Friday, December 16, 2016

Free (& Low Cost) Tech Tools for Business

Powerful technology can be translated into dollars and cents when it helps you run your business more efficiently and profitably. The good news is there's a lot of technology out there that is cost-effective and can be a big help for a small business. The bad news is there's a lot of technology out there making things confusing. Let's clear up some of that confusion...

Sending large files via email can sometimes be an exercise in frustration. Some email system block the transmission of large files. Share files via email means there are multiple copies and version of the same file being used. File collaboration products allow you to manage content and collaborate online with your team, customers, and partners.

Dropbox allows users to upload files and send links to recipients worldwide. Free Dropbox accounts include up to 2 GB of space. Pricing for larger amounts varies. For example, 1 TB of space costs $8.25 per month for a single user or $12.50 per month for 5 users.

Google Drive, like Dropbox, allows users to upload and share documents with designated recipients. However, Google Docs does require a Google account for use. As an issue, that is minimized when all in an organization uses Google products. Users are given 15 GB of free space for all the services where they use Google (email, Docs, etc.). Pricing is available for larger space allotments.

Similar to Dropbox and Google drive, Microsoft OneDrive is free for up to 5GB, and costs $1.99/month for 50GB.

Workplace Productivity
Google Docs is a free web-based application in which documents, spreadsheets and presentations can be created, edited and stored online. Files can be shared and accessed from any computer with an internet connection and web browser.

Another option is Open-source software, which provides small business owners with alternatives to using mainstream commercial applications in the day-to-day management of their businesses, typically without a significant financial investment. One of the most popular open-source tools available for workplace productivity is OpenOffice, an office software suite which you download and install, and contains word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more.

Remote Desktop Applications
Technology solidifies the connection between small business owners and mobility. Video conferencing, web conferencing, webinars and screen sharing keep you connected to your PC, and better connect you with your customers. offers these services where a basic plan is free. In a Basic plan you get unlimited 1-to-1 meetings, and 40-minute group meetings with up to 50 participants. Plans that do not limit group meeting times and allow you to record your connections start at $14.99/month.

Online Advertising
Google My Business allows you to create a free business profile and offers added visibility on the world’s most-used search engine. Use Google My Business to post your hours, your location with a map, pricing information, and share pictures. All of which will show up for your audience in their Google’search results. Having a robust Google My Business profile can also help your website’s overall SEO ranking.

Email Marketing & Newsletters
Email marketing is a form of direct marketing that uses email as a means of communicating messages to your audience. It can be a powerful tool for growing your business. MailChimp allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month (limited to 2,000 emails per day) to as many as 2,000 email subscribers absolutely free. Larger email volume and list packages start at just $10 per month.

WordPress is the most popular blog & website management tool, and when signing up via it is free to use. When you build your website on, you will use the software as installed on the server. As an alternative, you can sign up for WordPress through a web hosting service where you will likely pay a moderate monthly hosting fee to create and manage your website for your business. When installed on a web hosting service, you have the added ability to download and install add-ons from a community of WordPress developers..

Google Blogger is a moderately robust blogging tool that can be configured for use as an attractive business website. In fact, this site is built on Google Blogger. Google Blogger is completely free of hosting charges and runs on the Google Blogger hosted server. While it has limited built-in templates and it lacks some robust features, there is a user community that will provide very robust website templates and features not available "out-of-the-box" for a small cost.

Landline Alternatives
Small business owners do not need to be tied to an office or computer in order to do their work and stay in the loop. One of the ways that business owners can take their business with them is by using an alternative to a traditional landline as their telephone service. Cell phones, VoIP, ​and virtual phone lines are a few of the options available. One VoIP service provider is Ooma. Once you buy the Ooma device (about $100), all calls in the US are free - you will only pay the local taxes of a few dollars/month. Long distance plans and advance features are available at a reasonable cost.

Being a small business owner or in an organization having a limited budget can feel overwhelming and isolating at times, especially in the beginning. Thanks to the internet, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be productive. There are many free and low-cost tools that can help you grow your business and be successful.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

How to Disagree with Your Client (or Boss)

How to Disagree with Your Client
"You can disagree without being disagreeable." - Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar.

Disagreement, whether with a client (or your boss) can be very healthy and helpful as long as you present your point in a positive and agreeable way. General George Patton once said, "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

It's not unusual to shy away from disagreeing with your client. However, disagreements in working with a client can be very healthy and helpful. Most people find that they appreciate having alternative points of view as they strive to make a decision.

Disagreement is not about being right verses wrong. Disagreement can be very helpful as long as you present your point in a positive and agreeable way.

Is The Client Wrong?
Before getting into a discussion with your client to tell them that they’re wrong, ask yourself, “Is the client wrong to begin with?” Just because you don’t agree with the direction they requested of you doesn’t necessarily mean it is not correct for the project. Consider that while you have a better approach, it's not the case that you are right and they are wrong.

Stay Calm
This is the most important thing you can do to keep a conversation on track. It can be a challenge to stay calm and rational when you feel angry or passionate about something, especially if the person you're talking with feels equally angry or passionate. Try to make sure the conversation stays focused on facts and not on anything personal. You may need to manage the conversation and make an effort to stay calm. In turn, you staying calm will likely have a calming effect on the other person.

Give Options Not Objections
If you can’t think up a better idea than what your client offered, then what is the purpose is the disagreement? You might not like the presented idea. However if you can’t come up with something to replace it with, then you must go with what they requested.

Provide suggestions that your client sees as actions, not just objections. Instead of pointing out that their suggestion is wrong, promise you will provide alternative solutions. Demonstrate how your suggestions are a better approach to addressing the project, and how they will still work to address the client's goals.

Back Up Your Suggestions with Evidence
If your client is not persuaded by your arguments, produce evidence that backs up your recommendations. This evidence can come in many forms such as articles and blog posts from respected experts, testimonials from other clients for whom you have worked on a similar project, or provide well-known cases where the same thing you are suggesting was tried and had positive results. To make a strong case against your opposition, it's important that you do and present your research.

When They Still Want to Proceed With Their Plan
In the end, they are your client: It’s their business and decision to make. The best you can do is offer your professional advice and clearly lay out concerns before agreeing to do the work. Then, move forward to do the best for your client with the plan that is now set in place.

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David Schuchman