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Technology

A look at how VR can boost business growth

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Technology is increasingly being implemented into business strategy as a way to reduce costs, increase efficiency and boost profits. From software and automation tools, to AI, new technologies are helping businesses to reach new height.

One particular technology that has seen in increase in use over the last few years is Virtual Reality, or VR. This immersive technology is being used in a number of industries to boost business growth. The protective VR case experts at the Case Farm have put together a short guide on how industries are making the most of this incredible tech. Take a look below!

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is a huge and complicated process, and each individual part that is being made must be inspected and tested. Through the power of VR, manufacturing experts can inspect parts and see how they fit and work together. This means that experts can remotely from their home, reducing travel expenses and other resources.

Real estate

Estate agents and realtors spend a lot of their time travelling to show potential customers around properties. This is a particularly difficult problem if they are selling property abroad, or have a large client base to manage.

With VR, clients can visit properties remotely at their leisure, and explore the property and grounds from the comfort of their own home. This frees up the realtors time to see more clients, sell more property and therefore boost their business growth.

Training and coaching

One of the largest business expenses comes from training and coaching staff. Paying for time off, travel and accommodation means that costs soon add up to an eye watering amount. With VR, employees can receive personalised training, and put their skills to practise in simulated scenarios. This saves businesses time and money, and helps their employees to gain valuable skills.

Therapists and mental health professionals

Therapists and mental health professionals normally see clients in person, which means hiring out a building or room from where they can run their business. This can be costly, particularly in major towns and cities. With the power of VR technology, therapists and mental health professionals can now give the same personal treatment style, without having to travel or pay fees for treatment rooms.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of industries using VR, so it will be incredibly exciting to see this technology emerge and develop further over the coming years.

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Security

The Most Valuable Firms Are Based On Secrets, So Protect Yours

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Peter Thiel famously quipped that all successful businesses were based on secrets. Coca-cola became the most prominent soft drinks firm in the world by never letting anyone know how to make coke. McDonald’s grew to be the biggest fast food chain in the world by keeping its Big Mac recipe under wraps. And Google became the largest search giant on the internet by protecting its search algorithm IP.

Protecting trade secrets is the bread and butter of successful firms. Keeping a secret is often more potent than getting a patent because secrets never expire. Patents do.

Protecting your trade secrets is a somewhat complicated process. You have to stop people from outside your organisation getting hold of the critical details, as well as preventing sabotage from within.

The good news is that many firms successfully protect their secrets every day, with Coca-cola being a case in point. It is possible, in theory, to keep something highly valuable under wraps for a very long time, but you have to know what you’re doing. If you pull it off, then the rewards can be exceptional.

Companies that successfully keep secrets maintain their product edge, and nobody else can compete with them effectively. They either have to find a new method to achieve the same ends (which is unlikely), or they have to alter their product somehow, making it less of a direct competitor.

Get Everyone To Sign An NDA

Non-disclosure agreements are a powerful tool for any firm wanting to protect its IP. What these agreements say is that anyone with access to restricted information won’t repeat what they’ve learned with any third party unless given explicit permission by the business.

NDAs are useful because of the legal consequences of failing to comply. Hefty fines and even prison sentences can follow a breach of contract.

Create An Inventory Of Secrets

If you want to keep a trade secret, it’s important to know exactly what it is that you’re protecting. Is it an idea? A recipe? A piece of programming? Where exactly does the value lie?

Often you’ll find that the value of your IP resides in several locations. For instance, not only does Coca-cola have to know all of the ingredients that go into Coke, but it also has to know the methods to combine them in such a way as to create a tasty beverage.

Often it’s the connections between ideas that confer the value rather than just the individual concepts themselves.

Create A Paper Management Strategy

Protecting trade secrets is all about watching your back. You want to make sure that criminals, employees or competitors can’t get access to your information by reading it written down somewhere.

Shredding paper is vital for security according to All The Stuff. Shredding makes it virtually impossible for people to reconstruct the content your business creates, or put together a paper trail that leads them to an understanding of your product. Keeping secrets, therefore, requires physically managing and destroying your archives where possible.

Monitor Your Collaborations

You might think that working with a company in a different sector would be a safe bet. But remember, companies are only made up of individuals, and those individuals still have a financial incentive to obtain your secrets and sell them on to your competitors.

Monitoring partnerships and collaborations can be difficult. You want to maintain trust and openness, but at the same time, you want to prevent any threat to your company’s trade secrets.

The trick is to compartmentalise access to your firm where possible. Other organisations should not have unlimited access to your facilities: just those areas in which you require their services. You can also use NDAs here too, where applicable.

Keep Working On Your Product

Unfortunately, even with the best protection in the world, eventually, your secret will come out. Somebody will figure out independently how you do what you do and emulate it, hurting your market value.

The best defence against this is to innovate and come up with something better continually. Even Coca-cola, a company that generates billions off-the-back of mixing caramel with carbonated water, is experimenting with new recipes it hopes will continue to give it an edge in the future.

The best way to protect trade secrets is to create more of them and make them better. Continuous innovation means that other players in the market are always having to play catch up.

Firms should make protecting their secrets a priority. Staff should be aware of the need to keep information private, and there should be legal consequences for anyone who steps out of line.

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Technology

6 Business Tips for Tech Startups: How Do Gadget Skills Save You Money

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Did you know that 30 percent of startups will fail within two years of opening their doors? Fifty percent will fail within their first five years of business, and 66 percent will fail within their first ten years.

Do you want to keep your business from falling into one of these groups? Do you want to be part of the elite few that survive for ten years and beyond?

It’s not easy to build a successful business, but it’s definitely not impossible. This is especially true if you’re frugal and take steps to save money wherever possible.

Listed below are six great business tips that will help you save money while getting your startup off the ground.

1. Understand Hidden Costs

Most entrepreneurs are not so naive as to assume that running a business is an affordable process. However, many entrepreneurs don’t realize just how much money is required to start a business and keep it going.

There are a lot of hidden costs associated with starting and running a business. You need to be prepared to pay these costs if you want to keep your business afloat.

Some hidden costs you need to plan for include:

  • Employee benefits
  • Insurance
  • Taxes
  • Administrative costs
  • Legal fees
  • Other professional fees (bookkeeping, accounting, etc.)

If you make sure you have enough money set aside in your budget for these expenses, you’ll be much better off than lots of other entrepreneurs in your industry.

2. Learn SEO on Your Own

A good SEO (search engine optimization strategy) is essential for businesses that want to be easily found in 2019.

With the right SEO strategy, you can boost your business’s search engine rankings. This, in turn, will help to significantly increase the likelihood that people will be able to find your business online.

Many business owners spend a small fortune on SEO. You don’t need to do this to have a successful strategy, though.

You can do a lot on your own to help your business show up in search engine listings and get in front of the right customers. Of course, the trade off is that you’ll have to spend time researching the best SEO practices.

By doing this, though, you’ll have the knowledge you need to grow your business and you won’t have to rely on someone else to keep your company relevant online.

3. Build Your Own Website

It’s not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a professional web developer, either.

Would a professionally designed website be nice? Certainly.

Do you need it to start growing your business, though? Definitely not.

There are lots of low-cost tools available online that will help you design a functional, aesthetically pleasing website in no time at all.

Make use of one of these programs as you get your business up and running. Many of them also give you access to SEO tools that will help you further grow your business.

Later on, when your revenue is higher, you can always invest in a website redesign. For now, though, a DIY approach will work just fine.

4. Use Free Tools from Google

You can save a lot of money as you’re getting your business off the ground by making use of the free tools Google has made available to anyone who has a website — including you!

All you need is a Google account to make use of these resources.

Two tools that every business owner ought to use are Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.

Google Analytics does a great job of providing you with essential data on your business. It tells you who’s visiting your site, how they found it, how long they’re staying there, and more.

For first-time users, Google Analytics can be a bit intimidating. There are tons of online tutorials (also free) that help to simplify the process and provide you with guidance, though.

Google Webmaster Tools tells you more about how healthy your website is. It also makes it easy for you to create pages for Google to index. This, in turn, boosts your SEO and helps other people find your business online.

5. Build Your Social Media Presence

If you’re considering spending thousands of dollars to promote your social media pages or hire someone to boost them for you, back away slowly and reconsider your approach.

You can build a strong, engaged social media following without spending a ton of money on ads or other strategies.

Don’t waste your money trying to build a social media following. Instead, try these techniques to draw people to your pages who are truly interested in what your business has to offer:

  • Make sure your posts are consistent across different platforms (this is essential for branding)
  • Post consistently
  • Engage with people who comment on your posts
  • Like and comment on other people’s posts
  • Provide your audience with valuable content to establish your business as an authority within the field

When you follow these tips, you’ll not increase the number of people following you, but you’ll ensure that those people are actually interested in what you have to offer.

6. Save Money on Signage

Finally, don’t waste a ton of money on signage for your business.

There are lots of online programs that will help you design high-quality, eye-catching signage at a fraction of what a designer would charge you.

You might want to find out more about DIY digital signage, too. With the right tools, you can create great digital signs that will attract even more people to your store.

Get More Startup Business Tips

As you can see, there are a lot of different approaches you can take to save money and make sure your startup continues to grow and thrive.

Put these business tips into practice and you’ll have a much easier time keeping your business afloat.

Do you want to learn more about building and running a business? If so, we’ve got tons of resources available to you.

Check out the Management section of our site today for helpful articles that will teach you everything you need to know about dealing with employees, budgeting, customer service, and more.

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Innovation

How To Create A Dropshipping Business Worth Millions

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Are you looking at starting a new business venture? If so, then you might want to consider a dropshipping company. One of the benefits of the dropshipping trend is that anyone can do it and when we say anyone, we really do mean it. In fact, one student managed to establish a dropshipping business worth just $1.2 million in just a few months. Do you want to get started with this venture yourself? Well, first you need to know what dropshipping is!

What Is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a supply chain management method where the retailer or person selling the items does not actually have them in stock. Instead, when the customer places an order, the retailer will send the request directly to the manufacturer or the wholesaler who will then take care of the shipping. The goods will be directly shipped to the customer by the manufacturer which makes the entire process easier for the retailer, and more secure for the recipient.

This is a common practice among online stores, especially those that are just starting up. The entire management system makes it easier for online stores to get the products to the customer, as they do not then need to order the items in. It also means that the items are less likely to be out of stock if the purchase is going straight to the manufacturer.

How To Get A Successful Dropshipping Business

You might not find success immediately dropshipping. Remember that student we mentioned who now owns a $1.3 million business? Well, he actually started by making a loss of $15,000. As such, it can be trial and error as his second attempt was actually far more successful and took off. Does this mean that it all comes down to luck?

Well no, not quite, because you do need to first think about the product that you want to sell. You need to make sure that there is going to be a high demand or that you can create high demand. Since you will still be running an online store, you also need to think in terms of systems and hosting of your website and online store. There are clear pros and cons for both on-premise versus cloud hosted software and you’ll want to make the right decision for your business. What are your storage, speed, security, requirements and then there’s also the marketing and promotion. These days, it’s important to focus on digital marketing like SEO.

Finally, you need to make sure that you locate a manufacturer who is willing to work with you, dropshipping the products you sell. This can be quite complicated and will typically involve negotiations. Don’t settle on the first manufacturer you find and instead look for the one that perfectly matches your business model and is able to provide to your requirements.

You will also need to select a selling platform. A selling platform needs to be user-friendly and easy to manage. There are countless options available on the market, so make sure you research a few before settling on the right one for your business model.

We hope that you have found this article useful, and now know how you can create a successful dropshipping business that could be worth millions! Take the chance and start your company today for this opportunity.

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Technology

How To Create A More Efficient Business With Video Conferencing

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Video conferencing isn’t just an effective tool for presentations and staying in contact with remote workers and clients. When utilized correctly, video conferences can increase the efficiency (and therefore the profits) of your business. Here’s how.

How Does Video Conferencing Work?

Video conferencing is simple in practice. You simply choose a conference platform and connect via the web to the other users scheduled for the conference. The conference is presented in high definition video and audio, and often the interface includes extra tools like screen sharing software and document sharing.

1. Reducing Travel Costs and Time

The travel industry brings in billions of dollars annually, a large percentage of that number being from business travel. Costly flights, taxi rides, car maintenance, and gasoline; all of these are costs associated with business travel for meetings, seminars, and training events.

With video conferencing, you can eliminate the need for travel. Not only does this eliminate travel costs, but the employees will be appreciative that they don’t have to leave their families. It’s important to remember that employees are people with families and lives of their own.

Video conferencing can be just as or even more effective than an in-person conference. You’ll be able to see the attendees in high definition, so it’s very similar to having them there. You can utilize screen sharing software in the conference to improve the message and increase retention.

2. Host Training Via Conference Calls

If you’ve got a new product, procedure, or some other addition that you need to provide training for, try using a video conference to present the training materials. Video training is actually quite effective and improves the efficiency of the training process.

You can even record the video presentation with certain video conference services to store for later use, so you don’t have to take the time to present the material every time you hire someone new.

3. Online Seminars

Hosting an online seminar is a simple way to gather dozens of employees and partners together without actually requiring the long trips and hotel costs of a traditional seminar. Using a video conference service to host a seminar also eliminates the cost of renting out a venue.

Essentially, a video seminar is the most cost-effective way to host an event. You can create the content from the comfort of your desk or even at home, and the seminar participants can attend from the same comfort. More comfort means more retention, so you’re likely to have more effective seminars as well.

4. Video Interviews

When you’re hiring new employees or working with new clients, you can utilize video conferencing to complete interviews, sales calls, and more. Video conferencing is the next best thing to actually meeting in person and subtracts the travel time and cost from the equation.

Video interviews allow you to watch the applicant’s body language and match a face to the name, which is something you simply can’t do over the phone. While a phone call can provide a lot of valuable information on a new hire, a video conference will let you see the whole person, rather than just hearing their voice.

This also applies to new clients, especially long distance clients that you can’t actually meet in person. You can augment your conference call with screen sharing and document sharing, so any information that you need to give to the client can be shared right in the interface.

5. Better Meetings

Does anyone really want to sit in a stuffy conference room with a dozen other people and listen to a presentation on sales numbers? There’s usually at least one person dozing in the corner, another on their phone, and more than a few that simply don’t show up.

Even those that do show up are usually bored to the point of disengagement after the first hour of the meeting. That’s where video conferencing comes into play. Instead of sitting in a room with other people, meetings can be hosted and joined from anywhere in the world.

This flexibility will allow your employees to participate in a meeting from a place of comfort, which will improve their engagement in the material and their retention of the information you’re presenting.

It goes without saying that improving the effectiveness of your meetings can greatly improve your business’ efficiency. Participants will feel confident about the important information you’ve presented, and there will be no need to revisit the material because no one was able to retain it.

Improve your business meetings by making the change to video conferences. Include screen sharing for visual materials to augment the effectiveness of the video conference.

6. Save Time, Save Money

When you save time, you’re automatically saving money. The old saying time is money is absolutely true in business. When you’re spending endless hours participating in inefficient meetings, you’re basically throwing money down the drain.

Save time by incorporating video conferencing into your meetings. Once you see just how efficient this tool is, you might just make the change to permanently use video conferencing for all of your future meetings.

Conclusion

Increasing efficiency is the number way to increase the profitability of your business. Expenses add up quickly, and by using a simple tool like video conferencing, you can eliminate some simple yet costly practices. Have better meetings and presentations, eliminate travel time and cost, and improve employee retention with video conferencing.

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Technology

5 Things you should Take Into Consideration when Building an App

data management

The idea of having an app built can be exciting. Everyone would like to be the one to launch the next Candy Crush or Angry Birds and become an instant millionaire. But what people often don’t look at is the millions of apps that end up failing in the marketplace.

In some cases, it might be because of poor marketing or lack of experience, but in many cases, it often boils down to a lack of planning. Here are a few things you have to consider before you start the app building process.

Research and Concept

The first thing you need to do is make sure that there’s an actual need for your app in the market. Ask yourself if your app is actually solving an issue people are having. You also have to consider all the other similar apps that may already exist and see if one hasn’t already cornered the market.

Identify your Target Audience

Too many people place too much importance on specific app functions or tasks, but it’s important that you research your audience first. And this has to be done during, before, and after the app was developed. You absolutely have to know exactly who is going to be using your app and how, so you can know their priorities. Understanding your audience in and out will allow you to plan the design and functionality to provide the best user experience for them.

Decide on the Platform

Your app should ideally be built for all three major platforms: HTML5 for Windows devices, IOS, and Android. But having three different apps developed is a waste of time and money. That’s why it’s important that you work with a company that can deliver all three in one single project. This allows developers to reuse development concept and design, and reduce time wasted and overhead.

Finding the Right Team

At the end of the day, even if you have the best app idea in mind, it could be ruined by an incompetent team. This is why you should take your time when picking a team and don’t go for budget developers. You have to go with a solid and recognised team with years of experience behind their belt building your type of app.

The company Appetiser are a great example of a team who could take your app to the next level. They are leading Australia app developers who Clutch just recognised as one of the top developer teams in Australia. These types of accolades are what you should be looking for when picking a team.

Marketing

Marketing is the final aspect of launching an app and one that could also make it or break it. You have to start thinking of a marketing plan before you launch your app. Ads, press, and blogs are all avenues you could take. Influencer marketing or even applying for app awards could be a good idea if you think your app is that good. Make sure that you explore all options and start building a plan as soon as you can.

Conclusion

Building and launching an app is hard work, and unless you plan properly and have the right team in your corner, your efforts are doomed to fail. Make sure that you follow the few tips in this article and focus on thorough research first if you want to make sure your app becomes a success.

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Security

How Startups Can Keep Data Secure in the Hybrid Cloud

cloud computing

Now that the cloud is commonplace within the business community, many businesses – from startups to established corporate giants – have determined that a hybrid cloud environment is the best option. Combining the flexibility and security of the private cloud with the affordability of public cloud services, a hybrid cloud environment gives businesses the best of both worlds while increasing their productivity and efficiency. At the very least, managing at least some of their data in the public cloud ensures that in the event of an outage, the business can continue to function.

Of course, security is a concern in any cloud environment – 77 percent of IT professionals say it’s a top concern –, and the use of the public cloud creates additional concerns related to the transmission of sensitive company data across public networks. By understanding the risks from the start and designing your system with security in min, you can avoid many of the issues that can arise from using the public cloud and protect your company against significant losses related to a data breach, malware infection, ransomware, or other danger.

Put the Right Data in the Right Place

The first step to an effective hybrid cloud security plan is to make appropriate determinations as to what data lives where. Many businesses opt to store business critical data, such as customer information, intellectual property, etc., on the private cloud while delegating email, CRM software, and certain applications to the public cloud. Not only does this help with security management, but also ensures that your startup is able to maximize resources. Hybrid cloud environments are significantly easier to scale than private cloud only; infrastructure is expensive to expand, upgrade, and maintain, but using the public cloud allows for more scalability while ensuring that on-premises or private cloud servers have the space for mission critical data.

Get on the Same Page

One mistake startups often make when migrating to any cloud environment is assuming that the cloud provider has security under control, and they have a limited role to play in protecting their data. This is inaccurate and can contribute to security breaches.

Regardless of your cloud setup, it’s vital to understand exactly what your cloud provider does to ensure security, how they respond to and report incidents, and how they mitigate risks. Security begins with selecting the most appropriate cloud provider for your needs, but you have a role to play as well. Your cloud provider will only provide the underlying infrastructure, while you need to develop the specific policies and procedures to protect your data and applications. This means implementing secure access procedures and policies regarding updates and patches, ensuring the encryption of data, and managing the overall configuration of the system to ensure security. It’s also important to understand the provider’s terms of service. For instance, some cloud providers have access to client organizational data, which may not be something you want.

Encryption

Encrypting data is a key aspect of any security protocol, but it’s especially important in a hybrid cloud environment. Data is constantly being moved between public and private clouds, and as public clouds are always at risk of breach, encryption is an absolute necessity. In addition to encryption, using a secure VPN and strong authentication processes are also important to keeping data safe in a hybrid environment.

Endpoint Protection

Many entrepreneurs overlook one of the most common sources of attacks on their data: endpoints. An endpoint is any device that connects to your network, from computers and mobile devices to printers, copiers, and even the office coffee maker if it is Wi-fi enabled. Therefore, endpoint protection is essential to a secure hybrid cloud environment. You must employ an effective authentication protocol to ensure that every endpoint accessing your network is what it claims to be, and that unauthorized access is forbidden.

Another important part of your hybrid cloud security protocol is understanding the risks to your business and how you can effectively mitigate them. This entails paying close attention to the risks to your industry and similar businesses, and how other companies have addressed them. It also means understanding your greatest vulnerabilities and addressing them in terms of priority. Being constantly on alert for threats and deploying the best tools and policies to mitigate them as soon as possible can significantly reduce the risk of your business becoming another statistic in the ongoing war against cybercrime.

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