Where's Your Data?

Editor's Note - We are often surprised when we ask clients new to The Computing Center where their data is stored.  Many times, they don't know. This article from the FTC focuses on the basics of data storage, especially since your data may have been scattered during the pandemic with many employees working from home.

 As many companies shift to an in-person workplace, you and your employees face the opportunities and challenges of the new new normal. Today is the first in a five-part Back to Business blog series to help ease the transition back to the office, including steps you can take to reduce the risk that COVID scammers, data thieves, and financial fraudsters will follow you there. One consideration for companies: assuring you’re in control of sensitive information. Here are some tips on maintaining appropriate data security standards as your employees return to the workplace.

 

  • FTC Back to Business blog seriesUpdate your data inventory. Important business records need to be on your system and not on the personal laptops, tablets, or phones of staff members. Work with your employees to make sure need-to-keep documents are where they need to be and that confidential information that shouldn’t be in employees’ personal possession is securely removed.
  • Don’t forget paperwork and print-outs. Have your employees printed confidential business documents while they were working from home? Where is that paperwork now – disposed of securely or displayed on the fridge on the reverse of a shopping list or crayon drawing? Make sure your security discussions include sensitive documents that were created at home.

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Should I Finance My IT Project?

If you are like most, you look for ways to ensure your IT projects thrive. One undervalued project aspect that can save you energy, time, and cash flow is your selected payment method.

Before you invest in your next IT endeavor, ask yourself:  

-        Do you have other projects, expenses or initiatives that require cash or capital that you would like to invest in?

-        Would a payment plan help you better manage your cash flow and expenses?

-        Are you looking to maximize your IT project, but working on a tight budget?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, an alternative acquisition model is the right choice for you.

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Engaging Customers on Social Media

 

Over half the world’s population now uses social media.

If you do not engage with customers across the different social media platforms, you are missing out on a great opportunity to promote your business for free.

If you want to learn more, follow our short guide on finding and meeting your customer’s needs online.

Know Your Audience

Before you can reach out and engage your customers on social media, you need to understand who they are. It would help if you got to know them so you can know who you are talking to.

The best way to do this is to create personas—characters representing the target demographics of your market. Building these persona profiles is a key part of any digital marketing strategy.

Analyze your audience and dig deep into any data that social media platforms provide you about your followers. Interview them and observe their behaviors. Group them by age, activity, and interests, and then tailor your content specifically towards different groups.

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Choosing Accounting Software

 

 

How to Choose and Set Up Small Business Accounting Software
Editors Note - Most companies and organizations already have some kind of accounting/bookeeping software. Newly formed organizations get to pick and each year, several Computing Center clients review what they are using and consider making changes. This HP Tech@Work article reviews the basics and some of the more popular software titles.
 
The U.S. accounting industry saw more than $110 billion in sales in 2020, proving that many businesses still prefer to outsource some of their financial services to professionals. But what if you want to use software to keep it in-house? That’s a possibility, too.
 
The market for U.S. accounting software reached $3,759.4 million in 2018, with strong growth projected, especially in cloud-based services. Here’s more about the most popular services available today and how you can pick the right one for your company. 

What is small business accounting software?

Small business accounting software is designed to help businesses keep good financial records, including income and expenses. It also provides simplified reporting and planning tools to help you see the health of your business at any time. It can be stand-alone, where you input all the data yourself, or it can connect to your financial institutions’ data to automate populating the fields.
 
Most people use double-entry accounting, however, to ensure that what you enter matches what your bank or credit card statements report. Software can also help companies stay compliant with the tax or payroll code.
 
Today’s online accounting software for small businesses comes in a variety of forms. There are the more traditional disks and downloads, but there are also cloud-based solutions that provide immediate access to your bank accounts, payroll, and tax information.

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Moving to Online - Is it for you?

 When to Move from Brick and Mortar to Online

 

If your business sells products, should you have an online presence? Something to consider. For the past several years, The Computing Center has had a small online presence. We sell printer inks and toners through the Amazon platform. Prior to March 2020, that platform provided us with a small additional outlet for these consumables. However, since last March, this area has grown quite dramatically. Daily, we ship toners and inks all over the US. Those additional sales provided our business with a demonstrable extra boost during a year when normal forcasting went out the window. While we have absolutely no intention of changing our business model, online definitely helped us in 2020.

This article from HP Tech@work outlines some of the steps necessary to create an online presence. We'd be happy to discuss our experiences and what we've learned from being "online". 

While the transition from in-store sales to ecommerce began long before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 accelerated online sales growth in a way that no one could have imagined!

A recent survey revealed that a shift in buying habits favored online shopping for everything from magazines to hygiene products. The pandemic specifically motivated up to 31% of shoppers who would have normally purchased in-store to take their business to the internet.
 
Restaurants, booksellers, and clothing retailers all saw a shift, but how can you know if it’s time for you to make the move?

Brick and mortar vs online sales

First, it's helpful to review the differences between in-store and web-based shopping. Some stores stick strictly to in-person sales, with others moving online for ordering while still asking shoppers to stop by in person to pick up their purchases. Brick and mortar, whether it uses web-based tools for sales and logistics or not, exists mainly as a physical store you can visit for an in-person experience.

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