Category Archives: Tech, Tools, Gadgets and Apps

Best Tax Apps

Best Tax Apps

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Mint.com

Mint.com and the mobile Mint app are not tax apps per say, but instead are a solution for your overall financial life such as budgeting, investments, expenses, planning, etc. The best feature as it relates to taxes is the ability to categorize all your expenses.

This allows your accountant or you to identify possible deductions for business expenses such as a car, computer, supplies, or anything else related to your business and personal life that may be deductible. Rather than having to dig through 12 months of bank and credit card statements, with a few clicks you can pull up all your categorized expenses for the year.

Mint and its tracking of your entire financial life (if you let it) can also come in handy if you are the subject of an IRS audit. Knowing precise numbers for income and expenses, as well as the dates they occurred can make preparing for an audit and surviving one that much easier.

Quick Tax Reference by Bloomberg

This handy little tax app can help you as you prepare to file online or via the paper application. The best features are the reminders and simple explanations for things like estate tax, Alternative Minimum Tax, and capital gains. Also detailed are the timeframes for filing individual returns, extensions, business taxes, and other related schedules to ensure all your paperwork is in IRS hands when it should be.

My Pocket CPA

For a low $10 fee, my pocket CPA lets you ask a detailed question as it relates to taxes. This can be much more affordable than having to hire an accountant or lawyer. Combined with your general knowledge and a free online filing software, you can get an accurate and affordable tax return prepared. The app can provide information on simple questions, which can easily be found through a Google search. The best feature and main point of this app is for the more complicated questions you might have that only a qualified CPA can answer.

IRS2GO

The official app of the IRS is barebones. The main feature, however, is the ability to check the status of your tax return. With every year having more identify theft issues, many filers now have to go through additional verification steps to ensure that they are the “true” owner of their return. Processing times can also increase during peak times, so the ability to see what stage your return is in from a quick and simple app on your phone is a great peace of mind to have in your pocket.

Cloud Computing

How to get your company to adopt cloud computing

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Most top companies already use cloud computing

If your company is reluctant to switch to cloud computing or other cloud services, perhaps a bit of credibility for those services is in order.  You can show your company that many top companies such as IBM, Google, Cisco, and other Fortune 500 companies are already using cloud computing and have been for some time.

Your company may not care or model their enterprise after these successful companies. Sometimes knowing that your investment or undertaking is not something brand new; but an idea proven in the marketplace to be effective can be comforting to a hesitant employer.

Emphasize the benefits

Cloud computing has a multitude of benefits that far outweigh the downsides or switching pains. These issues can be illustrated in many ways to help your effort in encouraging the company to switch to cloud computing. Work with other departments of your company to show how cloud computing can improve all areas of business.

Draw up graphs or charts to show costs savings. Get testimonials from IT about how security and their daily workflow would improve. Show how cloud computing can help the business scale; expand more efficiently and faster than thought possible.

Cloud computing can also improve company culture by facilitating greater communication via the cloud.  Cloud services allow employees to work on files at the same time and from virtually anywhere.  This increased collaboration can boost productivity, improve employee relationships, and strengthen your team, allowing them to tackle bigger projects with more speed and efficiency.

Improved workforce options

Cloud computing and related technologies further allow employees to work remotely from anywhere with the internet.  Make the case to your employer that this technology allows them to expand the pool of employees they can recruit or choose from, especially if they have had difficulty finding qualified candidates in the past.

This can help employers save on overhead costs, as well, as remote employees generally require less overhead such as food, equipment, and transportation incentives such as pretax parking or public transportation reimbursement programs.

The company will also require less IT resources and in-house personnel, as they can more easily manage cloud services with a limited staff. The company can rely on the personnel of the service providing the cloud solutions to handle certain IT tasks such as security or maintenance. This combination of lower overhead, combined with greater workforce talent, can help offset company fears about the costs of switching as well as resistance from staff or employees to the change.

Great Project Management Tools

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Project Management

Most projects in the modern work environment are no longer single person jobs. Instead, they require multiple people working together on various timelines to complete. Because of their complexity, managing modern can often be a logistical nightmare.

The following five tools are designed to make project management easier for everyone involved. With a variety of styles and features, there is sure to be a great project management tool for your business.

Asana
Asana is one of the most popular project management tools on the market today because of its ease of use and wide variety of purposes. The software’s design allows users to keep track of multiple projects at the same time, with the ability to cover both personal and business tasks. In addition, Asana is free for those with less than 15 users https://asana.com/pricing; the software is not pared down for free users, while paid users get better access to customer service and the ability to host guest users. Used by companies such as Dropbox, Pinterest, and Uber, Asana is a great project management tool for a wide variety of companies.

Trello
Trello is a user-driven project management tool that easily allows you to drag, drop, and organize multiple projects and to-dos at the same time. Different projects can be organized into different boards with their own tasks and due dates. Team members can easily comment on, add supporting details to, or reassign tasks for a project. Trello is also available on iOS and Android as well as working well on mobile devices. The user-friendly interface makes Trello the project management tool of choice for companies like Tumblr, The New York Times, and The Verge.  

Basecamp
One of the original project management tools, Basecamp is an excellent way to keep your team on track. For $20/month, 10 projects can be managed with unlimited users on each project; this pricing structure makes Basecamp ideal for those who have a few projects at a time but multiple users for each. In addition to the due dates, comments, and tagging done by most project management software, Basecamp also uses SSL data encryption and daily data backups for all plans.

Flow
Flow markets itself as the ideal project management tool for teams who need more functionality than Wunderlust or Trello without the overkill that comes with JIRA or Sharepoint. Flow allows you to create and assign tasks, due dates and times, add tasks to existing lists, and comment or tag tasks and files. The Flow iPhone app also allows users to easily access their projects from their Apple devices.

Google Docs
<span “font-size:11.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:”calibri”,”sans-serif”;=”” mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:=”” minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:”times=”” roman”;=”” mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-us;mso-fareast-language:=”” en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=”” style=”color: #464646;”>While not the most technologically advanced, Google Docscontinues to work well as a project management tool. Because almost everyone has a Google user account it can be easily accessed from anywhere and costs nothing to use. Google Docs is ideal for collaboratively creating documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and file sharing among multiple users.

5 Benefits of Cloud Computing for Businesses

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Cloud Computing

Making the transition from a traditional operating system to cloud computing might seem like a risky jump for many businesses. However, there are significant benefits that come with a business run using cloud computing.

While most people are familiar with using the cloud as a way to backup files, photos, and other information, fewer understand how cloud computing can be implemented throughout an entire business. In its simplest form, cloud computing is computing based on the internet. Rather than running programs or software that has been downloaded to a specific physical computer, users are able to access different files and applications through the internet.

The cloud continues to increase in popularity, especially among small businesses. In fact, CRN estimatedthat nearly $100 billion was spent on cloud computing services in 2014.

Below are five of the many reasons why more and more businesses are switching to the cloud.

1.       Meet changing demands
When a company outgrows their bandwidth, upgrading their operating system can take months to accomplish, costing the business both time and money. However, with the cloud the system can automatically update itself as bandwidth needs increase. This flexibility allows you to focus on your business rather than estimating your bandwidth needs.

2.       Work from anywhere
With a cloud operating system, employees have the freedom to work from anywhere without needing to copy files or programs onto their home computers. In addition, this gives more employees the ability to telecommute, improving their productivity and work-life balance. As many as 42% of working adults said they would take a pay cut if they were given the ability to telecommute.

3.       Lower costs
Cloud computing allow businesses to spend less on expensive licenses for software and programs. In addition, businesses can spend less on infrastructure; the money previously spent maintaining servers and software can instead be used to improve services for customers.

4.       Recover quickly from disasters
When using cloud computing services, companies erase the need for complex backup and disaster recovery plans. In fact, the Aberdeen Group found that when using the cloud, businesses were able to resolve software or system issues in an average of 2.1 hours; businesses using traditional servers took an average of nearly 8 hours to recover.

5.       Smoother acquisitions
Mergers between businesses – or even between departments within the same company – can often last for months as data, information, and files are transferred and compiled into a singular operating system. When using the cloud, this transition can be done quickly and with a minimal amount of lost time, allowing things to get back to business as usual much faster.

How to Use Visuals to Get More Likes on Social Media

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Do you incorporate a strategic visual presence on your social media channels? If not, know that you’re not alone, but also that you should really read on.

People who are familiar with social media marketing know that visuals – colors and images – dominate the social media space. In fact, there is loads of valuable data to support the premise that choosing the correct colors and images for items you share online will impact the effectiveness of your marketing and brand recognition, connect with your community, and drive purchasing. Basically, it makes you memorable.

So how do you go about incorporating the right colors and visuals on social media? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Set your color palette. Your company should have specific colors associated with it, and use them uniformly to create brand recognition and convey brand personality across all social media channels.

And use the right colors. People have emotional responses to colors. Studies have shown color increases brand awareness by up to 80 percent and may be 85 percent of the reason people buy. This infographic shows the emotional guide to color.

Set your fonts. Don’t forget about the importance of fonts in conveying your brand. Pick two or three fonts, and use them across all of your marketing and media channels.

Understand buying influences. People are inherently (65 percent) visual learners and 92 percent of buyers make decisions based on a visual factor. Color can increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent and comprehension by up to 73 percent.

Visuals dominate social media. When you can, show it instead of saying it. Photos on Facebook get 53 percent more likes and 104 percent more comments, while images on Twitter get 150 percent more re-Tweets.

So try photo filters. You can add a “look” and consistency to your images and photos with photo filters. Reinforcing your brand’s culture, vibe and personality with photo filters – and doing it consistently – will help convey the type of messages you intend.

Create social media templates. Using templates with consistent elements (fonts, colors) for your updates (sales, promotions, images, quotes) across social media channels will make your campaigns easily recognizable.

Best Business Management Software

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Business Communication

Every successful business relies on efficient software behind the scenes. The ability to start, run and grow your business only happens when you are supported by software solutions that create advantages.

There is certainly no shortage of business management software out there to choose from. And many focus on certain aspects of business such as accounting, project management, scheduling, supply chains, facilities, and so on. Other business management software have a broad focus as more all-in-one solutions.

So what will work best for you? Here’s a short list of the top business management software.

SAP Business One – Small business software that can help you better manage every aspect of your company – from sales and customer relationships to financials and operations. The affordable, scalable small business software is servicing more than 40,000 businesses.

Mhelpdesk – This all-in-one software can handle just about everything, including managing field employees, booking jobs, invoicing clients and managing work orders and billing. It’s ideal for small businesses who need improved organization, mobile access, scheduling, and billing.

Netsuite – This cloud-based software combines back-office operations and financials, CRM, e-commerce and PSA in one unified system connecting all of your data. The award-winning software is running more than 20,000 businesses.

Front Desk – Widely used in hospitality and service industry companies, this simple client management tool helps you manage scheduling, attendance, billing and invoicing, financials, e-commerce and even marketing.

Must-have apps for mobile sales representatives

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The latest in technology is always key for mobile sales reps and sales teams.

There’s very little downside in leveraging the latest in technology to make your job easier and you more efficient. As mobile sales reps are increasingly finding out, there are all sorts of tools on the market to make them better at what they do. But, let’s face it, sorting through hundreds of sales mobile apps to find the perfect fit for your business needs can be exhausting.

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Best of the best in CRM software

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If you’re a business owner or manager, there is no hiding the impact Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can have on streamlining your sales functions and customer management, thus positively affecting your bottom line.

For any business, cultivating and maintaining relationships with current and potential customers is the core of doing business. It’s difficult to thrive, in any business, without those sustainable, long-term relationships.

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Techniques for website lead generation

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It sounds simple enough that your business website should play a larger role within your online marketing strategy. After all, your website is a store that never closes, a first touch point for potential customers and an online brand ambassador.

But if you don’t know what role that is, it’s time to re-evaluate how your website is utilized.

Your website can be uniquely positioned to be a sales machine. By implementing lead generation techniques, your website can constantly bring new sales leads into the sales funnel and make all the difference between missing or hitting your revenue goals.

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Understanding Actionable Insights

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Many marketers have nightmares about mountains of data that lead nowhere. To that end, it was Albert Einstein who once famously suggested that not everything that can be counted counts.

The amount of data, especially social data, continues to explode. The volume and variety of data can be overwhelming and daunting, leading marketers to a place where they don’t know what questions to ask or which metrics to use. There’s little sense in the urge to make sense of a mountain of data if there is no methodology involved to know which metrics really matter.

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