Category: News

Business applications news, help and research #online #business


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Business applications

At the heart of enterprise software strategy are the key business applications upon which every organisation relies. From enterprise resource planning (ERP) to customer relationship management (CRM), financial and accounts software to business intelligence (BI), such applications demand high investments and can deliver high returns. We analyse the latest product developments and the news from major suppliers such as Oracle, Microsoft and SAP.

  • Motorway services company is using SAP SuccessFactors HR technology to manage its people across franchises that include Starbucks and KFC

  • August 23, 2016 23 Aug’16

    IT records as well as sporting records were set at the recent Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

  • August 23, 2016 23 Aug’16

    As Saudi Arabia sets out to diversify its economy away from oil, the kingdom’s companies are undergoing rapid transformation

  • August 16, 2016 16 Aug’16

    There has been a big rise in the number of data scientist positions in the UK and Europe in the first half of 2016

    In Depth. Business applications

    Evaluating and selecting a data governance tool depends on not only features and functionality, but also how you will use the tool to add value to your organization. Continue Reading

    Apache Spark is growing in popularity and finding real-time use across Europe, including in online betting and on railways, and with Hadoop Continue Reading

    Hexagon, a manufacturer that measures and monitors robot, and other, components is using the Salesforce IoT Cloud to better tune components to environmental factors Continue Reading

  • View All In Depth

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    Digital cash and anonymous fair-exchange payment protocols

    This article in our Royal Holloway Security Series sketches a protocol that ensures fairness as well as anonymity in Bitcoin transactions

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    Blog Posts. Business applications

    This is a guest blogpost by Stuart Wells, chief technology officer, FICO In a previous blog post for Computer Weekly, I discussed six ways that companies can improve their decision making. With. Continue Reading

    What happened was the marketing people at Venafi hired a corporate brand consultant and asked them to come up with a funky term so that the firm didn’t have to just explain that it. Continue Reading

    Opinion. Business applications

    Computer Weekly assesses the history, legal aspects and latest developments in the story of the mass surveillance programme launched by the US National Security Agency Continue Reading

    Britain’s most secretive court combined the surreal with the deadly serious, as it debated the legality of bulk data collection by MI5, MI6 and GCHQ Continue Reading

    Privacy Shield faces inevitable legal challenges, so organisations should prepare by considering legal and practical alternatives Continue Reading

    Videos. Business applications

    John Streit, CTO, OgilvyOne Worldwide, looks at how IT is being used to help organisations understand their customers better

    Sara Gardner, CTO for Hitachi Data Systems’ social innovation business unit, discusses how to drive societal impact through the internet of things

    IT pros need training in listening skills to achieve digital business transformation, says the SAP practice leader at Tata Consultancy Services.


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    The 10 Most Reliable Ways to Fund a Startup #business #grants


    #start up business grants

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    The 10 Most Reliable Ways to Fund a Startup

    One of the most frequent questions I get as a mentor to entrepreneurs is How do I find the money to start my business? I always answer that there isn t any magic, and contrary to popular myth, nobody is waiting in the wings to throw money at you just because you have a new and exciting business idea.

    On the other hand, there are many additional creative options available for starting a business that you might not find when buying a car, home or other major consumer item. If you have the urge to be an entrepreneur, I encourage you to think seriously about each of these, before you zero in on one or two, and get totally discouraged if those don t work for you.

    Of course, every alternative has advantages and disadvantages, so any given one may not be available or attractive to you. For example, professional investors put great priority on your previous experience in building a business, and they expect to own a portion of the business equity and control for the funds they do provide. These are tough for a first-time entrepreneur.

    Thus it is always a question of what you qualify for, and what you are willing to give up, to turn your dream idea into a viable business. Here is my list of the 10 most common sources of funding today, in reverse priority sequence, with some rules of thumb to channel your focus:

    10. Seek a bank loan or credit-card line of credit.

    In general, this won t happen for a new startup unless you have a good credit history or existing assets that you are willing to put at risk for collateral. In the U.S. you may find that the Small Business Administration (SBA) can get you infusions of cash without normal backup requirements.

    9. Trade equity or services for startup help.

    This is most often called bartering your skills or something you have for something you need. An example would be negotiating free office space by agreeing to support the computer systems for all the other office tenants. Another common example is exchanging equity for legal and accounting support.

    8. Negotiate an advance from a strategic partner or customer.

    Find a major customer, or a complimentary business, who sees such value in your idea that they are willing to give you an advance on royalty payments to complete your development. Variations on this theme include early licensing or white-labeling agreements.

    7. Join a startup incubator or accelerator.

    These organizations, such as Y Combinator. are very popular these days, and are often associated with major universities, community development organizations, or even large companies. Most provide free resources to startups, including office facilities and consulting, but many provide seed funding as well.

    6. Solicit venture-capital investors.

    These are professional investors, such as Accel Partners. who invest institutional money in qualified startups, usually with a proven business model, ready to scale. They typically look for big opportunities, needing a couple of million dollars or more, with a proven team. Look for a warm introduction to make this work.

    5. Apply to local angel-investor groups.

    Most metropolitan areas have groups of local high-net-worth individuals interested in supporting startups, and willing to syndicate amounts up to a million dollars for qualified startups. Use online platforms such as Gust to find them, and local networking to find ones that relate to your industry and passion.

    4. Start a crowdfunding campaign online.

    This newest source of funding, where anyone can participate per the JOBS Act. is exemplified by online sites such as Kickstarter. Here people make online pledges to your startup during a campaign, to pre-buy the product for later delivery, give donations or qualify for a reward, such as a T-shirt.

    3. Request a small-business grant.

    These are government funds allocated to support new technologies and important causes, such as education, medicine and social needs. A good place to start looking is Grants.gov. which is a searchable directory of more than 1,000 federal grant programs. The process is long, but it doesn t cost you any equity.

    2. Pitch your needs to friends and family.

    As a general rule, professional investors will expect that you have already have commitments from this source to show your credibility. If your friends and family don t believe in you, don t expect outsiders to jump in. This is the primary source of non-personal funds for very early-stage startups.

    1. Fund your startup yourself.

    These days, the costs to start a business are at an all-time low, and over 90 percent of startups are self funded (also called bootstrapping). It may take a bit longer to save some money before you start and grow organically, but the advantage is that you don t have to give up any equity or control. Your business is yours alone.

    You can see that all of these options require work and commitment on your part, so there is no magic or free money. Every funding decision is a complex tradeoff between near-term and longer-term costs and paybacks, as well as overall ownership and control.

    With the many options available, there is no excuse for not living your dream, rather than dreaming about living.


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    Business address explained #cincinnati #business #courier


    #business address

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    Business address

    Contents

    What is a business address?

    A business address is the address where your business is situated and can be contacted by customers, suppliers, service providers and other general business associates and third parties. It is essentially the contact address you use for deliveries, non-statutory business mail and customer returns. If you have a shop or office, for example, this would be your business address. If you have multiple trading locations throughout the UK and abroad, you will have several business addresses.

    Do I have to provide a business address for Companies House?

    A business address is not a legal requirement, so there is no need to provide this information for Companies House when you incorporate a company or limited liability partnership. You only need to provide a registered office address and service address for Companies House, because this information is placed on public record.

    What is the purpose of a business address?

    A business address can be used for many different reasons:

    1. Creating a professional image – particularly relevant if you work from home.
    2. Protecting the privacy of your home.
    3. If you run a limited company or LLP, a business address will be used to receive non-statutory, general business correspondence from anyone other than Companies House and HMRC.
    4. If you are a sole trader, a business address will be used to receive official and general business mail from HMRC, clients, banks, business contacts and other third parties.
    5. Product return address for customers.
    6. Accepting deliveries – materials, stock, equipment, etc.
    7. Receiving order forms, invoices, postal orders payments and cheques.

    Where can my business address be situated?

    A business address can be situated anywhere in the world. There are no restrictions, so you can use any address you like. You can also have multiple business addresses if you trade in more than one place or you want to attract more clients and expand your business.

    What types of addresses can be used as a business address?

    You can use any kind of address that you have permission to use, including:

    • Your home address
    • Your trading address – the address where the majority of your business activities take place
    • The registered office address of your company or LLP
    • A PO Box or mailbox service from providers like UPS, FedEx and Mail Boxes Etc
    • A professional mail forwarding service from a company formation agent
    • Any other type of residential or non-residential address in the UK or overseas that you have permission to use

    Should I use a residential or non-residential address?

    You can use either type of address as a business address – it’s entirely up to you. Small business owners and entrepreneurs often use a residential address for this purpose because it’s convenient and affordable – especially for those who work from home. However, it is important to consider your privacy and the type of business image you want to establish.

    Instead of using a home address, many people use a professional, non-residential business address. This type of address service is usually provided by company formation agents who offer the use of their business premises as a business address for limited companies and LLPs. A non-residential address enables you to protect the privacy of your home, create a credible and impressive corporate image, and minimise the risk of business contacts turning up at your private residence.

    Can I have an overseas business address?

    Yes, you can have a business address anywhere in the world. Unlike the rules for registered offices, there are no such restrictions for business addresses.

    Can I have more than one business address?

    Yes, you can have as many business addresses as you like in the UK and all around the world. If your business has any foreign branches, you would have a different business address for each branch. If you want to trade in different cities and/or countries, a business address is an effective way to create a professional presence and contact address at each location.

    Can I change my business address?

    Yes, you can change your business address whenever you like. There is no need to report any such changes to Companies House or HMRC, but you must notify your clients, suppliers, investors, service providers and other business contacts to ensure they can reach you at your new location.

    Do I have to work from my business address?

    There is no requirement for you to work from your business address. You can simply use a business address for general contact purposes and carry out your work elsewhere. It is entirely up to you. This is common practice for business owners who work from home. The use of a non-residential business address enables them to create a professional, credible image to the rest of the world.

    What is the difference between a business address and a registered office?

    A business address is where your business is situated or where you would like people to contact you – but it is not a legal requirement of company formation, nor is this type of address disclosed on public record. A registered office is the statutory mailing address and official inspection location of a limited company or LLP. This type of address is a legal requirement of company formation and is disclosed on public record. Read our Registered office address guidance page for more information about the requirements and restrictions of this type of address.

    Can my business address be the same as my registered office address?

    Yes, you can use the same address as a business address and a registered office, provided the nominated address meets all legal requirements of a registered office, and you have permission to use the address for both of these purposes. Many businesses use the same address for both purposes because it is the most practical and convenient choice.

    What is the difference between a business address and a service address?

    A business address is where your business is situated or where you would like people to contact you. It is not a legal requirement of company formation, nor is this type of address disclosed on public record. A service address is the statutory mailing address of an individual company director or LLP member, and this type of address is displayed on public record. Take a look at our Service Address guidance page for more information about the requirements and restrictions of this type of address.

    Can my business address be the same as my service address?

    Yes, you can use the same address as your business address and service address (and registered office), as long as the nominated address meets all legal requirements and you have permission to use it for these purposes.

    Do I have to display any corporate information at my business address?

    There is no legal requirement to disclose any corporate details at your business address, unless it is also used as the registered office of your company or LLP. Read our Registered office guidance page for information about the legal requirements of this type of address.

    Are business addresses displayed on public record?

    Unlike registered office and service address details, there is no need for you to provide your business address details for Companies House; therefore, your business address(es) will not be made available to the public on the official register of companies.

    We hope you found the information you were looking for; however if you haven’t ask a new question.


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    Company Address Services from Company Address Limited #small #business #cards


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    Company Address Services for your business

    Virtual Office Address

    Mail Forwarding Address

    Registered Office Address

    About Company Address

    Testimonials

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    The application process was so simple and the customer service is excellent. All of the staff are so friendly and helpful, particularly with individuals who run start-up businesses like myself. I would highly recommend this service to any other growing businesses looking for address services.

    Naomi, Peace Focus Entertainment

    Delighted with the service. Was set up within a matter of minutes and they have genuinely been so quick and efficient in contact.

    Not sure if they are happy for me to say this or not but I signed up for the registered address only and had nothing but official mail included in forwarding. Despite this, I received a one off letter from Google during my first week.

    They emailed me a notification and asked if I would be interested in upgrading my package, I explained that this really was a one off and would have no need to for a more expensive service, they replied back instantly saying they completely understand and will forward it onto me free of charge! Fantastic service, would highly recommend to anyone.

    Marcus Sullens, DSG Group

    I have been in the process of setting up my corporation in Ireland remotely from New York since July of 2016. During that time I have found the services of Company Address to be prompt, courteous and effective. As anyone trying to accomplish this remotely will attest, having a service like this that you can rely on is very reassuring. I would highly recommend this company and service.

    Daniel O Sullivan, Gyst Technologies Limited

    Absolutely fantastic service highly recommended to others

    Chris Christou, Travelzoo.org

    I am delighted with the service we have received through Company Address. We receive our letters very promptly and any communication has been efficient and friendly. A great find!

    I have been using Company Address for over a year and have been impressed by their speedy service, and value for money. Highly recommend!

    Lee Ramsingh, Better Technology Consulting Ltd

    Great company, great service. Address was setup instantly and the price is very good for a London presence. They also scanned and emailed some postal mail for free even though it isn’t included in my service, that’s really nice! Thanks, Jacob- https://www.binaryoptionsexpert.net/

    Jacob Matthews, BinaryOptionsExpert.net

    i have been very pleased with the flexible and professional service offered by Company Addresss.

    We have been using this company for just under a year now. Company address have attended the companies requirements very professionally and worked with us to what mail can be scanned in and sent via email before being delivered via post. They are an absolute pleasure to work with!

    Lorraine, Liquid Screed Ltd

    I have been delighted with the quality of service I’ve received from Company Address and would recommend them without hesitation or reservation.

    Pani Bundy, Ace Fibreglass Roofing Limited

    good and reliable service, customer services are always prompt in their responses. Would recommend.

    Christine, BMS FIDUCIARY SERVICES LIMITED

    Company Address have been very helpful. We would highly recommend them.

    James, Bond Beaumont


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    Financial Post #home #businesses


    #financial news today

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    ‘2016 will be our best year’: How the geeks took over Montreal’s porn industry
    Corporate consolidation and the Internet’s endless supply of free content.

    Eight-year age difference makes planning tricky, but staggering retirement may lead to more security
    This couple is expecting a ‘skinny retirement,’ but still want to build a.

    Step aside algorithms, meet the tastemakers who curate the major streaming music services
    As their popularity grows, music streaming services are increasingly.

    How to strategically withdraw money from an RESP
    Once your kids actually need the money, how to use the RESP may not be.

    Court dismisses ‘vexatious’ allegations by Resolute Forest Products against Greenpeace
    Resolute is suing the environmental activist organization after it.

    The Artificial intelligence boom is raising questions about ethics and regulations
    Five of the world’s largest tech companies are trying to create a standard.

    Vancouver home sales plunge for second straight month in wake of new foreign-buyer tax
    Greater Vancouver’s record-breaking housing market run appears to be over.

    Federal court rules former CRTC commissioner denied procedural fairness in harassment investigation
    Raj Shoan sought a judicial review over the findings of harassment and.

    How schools and parents can start teaching kids about today’s most taboo topic — money
    It’s something barely discussed at home, let alone at the dinner table. And.

    There is already madness brewing in the oilpatch over Ottawa’s reefer legalization
    Right now, most oil and gas companies pre-screen for alcohol and drug abuse.

    Here are some things you should and shouldn’t have sold in May
    It would have been nice to take the summer off, but there was money to be.

    How National Energy Board efforts to engage with Quebec backfired with claims of improper behaviour
    Claudia Cattaneo: Activists are demanding that two NEB panel members be.

    Facebook Inc users can’t sue as group over advertising data use, U.S. judge rules
    Users accused the social network ‘automatically and surreptitiously’.

    BlackBerry teams with Samsung on ‘spy-proof’ tablet for German government agencies
    The device includes a security card plus encryption and certification.

    ‘Elon could implode’: Musk’s terrible, horrible, no good US$779-million day as risky bets pile up
    Musk has a history of throwing money after grand visions, like weening the.

    Oil snaps four days of declines as Russia backs oil-freeze deal with OPEC
    Russia says it’s ready to take part in informal talks with OPEC later this.

    Here’s what we can expect from Apple’s ‘See you on the 7th’ event next week
    Some industry watchers think the event’s title is a play on words for the.

    Galaxy Note 7 recall poses threat to Samsung suppliers
    The financial impact of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall may be felt most.

    Lithium fantasies vs. bitter realities
    Startup lithium companies now number over 100 in Canada and around the.

    Cara Operations beefs up restaurant presence in Quebec as St-Hubert chicken deal closes
    Cara of Vaughan, Ont. says the ‘historic alliance’ will provide St-Hubert.


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    How Hard Is It to Be a Small Business Owner? Small Business Blog #stockmarket

    #small business owner

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    How Hard Is It to Be a Small Business Owner?

    There are a lot of misconceptions about being a small business owner. Like…

    People often think that being a small business owner is easy because you get to be your own boss and set your own hours.

    The Reality : Most small business owners work harder than they used to work when they had a corporate job.

    People think that being a small business owner is glamorous – you get to make big decisions, make big money, and have a carefree lifestyle.

    The Reality . Most small business owners have to wear many hats – sometimes getting to be a strategic visionary, but other times having to serve as a front-line customer service person, amateur psychologist, or office janitor.

    But one of the biggest misconceptions about being a small business owner is that it’s too “hard.” I recently read an article on the Naked Capitalism blog entitled Tech Titans Promoting Basic Income Guarantee as a Way to Shrink Government, Kill Social Programs , which suggested that being an entrepreneur is a raw deal for most people:

    But who wants to be an entrepreneur? Seriously. If you can hold a job with any stability and you don’t mind the work and get on with your boss and co-workers, it’s a vastly better deal than running your own show…being in business for yourself is almost a roll-back for the whole rationale of advanced economies: that of specialization. In a larger organization, the really good sales guy can mainly do sales, plus the unavoidable internal politics and bureaucratic tasks. The accountant can mainly do accounting, and so on.

    By contrast, starting a business requires lots of skills, including selling, negotiating, having common sense about priorities, being able to size up potential backers and employees, being able to budget and manage funds. It’s a drag if you are really good at one particular thing to have to do all that other stuff, even if you are capable of it.

    The payoff curve for entrepreneurship looks a lot like that of lines of employment that most parents would tell their kids to avoid: acting, playing sports, writing novels. Remember, 90% of all new businesses fail within three years. And like J.K. Rowling, A-list Hollywood stars, and football pros, the lure of the huge payoffs at the top end masks the steep falloff after that.

    First of all, it’s not true that “90% of all new businesses fail within three years” – according to statistics from the Small Business Administration. about half of small businesses survive for five years or more, and one-third survive for 10 years or more. That’s a lot longer than I’ve lasted at any corporate job.

    This article also makes it sound like entrepreneurship only offers rewards to the people at the top – as if most small business owners are a bunch of low-paid losers who would be better off trying to make it as actors in Hollywood. But even if we’re not going to be the next Bill Gates, most small business owners make a decent living – according to an American Express OPEN survey on the average entrepreneur’s salary. as of 2013, small business owners paid themselves an average annual salary of $68,000 – which is significantly more than the 2013 U.S. median household income of $52,250.

    But more broadly, I disagree with the premise of the argument that it’s “too hard” to be a small business owner because you don’t get to specialize in what you do best.

    It’s true that when you work for a big company, there are certain “economies of scale” that enable the big company to do things faster, cheaper, and perhaps better than a smaller company could. This is a basic principle of economics. However, for small business owners today, in the age of the Internet, there are so many great online small business tools and resources that can help you be more productive! You don’t have to be a big company to get big results in 2015 – you can use business-grade tools and resources to outsource, automate, and delegate various business tasks and daily operations, whether it’s basic back-office functions like simple accounting, invoicing, or payment processing, or more advanced skills like marketing, building customer relationships, and business inventory management .

    As a small business owner today, you’re in business “for” yourself, but not “by” yourself. You can get help with almost any business topic imaginable online. You can connect with other entrepreneurs on LinkedIn for advice and ideas. You can get free business mentoring from SCORE, the Small Business Administration’s mentoring program. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur or small business owner with only a few employees, there are many ways to make your business seem “bigger” without the bigger costs.

    It’s simplistic (and wrong) to think that it’s too hard to be an entrepreneur, so no one should want to do it. I think it s actually the opposite – while it s never easy to run your own business – there are always financial risks and stresses, and lots of hard work – the Internet is making it easier than ever before to run a business. Not everyone has the right combination of ambition, hustle, vision, and sheer willpower that makes for a successful small business owner – but if you do, the rewards (and the daily sense of freedom) make it all worthwhile.

    Ideally, as a small business owner, you should get to specialize more than ever before in doing what you do best every day. Use some of these cheap (or free) online business tools and mobile apps to outsource or automate the daily tasks that you don t like to do or aren t as good at. Being an entrepreneur helps you unleash your productive, creative potential like nothing else!


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    CRM for Small Business – 2016 Reviews and Pricing #business #first


    #small business crm

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    Compare Small Business CRM Software

    With the growing number of affordable, Web-based products on the market, more and more small businesses are looking for customer relationship management (CRM) software to manage interactions with both current and prospective customers.

    Many are seeking to upgrade from basic email marketing or contact management systems. However, the capabilities of CRM systems can range widely, with varying levels of functionality for sales, marketing and customer support. We developed this guide to help buyers understand exactly what these products can offer, so they can select the solution that best meets their needs.

    Here’s what we’ll cover:

    Common Reasons Small Businesses Shop for a CRM Solution

    Thousands of small businesses contact us every year, looking for advice to help them select the CRM solution best suited to their company. Some are just getting started, while others are looking to replace an outdated or problematic system.

    Small businesses most commonly look to purchase a CRM system because they are:

    • Hoping to consolidate customer records and reduce double-entry.
    • Seeking to automate functions (alerts, follow-up emails etc.).
    • Looking to generate, track and manage leads more efficiently.
    • Needing specific features (e.g. trouble ticket management).
    • Frustrated with current CRM software (too complicated or not enough features).
    • Experiencing transition or company growth.

    Core CRM Applications for Small Businesses

    The core component of any CRM solution, contact management systems consolidate critical customer data (e.g. names, addresses and company info) into a single database, as opposed to scattering it across many individual inboxes or address books.

    Most small businesses; any business that needs to organize contact information or associate notifications, tasks, notes, files etc. with specific customers.

    Basic sales management applications allow businesses to track deals at different stages of the sales pipeline, integrating sales activities and appointments with the general contact database. Some may also include limited automation (e.g. automatically sending follow-up emails or setting up reminders) and reporting.

    Any small business with a dedicated sales team, or that needs to organize a high volume of leads and automate follow-up (e.g. real estate agencies).

    Entry-level marketing automation applications allow small businesses to quickly set up landing pages, Web forms and email templates that inspire potential customers to take action. They may also offer some degree of automation to send targeted, personalized messages based on prospects behavior.

    Small businesses with a dedicated marketing team, and/or looking to attract potential customers through email marketing or Web traffic.

    Customer service management

    Simpler customer service applications typically focus on basic trouble ticket management, which allows small businesses to document, track and resolve customer issues.

    Small businesses with a dedicated customer service team, or any business that needs to resolve a high volume of customer inquiries and/or complaints (e.g. software companies).

    Pricing: Web-Based vs. On-Premise CRM

    Most small businesses should consider hosted, cloud-based CRM solutions. Because these systems are hosted by the vendor, they eliminate the need for you to have a dedicated IT team for managing and maintaining your own server. They also drastically reduce upfront investment and installation costs.

    In addition, they typically offer monthly subscription pricing, which makes them scale well for fast-growing companies that need to add additional user licenses or features down the road.

    However, small businesses with sufficient IT resources and capital may still benefit from on-premise CRM systems. These solutions usually require purchasing an expensive perpetual license up front, but they may become the cheaper option if you use the same system over an extended period of time.

    You can see how pricing for these two models compares to figure out what works best for you using this tool. However, keep in mind that with on-premise solutions, you might also pay additionally for upgrades, customizations or maintenance.

    Key Considerations for Small Businesses

    With so many options and feature sets to choose from, selecting the right CRM for your small business can quickly become an overwhelming task. To narrow things down, here are four key factors for small businesses in particular to keep in mind as they evaluate different products:

    Which Applications to Prioritize?
    Because CRM encompasses so many functions (e.g. sales, marketing and customer service), many entry-level products are actually best-of-breed solutions. This means they focus on only one of the core applications listed above (although all CRM systems will provide some level of contact management functionality). Integrated suites, meaning solutions combining multiple applications in one software package (often billed as professional or enterprise editions) are much more expensive.

    So before you begin shopping, start with a clear assessment of exactly which functions you need. The Best for. column in the chart above provides recommendations as to which types of companies may need which applications.

    System Complexity and Ease-of-Use
    Many small businesses we speak with say they re replacing their CRM system because it s too complicated or difficult to use. And if your employees find it too burdensome to input data into your program, you ll wind up with a spotty, incomplete customer database, which defeats the entire purpose of having a system in place.

    As a result, small businesses should pay particular attention to ease-of-use as they evaluate CRM software options. Consider solutions with smart, intuitive interfaces. Also, take advantage of the demos and trials offered by many companies to get a real sense of how user-friendly a system is.

    Integration Considerations
    While small businesses may not have as many integration requirements as larger companies, you should still consider CRM solutions that integrate with programs that you and your employees already use, such as email clients, calendars and accounting software.

    For instance, integration with email clients such as Outlook and Gmail will make it much easier to import contacts and conversations into your new system. It also allows your employees to continue using the programs they re comfortable with, while ensuring your contact database remains comprehensive and up-to-date.

    Similar software categories

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    Winning grants and free support for your business: It’s a RAPP – Small Business

    #grants for small businesses

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    Winning grants and free support for your business: It’s a RAPP

    There are many opportunities for businesses to obtain free support and grants, both at start-up and during growth and development.

    However, keeping up to date with what is available is a task in itself, with schemes appearing and disappearing on a regular basis.

    Competition is high and success does not come easy.

    If you follow the RAPP process when applying for grants and support, you will improve your chance of success.

    The RAPP process

    R esearch – find out what grants and support are available.

    A pplicant suitability – when you identify an opportunity, ensure you meet the criteria or conditions required for the funding before spending time on an application.

    P reparation – take time to prepare and tailor the application to meet the specific criteria and conditions. Alternatively, P can stand for a professional who has the skill set and knowledge of the type of grant you are seeking.

    P atience – take time completing your application (but without missing deadlines) and be patient waiting for the result!

    Financial support in the form of grants can be found at three levels. National grants primarily focus on growth and capital investment, such as the government’s Growth Accelerator scheme, while regional grants come from a local board specifically set up to help a region that has government and local authority support.

    Local grants may be available from a local council, for example subsidised rents for new start-up businesses or funding to help tidy up a high street retail unit.

    There are also European grants and funding support, details of which can be found at UK Trade and Investment .

    Where you live or trade may significantly increase your chances of success of getting funding, particularly if your business is in an area defined as economically disadvantaged.

    It is not unknown for businesses to set up in or move to an area where regional or local assistance is more readily available.

    When looking for or considering grant options, four points generally apply.

    1. Nothing is free; typically you must be prepared to put in some of your own funds. It is extremely rare for a grant to finance the total cost of, say, a start-up or project, unless it is for a very small amount. Many grants require match funding ie you need to match the funding from the grant provider.

    For example, Growth Accelerator is a government-backed scheme providing mentor support, coaching and workshops for businesses looking for rapid growth.

    The business has to pay a contribution towards the assistance; the amount depends on the size of the business, with the government contributing to the overall cost of the support.

    A grant does mean that you are not giving up part of the ownership of your business, as you would if you were seeking equity funding or repaying the money and interest as you would on bank borrowing.

    2. Grants are generally available for a specific project, for example development of a new product or job creation.

    Therefore your application needs to meet the criteria for which the grant or support is being provided. Grants are not generally available for just starting a business.

    3. The grant scheme provider will have objectives, strategies or aims which the funding supports, for example helping with youth employment.

    Understand what the objectives or aims are when completing the application.

    4. You must have a business plan that explains what you require the funding for and which is tailored to the grant provider’s specific criteria and conditions.

    A blanket application or plan is not going to work. On most occasions, your business plan will have to be entered into the provider’s prescribed application form.

    Do not just think of grants and support as financial support. Other types of free support can come in many guises.

    For example, when opening your business bank account you may be offered free book keeping software, and many local councils and chambers of commerce offer free training seminars on topics such as social media.

    The type of product or service for which you are seeking funding supporting has a major impact on your chances of success. Key areas for which grants and support are readily found are:

    Innovation

    There are a wide range of schemes and support to encourage research and development. The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) provides grants and support to help develop new products and services and put them in a position to be brought to market.

    Energy and environment

    here are schemes specifically for developments that will improve energy efficiency or reduce environmental impact. Natural England lists a number on their website .

    Training

    There is plenty of funding and support is available to develop skills, including those of the business owner, as well as support for new employees where the business will be providing training and development.

    For example, the National Apprenticeship Service provides advice and support on starting a subsidised apprenticeship. Alternatively, it could mean taking on an intern from the local university for the summer with the university providing match funding to pay the student’s salary.

    Exports

    Politicians’ emphasis on exports driving the economic recovery have led to considerable support and assistance for businesses looking to export the goods they manufacture. UK Trade Investment provide funding and subsided advice and services to help business export their products.

    Business grants are notoriously hard to come by, but there is assistance out there if you know where to look. Follow the RAPP and hopefully you will be one of the successful ones. Good luck!

    Further reading on grants

    Related Topics

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