Given the soft commercial real estate market, you might be considering a move. Upgrade to a bigger, better office for the same price as your current lease, or pick a smaller, cheaper space to weather economic conditions. Either way, you've got to get your hardware to the new office, and the cheapest mover might end up costing more in the long term. Here's how to find a good company.
Learn the basics. Visit the Protect Your Move website for an overview on what to do and avoid. Especially navigate to the state page; depending on where you live, you might find a link to a regional website with specific state rules.
Check the license. Armed with those details and phone numbers, verify that a mover is currently licensed. If you're trying to make the move with a cheap connection on Craigslist or a brokering site, such as CityMove, be sure the company is licensed. If not, you're more likely to fall into scams where it'll be surprisingly cheap for the company to load gear into the truck, but it'll cost extra if you want them to deliver it to the new office.
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Apple may have rejected the Google Voice app from the App Store, but BlackBerry owners can tap into this call-management center right now, getting better organized with free features.
Google Voice gives you a single phone number and tools to forward incoming calls to any line you want. So no matter where you are—in a taxi, at a satellite office away from your regular desk, staying in a hotel, or anywhere—that single number can ring those destinations at the same time. You just answer wherever you happen to be.
You'll normally control the service from a web browser, but the Google Voice BlackBerry app manages everything from anywhere. In addition to changing your incoming call preferences, you can directly access voicemail recordings and transcripts of those messages. You can send SMS messages from the Google Voice number and place outgoing calls.
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You might be able to skip a costly website design by choosing an off-the-shelf template. Small businesses can take the most advantage of this option, since they likely lack the entrenched website infrastructure of large companies. But those big business might still want to try themes for a tech-savvy HR person to run an internal newsletter website or other inward-pointing situations.
ThemeForest is one of the many sites to sell theme templates. This site's authors upload themes, and you pick from more than 1,000. Technically, the themes work in several situations, including plain HTML, Flash-based, or WordPress sites.
You'll download the theme, make any simple alterations--such as adding a company logo--and install it on a server. Most themes are for the WordPress CMS, but many work with others, including Joomla, Drupal, and Blogger. You can even get great-looking Photoshop and HTML templates.
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If you still haven't built a backup plan because of hardware costs, shirk those fees, and focus on an online service. You'll pay a monthly fee instead of hundreds or thousands of dollars up front, scaling up service across as many systems as you need.
One backup service, MozyPro, offers a few features aimed at small businesses. Like most services, Mozy automatically encrypts data and transfers it over a secure connection. After you make the initial upload, it'll monitor for changes, building incremental backups to save upload time. And it'll work on Windows and Mac operating systems, including Windows servers.
Businesses with little--or no--IT support will appreciate the console to control backups across many networked computers. You'll schedule backups on an interval that makes sense for your business. You can even throttle the upload bandwidth so that you don't slow down other online work.
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Your phone system could be costly and dumb. Can you dynamically route calls to different numbers, even ringing them all at the same time? Can you place VoIP calls from a computer, dedicated handset, or even iPhone software? Can people call your home number while you're traveling internationally, costing both of you nothing if answered through VoIP? A nimble, online-based phone system can tackle all of these situations.
Google Voice is a great tool, but it's mostly aimed at individuals. An alternative, Sipgate, provides service for many people at a company, scaling from a few to 100. You'll manage everything from a website, even able to share voice messages and call recordings.
Employees get virtual phone lines, adding incoming numbers and routing those calls to whichever mobile phone or physical lines are nearby. And individuals can control their own settings, too, updating the service to ring a hotel room on the road, or otherwise connect to their physical location.
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If you treat Microsoft Word like a typewriter, you're not taking advantage of its time-saving features. Sure, it's easy to lose track of the seemingly endless Office abilities and just concentrate on the text. I know I do. But one simple example--AutoCorrect--can constantly save you a little time, making you a faster typist and helping you get more done.
Like T9 texting on mobile phones, AutoCorrect uses your shorthand to expand common words or phrases. Start by identifying things that you commonly enter in your industry, then add them to Word's preferences.
I'm always typing tech terms, so I save keyboard strokes by expanding "nb" to "netbook" or "dt" to "desktop." For this example, I'll show how to turn "PCW" into "PC World."
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Almost all applications hold secrets, from simple tools that sleekly cram hidden abilities, to giant, bloatware suites that shovel in a new pile of features every year. How can you keep up with your software? Online, video-training resource, Lynda.com, hosts hundreds of lessons on hundreds of programs. The nominal amount you'll spend there could pay you back in improved productivity, as your workers become proficient at all of their applications.
While Lynda.com even includes operating system basics to help with Windows and OS X, I like the range and depth of lessons that are based on software programs. Nearly every application that I use is represented; check the list to see if yours are covered. Even Twitter and other trending software is included.
Lessons often total one to many hours of video for each program, broken into several-minute chunks. You can follow along with your own version of the program and Lynda.com's tutorial files. Some of the introductory clips seemed too simple (for me), but this chapter-driven approach lets you jump to tips that match your abilities.
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