Top ten office buys for a successful business

Depending on how big your business is, there are things that any entrepreneur needs to buy to make a business successful. One of the first things, for most businesses, is a robust computer system. HP is highly recommended, because of its sophistication and attractive bulk prices. You can even get discounts if you are using HP coupons. You can use HP computers in a networked manner using Linksys or Netgear routers to effectively collaborate across rooms.

One other important thing you may want to invest in is a high quality printer. Every office needs a laser printer at some point of time. Once you get the printer, think of a photocopier, if you think that would be useful. Get good videoconferencing systems if you are dealing with multiple locations or need to talk to clients long distance.

Apart from hardware, there’s a bunch of software that can be useful. No business can do without a good accounting or tax software. Intuit is a good one; Quickbook Pro is also good for the small office.

Small businesses need to focus on how to use open source or freeware to keep costs down. One good way to collaborate online is to use Skype. This is a VOIP telephone system that also lets you chat and collaborate online. Businesses that deal with employees online can find this very useful for collaborative work. International businesses, dealing with long distance clients, can find this very useful.

There is not really a hard and fast rule about what you got to buy to be successful. It kind of depends on what you are selling. But in general, you should never shy away from spending in those things that improve business communication, whether it is with clients, or with business personnel.

Magazines and the iPad

Commentators have been debating whether online news and opinion articles should be put behind pay walls to help the struggling publishing industry, but developments like the introduction of the iPad by Apple will make many of these discussions moot.

With the iPad and other tablets, publishers now have a new option with loads of potential, with the ability to send out electronic versions of their print magazines with colorful ads. Then, by adding interactivity and video, the ads can become more engaging and much more effective. This story from the WSJ offers a glimpse of what’s to come.

Time magazine has signed up Unilever, Toyota Motor, Fidelity Investments and at least three others for marketing agreements priced at about $200,000 apiece for a single ad spot in each of the first eight issues of the magazine’s iPad edition, according to people familiar with the matter.

At Condé Nast Publications, Wired magazine is offering different levels of ad functionality depending on how many pages of ads a marketer buys, according to a person familiar with the matter. Advertisers that agree to buy eight pages of ads in a single issue of Wired magazine will be able to lace video and other extra features through the iPad version, say people familiar with the matter.

Magazines largely are planning downloadable iPad applications that are near-replicas of the stories in the print versions, but they are demonstrating the new-media bells and whistles for advertisers: add-ons like videos, social-networking tools and navigation that take advantage of the large screen, touch technology and Internet connections of the tablet computer.

Time Inc.’s Sport Illustrated has been showing advertisers three video-heavy ad prototypes, including one for a Ford Mustang that includes an arcade-style driving game using the tilt-and-turn capability of the iPad. With a few touches to the screen, readers can pick paint colors and wheel styles for cars they might want to buy.

“Some of the things you can do are just mind blowing,” says Steve Pacheco, FedEx’s director of advertising. “You are taking something that used to be flat on a page and making it interactive and have it jump off the page.”

Magazine publishers see the device as crucial to their future as they scour for new ways to make money, with print advertising still under threat. Digital advertising has been a disappointment for many publishers, but with the iPad they feel they have a technology that best marries the splashy look and size of a full-page print ad with the cool interactive features of a digital ad—and the ability to count how many people saw it.

As I’ve argued before, a pay for delivery model makes much more sense for advertisers when compared to a pay wall. Pay walls can severely hurt a publication’s popularity, as many users will not be interested in paying for content and most bloggers won’t link to a story behind a pay wall. But, I suspect many users will pay for the convenience of being able to download a beautifully laid out magazine on a device like the iPad. They’ll even pay for a black and white version on their Kindle. Imagine having all your favorite magazines loaded up on your device when you board your flight, along with the books you’ve been waiting to read.

These changes are inevitable, and I expect most publishers and large brand advertisers to jump on this trend.

Aaron Baar of Marketing Daily agrees that the iPad will be transformational for the publishing business.

Q: Is the iPad the savior of the publishing industry?

A: We do believe it will be transformational for newspaper and magazine publishers. Whether it will save the business or not is a different story, but we definitely think it will put a new face to the way consumers can actually interact with print content as well as advertising within print content. It kind of gives the industry a breath of fresh air.

The iPad “provokes” customer responses. Naturally, part of that is because the format os relatively new. But the interactive qualities will mean this effect will have considerable staying power.

Need a Financial Help? Got an I-Phone?

There seems to be a smart phone application for just about every purpose under the sun. If you’ve got a possible need, some tech guru is busy right now making sure that you’ll have a smart phone application that will meet that need. Need airline tickets? There is an app. Need a date for the company party? There is one for that, too. So, it was inevitable that we would have apps for financial needs, but selecting the best money management apps for your phone can pose some problems. There are simply too many to choose from.

Which finance-related app will work best for you will depend on what you’re trying to accomplish with it. There are apps for monitoring stock prices and some that even allow you to buy and sell via your mobile device. Other apps offer financial solutions ranging from long-term retirement planning to apps that help in obtaining fast and much needed cash loans for those unexpected emergencies. Finance related applications for smart phones are sometimes as easy to use as looking up an address, or they can be as complicated as a foreign encyclopedia. Shop and compare, and don’t be afraid to ask people questions about which ones provide them with a quality application.

To select the best smart phone applications for money matters, you should look for the name behind the app. Those that are developed by companies with solid reputations in their area of expertise are probably the smarter buy for your money. Still, they can be more costly, too. Since the smart phone, like the web, is an open market for entrepreneurs who have their own items to sell, check out any app purchases carefully. Look for a highly rated app with sound customer support. After all, you want your apps to help you with your financial situation, not ones that create problems for you financially.

Start your own business with a successful franchise

Have you often wished that you could be your own boss by setting up your own business? Setting up a new business from scratch is never easy, but you can improve the odds in your favor by setting up as a franchisee for a running successful business. As a franchisee, you will function as an extended arm of the company which will provide all the support that you can expect from a partner. How do you go about selecting which company you are going to work with?

Ideally, you would like the franchising company to operate in a business where there is high demand and limited competition. You would also like the full range of support services from the training to marketing and advertising. We are going to look at one company that has been extremely successful in franchising because there are many lessons to be learnt from their success. The company is called N-Hance and offers wood renewal services for wooden floors and cabinets through a system of franchisees. Entrepreneur Magazine put the company at the top of the home improvement and miscellaneous services category in its annual Franchise 500 rankings.

N-Hance is a renewal system for wooden floors, cabinets and other built in storage. It makes the wood look like new without using messy and pungent chemicals and without the expense of refinishing or sanding. They have built a highly successful and comprehensive support system for their franchisees including complete turnkey packages that even include business stationery and business cards. In addition, their powerful brand and unique customer proposition put you in a position where you can provide genuine value to your customers.

If you are interested in an outstanding business opening in the flooring restoration business, you should give serious attention to this franchise opportunity. You will find it a relatively painless and low-risk blueprint to build up a successful business.

Common sense invades the F.C.C.

About a third of Americans lack access to high-speed Internet service. That’s a stunning statistic that the Obama administration seems determined to rectify.

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing an ambitious 10-year plan that will reimagine the nation’s media and technology priorities by establishing high-speed Internet as the country’s dominant communication network.

The plan, which will be submitted to Congress on Tuesday, is likely to generate debate in Washington and a lobbying battle among the telecommunication giants, which over time may face new competition for customers. Already, the broadcast television industry is resisting a proposal to give back spectrum the government wants to use for future mobile service.

The blueprint reflects the government’s view that broadband Internet is becoming the common medium of the United States, gradually displacing the telephone and broadcast television industries. It also signals a shift at the F.C.C., which under the administration of President George W. Bush gained more attention for policing indecency on the television airwaves than for promoting Internet access.

Wow – the F.C.C. is actually concentrating on something like our digital future as opposed to nipple on television! This is the kind of investment that can have a real impact on the growth of our economy.

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