Friday, May 18, 2012

Black Enterprise Small Business University Technology Course Review Week 3 by Lashana Thomas


Lesson 1: YOUR GADGET GUIDE

This week for Black Enterprise Small Business University, we’re giving you a course review in Technology—helping you choose the right gadgets (and avoid the wrong ones!) for your business. Mario Armstrong a digital Lifestyle Expert and technology contributor for CNN and NBC shows you all the latest tech tools in this lesson titled “Your Gadget Guide.”
For this lesson Mario Armstrong is taking you to the tech lab, to introduce gadgets that can make your business and lives efficient and better through technology.

First up: The Power Bag: This gadget is essential for every entrepreneur and small business owners, doesn’t waste time searching for outlets, having the power bag provides instant power up to 4 devices simultaneously. The Power Bag comes with a built in battery that’s charged directly into an outlet.


2nd: Tablets:  Tablets keep you productive while on the go. The new Ipad shoots in 1080Hd, and you can edit from the tablet as well. Outstanding for presentations for visual businesses.


3rd: Note taking is critical to any entrepreneur or small business owner. The Livescibe smart pen is a great tool because while your note taking, it captures the audio that it hears and links the 2 together so you can hear what was recorded for accurate notes. This feature allows you to focus more on listening than writing.  For digital note taking the best App is Evernote, a free App for tablets, desktop, laptops users, and your smart phone that synchs across all platforms. This invaluable tool will help you keep track of your ideas, your projects, work flow, and help you collaborate with team mates.

Next up: Video Conferencing helps you save time and cost on traveling and help you meet with your clients faster, but to do this right you need the right equipment.  First is Skype certified webcams: Logitech HD pro  and Facevision both shoots in full HD. Finally the laptop, Mario recommends the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook, lightweight, long battery life, and it boots up quickly.

Lastly: After investing in your technology you have to protect it. Lojack for laptops is a great product, you install the software on your computer, it will allow you to track your computer through GPS, and give you the ability to lock it down or wipe the data off remotely.

Tips to remember:
  1.  Identify your problems then buy solutions
  2.   Invest in training
  3.   Don’t get overwhelmed. Implement first. Master. Then Repeat



Lesson 2: SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS FOR SUCCESS – HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

James Andrews, founder of Social People specializing in the creation of digital/social technology strategies, online communications, and web content production is a strategic communications agency that focuses in helping brands and individuals navigate the social media and online space to build better connections with their audiences.

In lesson 2 social media savant James Andrews tell you how to set up your business for success using the latest and most efficient tech tools. This lesson starts with the basics. A computer is the nexus of your business operation. One of the best simple and standards computers that have the same functions as desktop is a laptop, when searching for one, look for durability, good battery life, and wireless connectivity, size, and screen dimensions. 

Another fundamental piece for your business is your online presence.   The first thing you want to do is develop a web domain for your business. The best way to create one is yourbusiness.com , this tells the world your open for business, and tells people you’re ready for new customers. First thing is selecting a name, once you select the name, go to Godaddy.com and see if it’s available, then you buy the name and claim your business. In most cases you want to purchase the .com extension, if yourbusiness.com isn’t available then try yourbusiness.net or research different extension suitable for your business. Godaddy allows you to park and build a simple web page but James Andrews, recommends hiring someone with experience in web design and creation.

Just as important as your online presence and website is phone system. A phone service is paramount to how people reach, perceive, and look at you.  There are many solutions to create an in office experience online. Try services such as grasshopper.com, the entrepreneurs phone system, they offer you a toll free or local number, unlimited extensions, call forwarding to mobile phones, and voicemails that go right to your email, all for less than $10 per month but if you’re on a tight budget, Google voice can do the job for free.  Another service is video conferencing; iMeet.com combines video, audio, and web conferencing in one platform. iMeet is great tool that allows you to connect with employees, customers, and people around the world.

Managing multiple team projects can be difficult without the right tools to keep you organized. Basecamp is a project management software and online collaboration tool, this allows you to manage projects and organize documents in one place and share information across teams.  An alternative to Basecamp is a free project management platform that is just as efficient is Asana. Asana is the shared task list for your team, the single place to quickly capture, plan, organize, track, and communicate everything you and your team are working on.

Lesson Recap:
  • Technology is critical no matter what size your business is, whether your brick and mortar or all online.
  • Computer: A desktop or laptop
  •  URL: A URL, yourbusiness.com, tells the world you are open for business
  • Phone is critical: Grasshopper.com, iMeet.com, and Basecamp


Lesson 3: TOOLS TO GET YOU TO THE NEXT LEVEL – FROM SOFTWARE TO HARDWARE

Mel Parker is Vice President and General Manager of the North America Consumer and Small Business at Dell. In his role, Mr. Parker is responsible for leading sales, marketing, strategy and operations. Additionally he is Chairman of the Dell African American Employee Resource Group.

Access to resources is the key for any entrepreneur at any stage. Dell wants to make sure you have everything you need. General Manager Mel Parker tells you how and why the company is dedicated to helping your business be successful.

If growth is your business goal, the key is to implement the right technology solutions to address both your immediate and long terms needs for your small business. You should view technology as an accelerator and enabler to help your small business grow and thrive.

First – Do your homework: Find credible and knowledgeable resources, family, friends, trade associations, and industry online communities. Compile this information and engage the experts for comprehensive solutions.

Second – For on-the-go solutions, identify the most durable and up-to-date hardware products available. A durable mobile tech solution for every member on your team is a Dell Ultrabook or a Vostro PowerBook, these tools allows for sharing information and staying connected while on the go.

Third- Integrating flexible software that addresses your changing needs and challenges. A comprehensive technology solution designed to address your unique business needs, will help your business grow faster and more efficient.  For small businesses and entrepreneurs Cloud is a great way to access and share data in real time.

Finally - Partner with a service provider, like Dell for business support that will support you every step of the way. Consider security needs, IT department that can provide support, and the best IT concierge service that can help take your business to the next level.


Teachers:

Lesson 1 – Mario Armstrong

Lesson 2 – James Andrews

Lesson 3 – Mel Parker



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