Business Briefings

Your Accounting

Time to put your books in the cloud? Want to save time and money on bookkeeping in 2016? If your company hasn’t already made the switch to a cloud-based accounting system, it may be time to migrate. Here’s why: with a cloud system, you can outsource your bookkeeping, saving you staffing costs as well as office space. Plus, your team saves time dragging files back and forth and keeping current versions backed up and secure. And an added plus is that you and your team can enter expenses on the go via smartphone. Popular apps include QuickBooks Online, Xero, Zoho Books and FreshBooks. Choose based on robust feature sets, solid support, ease of use and, of course, time and money saved.

Your Time

3 Ways to End Holiday Overwhelm. This holiday season, skip the stress with these time-saving tips: 1) Do your homework before hitting the stores. Catch coupons on sites like, and Quality-check gift ideas at for expert reviews, or sites with user reviews such as or Then, rather than drive all over town for the best deal, check out 2) Plan a trip — it’s a great way to share experiences rather than acquiring more things. 3) For those on your list who already have plenty of “stuff,” give a Good Card. The Good Card lets users give to their choice of over 1.2 million charities.

Your Health

Eat, drink and be healthy this holiday season. Here’s how: keep the pounds down by knowing your number. Visit for a quick read on your recommended daily intake of calories. Think of it as your expense-account limit for holiday gatherings, and choose how much you want to spend on drinks, appetizer, entree, dessert, etc. You could even keep a food diary to help stay on track with your target weight goal. At parties, wear snug clothing and keep one hand busy. With a drink in your dominant hand, you’ll be less likely to grab goodies. And your snug-fitting outfit will keep you so busy pulling your tummy in, you won’t have time to feel hungry.

Please choose from the following two articles:

Your Computer’s Operating System

Windows 10, Thumbs Up… As even Microsoft admits, Windows 8 was a flop… So why make the leap to Windows 10? (By the way, in case you were wondering, for reasons we may never know, Microsoft decided to skip Windows 9.) To start with, the Windows 10 user interface just makes a lot more sense than W8’s UI. It brings back the Windows 7 start menu, and key functions are accessed from the taskbar. It features a more refined design — for instance, smaller window borders. And, at least until July 29, 2016, you can upgrade your Windows 7 or 8.1 OS for free. So unless your Windows device is an RT version or is about tapped out on memory, we think you can feel pretty good about upgrading to Windows 10.

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Voice Tips For Effective Speaking

When George H.W. Bush ran for president in 1988, he hired a voice coach to help him lower his voice an octave. Why? Because the candidate’s high-pitched voice had helped saddle him with the “wimp” image, even though Bush had proved his valor as a Navy combat pilot during World War II.

Fairly or unfairly, we impute strength and confidence to the person who speaks with a low-pitched, well-modulated voice.

We convey feelings, moods and attitudes through a variety of voice qualities, which are sometimes called paralanguage. Among these qualities are volume, pace, intonation and juncture.

Volume and Pace

Volume and pace should be used in a careful, controlled way. They can achieve powerful effects, especially when persuading from the public platform. You can let your voice rise to a crescendo, the pace and volume quickening until you reach a peak of excitement. Or you can drop to a dramatic whisper.

Volume should always be great enough that you can be heard by everyone in your audience. When you’re addressing a group through a microphone, that generally presents no problem. When speaking without a microphone, keep checking the people farthest from you for signs that they’re straining to hear, or that their attention is straying.

Pace should be adapted to the message. Some simple but telling points can be made effectively in rapid-fire sequence. Others can be made by slowly drawing out the words, or by long pauses to let the points sink in.


Intonation refers to the voice pitch. We usually speak in a range of pitches, from low to high. The range between high and low intonations varies from individual to individual, and from one linguistic population to another. The English, for instance, generally have a greater range than do Americans.


Juncture refers to the way vowels and consonants are joined in the stream of speech. If you listen to someone speaking in a foreign language, it sounds like a continuous flow of syllables. That’s because you haven’t learned to recognize the signs that tell you where one word stops and another begins.

Speakers of other languages have the same problem comprehending English. As I’ve spoken on different continents, I’ve formed a great admiration for the translators who render my speech into other languages. Once I was translated simultaneously into seven different languages. Either my juncture was good or my translators were superb. The audiences laughed at the appropriate points and applauded at the appropriate points.

Inattention to juncture can make your speech indistinct or hard to understand. If you tell a carpenter to build a greenhouse, make sure you don’t end up with a green house; the difference in appearance and cost can be substantial…

If you ask your secretary to get you the night rate and have it on your desk the next morning, be sure it doesn’t sound like “nitrate.” Otherwise, you may find a sack of fertilizer in your in-basket.

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iTranslate Makes It Easier Than Ever
 To Speak With Interesting People

Other than the occasional epic (and hilarious) fail, translation apps are getting pretty good. And one of the best, iTranslate, now gives you voice translations on the spot.

Here’s an “at-a-glance” rundown of all that iTranslate can do:

Speak into your device and, with a tap or swipe, it recites what you just said in your choice of over 90 languages. That’s twice the number of languages offered by Google Translate.

You can select a male or female voice, as well as dialect and speaking rate. It also turns Chinese characters into alphabet-based words in English.

And you can run it on your iWatch, iPhone, Android or Windows phone.

One downside is that the free version displays ads, but for five bucks you can upgrade and turn them off.

With this handy app, your world just got smaller — and, potentially, a whole lot more interesting.

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Missing Just One Of These Could Instantly Open Up Your Computer Network To A Cyber Attack

Welcome to the brave new world of cyber-warfare.

Gone are the days when software patches were just for nifty little feature add-ons or updates.

Today, a software update notice could mean your whole computer network is suddenly at risk. Dangers include data theft, crippling malware attacks and mischief you may not discover for months, or even years…

As with graffiti on your garage door, if you don’t pay attention and clamp down on bad behavior, your problems have likely just begun…

And, like those who hire a professional security firm to keep thieves out of the warehouse, thousands of CEOs and business owners are now waking up to the fact that it’s absolutely imperative to hire a pro when it comes to securing your data network.

Here’s why you need a professional handling this:

#1: Speed is of the essence.
“If you didn’t update to version 7.32 within seven hours, you should assume you’ve been hacked.” That’s what software maker Drupal told millions of its customers around the world last year. It’s just one example of what can happen if you don’t respond with lightning speed.

Once a security breach has been identified, hackers rush in. On “Day Zero,” cyber-crooks around the world go after at-risk targets. You’ve got to be quick to patch the gap, or else you risk a system compromise.

Unless you have the time, knowledge, experience and tool set to respond instantly, you are far better off leaving this to a professional IT firm you can trust.

#2: It’s not just the big boys they’re after.
Sure, the top news stories are about the attacks on companies like Target, Home Depot and Sony…

Yet your business is just as vulnerable, if not more so. Chances are, you simply do not have the resources that giant corporations have to manage a data disaster. The statistics bearing this out are shocking: more than 60% of small businesses close their doors following a serious data breach.

The threat is not confined to giant corporations. Small and medium businesses are being attacked every day, and, unfortunately, your business is no exception.

#3: Dealing with data breaches requires specialized knowledge, skill and experience
Here are just a few of the things a competent data guardian must be able to do to effectively protect your systems:

Review documentation and monitor forums. Sometimes your software vendor doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s critical to check online forums and other communities to see if anyone else is having issues with the new patch before jumping in with both feet.

Know when to apply a patch immediately and when to wait. Typically, somewhere around 95% of patches work hassle-free. The trick is to spot the 5% that don’t — before installing them. This requires identifying unique patching requirements, and applying exceptions accordingly. For instance:

Does the patch deal only with a security issue?
Or does it just add new features or fix non-security-related bugs? Obviously, security issues get top priority.

Is the system currently having issues?
If not, and if the patch doesn’t address a security issue your system is vulnerable to, it may be better to heed the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

What security gaps does it address? How severe is the threat to your particular network? If, for example, the only way a virus can enter your system is through an e-mail attachment and this functionality has been disabled for all users, perhaps the threat needn’t be a great concern.

Keep options open in case of complications. Once a patch has been applied, if things aren’t working, it’s critical to restore the data network to pre-patch functionality, with little if any downtime. That means having good backups in place along with a tested and proven recovery process.

Does just thinking about data security give you a headache? We strongly advise that you let us handle this critical part of your business for you.

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Lighter Side: Crazy But True… Midnight Mystery: 
The Case Of The ‘Weird’ Laptop

One day a user brought us her laptop. She said it was acting “weird.”

We ran the usual diagnostics, which all came up clean. Then the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” showed up.

The cooling fan had failed completely.

So we backed up her data and gave her a new machine. End of story…

Nope. Within a week, she brought the new laptop back to us, complaining of similar problems. This had us stumped – it was brand-new.

We ran the hardware diagnostics in a continuous loop overnight. Nada.

We asked the user if she had any ideas. She got a funny look on her face and promised to report back to us. Sure enough, the next morning we received an e-mail from her, with an incriminating picture.

When she snuck into her den at midnight, she had caught Boots, her fat orange cat, preparing to take a nice, warm nap on her laptop.

As Boots stepped onto the keyboard, his paw triggered the hot key. Then, as he snoozed on top of the unit, the internal fan had to work overtime to keep it from melting down.

Mystery solved!

We all had a good laugh, glad to know our detective work had finally paid off.

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Cloud Computing And Your Company: What You Need To Know

Like it or not, cloud computing is coming to your industry. The question is, will you happily be an early adopter of this technology or be frozen by indecision?

Here are some answers to questions you may have about how to best take advantage of this new and sometimes paralyzing technology.

Just what exactly is “the cloud”?
The cloud is simply storing and/or accessing data and programs over the Internet – rather than using a computer’s hard drive. Simply put, the cloud is a metaphor for the Internet. Due to increases in technology, the cloud is a super-efficient and reliable data processing, storage and delivery system.

Why migrate to the cloud?
The cloud can integrate online apps for marketing, human resources, customer service and more, enabling faster scaling, growth and flexibility for your organization.

As with your electric bill, you pay only for the capacity you use, thus reducing your capital expenditures as well as ongoing expenses. It also allows instant access from any device and easy backup capabilities.

What about data security?
While there are risks in sending your data to the cloud, one way to protect it is to select a data security system that encrypts the data at the file level before it leaves your network.

So, is the cloud for you?
There’s a lot to like about the cloud, yet we’ve just scratched the surface in this article. If you have more questions or would like help putting together your cloud strategy, call us at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.

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Shiny New Gadget Of The Month: Tossing Your Video Cam To The Wind

Shooting the perfect video for your business just got easier, thanks to a new flying camera that’s smart enough to follow you on its own. It’s called the Lily flying camera, and it breaks new ground in ease of use. Just toss the camera in the air, and it starts shooting video. It can follow or circle or zoom in on a subject with ease. You just wear a special wrist beacon. Lily may be a cool toy, but it’s also a great tool for your business. Shooting video from the air, hands-free, quite literally means the sky’s the limit on what you can do. It also means you can shoot great marketing videos without having to buy a whole lot of new gear. Just toss Lily in the air, demo your product and let Lily capture stunning aerial footage for you.

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Real Leadership Is Power With People (Not Over Them)

Everything we accomplish happens not just because of our efforts but also through the efforts of others. The biggest difference between people who manage others versus people who lead others is how they develop those under them.

As all leaders know, untitled or not, leadership is power with people, not power over people. Do you build people up or tear them down? Encourage or discourage others? Try to be the hero, or make heroes out of those around you?

According to researcher Tom Rath at Gallup, the No. 1 reason why people quit their jobs is lack of appreciation. Everyone wants to feel significant, to be recognized for what they do. It’s important to make people feel appreciated. It’s even more important to let people know there is someone who believes in them, so much so that he or she will not let them be less than they can be.

The 3 C’s of Power with People:

  • Character – Those who wish to influence others understand how important character is. When establishing character, it is critical to remember that the opposite of humility isn’t pride; it is self-absorption. Few people can lead or inspire others, at work or at home, when they are self-absorbed.
  • Competence – People who act as leaders exude competence – by their actions, by their appearances and in everything they undertake.
  • Connection – When we act effectively as leaders, those around us bond with us – not because of our position or title in the organization, but because of their relationship with us.

Once you’ve developed these 3 C’s in your relationships with others, you will be capable of leading. As a leader, titled or not, your job is to act as a thermostat, not as a thermometer. Industrialist Harvey Firestone said, “You get the best out of others when you give the best of yourself.” So give it your best.

Leadership Action Points:

  • Express your appreciation – To act like a leader, celebrate the success of those around and under you as if it were your own.
  • Ask others what motivates them – When was the last time anyone asked you what motivates you? Don’t make assumptions about what motivates your team either.
  • Collaborate – When it comes to decision-making, the oft-used acronym TEAM is true: Together Everyone Accomplishes More.
  • Practice diplomatic confrontation – Rather than confronting the person, consider what behavior of his or hers needs to change. Confront the problem, not the person.
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Are You Using Social Media To Market Your Business?

Here’s Why You’re Likely To Be Wasting Time And Money On False Marketing Metrics

For better or worse, we are practically “married” to our phone these days. It goes everywhere we go. It has access to our most private conversations and key financial data. It holds some of our most precious memories, in the form of pictures, sound recordings and video.

And yet, there are those who would use it to rob and manipulate you. And they’re getting more and more clever each day at penetrating your defenses.

So how do you protect your phone and yourself from vicious attack by these cybercriminals?

Here’s a basic checklist to keep you and your “beloved” safe.

  1. Keep your phone with you at all times. Remember, if somebody swipes it:
    • It can be used to access your money, or steal your identity.
    • Someone can pose as you on your social media accounts.
    • A thief can use your SIM card to rack up phone bills.
  2. Keep your phone secure.
    • Set a secure entry password.
    • Update your phone’s operating system as soon as updates become available.
    • Turn Bluetooth off when you’re not using it and avoid using it in crowded areas.
    • Only use encrypted WiFi networks that require a password, and set your phone to not automatically connect to new networks.
    • Enable remote geo-tracking and the lock and wipe functions. These will allow you to locate your phone if misplaced. You’ll also be able to lock the screen and wipe the data if the phone is stolen. Just be aware that geo-tracking may enable others to pinpoint your location.
  3. Keep your data secure.
    • Back up your data regularly.
    • Don’t save passwords or PINs on your phone.
    • Avoid online banking in public or crowded areas. Strangers may be able to look over your shoulder.
  4. Use apps safely.
    • Apps can transmit personal data. Select permissions carefully when you install them.
    • Always source apps from trusted providers and check feedback from other users.
    • If you’re not sure why an app needs access to your contacts, calls, photos or location, see if you can find a comparable app that doesn’t require that access.
  5. Be selective about how and where you use your phone.
    • Stick with trusted webs sites and apps when you download anything.
    • Never download content from an unknown source or one you can’t verify.
    • Turn GPS off when you’re not using it. Your location can be tracked if you have it turned on.
    • Log out of web sites when you are done using them.
    • Especially with e-mail – THINK before you click. Hackers are getting very clever at creating authentic looking e-mails. One false click could unleash malicious code allowing them access to all your personal data.

Keep these tips in mind to keep yourself out of harm’s way — and to enjoy all the great things you love about your phone.

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Last Chance To Save Up To $25,000 In Taxes On IT Software, Equipment And Services

While many tax incentives for small business have been shot down in recent years, Section 179 of the IRS tax code remains one legal “loophole” worth looking into.

This year (unless Congress changes it at the last minute, which they have done in the past several years) Section 179 allows you to purchase up to $200,000 of qualified equipment and software. With that purchase, you can write off up to $25,000 as a Section 179 deduction.

That’s less than in previous years, but the good news is, you can still triple your savings. Here’s how:

  1. Save on taxes. If your business could use new software, equipment or services, but the expense is just a little beyond your reach, the tax savings you’ll gain from a Section 179 deduction might just tip the balance in your favor.
  2. Take advantage of year-end price reductions. Manufacturers and service providers need to look good to their investors at year’s end. It’s a great time of year to bargain for the best deal.

  3. Leverage your savings with smart financing. Taking advantage of an equipment lease or equipment finance agreement could turn out to be the most profitable business decision you’ll make this year. How? By combining a properly structured equipment lease or equipment financing agreement with a full Section 179 deduction, your cash outlay for the year will very likely be less than your deduction.

Plus, your business can start profiting immediately from the new equipment, software or services you invest in.

AND, in the spirit of saving you money, we’ll GIVE YOU XX FREE MONTHS of our [MANAGED SERVICE PLAN] when you upgrade your network with us.

Disclaimer: Everyone’s tax situation is different. Consult with your own tax professionals for specific advice.

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