eliminates having to have a till or pay point and this will save you money. Lastly, you’ll receive an SMS any time a transaction is successful, so managing your sales is a breeze.

Your customers will thank you

The easier and more convenient things are, the more likely people are to try them. SnapScan doesn’t get much more convenient: gone are the days of having to carry cash and credit cards around. A simple swipe and entering in of a PIN number is all it takes for people to make a payment. It’s efficient and easy, and your clients will love you for it.

Funds are settled daily

You are able to cash up at the end of each day instead of having to wait until the end of the month. You’ll receive a PIN which you can use to make the withdrawal from one of SnapScan’s banking partner’s ATMs or a participating Spar store.

It’s portable

If your small business is one on the go, then SnapScan will make your life that much easier. Simply set it up wherever you are and then wait for your customers to scan, scan and scan. It’s one less thing to have to worry about when running your own business.

SnapScan would be a welcome addition to any small business and the chances are that once you try it, you’ll find it difficult to use anything else. Just as SnapScan can help you to run your small business more smoothly and easily, so too can Sage One help you with all your online accounting and payroll matters.

 

SnapScan is another innovative digital product brought to you by FireID Payements.

 

Featured image: http://www.techcentral.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/SnapScan-640.jpg

Five minutes with Steven Cohen (Head of Sage One in the AAMEA region)

Getting to know the people behind a large, established company can help to remind consumers of the human element behind all the success. At the end of the day, without people, a brand wouldn’t exist, and without customers, it wouldn’t flourish. We caught up with the Head of Sage One in the AAMEA region, Mr. Steven Cohen, to find out a little more not only about the exciting world of online accounting software, but also more about the man behind the title.

Getting to know the people behind a large, established company can help to remind consumers of the human element behind all the success. At the end of the day, without people, a brand wouldn’t exist, and without customers, it wouldn’t flourish. We caught up with the Head of Sage One in the AAMEA region, Mr. Steven Cohen, to find out a little more not only about the exciting world of online accounting software, but also more about the man behind the title. Here’s what he had to share.

What is your career background and how did you find yourself in the world of online accounting? Also, for those who don’t know, what is Sage One, how did it start and who can benefit from it the most.

SC: I’m a qualified CASA (since 1987) and I was one of the founders of Softline, a provider of business management software to small and medium sized companies. That was, in essence, my first real job. We listed on the JSE in 1997, before being bought out by Sage in 2003, after which a rebrand took place and we became known as Sage.

I then moved from a group role to MD at Sage Pastel in the same year. It was during this time that a group of programmers and myself started to develop the online initiative for which Sage is well known. What started out as a “let’s see what we can do” sort of thing turned into something much greater and its success recently led me to resign from my role as MD of Pastel and take up the position of Head of Sage One in the AAMEA region. I still work from the very same desk though – in the support office, close to the customers and right in the middle of all the action.

Simply put, Sage One is a cloud accounting program. I tell people that it’s just like Facebook, except for the fact that it’s not social software, but rather geared towards business and accounting. Sage One offers all the conveniences that come with the cloud: it offers mobility, so that you have the freedom to work from where ever, whenever, as long as you have access to a computer and a browser. All your data is kept safe and secure with the help of an internet service provider (complete with generators, mirrored backups, 24/7 security etc).

And who can benefit from it the most? The short answer: any SME with an internet connection! It’s a full accounting system so it looks to satisfy the business needs of a range of companies. Some people use it solely for the online payroll option while others in the service industry use it for billing time and services.

Why do you think online accounting (and online systems) are the way forward for small businesses?

SC: Two reasons:

1)      It’s accounting software for the “new age” and therefore the user experience is far simpler and easier. Whilst many accounting software vendors have evolved their software over the last 20 years, it’s still hard to use, as the majority of people using it tend to have a lack of the necessary accounting knowledge that would make using that specific software easier. Sage One is designed for the cloud so it’s fresh and beautiful form makes it simple for anyone to navigate and utilise. Using the knowledge and lessons acquired over two decades, Sage One has been developed in such a way so as to ensure it contains all the necessary functionality, yet not at the cost of simplicity when it comes to the user’s experience.

2)      The convenience the cloud offers is compelling in every way possible. The best part is that this convenience extends beyond the PC to include other platforms (such as mobile), making it an incredible option when it comes to mobility. Because all the necessary information is stored in the cloud, gone are the days when it all sits in the “domain” of the admin staff – now everyone who needs to have access does, wherever they may be. It’s the ultimate software for businesses and will change how they operate on a daily basis.

Sage One software is based on the same trusted Pastel software, but what makes it different and unique? 

SC: Sage One software is not like Pastel software; in fact, it’s entirely new. Of course, they do share the same parents though: the same people who originally developed it. Sage One has the same engineering and philosophy behind it, yet it’s new. As I like to put it: it’s like your grandmother always drove a Volkswagen Beetle back in 1950 and now you drive the latest golf in the 21st Century – same design, same ethos, yet more current.

Where do you see online accounting in the next five years? What do you predict the developments will be?

SC: It’s undoubtedly going to be at the centre of most SMEs, more than likely integrating with third party applications through APIs, facilitating automatic bank and payment integrations, and of course promoting, more than ever, the ongoing importance of mobility in the business world.

As time passes, online accounting software is bound to become more than simply something that helps you electronically organise the books and records of your business – it’s set to become a “business tool”, in every sense of the term. It will allow business owners to use it as so much more than just its original record keeping purpose – it will also show you who owes you money, who you owe and what profits and losses you’ve made. Simply put: it’ll be about so much more than just the numbers. You’ll be able to operate your entire business from this single platform, from managing your to-dos, to using it for marketing purposes and bettering customer relationships. Operational information will be able to merge seamlessly with accounting information, making it a breeze to manage your business with user-friendly and reliable software.

What is it about this industry that gets you fired up?

SC: Many things, but the fact that we are manufacturers, artists, creators, really gets me fired up. I’ve always been excited about businesses in which people are making things, building things that are essentially making other peoples’ lives easier. I feel we do that here at Sage. We want to create things that people can benefit from, things that can change the way businesses do business. Nothing makes me happier than getting feedback such as this from a satisfied Sage user and knowing it’s something we built that has led to such satisfaction: “I’m working on it and I think I’m falling in love with the software.”

What advice can you offer to the future Sir Richard Bransons out there? 

SC: Employ the right people.

Don’t patronise them.

Trust them.

Respect them.

AND SHARE THEIR PASSION.

And lastly: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not online?

SC: I enjoy guitar, chess, history, philosophy and riding my motorcycle. I also love movies and listening to Van Morrison and Radiohead.

Thanks to Steven for taking the time to answer our questions.

 

Featured image: http://www.itnewsafrica.com

Here’s what you should be doing differently when it comes to your small business

Sometimes in business, entrepreneurs just get it right. Others will look on in awe and wonder what the secret to their success is and what they could be doing differently in order to become as successful. Establishing, running and growing your own business is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you can choose to do, and it requires consistent patience, persistence and dedication. 

Sometimes in business, entrepreneurs just get it right. Others will look on in awe and wonder what the secret to their success is and what they could be doing differently in order to become as successful. Establishing, running and growing your own business is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you can choose to do, and it requires consistent patience, persistence and dedication. As a small business owner you need to be constantly re-evaluating your business to ensure it’s performing at its absolute best. Here’s our list of a few things you should consider doing differently, if you aren’t doing them already.

Tweak and diversify

In order to have a successful business, people have to buy what you’re selling, be it a product or a service. If you noticed that sales have taken a dip, it may be time to make some changes to the things on offer. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean complete replacement, but perhaps only a few tweaks here and there. For example, you may consider creating new packages for clients that consist of a handful of your products, thereby adding value. You may find this better speaks to the needs of customers, something that should be constantly being met by your business. Diversification can also be an effective route to go and involves branching out a little. If you own a fashion business, you could think about expanding into garment care by offering a range of products that can be used to maintain the items of clothing you offer. You can end up not only appealing to already existing customers, but to an entirely new consumer market as well.

Don’t just market your product – sell your story

The key here is context. Consumers will be far more inclined to buy your product if they understand how it can help solve their problems. So how do you as the business owner go about achieving this? It’s simple: you provide the story behind the business. People tend to connect with stories, especially when it comes to those linked to specific products. The story will automatically inject meaning and emotion into the purchase process, but most importantly, telling a story brings a human element to the often clinical business world. By putting a face to the brand and sharing the story behind it, consumers are bound to feel more connected to it, and connection can not only lead to more sales, but to brand loyalty as well.

Embrace technology

Whether you like it not, the reality is that the role technology is playing in the success of small business is becoming more and more important every day. You can’t expect to grow in a technologically saturated world by turning your back on it. We don’t mean becoming tech-savvy overnight and investing in every possible element of technology pertaining to your particular business, but rather embracing it slowly but surely over a period of time. A good place to start is with social media– when used correctly, it can completely transform your marketing strategy…and for the better. Another thing to consider is the power of the Cloud. Software that operates within the Cloud can help to change how you run and manage your business dramatically. Sage One Software provides you with a fast, efficient and simple way of dealing with the financial side of your business, such as payroll and accounts. Don’t shy away from technology – it could be just the ingredient you need to boost your business.

Don’t compromise your vision

Among other things, flexibility and adaptability are two important aspects to bear in mind when it comes to running your own business. There’s no doubt that you will experience bumps in the road that require you to adapt and make changes fast, but in doing that, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of your purpose and core values. This can be easier said than done, but at the end of the day, if you compromise your vision and the principles you hold dear, you may end up regretting it. By all means make adjustments at times, but that shouldn’t mean having to sacrifice your vision completely.

Part of running your own business is learning as you go. You will stumble at times but the important thing is to get up and keep moving forward. Observe the businesses around you – you can only learn from them.

 

Featured image: http://michaelhyatt.com

Sage One Accounting Software: How it can help you run your business smoothly

In a previous post we took a look at the reasons why your small business needs Sage One Payroll software, so in this post we’ll be showing you how Sage One accounting software can help you run your business more smoothly. Here at Sage One, we value the hard work, effort and commitment that goes into getting a new business off the ground and operating smoothly and efficiently.

In a previous post we took a look at the reasons why your small business needs Sage One Payroll software, so in this post we’ll be showing you how Sage One accounting software can help you run your business more smoothly. Here at Sage One, we value the hard work, effort and commitment that goes into getting a new business off the ground and operating smoothly and efficiently. We want to see entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed, and that’s why we’re dedicated to doing what we can to get you there. The online accounting software Sage One offers is designed to help you manage the financial side of your business in the simplest and fastest way possible – something that will hopefully take you and your business a step closer to becoming a serious player in your particular industry.

Saves you time

You’ve heard it before, but it’s true: time is money. In business you want to be able to use your time wisely and find ways to avoid wasting it unnecessarily. One way of achieving this is by incorporating simplified processes into the everyday running of the business – the easier things are, the faster they’ll be completed which will save you time. Sage One’s accounting software is simple to use and a lack of confusing jargon makes it a breeze to deal with on a daily basis. It has an “intuitive interface”, making it easy for you to navigate your way around the system and find what you’re looking for fast.

Hassle-free

Fewer hassles with your software and operating systems usually results in smoother running of things all round. There are numerous “hassle-free” features of Sage One software, such as:

  • Upgrades: Because you’re working in the Cloud, your work is automatically “updated” instantly whenever you make changes which ensures that you’re always working on the latest version.
  • Installation: Again, using the Cloud means there’s nothing to install.
  • Accessibility: Provided you have Internet access, you’re able to access the system 24/7 from where ever you are. What could be more convenient?
  • Security: The Cloud stores all your data safely and securely, so you never have to worry about it landing in the wrong hands.

Full over-view of the business

Having a bird’s-eye view of your whole business is best when it comes to running things. When you can see every aspect of the financial side of your business, you’re able to manage it in the most effective way possible. With Sage One’s carefully designed Dashboard, you can keep your eye on everything, from who are your best customers, to your sales history and which are your top-selling products. Having a full-overview of the business will help you spot problem areas faster, make changes where necessary and overall, have a better idea of your business’s financial landscape.

The Drill Down feature is an added bonus that allows you to look deeper into the information presented to you by the interface. Having immediate access to the details behind the information you receive will provide you with a better understanding of why things are the way they are and this will hopefully lead to faster problem-solving and improved relationships with customers.

One-stop shop

Sage One software provides the perfect platform for business owners to deal with many things at once. From managing customers, suppliers and inventory, to creating customised invoices using the Sage One Custom Layout Designer, producing reports and managing the business’s bank accounts, Sage One’s online accounting is truly a one-stop shop. Furthermore, your accountant can be granted access to the system, allowing him to keep an eye on the financials from where ever he is.

Sage One software is everything rolled into one, making it the ideal financial management tool for any small business. To find out more about this fantastic software and its features, take a quick tour on the Sage One website.

 

Featured image: http://blogs.voices.com