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Automation Apps For New Businesses

It is absolutely crucial that a business owner use every tool at their disposal to make sure that their business is as successful as it can be.

Josh Althuser

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Starting a business is one of the most harrowing endeavours a human can undertake. It is rife with hazards and forks in the road. Decisions must be made constantly and the work never truly ends. Why then would a new business owner want to take the entire responsibility of a company upon their shoulders alone? Even when the company is made in partnership, or with a group, the tasks that must be completed to assure the business is a success are daunting and tedious to say the least.

Luckily, technology has progressed far enough to automate some of these essential tasks for us and let us focus purely on running a business. Steps that need to be taken at the outset of a business include marketing, meetings and leads. These tasks can get in the way of perfecting your product or designing a service that can provide a fully realised experience. In this article, we are going to explore automation applications that can assist you in starting your business and running it for the future. There should never be anything in the way of a successful idea from being successful. No one who has a good idea or product should be limited  by the mundane activities that come with starting a business.

Related: How Automation Can Transform Your Start-up

The first thing that any business owner should be concerned with is marketing and design. Without good marketing your product or service will never reach the eyes and ears of a customer base. Without customers there will never be a business that succeeds or generates profit. So, it can be said, that without marketing there is no business.

Luckily, there are a number of companies who focus on automating marketing tasks so that you can focus on delivering your product in the best way possible.

Firstly, the company HubSpot centralises your needs and tools so that you can run an effective campaign automatically. This service uses automation to generate appropriate marketing materials and publishes them to the correct social media platforms. They also act as an entire marketing team that helps you to come up with a brand and image that accurately represents your business. In the same vein, there is the company MailChimp. Their goal is to create email blast campaigns on your behalf so that you do not have to scour for email addresses or constantly write up new email marketing materials.

MailChimp also helps with SEO and brand development so that you do not have to be bogged down with ideas for marketing. Services like these  automate the marketing process so that you do not have to undertake the tedious task of writing new email marketing materials everyday. Though it is an essential task, it is very much a laborious slog. In the early going, new owners typically do not have budgets to hire people that might specialise in marketing or advertising. MailChimp and HubSpot make it so that a new business does not suffer from being without a marketing team.

Website design is a crucial facet of business as it is your portal through the internet into people’s homes.  Luckily, companies like Squarespace and WordPress make web design easy and simple. An owner can use these services to create nice looking websites that are easy to navigate in a day or less. The simplicity, combined with the efficacy, make these services absolutely invaluable to new owners who are in dire need of a website. The services also come at fairly low price points and have elegant looks that can constantly scale with the size of your business. Having a website that can grow alongside your business gives you a better opportunity to reach the customers you need to reach. Web design is such an important facet and these services can make sure you are not left in the dust.

Related: 6 Resources For Start-ups Looking For Funding

Finally, we have one of the most important tools a new business owner can have and that is a personal assistant. Devices like the Google Home and Amazon Alexa allow new business owners the opportunity to have a personal assistant with them at all times. This is absolutely invaluable to new business owners as they are usually incredibly busy and need to be reminded of important events at all times. These automated digital devices can help to keep you organised and informed constantly so that you are never left in the dark. These devices provide assistance to new business owners that need constant reminders so that they do not fall behind on any work.

They are absolutely incredible pieces of technology and can prevent a company from failing. The services and devices listed above can help a brand new business owner to be successful in their business without the risk of failure due to a lack of funds. Because the technology continues to grow, and is reasonably priced, business owners around the world are finding running their businesses to be much easier than ever before. It is absolutely crucial that a business owner use every tool at their disposal to make sure that their business is as successful as it can be.

Josh Althuser is a tech entrepreneur and open source advocate specializing in providing mentorship for startups. You may connect with him on Twitter.

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Protect Your Business – Let The Right MSP Manage IT Security For You

Don’t let IT Security add to your pressures — let the right MSP manage it for you and have peace of mind while protecting your bottom line.

Kaspersky Lab

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With smaller teams, pressure always mounts and there is seldom enough time in one day to give all areas of a business the right focus. SME owners are required to appropriately apportion their time. Innovation and a commitment to growth are always priorities, along with the areas within a business that seek the most attention or ‘shout the loudest’ — but this should never shift the owner’s focus from the core principle of protecting their business.

IT security intimidations — malware, viruses and threats — are designed to go ‘under the radar’ and often don’t shout until it’s too late. Dispersed focus, along with a lack of appropriate resources has resulted in IT security within SMEs not getting the consideration it requires. However, considering the constant increase in the number of cyber-security incidents and the damage these cause — especially to reputation — a relaxed attitude towards IT security is no longer a viable option for any SME.

Related: A Cloud Is A Cloud, No Matter What Business You’re In, Right? Wrong!

Rectifying this doesn’t need to add more pressure to the list of priorities a SME owner manages. Rather, the situation calls for a reliable third-party investment to take care of the business’ IT security needs. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offering security services that will adequately protect the business and take the worry of IT security on board could be that helping hand. But, outsourcing IT security components of the business requires investment into the right solutions as well as trust.

Therefore, SMEs should seek the services of providers that offer best-in-class, affordable, worry-free and integrated security solutions that pass on the right protection and benefits to their client’s business.

In 2017, Kaspersky Lab launched a specialised MSP partner programme to equip service providers with tools, training and expertise, to become a reliable partner for businesses, including SMEs. Given the success of the partner programme, Kaspersky Lab is constantly expanding its offering to MSPs, including solutions that fit the profile of what an SME needs to achieve effective protection.

Top benefits of outsourcing your IT security to a trusted MSP

  • Advice on your organisation’s current security posture, identifying gaps that need to be ‘plugged’
  • Access to IT security knowledge — MSPs take the worry out of IT security by offering solutions that best meet your IT security needs
  • Support for adequate protection against the myriad threats continually facing businesses. The right MSP knows how the cyber-threat landscape is evolving and keeps up to date with the latest threats, filtering this into your business operations for effective protection of your sensitive assets.

Related: Is Data Protection One Of Your Top Concerns? It Should Be

Kaspersky Lab not only supports the protection of SMEs through the solutions on offer, but it also aims to support and assist MSPs in growing their services to accommodate the needs of the SME market — ensuring all businesses can take the right steps towards effective IT security.

For more information on Kaspersky Lab solutions please visit: www.kaspersky.co.za

MSPs interested in joining Kaspersky Lab’s programme can visit: www.kaspersky.co.za/partners/managed-service-provider

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Technology

What’s The Best Products To Sell Online?

If you’re selling online or thinking of starting an online business then you’re probably wondering what’s the ultimate product for you to sell. Read on to find out how to pick a winning product…

Warrick Kernes

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So I’m not talking about the top selling product of the year and if you were looking at that product then you’re probably too late anyway. What I am referring to here is the best suited product for you to sell online from an ease and profit point of view. Here are five key aspects to consider:

1. Product weight and size

Your courier fee is calculated on either the volumetric weight or the actual weight of the product – whichever is the larger number. A large box of feathers would be charged using the volumetric weight whereas a similar sized box of bricks would be charged on the actual weight. This means that large and heavy products attract higher shipping fees, which you or your customer need to cover.

Some couriers do ship bulky items at fair rates but your customer will need to compromise on having a slower delivery timeframe. Another factor to consider is that your warehousing fees will be significantly higher for bulky items. So your ideal product in this regard is a product which is small and lightweight.

Related: Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses

2. The selling price

Products which sell for over R5 000 tend to require more customer engagement which results in time costs and a possible requirement for in-house product expertise. Products selling for lower than R500 can leave you with a profit margin which is not high enough to sustain the direct costs of completing the sale unless you are selling high volumes. Ideally your product will sell at a price point between R500 and R5 000.

3. Product support

Technical products attract a lot of pre-sales questions and also after-sales support. This means that you’ll need trained up team members permanently ready and available to help your customers. Having this in place is vital for ensuring great customer service but don’t forget about the time-cost of having your team members constantly engaging in pre and post sales support.

Be sure to also research the failure rate of potential products. Some of the best brands in the world still have an acceptable failure rate of 3%. The costs here include your time to arrange the replacement, courier fees to collect and re-deliver plus you might need to use your own inventory for the replacement until the supplier issues your replacement units.

The ideal product to find would have low or no technical support and a low return rate.

Related: 6 Steps To Building A Million-Dollar Ecommerce Site In 60 Days

4. Local regulations

Products that require local certification through regulatory bodies such as ICASA, NRCS and MCC could result in extra costs, administration and possible delays on launching your product in the market. Being aware of how these kind of regulations will impact your product in mind is vital when choosing your products to sell. Ideally if you can find a product that doesn’t require regulatory certification will be the easiest to bring to market.

5. High margins!

There is a perception that online retailers don’t need high margins because they have such low overheads. This can be true if you’re running a lean operation; however, if you sell products with less than 20% margin then you’re setting yourself up for a challenging operation. Higher margins can give you the cushioning for the mistakes of your learning curve. Once your business is running smoothly you’ll have more to reinvest and ultimately you’ll have a more successful business if you can find a product that sells well and has high profit margins.

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Technology

The Future Is Now – Ecommerce Retail Trends For 2019

In need of a killer outfit or shoe for an event this weekend? Simply log in to your favourite ecommerce fashion brand’s site and order away. Hungry? Just fill your online shopping cart with groceries which will be delivered to your door.

Daniella Shapiro

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Ecommerce Retail Trends For 2019

When it comes to ecommerce, it’s either you keep up or get left behind. And let’s be honest, customers may not care about the future of retail, but they set the tone and therefore, create the future. Retail is fueled by their unchanging needs and expectations. But just being online isn’t enough anymore, consumers want to do business and interact with brands in their own time and own way.

The trends in retail and specifically ecommerce retail trends are ever-changing. Let’s take a look at the forecast for 2019.

Get smarter, go mobile

What’s easier than shopping with your laptop online? Hitting the “buy now” button on your smartphone, of course! According to SearchEngineLand, nearly 60% of the total Google searches are done with a mobile phone and 286% more products are browsed on apps than the web. What’s more is that it’s forecasted that in 2019, mobile ecommerce will reach $218 billion. In conclusion, you should go mobile, or go home.

Related: Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses

Get real

Although the perks of online shopping outweigh those of traditional shopping, customers still want a personal touch. For 2019, it’s forecasted that approximately 45% of customers would prefer to buy from an ecommerce platform that is personalised. This could mean providing personal recommendations or offering exclusive deals based on a customer’s preferences. Including a “Your Wishlist” or “Your Collection” option makes for a personal touch.

Tap into your community

According to a Nielsen study, 83% of people are more likely to buy something because of a recommendation. An ecommerce trend for 2019 sees consumers turning to others for advice before making an online purchase. Adding a “product review” option and creating a social community draws customers in as it makes them feel like they are valued and that they have more of an input in their purchases. Besides this, it gets people talking about your business, which means more feet at your virtual door.

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