Online Invoicing Made Simple

On January 27, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Did you start your business because you love paperwork? Probably not, unless you’re an accountant of course. Probably, you started your business because you love the work, product, or service you sell. As a business owner, however, you can’t disregard the paperwork that comes along with owning your own business. The financial side of a business is crucial and the proper invoicing of your clients means cash in the bank and happy clients.

Invoicing help online

Online invoicing services are plentiful these days that make the financial side of business a lot more manageable. Online services make the daunting task of paperwork much quicker.  Depending on the service you employ, the communication to the client can also be automatic! Let’s check out some of the most respected online invoicing services available:

A free but powerful invoicing service

First, let’s look at a zero cost system: BillingBoss. Needless to say its biggest advantage is that it is 100% free, but that doesn’t mean it’s not impressive. Most small businesses will be pleased with BillingBoss’s capacity to automatically invoice customers on a monthly basis and send once-off invoices for more abnormal clients.

A power tool

AcceptPay isn’t free. It costs $30 a month, but it’s a powerful program. Offered by American Express, AcceptPay works with QuickBooks, will accept online payments, and of course, offers you an array of options when it comes to sending out invoices and collecting payments. The $30 expense is a small price to pay for such a effective online invoicing tool.

Invoicing for the tech-savvy

If you’d like more control over your online invoicing, you might think about downloading BambooInvoice. This is another free service. What sets it apart, though, is that small business owners host it on their own servers, not in the cloud. Because it’s an open source program, tech-savvy entrepreneurs can customize it to fit their business’s unique needs.

These are only a few of the available options online. Most services are free or extremely cost-effective. If you need to take the reigns on your invoicing process, think about using an online solution.


Microsoft introduces real-time threat feed

On January 25, 2012, in Uncategorized, by cdeal

It looks as if Microsoft is ready to do its part to discourage cyber crimes. Microsoft plans to offer real-time feeds that partners can use to study possible cyber threats and take the proper steps to bolster their defenses against these attacks.

Microsoft has already had success in taking down botnets. By doing this, the company collects an abundance of useful data about the threats that these botnets pose. The procedure works like this: Microsoft essentially swallows the botnets. This, in turn, sends botnet-infected hosts to addresses that are under Microsoft’s control. This captures the infected hosts and takes them offline.

Microsoft is now able to gather threat information and share it with ISPs, government agencies, private companies, and CERTs. The impact of such a move by Microsoft can be dramatic. Analysts point out that while a real-time threat feed won’t lower the number of attacks, it will help information security professionals respond to these threats more quickly. This could limit the amount of damage brought on by these attacks.

Microsoft’s live threat feed may have a much more important impact: It could lead the information security industry to share more data. For too long, companies have hesitated to share important security information that they fear can result in a copycat attack. This is a mistaken belief as cyber criminals are already exchanging information between themselves. It’s a good idea, therefore, for security professionals to also share real-time information.

The IT industry has for too long regarded the sharing of the specifics of a cyber attack an invitation for a copycat attack. Hopefully Microsoft’s first small steps toward a much more connected IT security force will take root and that sharing data and information is a more sensible choice than secrecy.


Cloud Security: Whose Responsibility Is It? Part 1

On January 18, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

The benefits of storing information in the cloud are numerous. Backing up important data, creating more space on your servers, and having your information easily available to your employees are just a few. If you’ve been looking into this route, you most likely have many questions about the security of the cloud. If your company handles sensitive information that belongs to your customers you may need to stay compliant with HIPAA, PCI or Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.

Do cloud storage solutions follow these regulations? Are they required to? If they haven’t spelled it out in their privacy policies, it is safest to assume they are not compliant. We will explore this more below.


Cloud security has become an important issue lately, as increasing numbers of companies turn to online storage solutions, looking for greater simplicity, scalability and affordability. Yet the cost in both money and reputation for improper handling of customer data can be quite high indeed. If your business needs to comply to key regulations associated with patient privacy (HIPAA), credit card security (PCI) or the finance-sector strictures of Sarbanes-Oxley, it can be hard to find out if a service complies with these important restrictions.

Who is responsible

Whose responsibility is the security of the cloud? It’s not presently required that a service provider be specific about their compliance with these regulations. While the safest option is to assume that if they haven’t clearly stated that they are in compliance in their privacy policy, they are not. This might mean that cloud computing is not for you. However, if your business does not require tight regulations, then the benefits of cloud computing could be an excellent solution for you. 

Currently there is no law in place that requires a company to divulge these details. Cloud computing services can save your company money while improving efficiency, but they could also risk noncompliance with privacy laws. This leaves the risk on your shoulders and it is up to you to weigh the benefits and threats for yourself. The topic of cloud security will probably be one of much debate in coming years. At the present time, the right road to travel is the one which best meets your company’s unique needs.


Disasters can happen to any company and they come in many forms and severities. They could be anything from a natural disaster, to a well-meaning employee accidently downloading a dangerous virus, to something crucial getting mistakenly deleted. These what-ifs can keep you up at night, so for your own peace of mind develop a disaster recovery plan.

Decide What’s Important

First off, figure out what data is the most essential to get your company back up and running. What information must be backed up and saved and what can you afford to lose? This should help you determine what you have to back up. Choosing an online provider or storing your data in the cloud can be the best way to ensure you can recover your data quickly.

Make a Plan

Next, decide what steps have to be taken to restore that data that is lost if a disaster strikes? What data and systems must be up and running first? Start with the worst possible scenario and determine what’s needed.

Know Your Workflows

I’m sure you have a general understanding of the way your company is run, but knowing each and every process is virtually impossible. That’s why you have employees. Have your employees document their workflows so that any team member can execute the tasks in case of an emergency.

Decide Who is in Charge

Many people panic when disaster strikes. To make sure the panic doesn’t make things even worse, put someone that has helped you create the plan in charge of executing your data recovery plan. This way you are available to reassure everyone and oversee the company and you can be the strong leader your employees need in time of crisis.

People often think disasters can’t happen to them, but we never know what could happen in the future! So it’s important to have a plan in place just in case. This will help put you and your employees at ease.


The Segway turned 10!

On January 11, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

It wasn’t that long ago that inventor Dean Kamen thought his two-wheeled personal transportation device, the Segway, would revolutionize transportation.  Sadly, the Segway has grown to be synonymous with technology failure.  Kamen imagined a future filled people zipping about on a Segway PT scooter to run errands and commute to work.

We are all aware that didn’t happen. The Segway is still around and it isn’t a completely uncommon site to see someone taking a Segway out for a “drive” in the park.  For a “failed” technology, that is a pretty impressive feat!

But just how do these two-wheeled scooters work? Electric motors hold the key.

Powering the Segway

The Segway PT is powered by electric motors.  Those motors are fueled by a series of lithium-ion batteries which are simply charged by a common household electrical socket. Five gyroscopic sensors, two tilt sensors, and two computers with specialty software keep the Segway from falling over.

Making the Segway Move

The user plays the largest role in making the Segway move. Simply by shifting your weight in the direction you need to go and moving the handlebars a little, the Segway’s sensors identify the change in balance point and react appropriately. The latest version of the Segway has a top speed of 12.5 MPH. For obvious reason, it performs best on flat surfaces.

Lowered Expectations

The device never did live up to its hype. Many technology specialists predicted that the Segway PT would become a bigger deal than the Internet. As a result, when company officials presented the first Segway scooter in December of 2001 in Manhattan, expectations soared.

Of course, we all know what happened. The Segway looked strange, and people looked strange riding it. That was enough to prevent the Segway from taking off as its promoters anticipated.


Manage your projects effectively with these online tools

On January 6, 2012, in Uncategorized, by Staff Contributor

Keeping track of your business’ projects along with multiple team members all over the country can be challenging. How can a small company keep track of this, make requests from those working offsite, share current information, and documentation and also assign new tasks?

Project management solutions

Luckily, for small businesses, there are a number of project management options.  These tools will provide assistance to keep projects on track, and employees and clients connected. Here are some of the top rated project management tools available:


Basecamp is still one of the most widely used online project management tools for entrepreneurs. There’s a simple reason behind this: It features an easily understood interface that lets you easily manage any of your small business projects. You can tap into the system to communicate with project managers, delegate new tasks, give your okay to submitted documents and marketing materials, or plan meetings. You can even enable your clients to access Basecamp to allow them to provide comments on the work that you and your team have already completed.


Quickbase has a lot to recommend it, not least of all the fact that the maker of Intuit business software is behind this program. Quickbase performs the same basic tasks as Basecamp. However, it provides a unique version of a simple interface and is equally useful for both large and small small businesses.


Huddle provides more opportunities for those businesses searching for a more creative tool.  It is renowned for its live-conferencing feature.  Huddle assists in keeping your creative team in contact at the click of a button.


Deskaway permits you to keep clients and employees up to date by using snapshots of a project’s progression. It has the functionality to generate and post blogs determined by individual projects as well as keep in contact about important updates easily.

Project management tools are consistently getting updates and new options are becoming available.  Each of these project management tools can give you ways to strengthen your business’ ability to maintain organization and create a great experience for your clients. Keep your eye out for the tool that will best suit your business’ needs.


We have been hearing about the paperless office for what may seem like years now, yet most office buildings today still depend on fax machines, copiers, and forests worth of paper documents. Is the paperless office just like the personal jet pack? Long promised but never delivered? The simple answer? No. The world is still moving toward paperless offices. It is simply taking more time than some would like.

The advantages of paper

As nice as it would be to have everything in digital format, paper is still useful. The main reason it’s still around is that paper is portable. It is simple to scribble a note and slip it into your pocket. Even the most eco-friendly offices still find uses for paper. If you’re an editor, you probably know how hard it is to edit a digital copy. Lots of people would rather proofread important documents in hard-copy format. It is sometimes easier to spot mistakes when the file is printed out.  

Less paper than ever

Paper has become less and less essential.  Quite a few past paper processes are now able to be performed on a computer. Team communication is managed via email. Even instant messaging has taken the place of paper notes to coworkers. Smartphones and tablets have taken over the dependence on a physical calendar/schedule system. If you take a look back at how far business has come in the past decade, it’s pretty clear that paper, while not fully obsolete, is no longer king.

The future

It’s obvious that offices of the future will rely on less paper than even we do now, but will paper ever really go the way of the milkman? Maybe. Some people still prefer having their milk delivered from a local dairy but most are content to pick it up from the store when they need it.

Paper will most likely go the same route and it will be a personal preference as to how much paper is consumed in the office. As many of our business processes rely on digital solutions, there will always be a select few who prefer good old-fashioned pen and paper.