Compucare Blog

SME Decision Makers & the Importance of “NO”

Clocks And Business Owner B

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” Steve Jobs

Every SME owner should know their core priorities. We must be able to maintain a strategic focus in order to arrive at our desired destination. Take the time to plan your mid and long-term projects. Break them down into short-term goals as well as daily to-do lists. When you know what’s on your plate – you are better equipped to judge the potential impact of adding extra slices of “opportunity” to it… If done consistently, over-committing (just like overeating) can cause high blood pressure, heart diseases, stress, frustration, etc.

The business world is a buffet of opportunities, but you don’t have to take them all just because they’re available.

Why not ask yourself the following questions prior to making a decision:  

  1. Is this opportunity in-line with my long-term vision? 
  1. Will this ‘yes’ delay or negatively impact my ongoing projects? 
  1. What’s the cost of this opportunity loss (can I afford to say “No”)? 
  1. Is this the right time – is it a “No” for now and a possible “Yes” later?

Having too much on your plate is not a sign of success. Over-committed businesses make plentiful mistakes (diminished service/product quality). The price of over-commitment can be high, and one should remember that costs aren’t always tangible (e.g. dedicated labour or refunds). What about those intangible costs? For instance: loss of brand reputation, customer dissatisfaction, dealing with complaints and issues that steal time which should be allocated to serving your clients and making money… Furthermore, remember that your time and resources are limited. If you say “Yes” to a so-so opportunity today you may have to say “No” to a Great Opportunity tomorrow.

Here are four things we believe an SME owner should say ‘No’ to: 

  1. Doing things your employees should be doing (pitching in all the time or micromanaging may seem harmless, but those minutes add up detracting from your bottom line;
  1. Clients who don’t respect your work and/or time e.g. consistently fail to pay (on time) or continue to ignore your professional advice and then blame you for the consequences;

Who are the people that make your organisation? Click here to read Business & People

  1. Taking on too many projects incl. collaborations, joint  ventures, ideas (yours and those of others)
  1. Usual everyday non-critical requests and demands placed on you by yourself or others.

Click here to get more tips on a Small Business Owner’s Work Life Balance

Besides the above mentioned, one must watch out for boredom and other emotional triggers (e.g. excitement stirred up by new ventures). A business owner’s schedule is bound to include some routine tasks which need to be completed over and over and over again… Timely, polite refusals are like healthy borders that protect your organisation from distractions. You cannot be everything to everyone – be selective and purposeful, so you can succeed and stay sane…

Stay true to your business’ vision and values. If you do, your organisation will be better positioned to flourish and your life (as well as work) will be more satisfying. “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn

If you’re not accustomed to saying “No” it may feel strange to do so at first. When that happens, just read this or a similar article again and don’t worry – practice makes perfect! Saying “No” when necessary doesn’t mean you’re selfish or lazy even though some might disagree (especially those who want to hear ‘Yes’). Pay no mind to temporary feelings of guilt (it’s just a feeling) and remember that ‘No’ is a complete sentence

Having said that, there may be a time when you’d prefer to offer an explanation. We shall post on this topic soon, so Please Subscribe Here to receive more valuable content in the future.

When you do, you will also receive a free Compucare cyber-security e-guide. It will give you and your team the knowledge you need to protect your organisation from malicious emails.

Say “Yes” to this offer! IT is worth it.

Compucare is an IT Support Provider based in London. We have been delivering reliable, personal and innovative IT support & services to SMEs and Charities for over 25 years.

Are you Happy with Your IT Support (or lack thereof)?

Be Happy

Here at Compucare, we understand that having the wrong IT Support Provider is not only more expensive in the long-term – it can make your team HATE  their jobs as well!

man hitting computer cartoon giff

Many of our clients decided to switch to Compucare due to horrible experiences with their Previous Providers. They’ve told us about:

Ridiculously long response times – having to wait days for a call back;
Wrong diagnoses made by untrained or inexperienced IT engineers;
– Disconnected customer services asking the same questions again & again!

Has this been your experience? Is it time to switch, maybe?

Our engineers are dedicated, experienced and Microsoft certified. As standard, we provide an immediate initial response – maximum 30 min call back time. If you happen to call us before we call you, we’ll give you answers rather than frustrate you with repetitive questions. Click Here to Read Our Clients’ Testimonials

The right IT Support Provider can help increase your team’s productivity as well as lower your overall costs. IT also significantly lowers the risk of a Cyber Security breach  which poses an existential threat to a smaller organisation.

So… can we be Your IT Hero? 

Get in touch if you’re looking for an IT Support Provider who gets IT

E-mail: sales@compucaresystems.co.uk

Or call: 0800 008 6181

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) comes into effect on the 25th of May 2018 radically changing our approach to processing personal data. With less than six months remaining, we know you’re in the midst of GDPR preparations updating and/or replacing the ways in which you collect, process or control personally identifiable data. We hope this article helps to ease this process by answering some of your probing IT (GDPR related) questions.

Europe Flag

What is Personal Data? Definition 
(Source: CNIL Website)

“According to the law, personal data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable individual; an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number (e.g. social security number) or one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity (e.g. name and first name, date of birth, biometrics data, fingerprints, DNA…)”

Other Examples of Personally Identifiable Data Include:

  • Email Address
  • Medical Information
  • Bank Details
  • IP Address
  • Cultural Identity
  • National Insurance Number, etc.

Your IT hardware, software, processes and strategies are key to ensuring your sensitive data remains protected. As an experienced IT Support Provider, Compucare can identify IT threats and ensure your systems are resilient in the light of GDPR requirements. We can support your organisation in such key areas as: data encryption, data backup, firewall, anti-virus and other security services, breach notifications and more.

When GDPR becomes effective organisations must be able to discover, manage and share data belonging to their customers, employees, donors, etc. The above mentioned individuals will be entitled to require answers relating to how much information you hold about them and how it’s being used. Most likely, you’re already using certain IT solutions which can assist your organisation in discovering, managing, protecting and reporting data. For example, it is a legal requirement that all organisations create procedures to limit who has got access to shared files hosted on various platforms e.g. Dropbox or SharePoint. However, please contact us if you’re not sure what IT solutions you already have, or may need to put in place by the 25th of May 2018.

Additional IT (GDPR related) Tips for Your Organisation

  • Make sure your staff are adequately trained:

From an IT compliance perspective, your employees must be able to recognise some of the main threats and/or data breaches. Quite often, breaches occur due to employee errors, hence staff need to be sufficiently educated.  Please subscribe Right Here and receive our free “How to Spot a Malicious Email” Guide.

  • Take advantage of strong passwords:

If your passwords are easy to guess, your systems will be open to data breaches. Make use of upper and lower case letters, numbers and/or symbols when creating passwords.

  • Encrypt all portable devices:

Make sure all portable devices (such as memory sticks, tablets, laptops) used to store personal information are encrypted.

Lastly, we want to encourage you to get in touch with Compucare, so we can review your IT support plan helping you align with GDPR requirements. Having said that, even if you’re already GDPR compliant, this might be a good time to review your cyber security status. Please refer to our recent blog post: Are SMEs too Small to become Cyber Attack Victims? 

Email!

Our inboxes function in a world riddled with viruses, ransom-ware and malware. It would be great if every malicious attempt came with a clear warning, but they don’t. The warnings tend to be more subtle. Yet, they become more obvious if you know what to look out for.

It is cheaper to teach your staff how to spot malicious attempts than to deal with consequences of a successful cyber-attack via e-mail. We created a simple guide to help you stay safe in cyber-space. Please share it with your team and encourage them to read it. This guide consists of 7 simple steps which will help you identify a malicious email. Be encouraged. You don’t need to be an IT expert to be able to do that.

Click Here to Subscribe & Receive your Free Guide Now.

 

it support for charities

You Can Help Your IT Support Provider Protect Your Organisation

As part of the National Cyber Security Program, a qualitative research with UK registered charities was carried out in February and May 2017. The research was commissioned by the UK Government (DCMS) – it aimed to explore the charities’ experiences, awareness and attitudes around cyber security. 

Some participants assumed cyber security was more of an issue for businesses than for charitable organisations. However, the research has highlighted that CHARITIES ARE AS SUSCEPTIBLE TO INDISCRIMINATE CYBER-ATTACKS AS BUSINESSES. It has also shown that “there is a need for basic awareness raising among staff and trustees, and upskilling of those responsible for cyber security – so they know the basic technical controls they can put in place.” Cyber Security Among Charities, Ipsos Mori.

Most charities recognized the potential danger of losing funds or personal data of donors and/or service users. These were typically seen as existential threats heightening the importance of being cyber secure. By contrast, however, the loss of non-personal (day to day) data was less of a concern. Some charities did not realize the potential negative impact on organizational continuity if non-personal data files were lost.

You might be aware of major ransom-ware attacks affecting establishments across the globe, recently. In the UK, 61 NHS organisations were significantly disrupted by global attacks carried out in May 2017. Ukraine was one of the first to report issues, and it’s been reported that some of the attacks had nothing to do with money – they were actually designed to cause maximum damage. Essentially, whatever their motivation, cyber-attacks create chaos in affected organisations. The research by Ipsos Mori came across examples of charities that had to spend a considerable amount of time getting their data restored after they had incurred cyber security breaches where non-personal data files were lost. For a small charity, an attack of this kind (or any other) can be especially difficult to overcome. Having said that, the good news is that most of them can be prevented!

Prevention is always better than cure. Continue reading this article to find out how to avoid  having to report frequent cyber security breaches to Your IT Support Provider.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR ORGANISATION

The most recent mega-virus, justifiably called ‘WannaCry’, infects only machines running Windows operating systems. If your charity uses Windows, and you do not update it regularly or you’re not careful when opening and reading emails, you could be at risk. We strongly recommend that you migrate away from unsupported operating systems and software as well. On that note, Outlook 2007 will reach its end of life on the 10th of October 2017. The product will no longer be supported by Microsoft. Failing to upgrade before it expires will make you more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Click here to read more about Outlook’s 2007 End of Life, or get in touch for more information.

Ransom-ware attacks disrupt IT systems by freezing users’ computers and demanding untraceable ransoms to be paid for files’ restoration. In order to protect your organisation (outside of having sufficient IT Support for charities):

  • Run regular updates, migrate in due time;
  • Use firewalls and antivirus software;
  • Be careful when opening and reading emails: train your staff to do the same.

Moreover, regularly back-up your data, so you can easily restore your files should you be affected. Bear in mind that succumbing to hackers’ demands doesn’t guarantee files’ restoration.

Cyber-security may be a virtual issue, but when ignored it is extremely likely to threaten affected charities’ physical existence.

If you believe your current security measures aren’t sufficient to protect your organisation feel free to get in touch. We have been helping our clients (70% of which are charities) to prevent and deal with cyber security issues for over 21 years!

Do what you can to stay safe in cyber-space, or get in touch if you need OUR help.

E-mail sales@compucaresystems.co.uk or call 0800 008 6181 now.

Alternatively, please subscribe via e-mail RIGHT HERE to receive more valuable content in the future.

Cyber Threat HackerReportedly, UK SMEs were targeted by hackers over 200.000 times each, in 2016.

Cyber-crime is a real threat, which often goes unrecognized by small business owners. Hackers know it is so, hence often pick SMEs expecting them to be an easier target. You might think your business is too small to be at risk. However, if you have sufficient quality data e.g. clients’ contact info, payment details, etc. you’re not too small. 

You might be aware of recent major ransom-ware attacks affecting companies across the globe. British advertising agency WPP was reported to be among the affected UK companies. 61 NHS organisations were significantly disrupted by global ransom-ware attacks carried out in May 2017. Firms in Ukraine were one of the first to report ransom-ware issues, and BBC UK continues to report on cyber-attacks experienced by Ukraine. It is said that those attacks were not about money – instead they were Russia’s attempts to destabilise the country. Whatever their motivation, however, global and local cyber-attacks create chaos in affected organisations – both large and small. What’s really frustrating is that most of them can be prevented.

The most recent mega-virus, justifiably called ‘WannaCry’, infects only machines running Windows operating systems. If your organisation uses Windows, and you do not update it regularly or you’re not careful when opening and reading emails, you could be at risk. We strongly recommend that you migrate away from unsupported operating systems and software as well. On that note, Outlook 2007 will reach its end of life on the 10th of October 2017. The product will no longer be supported by Microsoft. Failing to upgrade before it expires will make you more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Click here to read more about Outlook’s 2007 End of Life, or get in touch for more information.

Ransom-ware attacks disrupt IT systems by freezing users’ computers and demanding untraceable ransoms to be paid for files’ restoration.

In order to protect your organisation (outside of having sufficient IT Support):

  • Run regular updates, migrate in due time;
  • Use firewalls and antivirus software;
  • Be careful when opening and reading emails.

Moreover, regularly back-up your data, so you can easily restore your files should you be affected. Bear in mind that succumbing to hackers’ demands doesn’t guarantee files’ restoration.

This topic deserves our attention. Cyber-security may be a virtual issue, but when ignored it is extremely likely to threaten affected SMEs physical existence.

If you believe your current security measures aren’t sufficient to protect your organisation please get in touch. We have been helping our clients to prevent and deal with cyber security issues for over 21 years!

Do what you can to stay safe in cyber-space, or get in touch if you need IT Support.

E-mail sales@compucaresystems.co.uk or call 0800 008 6181 now.

Alternatively, please subscribe via e-mail RIGHT HERE to receive more valuable content in the future.

Eligible UK charities and nonprofit organisations can claim $5000 in credits annually for Microsoft Azure Services.microsoft

Microsoft’s Azure offers a suite of cloud services, computing, storage, and more. Azure supports a broad selection of operating systems, and provides industry-leading security. It integrates seamlessly with your existing IT infrastructure and grows with your non-profit organisation. Don’t miss out! Empower your organisation to become more impactful and to accomplish more in less time.

Azure services include:

  • Operations management suite enabling organisations to manage and protect their cloud and on-premises infrastructure;
  • Storage relational and non-relational: data storage including blob, table and queue storage, plus files; 
  • Disaster recovery to protect major IT systems while ensuring apps work when you need them most;
  • Predictive maintenance & monitoring with IoT helping you to predict failures before they even happen and monitor devices, assets, and sensors in the cloud; 
  • Hybrid integration to seamlessly integrate applications, data, and processes across both on-premises and cloud infrastructure.

These are not all the services your establishment can receive through the donation. To view the full list of available products and services please visit Microsoft’s Website.

Bear in mind that this is not a cash-grant, but a credit to be used towards Azure products and services. It is a recurring credit, and you can reapply each year as long as your nonprofit organisation remains eligible i.e. meets the following three criteria:

  • Nonprofit Organizational Eligibility
  • Nonprofit Mission Eligibility
  • Anti-Discrimination Policy

You must meet all three criteria to qualify. Click Here to review them in more detail before you apply. The initial eligibility status remains effective for a two-year period after which your organisation needs to be reassessed to maintain its status. Please bear in mind that members and beneficiaries are not eligible for Microsoft licenses or subscriptions (with a few exceptions). The recipients of the above mentioned licenses and subscriptions are employees of eligible nonprofit organisations.

Too many charities are still unaware that Microsoft offers donated and discounted products through different programs, in the UK. These include: Office 365, Azure, and TT Exchange. Microsoft donations can be extremely helpful in making sure your charity remains or becomes more effective without spending too much money. Discuss this with your IT Support Provider if you’re not taking advantage of these offers yet.

If you need help choosing or installing the right Microsoft solution, we are here to help you get started. Get in touch and one of our reliable, experienced and friendly IT engineers will be happy to help you.

Alternatively, click on IT Support for Charities to  find out more about what we have to offer, or Subscribe via E-mail to receive more relevant content in the future.

According to a recent study by Sage, 45% of business owners work 40-60 hours a week while 16% work more than 60 hours per week. 

To some extent, having a small business is like having a baby. You give birth to it (sometimes, adopt). You protect it and watch it grow. You feel good when it’s doing good and distraught when it’s not. It’s easy to understand why many business owners struggle to maintain a proper work-life balance.

Work Life Balance

The love for what you do and the passion you have for your company may be one of the reasons why you decided to have one in the first place. Having said that, a recent report, by the Telegraph’s research team and Omnicom Media Group agency, included a survey which gives surprising insights into the motivations of the SME founder community. It reveals that the top reason given for launching a company was to have more control over one’s work-life balance. Many SME owners fail to accomplish the latter, hence put themselves on the path to losing that first love they once had for their businesses – not to mention many other health-related threats connected to overwork.

Technology has made it easy to work remotely which, in theory, could improve our work-life balance. On the other hand, however, the same technology made it easier than ever to work from anywhere, at any time, sometimes all the time. Why do business owners find it so difficult to disconnect?

There’s more than one answer to the question above, but we believe it’s a choice. If you’re out of balance and are fed-up enough to change it, you need to be deliberate about it.  Does overwork affect your relationships with family and friends, make you tired and stressed out most of the time? What are you going to do?

Thomas Jefferson said “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” Agreed, hard work is good, but there’s a reason why it’s called HARD work. It’s not easy. Sometimes, it is necessary to put in the extra hours, but then those hours need to be compensated by an adequate rest. We know this may be easier said than done, but the choice is yours. If you’d like more information on how to have a better work life balance please read this insightful report on Work life balance by Sage.

In summary, “Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.” Betsy Jacobson

We hope you found this article helpful. Please Subscribe via E-mail to receive more valuable content in the future.

Compucare is an IT Support Provider passionate about vital Business and Charity related matters.

Tips for small & medium sized enterprises.

SMEs & Investments

INVESTMENTS

  1. Invest in Cash – it is often said that the most successful investors focus on cash first. You do need money to make money, so make sure you have sufficient cash reserves.

What will it take for your business to stay afloat should an unexpected, cash draining event took place?  Allocate sufficient emergency budget for unplanned expenses – they do come up although uninvited.

  1. Invest in your business (don’t rush to diversify) – consider re-investing some profits back into your organisation to increase the profitability of your enterprise:

Invest in Expertise – employ experts and delegate some of your responsibilities, invest in staff training – help your team become more productive.

Invest in Technology – find ways to avoid duplicating processes as the company continues to grow.

Invest in Cyber Security – cyber-crime is a real threat, which often goes unrecognized by small business owners. Hackers expect it to be so, hence often pick SMEs expecting them to be an easier (defenseless) target. You might think your business is too small to be at risk. However, if you have sufficient quality data e.g. clients’ contact info, payment details, etc. you’re not too small. Reportedly, UK SMEs were targeted over 200.000 times each, in 2016. This topic deserves more attention, hence we’re planning to revisit in the near future.

  1. Invest in yourselfinvest in your knowledge & work smarter not harder – invest in your skills and become more efficient hence able to do more in less time.

 Develop a solid business strategy – better use the resources (including time) you already have access to.

 Trust your staff to do stuff – once you’ve employed the right people and invested in training, trust your team to do what needs to be done. Allow them to embrace the challenge, so you don’t burn out.

 Take a vacation or rest more– see yourself as an asset, not a slave to your business. Take care of you. If you’re overworked, tired and stressed out, your business will fail and if it succeeds you might not be there to reap the benefits of its success.

  1. Invest in what you know. Don’t rush to invest in real estate just because another business owner is extremely successful in doing so. If you do, however, find out what it takes to become successful and then invest.

 Match your investment strategy to who you are and to what you know. Do your research, become educated or employ an expert. Investments don’t come without risks, however they shouldn’t be a gamble. In the investment world, knowledge should precede action.

  1. Take your time & don’t be led by emotions whether you’re making a decision to invest or ‘uninvest’. Investments are not get rich quick schemes – they’re long-term projects, so invest wisely & be patient.

If you find this article helpful, and you have not yet read Part 1 or Part 2 please go ahead and do so now.

Alternatively, please subscribe via e-mail RIGHT HERE or get in touch if your firm needs quality IT Support.

Compucare is an IT Support Provider passionate about vital Business and Charity related matters.

keybordThere’s no denying that trading conditions remain tough, and keeping a tight rein on your spending is often necessary to remain in operation. Consequently, like many managers do, you might be keeping a constant eye on your charity’s finances.

When you’re trying to reduce your expenditure, it might seem counter-intuitive to seek outside help with your computing systems. However, by choosing the right IT Support for Charities, you might in fact be able to lower your overall costs.

After all, if you don’t have a proper grip on this side of your organisation, you can end up wasting a lot of time, energy and money addressing unnecessary and often pricey problems. Over the long-term, this could harm your finances.

Here at Compucare Systems we know that non-profit organisations don’t have money to burn, hence we go out of our way to offer cost effective services. We’re experts in the field and so tasks that may take an in-house team a long time to complete could take us moments. Moreover, over 70% of our clients are charities!

Streamlining this side of your operations could therefore strengthen your financial outlook. We can provide you with free round-the-clock proactive network monitoring, free online data backup, immediate help-desk response, unlimited or pay as you go support packages, your own dedicated technical account manager and much more.

Click on this link IT Support for Charities if you’re eager to  find out more about what we offer, or simply get in touch with our friendly and professional team.

Alternatively, please Subscribe via E-mail to receive more valuable content in the future.

Compucare is an IT Support Provider passionate about vital Charity related matters.