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How to Create an Effective Business Continuity Plan #custom #business #cards

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How to Create an Effective Business Continuity Plan

We rarely get a head’s up that a disaster is ready to strike. Even with some lead time, though, multiple things can go wrong; every incident is unique and unfolds in unexpected ways.

This is where a business continuity plan comes into play. To give your organization the best shot at success during a disaster, you need to put a current, tested plan in the hands of all personnel responsible for carrying out any part of that plan. The lack of a plan doesn’t just mean your organization will take longer than necessary to recover from an event or incident. You could go out of business for good.

How Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery Plans Differ

Business continuity (BC) refers to maintaining business functions or quickly resuming them in the event of a major disruption, whether caused by a fire, flood, epidemic illness or a malicious attack across the Internet. A BC plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of such disasters; it covers business processes, assets, human resources, business partners and more.

Many people think a disaster recovery plan is the same as a business continuity plan, but a DR plan focuses mainly on restoring IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. It’s actually just one part of a complete business continuity plan, as a BC plan looks at the continuity of the entire organization. Do you have a way to get HR, manufacturing, and sales and support functionally up and running so the company can continue to make money right after a disaster?

For example, if the building that houses your customer service representatives is flattened by a tornado, do you know how those reps can handle customer calls? Will they work from home temporarily, or from an alternate location? Companies such as SunGard sell access to cubicles that include a desk, phone and computer in their recovery centers, along with server- and device-based DR services.

Note that a business impact analysis (BIA) is another part of a BC plan. A BIA identifies the impact of a sudden loss of business functions, usually quantified in a cost. Such analysis also helps you evaluate whether you should outsource non-core activities in your BCP, which can come with its own risks. The BIA essentially helps you look at your entire organization’s processes and determine which are most important.

Why Business Continuity Planning Matters

Whether you operate a small business or a large corporation, you strive to remain competitive. It’s vital to retain current customers while increasing your customer base — and there’s no better test of your capability to do so than right after an adverse event.

Because restoring IT is critical for most companies, numerous disaster recovery solutions are available. You can rely on IT to implement those solutions. But what about the rest of your business functions? Your company’s future depends on your people and processes. Being able to handle any incident effectively can have a positive effect on your company’s reputation and market value, and it can increase customer confidence.

First, Create a Business Continuity Plan

If your organization doesn’t have a BC plan in place, start by assessing your business processes, determining which areas are vulnerable, and the potential losses if those processes go down for a day, a few days or a week. This is essentially a (BIA).

Next, develop a plan. You can use any number of free templates available online or find an actual plan published by an organization similar to yours and modify it as needed.

There are six general steps involved in creating a business continuity plan:

  1. Identify the scope of the plan.
  2. Identify key business areas.
  3. Identify critical functions.
  4. Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
  5. Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
  6. Create a plan to maintain operations.

One common business continuity planning tool is a checklist that includes supplies and equipment, the location of data backups and backup sites, where the plan is available and who should have it, and contact information for emergency responders, key personnel and backup site providers.

Remember that the disaster recovery plan is part of the business continuity plan, so check with your IT department to ensure it has or is actively developing a DR plan.

As you create your plan, consider interviewing key personnel in organizations who have gone through a disaster successfully. People generally like to share “war stories” and the steps and techniques (or clever ideas) that saved the day. Their insights could prove incredibly valuable in helping you to craft a solid business continuity plan.

Then, Test Your Business Continuity Plan

You have to rigorously test a plan to know if it’s complete and will fulfill its intended purpose. Many organizations test a business continuity plan two to four times a year. The schedule depends on your type of organization, the amount of turnover of key personnel and the number of business processes and IT changes that have occurred since the last round of testing.

Common tests include table-top exercises, structured walk-throughs and simulations. Test teams are usually composed of the recovery coordinator and members from each functional unit.

A table-top exercise usually occurs in a conference room with the team poring over the plan, looking for gaps and ensuring that all business units are represented therein.

In a structured walk-through. each team member walks through his or components of the plan in detail to identify weaknesses. Often, the team works through the test with a specific disaster in mind. Some organizations incorporate drills and disaster role-playing into the structured walk-through. Any weaknesses should be corrected and an updated plan distributed to all pertinent staff.

It’s also a good idea to conduct a full emergency evacuation drill at least once a year. This type of test lets you determine if you need to make special arrangements to evacuate staff members who have physical limitations.

Lastly, disaster simulation testing can be quite involved and should be performed annually. For this test, create an environment that simulates an actual disaster, with all the equipment, supplies, and personnel (including business partners and vendors) who would be needed. The purpose of a simulation is to determine if you can carry out critical business functions during the event.

During each phase of business continuity plan testing, include some new employees on the test team. “Fresh eyes” might detect gaps or lapses of information that experienced team members could overlook.

Finally, Review and Improve Your Business Continuity Plan

Much effort goes into creating and initially testing a BC plan. Once that job is complete, some organizations let the plan sit while other, more critical tasks get attention. When this happens, plans go stale and are of no use when needed.

Technology evolves, and people come and go, so the plan needs to be updated, too. Bring key personnel together at least annually to review the plan and discuss any areas that must be modified.

Prior to the review, solicit feedback from staff to incorporate into the plan. Ask all departments or business units to review the plan, including branch locations or other remote units. If you’ve had the misfortune of facing a disaster and had to put the plan into action, be sure to incorporate lessons learned. Many organizations conduct a review in tandem with a table-top exercise or structured walk-through.

How to Ensure Business Continuity Plan Support, Awareness

One way to ensure your plan is not successful is to adopt a casual attitude toward its importance. Every business continuity plan must be supported from the top down. That means senior management must be represented when creating and updating the plan; no one can delegate that responsibility to subordinates. In addition, the plan is likely to remain fresh and viable if senior management makes it a priority by dedicating time for adequate review and testing.

Management is also key to promoting user awareness. If employees don’t know about the plan, how will they be able to react appropriately when every minute counts? Although plan distribution and training can be conducted by business unit managers or HR staff, have someone from the top kick off training and punctuate its significance. It’ll have a greater impact on all employees, giving the plan more credibility and urgency.

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Microloan Program #printable #business #cards

#small business loans

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The Microloan program provides loans up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers start up and expand. The average microloan is about $13,000.

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides funds to specially designated intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit community-based organizations with experience in lending as well as management and technical assistance. These intermediaries administer the Microloan program for eligible borrowers.

Eligibility Requirements

Each intermediary lender has its own lending and credit requirements. Generally, intermediaries require some type of collateral as well as the personal guarantee of the business owner.

Use of Microloan Proceeds

Microloans can be used for:

  • Working capital
  • Inventory or supplies
  • Furniture or fixtures
  • Machinery or equipment

Proceeds from an SBA microloan cannot be used to pay existing debts or to purchase real estate.

Repayment Terms, Interest Rates, and Fees

Loan repayment terms vary according to several factors:

  • Loan amount
  • Planned use of funds
  • Requirements determined by the intermediary lender
  • Needs of the small business borrower

The maximum repayment term allowed for an SBA microloan is six years.

Interest rates vary, depending on the intermediary lender and costs to the intermediary from the U.S. Treasury. Generally, these rates will be between 8 and 13 percent.

Application Process

Microloans are available through certain nonprofit, community-based organizations that are experienced in lending and business management assistance. If you apply for SBA microloan financing, you may be required to fulfill training or planning requirements before your loan application is considered. This business training is designed to help you launch or expand your business.

Find a Microloan Provider

To apply for a Microloan, you must work with an SBA approved intermediary in your area. Approved intermediaries make all credit decisions on SBA microloans. For more information, you can contact your local SBA District Office or view the list of Participating Microloan Intermediary Lenders in the Attachments list below.





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Starting A Small Business: Introduction #business #partner #wanted

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Starting A Small Business



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A Simple 6-Step Process to Starting a Small Business #business #for #sales

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A Simple 6-Step Process to Starting a Small Business

Serial Entrepreneur, Mentor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com

A great small business always starts out as an idea, but you have to transform that idea into action. That s where many individuals can start to feel overwhelmed. It s understandable to freeze up at the deluge of things that are required to get a business started, but getting going is actually easier than you might think.

Like any big goal, if you start by breaking it down into smaller tasks, you ll be able to tackle enough of the actions necessary to get started. Here are six ways to break down the process and simplify getting started with your own small business.

1. Write a one-page business plan.

The key to a successful small business, especially in the startup phase, is to keep things simple and costs low. Costs don t just mean your monetary costs, but also your time.

Many would-be small-business owners fall into the trap of trying to create the world s biggest and most robust business plan. You re only going to need that if you re seeking investment or financing, and even if you will be seeking either of those things down the road, I always recommend small-business owners start out with by testing their ideas first before investing lots of time and money.

So to get started, create your own simple, one-page business plan that is a high-level overview of the small business you re about to start.

  1. Define your vision. What will be the end result of your business?
  2. Define your mission. Different to a vision, your mission should explain the reason your company exists.
  3. Define your objectives. What are you going to do — what are your goals — that will lead to the accomplishment of your mission and your vision?
  4. Outline your basic strategies. How are you going to achieve the objectives you just bulleted?
  5. Write a simple action plan. Bullet out the smaller task-oriented actions required to achieve the stated objectives.

That s it. It might be longer than one page, but it will surely be more organized and shorter than a full business plan, which could take weeks to write. If you need more information on the one-page business plan, or want to write out a full-blown finance-centered business plan, you can check out the book I co-wrote with my brother that has a robust explanation of both, Small Business, Big Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market From Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who did it Right .

2. Decide on a budget.

While I highly recommend you keep your costs as low as possible, you ll still need to determine a budget to get started and how much you ll be able to spend. If you re self funding, be realistic about numbers and whatever you anticipate your budget to be. I ve found that an additional 20 percent tacked on for incidentals is a realistic overage amount that helps you plan your burn rate.

Your burn rate is how much cash you re spending month over month. It s an important number for you to figure out to determine how long you can stay in business before you need to turn a profit.

You should set up your business with profitability in mind the first 30 to 90 days. It s possible. But have a budget reserve so you can survive if things go leaner than expected.

3. Decide on a legal entity.

Filing paperwork to start a business costs money. Often, depending on your state, it can be a lot of money. You ll need to account for city or municipality licensing, state incorporation or business entity fees and more. Do a thorough search ahead of time to determine what the filing fees are for your city, county and state before starting any business.

Often in the initial test phase for your small business, it can be wise to start as a sole proprietor, as it means less paperwork and up-front expenses. That can save you some big-time cash while you determine the viability of your business. Do be aware though that acting as a sole proprietor can put you at personal risk, so you ll want to weigh the benefits vs. risks and then speak with a local attorney or tax professional to decide which is smarter for your short-term vs. long-term goals.

You can always file for a business entity once you ve proven in the first three to six months of business that you ve got a viable, sustainable model.

4. Take care of the money.

Whatever business entity you decide on, keep the funds separate from your personal accounts. This is a big mistake that makes tax time and financials so confusing. It s really easy to set up a free business checking account with your local credit union or bank. All you ll need is your filing paperwork, sole proprietor licensing information and an initial deposit to get set up from most financial institutions.

Don t pay for an account or get any kind of credit lines yet, just get a holding place you can keep your money separated from your personal accounts. This should take you no more than hour at the financial institution of your choice.

5. Get your website.

Regardless of whether your business will be brick or mortar or online, you ll need a website and that means securing a URL. Popular domain sites such as HostGator and Go Daddy will allow you to search for the website domain address of your choice and purchase it for as little as $9.99.

If you re starting an online business, you can tie your domain to an online shopping cart and store front such as Shopify for a low monthly fee, or you can build a basic website yourself on top of your URL with do-it-yourself drag-and-drop site builders such as Weebly for a low fee. Both are less than $100 a month.

6. Test sales.

You have enough of a foundation now that you can start testing some sales. Try to spread the word in inexpensive and creative ways.

If you have a service-based business, get involved with your local chamber of commerce or small-business chapter immediately and ask what resources are available for you to speak, present or share information about your business. If you have a product-based business, test the viability of your product at local swap meets, farmers markets or other community events to test what the public really thinks (and if they ll purchase) from you.

Drive traffic to your website through simple Facebook Ads with capped budgets, or set up a simple Google AdWords account with a budget cap to test if traffic is going to your site.

You can follow these six steps by yourself for not a lot of money. It s a fantastic way to test the viability of your small business before throwing all your time and money into an unproven idea.





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Investor – s Business Daily Founder Invests in SMU – D Magazine #registering #a

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Investor s Business Daily Founder Invests in SMU

California-based William J. O’Neil, who started the Investor’s Business Daily newspaper, funded a chair in business journalism at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts in 2007 and, a year later, established the William J. O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom at SMU’s Cox School of Business. O’Neil lived in Dallas growing up and graduated from SMU in 1955.

1. Why have you endowed these programs at SMU?

Because we’ve had Investor’s Business Daily for 27 years. We have an enormous database, and we’ve learned a lot about the economy. There’s constant change—newcomers coming in with something new, cheaper, faster, displacing older-line companies—and that’s the heart of what the country’s all about. There’s freedom and opportunity to do whatever you want here; it’s up to you. But not everyone understands that.

2. Why have you focused at least partly on business journalism?

My feeling about the journalist field is that journalism students don’t really know much about business. So I think every journalism [student] should have a couple of years of economics background. They need to be able to judge and evaluate: Is this thing we’re hearing about sound, or not?

3. It has been reported that you bought a building in Plano. What will you do with it?

The building is in escrow, and we should have possession by December or January. I think it’s on 11.5 acres. We’re going to move some people here. We have two different operations: O’Neil Data Systems [an automated printing business], which has a lot of big contracts with HMOs to provide all their data. And then we’ll have some of the newspaper people, though we’ll still maintain similar operations in Los Angeles. We’re still analyzing what functions we’ll want to have here, and we’ll hire some people here. In the long run, the paper may have its headquarters here. It just depends.

4. Depends on what?

Well, on how things go. We think being in the central part of the country—in a dynamic area that’s growing and that’s more willing to be pro-business—would preserve the future of the paper.

5. There seems to be a lot of talk these days about American decline. Do you agree with the naysayers, or are you optimistic about the future?

Back in the 1970s, everybody was saying that we had seen our best growth. But the American system is such that anybody can come here and do anything they want to do. So the ‘brain drain’ is moving toward us all the time. Our system adjusts and corrects the problems. So I think the long-term future is very positive.

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Business Featured Stories #hot #new #business #ideas

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Business Featured Stories

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SVP – Internet of Things Solutions

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Entrepreneur Ideas – Self Thrive #local #business

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Entrepreneur Ideas

When it comes to making money in the 21st century, the entrepreneur is king! Working for yourself, or working in an entrepreneurial manner in your paid employment, is something that so many of us aspire to. And when it comes to having the best entrepreneur ideas, we can all do with a little helping hand along the way.

So what actually is an entrepreneur? Well, in a nutshell, it s a person who has leadership related qualities. An entrepreneur is the initiator of an idea, the driver of the idea and is accountable and responsible for said idea. People who can work in such a way are such a massive asset to the country that the US Government launched Start Up America to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation .

So how do you know if you have the right kind of ideas to be successful? Many people wonder whether they have what it takes to be a leader; to perhaps run their own business or to take on leadership roles within their current employment. The following articles are some of the most popular and helpful for anyone wondering if they ll make the grade when it comes to such free thinking ideas.

You may (or may not) have heard about the different ways in which we use our brains. Some people are more left brain sided, others right. The left side characteristics include logic and analysis, the right is more about creativity and imagination. In the past it was thought that the best entrepreneurs were more right sided thinkers those with the freedom of thought to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas. Of course, that s vitally important. But today it s been proven by the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) that the best entrepreneurs have the ability to utilize the qualities of both left and right sided brain thinking.

So have you got what it takes? This article provides you with a simple test to find out if you cut it as an entrepreneurial thinker.

It s the weekend yay! But what does that actually mean to you? Is it simply a chance to catch up on sleep because you re so shattered from the working week? Is it a chance to meet with friends and family. or perhaps it s 2 days that allow you to get stuff done? Interestingly, the most successful entrepreneurial thinkers use their weekend rest days to catch up on 3 key aspects of their life. Are you the same? Or do you utilize your weekends doing other things ?

Having a successful entrepreneurial idea is all about coming up with something fresh and innovative, right? Well, it might surprise you to know that 6 of the most famous entrepreneurs actually pinched their ideas from far off shores. Surprising? Shocking? Or a pretty cool way to utilize a pre-proven method and make it successful here?

This in-depth article shows the power of using other people s ideas (in a legal way, naturally), to be successful in your home country.

That Murphy certainly has a lot to answer for. Sometimes, no matter what route you try to take, Murphy s Law seems to dictate that the complete opposite will happen. It also seems to be self- perpetuating, as once Murphy s Law takes a hold, it seems to gather momentum. This can, naturally, be pretty demoralizing. But this article will show you 5 pretty cool (and powerful) actions you can take to tip the balance back in your favor. After all, when Murphy is flexing his muscles, you need some pretty good defense mechanisms to get him back to where he belongs safely packed away in his box

There are a whole heap of things that winners have in common. And on the flip side, there are many traits that losers also share. Many of these attributes can show in common phrases that we use on a regular basis. This article discusses 7 of the most common culprits. And by determining if any of them are phrases that litter your repertoire, you can actually do something about it.

The thing is, losing or winning is a lot about mindset. And the good thing about this is that it can be changed. Yes, it really is possible to change the way you think once you realize that your current way is creating a lot of negativity. Discover these common phrases. And if they re favorites of yours, then perhaps the time has come to do something about it

Sure, being an entrepreneur isn t something that suits everyone (if it did, we d all be millionaires ). But the fact that you re even reading this page shows that you have the fire in your belly to want to get out there and prove yourself. And that s exactly the mindset that anyone needs if they want to make a difference.

Most of the successful doers out there today have worked hard and long to come up with the idea that they eventually took on to success. Entrepreneurial winners are curious people. They stare failure in the face and let it spur them on to eventual success. Entrepreneurs don t see a problem they see a challenge that needs a solution Have you got what it takes?





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Collecting Entrepreneur s Ideas on a U #loans #for #a #business

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Collecting Entrepreneur’s Ideas on a U.S. Road Trip

Content Creator/Speaker/Consultant, Alpha Dogs Media Group

Hi there, you can call me Donna. I’m Content Creator/Speaker/Consultant at Alpha Dogs Media Group and I’m based in Greater New York City Area.

How do successful entrepreneurs turn ideas into action? It’s a question that every entrepreneur asks and one that 31-year-old Mario Schulzke is seeking to answer through 50 events in 48 states over the course of three months. His company, IdeaMensch. partners with local organizations to provide the venues, where local entrepreneurs take the stage for 10 minutes to share their stories with audiences.

“When you hear how other entrepreneurs brought their ideas to life, it could inspire you to bring yours to life,” he tells the audience at his Manhattan event. Schulzke came to the U.S. from Germany as an exchange student when he was 16, attended college in Montana, and then worked in advertising in Los Angeles for 10 years. But he longed for the entrepreneurial life. So he quit his job and began doing interviews with successful entrepreneurs and posting them online. “I began to wonder if the concept would work as an event,” he recalls. “So I did one in Los Angeles and 250 people showed up.”

He decided to take the concept around the country, and loaded his gear and two friends into a red Honda Element and hit the road in July with the intention of hosting an event in each of the lower 48 states, two in California, and one in Washington, D.C. Event planners take note: These guys nail down their venues two weeks in advance and their speakers just 10 days ahead of time. It can be nail-biting, and not every event is a success. However, Schulzke says the tour is “completely bootstrapped and profitable,” with a handful of sponsors chipping in and ticket sales contributing to positive cash flow.

He hopes, though, that the biggest profit goes to his audiences, who get the benefit of tapping into the valuable wisdom from seasoned entrepreneurs.

Here’s a sampling of what attendees learned from IdeaMensch’s six speakers at its Manhattan event:

Author, blogger and life coach. “When I was at Google, on paper it was my dream job, but every day I would sit at my desk and say ‘something isn’t right. Something is missing.’” says Jenny Blake. A year ago, she packed up her car, moved to Manhattan and started her own coaching business. Her advice: “Honor your gut instincts” and “say no to the good so that you can yes to the great.”

Founder and CEO of eMinutes. Jeff Unger is somewhat of an anomaly in his profession. He’s an entrepreneurial attorney who “wanted to create the world’s most efficient law firm.” So his firm. he says, knows the answers to just three questions: Should I incorporate? Where should I incorporate? Should my company be an LLC or a corporation? And he’s invested over a $1 million in technology to help him streamline the process of answering those question. By the way, Unger will file incorporation papers for any first-time entrepreneur, free of charge. His advice: “Narrow your focus” and invest in technology that drives efficiency.

Fearless magazine founder. Ishita Gupta, the founder of Fear.Less Magazine . founded her company after attending Seth Godin’s Alternative MBA program, and after many false career starts and, well, a lot of fear. Fear.less, an online magazine, features interviews with people who have triumphed over fear. Her advice: “Identify a deeply personal need” and “put yourself in highly uncomfortable positions where you cannot hide, because innovations lies in the moments when you are cornered.”

Owner of a charter jet company and executive center. Christopher Kelly, the co-founder of Sentry Centers. started his executive conference center with a college friend. He also owns a charter jet company, Evojets. with his wife, Adriann Wanner. Compared with the tech companies that many of his contemporaries are starting, he admits that his companies sound “boring.” But that, in fact, is part of his success strategy. His advice: “Pour your heart and soul into a business that other people do not find inspiring, and apply technology and a youthful perspective to brick-and-mortar businesses.”

Serial entrepreneur. Author and motivational coach Bassam Tarazi has started several companies. His best piece of advice: “Choice paralyzes us. We over-predict where we’re going to go. So pick a door and walk through it, and pay attention. A hallway will open up that you didn’t see before.”

Contently cofounder. Shane Snow co-founded Contently. a Web platform that connects journalists with brand publishers. He finally met his goal of writing for Wired by writing free content for obscure blogs and then leveraging that experience up the publishing food chain until publications like Fast Company and Wired gave him assignments. His advice: “No matter what you’re doing, think about how you can turn your current assets or success into something bigger and better.”

Schulzke is now headed south, and then west, and will end the IdeaMensch tour in Las Vegas on October 24. And then what? “I’m not sure where it will lead,” he says. “You learn a lot when you organize 50 events in 115 days.”

Read more OPEN Forum stories on innovation .





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Office Depot Business Solutions Division: 10% Or More Off Everyday Purshases! #small #business #administration

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Business Analytics #business #investment

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Oracle Business Analytics

Drive Insight and Innovation

Fast, easy insight into your business can mean the difference between failure and success.

Oracle Business Analytics gives you smart new ways to see the signals in your data. Do your own visual analysis to find new patterns at a glance. Blend any data with a click, then share insights as a visual story. Oracle Business Analytics is instantly mobile and available on premises and in the cloud. Easy and engaging, secure and scalable—this is analytics every way you want it.

Data Visualization

Data Visualization

Making sense of your data shouldn’t be tough. Find out how easy it is to be an expert with Oracle Data Visualization.

Analytics Platform

Analytics Platform

Improve business performance with a broad set of capabilities for visual analysis, discovery, advanced analytics, reporting, and forecasting.

Big Data Analytics

Big Data Analytics

Analyze data from a variety of sources. Anticipate changing customer behavior. Incorporate the next best action into operational workflows.

Enterprise Performance Management

Enterprise Performance Management

Plan and forecast with greater precision. Accelerate your financial close and reporting process, with greater transparency and confidence.

Analytic Applications

Analytic Applications

Put Oracle’s depth of experience with hundreds of CRM and ERP systems to work for your business. Prebuilt analytics enable you to uncover solutions to your business challenges.

Advanced Analytics

Advanced Analytics

Predict marketing responses, churn, support, fraud, and risk with highly scalable, secure data mining and geospatial analysis within the Oracle database.

Oracle Exalytics

Oracle Exalytics

Get the answers to your toughest business questions. Oracle Exalytics is a powerful package of optimized hardware and software that delivers a high performance, scalable platform for BI, in-memory analytics, and planning applications.





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