9 Technology Products that are Essential for Your Small Business

As a small business, you can benefit by jumping on the technology train. While utilizing technology like social media, email, and online marketing are already considered to be imperative for a business, lesser-known gadgets and software can increase your business’s efficiency and protect your important information. Continue reading to discover 9 essential tech gadgets that can improve your business’s day-to-day productivity and make life in the workplace a breeze.

Time tracking software

TSheets Time Tracking Software is a comprehensive time management system, designed to record exact labor hours, track employee locations, and synchronize payroll systems. Never estimate the time spent on a project again with the TSheets software. TSheets can be downloaded to all browsers and mobile devices, and employees can also check-in to the program over text message.

VoIP

Voice-over Internet Protocol can replace traditional phone lines for a fraction of the cost while increasing communication capabilities. VoIP is beneficial because it works over an internet connection, saving your business money on traditional phone services. As well as phone calls, VoIP offers video conferencing, SMS text, software phones, and call routing and reporting.

Conference Cam

It may be worth the cost to invest in a high-quality, versatile video conferencing camera. The Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam is a high-definition camera that zooms, pans, and tilts. It’s lightweight and nimble, allowing you to move it around the office to accompany any size of conferencing group.

TrackR Bravo

This small disc acts as a radar for any company property you may need to keep track of. One individual TrackR can locate items 100 feet away, while several TrackR’s working together can help you locate an item, regardless of distance. Avoid wasting precious work time searching for misplaced objects with this useful item tracker!

Sengled Boost

This light bulb helps extend WiFi connectivity throughout the entire office, eliminating spots with weak network connection. This allows you to work freely around your office space, instead of being tied to a desk to complete your work. Try out the world’s first WiFi extending light bulb and experience the benefits of being able to work from anywhere in the office!

Vysk QS1

To help protect your company’s data, Vysk QS1 protects your calls, texts, and photos from any unauthorized viewers. In a world where the amount of business hacking grows by the day, this cell phone case protects you from any unwanted hackers trying to spy on your personal or business life.

DocuSign

Save time and money on printing with the online tool, DocuSign. This cloud-based software allows you to upload and send important documents, have them signed, and sent back, all while protecting the transaction information.

BlueAnt S4 True Handsfree car kit

Never worry about texting and driving again. This slim speakerphone is completely touch-free and voice-activated. By placing the gadget on the sun visor above the driver’s seat, you can clearly answer the phone, conduct important business calls, and give spoken commands to the device, all while traveling in your vehicle. This gadget is perfect for business people with lengthy commutes and/or frequent deliveries.

NeatConnect

This wireless scanner can do a variety of important office tasks, from scanning both sides of a document simultaneously to digitizing documents directly into a cloud-based service, like Dropbox and Google Drive. This product saves you time on scanning lengthy documents and helps streamline business documents to essential computer programs, helping you avoid the hassle of transferring documents to each individual program.

No matter the size of a company, these 9 technology products can boost workplace efficiency. Consider investing in one or more of these products and see how much your business is benefited! And for any networking or technology solutions, call Black Tie IT today for a quick and easy fix to even the biggest of technical issues!

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5 Ways to Improve Office Productivity

Long days at the office can seem endless and the work can sometimes drag on forever. If the days are starting to blend together, your work can start to fall behind. When you’re feeling tired or bored your performance levels certainly start slipping. Check out these great and simple ways to boost your productivity at the office and produce the best work possible!

 

  1. Keep Organized

Whether it is your physical desk, or your desktop, make sure everything is nice and tidy! Sometimes a cluttered work space can distract you and cause problems when you need to find a document or file. Take the time to clean up your physical work space and file certain documents according to importance. Next, move onto your computer. Make sure there are not too many files taking up room on your desktop- keep things clean and simple. Also, take the time to organize your email! An organized inbox is important for keeping on top of vital information and dates. Create folders in your inbox and categorize each email based on importance and relevance. We can also help with any internal speed issues or data cabling!

 

  1. Take a Break for Lunch

It’s common for employees to eat at their desk and just work through lunch, but this is not always the best way to get things done. Although taking the time to get up from your desk may interrupt the work flow a little, it’s very important to take the time to relax, eat and breathe. Walking away from your desk for a lunch break can improve your productivity in the long run. You will have more energy, and will not be as resentful of your workspace.

 

  1. Enforce Creativity

Many times we stray away from creativity in the workplace, especially if the environment is strict and already set in its ways. However, whether you believe it or not, creativity can be a vital part of an employee’s productivity. Things may be working well now, but trying something new once in a while can really pay off. Thinking outside the box sounds cliché but the rewards are worth it! There’s a variety of ways to get creative in the workplace, so try some out today!

 

  1. Reconsider meetings

Meetings take up a huge part of any employee’s or manager’s work day. Meetings can be productive, but most of the time they are more time-consuming than necessary. Instead of being so quick to book a meeting about every single little thing, think about if the conversation can be had over the phone, through a skype chat or over an email.

 

  1. Stay Hydrated

This may sound simple and not very profound, but water can be such an important factor in your productivity. When sitting at a desk all day, especially if it’s a busy day, we can easily forget to drink up. Although you may not feel thirsty or flushed, drinking at least two water bottles throughout the day will make you feel a whole lot better and keep you motivated to work harder!

 

 

Office productivity can also be improved by increasing the speed of your computers or changing the network. For more tips and advice give us a call today or check out our services!

How VoIP Can Improve a Small Business’s Productivity

First of all—what is VoIP?

Voice-over Internet Protocol is a form of technology created to deliver voice communications and multimedia sessions over IP networks. So, in simpler terms, VoIP’s purpose is to make phone calls accessible over the internet. This can cut down on phone bill expenses, making business calls very cheap or even free.

One of the most popular forms of this technology is Skype, a voice and video calling service that allows users to conduct personal or business calls from anywhere in the world, given they have an internet connection.

How does it improve business productivity?

Businesses can take advantage of this ever-growing technology in multiple ways. This evolving technology can be implemented by businesses small and large, for its ability to increase office productivity, communication portability, added business security, and so much more:

  • Reduced communications cost

Installing traditional phone lines for your business can come with hefty costs. By installing a VoIP service, you can cut these installation and monthly fees drastically. Most providers utilize a monthly per-user fee, rather than a fee based on the minutes used. Some VoIP providers even offer the necessary equipment to be installed with your broadband network.

Additionally, instead of having clients or employees call you on your cell phone while you’re out of the office, you can save calling minutes on your mobile device by implementing a VoIP service for out-of-office contact.

  • Increased multi-tasking

With VoIP services constantly evolving and improving, users can now utilize VoIP calling from their computer while working on other projects. Say you’re on the phone with a client, and they want you to pull up a document they emailed over? With new VoIP technology, you can easily access all functions of your computer while staying on the line with your client.

Whether you utilize a headset or a speaker system, VoIP services also allow for hands-free communication. Take advantage of this technology by filling out office paperwork or cleaning your desk, all while communicating through a VoIP headset.

  • Maximized productivity

Because of this increase in multi-tasking capabilities, employees can accomplish more at work while still connecting with customers and fellow colleagues. This service also allows employees to work from home and miss fewer days of important work hours, or spend less time checking voicemails by converting received voicemails into emails to be sent to the employee. This allows for all communication with clients and colleagues to be found in one place, reducing the time it takes for employees to get caught up on messages.

  • Enhanced portability

One of the major benefits of a VoIP service is the ability to access the software from anywhere in the world. Whether you’re on a business trip or working from home, you can access your work line from anywhere. All this requires is an internet connection and a headset or IP phone, and you should be set to make business calls with little to no added cost.

  • Guaranteed flexibility

A VoIP converter can be plugged into any computer to allow for a greater flexibility of use. You or your employees can also access VoIP from mobile devices by installing the software on a phone. This allows your team to be reachable from the business’ work line, even if they are out of the office. Instead of having different software programs or equipment for each form of communications, you can have it all right at your fingertips by installing a VoIP service.

  • Added versatility

With a VoIP service, you are capable of making phone and video calls from anywhere in the world. Just establish an internet connection and you’re ready to go. Whether it’s an important client phone call or a video call into a home office conference, VoIP services allows your business to be incredibly versatile without the necessity of you being physically present.

  • Improved security

Your VoIP service can operate through an encrypted VPN connection to allow your business increased security. Avoid any unprotected calls or possible hacking scares. By encrypting your VoIP service, you can feel confident knowing your business and client information is being protected.

Taking advantage of a VoIP service comes with many benefits for business owners, from increasing productivity in the workplace to saving on traditional phone service costs. Contact Black Tie IT to discover how your business can start benefiting from a VoIP telephone system today!

Money-Saving Tips for College Students

Our firm is the ultimate destination for all financial and insurance services. We work a lot with college students who need college education plans, or students who are looking to get a jumpstart on their savings and financial planning. Although we can help, it is also helpful for students to understand ways they can save and protect their money on a day to day basis. We have complied a list of simple things college students can do to save money!

Never Buy New Textbooks

Textbooks can be a pretty heft cost at college. First things first, make sure your textbook will actually be used in class. Some teachers have an automatic textbook requirement but end up never using the book. If the textbook is necessary, then make sure you’re not wasting your money on new textbooks because you will most likely only use it for a semester! Your campus bookstore should allow you to rent books, or there are plenty of sites to purchase used textbooks in great condition!

Avoid Eating Out

Although sometimes you’re just craving a good meal out, try to avoid eating more than five times per week out. Take advantage of your school’s meal plan if they have one. Also, look at easy recipes for college students to avoid dropping too much money at the grocery store. There are plenty of options even if you don’t have an oven or stove top!

A Coffee Maker Will Save You Loads

Yes, we all love a great Starbucks in the morning, however it can add up quickly! If you are getting a drink every morning, you are most likely wasting around $30 per week and $120 per month. Making a good cup of coffee is not that hard and you can even buy the Starbucks syrups to make it taste just like they make it, so invest in a good coffee maker today!

Pay Interest ASAP

Interest on student loans can start to add up faster than you may realize. Although the student loans seem big and overwhelming, take them one step at a time by just making small and basic payments each month. Even if you’re only paying $20 per month to start with, you’ll thank yourself later.

Capitalize on Campus Amenities

Start reading the generic emails or campus bulletins the school sends out because you may actually be able to score some free or discounted food! There are always events and fundraisers happening on college campuses, so take a look, because there is probably more going on than you realize! There are also usually opportunities for things like free movies or free concerts.

Savings Accounts are a Given

Start saving now. Although in college it’s easy to prioritize interest payments, food and clothing over putting money into savings, it is something you should seriously think about. Opening a savings account is not difficult and has no harm to you. If you have a steady job you can automatically have 10% (or whatever you choose) of each paycheck deposit into this savings. Having a savings account with money sitting in it builds up over time. Getting to the end of college and realizing you have a good chunk of money sitting in your savings account is a relief you will be thanking yourself for!

Buying New Isn’t Important

In college things like furniture, clothing and decorations get worn down so easily that we recommend straying away from buying new! You will save a ton of money and it’s not that hard to do. Check out Facebook or your school’s website to see if they have “for sale” pages where students sell their used furniture, clothes and decorations to each other. There are some great finds!

Give us a call today for more tips on budgeting for college students or to speak to one of our team members about financial planning!

8 Apps Every Business Should Be Using

These days technology is an integral part of business operations and functionality. Whether the business has a specific IT department, or you’re working on the computer at your desk, every business is trying to achieve the most efficient way to keep things running. We typically think of apps as the fun games or social media sites on our phone, but they can actually be extremely useful tools for business. Take a look at some of these great apps that can help improve the efficiency of your workday and help with any stress you may be feeling.

Evernote– Evernote is your ultimate app for meetings. Ditch the paper and pen, Evernote has everything you could need when it comes to taking notes. Whether you want to write a quick note, record an audio note, attach web pages or save images, Evernote is there to help. The best part about Evernote is the ability to share/send your information to other coworkers who may have missed the meeting or need a recap.

Roambi Analytics– In quick need of organized statistics and charts for a presentation? Roambi Analytics should be your go-to tool. This fantastic app takes whatever confusing or complicated data you input and turns it into organized charts, graphs and percentages.

Bizzabo– If you’re hosting a big conference in house or with other companies, consider promoting attendees to download and use Bizzabo. This app can easily help guests network and get in touch with those at the event they may want to contact/meet. Users are able to connect their LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Yammer- Take group chatting to a new level by asking your team to download Yammer. Not only can you easily communicate in a group setting, but the app also makes it easy for team members to share/track progress on specific projects, access files and download photos. This is also good for a business to create different group chats depending on teams and departments.

TripIt– Are you someone who travels a lot? If so, TripIt will be your new best friend. This app lets you not only organize your flights, hotels, meetings and reservations, but it will also compile things into a clean, concise agenda! Once you have your agenda you can share it with your family or coworkers to keep them in the loop.

AwardWallet- As an addition to TripIt, if you’re someone who travels a lot you most likely are a member of a number of different rewards programs. Flights, hotels, stores…it’s hard to keep track of them all. AwardWallet keeps everything nice and organized with your reward/loyalty number handy, how many reward points you’ve accrued and any barcodes that may need to be scanned.

Asana- Keep tabs on your team and daily work wherever you are thanks to Asana. This app allows you to create checklists for work, assign tasks, create team or individual boards and track how much work is getting done. You can share checklists with your team or create private ones, so even if you are out of the office you can be assigned work or see how much needs to get done. Through this app you can also attach shared document or Dropbox links.

Expensify- If your business is one that consistently has to reimburse employees for travel, meals and other expenses, Expensify is a great tool to have your company download! Expensify is an easy way to take pictures of important receipts, log any expenses and input the numbers into documents. A corporate account on Expensify is probably the easiest way to go about things.

 

Learn more about how we can help your business run smoothly and efficiently by heading to our website!

 

 

 

 

4 Tips for Computer Maintenance

Computer maintenance is important for any business or household, because it is what keeps things running efficiently. In today’s day in age most businesses rely heavily on their computers and networks operating smoothly for the sales and service of the business, and most households rely on their technology to keep everyone happy. However, there are a few rules of thumb both businesses and families should be following when it comes to computer maintenance!

 

  1. Backing Up Is Your Best Friend

Most people like to put off backing up their computers or networks because it “will take too long” or it’s more effort than we wish. However, it is not that difficult and it will save you a lifetime of stress if something were to happen to your device. Companies should be implementing back-ups on a regular basis, and families should get in the habit of doing the same.

 

  1. Virus Protection

It’s always important to make sure your network is safely protected from viruses on the Internet or bugs that can attack your personal information and shut down your computers.

 

  1. Know Who to Call

When something goes wrong with your computer or network, you should have a contact or service readily available to help you resolve the issue quickly. Many businesses think that having an in-house team for computer service is right. While it’s not necessarily wrong, outsourcing your computer issues can be incredibly useful. That way you’re not paying someone full-time, you don’t have to provide benefits and an external company most likely has more experience and equipment to resolve the issue. Same goes for a household, a company like Black Tie IT can fix your computer and network issues much faster and more efficiently than other options!

 

  1. Keep Things Clean!

Take some motherly advice and clean! Taking the time to clear space and clean up your computer is so important. It can affect the speed of your computer, the ability to easily find files and your overall daily routine! Take the time to do little things like

  • Empty your digital trash
  • Delete duplicated files or pictures
  • Clear your history once in a while
  • Create folders
  • Exit out of tabs/windows that aren’t being used
  • Keep up with the back-ups

Utilize these tips to keep your computer running the best is possibly can! If you are still having issues, give us a call today!

Internet Safety For Your Kids

The Internet is an incredibly useful tool in today’s world, however it is also overpowering and a little scary at times. Children are exposed to such much at a young age these days thanks to the Internet and easy access. However, despite the downfalls, the Internet can be a fantastic learning resource for kids! There are plenty of educational games and opportunities for children of all ages. If you’re just getting set-up, our team at Black Tie IT can help with the installation of your networks, servers and firewalls, but here are a few tips to help make sure your children stay safe on the Internet!

 

  1. Have a tech base

Many families these days are incorporating a “tech base” into their household where all electronics must remain. For instance, kids must put their phones there at night or communal iPads and such much stay plugged into the base. Having such a routine makes it easy for parents to monitor how often their children are looking at screens all day and it keeps provides a communal feel (i.e. nothing is too private).

 

  1. Privacy is Your Best Friend

Before providing your child with their own phone, or allowing them to use the Internet make sure they are aware of how to protect themselves and their information. Often, parents drill basic information into their kid’s heads making sure they know their name, phone number, address, ect., but this can be dangerous information when it comes to the Internet. Don’t scare your children, but make sure they understand exactly what information they should never give out or type in. Discuss with them on a basic level how this information can have negative effects.

 

  1. Keep passwords private

Kids catch on quick, so don’t think that they’ll forget a password just because you tell them once. Keep the passwords to things like your iTunes account or App store account private so you are able to monitor each purchase or download your child is making. If your kids have to ask you each time they want to make a purchase or download it also helps prevent a sense of entitlement.

 

  1. Consider Kid-Friendly Searches

If your child is really young, there are some great resources out there to help you make sure they stay extra protected from things they shouldn’t be looking at.  These child-friendly search engines only provide search results for websites that are kid-approved and don’t contain any dangerous or inappropriate links. By allowing your child to use these, you can allow them to roam the Internet without having to worry about what they’re clicking on.

 

  1. Communication is key

One of the best ways to ensure that your children are being safe on the Internet is to keep them talking. Check in with your kids while they’re playing games or searching things and ask them to tell you about what they’re doing. Hearing them explain what they’re looking at or the types of games they’re playing can help you stop any potential red flags, and also feel more connected to the types of things your child is learning about.