Strategic Planning Services for Small Businesses

Strategic planning services are commonly utilized by large corporations to define the organization’s goals and create clear decision-making guidelines for the allocation of corporate resources. However, even for the smallest business, having an effective strategic plan can drive profitability and growth in the company’s future.

Small business owners may be tempted to sit down at a computer and draft a strategic plan by themselves. However, there are many reasons to consider hiring strategic planning services for your small business to give you the best competitive edge in your market. Consider the following factors before deciding if a planning service is right for your company.

Ability to Perform or Subcontract Research Resources

Strategic planning services specialize in business planning and have strategists and researchers on staff. Even smaller services will have extensive networks of other researchers and resources available to them at a fraction of the cost and effort it would take you as an individual to obtain.

Services can provide invaluable market intelligence relevant to your niche that is gathered and analyzed by specialists specifically for the purpose of providing you with accurate decision-making tools. This can guide your strategies for market penetration and development.

A service’s established network gives them an exclusive ability to conduct organization purpose programs that survey large populations to establish powerful and meaningful customer-driven purpose statements. By focusing on what your market base perceives to be your contribution to society, you can move away from tired product or service oriented purpose to truly motivate and inspire.

Strategic Planners Are Excellent Communicators

Of course, every small business owner is probably a good communicator, but professional strategic planners have an education and experience background specific to the success of business strategies.

A well-rounded service can provide meeting facilitation to help guide you and your decision makers through the process of establishing the important components of your plan. They can keep you focused, motivated, and on track. Once you have established your business goals, experts can assist you in writing, disseminating, and following through on the plan.

Strategic specialists will review your company architecture and recommend appropriate changes and information flow systems to keep you moving strategically, no matter how many employees you have. They provide the critical structure of the strategy’s rollout and articulate those visions and goals in a meaningful way to all of your staff.

No matter what size your business may be, a strong strategic plan is a key part of your business’ future success and brand integrity. While a service may cost in the short-term, the benefits could mean large profits and growth for your business. To learn more, please visit TeamWorks Management for additional information, resources and references.

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Why You Many Need to Use Finance Recruiters to Climb the Corporate Ladder

Many people have chosen to pursue a lucrative career in finance, and for most of these individuals, securing entry level finance jobs served as a starting point for their career. However, as time advances, you may have gotten considerable experience in your finance position, and you may have gained new and valuable skills. Your skills, education and experience may all be put to better use with new finance jobs designed for experienced professionals. More than that, your new skillset may enable you to qualify for more income and benefits than you currently have access to. While some individuals may choose to wait for their employer to promote them, there may be considerable benefit associated with using finance recruiters to help you achieve your career objectives.

Obtain Faster Results
You can work with non-specific finance recruiters, or you may work with recruiters that specialize in a specific area of finance. For example, there are accounting recruitment agencies that specialize in helping accounting professionals find jobs. Regardless of the type of finance recruiters you work with, however, you may expect to land a new position more quickly. After all, it may be many long months or even years before your current employer promotes you. When you want faster results, a recruiter can help.

Open Your Eyes to More Opportunities
When you wait for your employer to promote you, you are limiting yourself only to the available openings in your company. However, there may be benefits associated with looking outside your employer at more opportunities. When you work with a recruiter, you can tell him or her exactly what you are looking for in a new job, and he or she will actively search job boards and openings to find the position that is a best fit for you. In addition, through a recruiter’s efforts, you may be able to obtain the income and benefits that you can demand given your current skillset level and experience.

Find the Right Position for Your Future Career Goals
Consider that your next job will provide you with additional skills and experience that may position you to climb the ladder further to achieve your ultimate career objective. The next job that your employer provides to you through a promotion may not be ideal for this goal. Look for opportunities that allow you to grow in your profession by working with finance recruiters.

After you have been working in an entry level position in finance for more than a year or two, it makes sense to begin exploring your options. By discreetly working with The Mason Group, you can more easily expand your horizons and achieve your goals.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Cutting-edge Methods of System Integration Testing


In the quest to improve the efficiency of their products and satisfy a tech-savvy population that is always asking for more, software developers are working harder than ever before. The result is increased complexity and intertwining of applications together with numerous devices and platforms. Therefore, there is an increasing need for stronger system integration testing methods which is intended to ensure proper interactions between different components that make up a software system.

There are various different ways of achieving application quality assurance. They usually involve many processes ranging from testing of individual modules to specialized software testing forms such as performance and security. In addition, there is integration testing which ensures that an entire system has met specified requirements and can, therefore, operate successfully in the environment it is intended for.

Functional Software Testing

There are various stages of functional testing. In unit testing, individual software components of an application are tested. On the other hand, system integration testing ensures that components that have already passed through unit testing can perform certain tasks when brought together.

After system integration testing, the entire system is tested for bugs and errors. This is known as system testing. Software and hardware components of the entire system are interfaced before they are tested as a whole to ensure that they meet the user’s expectation and working conditions.

The final part of functional software testing is known as acceptance testing. The aim of conducting it is making sure that all requirements of the product’s project have been met. The end users ensure that the system works according to their expectations.

Performance, Load and Stress Software Testing

Performance testing involves many processes intended to meet different requirements. For instance, software may be tested to determine how it behaves when it subjected to an increasing load. The aim is to ensure that the system can perform efficiently at given response times when under its expected load. Stress testing involves determining the point at which the system fails when subjected to excess load.

When a system is tested for security and vulnerability, the aim is usually to ensure that it meets confidentially, authentication, integration non-repudiation and availability. On the other hand, usability testing seeks to look at the interests of the end-user. It involves ensuring ease of accessibility of product forms, including efficiency, memorability, learnability, satisfaction and errors. Compatibility testing ensures that the application is compatible with certain operating systems, web browsers, mobile devices, hardware platforms and other programs.


With increased innovation efforts in the software development industry, system integration testing has become as important as the software itself. When conducting software testing, you should ensure that you have the right Detail Design document which clearly details interactions between each unit. In addition, use automated testing whenever it is possible. For those of you interested, there is more information available at QA Consultants.

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Building a Large Customer Base with Lead Generation Software

When someone is interested in buying from your company but has not yet made the decision, he or she is known as a lead. It is your responsibility to learn more about them in order to qualify them as potential clients or not. However, qualification of potential clients is not easy since you need to conduct in-depth research and evaluation. Luckily, the availability of lead generation software enables you to efficiently generate and nurture your leads.

Automation of B2B marketing is one of the best services you can do to your business. If all the other of its benefits won’t appeal to you, its time saving capabilities will certainly do. Once you put it in operation, you can dedicate the rest of your time to other business endeavors.

Security Agent Black Circle  Semi-automatic Lead Generation Software

If you have never automated your lead generation, you can always begin by going half-way. For this, you need to put certain tools into use. Your aim should be to greatly reduce the time spent on picking out your leads and nurturing them.

It is recommended that you contract a freelancer who will help you draw up a list of potential leads on a website. While you can request the freelancer to provide as many contacts as possible, it is advisable to start with a small number. This enables you to gauge the competence of the freelancer and determine whether you should revise your profile.

The next step is creating an email template. Its main purpose is contacting the leads when you feel that the list is good enough to start. It is advisable to allow for personalization of the emails.

Security Agent Black Circle  Full Automatic Lead Generation

To get the full benefits of automated lead generation, go full-steam. If you are not well-versed in the use of lead generation software, it is advisable that you contract a virtual assistant to handle for you the first cold emails by finding a list of prospective leads, writing the emails and sending them to the prospects. You can always instruct your assistant to seek your approval in every step of the email lead generation process.

Choosing to go fully automatic is a big commitment. Therefore, don’t be in much of a hurry when picking your virtual assistant. Remember that he or she will be responsible for handling your first leads including visitor tracking of your website. In that case, you need an exemplary job.

Security Agent Black Circle  Bottom Line

Whether you choose semi-automatic or fully automatic lead generation software, the whole point is saving time while getting the best results out of your efforts. The saved time can be spent working out and implementing business growth strategies. For maximum benefit, hire a firm whose specialty is B2B marketing through lead generation. Thus, you won’t have to worry about unsuitable or unfruitful prospects. Visit Clickback for more information and resources.

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Common DNS Security Issues

Domain name servers translate human-read web website addresses into numerical internet protocols. DNS security is usually the top priority when setting up online networks.

Common DNS Security Issues

Sometimes, a domain name might appear to be private because they are sent using an HTTPS instead of an HTTP protocol. However, malicious masking or mirroring a domain can spoof a person into clicking on a link that later results in the download of malware. Other actions such as unauthorised redirection of one domain to another could also result in the same problem – security threats to computer users.

Registrar hacking is another common security issue. If a domain name and hosting account is accessed by someone else, that individual can make IP address changes. A domain, email and name server could be accessed by IP locations not originally assigned by a legitimate registrar. Thus, all important data is moved elsewhere and falls into the hands of identity thieves.

Sometimes, hackers can also use similar-sounding domain names to steal information from people. This particularly is the case when setting up catch-all email accounts. In a scenario like this, the setup of malicious emails typically results in unlawful information retrieval. This takes place as misguided email recipients replied to what they think is the “real” domain of a popular website or local business. However similar to the original company the misspelled name might sound, it might be set up by a hacker.

How to Address Security Problems

Network technicians can use precautions when working with DNS applications. For instance, it is recommended that Windows DNS users configure their networks to prevent cache pollution. Another common way to protect cloud data from hacking is to set a firewall to accept queries that only come from caching-only forwarders.

In addition, DNS system folders and subfolders can be set to only allow administrator access on a Windows machine. Disabling primary and secondary DNS zone transfers also will help because it prevents just anyone to make a query that could send domains to a malicious location.

Similar DNS security options are also available for Macintosh, Linux and other operating systems. In addition, various DNS resolvers and advertisers also limits who can make queries on specific IP addresses. This might not work for all publically accessed domains. However, some of these precautions would benefit companies who have work spaces set up in an internal cloud environment. More information can be found by visiting BlueCat.

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Guide To Using The Windows Store

If you have a desktop, laptop or tablet powered by Microsoft Windows 8 or higher, you have a great advantage in terms of getting apps and software. The Windows Store is Microsoft’s answer to the iTunes App Store and Google Play; it offers many options for users to improve their devices with great software.

Third-party apps greatly extend the utility of Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Unlike Google Play for Android, every app that you find in the Windows Store has been vetted by Microsoft, which means you will not run into the risk of installing malicious code or an app that will cause your system to crash unexpectedly.

Launching the Windows Store

From your Windows device, simply click on or tap the Start Menu and select the Windows Store icon, which looks like a shopping bag. Alternatively, you can also issue a voice command to the Cortana virtual assistant: “Launch Windows Store.”

You will have to sign into the Windows Store with your Microsoft Account. In case you purchased a new device and do not have an account yet, it is as easy as setting up an Outlook email account.

Browsing and Searching the Windows Store

Once you are logged into the shopping section, you will see the Home section, which shows you new items and suggestions that are made based on your activity and preferences. Aside from apps, you can also find games, movies, television series, and music.

Browsing is as easy as clicking or tapping the categories and scrolling or swiping through the offerings. If you are looking for something specific, you can always enter keywords into the search bar on the top right of the screen. For example, if you are looking for Canadian apps, you can search for “Canada;” however, you will not have to do this too often since the Windows Store is intuitive and will detect your geographic location to show you relevant apps and content.

Purchasing and Installing Content

Once you see an app, game, movie, television show, or music track you are interested in, click it or tap it once to get more information and to read user reviews. A good amount of content is free to install, but it may also be supported by advertising; if this is the case, the information will state so. If you have not yet set up a payment option, you will be able to do so before your first purchase.

Customising the Windows Store Experience

If you choose Settings from the drop-down menu in the Home screen, you will be able to adjust certain options for your account that will make your shopping experience more enjoyable. You can also add other Windows devices such as smartphones from this screen.

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Microsoft 2010 Security Updates and Product Support

Microsoft Office 2010 is still relevant at least until October 13, 2020 for Service Pack 2. This, however, is for people who have extended support, and it depends upon the product life cycle. In any case, knowing how long you can receive help for this software tells you if security updates are available.

Determining an Office Product Life Cycle

Sometimes, it can be confusing to find out if you can still receive security updates for your product. However, Microsoft will announce when the support for certain products is to end. Therefore, you should not have to worry about receiving assistance when you need it.

Usually, looking on the “Microsoft Support Lifecycle” chart helps. For instance, it says that the Office Service Pack 2 product life cycle started in July of 2013.

In addition, the chart indicates that support ends after the product’s lifecycle or 12 months after the product’s support lifecycle. By the way, the lifecycle of most consumer or business software products is at least five years, or it is longer with extended support.

Available Security Related Updates

Many security updates are available on the second Tuesday of each month. These usually are provided for most of Microsoft’s product line including the Office suite. Following Patch Tuesday, some updates are retracted if a bug is detected. Then, new security patches are reintroduced.

Other Microsoft Updates

In addition to security patches, non-security updates are usually available on the first Tuesday of every month. Many of these are for Office products, and they sometimes include bug fixes or any other program repair that would improve this software’s performance.

Moreover, Microsoft offers many other updates in addition to the ones for Microsoft Office 2010. For instance, the Surface devices are constantly being upgraded with new firmware and other fixes. All month long, the need for additional product updates is randomly fulfilled.

New versions of Office, especially the latest versions of Office 365, also receive regular updates that are almost always online. This includes fixes for all versions of Outlook, and it also involves fixes for OneDrive, Access, Excel and other products.

The Future of Microsoft Office 2010

At some point, this version of Office will become obsolete just like some of the earlier versions. Many people, in fact, have already become accustomed to using the 2013 or 2016 versions. Most people nowadays are also storing work online as well as on removable storage for extra peace of mind.

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How to Improve Customer Service Levels as a Helpdesk?

The Huffington Post recently posted an article online describing precisely the main topics that global companies focus on when offering customer service. These topics include always-on, personalized, and faster services. Each service specifically impacts the way that the customer receives assistance and the level of efficiency of that assistance. One of the main techniques in providing all three of these services is utilizing both helpdesk software and remote support software.

Always-On Service

The idea of an ‘always-on’ service stems from the idea of a customer always being able to find help. By using a helpdesk software, businesses can offer customers access to large online knowledgebases that provide an instant, always available, source of information pertaining to the product. This also means that customer service agents should always be able to provide assistance to customers at any moment through their remote support software. A lot of companies are offering customers the opportunity to speak with their agents face-to-face with video calling programs, or through the ability to chat with an agent in a real-time text based application.

Personalized Service

Every customer wants to feel like someone special. Companies must offer a personalized experience for their customers in order for them to continue purchasing their services and products. This includes calling the customer by their names, asking them about their previous support tickets or purchases, and building rapport between the customer and the agent. In terms of customer service, this can all be achieved through comprehensive data and information being made readily available to the agent. The agent can then see if this particular customer has had the same issues before, requested similar assistant, or is a long-time patron of the business.

Faster Service

One of the more frustrating moments of trying to get assistances from a company can definitely be the ‘hold’ time. In fact, companies have entire customer service policies to handle customers that have had to wait on hold for an ‘unusually’ long time, which means they don’t have a system in place to give customers the instantaneous service they need. There are certain proactive choices that a business can make, like choosing to use helpdesk software or giving their agents remote support software, that will allow customers to not only connect with an agent quickly, but the agent will also be able to help that customer or direct them to a support article in the knowledgebase much more quickly.
In the end, there is an obvious choice the companies have when they decide which tools their customer service agents should have at their disposal. Companies that utilize knowledgebases, community forums, helpdesk support, and remote software connections will empower the customer. Plus, agents will be able to offer personalize, fast, and always available support, which the top companies consider the most important challenges that customer services face!

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Why Canadian Realtors Should Choose Direct Mail Marketing

Realtor marketing comes in various flavors these days; from social media updates to email marketing and from website banners to Google AdSense. What about traditional methods such as billboards, commercial radio spots and direct mail marketing?

Real estate agent marketing does not have to be confined to the online world. Although most realtor marketing these days is conducted almost exclusively on the Internet, real estate professionals who still use direct mail marketing are bound to get an edge over their competitors.

Putting Direct Mail Marketing Into Perspective

As recently as 2014, a Pitney Bowes survey among North American households revealed that more than 80 percent of residential tenants check their snail mailbox on a daily basis, and half of them indicated that they actually enjoy this activity.

The most interesting statistic of the aforementioned survey is that 73 percent of households queried explained that they prefer receiving promotional materials via direct mail instead of in their email.

Canadians associate direct mail marketing with services that are traditionally related to the household; to this effect, pressure washing, roof repair and auto oil changes come to mind. Canadians have also come to expect getting mail from realtors, particularly those with whom they are already familiar with.

A Personalized Message

Direct mail is ideal for realtor marketing because the real estate industry thrives on referrals. To get referrals, Canadian realtors need to stay in touch with their client base so that they are always on their minds. Email does not work well in this regard, and social media tends to lack the personal touch.

In recent years, Canada Post has conducted a branding campaign to remind consumers that text messages and other modern communications do not have the same warmth that snail mail has always been known for. The two main factors creating this warmth are: human involvement and personalization.

Successful Canadian realtors know that their direct mail campaigns should go beyond postcards that offer their services or that show the last home sold in the neighborhood. The idea is to create a mailing that is useful and interesting to the recipients; something that is likely to end up on the fridge.

Compiling a list of important telephone numbers is a traditional, yet very effective, marketing idea. Such numbers will come in very handy when the power or Internet service are out, so it is important to include information about those public utilities.

A guide to local restaurants, particularly those that offer home delivery, is another neat idea that direct mail recipients can appreciate. In the end, the goal is to associate the work put into creating the mailer with a realtor who actually cares about the community he or she sells to. There are additional resources at Morris Real Estate Marketing Group, which may help you learn more information.

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Three Situations That Call for Quick Cash Loans

In a perfect world, no one needs fast cash loans because everyone has an emergency savings account filled with enough money to support them and their families for at least six months. But here — in the real world — things aren’t always so simple or ideal. Many of us struggle to get from paycheck to paycheck with no extra money for savings that aren’t going toward one particular goal but an “unknown” potential need.

It’s in this real world that many of us turn to quick cash loans and cash loans online to help us get through sticky financial situations. Let’s take a look at three real-world situations that might result in the need for fast cash loans.

A Car Breakdown

If you want money to pay the bills, then you need to get to work. In order to get to work, you probably need to have reliable transportation, which for many people means having a car. When this form of reliable transportation breaks down and there’s no one who can give you a ride to and from work, you need cash loans online in order to pay for the repair and get yourself to and from work on time.

A Major Appliance Breakdown

Everyone knows that if you’re trying to save money, you can’t eat dinner out every night. That means that certain appliances in your home, such as your fridge or stove, are required in order to find affordable ways to feed your family. When your fridge or stove break down and a repair is not possible or is too expensive, then quick cash loans could be exactly what you need to get your affordable food tools back in working order.

Your Home Needs Repair … or Else

We all have certain home repairs that we’d like to have done but which are not necessarily required in order to keep our homes safe and sturdy. But sometimes, like when you have termites, roof leaks, or malfunctioning electrical systems, the home repairs need to be done as soon as possible or they will lead to even worse — and more expensive — problems. When this is the case, turning to quick cash loans can be the solution that allows you to make repairs and prevent even further damage.

Fast cash loans aren’t an appropriate tool for every situation, but they can definitely help out when times are dire. They can help you stay employed, feed your family healthy food less expensively, and they can keep your home safe. They’re definitely worth looking into when times get hard. Find more online information and resources at the Lendgreen website.

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