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Avoid common startup flubs

By WillD|December 3rd,2013|Atiba Behind the Scenes|No comments

By JJ Rosen

One of the things I enjoy the most about being a computer consultant is getting to look behind the scenes of many different businesses.

In our roles as web developers, programmers, designers and IT consultants, we get a front-row seat to watch how businesses operate, what is working and what is not.

Of all the companies out there, startups are often the most exciting businesses to work with as they are full of high risks, but also very high rewards. Sitting behind the computer, programming away at a startup client’s office (or in some cases living room), it has been interesting to see some of the patterns of business success or failure that occur.

The explosion of mobile has created a huge new wave of startup activity. The number of startups being generated today is rivaling the frenetic pace of the now somewhat infamous dot-com era. As compared with the dot-com days, the relatively faster time to market and the lower development cost of mobile-based products and services are driving a new startup boom.

A key to success for this new wave of mobile tech startups is to learn from the past. The inherent risks of starting a business can be offset by studying the successes and failures of others.

Here are a few of the common themes we observed while working on software, websites and mobile apps for startups:

• Focusing on an exit strategy from day one increases your chance of failure.

The chances of selling for billions are slim, but the chances of running a profitable business are more in your favor. No path is easy, but startups are more likely to thrive if owners focus more on “how to make a living” as opposed to how to sell out.

• A startup whose founder is unwilling to invest a good amount of his or her own personal capital has a high chance of failure.

If you are unwilling to put in your own money, chances are you are not confident enough in your idea to instill confidence in others whom you ask to invest.

• Underfunding is a killer.

Every startup that we have worked with that has been underfunded has run into trouble. Once money gets tight, there is often conflict between founders, investors and even employees.

When running on fumes, most founders of startups spend more time pointing fingers and raising money than they do on the business model itself.

• Lean startups that focus on ROI for every penny spent will do better than the startups with high salaries and fancy offices.

There is, of course, a balance between running lean vs. being just plain cheap. But generally speaking, entrepreneurs tend to do well if they make sure every penny invested will either reduce risk or produce a clear return. Low (or no) salaries, low-cost office space (or even home offices!) allow for a longer ramp for product development and customer acquisition.

• Profit margin is one of the most important success factors. High margin businesses have a safety net to withstand bumps in the road.

A lost contract, a bad customer or a failed marketing campaign can quickly put a low-margin-based business in a deep hole while higher margin startups have room to recover.

As the great startup guru Jason Fried of 37Signals.com says, “start a business, not a startup.” From our perspective behind the computer, and behind the start­up entrepreneurs, this mantra is essential to any startup business, mobile or otherwise.

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Make Life Easier with Atiba Network Services and Office 365

By admin|October 27th,2013|IT,Managed Services|No comments

With the need for greater mobility, agility and better data management increasingly driving the dynamic workplace, SMBs today are learning to appreciate the benefits cloud computing can bring to their businesses.  Yet, some SMBs still struggle to understand exactly what cloud computing can do for them.  Enter Microsoft Office 365, an all-inclusive productivity solution that delivers familiar Office applications coupled with powerful enterprise class communications and collaboration capabilities in a cloud-based subscription service you can easily use.

Give your business a productivity boost with the new Office

Today, you can acquire Office 365 Small Business Premium or Midsize Business through Atiba Network Services, as a standalone solution or bundled with our managed services offering and no matter which you choose, you’ll still receive the same support and service you’ve come to expect from Atiba Network Services.

Office 365 for SMBs is a completely modernized platform designed to meet your constantly changing business needs. It delivers rich features and cloud service innovation that SMBs are adopting at an accelerated rate.

Benefits include:

  • Letting you take your personal office experience with you – across tablet, PC or phone – wherever you are and whenever you need to get work done.
  • Saving documents to the cloud by default. When you sign into Office 365, you get roaming settings and quick access to your documents in SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint online.
  • Scheduling a meeting, sending an email, starting an IM, as well as initiating voice and video calls right from your contact list.
  • Easily hosting more effective online meetings, with multiparty HD video conferencing, document sharing and real-time note taking with OneNote.
  • Connecting Lync and Skype services, so you can connect with millions of Skype users right inside of Office 365.
  • An enterprise-grade cloud solution with robust security, guaranteed reliability and compliant with world’s industry standards, including ISO-27001, EU Model clauses, HIPAA and FISMA.

 

Most importantly, with Microsoft Office 365 you get an always available secure and reliable cloud service from a trusted partner. We manage the billing and support for your subscription service so you have a one stop shop for all your support needs.

For more details on Office 365, check out www.office.com or email us at info@atiba.com.

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Unified Communications: The end is near for desk phones

By admin|September 25th,2013|IT,Lync,Unified Communications|No comments

By J.J. Rosen
For The Tennessean

“Mr. Watson, come here — I want to see you.”

With those famous words that Alexander Graham Bell uttered in 1876, the telephone was born. It was an amazing technical advancement that changed the future.

Now, nearly 140 years later, with many new features, there is still a physical telephone sitting on almost every office desk in the world. As other technologies have come and gone (e.g., telegraph, desk calculator), the desk telephone has remained a steadfast companion in our daily work lives.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end. The desktop phone is slowly going the way of the dinosaur, and your office desk is about to feel a bit roomier.

There is a new breed of telephone communications that will make your current phone feel like an old rotary model. With wireless, cloud and mobile technologies converging, there is a rapid shift in the way communications occur, especially business communications.

The new paradigm for businesses to communicate internally and externally with their customers and vendors combines voice, email, chat, video conferencing, text messaging and more, all in one device. With a global economy and a highly mobile workforce, employees in the office, on the road and even in their homes need to be able to communicate efficiently in a variety of ways — something the typical office desk phone is not capable of handling on its own.

The term “unified communications” (UC) is the catchphrase for the new approach to consolidating all of a company’s and individual’s communications needs into a single, manageable, easy-to-use platform. Using your mobile phone, tablet, and/or computer, you can have all the power of a traditional phone system, with the added advantage that all of your emails, voice mails, texts, chats, meetings, address books and video conferences are well organized in one spot.

The desk phone’s days may be numbered, if you consider all the bells and whistles of the current crop of UC offerings such as presentation sharing, HD video conferencing, inter-company chat, presence status (like an in/out board on steroids), archiving and more. And these features are often easier to use than transferring a call on a desktop phone.

So, how does this all work and how much does it cost?

There are several good UC software vendors. One of the most compelling offerings is from Microsoft. Using Microsoft Lync Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Outlook, companies small and large can optimize and organize their communications for less than the cost of a traditional phone system. The desktop phone becomes optional. Users can utilize voice, instant-messaging chat, online meetings, presentations and email (or all of the above simultaneously) using either their mobile device or a headset and computer.

Since UC can work on any mobile device, laptop or desktop, it does not matter where an employee is located — the only requirement is an Internet connection. Companies with remote offices, telecommuters or an outside sales team can keep in touch efficiently, as if they are all sitting in the same room.

Implementation of a UC system is usually cheaper than a conventional phone system setup because you no longer have to spend hundreds of dollars for each desk phone. Your computer or mobile device becomes your phone and much more. In addition, a unified communications system can be hosted in the cloud, so no more phone closets to worry about and support.

Companies using UC software report saving anywhere from 10 to 50 percent on their phone budgets while at the same time improving their productivity and communications. While your desk phone may be saying, “I’m not dead yet,” with the pace of progress, its demise is imminent.


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