Are you still a Windows XP user?

If you’re still an old Windows XP user or even Vista user, you’re probably worried knowing that after long years of support Microsoft has now ended its support for the world’s second most popular operating system way back on 8th April 2014.

Microsoft warns you that if you continue to use its OS first introduced before the iPhone even existed “your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.” And if that isn’t enough to encourage you to upgrade or get a computer, maybe the fact that “you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP” will.

But given the millions of PCs running the OS and the scarce amount of time and resources many people have, some people will certainly be still be XP users or Vista well after its “expiration date.” If you’re going to be one of these daredevils, here are some suggestions that might help …

1)      Comparitech has produced a guide where it explains the options depending on which Windows version currently being run for upgrading.
2)      If you continue with XP then install an alternative browser — not Internet Explorer.
3)      Make sure Microsoft Office is fully patched if it is installed. Note, some older versions of Office will run things such as Flash by default if embedded in documents. If using an older version of Office, tighten up the security options.
4)      Review the third-party software you have installed and uninstall anything that isn’t needed.
5)      For the third-party software that you keep – consider disabling or uninstalling the browser plugins. Or at least set the browser to “always ask” what to do about things such as PDF files.
6)      Have an up-to-date security product with antivirus and firewall installed.
7)      Keep your XP computer connected to a NAT router, which will act as a hardware firewall. (Practically speaking, this means you shouldn’t be roaming around outside of your home with an XP computer.)

Living in the past may not be easy. But if it’s your only option, you should try to stay as safe as possible.

“Folks that continue to use XP at home can do so with some reasonable amount of safety, but they absolutely need to review their Internet and computing habits as April draws near.”

From an article in:  www.safeandsavvy.f-secure.com

Latest update on this from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26432473

If you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!

Key Start – Up Questions

Starting your own business can be a daunting thought and one which needs time to consider, however, working with The National Centre for Micro Business we have developed a simple and helpful checklist.

Help to start a business - where do you turn?
Help to start a business – where do you turn?

1. Why are you in business, and what do you want out of it?
2. What business are you in?
3. What do you want your business to become in three years’ time?
4. Where is your market now?
5. Who are your immediate target customers for the next 12 months?
6. Who could buy from you in the future?
7. Who are your competitors?
8. How might your market change in the future?
9. How can you make your business different from your competitors?
10. What is your marketing strategy?
11. How will you do your marketing?
12. What are your sales targets and how will you achieve them?
13. What are your operational requirements?
14. How much money do you need now and for what purpose?
15. Will you need more money in the future and for what purpose?
16. How will you manage the business?
17. What are the risks?

OK – so now what?  Once you have worked through these questions, and resolved some useful answers and you need more – if you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!

10 points to help business start up

Below is a simple 10 point checklist which you should consider before starting your business. To make it more interesting try and answer these points by giving yourself a score for each question – 0=Don’t know and 5=Great.

1. How is it different?
Your underlying business idea doesn’t need to be original, but you need to establish unique selling points (USPs) if you want people to buy from you rather than your competitors. You have to offer something new. Is your proposition solving a problem? Are you filling a gap in the market, or building on an existing offering?

Don't be a fish out of water - do some business planning.
Don’t be a fish out of water – do some business planning.

2. Is there a market, and is it big enough?

Thorough market research is needed before moving forward with your business idea. You need to ensure there will be sufficient – and sustainable – demand to support your business and enable it to thrive.

3. What’s the business model?
How will you charge your customers, and what for? Can you think of additional revenue streams? Research is vital to determine whether your business model is viable; this should include analysis of how your competitors have structured their businesses.

4. Is the price right?
It’s no good having a winning product or service if your customers can’t afford it, but you need a decent margin for a sustainable business. Talk to your potential customers to find out whether your pricing is feasible.

5. What will stop others from copying you?
If you’ve ever watched Dragons’ Den you’ll have heard no doubt heard this question: ‘What’s to stop a big company coming along and stealing your idea?’ Have strong USPs – such as exceptional customer service – and wherever you can protect your intellectual property.

6. Do you know your customer?
Arm yourself with as much information as you possibly can about your target customer, and listen to them at every opportunity. What does a typical customer look like? How do they behave? What do they most value from a product or service like yours? Where can you find them? What marketing methods do they respond to?

7. Can you turn a profit?
How much will it cost to produce your idea? (taking into account manufacturing or supplier costs; salaries; overheads; office equipment, etc)? How much can you sell your product or service for, and how much do you need to sell to not only cover your costs, but make a profit? Is this achievable?

Set your own path through careful planning.
Set your own path through careful planning.

8. Do you have sufficient funding to get the venture off the ground?
You need enough cash to support yourself and your business until it becomes sustainable. If you don’t have the funding in place, can you raise it?

9. Do you have the necessary experience, attitude and skills to pull it off?
Even if you have the best idea in the world, without the passion, drive and commitment to see it through, it still stands a good chance of failing.

10. Is there scope for growth?
Can you expand on your idea in the future by adding new products or services, entering new locations, or improving your original proposition?

OK add up your total score, and how did you do?

If you scored under 20 you need to do a lot more work before you are ready, if you scored 21 – 35 then you are on the right track, but need to look at few pointers before getting started, if you scored 36 or more then well done, what stopping you – get on with your plans!

If you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!

More Top Tips for Media Success

Sometimes you need to think big, and just go for it.

Be Presentonce you have your Facebook, YouTube or Twitter account spend time developing your style and presence.  Remember you are starting from the beginning, from scratch, and it will take time to for you to build your network, so pick a platform and then work hard at it.

Sometimes you need to think big …

Measure your impact – YouTube, and Google allow you to analyse your input/output and get feedback on who, what and where your followers are, so use this to develop the parts of your site that are getting the most attention.

Think about your URL – it might be worth getting a shorter branded URL – frankly mine’s a bit too long, oh dear …

Now use your time for that important homework and see what you can find.

The National Centre for Micro Businesses can help develop your ideas into business plans, call us for more help.

More ideas to follow soon …

If you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!

Making more of your IP

Baroness Wilcox at Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd

Are old Intellectual property Minister, Baroness Wilcox, challenged UK firms to make more use of the ‘green channel’ that helps speed up the patent process for innovative eco-friendly ideas and gives a real boost to their businesses.

“ Protecting your intellectual property and maximising its economic potential, makes a real impact especially for small companies which are the lifeblood of the UK economy.”

Read the full article here  However, once you have your ideas, you’ll need help in marketing them.  The National Centre for Micro Businesses can assist in this.

If you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!

Invent or Die

There was a fascinating article in The Times which caught my eye.  (Camilla Cavendish, 2/2/2012)  It highlighted the growing issue that for businesses to succeed they must be continually reinventing themselves.  This is the innovation economy: invent or die.  The world is going south, east and digital at an extraordinary speed.  Think of Nokia in 2003 – where is it now?

As an ex teacher of all things technological I lament at the news that we western citizens are not putting in the hours necessary to take the science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) courses, whilst China and India have many more students taking these subjects then we (in the UK) have students in total.

To compete in the global market as a small business you need all the help you can get.  At The National Centre for Micro Business help is at hand.

If you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!

A 7 step – 1 day marketing plan

Yes it is possible to develop a marketing plan in 1 day.  Working with  The National Centre for Micro Business we have developed a 7 step plan …

Sometimes being over protected can hold you back.
Sometimes being over protected can hold you back.

Step 1 – Understand your market and competition

Step 2 – Understand your customer

Step 3 – Pick a niche

Step 4 – Develop your marketing message

Step 5 – Determine your marketing media

Step 6 – Set sales and marketing goals

Goals are critical to your success. A ‘wish’ is a goal that hasn’t been written down.If you haven’t written down your goals, you’re still just wishing for success. When creating your goals use the smart formula. Ensure that your goals are:

  • Sensible
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-specific

Your goals should include financial details, such as annual sales revenue, gross profit, sales per salesperson, and so on. Your goals should also include non-financial elements such as units sold, contracts signed, clients acquired, and articles published.

Step 7 – Develop your marketing budget

 

General Hints and tips – for more help contact The National Centre for Micro Business

  • Market research will form a major part of your business and marketing plans, so keep your research to refer back to when you are developing your plans in the future.
  • Make time to do your research properly. It’s one of the most important things you will need to do, and getting the right information now will help avoid problems later.
  • Be realistic with your research findings, and be sensible with your assumptions and market predictions.
  • Be careful when asking friends or family for their input as potential customers; they may want to encourage or discourage you unduly, so might offer biased views.
  • If you use a market research agency, ensure that they are members of a reputable trade association. The Market Research Society provides information about research agencies and consultants in its ‘Research Buyer’s Guide’. (www.rbg.org.uk). Consult this guide to find out about reputable and experienced agencies and consultants.
  • Trade magazines or journals can provide useful market information so it may be worth taking out a subscription. If you’re just after a particular piece of information try your city or central library as it may keep back issues.
  • Trade associations can also provide useful research and statistics although you will usually need to be a member.
  • Several national newspapers have dedicated supplements for particular industries on a specific day each week.
  • Before you spend any money check your local central library as it will often have access to a wealth of business information.  (Ask a librarian).
  • If you’re doing a questionnaire, limit the number of questions – as too many questions may affect the response rate. Ensure that the meaning of the questions is easily understood.
  • If postal questionnaires are used, it is a good idea to give the respondent an incentive to return it – for example, a prize draw or a chance to influence product design. A return rate of 10% of the questionnaires mailed is good.

If you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!

10 Blogging Mistakes

Came across this interesting article in an old copy of the FSB magazine, some good stuff here, well worth sharing.

Blogging can be a rewarding way to make an online living.  Building up your own community who listen to you, follow you, and discuss your ideas is the ideal we all strive for.  As your blog grows your online traffic goes up, and you don’t need to spend anything on advertising and then you get invited to speak at conferences … well that’s the dream, unfortunately not everyone makes it to a dream life.

So if you’re starting out in the blog-a-sphere avoid these simple mistakes:

  1. Blogging irregularly

    Try to avoid the common mistakes – now which rope did I let go?
  2. Writing for search engines
  3. Not analysing your blog stats carefully
  4. Not have a reserve post up your sleeve
  5. Using pre designed templates – as is
  6. Not moderating comments quickly
  7. Not responding to comments
  8. Ignoring other social media – they all link!
  9. Not using multi media – video
  10. Not building a mailing list

Now if you understood what all this means and can then avoid these common mistakes – you might have a good chance of getting noticed.  If NOT we need to talk …

If you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!

 

Search Engine Optimisation

Most people are going to find your site because of its listings in search engines or directories and therefore search engine optimisation is crucial for anyone who wants people to visit their Web site.

Search engine optimisation is just the simple process of making web pages attractive to search engines, no magic involved, just straightforward logic.

It is important to constantly trim sails to maintain efficiency. Web sites also need to be tended.
It is important to constantly trim sails to maintain efficiency. Web sites also need to be tended.

It’s a fact that most people who use search engines only look at the first one or two page of search listings. Your goal in trying to achieve effective search engine optimisation is to get your pages listed on those critical first few pages for particular key search terms. (My thanks to “Small Business in Canada” for help with the following tips.)

So how do you do this? Here are 5 simple rules to help.

1) Remember that each page of your site is a viewed by search engines as a separate entity. It is therefore important to apply basic search engine optimisation techniques to each and every page.

2) Your choice of appropriate key words or phrases for each page is crucial. Choose your phrasing carefully.  Many more people search for the term “effective search engine optimization” than for “effectively optimizing for search engines”.

“To find out which key words or phrases are more popular than others, you can use a tool such as Google AdWords Keyword Tool; enter your chosen phrases and you’ll see how many people searched for that term recently.”

3) Give each page an appropriate title that includes the key word or phrase at least once. Don’t fall into the simple mistake of using your business name as the title of all your pages.  Is every page of your site the same? Probably not.

4) Put the key words or phrase that you’ve chosen in the page’s title tag, meta keywords, and meta description.

5) Be sure your chosen key words or phrase is repeated carefully throughout the content of the page. Don’t overdo it, or your page may be rejected as spam.

These are just the bare bones of effective search engine optimisation.

If you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!

99 Ways to kick start your organisation

At last a breath of wind
At last a breath of wind

So we are beginning to emerge from the recession, perhaps even a double (or more?) dip recession. It’s like being becalmed on a boat at sea. No wind, no current, no movement of any sort. What do you do? Well what you don’t do is look back, questioning over and over again how it could be that you are in this situation.  Evaluation of past successes and failures is one thing but a morbid revisiting of the past is quite another. It’s negative, it’s draining and worst of all it’s pointless.  So what do you do to kick start your organisation and get some forward momentum?

Jeremy Francis from Buy and Train has come up with his 99 tips. We hope some are new to you and above all we hope that some work for you!

99 ways to kick start your organisation in a recession

If you want to stimulate new business, get better ratings with search engines, improve your search engine optimisation skills,  then make contact – drop me a line  – A little help can go a long way!