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Using IT Consulting to Save Costs and Meet Your Business Goals

When it comes to IT consulting, many business owners will tell you it’s something they either don’t need or can’t afford. In both cases, though, these men and women are losing the forest for the trees. That’s because regular IT consultations are inexpensive, and can be used to lower technology costs while meeting bigger business goals.

To help you understand why, and to convince you to meet with a member of our team for your own good, here are a few things you should keep in mind…

IT Consulting is Advice, Not a Sales Pitch

Many business people assume that an IT consultation is going to turn into a sales presentation very quickly. The reality, though, is that we charge for our time so we don’t have to push other services. Instead, we devote our attention to learning about your business and answering the questions you have about hardware and software. Don’t put off getting the advice you could use because you think you’re going to be sold something. A good IT vendor doesn’t work that way.

Technology Should be Part of Your Business Plan

Making the most of technology isn’t just a part of business these days, it’s a core strategy for maximizing your investments and getting ahead of your competitors. Whatever you are hoping to do with your company – such as sell more products, recruit new employees, or lower your customer service costs – you can do more easily and cost-effectively with the right hardware and software in place. For that reason, it only makes sense to review your business goals with an IT expert to see if we can make any personalized suggestions for the future.

You Can Save Money by Looking Ahead

Many new clients who come to us for the first time do so because they’ve had a difficult time forecasting IT expenditures in the past. What they don’t necessarily realize is that it gets a lot easier to create accurate budgets when you can assess what kinds of technology a business is already using, look ahead to see which pieces of equipment might have to be replaced in the coming months, and align the financial figures with other business goals. With some smart planning, your IT budget can become more effective and less of a mystery at the same time.

A Good IT Vendor Can Help Your Bottom Line

The more often your IT vendor works with you, the better they’re going to get to know your company and the technology you rely on. That means they can be proactive in making suggestions and looking for cost-saving opportunities. Lots of businesses are using hardware and software they don’t really need, and renewing subscriptions that aren’t helping them. During the IT consultation process, your vendor can help you trim the fat from your bottom line.

IT consulting is in about selling new services to your business, it’s about using our expertise to ensure you’re making the right investments for your business, and taking advantage of the opportunities that are in front of you. If you’d like to learn more, why not schedule a complementary technology review with a member of our team and see how we can help?

Ready to Boost Your Search Visibility in 2017?

Search engine optimization is both evolving and getting more competitive all the time. Not only are there hundreds of times as many websites online today as there were when Google first launched, but algorithm updates and artificial intelligence have changed the way search spiders crawl the web.

With all of that in mind, it’s not surprising that a lot of businesses need an update when it comes to their approach to search engine optimization. If you’d like to boost your search visibility in 2017 – and get more buyers coming to your website as a result – here are some steps you should think about taking today…

Re-Evaluate Your Keyword Strategy

Over the years, we have learned that a lot of marketers stick to the keywords they know out of sheer habit. That sometimes remains true even if their potential customers aren’t using the same search terms anymore, or if the competition for search rankings around those terms has gotten intense. The point is that you should re-evaluate your keyword strategy at least once a year to ensure you’re doing everything you can to attract buyers and bring them to your pages.

Clean Up Your Website

Through successive algorithm updates, Google has gotten aggressive in weeding out websites with broken links, scraped content, or out-of-date information. So, if you have any of these issues with your website, the odds are good that you’re either being filtered out of Google’s search results or are losing ground to competitors who are keeping their pages in better shape.

Upgrade Your Web Hosting

Premium web hosting is the new “secret weapon” in search engine optimization. For one thing, it allows websites to load more quickly and consistently. And for another, good web hosting allows for secure SSL connections, which were recently revealed to be a search signal within Google’s rankings. All in all, it almost always makes sense to upgrade your web hosting for a few dollars a day when you consider the added security, performance, and search visibility.

Make Mobile a Big Priority

Mobile web use has been growing rapidly and steadily for a few years, and Google’s emphasis on mobile compatibility has increased step-for-step. This is true to the point that the world’s largest search engine recently announced that positioning for desktop searches could be affected by mobile functionality. If you want to keep Google happy, along with the thousands of people who are likely to visit your website from an iPhone, android, or other mobile device this year, it’s time to invest in responsive web design.

Develop a Content Plan

It’s not enough to just have content on your website anymore – if you want Google to crawl your pages and send visitors your way, you need relevant, current, and insightful articles that invite comments and interaction. That’s not going to happen by accident, so you should develop a content plan that lets you plan ideas and updates for the months to come.

Ready to put your new search engine optimization knowledge into action? Call our creative team today so we can schedule a free website review and talk about the next set of steps you should follow.

Does Your Website Need an SSL Upgrade?

If you read the occasional article about web design, IT, or Internet marketing, you may have noticed that lots of experts are advising business owners to upgrade their web hosting to include SSL connections. Is it something you should consider?

To get to the bottom of the matter, there are a few questions we should try to answer first…

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and basically amounts to creating a more secure connection between your website and the visitors who arrive at it. You’ve undoubtedly used many SSL connections this week, and probably several already today. You can recognize them by the “https:” designation in your browser, and the different icons or shading that sometimes show up when you have a secure connection.

Beyond that, most users associate SSL connections with banks and online merchants. So, even if your customers don’t understand exactly what they are, they are probably aware that an SSL signifier means more safety.


How do You Add SSL Capability to Your Website?

While the actual technical process of adding security certificates to your server can be complicated, the decision to move forward is an easy one for a business owner. It basically amounts to upgrading your hosting package, adding SSL to your package of services, and telling your web design team that you want it installed on your site.

The cost of adding SSL protection to your website is essentially negligible (less than $20 a month through most providers), so it shouldn’t be financially prohibitive to most companies.


What are the Benefits of SSL?

There are a few reasons you might want to upgrade to SSL on your business website.

The first is that it makes every connection safer. That’s important in situations where you’re transmitting data back and forth to users or customers, particularly if there are going to be financial details or transactions involved. The more sensitive the submissions are, the more important SSL protection becomes. Once it’s in place, it becomes much harder for thieves and hackers to get access to things they shouldn’t.

Almost as important as the safety of data is the perception of your website. Because most customers and users associate SSL with security, they feel more comfortable seeing it on your pages. So, there is an issue of credibility that comes into play.

And finally, SSL is getting more attention these days because Google has identified secure connections is a search engine signal. In other words, by adding this feature to your hosting, there is a chance you could draw more search engine traffic to your pages. Given that Google currently processes more than 2 billion search queries every day, and competition for the top spots is intense, marketers will (and should) take any advantage they can get.

Given the minimal costs involved, it might make a lot of sense for your company to upgrade its web hosting package and add SSL capability if you don’t have it already. You’ll gain a lot in safety, prestige, and visibility, and all without giving it much in return.

Looking for great advice on web design, technology, and online marketing? Call our team today to arrange a free consultation where we can talk about your goals.

More Users Are Going Native

Americans spend more time looking at mobile apps than they do watching TV reads a headline from Tech Crunch.  When watching TV accounts for 50% of leisure time in the US, that stacks up to A LOT of mobile viewing. The demand for mobile engagement has grown so rapidly that 90% of mobile apps have appeared in the last three years as the leading digital platform according to a research whitepaper on The 2016 Mobile App Report. Paying attention to these numbers are important, not only for us as a web tech service company, but also for you as a business owner. 

Let’s say you’ve upgraded your company site from a static boring brochure to a responsive design that looks and functions well on a tablet and a phone; you’ve done the first major step in engaging modern technology. (BTW, if your site isn’t mobile friendly by now, then you are alienating your customers and losing business!  Let us know and we’ll fix that for you. )  If your developer did a good job, you will see a boost in page rank, visitors, and maybe even conversions. What if you could increase your brand loyalty and engagement level by 27%?  


Mobile or native apps are not to be confused with web apps. The conversion of your static site to a responsive design so that it looks good on smaller devices is a web app.  It usually includes some coding to show specific information that your users want to see immediately by getting rid of the fluff.  A native app takes your web app to the next level by giving your users distilled information they want within seconds.  For instance, your app can encourage repeat customers by putting them on a waiting list for a haircut or to pick up a takeout order.  You could have push messages that send a text to your customer’s phone letting them know their dry cleaning is ready.  You could deliver coupons and accelerate customer service contact to your company that customers will surely appreciate.  Your branded mobile app becomes a complement to your responsive website and brings your business brand into the light with major economic dividends.

A native app doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, but it does have to make sense for your user’s needs. Kinetik I.T. has been developing software solutions for clients of all sizes in a wide range of industries.  Native / mobile apps are just part of what we do.

4 Ways to Protect Your Small Business From Ransomware

Even business owners who don’t pay a lot of attention to tech trends have heard quite a bit about ransomware. It’s been in the news frequently, mainly because hackers are getting so good at writing these types of viruses that they’ve successfully extorted big money from individuals, corporations, and even hospitals.

In case you aren’t familiar with the specifics, ransomware works like this: a malicious application is loaded onto your computer (usually through a suspicious download or email attachment). Then, the software launches and freezes your computer – or even your entire network – until you send money overseas through an untraceable account.

These types of attacks get their name because they hold your data and communications up for ransom. And, the worst infections can be incredibly difficult to deal with. So, let’s take a look at what you can do to protect your small business from criminals using ransomware.

#1 Use Basic Protections Against Hackers

The first step in keeping your computers free from any kind of malicious code is using basic safeguards. These include strong firewalls, up-to-date antivirus software, and sturdy spam protection for your email. It also helps if you use strong passwords, and leave the standard security features on your operating system fully-functional. None of these will guarantee you won’t be the subject of a ransomware attack, but they do make it harder for thieves to target you.

#2 Be Careful Where You Surf, and What You Open

Even if you follow our first piece of advice, it’s easy to become the target of a ransomware scheme if you visit questionable websites, or have a habit of opening email attachments you don’t recognize. Like many viruses, ransomware applications are often hidden within other things people download, such as pirated movies, risqué photos, and items that have been made to look like business documents. Good antivirus protection can help here, but you still have to be careful about what you and your employees allow onto your computers, phones, or tablets.

#3 Back Your Drives up Frequently

Most people treat the advice to back up their files on a daily basis in the same way they do a dentist’s tip to floss each morning and night: as a good suggestion, but something they won’t get around to doing. But, when you are the victim of a ransomware attack, being able to restore your systems to a recent (but unaffected) status can make an enormous difference. Plus, running regular backups is a great way to protect your company against other types of IT disasters, as well.

#4 Get Expert Help

If these measures fail and you find yourself with computers or devices that are locked up by ransomware, do not attempt to fix the problem on your own. Instead, take the ransomed devices offline, shut them down, and make sure they can’t infect other machines on your network. Then, call our team to take the next step. We may be able to remove the virus… or at the very least, ensure it doesn’t affect you or your business more than it already has.

Ransomware is a nuisance, but given its success for hackers, you can bet it isn’t going away anytime soon. So, it’s up to business owners and managers everywhere to know how to prevent attacks and deal with them when they occur. Use these tips to avoid finding yourself in trouble.

Need an IT vendor your business can count on? Call our team today to set up a free consultation and review your technology plan.

Part 7 of 7: You Don’t Want to Move or Expand Without IT Help

Most IT disasters can’t be foreseen. In fact, what makes them disasters in the first place is that they seem to come out of nowhere. A hard drive that was working fine one day is an accessible the next; an employee scheduling platform works flawlessly one afternoon and fails to start up the following morning. Even with all the preventative care in the world, these kinds of issues pop up from time to time.

#7 You Don’t Want to Move or Expand Without IT Help

One IT crisis that you definitely can anticipate has to do with moving your operations or opening new location. When that happens, things are going to go wrong, and lots of money is going to be wasted, if you don’t have the right technology vendor on your side.

Even the smallest business is likely to have a complex set of hardware and software configurations that have been put together over time. Trying to simply unplug the mall, transport them, and put them back together again can be an impossible task for someone who isn’t used to the job. By having a good IT team there to help, you can prevent the biggest problems from occurring in the first place, and make sure the smaller ones are resolved quickly so your newer, bigger businesses ready to start turning a profit from the first day.

Moving and expanding always entail a big investment, and it can be tempting to attempted without the help of an outside IT team. But, you’ll probably end up paying for assistance one way or another, so why not make it easier and cheaper by getting the experts involved from the start?

Who is Looking Out For Your Bottom Line?

Every small business relies on technology, and yet most business owners don’t have an IT vendor they can truly trust. If you’re ready to start cutting costs and looking for ways to improve your technology performance at the same time, you need a partner who can step in and make sure you’re making the right decisions for your bottom line.

Why not call or email a member of our team today and set up a free consultation? It won’t take long, and you might be surprised at just how affordable good technology service and advice really are… not to mention what the right experts can do to keep your company running smoothly.

Part 6 of 7: Backup and Disaster Recovery is Cheap IT Insurance

As a business owner, you might take it as a given that your computers and devices are going to turn on when you press the power button, or that your most important spreadsheet files are going to open up quickly once you click on them. As IT professionals, we can tell you that’s not always the case.

#6 Backup and Disaster Recovery is Cheap IT Insurance

There any number of things that can cause your technology to stop working. Power surges and shortages can damage hardware. Hackers can break in and steal data, or a race critical records. Employees can accidentally format drives, lock themselves out of workstations, or make unintended changes to your website. Each of these calamities happens every day, and we haven’t even gotten to floods, fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes yet.

For this reason, one of the most important things you can do to protect your business is invested in backup and disaster recovery (or BDR for short). A good BDR system is secure, and expensive, and thoroughly tested. It will include offsite backup options that allow you to restore your business and technology to working condition in a matter of minutes or hours, even in the midst of a severe emergency.

Take it from us and we tell you that you really don’t want to be the kind of business owner who just assumes everything is going to be all right and work the way it’s supposed to. Technology is like anything else, and that it will eventually break and let you down. And at that moment, the decision you’ve made to have a backup plan or not could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars… or even decide whether your company continues to exist at all.

Part 5 of 7 Managing IT Expenses - The Biggest Savings are in the Cloud

Although most business owners feel as if they’ve heard all they’ve ever wanted to know about “the cloud” and more in recent years, the fact remains that the majority aren’t realizing the cost savings they could be. They use the cloud every day, but don’t necessarily understand how it can help their bottom lines in such a profound way.

#5 The Biggest Savings are in the Cloud

There are really two things you have to know about cloud computing as a business owner. The first is that using cloud-based services eliminates the need for a lot of hardware you might have had to buy in the past. Purchasing things like servers for your business can put a huge dent in your budget, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars at a time. But once you embrace the cloud, you can stop buying them once and for all. Renting monthly packages saves you on those up-front costs, with the added benefit of freeing up space in your office or facility.

The second thing that’s important to note about cloud computing is that it lets you use software and equipment on a monthly subscription basis. This can bring clarity to your budget, and make cash flow management that much easier. As with a managed services agreement, cloud computing takes a lot of the guesswork out of your financial forecasting, turning IT costs from a question mark into a certainty.

Some business owners are still resistant to cloud services because they don’t understand them, or are used to doing things a certain way. But, this is one area where being open to change can really make a big difference on your profit-and-loss reports. When you take away many of your biggest hardware costs, moved to a monthly subscription model, and combine those benefits with increases in performance and security, it’s hard to find a reason not to switch.

Part 4 of 7 Managing IT Expenses - You Can Use IT Consultation to Improve Your Business Goals

As an SMB owner you have to know a bit of everything to set the proper goals for your business. It's  a smart move to leverage the knowledge of experts in their field to help set the right goals and a pathway to success.

#4 You Can Use IT Consultation to Improve Your Business Goals

Regular IT consultations shouldn’t focus solely on which expenses can be approved or denied. Instead, you want to have a regular face-to-face get together with someone who can help you find technology that fits in with your bigger business goals.

For example, you might be looking for ways to expand your marketing, to streamline customer service, or to add automated fulfillment and logistics. Knowing that these kinds of shifts are going to take place, your IT partner might be able to identify tools and technologies that can make implementing them faster or cheaper. Or, they might know of hardware and software you can use to make the transition easier.

We’ve reached the point where having the right technology isn’t just helpful to a business, it’s essential. No matter what your vision of the future looks like for your company, it’s very likely to require some sort of IT investment to make it happen. Things like sales, marketing, customer service, logistics, and even employee training or management can all be dependent on different technological tools. Without them, your business can’t keep up, much less get ahead.

It’s amazing, but business owners often miss out on easy and affordable solutions that save them tens of thousands of dollars per year, and sometimes per month, simply because they don’t know what’s available. If they were having regular IT consultations with an expert they could trust, they would at least get a sense of what their options are like. Instead, they fall behind their competitors, or miss out on profit opportunities, due to a lack of advice.

IT consultations cost you very little, and can pay off many dozens of times over through the years as you use technology to build a smarter, more efficient company. Why not get a bit of expert advice to make sure your business has what it needs to run smoothly?

Part 3 of 7 Managing IT Expenses - Taming Your IT Budget is Easier Than You Think

Expenses might the be the one thing that keeps you up at night.  In our next tip on managing IT expenses, we explain ways that will ease anxiety and improve your bottom line.

#3 Taming Your IT Budget is Easier Than You Think

One of the hardest things about cutting IT costs as a business owner is that you may not know which expenses or subscriptions you can safely reduce without harming your business in important ways. And, it’s probably difficult for you to accurately predict what you’re going to spend on technology in the future, since you don’t know where upgrades and improvements are needed.

This is an area where having ongoing relationship with the trusted IT vendor can make an enormous difference. When you have someone who knows how your business works, and what kind of technology you’re using, they can help you make smarter investments that are likely to pay off over time.

Contrary to what your favorite salesperson might tell you, it’s not always wise to go with the bigger, faster, or newer model of anything. In fact, doing so can often lead to headaches – when you buy a brand-new piece of technology, you’re often paying the highest price for something that hasn’t been extensively tested or proven. You might be much better off sticking with what you have, or waiting until prices come down (and updates are released) before making the change.

That’s just one simple example, but the point to draw from this is that you can lower the amount of money you spend on technology, or at least stop the figures from climbing endlessly, if you know what to look for. The trick is having someone with knowledge of your business and some expertise with the kinds of hardware and software you need to keep your business running.

The most cost-effective way to get that expertise is by working with a trusted IT partner who will consult with you regularly to ensure you’re making decisions that move you towards your most important goals while factoring in the financial costs.