February 2011
In this issue

> Go Green with Ease
> Software Piracy
> Protecting Confidential
> Social Media: A Must
> What a VAR Can Do for
    Your Business
> Cartoon & Quote

What a VAR Can Do for Your Business
by Peter Alexander
used with permission from the Microsoft Small Business Center

Technology can go a long way in helping your business stay competitive, meet customer expectations and improve operational efficiencies. But most small businesses simply don't have the resources to evaluate technologies and aren't sure where to find the right technology partner. That's where a value-added reseller can help.

A VAR enhances an existing product, such as hardware, with additional features, such as software, and then sells it as an integrated package often tailored for specific industries. VARs add further value to the products they sell through consultation and design, training, implementation, and ongoing service and support.

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Business Continuity Tip

Final destination(s)
Building a robust recovery plan is all about establishing redundancies (for your staff, technology, communications, etc). These redundancies need to extend to recovery sites as well. When considering a temporary office recovery site you must think of the worst case scenario. Fact is, your obvious first choice may not be available during a large-scale event (think New Orleans post-Katrina, and Manhattan following 9/11).

Take some time to brainstorm multiple location options. Think creatively about how isolated vs. local vs. regional disasters may impact where and how you recover. For example, do you have a good relationship with a vendor in your supply chain? Maybe they can help you out in a pinch. Do you have access to flexible office space? Can your employees work remotely? If so, how long before inefficiency creeps in?

The bottom-line is - don't hinge your entire plan on a single recovery site. Flexibility is key.

Please forward this newsletter to anyone else in your organization who might be interested!

Go Green with Ease: 5 Steps for Small Businesses
used with permission from the Cisco Small Business Center

Easy IT Strategies that Save Money and Help the Environment

Smart information technology (IT) practices can reduce the environmental impact of conducting business, and help small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) reduce expenses.

With employee awareness and participation, even the busiest SMB can adopt simple "green" strategies that require little to no additional equipment or labor expenditures. Consider these enviro-friendly IT strategies:

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Rid Your Business of Software Piracy: 7 Tips
by Monte Enbysk
reprinted with permission from the Microsoft Small Business Center

Pirates still roam freely in the ocean of software out there, but if your business is among the pirates, it could end up costing you literally and figuratively.

You may very well be a smart, community-minded business owner. But if your company is using pirated software — and you condone it, you aren't aware of it or you don't really give a rip — you're not a responsible business owner. And you are taking unnecessary risks.

No, you're not alone. In the United States, about one-fourth of the software programs used today by businesses are illegal copies, according to the statistics from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an active industry group. For U.S. small businesses, those with 100 or fewer employees, the piracy rate is even higher: about 40%. While those numbers are bad enough, the piracy problem worldwide is worse — although software piracy worldwide has decreased since 1994, some $13.08 billion was still lost in 2002 due to pirated software.

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Protecting Confidential Information in a Down Economy
reprinted from Symantec

Did you know that an estimated 90% of data loss incidents are accidental?

That may be surprising news in light of the fact that cyber-criminals have never been busier. But according to a recent survey by TheInfoPro Inc., data loss is "more the result of non-malicious activity as compared to malicious actions." ("Why Data Loss Prevention?" TheInfoPro Inc., October 2008)

What does that mean for your business? For one thing, it means that the loss of critical data is more likely to result from the actions taken by one of your users in the course of doing business than from someone hacking into your network.

Now consider the findings of another recent survey, which puts the spotlight on a little-known aspect of the current recession: namely, that as companies downsize, data loss risks increase.

According to a Ponemon Institute survey of 945 employees who lost or left a job in 2008, 59% of them admitted to stealing confidential company information. In addition, researchers found that many of these instances of data theft could have been prevented with better data loss prevention policies and technologies. ("Data Loss Risks During Downsizing," Ponemon Institute, February 2009)

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Find Out Why Social Media Is A Must for SMBs
used with permission from the HP Small & Medium Business Site

Let's start with the bottom line: If you're not participating in social media, your business is missing out. You no longer have any excuses ("I'm too busy" or "It's overwhelming"), it's time to get engaged.

In a recent survey by ROI Research reported in MediaPost, 40 percent of those surveyed use social sites to connect with brands and products. Thirty-seven percent learned about a new product or service from a social networking site, and 32 percent use social networks to recommend products or services to friends.

And it's not just consumers. In a recent study conducted by Business.com, more than half of small-business owners reported using social media sites to gather information about companies, products and prospects before buying or doing business with them.

The social networks are effective sales tools as well. According to the Inbound Marketing Report, 41 percent of Twitter and LinkedIn users, 44 percent of Facebook users and 46 percent of businesses with a company blog say they acquired customers through those channels.

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Just for Laughs


Quote of the Month

If we had no winter, the spring
would not be so pleasant.

- Anne Bradstreet

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