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Monthly Archive for March, 2010

Secure your digital assets in the clouds

One of the great benefits of the computer age is the ability to aggregate virtually all of your work and records on your computer’s hard drive so they can be easily accessed on-demand, virtually instantaneously.  It is not possible to estimate the productivity value of this kind of information aggregation and availability for people and businesses.

Simultaneously, one of the great aggravations of the computer age has been when that same hard drive self-destructs, taking all of your wonderful and genius work with it, perhaps years of records, because you didn’t have an effective and regular back-up system.  Now, let’s say it all together: Boy howdy! Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt.

Over the years, my organization has employed several different methods of back-up, but even the most effective were never as automatic and immediate as they needed to be. These systems ranged from manually copying files onto another form of media to a more-or-less automated electronic configuration that turned out to be more less than more.

Of course, sophisticated mechanical onsite data back-up solutions have been around for years, like tape drives, for example. But these are designed more for centralized server-based environments and less for peer-to-peer environments (multiple desktop PCs with limited network capability), which is what is found in most small businesses.

For the past few years, online data backup resources have been growing in effectiveness and acceptance. They are great for all computing environments, but especially for small business peer-to-peer configurations.  Online data backup is an example of “cloud computing,” or digital solutions and services powered from software that does not reside on a local computer.

As with other cloud offerings, you subscribe to an online back-up service and download their linking software to your desktop. Once you set up the back-up parameters - when and what - those files are sent over the Internet to a remote server automatically without you having to be there or think about it. The price for most of these services fits most small business budgets, especially when you consider the alternative of losing your stuff.

Full disclosure, I resisted this kind of system at first out of concern for proprietary information being stored somewhere else. But once I talked with several of the providers, I learned that all transferred files are encripted for privacy and security.  Since we started using an online back-up service, we’ve lost hard drives but not one file. And if you have files that are so confidential and proprietary that you just can’t abide the thought of them being stored anywhere out of your reach, just mark them as such and the online back-up system will pass right over them.

Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I interviewed David Friend, a successful, serial technology entrepreneur who is CEO of Carbonite, one of the online data back-up companies I’ve been talking about. More full disclosure: We use Carbonite in my organization, but we don’t get a discount or commission for mentioning them. Consider them with the other companies that offer online data back-up.

But first, take a few minutes to listen to our conversation about online data back-up and, as always, leave your thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

A small business exporter success story

Think you can’t grow your small business as the Great Recession gives way to this not-so-great recovery? Even if you have customers, having trouble getting growth capital? Think the value of the designation “Made in America” has eroded? Well, don’t tell that to Luis Arguella.

Luis is a small business owner who happens to be Hispanic. He is president of DemeTech Corporation, and his 40 employee firm makes medical products, primarily surgical sutures. His small business is growing like gangbusters, and I think for these reasons:

- Luis makes a very high quality product.
- He isn’t afraid to charge for his product at a level that keeps him in business.
- His business is in kind of a niche industry, and he has carved out a niche within that niche.
- He doesn’t wander off away from his successful niche.
- He has tapped into the fact that 95% of his prospects are outside the U.S.
- He believes the “Made in America” brand still has value and leverages it.
- He has identified the ways government resources can help him grow his business.

Recently, I talked with Luis on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. We discussed his recent recognition as the 2010 Small Business Exporter of the Year and how he plans to use the things I listed above to grow his business to 100 employees.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear this very special entrepreneur. And be sure to leave your comments. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Small business, online customers and local search

One of the most troubling statistics I’ve seen lately revealed that approximately half of small businesses STILL don’t have a website.  If you’re one of those companies that have chosen to disregard the billions of prospects who are online around the world, I have two words to say to you that should get you motivated:  Local search.

Every second, zillions of people are typing, tapping, thumbing or, in the case of smart phones, saying into their computing devices (computers, cellphones, etc.) search words that are the objects of their immediate desire, plus one more thing: Where is the closest place I can find this?  Local search.

Pepperoni pizza in Peoria.  Model trains in Monroe. Wedding planners in Wausau. Local search.

Are the doors of your business open to the world of online customers? Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about finding success online with Stephen Pierce. Stephen is an Internet multi-millionaire who runs an empire of online businesses and three different coaching clubs. Take a few minutes to listen to what Stephen has to say, and be sure to leave your comments. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Olympic and small business heroes

Olympians and small business owners are kindred spirits.

Watching Olympic athletes compete, we’re taken to a place where special humans participate in a noble cause. These heroes commit countless hours over many years, pushing their minds and bodies to achieve a level of excellence that might qualify them to … merely be on an Olympic team to represent their country.

Notice neither winning medals nor glory were mentioned. Most Olympians find neither, and yet they try.

Watching an event, we’re at once self-conscious and grateful when the long lens of the camera invades that private moment just prior to the competition. Self-conscious because of the intrusion but grateful to share this moment and benefit vicariously from the Herculean effort about to be displayed.

The camera moves in closer. We can see the Olympian’s eyes and imagine their thoughts. The skier is thinking, “Twelve years and it all comes down to the next few seconds. Must remember the fundamentals.” The skater is having a word with herself, “Today, nothing less than my personal best.”

Then the long lens captures the mouth. There’s a lick to fight the cotton mouth that only those who risk failure have tasted. The lips move slightly to offer a prayer or claim an affirmation.

Small business owners are a lot like Olympic athletes: They commit countless hours over many years, pushing mind and body to achieve a level of excellence that might somehow allow them to … merely make a living. Medals and glory? Most small business owners find neither. And yet they show up, year after year, to work, to deliver and to contribute.

Like an Olympic race, the future of a small business often rides on the owner’s performance over a very short period. If the camera could take you in close, you would see the owner thinking: “All these years of work and risk could come down to how well I deliver this proposal in the next few minutes. Must remember the fundamentals.” The long lens would capture the mouth. There’s the lick to lessen the cotton mouth that only those who risk failure have tasted. Then the lips move, ever so slightly, to offer a prayer or claim an affirmation.

Olympians and small business owners are dedicated to what they love. They work hard, take great risks and seek excellence, against all odds and usually at their own expense.

If you’re looking for someone to admire, look no further than these two heroes. The spirit of Olympians and small business owners make the world a better place.

Recently I talked about these two heroes on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Take a few minutes to listen and be sure to leave your own thoughts on these two special groups of people. Listen Live! Download, Too!