HP BUSINESS ANSWERS

Using technology to succeed
The articles in this eBook cover almost every aspect of IT in business and they provide an objective guide to getting the most from your technology investment and making your business more efficient, more productive and more successful.
©2011 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. Microsoft, Windows and Life without Walls are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. Intel, the Intel Logo, Intel Inside, Intel Core, and Core Inside are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries

HP Business Answers

HP Business Answers
USING TECHNOLOGY TO SUCCEED

INTRODUCTION
Starting a company is exciting, but it also raises many questions about technology. For example, how do I choose the right PC? Or, how do I keep my business safe online? The decisions you make at the beginning can have a big impact on your business as it grows. That’s why we’ve created this helpful starter guide for growing businesses. We want to help you make smart choices about the technology you need so that you can concentrate on what’s important: building a great business. We understand start-ups and we treasure them. After all, HP was founded in 1939 by two entrepreneurs who built their first product in a garage in Palo Alto, California.

The original HP garage at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto.

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MORE INFORMATION AND HP RESOURCES
HP is here to help you find the right technology for your business. Here are links to more information and advice on how to get the most from your IT investments. For more free business IT advice, tips on how to choose the right equipment and technology explained in everyday language, visit: hp.com/uk/businessanswers Find out more about HP products: • • • • Get personalised IT recommendations with HP’s free, interactive advisor: hp.com/eur/interactiveadvisor HP business desktop PCs: hp.com/eur/desktops HP business notebooks: hp.com/eur/notebooks Accessories for HP computers: http://hp.com/eur/hpoptions

Join the HP Business Answers community:
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LinkedIn: http://partner.linkedin.com/HPBusinessAnswers Blog: http://hp.com/uk/bablog Twitter: http://twitter.com/hpbizanswers

Get support and training: • • To find an HP partner near you, visit: http://hp.com/eur/preferredpartners Subscribe to free HP e-mail newsletters: http://hp.com/eur/subscribe

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Contents
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................... 1 MORE INFORMATION AND HP RESOURCES ...................................................................... 2 INCREASE YOUR SALES..................................................................................................... 6 How to find and keep customers ............................................................................................ 6 Using CRM software to increase sales .................................................................................... 8 Using IT to improve your marketing ....................................................................................... 9 12 Things to do today to boost sales .................................................................................... 11 22 marketing tips .................................................................................................................. 12 SAVE MONEY................................................................................................................. 14 How to save money with technology ................................................................................... 14 10 free or low-cost alternatives to expensive software ....................................................... 15 Ten ways to win at negotiation ............................................................................................ 16 BOOST PRODUCTIVITY ................................................................................................... 18 How to get more done using workstations .......................................................................... 18 Ways to boost office efficiency ............................................................................................. 18 Increase productivity with HP Notebooks ............................................................................ 20 How to boost your productivity ............................................................................................ 21 How to design an ergonomic workplace .............................................................................. 22 IMPROVE TEAMWORK ................................................................................................... 24 Collaborate to win ................................................................................................................ 24 The art of the meeting .......................................................................................................... 25 How to streamline meetings with technology ..................................................................... 29 Recipes for a better workplace ............................................................................................. 30 Ten ways to improve collaboration with IT .......................................................................... 32 Leaders and followers: how to succeed at teamwork .......................................................... 33 BE A GREAT BOSS .......................................................................................................... 35 The seven habits of inspirational managers ......................................................................... 35 How to manage remote workers .......................................................................................... 36 How to create a happy company .......................................................................................... 37 Technology for people management ................................................................................... 39 Create a strong business plan ............................................................................................... 40 Staff training using IT ............................................................................................................ 41 Ten ways to get free online training ..................................................................................... 43

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PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS .............................................................................................. 44 How to improve IT security................................................................................................... 44 How to keep your business safe online ................................................................................ 45 How to back up your data .................................................................................................... 47 Protect confidential information .......................................................................................... 49 How to secure laptop data against theft .............................................................................. 51 How to improve IT asset management ................................................................................ 52 SAVE TIME..................................................................................................................... 53 How to get an extra hour every day ..................................................................................... 53 Paperwork pain and how to cure it ...................................................................................... 54 10 Ways to speed up your PC ............................................................................................... 56 GET AN IT PARTNER ....................................................................................................... 57 How to choose an IT partner ................................................................................................ 57 How to build a business case for IT ...................................................................................... 58 WEB 2.0 FOR BUSINESS.................................................................................................. 60 How to set up a website ....................................................................................................... 60 The beginner’s guide to LinkedIn.......................................................................................... 61 The beginner’s guide to Twitter............................................................................................ 62 Beginner’s guide to blogging ................................................................................................ 63 Ten ways to build your PR profile online .............................................................................. 64 How to advertise and sell online .......................................................................................... 65 How to get more visitors to your website ............................................................................ 66 How to analyze website visitor statistics .............................................................................. 67 WORK ANYWHERE......................................................................................................... 69 How to work from home ...................................................................................................... 69 Get more done, get out of the office .................................................................................... 69 New places to work .............................................................................................................. 71 How to work anywhere you want ........................................................................................ 72 Your office in a backpack ...................................................................................................... 74 Drinking and daytime TV ...................................................................................................... 75 HOW TO CHOOSE .......................................................................................................... 77 Workstations explained ........................................................................................................ 77 HP Workstations Professional Innovations .......................................................................... 78 How to choose the right PC .................................................................................................. 79 How to choose the right PC accessories ............................................................................... 83 How to choose green IT ........................................................................................................ 85 How to set up a small business network .............................................................................. 87 HP Notebooks and the environment .................................................................................... 88

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HP Desktop PCs and the environment.................................................................................. 89 How to choose a reliable Notebook PC ................................................................................ 91 How to choose the right software ........................................................................................ 94 Is your IT hardware good enough? ....................................................................................... 95 Hosting online meetings with HP Virtual Rooms .................................................................. 96

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INCREASE YOUR SALES
How to find and keep customers
Winning new business and keeping existing customers happy are the keys to business success. The right technology can help you. Here are some tips to help you get started. The most successful small businesses are the ones that master the art of getting and keeping customers. You can use technology to reach more customers with online advertising, your own website, blogging and social networking. Using electronic and printed direct mail is easier with the mail merge features of modern word processors and electronic customer relationship management. Marketing checklist 1. Advertise online. Advertising on search websites, such as Google AdWords, can be an effective way to attract new customers. By linking your advertisements to keywords, you make sure your advertisement appears when potential customers search for your type of product or service. Because you only pay for the advertisement when a potential customer clicks through to your site, this kind of advertising can be very cost-effective. You can fix your advertising budget in advance by setting a daily and total limit. This means that you can also start small and experiment with the right combination of advertising copy and keywords. In addition, some companies also use auction sites, such as eBay, to sell their products online at a fixed price. This reaches a large customer base but incurs a commission to the auction company. 2. Set up your own website. Whatever your business, a good website is essential. See the article How to set up a website for more advice on this. 3. Use social networking. Social networking sites such as Facebook (for friends) and LinkedIn (for business users) are increasingly popular. You can advertise on these sites in a similar way to using search engine advertising. Some companies also create their own presence on these sites as a way of interacting with customers and potential customers. Also, social networking can be a good way of getting introductions and finding new contacts. 4. Search engine optimization. People use online search engines to find companies like yours. Wouldn’t it be great if your company’s website came at the top of the list of results? Traffic from search engines, unlike advertising-driven traffic, is free. There’s a lot you can do to make your website more searchable. Make sure that the home page contains the main words (so-called ‘key words’) that you expect customers to search for. If you’re a shoe shop, for example, include the word shoes somewhere on the home page! If you put helpful and interesting information on your website, that gives search engines more information about you to find. A firm of architects might have a couple of articles about the latest trends in design or advice on how to choose a good architect, for example. Encourage other websites to link to yours – for example, include your website in a profile on a social networking site and in online industry directories. At the very least,

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make sure you register your site with the popular search engines so that they include you in their index. 5. Set up a blog. A blog is a type of website that is more personal and diary-like in its contents. Blogs also allow readers to respond to the articles (or ‘posts’) that you write. They are a good way to reach out online to customers and potential customers and, possibly, to generate some PR coverage. See the article Beginner’s guide to blogging. 6. Customize mailshots. You can use your computer to create attractive brochures and letters to send to customers. Using a word processor, you can use mail merge to personalize your flyers by using your customers’ real names and other information from your files. You don’t need any technical skills to set up or run a blog (unlike a more conventional website) so it’s easy to give it a try. 7. Use email marketing. While you don’t want to spam people, ‘opt-in’ or ‘permission-based’ email marketing is a good and cheap way of reaching existing and potential customers. You can even personalize email messages with the right software, such as Microsoft Word. Use emails to send existing customers special offers or launch new services and products. 8. Keep track of customers. Successful companies use databases to keep track of their customers and new opportunities. To get started, you can use the contact fields and task lists in diary software, or a simple spreadsheet, to do this. You should store customer contact details, sales opportunities, projects and important customer information that will help you give a more personalized service. 9. Using CRM software. As your company grows and you add more customers and more employees, you can consider buying dedicated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. For more information see Using CRM software to increase sales. 10. Protect personal data. If you store personal information, you need to ensure that you take extra care to protect it and to comply with local data protection regulations. HP recommends  HP ProBook Business Notebooks look great when you arrive for a meeting with a customer and they have solid business features to match their stylish appearance. For example, a large screen lets you share information with clients easily. A built-in webcam will let you stay in touch with customers via online video conferencing. And you can get online wherever you want with optional 3G Mobile Broadband. (Broadband connections require separately purchased wireless data service contracts.) A notebook computer with a built-in webcam can create a personal touch. For example, you can use them to make little videos to post to your blog or stay in touch with customers using online video conferencing. Help protect personal information with HP ProtectTools software, built into HP Business Notebooks and Business Desktops.

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Using CRM software to increase sales
How CRM can help you plan, achieve and manage your sales better. No sales, no business. It’s as simple as that. Finding new leads, negotiation, customer acquisition, post-sales support and sales planning are all too important to leave to chance. Using the appropriate customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you make the most of your customer data and help your salespeople do better. Even in very small companies, using CRM software to coordinate sales can bring big dividends. How can CRM help the sales function?  Customer data in one place. Sales teams spend too much time putting together customer data stored in different locations. CRM software lets people access data on customers’ past purchases, behavior, preferences, usage as well as demographic and contact information quickly. Regularly updating this data ensures that sales teams do not have to scramble for information at the last minute before a call or a meeting. Qualifying leads. Not every lead converts into a sale. So the question is: how do you improve the ratio? CRM software can track past performance and identify metrics, for example, past purchase value or demographic indicators such as income or age, that indicate which leads are ‘hot’ and which are not. This allows you to devote more attention to the best opportunities. Cross-selling. With better and more updated knowledge of customer behavior and preferences, salespeople have a higher chance of re-selling or up-selling to existing customers. Manage cash flow. All businesses and especially small- to mid-sized ones find predicting and managing cash flow one of their biggest challenges. Using CRM software gives businesses a clearer picture of the sales pipeline. How many leads exist? Which are likely to convert to a sale? CRM helps you answer these questions. Team management. You can more easily track your team’s activities. CRM lets you see who is performing well and who needs help. It can also simplify bonus calculations by giving detailed reports on sales. More importantly, because everyone has access to the same data, teams can avoid mistakes, oversights and delays. Future planning. Modern CRM systems provide for detailed reporting, including the ability to link sales results with different inputs such as campaign spends, customer research scores or sales staff employed. This can help businesses analyze the cause of both success and failure, and plan better for future rounds of sales activity.

There are plenty of CRM programs to choose from, including Microsoft Outlook with Business Contact Manager for smaller businesses, Microsoft Dynamics CRM for larger companies. There are also online alternatives.

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Using IT to improve your marketing
Brand it. Design it. Print it. Without using a third-party designer. Every business, large or small, needs collateral such as brochures, flyers, newsletters, business cards, presentations etc. Using IT to design and print your own material can be cheaper and more efficient than using expensive agencies and print shops. This will make your marketing budget go further and help you be more responsive to the market. Cost-effective marketing for small businesses  Choose a high-quality printer. The quality of printing has improved tremendously in recent years to the extent that even a small firm can afford to own a professional quality printer, such as HP Color Inkjet Printers and HP Color Laser Printers. Design your own marketing materials. The latest printing technology lets you print high-quality brochures, flyers, posters and business cards in-house. Templates, clip art and easy-to-use software allow almost anyone to design professional-looking marketing material. For example, you can find free online training, how-to guides and business templates at HP Printshop. Reduce waste. Third-party printing companies often have minimum order sizes that leave you with boxes full of surplus literature. Products such as brochures and visiting cards need to be updated every year leading to even more waste. If you can print your material in the office as you need it, you can avoid all this waste. This is good for the balance sheet and good for the environment. Design for everyone. Modern desktop publishing software such as Microsoft Publisher allows anyone with average IT skills to layout and produce brochures, reports, newsletters and all kinds of stationery. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use Publisher – it’s that easy. Keeping the design in-house also lets you make changes when you need to. You can even customize the collateral for different customers. Easy printing. Options such as the HP Creative Studio also offer you a one-stop shop where you can find templates for all kinds of material as well as guidance on printing. Getting creative. The internet makes it easier to get cost-effective help for more complicated tasks such as logo design. For example, Logoworks by HP will create a logo for you over the internet in less than a week. Once you have a great-looking logo and basic document templates, anyone in your company can produce up-to-date marketing material with a consistent look and feel. Consistency. When making your own marketing collateral, it is important to remember that your brand must be presented consistently across all material. Using varying colors, fonts or sizes can make your company look unprofessional or unreliable. One solution is to have a concise branding guide that details how the brand should be presented in any situation.

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Go big screen. Switching to a bigger screen or adding a second one can dramatically improve your productivity, according to usability guru Jakob Nielsen. For example, you can review artwork on one screen and write feedback on the other. If your desktop computer only has one video connector, consider adding a discrete graphics card with multiple ports. Most notebook PCs will now extend their display over two screens. With Microsoft Windows 7, try using the Windows key and the left and right arrow keys to arrange windows side by side. It’s surprisingly efficient. Polish your presentations. Marketing agencies spend a lot of time making pitches and presentations. Try to avoid long lists of bullets and reading text from the screen. (For more tips, see 10 simple rules for awesome presentations.) It also helps if you can get your PC hooked up to a projector without fumbling too much. Look for notebooks that have quick launch buttons to configure multiple displays and consider getting notebooks with extended battery life so you don’t run out of juice mid-speech. A neat way to make presentations more responsive is to use hidden action buttons in PowerPoint so you can navigate from slide to slide and section to section by clicking on the screen. Improve the quality of your copy. Use automated tools to assess the readability of your copy. For example, Microsoft Word gives readability statistics when you run a grammar check (but you need to enable it in the options). You can also use web-based tools. Increase concentration. Creativity is the heart of marketing and it starts when you shut out distractions and focus on the task in hand. Consider using a distraction free word processor. Get free training. HP has a large library of free online courses and supports The Learning Initiative For Entrepreneurs, a site where you can develop your business and IT skills. Share files and collaborate. Once you start working with colleagues, clients and subcontractors, collaboration and project management become essential. Here are some things that can help: web conferencing and screen sharing using HP Virtual Rooms, video conferencing on Skype with your notebook’s built-in webcam, sharing files online using Basecamp or Microsoft Online Services, and online proofing tools like ProofHQ. See HP Business Answers for more tips on improving teamwork. Rapid prototyping. Check out MakerBot. It’s an affordable 3D printer for building ABS plastic prototypes of anything you can design on a PC. (Even if you can’t use it in your business, it’ll make a perfect geek birthday present.) You can use technology to prototype other things, such as websites more efficiently. Better, cheap stock photography. Good photography makes the difference between ‘me-too’ and ‘look at me’. However, stock photos from traditional libraries can be fiercely expensive, especially if you can’t get a buy-out and need to pay renewable licence fees. Don’t overlook the plentiful supply of public domain images and crowdsourced low-cost online libraries such as iStockPhoto.

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Get free advice. If you have a question about how to get the most from your technology (but not, please, technical support questions) you can ask HP experts directly using the Business Answers IT Agony Aunt. It’s free, confidential and run by humans.

12 Things to do today to boost sales
Want to boost sales quickly? Try these suggestions below. You might be surprised! Offering the right services or high quality merchandise isn't always enough to guarantee high sales. How you conduct yourself with potential clients has a huge impact and developing good habits can boost sales straightaway. 1. Contact ex-customers. If you need a quick sales boost, contacting former customers and offering them a special deal can be a winner. They already know you and they might be thinking of placing an order anyway. 2. Run an email campaign. Using mail merge in Microsoft Word or a dedicated online tool like Mailchimp, you can create an email campaign to launch a special offer or promote an event. 3. Plan an event. Free seminars, workshops and training events can be powerful ways to build a relationship, especially in the services sector. Pick a problem that is important to your customers and run an event that helps them solve it. 4. Ask for referrals. Ask your existing customers if they know anyone who might want to do business with you. It doesn’t cost anything and it’ll give you a good reason to call them up. 5. Get prepared. You should know your product line backwards and forwards. Being able to answer all of your client's questions clearly and authoritatively will give them the confidence to buy from you. 6. Be professional. Dress professionally, maintain friendly eye contact and use a firm handshake. Your behavior affects how people view your product, so be sure to put it in the best possible light. Spend some time reviewing your sales technique – see if you can learn some new skills. 7. Develop a rapport. Clients are more likely to make a purchase from someone they like. Be ready with a joke or anecdote that can cut through those awkward first moments when you are meeting a new client. 8. Ask questions. You need to discover a potential client's problems before you can show them the solution. While it may seem like you are taking focus away from the product, this will enable you to help the customer make an informed choice later. 9. Learn to listen. Remember that this isn't about you, it's about meeting the client's needs. Take the time to understand what a client is telling you so that you know what to sell and how to pitch it. 10. Don't be too pushy. If a customer asks for time to look around, give it to him. You can always make a second approach, as long as you didn't drive him away at the beginning. 11. Change your attitude. Approach a customer with the attitude that he is going to buy something and your job is to help him find the right item. 12. Keep it simple. You know every detail of the product you are selling, but unloading all of that during a pitch will simply overload a customer. Keep to the highlights, explaining how your product sets itself apart from the competition.

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22 marketing tips
Get your marketing right with these short and easy tips It’s easy to focus on the sales process – converting potential customers into paying customers – but too much focus on pricing, salesmanship and negotiation can be distracting. Don’t neglect marketing – turning strangers into potential customers. If you get your marketing right, you’ll find it easier to grow your business, convert sales and protect your margins. 1. Reinvent yourself. Rebrand ‘You Inc’. Get a new image (Logoworks by HP can help. Although they are based in the US, you can work with them over the internet anywhere and pay with a credit card.) 2. Change your customer. Analyse which customers are the most profitable and loyal; concentrate on selling to them and other clients like them. Apply the 80:20 rule to the rest. Four out of five customers are good but there are always a few customers that take a lot of work, demand low prices and then complain. Ditch them. 3. Reinvent the relationship. Could you be a trusted advisor? Can you join the experience economy? 4. Get inspired. Check out Oblique Marketing Strategies, the MarketingProfs website and Seth Godin’s blog for new marketing ideas. 5. Marketing every day. Carve out dedicated time for marketing 6. Tell a story. Humans are story-telling creatures. If you can express your product or service’s benefits as a story, you can communicate it more clearly. 7. Customer evidence. Potential customers are far more likely to believe people like themselves than someone (like you) who has something to sell so use case studies, customer references, reviews and endorsements. 8. Use a picture. Good photography makes the difference between ‘me-too’ and ‘look at me’. Consider public domain images and low-cost online photo libraries such as iStockPhoto. 9. Write clearly. If you want to be understood, avoid using hype, clichés, passive sentences, jargon, acronyms, long words, long sentences and long paragraphs. Especially on the web. 10. Improve your presentations. Whether you run them in a shop window or use them to close multimillion pound deals, presentations are an important way to communicate. Check out 10 simple rules for awesome PowerPoint presentations. 11. Keep marketing when business is good. Fix the roof when the sun shines, not when it’s raining. Success breeds confidence, which makes it easier to sell yourself. 12. Manage customer relationships. It is much more expensive to win a new customer than it is to keep an existing one happy. Find ways to build stronger relationships with customers using customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as Microsoft Outlook with Business Contact Manager or Microsoft Dynamics CRM (for larger companies). 13. Try online advertising. Microsoft adCenter lets you put adverts in front of millions of UK customers right at the point when they are searching for products and services like yours. Check out our tips for advertising online with adCenter.

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14. Ask for referrals. One of the best ways to get new customers is when an existing customer recommends you. Sometimes, you just have to ask but also consider ‘customer get customer’ incentives and other ways to get more referrals. 15. Manage customer relationships. Use customer relationship management software, such as Microsoft Outlook with Business Contact Manager, to keep track of all your leads, customers and opportunities. This kind of software can coordinate your whole team’s sales activities. 16. React fast. Get back to customers quickly with proposals or prices. Use your laptop and 3G Mobile Broadband to stay on top of your email. 17. Automate processes. Wherever possible, use checklists, templates and automated processes to speed up customer responses and reduce your workload. For example, you can use a proposal template in Microsoft Word and a checklist to make sure you have filled in all the relevant details. 18. Try social media. Explore social media marketing. Check out Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging with free HP guides on this site. 19. Contact former customers. Go through your list of former customers and make contact with them all. If they left because they were unhappy, you get a chance to put things right and win them back or learn how to improve your business. If they haven’t ordered anything for a while, you can prompt them. 20. Do some PR. You don’t need an expensive PR agency to call up newspapers and magazines who might be interested in your story; especially if you have something new or interesting to say. Raise your profile online, learn how to give a good press interview and improve your press releases. 21. Upsell. Would you like to supersize that? Look for ways to increase the size of each customer’s purchase; perhaps by offering a discount on additional products. 22. Attach. Would you like fries with that? Can you sell additional services or products alongside the customer’s basic order?

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SAVE MONEY
How to save money with technology
Investing in technology can save you money in the long term, providing you make smart choices. This article outlines many ways in which you can cut costs and get better value for money with your IT. Entrepreneurs (understandably) care a lot about the price of new computers. It’s important, but price is only part of the total cost of owning and using a PC. The cost of installation, support and software is also very important. Another factor is the hidden cost of unreliability – business downtime. Smart companies take a long-term view of all these factors. Money-saving checklist  Cheaper may not be better. Consumer PCs may have attractive prices but they are not always suitable for business use. That‘s because most consumer PCs do not offer the robustness to run business applications, the security features to keep your sensitive data safe, and the reliability and durability needed for long-term, daily business use. Consider the total cost of ownership not just the purchase price. Rather than focus on the sticker price consider the total cost of ownership (TCO). This takes into account all the factors: maintenance, reliability, energy consumption and eventual resale value. Set your budget according to business needs. Your time is more valuable than you think. Running an old computer long after it is obsolete may defer the cost of a replacement but it takes a heavy toll of your time. If you find yourself dealing with a slow or unreliable PC, it could be costing you money every day. It’s better to have a plan for upgrading and replacing computers on a rolling basis over time – most businesses replace PCs every three or four years. Buy long-lasting hardware. Conversely, it also makes sense to buy computers that will actually last for three or four years. This means choosing computers that are designed for reliability and which have high-quality components. If a cheap computer breaks after two years and you have to replace it early, it actually costs your business more money than a sturdier PC that lasts. Factor in installation and support costs. How long does it take you to set up a new PC, connect it to the internet, set up anti-virus protection and install software on it? Depending on your level of IT skills, it may be more cost-effective to pay an IT specialist to do this for you. Plan ahead. Ensure your PC can support your business as it grows. At the start-up phase you may not need a lot of capacity or speed, but when business increases, you don‘t want to be faced with a system that is too slow to keep pace. Get finance. Leasing new computers can help cash flow by spreading the cost over the lifetime of the hardware.

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Reduce energy consumption. A PC can cost over €50 a year in electricity, but you can reduce the cost with power management settings that, for example, switch off the monitor if you don’t use your PC for more than five minutes. Today’s computers are considerably more energy-efficient than previous generations, so upgrading can cut power bills. Maximize productivity from existing hardware. Accessories like notebook docking stations, memory upgrades, extended life batteries or ergonomic keyboards and mice can extend the life and productivity of your desktop or notebook PC.

HP recommends  HP Business Notebooks and Desktops. HP has a complete range of computers, which means that you can pick a machine that has the right balance of performance and price for your needs. HP support options. HP computers come with industry-leading warranties and support from a network of local HP Preferred Partners. You can extend the standard warranty with HP Care Packs, for example to add on-site support or longer-term coverage. Use HP power management tools. You can cut your electricity bill using HP Power Manager (available on select HP Business Desktop PCs) to measure and control the amount of power your PC and monitor use.

For more information    HP Environmental Sustainability Measure and manage your energy cost savings HP Accessories: http://hp.com/eur/hpoptions

10 free or low-cost alternatives to expensive software
Don’t pay for something you don’t have to. Check out these cost effective alternatives. When you are looking for places to trim the budget, don't forget to look at the software you are using to write the budget in the first place. There are free alternatives to many of the software programs we use every day. Of course, with free software, you get what you pay for. Some of it is very high quality with large groups of developers working to improve it all the time. Some of it is more like a work in progress with the users as the main testers. And in either case, you don’t get the benefit of paid-for technical support and so if you have a problem you have to resort to searching the web for answers. For this reason, you may need a higher level of technical knowledge or a greater willingness to learn new things if you want to use free software. That said, you really can’t beat the price.

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Operating System. Linux has been popular with power users for over a decade, but most users have avoided it due to a tough learning curve. Ubuntu, which is free to use, aims to alter this by providing an interface that Windows and Mac users will find intuitive. Productivity. Productivity suites form the core of many people's workday, allowing them to prepare documents, spreadsheets, presentations and databases. Try OpenOffice as a free alternative to conventional business applications instead. Image Manipulation. Adobe Photoshop has become synonymous with photo enhancement, but that doesn't mean it is your only option. Whether you just need to get rid of some red eye or know how to juggle multiple layers, Gimp is a free alternative to Photoshop. Vector Graphics. Still relatively new, Inkscape doesn't claim to have all of the features of competitors like Adobe Illustrator, but if vector graphics aren't a major part of your work, this freeware may be enough to get the job done. Desktop Publishing. Desktop publishing software has made it affordable for any company to design professional quality documents and now Scribus has made it free, neatly replacing InDesign, another part of Adobe's expensive Create Suite. Accounting. Extending the popular ZenCart shopping platform, Phreebooks handles accounts and payroll, tracks inventory and comes with multi-platform, multi-language support with much lower licensing fees than Quickbooks. Drafting. Since it was first released in 1982, AutoCAD has become synonymous with architecture and engineering. But before you renew your AutoCAD license, try working with BRL-CAD, an opensource solid modeling application. Database Management. Firebird is a free database management program that can substitute for Microsoft SQL and save you thousands of dollars a year. Based on proprietary source code that was released in 2000, Firebird has been refined by volunteer programmers over the last decade. Business Intelligence. Oracle's costly Business Intelligence has become a favorite tool for data miners, but JasperSoft offers a comprehensive business intelligence suite with a free trial period and significantly lower annual fees. Reporting. SAP's Crystal Reports is considered by some to be the gold standard in reporting software, but OpenReports has a free version that will meet many companies' needs and a fullfeatured professional package that is still much cheaper than Crystal Reports.

Ten ways to win at negotiation
Become an efficient and confident negotiator Negotiating is an essential part of business life especially when collaborating. Whenever you attempt influence others, push through ideas, establish or improve relationships, you are negotiating. Here are 10 tips to help you become an effective and confident negotiator.

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1. Preparation: Never enter negotiations without preparing - the person with the most information usually does better. The more you know about the other side's strengths and weaknesses, the greater your chances of getting what you want. 2. Practice and being confident: The art of persuasion involves a rational and reasonable approach. Practice at every opportunity - most people hesitate to negotiate because they lack the confidence. Develop this confidence by negotiating more frequently. 3. Flexible style: Different types of negotiation require different styles. The secret to negotiation is therefore preparation, confidence, an ability to persuade, and a flexible style. 4. Decide what you want to achieve: Define your expectations from the beginning to avoid confusion at the negotiating table. 5. Separate people from the problem: Negotiators are humans with their own perceptions and feelings. The other party also wants something out of the negotiation; therefore, each position should be taken into consideration. The technique is never to attack, but to stay objective. 6. Listening and responding: Avoid interrupting when the other negotiator has the floor. When speaking, it helps to use sentences that start with “I feel.” 7. Plan B and Plan C: Have a practical back-up plan in case your first plan is unsuccessful - you may end up having to compromise. 8. Focus on mutual interests: An effective negotiator keeps in mind that the other party may be trying to achieve the same goal but may be using different negotiation tactics or strategies. 9. Win-win situation: A successful negotiator tries to work out a solution that is mutually beneficial for both parties. It is about compromise in which all parties get what they want in a mutually beneficial agreement. 10. Put it in writing: If you want to solidify a deal write it down, this ensures that all parties are accountable. A successful negotiator is calm and collected - stating their arguments in a logical and reasonable way, but at the same time, they are not a soft touch. If you are an employee of a small business then Microsoft has some great advice to help you negotiate with your employers.

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BOOST PRODUCTIVITY
How to get more done using workstations
HP Workstations let you do more and get the best performance for your most demanding applications Did you ever sit waiting for your computer to respond? Perhaps you were recalculating a big spreadsheet, working a detailed presentation or waiting for a document to load. Maybe you were working on a big graphics file or editing a video. If you value your time, it can pay to get a faster, more capable computer. Faster is better HP Workstations are like regular PCs on steroids. They help you become more productive by letting you spend more time doing your job and less time waiting for your computer to catch up. This is because they are designed for performance. They still run Microsoft Windows and familiar applications, but they have been optimized with high-performance components, extra memory, faster processors and storage. Maximum performance for digital content People who work with digital content need workstation performance. It makes short work of photo retouching, video editing, 3D modeling, desktop publishing and graphic design. In fact, our workstations are certified by leading software vendors, including Autodesk and Adobe. Reliability boosts productivity Crashes and breakdowns are a big waste of time. Workstations typically have 25 percent longer mean time between failures, which reduces the chances of a hardware problem interrupting your work for an extended period. But HP Workstation reliability doesn’t end there. Features such as error-correcting memory and intelligent cooling reduce the chances of temporary faults causing crashes and short-term interruptions. Get more done with multiple monitors Using more than one monitor at a time can make you much productive. Studies show an average productivity increase of 20-30 percent when using two displays instead of just one. HP Workstations support multiple monitors. Depending on the model and configuration, you can have up to eight different screens. So whatever you do, if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, you’ll get more done with a Workstation than a regular PC. For more information  HP Workstations: hp.eu/workstations  HP Business Monitors

Ways to boost office efficiency
Technology is only part of the process. Change habits to become more efficient.

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Small businesses depend on the motivation and productivity of their staff. With fewer employees, the work rate of each person – and especially the boss – is vital. These tips will help you use IT to become more effective.  Keep track of all your tasks in one place. If you want to get on top of a growing list of things to do, gathering all your tasks in one place is a great way to start. Microsoft Office Outlook makes it easy to track tasks and emails that need follow-up. Take action now. Each time you pick up a piece of paper or open an email, make a habit of dealing with it there and then. Do something about it, file it for future reference or bin it. Putting papers back into your in-tray is a recipe for procrastination. Purge unnecessary stuff. Clutter and irrelevant papers get in the way of what is important. Spend some time sorting out your office and get rid of anything that you don’t actually need. Go wireless. Wireless networks are great for growing businesses. You can connect to the network and the internet without expensive fixed cabling. People can use their HP Notebooks anywhere in the building – at other desks, in meetings and for presentations. Choose wireless access points and routers that support the latest high-speed Wi-Fi standards because this gives greater range and speed (and it’s compatible with older wireless networks). Share information. Using an intranet is a great way to share key information in a team. It’s like a private company-only internet site. Setting up an intranet is a great way to get people to rethink how they store and share files. Choose productive notebooks. Look for Notebooks that have built-in productivity features. For example, HP Business Notebooks include HP QuickWeb, which lets you boot up your computer and get online in a matter of seconds, and HP QuickLook, which displays your Outlook diary and email without having to boot Windows. Use collaboration software. Email isn’t the only way to collaborate digitally. Microsoft Office Groove lets you create workspaces that you can share with colleagues. They can include file libraries, image libraries, calendars and other kinds of information. When you’re online, you have access to the latest information, but when you are not connected, everything is stored on your computer and remains available and gets re-synchronized the next time you’re connected. Go paperless. Save paper: don’t print unnecessary documents and emails. Save space and filing time: scan documents in rather than photocopy them. Centralize your filing. Set up a central filing system, under lock and key if necessary, so that all your company’s important files are kept together (and can be copied and taken offsite as a backup). Similarly, consider investing in a file server and Windows Small Business Server software to run it, so that you can keep all your computer files in one place and control access to them.

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Set up a filing system that works. Create a structure for your paper files so that it is easy to find things. Consider scanning important files into a central computer server using a scanner with a sheet feeder. Choose productive computers. The latest PCs are more powerful than ever before. Batteries last longer, processors run more applications at the same time and they come with more storage. Perhaps it’s time to upgrade?

Increase productivity with HP Notebooks
HP Business Notebooks help you maximize your productivity. HP Extended Life Batteries mean that you can keep working longer. Long and ultra-long life add-on batteries mean you can work longer without recharging. HP’s Ambient Light Sensor, available on some models, can add up to an hour’s extra battery life.

Recharge your batteries quicker with HP Fast Charge Technology.

There’s only one thing more annoying than a flat battery and that’s when it takes forever to recharge. HP’s Fast Charge Technology means that you can recharge up to 90 percent capacity within 90 minutes and an LED tells you when you’re good to go. Quicker recharging means more mobile productivity. Many people use their notebook as their main computer by plugging it into a docking station when they get to the office. You can dock in one step with one hand – no fiddling around or waiting. You can get more work done with a widescreen display. They have up to 30 percent more workspace than a conventional display, and the wide screen lets you see two pages of text side-by-side or view a large spreadsheet more easily. Whether you are managing work files, pictures or music, HP Business Notebooks offer a selection of integrated media readers that incorporate the most popular media card formats, including SD (Secure Digital). This means that you can easily transfer information to and from cameras and other devices. HP’s 3G Mobile Broadband lets you connect at high speed. Because it uses the 3G mobile phone network, you can connect anywhere – not just when you’re near a Wi-Fi connection point or in the office. Users can also connect to company networks

Docking stations make working in different places easier.

See more, do more with a widescreen display.

Optional media readers make working with memory sticks easy.

Get online anywhere at broadband speeds using HP’s 3G Mobile Broadband.

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and databases remotely – ideal for accessing customer records, processing orders or logging service calls in real time. (Broadband connections require separately purchased wireless data service contracts.) Multiple wireless capabilities make it easier to get connected. Mobile workers have never been better connected. HP Business Notebooks offer a choice of built-in communications options. Besides 3G Mobile Broadband, there’s Wi-Fi wireless networking, a modem, a wired network socket and, on many models, Bluetooth for short-range wireless connections. HP has built special controls and buttons into its Business Notebooks so you can get things done more quickly, including a Presentation Button and a Wireless Button. On some models, such as HP ProBooks, HP QuickLook will let you boot up your PC and check your schedule and email in just a few seconds. Most HP Notebooks have a touchpad that includes a scroll zone that lets you quickly scroll up and down through a long document without using a mouse. This makes working on long documents less of a pain in the wrist.

Extra one-touch controls and buttons make your notebook easier to use.

Scroll through long documents quickly with touch scrolling.

How to boost your productivity
Some simple techniques and the right technology may be all you need to get more done. Here are some tips that will help you get more done every day. 1. Keep track of all your tasks in one place. Master your to-do list with something as simple as a stack of index cards or something as powerful as Microsoft Outlook. 2. Access your files anywhere with Microsoft’s Live Sync. 3. Go wireless. Wireless networks are great for growing businesses. You can connect computers to the network and the internet without expensive fixed cabling. 4. Go wireless (faster). The latest wireless networking standard, known as 802.11n or Wireless-N, lets you connect to compatible networks up to five times faster and with up to twice the range. 5. Go paperless. Save paper: don’t print unnecessary documents and emails. Save space and filing time: scan documents rather than photocopy them. 6. Tablet PC. HP tablet PCs let you take handwritten notes and convert them into printed text automatically. It’s great for meetings.

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7. Concentrate. It takes time to build up concentration. Every interruption restarts the clock, wasting productive time. So cut down distractions, use noise-cancelling headphones and try to complete one job before starting the next or taking a break. 8. Do one thing at a time. Research shows that people who focus on one thing at a time get more done than people who try to multitask by juggling several activities at once. 9. Bigger batteries. With HP Extended Life Batteries and certain HP Notebooks you can get up to 24 hours use from a single charge1.

How to design an ergonomic workplace
Poorly designed workplaces and computers can make people uncomfortable and unproductive. This article explains what to buy and how to use a computer ergonomically. A bad working environment can be very expensive for businesses and painful for individuals. Among office workers, repetitive strain injuries are common, not to mention headaches, sore eyes, and aching backs and shoulders. Adjustable monitors and keyboards and good seating arrangements can reduce the risk of injuries. Getting the right temperature and keeping noise down can maximize productivity. Ergonomic checklist  Position your keyboard and mouse. Experts recommend that you place your keyboard and mouse so that you can use them with your body in a relaxed, comfortable position. If you have to reach for them or hunch your shoulders to use them, they’re in the wrong place. Try alternating between your left and right hand when using the mouse to get a break. Get comfortable with your notebook. Consider buying a docking station and external keyboard (with number pad) and mouse for your notebook when you use it for extended periods. Alternatively, a notebook stand can make using a notebook in the office more comfortable and convenient. Choose ergonomic keyboards. Look for a keyboard that has different levels of tilt, including the ability to lie completely flat. Reduce eyestrain with an adjustable monitor. Put the monitor directly in front of you at arm’s length. Adjust the height so that you can see it with your back straight and your eyes tilted slightly downwards. Try to avoid reflections or glare on the screen. A monitor that can swivel and adjust in height will be more comfortable because you can adjust it as you change your posture during the

1

Requires separately purchased Ultra Capacity Battery and customer download of the latest Intel graphics driver and HP BIOS. Notebook must be configured with optional Intel 80 GB SSD drive and HP Illumi-Lite LED Display and requires Microsoft Windows® XP operating system. Battery life will vary depending on the product model, configuration, loaded applications, features, and power management settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will decrease with time and usage.

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day. Consider using an adjustable second monitor for your notebook when it’s in the office – it’ll be more comfortable for extended use.  Reduce noise to increase productivity. Ringing phones, music and loud noises increase stress, interrupt concentration and reduce productivity. Try to minimize unwanted noise. Set the right temperature. Productivity falls if the temperature varies far from around 25oC. Getting too hot or too cold can slow you down.

HP recommends  HP keyboards have three options to make them as comfortable as possible. Using the keyboards’ tilt legs, you can set them at a zero-degree (flat), six-degree or 12-degree angle. For notebook users: an HP Adjustable Notebook Stand and docking station, when combined with an external monitor, keyboard and mouse, lets users use their notebook more ergonomically when it’s in the office. HP external mice, including the HP USB Optical Travel Mouse and the credit card sized HP Bluetooth PC Card Mouse. HP LCD flat-panel monitors are easily adjusted so that users can get comfortable, however tall they are or whatever their working conditions, including some models that can be positioned very low for people wearing bifocal, trifocal or progressive lenses. Energy efficient, quiet, cool PCs. As desktop PCs get more energy-efficient they generate less waste heat and, besides saving energy, this makes offices cooler and more comfortable.

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For more information   For more information about creating an ergonomic workplace, visit www.hp.com/ergo. For more on HP accessories, visit: hp.com/eur/hpoptions.

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IMPROVE TEAMWORK
Collaborate to win
Teamwork: anywhere, anytime. Technology is no substitute for getting the right mix of people in a small business. However, it can free those people from distractions, help them communicate efficiently and let them play to their individual strengths, ensuring that everybody reaches their peak performance. Fewer distractions    “Have you seen this report?” “Can you send me the latest version?” “Is the proposal finished yet?”

Each time someone asks a question, they disrupt the workflow of the person with the answer. It takes around 15 minutes to regain concentration after an interruption, so breaking someone’s flow just to ask them to send over a document is an inefficient way to work. You can reduce this sort of communication by creating a shared workspace. This is a place to store everything relating to a project: documents, meeting minutes, presentations and so on. It means everyone on the project team can access everything from their own PC. Instead of picking up the phone to see if a document has been approved, you can check in seconds from your computer. Meaningful communication Using workspaces can improve communication in your team too. This is because when the technology takes care of the administration, your employees have more time to communicate directly about the things that matter, such as the best way to pitch an idea to a client. Freedom and flexibility There was a time when working together meant everybody had to be in the same room. Those days are gone. HP Notebooks let you go online and access a project’s workspace wherever you can get a Wi-Fi connection. And with the latest Wi-Fi network technology and 3G Mobile Broadband technology, your connection can be as fast as if you were in the office. Flexible working improves employee motivation and retention. People are happier and get more done if they have the freedom to work when and where they want. Productivity increases too, because there is less down time. For example, a two-hour train journey suddenly becomes an opportunity to catch up on your email or write a proposal. Get the latest information

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It’s a crucial meeting with an important client. They want to see your price list, but all you have is the old version you grabbed in a hurry from your desk. Your rough estimate of the costs fails to convince them, and you lose their business. Don’t let this type of problem happen to you. The latest technology lets you get the information you need whenever you need it. For example, log in to your team’s intranet or online workspace (you can use your client’s internet connection or your notebook’s 3G capabilities) and grab the most up-to-date prices. Quick reactions Sometimes you need a fast, coordinated response to prevent a problem from getting worse or to take advantage of an opportunity. Technology can help you do better. With shared calendars plus voice and video messaging, you can see where people are and reach them, fast. If the procedures to follow are stored centrally, members of your team can log in and respond to the issue, wherever they are. HP recommends   HP Virtual Rooms. Using online collaboration tools, like HP Virtual Rooms, can help bring teams together and improve communication with clients and colleagues alike. Notebooks with webcams. Choose HP Business Notebooks with built-in webcams. This lets you use internet video conferencing software to talk to colleagues remotely. You can also use webcams to record presentations or podcasts to improve communication. HP Notebook Projection Companion. This ultra-compact mini-projector lets you display your notebook screen on a meeting room wall for everyone to see. It’s a great way to share ideas and work together in small meetings and presentations.

The art of the meeting
Want to run a snappy, smart meeting? Here’s how. Meetings are the opposite of work. Few people enjoy them and they always seem to last too long. If meetings are brisk and do the business, then people will turn up on time, they won’t talk nonsense and they will pay attention. Decisions will be made quickly. For growing businesses, efficient meetings can be a competitive advantage. This means addressing the symptoms of bad meetings as well as the underlying disease. That disease is a lack of clarity about what meetings are good for and how to use them. The symptoms of bad meetings are:
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People arrive late. The most assertive (or senior) people in the room dominate the meeting. Decisions take a long time to reach.

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Making bad decisions just because everyone agrees with them. Irrelevant discussions. People check their email, doodle or otherwise pass the time

Redesigning meetings  Format. Do you need to get together at all? Would a phone call, an email, a blog post, a report or some other form of communication do the business? Sometimes the best meeting is the one that doesn’t take place. This is especially true of recurring ‘same time, same place’ meetings. Time. No meeting should outlast its attendees' patience. Be clear about the start time and when the meeting will finish. Then start and end on schedule. Set an objective. Be clear about what the meeting is for. Is it to make a decision or brainstorm a solution to a problem or coordinate different people’s conflicting priorities? If you are clear, then you can keep everyone focused. Write an agenda. It doesn’t have to be over-formal, but a list of the questions or problems that need to be resolved helps everyone prepare and helps keep the meeting on target. Preparation. Everyone should know the schedule, the objective and agenda in advance. This gives them a chance to prepare and gives them a chance to make sure the agenda reflects their needs. This should avoid last-minute surprises that throw a meeting off-course. Steer the meeting. Someone should chair the meeting. Ensure that the meeting stays on schedule and focuses on the key decisions. Make sure no one person dominates the conversation and encourage the quieter attendees to share their views. Take minutes. Meeting minutes answer two questions: what decisions were reached and who is going to carry them out. Verbose minutes reflect imprecise thinking. Crisp minutes reflect a well-run meeting. Review action items. When the meeting is nearly finished, one person should briefly summarize the action items using the minutes. That way, there’s no doubt about who is doing what.

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The small amount of extra work involved in preparing for more disciplined meetings is offset by the time and energy they save. The biggest challenge is persuading people to change their attitude. The best way to do this is to set a good example yourself. Once people see a model of good meetings, they will be quick to adopt it. Tips for smarter meetings

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1. Consider your options. Do you really need this meeting at all? Could you replace it with an email update or a chat over instant messaging? 2. Use mind maps. A mind map is a way to think through an agenda in a more creative way. Software such as Mindjet MindManager can digitize the process. 3. Count the cost. Add up the hourly salary cost of everyone attending the meeting and multiply by the duration. Does it represent value for money? 4. Set standards. Set common expectations about how your business does meetings. Everyone should know how to chair a meeting, how to take minutes, how to brainstorm etc. You should also set clear expectations about arriving on time. 5. Schedule breaks. Don’t let long meetings continue without giving people a chance to take a break. Schedule the start and end time of the breaks and don’t let people wander off for a coffee, cigarette or email break. 6. Have meetings standing up. Discomfort is a great way to focus people’s minds and prevent unproductive conversation. 7. Hold meetings before lunch. Similarly, people are unlikely to tolerate overrun if they’re hungry. 8. Schedule shorter meetings. Agendas always seem to expand to fill the time allotted to them. It’s too tempting to schedule meetings for an hour or half an hour because that’s the default in Outlook and other diary software. Try scheduling different times and different durations. 9. Finish meetings early. Try to finish at quarter to the hour so people can get to another appointment that starts on the hour. 10. Ten-minute meetings. Try scheduling ten-minute meetings. Send out a very tight agenda and all the supporting documents in advance. Give everyone a brief opportunity to have their say and then move to a decision. 11. Replace routine meetings. Status reports and so on don’t need meetings. Don’t let a ‘same time, same place’ meeting carry on after it has done its job. 12. Deflect distractions. If an issue comes up that is interesting but off-topic, note it on a whiteboard or in the minutes so that it doesn’t get lost. And then move on with the agenda. 13. Shorter minutes. There’s usually no need to record who said what; just what decisions you took and who is going to do what. 14. Manage talkative people. Don’t put talkative people opposite the person chairing the meeting – that way they won’t always get eye contact and start talking. Don’t be afraid to challenge repeat

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offenders (one to one, outside the meeting as a courtesy). “I’m always interested in your views but perhaps with a bit of preparation you could be more succinct in meetings.” 15. Get everyone to contribute. If you are running the meeting, always ask quiet people for their views. They might have a critical contribution but lack confidence to speak. 16. Use a timer. Make sure each meeting room has a large clock with a second hand on it. If time is short, set time limits on individual contributions or a strict timetable for each part of the agenda. 17. Encourage brevity. Ask people to circulate lengthy reports in advance by email. Let people give high-level summaries but don’t let status reports turn into lengthy monologues. Try to focus on the information that the meeting as a whole needs to know. 18. Learn from your successes (and your mistakes). After each meeting, spend a minute to ask everyone what went well and what they would change next time. Those who don’t learn from bad meetings are condemned to repeat them. 19. Use document templates. Microsoft Word has many templates that you can use to create an agenda or minutes quickly. You can use these as a starting point for your own company templates. 20. Use a computer to capture actions. An HP notebook or tablet PC with a projector is a great tool for capturing minutes and ideas in a meeting. Whiteboards and flipcharts are okay for capturing ideas during a meeting, but a computer never runs out of space and it’s easy to add and delete new ideas as you go. 21. Project rooms. If you are working on a long-term project, consider setting up a permanent project room where all the meetings for that project take place. You can cover the walls with relevant material and keep documents and files in it. Or you could have a meeting room with a project wall. 22. Use Microsoft® PowerPoint®. PowerPoint puts the control in your hands to create great-looking presentations. The special two-monitor Presenter View lets your audience see the slideshow on a projector while your notebook displays speaker notes, the current slide and a clock – ideal for staying on track. 23. Avoid ‘same time, same place’ meetings. Regular meetings create a sense of continuity but it’s easy to lapse into bad habits – no agenda, no minutes, and a bloated invitation list. The best idea is to treat each scheduled meeting like a one-time meeting. 24. Ban email in meetings. If people spend all day in pointless meetings it’s easy to understand why they bring notebooks and answer their email; but if meetings are going to get shorter and more efficient, you’ll need their full attention. Offer this deal: we’ll cut meetings in half so you can give your full attention to the meeting now and your full attention to your email later.

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25. Use Outlook to schedule meetings. Office Outlook has several features that make organizing meetings much easier. These include the ability to see group schedules and other people’s calendars as well as the ‘Plan a Meeting’ tool, which automatically chooses a mutually convenient time for a group.

How to streamline meetings with technology
Looking for a way to get out of all those meetings? Use technology to upgrade from face-to-face to computer-to-computer. We’ve all walked out of meetings thinking that it would have been quicker to send an email or chat over the phone. Now, there are new ways to get better results, more efficiently, using technology. As small businesses embrace telecommuting, outsourcing and virtual teams, this kind of technology will become even more important. Instant messaging You can use instant messaging software such as Windows Live™ Messenger to communicate with your colleagues. At its most basic, it lets you have typed conversations with other people in real time; it’s a bit like a combination of email and phone text messaging. It’s more immediate than email but less disruptive than a phone call. You can invite as many people as you like to join a conversation and you can have many conversations going at the same time. With broadband connections, you can use it to have voice or video conversations too. Many HP Notebooks include a webcam, making it an ideal computer for this. Instant messaging has many of the attributes of a meeting, but you can do it from your desk while you work on other things. Microsoft® SharePoint Workspace Microsoft SharePoint Workspace is a tool that’s specifically designed to help teams collaborate. Team members can access and edit files stored on a central server. Two of the many tools in Groove specifically help with team communication. Workspace Chat helps team members communicate in real time in the context of a particular workspace. You can communicate in Workspace Chat using text or voice, depending on your needs. Voice messages are sent only to members who are actively working in the workspace. Text chats, on the other hand, are sent to all members, who receive a flashing alert indicating that someone is attempting to communicate with them. The Groove Discussion tool helps teams engage in a detailed exchange of ideas in context of the work they are doing in the workspace. The conversational thread is tracked in a chronological, topic/response structure. Conference call Conference calls let several people talk together on the phone. It’s like being in a meeting but without the travel or formality. It saves time because you don’t have to leave your desk to attend the meeting.

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Web conference A web conference or webinar allows users to see a live presentation over the internet. Web conference tools often include the ability to chat, talk over the phone, screen share, view live video, share a virtual whiteboard and conduct polls. A web conference is like a conference call in that it requires users to attend in real time. However, they can do so from their own office and they can use online features to get more done. Products such as HP Virtual Rooms provide the software to enable web conferences.

Recipes for a better workplace
How to spice up your office without spending a fortune. It’s tempting and easy to cram people into inadequate offices. It cuts overheads, and the human cost is difficult to measure and not always obvious. In fact, one of the reasons why people prefer to work in a smaller business is the opportunity to work in a more ‘free range’ workplace with less conformity and rigidity. However, the extra cost of buying good office furniture and providing a little more floor space is negligible as a proportion of someone’s annual salary or the cost of replacing a disgruntled worker. More importantly, environment can make a dramatic difference in productivity. The good news is that many improvements to the working environment don’t cost anything except management commitment and a willingness to try new ideas.  Increase personal space. For maximum productivity, people need plenty of personal space, a large desk, some personal storage and bookshelves. It’s easy to cram people into less space than they need and many companies do it to save money. The easiest way to give people more space without moving to bigger offices is to encourage more people to work flexibly. This will let you allocate some desks as ‘hot desks’ to be shared between people who work offsite. By eliminating underused desks this way, you can free up some space for everyone else. For smaller businesses, a mix of hot desking and flexible working practices can help you cut your office rental costs. Many HP Desktop PCs are available with small or ultra-slim form factors which means they take up far less desk space than traditional PCs. Boost concentration. People need to concentrate to do their best work. Too much noise generates stress. But modern offices are full of ringing phones, music, chatter and interruptions. For more ‘flow’ and less interruption, put mobile phones on vibrate and provide a separate space for calls. Separate heavy phone users from people who need to do creative work. Encourage the use of instant messaging to cut down on chatter. Consider buying people good-quality headphones so that they can listen to music without disturbing others. Let there be light. Try to give people as much natural light as possible. Cut down on the use of harsh overhead fluorescent lights by providing standard lamps and desk lamps.

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Stimulate the senses. Replace dull beige blinds with colorful curtains. Put a fresh scent in the office with potpourri, candles or fresh flowers. Use color: paint a feature wall with a bright color or put up large colorful posters. Put up a bulletin board where you can glance at favorite quotes, cartoons and pictures clipped from newspapers and magazines. Office improvement funds. Give each team or work area a small amount of money and let them spend it how they want to improve or personalize their own space. You’ll be surprised about how inventive they can be. A breath of fresh air. Move copiers and other devices out to a ventilated area. Turn down the heat and open a window. Park life. A few well-chosen plants can brighten an office and improve the atmosphere. Buy good furniture. The difference in price between a cheap desk and a good desk is small. It’s the same for chairs. Buy the very best you can afford – they’ll last longer, look better and improve productivity. If budgets are tight, it may be better to buy good, second-hand furniture instead of low-quality, cheap new furniture. Steal good ideas. Buy some books on office design and steal the ideas in them for layout, design, colors and so on. Tidy up. Once a month, have each team spend an hour or two tidying up their area. Get rid of clutter; straighten desks, empty junk from drawers etc. It’s a cheap, quick way of making the office smarter and it will encourage teamwork. Don’t be a boss, be a colleague. Don’t buy yourself a better desk, bigger chair or smarter computer until your colleagues in the rest of the business have something equally good. Take the money you planned to spend on redecorating the reception area or improving your own office and spend it on something that benefits everyone. Yes, it’s a gesture but it shows a commitment to improving the workplace. Improve the ergonomics of your office. A healthy, efficient office is more likely to be a happy one. After all, uncomfortable chairs, poor keyboard and screen positions and low-quality monitors and accessories can make people uncomfortable or even injure them. Read more about how to design an ergonomic workplace.

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HP recommends  Space-efficient HP designs. Compact HP small form factor Desktops and HP Business Notebooks can save space, making your office more productive and user friendly. HP Accessories. Accessories such as Notebook docking stations, wireless mice and premium headphones can make a working environment more comfortable and productive.

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For more information    For more information about creating an ergonomic workplace, visit www.hp.com/ergo. For more on HP accessories, visit: hp.com/eur/hpoptions. Read more about HP Professional Innovations.

Ten ways to improve collaboration with IT
Stay competitive in the fast paced economy with these top collaboration tips For decentralized teams working in a fast-paced, idea-driven economy, calling a weekly meeting isn't good enough. By leveraging IT, modern workplaces are staying competitive by re-imagining teamwork as a process of constant communication and collaboration. 1. Google Apps. Google Apps is a collaborative work platform incorporating Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar and more. Hardware and OS independent, Google Apps is a great choice for companies that want to avoid the cost of an IT department. 2. Microsoft SkyDrive. SkyDrive provides a collaborative interface that works seamlessly with the Microsoft Office suite, allowing your employees to work together right away, without having to get used to new applications. 3. Wikispaces. Wikipedia has created a new standard for collaborative editing, and you can follow suit with Wikispaces. Wikis are especially popular for creating documentation on large projects. 4. Skype. Placing a call or sending an email is fine for a simple exchange of information, but nothing beats face time for creating rapport and Skype makes that possible, even if your client is halfway around the world. 5. BaseCamp. With a simple interface and intuitive features, BaseCamp is designed to be used constantly. This simple platform, which markets itself to entrepreneurs and small businesses, already has millions of adherents. 6. OfficeMedium. Taking collaboration a step further, OfficeMedium combines productivity applications and social network with full client integration. Clients are able to interact with the rest of the team according to your specifications, ensuring there are no surprises when the final product is delivered. 7. Socialtext. Combining social networking, microblogging and wikis into a single interface, Socialtext creates an information-rich work environment that gets everyone working in unison. With its webbased architecture, Socialtext is meant to complement, not replace, the IT system that your company currently has in place. 8. Office Web Apps. Did you know that you can get Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote with nothing more than a web browser and an internet connection? Microsoft Office Web Apps are free and offer basic Office functionality online, with the ability to transfer files seamlessly back and forth from the full desktop versions.

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9. Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite. With Microsoft’s internet based online services, you can get a complete email server, intranet and other collaboration tools. 10. Virtual Rooms. HP Virtual Rooms creates an online space for you to meet colleagues and clients, chat with them and share your desktop, your presentations and any applications you want to run. It’s real time and it’s easy to use.

Leaders and followers: how to succeed at teamwork
How to lead Succeeding as a team is an effective motivator of employee performance. A good team leader enables team members to collaborate and communicate more effectively. They also need to take a good look at the team and diagnose what is hampering communication and decision-making. Common problems in a team:  Conflicting styles of decision-making: Your job as team leader is make decisions based on principles rather than personality. Lack of trust: Trust is essential for any team- it is the foundation of collaboration. It takes a leader who is willing to show integrity and take on the hard work of dealing with differences to build trust within a team

As well as needing a strong team leader, teams need strong team players to perform well and take initiative. How to follow Everyone talks about leadership, but not about the skills required to be an effective team member. Followership is also a skill.
1.

Communicate constructively: Do not shy away from making a point but make it in the best way possible — clearly, directly, and respectfully. Listen: Teams need team players who can absorb and understand ideas without debating every point. Such a team member also can receive criticism without reacting defensively. Actively participate: Be prepared in meetings, listen and speak up in discussions. Engage in the work of the team and do not sit passively on the sidelines. Support the team: Team players show courtesy and consideration to other team members. Share: Share information, knowledge, and experience. Take the initiative to keep other team members informed. Good team players are active in informal sharing - they pass along important to keep other team members in the loop.

2.

3.

4. 5.

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Cooperates: Work with others and act together to accomplish a job. Respond to requests for assistance and take the initiative to offer help. Flexible: Teams often deal with changing conditions — and often create changes. A flexible team member can consider different points of views and compromise when needed. Solve problems: Team players get problems out in the open for discussion and then collaborate with others to find solutions and form action plans. Commitment: Strong team players care about their work, the team, and the team's work. They want to give a good effort, and they want other team members to do the same.

7.

8.

9.

10. Reliable: Make sure you do your fair share and meet commitments. Be consistent - deliver a

good performance all the time, not just some of the time. When a team takes on full responsibility for their own success, they are more productive and make better decisions. Strong team leaders and good team players are the foundation of a successful business.

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BE A GREAT BOSS
The seven habits of inspirational managers
How to use technology to be an inspirational manager. Why does one company thrive and another fail? What is the difference between an inspirational manager and a bad one? In 2007, HP produced a report called The Seven Habits of Ambitious Companies (PDF Format) to try to answer these questions. Taking our cue from Aristotle (“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit”), we decided that success had its roots in habits driven by ambition. The habits that work for large companies also work for individual managers and small businesses. 1. Inspirational managers have big ideas. They have a clear, plausible, optimistic vision of the future. They can articulate this vision clearly in a way that earns the allegiance of their staff. They set big, ambitious goals and help their people to achieve them. They thrive on change but stay true to their purpose. They use technology to help them communicate and share their ideas. 2. Inspirational managers stay focused. They are flexible about means but constant about objectives. They have a bias for action, for analysis without paralysis, for delegation. This means having the right tools for the job. For example, HP Business Notebooks give smart managers the basic tools of their trade. Designed for business and portability, they let managers carry all the information they need, work wherever they want and concentrate on the task at hand. 3. Inspirational managers build momentum. They make smart, timely decisions. They remove obstacles to productivity and have fewer, shorter meetings. They don’t let the impossible interfere with the possible. Inspirational managers automate the routine tasks and make sure that everyone in their team knows exactly what’s going on while working through the important tasks. 4. Inspirational managers put people first. They are unapologetic about going after the best talent available. They maximize their return on people with training, meritocracy, flexible working and respect. Technology can play a role here too. IT can help managers coordinate their team, improve teamwork and provide training for their staff. Good small business leaders have an advantage because convention or restrictive bureaucracy does not bind them. 5. Inspirational managers encourage communication. Communication is at the heart of effective management. Inspirational managers listen well, build

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consensus and communicate decisions. This means using every possible line of communication possible. This is where new communication technology comes in. Examples include Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), instant messaging, intranets, blogs, Wikis, social networking, desktop video conferencing etc. Small companies can deploy new technology quicker and get a bigger payback from small investments in IT than their larger competitors – indeed the internet enables the smallest firms to compete on equal terms with many larger businesses. 6. Inspirational managers manage innovation. Inspirational managers try new things, mixing the safe with the revolutionary. They don’t punish failure to succeed, only failure to try. Smaller companies find it easier to roll out new technology fast. They don’t have the bureaucracy of their larger competitors so they can try new technology and see if it enhances their operations. 7. Inspirational managers listen to their conscience. They have an environmental and social conscience and listen to it. Not just because they have to, but also because it is the right thing to do and because it makes good business sense. Buying from HP means you don’t have to make compromises – HP Eco Solutions is one of the leading environmental programs in the IT industry.

How to manage remote workers
Managers and staff need new ways of working together when they’re working apart. 1. It’s all about time. Set deadlines. Book phone calls and chats using instant messenger (IM) software. Set yourself a reminder. 2. Know your team. Make sure you spend some face-to-face time with your team, both at work and informally. 3. Share documents. Microsoft® SharePoint Workspace 2010 (the new name for Microsoft Office Groove) makes it easy to share documents over the internet and for remote teams to collaborate. 4. Measure. Find ways to monitor and track work that people are doing. This will build trust and replace the more informal, face-to-face supervision. 5. Delegate effectively. Set objectives that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. 6. Respect people’s personal time. Don’t fall into the trap of treating remote workers as if they were on call 24/7 simply because you can contact them outside ‘normal’ office hours. 7. Take pictures. Post pictures of your team members or people on a conference on a website or pin board so that you can visualize people when you talk to them.

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8. Listen. In an office, you can see when someone is upset, angry, or bored. When they’re on the end of a telephone, you need to listen actively and ask questions to find out how they’re doing. 9. Trust and be trusted. Trust builds when people do what they say they are going to do. As a boss, you need to set the highest standards of consistency and reliability. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. 10. Take turns. Let other people run meetings occasionally. 11. Get objective feedback. Use 360-degree appraisals (consider including employees’ families) and customer or peer surveys to make sure your virtual team is working well. 12. Keep a schedule. Use Microsoft Outlook calendar feature to book meetings and share your schedule with your team (and vice versa). 13. Be a role model. Set an example with your own punctuality, commitment, reliability and availability. 14. Give recognition. It costs nothing to write a thank you note or to give praise where it is due. Recognition is a powerful motivator. 15. Change your management style. Switch from managing by input (time in the office) to managing by output (goals met). 16. Avoid second-class citizens. Once you’ve proven the concept, everybody should get a chance to work flexibly (unless their job prevents it). Don’t give one person a notebook while chaining a colleague to their desk. 17. Training. Train managers and employees about the challenges and techniques of flexible working. Don’t assume that everyone knows how to do it well – they don’t. Individuals may need extra help with, say, writing reports or using IT. 18. Don’t isolate people. Encourage regular visits to the main workplace, include flexible workers in company social events; and have more of those. Put procedures in place to monitor for stress and counteract it. 19. Over-communicate. Many remote and home workers use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol, or using the internet as a telephone connection). Many HP Notebooks include a built-in webcam that makes it easier to do video conferencing.

How to create a happy company
Independent research reveals what makes employees happy, productive and smart.

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Happiness is important. Aristotle defined it as ‘the highest good, being a realization and perfect practice of virtue’. The American constitution claims its pursuit as an inalienable right. At HP, we think it is important in business too. HP stands for Hewlett-Packard. It could also stand for Happy People. What employees really think We asked 800 people who work in small companies what made them happy and what made them unhappy. It doesn’t come as a big surprise that unnecessary and inefficient paperwork was a major problem. Small business managers struggle with temperamental computers, inefficient technology and missing or poorly filed information. All this inefficiency is a hidden cost to businesses. Across Europe, small and medium-sized companies employ about half the workforce. If small businesses do not use reliable, effective technology to streamline paperwork, access the right information and get things done, they risk paying a high price in morale, productivity and efficiency.  Streamline paperwork. When it comes to paperwork, almost half (45.3 percent) of the people we surveyed would love to avoid form-filling and unnecessary paperwork. Four out of ten workers would love to have some help with basic administrative tasks. A significant minority would prefer to catch up on their paperwork away from the office, using up time that would otherwise go to waste. Find what you need. Almost a third (31 percent) of owner-managers struggled to access the right information quickly and easily. A similar proportion (27 percent) suffered from inefficient filing of documents. This means they spend several hours a week needlessly looking for lost information. Make IT work for you. Gartner, a research firm, reckons that one in ten notebooks is damaged each year. Tens of thousands of notebooks are lost or stolen every year too. These risks put a huge premium on choosing notebooks that are designed to be robust, reliable, long lasting and secure.

What makes people happy? A third of the people we surveyed felt that their office was dull, inefficient and miserable. This suggests that there is a lot that companies everywhere can do to make the workplace happier. A similar proportion reported that stress prevented a happier working environment. Many things make them miserable, including bureaucracy, short lunch breaks, commuting, idiotic meetings and lack of recognition for their contribution. What would make employees happier? They really want to take back control of their time, to have the option of working from home and to dictate their own working hours.  46 percent of employees would be happier if they could work from home when they really needed to and four out of ten workers would be happier if they could dictate their own working hours. A similar number of workers (46 percent) said that having greater flexibility would make them more productive, whereas 45 percent said that they would feel more motivated.

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Almost a third of workers (29 percent) cite stress as one of the main factors preventing happiness within their office.

Another problem was overlong, time-consuming meetings. More than a fifth of respondents (22 percent) would be happier if they could have fewer, shorter meetings. Free-range workers We carried out an experiment, led by a cognitive neurophysiologist, that was designed to test the impact of different working environments on employees. Would freedom and flexibility make people happier (and more productive)? We built two environments. The first resembled an overcrowded chicken farm. It contained cramped, cluttered surfaces with slow PCs and bulky CRT monitors. The second was more ‘free range’. It was designed to give people the space and technology to get on with the job. We also gave people in the second office the option to work from home if they chose. Our experiment proved that volunteer workers subjected to working in poor offices suffered from increased stress, diminished IQ and struggled to retain and process information. The same workers, given the freedom, tools and trust to work in a more flexible style, experienced a dramatic improvement in their mental well-being. The results were startling:      Productivity shot up by 400 percent. Stress levels fell by more than 50 percent. IQ scores increased by an average of 28 percent. Blood pressure was lower. Short-term memory improved. Volunteers retained 33 percent more information.

The working environment, the computers we use and the option to work from home has a significant impact on people’s happiness, well-being, IQ and productivity.

Technology for people management
How to use technology to recruit and retain the best staff. Technology is entering every area of people management – whether it is finding the right talent, retaining the best employees or helping your employees to do their best. Technology can enhance recruitment, improve training and simplify appraisals. What can you do with technology?  Find talent. With online job-search websites, you can find a much wider pool of talent than with traditional advertisements or your own network. Networking online using professional networking

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sites such as LinkedIn, Viadeo or Xing is another way to find the best people, especially those who are not seeking to move jobs actively, but may consider an offer if it is interesting enough.  Reduce unnecessary paperwork. Using online forms (such as FormStack), intranets (such as Microsoft SharePoint Server) or online HR applications (such as RedTape), you can reduce the tedious paperwork that stops people getting on with their real job. Company branding. It’s hard to reach the best talent if your company doesn’t have something to offer them, such as challenging work or a creative work environment. Web 2.0 tools such as company blogs, videos or participating in online communities are a great way to stay engaged with this audience. It is also an opportunity to keep your company in the spotlight as the “right” company to work for and communicate your work culture. Actionable feedback. CRM software that provides real-time customer feedback can be used to measure and reward employees’ performance. For example, CRM makes it easier to calculate sales performance and calculate bonuses. This kind of recognition – personal and specific – is highly motivating. Performance management. Performance management software helps to make the appraisal process much faster and smoother. Instead of cumbersome paper forms, these systems provide for a 360-degree feedback process, which include feedback from bosses and team members as well as a self-appraisal. It’s easy to build online forms and gather feedback over the internet. Build virtual teams. You can use collaboration tools like HP Virtual Rooms and online video and audio conferencing software like Skype to bring together teams, wherever they work. Virtual learning. Employees find it difficult to attend training after hours and training during office hours cuts severely into work time. Virtual access to training can save time and help employees in remote locations. It can also help your company save on travel and other costs. HP provides free online business and IT training at HP LIFE.

Create a strong business plan
How to create it, what to say and the best way to say it. For entrepreneurs and business owners, a business plan is very important. It is a necessity for fundraising but it can also help you understand your own business better. It is a useful way of distilling what is important about your business and communicating it to employees, potential recruits and other stakeholders. Creating the ideal business plan means knowing what to say and using the right tools to say it. What to communicate Business plans can be as long as a hundred pages or as short as a few PowerPoint slides. Whatever format you choose, a business plan must include:

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Your reason to exist. Who is your target customer? What does the product or service do for them and why is it better than the competition? Is it price, service, quality, design, efficiency or something else? If you find yourself unable to define this, you may need to go back to the start and reconsider the whole idea. Price and cost. This section should detail what you will charge for your product or service, what it costs to deliver it and how much you expect to spend on marketing and other expenses to generate sales. The market. Not all market needs are equally profitable; there may not be enough willing customers or they may be hard to reach. Consider your potential customers and what will motivate them to buy from you. Some market research, even on a very small scale, can be very helpful. Decisions made on small amounts of evidence are better than decisions made on no evidence at all. Understanding you customers can help you get a sense of how big the market opportunity is. Don’t forget to evaluate your competition. How do they compare on price, quality and other factors? How can you differentiate yourself from them? Sales and marketing. The business plan also needs an overview of how you will deliver your product or service to customers. For example, will you sell direct, online, through resellers, agents or franchisers? What marketing and PR strategies will you use to promote yourself? About the core team. Funders, financial analysts and potential employees will all want to know about the core team and their prior expertise in related areas. Revenue and profitability. This section should detail estimates of the break-even period, cash flow, revenue and costs. A good forecast will help you check your assumptions and track your performance.

 

Tools to help Writing a business plan can be daunting. However, there are many tools, which will help you get started:  Spreadsheets. It is much easier to create budgets and other financial plans using spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel. You can use a spreadsheet to do ‘what-if’ scenarios and you can turn figures into graphs and charts to make them easier to understand. Templates. Microsoft Office offers free ready to use templates for business plans in Word or PowerPoint format. Business planning software. You can buy software to help you write a business plan. These tools will take you through the process of writing a business plan in a step-by-step way with plenty of guidance and information.

Staff training using IT
Getting value with free and online resources

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As companies try to keep costs at an optimal level, training budgets are among the earliest to be cut. But, when times are tough, businesses need training more than ever for employees to stay up-to-date and to compete in the marketplace. Don’t stop training. Instead, manage your budget better using technology and the many free and online resources available. Technology helps training E-learning programs can be a great way to help your employees continue upgrading their skills, without paying for travel and classroom expenses. E-learning programs can either be simply picked off the shelf or customized to your requirements. Make sure that the content is sufficiently interesting and interactive. If you have access to a trainer, e-learning programs can be blended with contact activities where employees can interact with the trainer in person or using instant messaging and desktop video conferencing to discuss what they have learnt. There are also innumerable free learning resources available on the web. Many universities also put out free training content online. For entry level training especially, such courses can be very useful, if there is a manager or training to provide some additional help. If you have a trainer, he or she could also use free resources available online and customize a program based on your employees’ needs. Employees don’t always need training from outside. Why not create an internal online forum where people can discuss the problems that they face and learn from one another? This kind of informal learning works well for experienced people who know what assistance they need. Online industry forums, analyst briefings and webinars are other places where your employees can learn and a good substitute for seminars and conferences. Finally, don’t give up on classroom programs altogether. There are many areas where the group problem solving and real-time interaction found in a classroom training session is essential. Instead of eliminating such programs, make them as virtual as possible. Web conferencing programs such as HP Virtual Rooms now make it possible to bring together employees in virtual classrooms where they can interact with one another and the trainer, and learn with visual aids, while avoiding travel and classroom expenses. For more information 
For a fun and interactive way to learn how to make your business grow faster using technology, please visit HP LIFE.

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Ten ways to get free online training
Training is a smart way to increase your productivity. However, training budgets are often the first thing you cut when times get tough. So, how can you use technology to cut the cost of training or even get it free? Here are some tips. 1. University courses. Apple’s iTunes University gives you free access to 350,000 films, videos and lectures from some of the world’s greatest institutions. 2. Online teachers. Skype is a great tool for free internet phone and video conferencing. They have a directory of advice and service providers, including tutors and language teachers. 3. Web conferencing. If you want to run training courses yourself, online webinars can be a way to reach people in different offices or people who are working from home, cutting the cost of room hire and travel. Check out HP Virtual Rooms – the perfect tool for web conferences. 4. LIFE. HP recommends LIFE, the Learning Initiative For Entrepreneurs. It contains interactive business simulations and other engaging tools for learning new business skills. 5. Free language training. Have a look at LiveMocha, which gives you access to free online training courses and links you up with native speakers of your chosen language so you can practice. 6. YouTube. If you need help with something practical, why not look on YouTube? The video site has thousands of how-to videos, such as how to defragment your hard drive in Windows 7. 7. eBooks. There are free eBooks, guides and other documents on sites such as Issuu and Scribd. 8. Blogs. Sometimes a daylong training course is good. Sometimes a drip-feed of new ideas and insights is better. Sites like IT Donut and HP’s Business Answers blog can be helpful. 9. Software companies. Don’t overlook the information in your software help files and on manufacturers’ websites. For example, Microsoft has a big library of online training tools and there is a huge library of on-demand training for all the Office programs (e.g. Word and Excel). 10. HP Business Answers. Check out the business advice on the HP Business Answers.

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PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS
How to improve IT security
Enforce the basics. Look for easy ways to do more. Fully exploit the technology you have. Digital assets are just as important as things you can see and kick. For example, imagine what would happen if your email stopped working or you lost your accounting records or customer contact database. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your business’s digital assets.  Make sure you’ve covered the basics. It’s important to have a plan. The basics include anti-virus, firewalls and software updates on client machines and boundary firewalls as well as server antivirus, intrusion detection, locks and alarms. Don’t forget to think about staff training and policies. Control rogue wireless networks. It is very easy to set up an unmanaged wireless network – simply plugging a wireless access point to an existing network socket will do it. Make sure everyone understands the security implications involved and, if appropriate, ban the use of unmanaged access points. Get advice, alerts and warnings. Keep your software and protection software up-to-date and get alerts and warnings from a reputable source. You can find a list of official European CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Teams) at the ENISA website. Review your standard disk image. HP computers come with a range of HP ProtectTools security software. Rather than automatically installing a generic disk image, consider incorporating some of these tools into your standard image. Many of the tools have their origins in third-party software that you can also install on non-HP kit. Of course, switching to an all-HP fleet simplifies the problem even further. Consider open source solutions. For example (and this is not a recommendation), you might consider using an open source anti-virus program, such as ClamWin.

How HP can help HP computers and thin clients have a range of built-in features that enhance security. This section looks at some of the resources and technology available from HP and how to get the most out of it.  Prevent data loss with conventional PCs. HP ProtectTools software can reduce the risk of data loss. The suite includes HP Credential Manager and HP Authentication Services (to manage logins), HP Device Manager (prevents copying to removable media) and HP DriveLock (whole disk encryption). When it comes to recycling, HP Disk Sanitizer is built into the BIOS so you can securely erase all the data on a PC before handing it over. Combined with fingerprint scanners or smart card readers, HP hardware and bundled HP ProtectTools software can make the job of managing security much easier.

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Reduce the pain of laptop loss. Employees want flexibility, and notebook PCs let them work wherever they want. But laptops get lost – it is inevitable. The important thing is to prevent thieves accessing the data stored on them. HP Mobile Thin Clients give you a remote client alternative to conventional laptops. Using Wi-Fi or (optionally) 3G Mobile Broadband to connect to a remote client, thin clients have no local data. For conventional Notebooks, HP DriveLock provides wholedisk encryption. (Broadband connections require separately purchased wireless data service contracts.) Peace of mind for notebook users. Depending on which country you are in, HP Tracking and Recovery Services (http://hp.eu/nbtrackingservice) can help you protect the data on your notebook PCs and recover stolen computers. Optional Care Pack enhancements such as Accidental Damage Protection and Travel Next Business Day Onsite Response, can make life less stressful for laptop users.
Protect against malware.HP Recommends Norton Internet Security. New HP commercial PCs come with a 60-day full version of Norton Internet Security and the option of a cost-effective 12-month subscription. This includes an up-to-date protection against the most recent online threats (viruses, spywares, trojans, phishing etc.) without slowing your PC down. It is easy to setup and manage and is ideal for protecting your business and your bottom line.

Control access to sensitive data using remote clients. Switching to HP Remote Client Solutions and HP Thin Clients leaves no data at all on the desktop. Even if a terminal or HP Mobile Thin Client is stolen, there is no data on it to be compromised. Instead, everything is stored on well-managed, properly backed-up central file servers.

How to keep your business safe online
How should you protect your business against viruses, online fraud and data loss? What hardware, software, policies and procedures do you need? The internet is a great business tool but viruses, identity theft and online fraud threaten businesses as well as home users. Prevention is better than cure, so plan ahead. You need multi-layered defenses, including appropriate staff training and policies. You also need business-class computers that are designed to be safer online. Online safety checklist 1. Make a plan. IT problems can destroy a business so you can’t afford to ignore the risks of viruses, fraud, data loss and ID theft. This is why a good plan today is better than a perfect plan next year. Look at what you do now and where you could make improvements. Take a holistic view of IT security that includes hardware, software, people and policies. Think about what you would do if you were the victim of a virus attack, computer theft etc. Think about what you most need to protect and what you need to make sure your business can keep operating.

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2. Strengthen physical security. Theft is more common than hacking so it pays to protect your PCs properly. Use cable locks to keep PCs and laptops secure when you aren’t using them (for example in a hotel room or on your desk overnight). Make sure that your office windows and doors have good locks; consider installing an alarm. Store backups offsite so that if a computer is stolen you will still have the data on it. Use indelible security markers to identify your property and keep a log of serial numbers to help recover stolen hardware. 3. Protect your PCs. Whenever a computer is connected to the internet it is vulnerable to viruses, spyware and spam. Protect each computer with security software including a firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam protection. Make sure you keep your operating system and security software up to date with the latest patches. 4. Control access to data. Your company’s information is its lifeblood: orders, contacts, suppliers, invoices, customer records etc. You need to protect this information to comply with data protection regulations, to keep it out of the hands of competitors and to prevent accidental deletion. Don’t ignore the insider threat – an unhappy ex-employee can do as much damage to your business as a thief. Protect critical information with strong passwords (or, better still, fingerprint scanners) and by adopting a ‘need to know’ policy. Delete ex-employees’ passwords and access rights as soon as they leave. Make sure that your wireless network is encrypted so that outsiders can’t eavesdrop or hack in. Make sure you erase the data on your old computers before you send them away to be recycled. 5. Give staff clear guidelines. An acceptable use policy is an important part of your guidance to your employees. You need to tell them what they can (and cannot) do online. For example, you may want to restrict their access to social networking sites and ban software piracy and inappropriate content at work. Get advice from a lawyer or HR specialist. 6. Train staff. Make sure your staff understand your policies, IT security risks and how to avoid them. Also, ensure that they know whom to contact if they have a question or problem. 7. Encrypt data on laptops. Unfortunately, it is easy to lose laptops or have them stolen. This means that you need to take extra care with data on laptops. Use laptops that make it easy to protect data with encryption and fingerprint scanners. Use a BIOS password to stop thieves accessing your computer. Protect against theft by using a plain bag (one that does not shout ‘I’m a notebook PC, steal me!’) and a lock cable. 8. Make regular backups. Backups alone will not prevent something going wrong but they are still essential to cut the cost of recovering from a problem. It is essential to make regular backups, test them occasionally and to keep them offsite. 9. Be wary of online fraud. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When did you ever win a lottery without buying a ticket? Or get a well-paid job that didn’t require any work? It’s the same online. Be wary of scams and fraudulent sellers (especially in online auctions). Check out online sellers carefully before you give them your money.

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10. Get good advice. You can’t completely delegate your responsibility to protect your business – after all, it affects you more than anyone else – but you can get help for some of the technical parts. Look for IT specialists in your area who understand small businesses and who can communicate in language you understand, not in jargon-heavy technical language. HP recommends It is important to choose business-class PCs that include the extra security features that business customers need (but which are not included on home computers). HP Business Notebooks come with HP ProtectTools. This is an integrated suite of security software that helps protect your business and your data. And now with the new HP ProtectTools Security Manager, it‘s easier than ever to secure your notebook. Three clicks and you‘re fully protected! ProtectTools includes: HP Disk Sanitizer which erases old hard disks prior to recycling; Drive Encryption which encodes your data so that thieves can’t read it; BIOS Security and Configuration which lets you set a password that stops unauthorized users even starting your computer; and HP Credential Manager which helps you to manage your passwords for websites, applications and files. Because you don't need to rely on your memory, your passwords can be longer and therefore more secure. For more information    HP’s personal security computing center HP ProtectTools HP Labs research in this area

How to back up your data
How can you protect company data and ensure that it doesn’t leak, get stolen or accidentally lost or damaged? How can you store, archive and back up your data? Your company data is one of your most valuable business assets. You need to take specific measures to make sure that you both protect this asset and keep it accessible at all times. This involves setting up robust storage and backup security measures. Storage and backup checklist All kinds of accidental and non-accidental things can happen to data. Theft or leaks, for example, can see your data fall into the wrong hands and viruses can render it useless. Accidental problems such as a system failure or a simple file deletion can result in data loss. Emergencies such as a fire or a flood can destroy your data or cut off your access to it. Let’s look at the storage and backup solutions that might help: Backup options

Memory sticks. This storage medium can be a suitable solution for very small backups where the data to be backed up is not large, complex or important.

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CDs/DVDs. If you have a CD or DVD drive then you can use standard rewritable CDs or DVDs to record your data. This solution can handle larger individual backups but may not suit company-wide or business-critical backups. External hard drives. External hard disks can store large quantities of data and they are small, lightweight and portable making them easy transport offsite. They connect to your PC using a USB cable. Tape drives. If you have a lot of data to back up then you may need to invest in a tape drive. It is easy to store tapes offsite and to maintain a backup rotation. Tape drives offer the most robust solution as your business grows. Online backups. It is also possible to use an online backup service. In this case, your data is backed up over the internet and stored offsite on the company’s servers.

Backup checklist

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Choose professional equipment. The more valuable the data, the more important it is to use a professional and reliable backup system and do backups regularly. Prioritize. Think about the data that you cannot afford to lose. Try to keep all your data in the same place to keep things simple. When you add a file server to your network, make sure that everybody stores their data on it rather than on their local hard disks. Schedule. Decide how often you need to back up. Some businesses will back up data every day. Others will only run a full backup at the beginning week and only back up files that have changed during the rest of the week. This can speed up the process. Run. Check your operating system to see if it allows you set automatic backups. Most systems will have a program in place that you can also set to run on a manual basis if this is necessary. Try a test run to check how the system works and then test the backup that you created to make sure that you can restore data. Security. Avoid leaks and theft issues by ensuring that your backups are password protected and encrypted. If they fall into the wrong hands, the data will not be accessible without the password. Copies. Decide how many backup copies you will store at any given time. Think about keeping a few generations of backup media. For example, you might keep four weeks’ worth of backups. This means that you can go back and restore older versions if required and it provides a degree of redundancy. Archive. Think about periodically running an additional full backup to keep as an archive.

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Storage. Do not keep your backups in the same place as the PC that they were taken from. Ideally, do not keep them in the same building, but store them offsite.

HP recommends Designed for the small- and medium-sized business, the HP StorageWorks DAT 72 SCSI Tape Drive combines dependability with affordable cost. This backup solution perfectly meets the needs of small business users with its 72GB capacity and an impressive transfer rate of 23GB per hour, making every backup effective, quick and simple. For larger data storage needs, the HP StorageWorks DAT 160 SAS Tape Drive can allow you to back up 160GB of data at a speed of 50GB an hour. If your business needs to back up high volumes of data or complex files such as videos, this could be the fastest and most cost-effective solution for your needs. For more information

 

DAT Tape Drives at HP StorageWorks The Microsoft Backup and Resource Centre

Protect confidential information
Ensuring that your company’s private data is protected Today, most company information is digital. For example: customer details, employee records, business plans, financial reports etc. All this sensitive information is stored somewhere on your systems and it is highly valuable and vulnerable to theft or attack. At the same time, regulations increasingly require you to store and protect data for longer periods. Small businesses without large IT budgets still need to ensure that their data is safe. Data protection checklist  Make plans based on what is important. No business can protect everything all the time. Small businesses have to prioritise. Identify the different types of data relevant to your business and analyze which information is the most important. Block viruses. Educating staff about the dangers of bogus attachments. Keep your anti-virus systems updated. Scan systems regularly. Set clear policies for employees. Require employees to use strong passwords and to change them periodically. You should also regulate access to data on a need-to-know basis and educate employees on other areas such as spotting and avoiding risky sites, how to treat confidential information and appropriate internet usage. Block spam. Besides clogging bandwidth, spam can also be malicious and contain programs that attempt to steal data. Using a good spam filter and updating it regularly can help you cope.

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Deter phishing. Most phishing efforts to steal data can be deterred by teaching employees how to recognize such efforts and teaching them never to hand over confidential information such as card numbers or passwords on such requests. Physical security. At a basic level, ensure physical security at the office and controlled access to sensitive areas. Residual data theft. Data theft can happen when you throw away old computers. Make sure you use a reputable recycling program and that you erase all your data before you hand over any computers. Encrypt sensitive data. Encryption converts data using a code such that it is not readable except by authorized users. Encrypting emails and files gives you an additional layer of security, especially on easily-stolen laptops. Mobile policy. With more and more people remote working or travelling and using devices to connect to the office network, it makes sense to have a policy on the use of mobile devices. This should cover who has remote access, what information can leave office and what to do if a device is stolen. Use professional backup solutions. Don’t leave backups to chance. Use a professional backup solution that runs regularly, store your backups offsite and test restore data occasionally to make sure the system works properly.

HP Recommends  Norton Internet Security. New HP commercial PCs come with a 60-day full version of Norton Internet Security and the option of a cost-effective 12-month subscription. This includes an up-todate protection against the most recent online threats (viruses, spywares, trojans, phishing etc.) without slowing your PC down. It is easy to setup and manage and is ideal for protecting your business and your bottom line. HP Notebook Tracking and Recovery Services. HP can help you protect data stored on notebook PCs with multi-layered security and computer theft recovery and asset tracking. Services vary by country.

For more information    HP’s personal security computing center HP ProtectTools HP Notebook Tracking and Recovery service

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How to secure laptop data against theft
Laptops create many security risks. Learn how to avoid them. Notebook PCs are ideal for small businesses. They make it easier to work flexibly. You can move from the office to a client location and back home again accompanied by all your programs and data. However, their very portability makes them easy to steal or lose. Protect your laptops There are several ways to keep laptops and the data stored on them safe. Sensible precautions include:  Locking them up. Use metal cables and locks to secure each laptop to a bulky object – like a desk – when in use. When laptops aren’t in use, hide them away in locked cupboards or drawers. Being careful away from the office. Laptops are often lost to opportunist thieves. Keep hold of laptops in public places and do not leave them on display in cars. Choose laptop bags that don’t look like computer cases so that their contents are not so obvious to thieves. Recording and registering. Mark all laptops using a permanent tag or etching. You should record all serial numbers and register each laptop with the manufacturer too. This way, if one goes missing, you’re more likely to get it back. Securing your data. Encryption scrambles the files stored on school laptops so they can only be viewed with the proper authorization. HP ProtectTools software includes encryption. Its drive encryption option can also lock a hard drive so it will only work in one particular laptop when a password is entered. It makes the hard drive useless to thieves – even if they try to use it in another laptop. Keeping files somewhere safe. Instead of saving sensitive files on laptops, store them on a central server. Your laptops can connect to the server securely, even when they’re being used away from the office. With this central, secure file store, you can reduce the risk of losing information. Looking out for prying eyes. If you use a laptop in public places or on public transport, you can stop people seeing what’s on your screen with the HP Privacy Filter. This reduces the viewing angle of laptop displays, so people either side of the laptop just see a black screen. Using strong identification methods. Usernames and passwords can often be guessed. To increase security, your staff and students can log on in other ways. Some laptops have fingerprint scanners built in. Alternatively, use a combination of smart cards (something you have) and passwords (something you know) to provide double security. Many HP Notebooks are available with built-in smart card readers.

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How to improve IT asset management
Growing businesses need to know where all their IT assets are, who is using them and what software runs on them. Not knowing increases support and maintenance costs. Can you say exactly who is using your company laptops? Do you know where all your PCs are and what software is installed on them? How long does it take you to do a complete inventory? Are you sure that all the software you use is properly licensed? The harder it is to answer these questions, the more important it is to review your asset management strategy. As you buy more PCs and hire more people, IT management will become increasingly important. IT staff spend the majority of their time dealing with routine maintenance – inventories, patching, theft prevention, break/fix and end-user support. Routine tasks account for a large proportion of IT expenditure and streamlining them can cut costs. Simplifying IT management There are a number of things you can do to make life simpler:  Standardize hardware and software images. Buying business-class PCs and notebooks from a single supplier can simplify asset management. A homogenous fleet is easier to manage and support. It also reduces the number of spare parts and disk images you need to maintain. When you buy new PCs, it’s helpful to add asset tags and log them into a database so that you can keep track of serial numbers and who is using what. When you reallocate PCs, update the database. Using staff policies, you can discourage staff from downloading and installing their own software. Inventory software, such as Microsoft’s free Software Inventory Analyzer, can help you track your assets. Make sure you choose PCs that are designed for easy management. Consider outsourcing, for example you could find a local HP Partner who could help you with PC deployment and management. Choose hardware that makes it easier to implement features like encryption, etc. Deploy management software to monitor and manage your entire fleet.

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SAVE TIME
How to get an extra hour every day
People everywhere are screaming, “Give me back my time.” Here’s how. Time pressure is acute and frustrations such as commuting, inflexible working hours and tedious meetings make it worse. To get things started here are ten sure-fire ways to get an extra hour a day. 1. Do emails on the train. With an HP notebook with 3G Mobile Broadband, you can get ahead of your emails before you even get to work. (Broadband connections require separately purchased wireless data service contracts.) 2. Work from home. Instead of commuting to work, why not stay at home and put the journey time to better use? (See articles in the work anywhere section for find out how.) Using HP technology, you can still stay in touch with your colleagues and access all your email and work files. 3. Virtual meetings. The majority of office professionals reckon they could save up to six hours a week simply by not travelling to offsite meetings. Video, web (such as HP Virtual Rooms) or phone conferences can reduce the amount of time you spend travelling to meetings. 4. Get up earlier. An hour before work is more productive – mainly because it is quiet – than any other time of the day. Changing sleep habits takes a bit of work but it isn’t difficult. 5. Concentrate more. If you can get the same work done quicker with better concentration, it will free up time later for other things. The key concept is ‘flow’. This is a mental state in which a person is fully immersed in what they are doing. Disruptions, such as phone calls and emails, break the flow. It can take 10-15 minutes to regain your concentration, so avoid disruptions. Switch off email, put the phone on voicemail and consider getting noise-cancelling headphones (See HP Accessories for headsets.). 6. Find information faster. Microsoft Windows 7 include a lightning-fast search feature that can find files and emails anywhere on your computer. Finding the right file quickly can save you having to rewrite it or spend hours searching manually. You can also save searches as virtual folders for future reference. For example, you can create a virtual folder for each of your clients. 7. Don’t drive to that meeting. A survey found that people waste up to six hours a week driving to meetings that they could do over the phone just as easily. Replace some of these meetings with a phone call, or better yet a video conference call, and save the travelling time. 8. Go wireless. HP Notebooks with built-in wireless networking mean you can get online and pick up your email from any location that has a suitable Wi-Fi connection point. If you don’t need to go back

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to the office between meetings or you can work in cafes, trains and airports you can get more done in less time. With 3G Mobile Broadband (available on certain HP Notebooks) you don’t even need a connection point to get connected at broadband speeds; anywhere with cell phone reception will do. 9. Shorter, more efficient meetings. Do you find yourself spending most of your time in meetings? If you could make them more efficient, with better preparation and the right technology, you could save hours every week. 10. Manage your time better. Microsoft Outlook helps you time tasks more efficiently. Consolidate tasks, flag email messages for follow-up, and schedule appointments in one view. What would you do with an extra hour every day? We asked real people and got some surprising answers. These are the things that really matter to people:                  Plan ahead. Play more sport. Visit the gym. Help other people. Spend more time with family. Spend some time in the garden. Go for a walk. Spend more time with my staff – investing in their career. See my friends. Relax and listen to music. Do some reading. See more concerts. Take a break to reflect. Come up with new ideas. Sleep more. Catch up on all the administration I don’t have time to do. Learn something new, like a new language.

An extra hour a day would make people happier, more fulfilled and more productive. You can make it happen.

Paperwork pain and how to cure it
Why businesses need to rethink their paperwork. Pointless paperwork is a problem for every entrepreneur. Of course, we like regulations when they apply to airliners and nuclear power stations but for most growing businesses, they are speed bumps on the road to progress.

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No wonder business owners complain about government red tape. But some of the pain is self-imposed. Companies sometimes make things more difficult for themselves by using paper-based holiday and expense forms, complicated purchase orders and invoices, disorganized files and inefficient processes. All this paperwork imposes a cost on businesses:      Time spent entering information several times, in different forms. Not having vital information with you when you need it. Pointless searching for missing information. Issues falling through the cracks because information isn’t shared. Having to do some administrative tasks in the office, which makes life hard for people who spend time with clients or work from home.

In fact, anything that takes time away from someone’s core job and away from whatever makes money for the firm is a cost to the business. And, frankly, who loves doing paperwork? In a classic Harvard Business Review article2, Frederick Herzberg analyzed what motivates employees. The biggest motivators were achievement, recognition and the work itself. But the biggest demotivator, by far, was company policy and administration. In other words, if you get the administrative side of the business wrong, you risk alienating your staff. The vast majority of small businesses use computers for routine administration. According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Microsoft, they use IT for:       Bookkeeping and accounting 86%

Communicating with customers and suppliers 85% Storing important documents Maintaining client and supplier databases Staff salaries Personnel 80% 78% 62% 31%

However, this dependence can cause problems. The same poll found that companies suffered from IT ‘downtime’, not being able to find the right information quickly and easily enough, losing data, inefficient filing of documents and the cost of recreating information and documents unnecessarily. Companies depend on IT for their routine administration these days. So it makes sense to get the best IT for the job. Technology can give small companies a competitive edge – real benefits that make them even
2

One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees by Frederick Herzberg. HBR reprint R0301F.

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more responsive. The right technology can make people more productive, more motivated and, yes, happier.

10 Ways to speed up your PC
Every minute counts. Make sure it does. Between the aggravation and the lost time, a slow computer is a serious obstacle to working effectively. Before you purchase an entirely new system, you may be able to get the old one up to speed. 1. Increase RAM. The surest way to make your computer faster is to increase its RAM. There is a limit to how much your laptop can be upgraded, but if you're working with a desktop, the only limit is your budget. You can install new RAM yourself, but it is better to get someone to help you the first time. Aim for at least 2 GB and, ideally, 4GB for optimum performance. 2. Eliminate Spyware. If you haven't been scanning for viruses and spyware on a regular basis, start now. Even if it isn't corrupting your data or compromising your passwords, malicious code steals system resources, slowing everything else down. 3. Close some programs. Even when you aren't actively using an application, every open window uses some of your memory, as does each tab in your internet browser. If you change your work habits to tax your system less, it will immediately become more responsive. 4. Turn off visual effects. You can speed up Windows 7 by switching off the advanced visual effects. Type “Performance Information and Tools” into the Start box and click “Adjust Visual Effects”. 5. Turn off autolaunch. Allowing programs to launch at start-up means a longer delay before you can start the day and fewer resources for the tasks that really matter. 6. Use scandisk and defrag. Sometimes our computers just need a little Spring cleaning. The scandisk and defrag utilities look for errors and rearrange files into a more logical, efficient order. Since you can't do much else while these utilities are running, get in the habit of running one or the other during lunch or long meetings. 7. Clean up your hard drive. Get rid of anything you don't need. Cookies and temporary files are the easiest candidates, but also look for old files that can be deleted or applications that you no longer use. If your hard drive is nearly full, consider buying an external hard drive to store important, rarely accessed files. 8. Increase virtual memory. When a computer runs out of RAM it uses a portion of the hard drive as virtual memory, but it won't use more than you allow it to. Increase the virtual memory, also called pagefile size, to make your computer more responsive. 9. Make a USB RAM drive. If you have an older computer, you can convert an empty USB drive into extra RAM through the virtual memory menu. This has the most impact on computers with less than 2 GB of RAM. 10. Buy a solid-state hard drive. Solid state drives don't need to spin for your computer to retrieve information, making them quieter, more energy efficient and significantly faster than traditional hard drives. If you use multiple drives, put your operating system on the solid-state drive since this is what your computer accesses most often.

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GET AN IT PARTNER
How to choose an IT partner
How do you choose the best IT consultant or reseller for your business? What should you look for and what service levels should you expect? What other sources of IT help can your business use? Smaller businesses can’t always afford full-time, in-house IT staff. But to make the most of your IT system, you’ll need help on many different levels from selection and installation through to fixing problems and future growth. Therefore, getting IT support when you need it is essential. IT support checklist Choosing the right IT support services can seem hard at first, especially for non-geeks, even if you understand the basics of what you need. With the right support, however, you can use technology to support your business, to achieve your goals and even to create new opportunities in the long term.

Shortlist. Your first task is to find a shortlist of suitable support specialists. Manufacturers often have lists of recommended partners and this can be a good place to start. Talk to your colleagues, business contacts and suppliers to see if they have any recommendations. Credentials. Any supplier that you choose should have a mix of formal qualifications and experience in their field. You may also find it useful to talk to specialists who have worked in your business sector. Check that they understand the requirements of a growing business. Ask for information on their client base, their projects and their support capabilities. Check references. Ask questions about their ability to deliver solutions, proposals and projects on time and on budget. Services. Look for a candid response to your questions about services. If the supplier cannot help you with all your potential support needs (such as training), can they bring in a recommended partner? Ask if the supplier only uses internal staff or whether it outsources any project work. Organizational capabilities. Avoid companies that are too small to give you the support that you need both now and when your business grows. Check to see how quickly they will respond to support issues and what guarantees or service level agreements (SLAs) they give. Relationship. An average support specialist will understand the language of technology. A good support specialist will translate it into a language you understand. A support specialist worth hiring will do all this and will understand how technology can help you achieve your current and future business goals. Proposal. Expect a clear proposal outlining each project from brief through to implementation. This should include a total breakdown of costs, deliverables and timescales. It should also include any input that you need to make. Look for regular meetings/updates to keep on track. Commit to both parties signing a formal contract/proposal to protect your interests.

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Costs. Assess costs and charging structure. You may be asked to pay a rolling retainer, a flat cost per project or a set rate per hour or day. Milestone payments can spread the risk and cash flow.

HP recommends

HP has a network of Preferred Partners who offer a range of support solutions including consulting and advisory options, hardware installation/configuration, infrastructure builders and online services. To find an HP partner near you, visit: hp.com/eur/preferredpartners . Read more about HP Partners. HP’s Care Pack services allow you to add specific support elements on top of your warranty guarantees. There are various levels of support to choose from and services can be used on all of HP’s standard products including PCs, Notebooks and Handhelds, Servers, Storage, Networking Systems, Software, Printing and Digital Imaging. For further information HP Care Pack Services, please visit: hp.com/go/lookuptool. HP Total Care is a range of services, software and support options that will help you manage, protect and grow your business. It includes HP’s award-winning technical support and solutions such as recycling, extended warranties, online access to drivers and other software updates. For additional details on HP Total Care, please visit: hp.eu/totalcare For a fun and interactive way to learn how to make your business grow faster using technology, please visit HP LIFE.

How to build a business case for IT
Influence your business and get the best out of your IT IT is constantly evolving, but a company that invests in every minor improvement could end up wasting money. To convince your company that now is the right time to invest in IT you need to put together a persuasive business case.  Identify a need. Before you can delve into the details of your proposal, you need to convince everyone that a need exists. Identify existing problems and explain how IT investments can solve them. If you convince people that your solution is reasonable from the beginning it will make the rest of your job easier. Relate the investment to stated company goals. In addition to solving problems that already exist, show that the IT investment you are proposing furthers existing company goals. This provides an additional rationale for stakeholders who are unaffected by the problems you are trying to solve. Quantify benefits. Business decisions come down to weighing costs and benefits, so you should tell your audience what scale to use. Compile a list of expected benefits that the new IT resources will bring, being sure to point out how all stakeholders are affected by at least some of the benefits.

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Explain how to measure the financial impact of these benefits and justify your proposition quantitatively. Examine the costs. Be clear about how the funding will be spent, including testing, implementation and maintenance of the new IT system. Compare this to the ongoing costs of the old system and show how the investment will lead to long-term savings. Be prepared to justify your projections and explain how you would keep the project from going over budget. Identify and mitigate the risks. There is always some risk associated with switching to a new system, especially if you are proposing large, structural changes. Instead of skirting the issue, present a clear plan to minimize these risks through testing, training on the new system and, if appropriate, running both systems in parallel until the new system has proven itself. Explore alternatives. Even if there is a consensus that the problems you have identified need to be solved, your solution is not the only option. You can strengthen your case by honestly exploring all alternatives to be certain that yours is the most effective. Don't be afraid to adapt your case during this process. Collaborate. Ask other team members for feedback. Their added insight and constructive criticism will improve your case before pitching it, and building consensus around your proposal ahead of time will give it more weight.

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WEB 2.0 FOR BUSINESS
How to set up a website
How do you use free website builders to help you establish a web presence for your business? What should you consider when you’re ready to hire a web designer to build a more professional site? A website is a vital online storefront for your business. These days, no business can compete effectively without one. You can start with a simple, free do-it-yourself website and then, when you’re ready, you can hire a design firm to build a more sophisticated, tailored site for you. The key thing is to choose the right company and manage them properly. Free website checklist Like your business, your website should evolve over time. In the beginning, however, using a free website design and hosting service such as Microsoft Office Live can get your business online quickly and simply without the need for complex web design solutions or costs. So, how does it work?  Sign up. Before you can start building your website, you’ll need to register with the service. This involves simply providing a contact email address, setting a password and entering some basic contact information. Design. Microsoft’s service offers a variety of design templates to help you build your site. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions provided to choose your template designs, pages and to insert your logo and text as applicable, and your site will be constructed for you. Domain name and email. Once you’re done with your website design, you can use the service to register a domain name (a web address such as ‘yourcompany.com’) for your company if you don’t already have one. This service is free for one to two years depending on the type of name you choose. You’ll also get up to 100 free email accounts for your business. Publish. The service will then help you publish your final site via the system. Note that Microsoft also offers free support for Office Live.

How to find, brief and manage a web design company You may find that your web needs to change over time so that a free service is no longer suitable. Sometimes, for example, you’ll need to add functions, complex design or multimedia elements or bespoke areas such as a customer intranet. This is the time to bring in a specialist web design company.  Find a web design company. The first step in the process is to find a web design company or individual with the skills and experience to help you with your site build. Not all web designers are equal so the choice you make is vital. Ask your business contacts for recommendations. You can also contact designers who have created sites that closely match your own requirements or who

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have a track record of creating sites in your sector. Take a good look at their own site to see what they can do.  Brief the web design company. The quality of design and build that a web designer can produce can only be as good as the brief that they are given. Take some time to think about what you need from your website, both as a stand-alone marketing tool and as an integral business function. Make sure that your designer has all your brochures, logos and font preferences. They also need to understand your web business needs. Expect to talk about how your website needs may change in the short to medium term to make sure that you can develop your existing site rather than commission a new one. Manage the web design company. Expect good levels of customer service from your web designer. You should agree milestones so that you can track progress and give feedback during development. Don’t wait until it’s done – it may be too late to make changes.

For more information For more information  Microsoft Office Live

The beginner ’s guide to LinkedIn
Using LinkedIn to build your network and reach new contacts. Online business networking is a great way to widen your network beyond your own immediate circle. You can use it to raise your profile, reach potential customers, build relationships with PR influencers and solve business problems. LinkedIn, one of the most widely used professional networking sites can help you meet relevant people, generate leads, keep up with trends and promote your business. Unlike social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook, LinkedIn is geared to the business user. Making LinkedIn work for you  Unique profiles. Every LinkedIn user gets a profile page, where you can list your work experience, academic qualifications, interests, affiliations as well as display recommendations from other LinkedIn members you know. It is important to make the profile detailed as well as unique, especially the ‘summary’ at the top, which is what most people read. LinkedIn profiles often come up at the top of search results, making it important to have a profile that generates interest and says something about the specific skills and abilities you bring. Participate in the Q&A. LinkedIn Q&A is divided into categories such as Marketing & Sales, Professional Development, Technology, Personal Finance, etc. Members answer questions on topics of interest to them, earning “expert” status for ‘best answers.’ Posing a question here helps you get a wide range of opinions while answering questions helps you meet newer people and participate in industry discussions.

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Network purposefully. Business networking should have a purpose to it, whether it is to generate leads, keep up with trends, see what the competition is doing or meet people at your new workplace. Through your existing contacts as well as by participating on forums and Q&A, you can use LinkedIn to widen your network purposefully. LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn groups revolve around common work or other interests. Not all groups are equally active, but the more active ones in your area of interest can be a good place to watch industry trends or keep track of competition. Recruit. LinkedIn Jobs can also be used to recruit in a highly focused manner or find resources for projects that need highly specialized skills. Even if you don’t post an ad on the Jobs section, you could still use your network on LinkedIn to identify talent (or search for a job!) Promote your business. By providing updates on your business or forming a business group for those interested in industry news, you can use LinkedIn to promote your business.

The beginner ’s guide to Twitter
How to benefit from Twitter in business. Twitter is a free micro-blogging service that lets users update others in real-time with short messages known as ‘tweets’. You can write your own tweets whenever you want and people can follow your updates. Following someone else lets you read their tweets. You can start twittering by sending messages through the Twitter website, through your mobile or through other applications that use Twitter. Like tying a tie, it’s easier to do it than it is to describe it. The best way to understand Twitter is to sign up for an account and start following and tweeting. Using Twitter for business  Track conversations. Use Twitter to keep abreast of conversations of interest to you, about your brand, product, company, industry or audience. Since many users apply a ‘hashtag’ to designate a topic (for example, #recession or #Boeing), it becomes easy to follow conversations that interest you. This can be a good way to generate new ideas or see what people are saying about your business. Interest and timeliness. Twitter allows you to connect with people with similar interests to yours. This can range from meeting a thinker in your field who happens to be visiting your city, to making plans to meet suppliers and customers at industry conferences. User engagement. Twitter can be used to send out updates on your business that users can follow. These could range from links to blog posts to news on product releases or upgrades. Twitter works for brand promotion and also for customer service. It also allows you to reply to tweets and engage in a discussion with customers. Businesses can use it to track customer problems that they might not see otherwise.

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 

Event updates. You can use Twitter to send out events that your company is hosting or that you will be attending. This can help you to meet others who are likely to be at the event. Hiring people. Since news on Twitter gets picked up very quickly, it’s a great place to post information on vacancies that you’re looking to fill, or if you need resources for a project. You are likely to get referrals in a short span of time.

Beginner ’s guide to blogging
How to benefit from blogging in business. A blog is a website maintained by an individual or a small group, with a focus on an individual point of view and on interaction with interested readers. Blogging can help your business by communicating your brand and activities and by helping you engage with users. Ten tips to get your blog going  How to start blogging. You have a choice between hosting your blog on your domain or on free platforms such as Blogger or Wordpress. While new users may find the free platforms a good starting point, hosting your own site with your own domain name looks more professional in the long run, especially for business blogs. Goal setting. Decide what you want the blog to do for your business. Promote a positive image? Allow you to talk to customers? The goal will decide the tone of the blog and the content you should have. Check out other business blogs and blogs about blogging for ideas. Identifying a voice. Company blogs need to identify a voice for the blog. This depends on the blog content. For instance, if the blog is to keep consumers updated on the latest developments in your industry, a domain expert may do better than a PR person. Check out HP’s blogs for ideas about how companies can balance individual voices and ideas with a collective, corporate image. Audience interest. Readers track blogs where there is news that they can use or find interesting. Blogging must represent a ‘real’ point of view and contain useful information. Readers are quick to identify and turn away from ‘marketing-speak’. Frequency. While there are no hard and fast rules, it helps to maintain have a consistent schedule. This means a post every three to four days rather than two posts in a day and none for the next ten. Promoting the blog. While great content is the most organic way to grow your reader base, you can also adopt other strategies such as using the right keywords and tags (so that you show up in search results), linking to other blogs and using blog search tools. Company branding. Remember that like any other communication, your blog posts send out signals about your company. Being honest is important; at the same time, especially if many employees are blogging, make sure there are clear guidelines, such as HP’s, on what can be discussed and how.

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Promoting your brand. While users distrust marketing-speak, this doesn’t mean your blog cannot discuss your company at all. A good way to do it would be to talk of your work in the context of industry developments that are relevant to readers. Ideation. A blog is also a great way to generate new ideas by talking to others in the field, discussing existing problems and customer needs. Customer Feedback. Company blogs can be used to engage with users and identify product or service glitches. At times, the feedback may not be what you want to hear. Yet, it is important to respond in a professional manner and take criticism positively. It may even show other readers that you genuinely care about your customers.

Ten ways to build your PR profile online
How to get the web talking about you. In the age of web 2.0, public relations (PR) is no longer about pushing news to disinterested journalists; it is about conversations that get the relevant audience talking to you and about you. Ten tips to get your online PR right 1. A blog with a view. Create a blog with compelling content and a unique point of view that readers interested in your field will think of as a ‘must-read.’ Linking to other bloggers and updating regularly are pluses. 2. Create a story. Identify the leading bloggers who cover in your industry. Before you contact them, remember they may be flooded with such requests. All bloggers look for great ideas for that next post – make sure you have such an idea. Just sending press releases is not appropriate. 3. Keyword research. Doing some research is essential to identify the right bloggers or journalists who are really interested in your field. Keyword research using Google or another service can lead you to the articles these people have written before, which gives you a starting point to connect with them. 4. Twitter. Keep yourself in the audience’s mind space by twittering your thoughts on industry developments and sharing relevant links using Twitter. 5. Go video. People love to watch rather than read. Why not upload a short and catchy video on YouTube? This can be a great option for product demos or interviews. 6. White papers and articles. Position yourself or your company as a thought leader by sharing your research and ideas in the form of white papers and articles. 7. Outreach to journalists. Technology makes reaching out to the journalist community easy through press release distribution services or journalist story sites such as PR Newswire.

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8. Slideshare. While white papers and articles are great, not everyone has the patience to read them completely. Instead, create a concise slide show capturing the same content and upload it on networks such as Slideshare.net. You can also share documents using a service called Scribd. 9. Communities. Identify the right community that is passionate about areas your product or service can play a role in. Participate in those communities as a sponsor or by contributing to a body of knowledge. This is a great way to create some indirect PR. 10. Online support. Having a web-based service through e-mail or chat-based technologies can also help shore up your reputation for prompt service.

How to advertise and sell online
Online advertising often appears complex and impossible to small business owners. In fact, it is one of the most effective ways to reach your market. For cost-conscious businesses, it is also the one medium where you can directly measure the cost and the results and adjust campaigns almost in real time. Making your online advertising work  Keyword vs. display advertising. Online advertisers need to choose between display advertising or keyword advertising or a combination of both. Display advertising involves buying space on websites, typically on cost per thousand impressions basis. Keyword advertising refers to choosing specific search terms relevant to your audience, where your website is offered as a sponsored link on search results. You pay on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis for keyword advertising. If nobody clicks on your advertisement and visits your site, you don’t pay a penny. Keyword advertising tends to be more cost effective for smaller businesses while display ads tend to be better at communicating brand identity and can be used for larger campaigns. Keyword research. To get the best results from your advertising, you need keyword research to identify the most-searched terms in your field. Online advertising companies have tools that will help you identify popular keywords. Landing pages. Not all search needs to be directed to the home page. Depending on your goals, direct users to the appropriate page. For example, if you offer a special discount, you can direct users to a landing page that lets them see what they’re getting and which lets you track how effective that offer was. Monitoring results. One way to evaluate landing pages is to send half your links to one page and half to another so that you can understand which works better. You can also test keywords using data from Google Analytics to see which search results got you the most readers. This helps you drop keywords that are unprofitable. Organic search. While pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a very effective way to advertising, your website design and content itself can play a big role in how your site pops up on non-paid search

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results. By using the right keywords and tags, (and using them consistently), you can ensure that your search rankings on the major engines stay high. This is called search engine optimization and it is as important as paid-for advertising.  Newsletter advertising. Besides display and keywords, advertising or sponsoring a column on a newsletter read by your audience can also be a good option. This reaches a specific community of readers who have signed in to receive updates on a particular field. Consider all your options. Don’t ignore PPC advertising opportunities on other sites besides Google. Consider Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing search engines too. Remember, you only pay for clicks and less popular sites might cost less per click.

How to get more visitors to your website
How to get more visitors to your website Today, every business, large or small has a website. It’s important. You use it to generate leads, to inform customers of new products or other news, to inform new users, to do business with customers or for PR and marketing. Whatever your objective, it will only be achieved if you get the right audience to visit your website. How to generate website traffic  Content Strategy. Content is the reason users come to you, and without good content, other strategies will not work. Ensure that the content tells users something new, interesting or useful. If you plan to include a blog as part of your website, focusing it on a specific area where you are an authority, will make visitors come back to you. Visitors also tend to visit websites more often when the content is updated regularly. Networking Strategy. The power of the web lies in its ability to foster relationships and communication. You can discreetly promote your website by participating on relevant communities such as blogs and discussion forums. The key is to add value to conversations rather than do a hard sell pitch for your business. Just participating will lead users to your website. You can also promote your website using tools such as Twitter or aggregator sites such as Digg and Delicious. If you have a company blog, make sure that it links to other well-known industry blogs. This is one way to enter into conversations with them. SEO Strategy. Search engine strategies can be as complex as you need, but at a very simple level, start off with submitting your site to all the major search engines. When writing blog posts or web pages, using the right keywords that your users are likely to search for can make a big difference to appearing in search results. There are also simple keyword tips such as using them in the title and occasionally, in bold in the post itself. Using tags to describe images will also improve your chances of coming up in search results. Finally, for larger websites, a site map that helps search engines crawl your site efficiently is a must.

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How to analyze website visitor statistics
Monitoring your website visitors – who they are, why they visit and what they look at – can help you improve your site and increase traffic. When setting up your website, you had some goals – to communicate your company’s expertise, to get more leads or even to do more business. Using web analytics to track your visitors helps you understand who they are and how you can better meet their needs. Tracking and using visitor data The earliest web analytics simply included data on the number of visitors and page views. But, this is not enough to take decisions. Today, you can track many other details such as:      How much time did visitors spend on different pages? What keywords did they search for when they found your site on a search engine? From which countries are they visiting? From which sites are you getting referrals? People who clicked on a particular link such as a ‘sign up’ or a ‘buy’ link. Conversion rates – the number of people who arrived at your home page who subsequently bought something.

Such data helps you plan your content better and develop more focused marketing strategies. For example, if most people are looking at the registration details page but not signing up, the content may not be inspiring or relevant. Tools to use There are many free and paid analytics tools in the market. For most users, free tools are sufficient to begin with. Large sites with high volume transactions need a more robust, paid tool or even web analytics consultants to make meaning out of data. For smaller users, however, Google Analytics is a popular option. It is free, has a very easy user interface and can be integrated with Google AdWords, if you are advertising on Google. For blogs, other free tools such as StatCounter and SiteMeter are also good options, with the latter offering a paid service for blogs with a larger volume of visitors. Sometimes, you may not even have to install any of these. If a shared hosting company hosts your site, an analytics package such as AWStats and Webalizer may be already built-in. The free versions may not offer data in-depth, but suit smaller sites that simply want an overview. Working with data

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Web Analytics is not just about getting the data. First of all, it is important to have someone who is comfortable with reading and interpreting the data. If there is no capable in-house resource, consider outsourcing the service for a small fee. Keep your goals in mind or specific questions you have at that point of time and look for data that helps you make decisions. Ultimately, the data is as good as the action it drives!

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WORK ANYWHERE
How to work from home
Working from home takes some adjustment. Read our tips and escape from your cubicle. The benefits of working from home are obvious. None of the usual distractions: no meetings to go to, nobody interrupting you and less noise. You can wear what you like and stop for tea whenever you want. Many people work from home – either on a permanent basis or for a few days a week. But it takes a bit of planning and work to get the perfect home office. Here are some tips:  Get the right technology. You need a separate phone line. Ideally you should be able to switch it over to voicemail when you stop work at the end of the day. A good desk, a filing cabinet, some shelves and other office furniture will make it easier to organize yourself. IT matters. Look for a notebook designed for business. Don’t let family members use your work computer. Make sure it is protected against viruses and other problems. Lastly, consider getting a separate monitor and keyboard to link to your notebook via a docking station. That way it’ll look like a desktop PC when you’re in your home office, and you’ll still get a highly portable notebook when you’re working elsewhere. Get connected. You’ll want a fast internet connection and a wireless router, which will let you get online anywhere in the house. Choose a router that is compatible with Wireless-N (also known as 802.11n) technology to get the best range and performance. Keep work and home separate. Ideally, you need a separate room or outbuilding for work. It’s good to shut the door on work at the end of the day. It also shuts out distractions. Go green. HP’s Planet Partners program can help you recycle old computers and related items. Build your support network. One of the biggest drawbacks of working from home is isolation. The antidote is to build a personal support network: friends, family, colleagues, peers in other companies, hobby groups. Make sure you have a strong social life that isn’t tied to the job but also make sure you nurture your links with your employer. Go into the office regularly and go to (or even arrange) social events.

  

Get more done, get out of the office
People get more done if they’re free to work how and where they want. The future is already here, says novelist William Gibson, it’s just unevenly distributed. It’s the same with attitudes to work. Some companies still take a 19th century view of work. Fixed hours, fixed offices, fixed thinking. For employees in these companies, work is just a place. Others are more progressive. For them, work is something more.

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Technology has changed the nature of work. The idea that you could use a computer outside the office is very recent. Compaq, launched the first portable PC a mere 25 years ago. It’s the same thing with communications. Motorola launched the first mobile phone a year later in 1983. Thanks to technology, you don’t need to be in the office to be at work. The pace of change isn’t going to let up. However, technology isn’t the only force at work. There is a new world of work out there, according to Microsoft. The changing role of the employee was one of the biggest changes. Technology, globalization and economic change have created a new breed of information worker. Every business has become, at least in part, an information business. Consequently, access to information and the ability to use it have become critical. People have personal reasons for seeking a better work-life balance. One in six adults cares for a disabled, sick or elderly person. Old family models don’t apply any more. In the UK, only 9 percent of adults are in a relationship where the man is the sole breadwinner. And, of course, parents want to dovetail work with childcare commitments. For many people flexibility is a necessity; conversely, inflexible companies artificially limit their ability to recruit the best people. Companies need to liberate their staff. They need smart technology and smart working practices, including the ability to let people work when and where they want. What does this mean in practice?    Flexible working hours and employment policies. The ability for staff to work from home some or all of the time. Using technology, including notebooks, to let people work in different places.

It’s clear from HP’s own research (and our own experience as an employer) that individuals want this kind of flexibility and respond positively to it. Our survey of small business employees found:     Four in ten would be happier if they could dictate their own working hours. Almost half of respondents (46 percent) said that greater flexibility would be beneficial. Among 16-24-year olds, 60 percent wanted greater flexibility. Flexibility correlated strongly to employee motivation and productivity.

Turning employees from drones into individuals has benefits for the companies that do it. These include:     Improved staff retention and recruitment. Less pressure on office space, especially if you use some degree of ‘hot desking’. Raised productivity. Use ‘downtime’ to get work done, for example on the train or waiting for appointments.

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  

Access to accurate information in real time, such as calendars, email or product prices. Staggering staff hours to allow the business to stay open longer during the day. Faster responses to customer enquiries.

New places to work
Great ideas don’t always come knocking on your office door. Sometimes you have to get out of the office to do your best work. A change of scene, freedom from distractions and new stimuli contribute to smarter thinking and better concentration. 1. The garden. If the sun shines, you can get some work done in the garden. With the latest ‘802.11n’ high-speed wireless Wi-Fi networking and a compatible network, you can stay connected at over twice the range and five times as fast as you can with current wireless networks. 2. Coffee shop. J. K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in cafes and coffee shops. The caffeine helps concentration. Many offer wireless networking so you can get online. 3. Beach. With HP’s 3G Mobile Broadband, you can work on the beach just as easily as in the office and still get online. Just don’t get ice cream on the keyboard (although if you do, the Mylar layer we put underneath it should stop it becoming a disaster). Broadband connections require separately purchased wireless data service contracts. 4. Airport. They make you rush to the airport hours before the plane leaves and then you have to sit around and wait. Why not use that time to get some work done? Most airports now how have wireless networks so you can get online, and companies like Priority Pass will give you access to lounges with business facilities, even if you’re not flying business class. 5. In bed. If you get a broadband connection with wireless networking built in, you can work anywhere in the house. Including the bedroom. 6. Library. Public libraries are quiet and full of studious people. Just like an office ought to be (but usually isn’t). 7. Eiffel Tower. If you’re in Paris on business, you can get to the top of the Eiffel Tower for the price of a fancy coffee from Starbucks. There are three restaurants and exhibitions to see. 8. Art gallery. Be inspired by the art at a local gallery. 9. 30,000 feet. Extended life batteries can keep your notebooks running for longer. Plenty of time to get some work done – and watch a DVD – on a long-haul flight.

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10. A foreign country. Here’s a recipe for inspiration. Look up one of the low-cost airlines on the web, pick a city you have never visited and book a day return flight three or four months in advance so you get the cheapest possible fare. For the price of a round of drinks, you can have a day out somewhere new. 11. Hotel rooms. A screenwriter I know books himself into an expensive hotel when he has a tight deadline for a script. Without having to bother with cooking or cleaning, he can get a lot done. Nobody knows where he is so nobody bothers him. Plus the insane cost of everything in the mini bar and on the room service menu encourages hard work. 12. Theme park. You may not get much work done on a rollercoaster, but theme parks are designed to stimulate the mind and senses. Visit them without children and think brave new thoughts. 13. Restaurants. Eat. Think. Work. 14. The top of a mountain. Even at the top of Everest (or Ben Nevis) you can get online using a satellite phone from Iridium or Inmarsat. 15. Your client’s office. They might appreciate your presence and commitment. You might benefit from not having to travel back to the office after a meeting. Take a travel charger, and recharge your batteries in the car. 16. The pub. It’s warm and hospitable. Why not take your notebook to the pub and finish that report? Just stay on the orange juice until it’s done.

How to work anywhere you want
Why tie yourself down to an office and a desk? With the right technology, you can be more productive working anywhere you want: at home, in the office, with clients or even in a local coffee shop. Mobile working can make you more productive and responsive to customers, as well as helping you achieve a better work/life balance. Indeed, this kind of personal freedom is the reason why many people decide to start their own business in the first place. It’s important to get the right notebook and to be able to get online using Wi-Fi or 3G mobile broadband. Mobile working also gives you access to your files and the latest forms of communication, such as instant messaging and blogs, whenever you need them. Mobile working checklist  Understand the benefits. One of the reasons you’re starting your own business is to have more flexibility and freedom. HP research in the UK found that 46 percent of respondents said they would be happier if they had the option of working from home. The good news is that IT can let you work wherever and whenever you want. You can reduce commuting, spend more time with clients, solve problems faster, use ‘downtime’ to get work done and be more responsive to business opportunities.

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Choose the right equipment. Look for a notebook PC that has plenty of battery life and which is light enough for you to carry around easily. It helps if your chosen notebook has the option of builtin 3G mobile broadband. (Broadband connections require separately purchased wireless data service contracts. Check with your local service provider for coverage and availability.) Look for robust, well-designed hardware. Ensure data security. Notebooks are portable, which means they are also easy to steal or to leave behind absent-mindedly. If you store confidential or personal information on your notebook, make sure it is encrypted. It’s also a good idea to use a well-padded, plain bag to transport your notebook to protect it from knocks and drops. Use a security cable to lock your notebook down if you leave it unattended, for example in hotel rooms or overnight in the office. Get online. When you are away from your office, there are two main ways to get on the internet. One option is your notebook’s built-in Wi-Fi wireless network adaptor. It will let you connect to internet connection points. For example, many coffee shops, airports and hotels charge for wireless connection. The other option is 3G mobile broadband. This uses the mobile phone network to get online. Some notebooks have built-in adaptors and antennas – all you have to do is buy a SIM card and pay a phone provider for the connection. Alternatively, you can buy an add-on modem, which plugs into your notebook and connects to the internet, but an internal adaptor gives better reception and it’s one less thing to remember when you go out. The advantage of 3G mobile broadband over Wi-Fi is that you can connect virtually anywhere you can get a signal. The disadvantage is that you have to pay a phone company for the connection, just like a mobile phone, so it can be more expensive. Use software to stay in touch. Once you can work anywhere and connect anywhere, you can use communications tools such as email, Twitter, blogs, internet telephony (such as Skype) or instant messaging (such as Windows Live Messenger), social or business networking (such as Facebook or LinkedIn) to stay in touch with your customers, colleagues and suppliers. Access files remotely. If you need to take your work with you and synchronies it when you get back to the office, Microsoft Windows 7 have a built-in Sync Centre to do this. Alternatively, you can use an internet-based extranet site (such as Basecamp), collaboration software or an online file sharing service (such as Microsoft’s free Live Mesh). If you buy a server later on, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) to connect to your company network and files over the internet, just as if you were back in the office.

HP recommends 3G Mobile Broadband lets you get online at high speed with your notebook. Because it uses the 3G mobile phone network, you connect virtually anywhere – not just when you’re near a Wi-Fi connection point or in the office. The extra speed means that you can download files and emails much quicker.

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Notebooks with 3G Mobile Broadband help keep your business on the go. All of HP‘s p and w series Notebooks are Mobile Broadband ready, meaning you can buy them with 3G or upgrade later, while all s and b series notebook PCs offer Mobile Broadband as an option, meaning you can buy with them with 3G or upgrade later. For more information   3G Mobile Broadband for HP Notebooks HP Business Notebooks

Your office in a backpack
Work can take you anywhere, so make sure you are prepared wherever you may be You might not be a digital nomad, working full-time from cafes, airports and bars. However, packing a few key bits of kit will ensure you’re ready to work in new places. Core kit There’s some basic gear no mobile worker should be without:

A small, light computer like the HP Mini. Its energy efficient Intel processor means it’ll last hours on a single charge. If you need more power, get a full-size notebook instead or a high-powered but ultra-portable HP EliteBook with Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 processors. A smartphone. Trade your five-year-old brick for a smartphone that lets you check email, view websites and even read and edit documents. Power essentials. Although clever power management in Microsoft Windows can extend battery life, it’s wise to take your charger, plus a socket doubler to avoid plug-jostling. Taking an extra battery or choosing a long-life battery for your notebook can keep you going all day.

To access the internet, you’ll either need a wireless network or – to get connected from nearly anywhere – a mobile broadband connection. Some HP notebooks have a slot for a SIM card so you can connect to mobile broadband without any extra equipment or you can buy a plug 3G modem. Handy accessories Carefully chosen accessories will add minimal weight to your bag and can make you more productive:

Noise-cancelling headphones. Loud cafe? Busy train? A good pair of headphones can give you peace and quiet. If you take lots of phone calls, consider a Bluetooth headset too. A mouse and wrist rest. Working on a laptop can be an ergonomic nightmare. Carry a portable mouse and – depending on your laptop – a wrist rest to stave off aches and pains.

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The right low tech. It’s not all about electronics. Stick a decent notepad and a few pens into your bag. If you tend to scribble notes on scraps of paper, organize them in a zip-up folder.

Staying secure Mobile working poses some security risks. To stop people seeing what you’re working on in public, consider using a privacy filter to block their view. And to avoid drawing attention to your kit when you’re in the street, don’t use an obvious laptop bag. Instead, use a padded laptop sleeve inside a nondescript bag. You can buy computer accessories from the main HP website.

Drinking and daytime TV
10 myths of flexible working Flexible working boosts motivation, makes your staff more productive – and you can try it without spending thousands. Skeptical? Read on as we demolish the top myths about working flexibly.

Myth #1: Flexible workers are less productive because they can get away with it. Research shows that working from home can boost productivity because it reduces the number of distractions and interruptions. Myth #2: People can’t work effectively in a noisy environment like a cafe or bar. Sure, it’s not always appropriate. But a change of environment often helps people to think more creatively and look at problems in a different way. Myth #3: It’s hard to work as a team when people are in different places. Not as long as you have the right tools. You can share ideas with collaboration software, communicate fast in teleconferences and answer questions via instant messaging. Myth #4: It will cost a lot to buy the equipment we need to work effectively. You might need to invest in some new technology, like notebook computers. But you can make big savings in other areas, like office space and travel costs. But sometimes it pays to invest in longerlasting, reliable equipment. This is especially true of computers where a a consumer PC might not be suitable for serious business use. See How to choose a reliable Notebook PC for more information. Myth #5: Flexible workers mainly watch daytime TV and take boozy lunches. Have some faith. The responsibility of flexible working motivates many people. Your employees will respond well when you treat them like grown-ups. Myth #6: Flexible working is a slippery slope leading to a ruined work-life balance. It doesn’t have to be that way. Be disciplined, set clear boundaries between work and personal time – and turn the technology off at the end of the day.

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Myth #7: I need everyone in the office in case something goes wrong. It’s easy to make sure someone’s in your building at all times. In any case, flexible workers are a phone call away. If a problem’s really serious, it probably won’t matter where they are. Myth #8: If I let the sales team work away from their desks, we’ll miss opportunities. Not if you use call-forwarding to pass enquiries to the right people, and have an online tool so employees can indicate when they’re unavailable. Myth #9: Flexible working’s not right for our business. Most businesses can benefit from some kind of flexible working. For instance, employees may appreciate the chance to vary their hours, arriving late to avoid the rush hour. Myth #10: It’ll be a big effort to start working flexibly. Most mobile phones can send email and access the internet. An ultraportable computer can be yours for under £300. So why not give it a go?

For more information, read about how to improve teamwork while you work from anywhere.

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HOW TO CHOOSE
Workstations explained
Sometimes the best computer for your business is a Workstation HP Workstations are serious computers designed for serious work. Choose from a desktop workstation or a mobile workstation. It is just like your normal PC, but much more powerful, performing more tasks much quicker with advanced graphics for design or animation.  Extra processor power. Certain HP Workstations support the option of a second CPU (Central Processing Unit) so you can have up to 12 processing cores, compared to a maximum of four on a conventional desktop PC. This means you can get computationally intensive jobs done much faster; for example recalculating large Excel spreadsheets. Extra memory capacity. Extra memory can make some applications run faster so HP Workstations support up to 192 GB of memory so you can run more applications at the same time without slowing down your PC or hold complex 3D models, photos or videos in memory while you work on them. Enhanced reliability. With professional-quality hardware and features such as error-correcting memory, HP Workstations are designed to last longer and reduce the risk of hardware errors affecting your work. In short, longer life, fewer crashes and less risk of errors. In practice this means, less time wasted waiting for your computer and more time getting the job done. Superior graphics. Most business desktop PCs come with built-in, low-performance graphics systems which are fine for office work. But if you want to run 3D graphics or you have a graphicallyintensive job, such as graphic design, a Workstation comes with high-performance dedicated graphics cards. Expandability. HP Workstations are designed for a long life and you can keep adding extra hardware to make sure that your system stays cutting edge. For example, there is space in the HP Z800 Workstation for up to four different hard disks and an extra optical drive plus a range of PCI Express Gen2 slots that let you plug in extra hardware. Support for multiple monitors. Unlike most desktop PCs, HP Workstations also make it possible to add extra monitors to your system; on some systems you can have as many as eight! Research shows that bigger screens and more of them can increase productivity a lot. Certified compatibility with key applications. HP works closely with software companies such as AutoDesk and Adobe to certify that their applications run smoothly on our Workstations and using

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leading 3D graphics boards from ATI and nVidia. This means that you can be sure you’re getting maximum compatibility and optimal performance. Workstations are ideal for growing businesses that need these extra features. Typical users include graphic designers, photo and video editors, engineers and architects. However, anyone can benefit from their extra performance, reliability and features. For more information  hp.eu/workstations

HP Workstations Professional Innovations
HP Workstations feature the latest HP Professional Innovations to help you get the most out of your IT investment HP has been a leader in workstation computing for 40 years and we’re still a leader in workstation sales. This is because hard-working professionals around the world depend on our advanced technology to get their work done. HP Professional Innovations include:  Environment. HP Workstations are powerful but not power-hungry. With an EPEAT Gold rating, HP WattSaver technology and highly efficient, ENERGY STAR® 5.0 qualified power supplies, they are designed to use as little power as possible while still delivering high performance. When, eventually, they reach the end of their working life, they are 100 percent recyclable. Reliability and durability. You can rest easy knowing that your HP Workstation is designed for a long and productive life. With high-quality components, advanced cooling features (including optional water-cooling) and a tough, durable case and structure, it will outlast less well-made competitors. In addition, HP Workstations come with HP Total Care, a range of services, software and support options to help you manage, protect and grow your business and support your computer. Security and protection. Your HP Workstation comes with several advanced security features, including a solenoid lock, which protects your system from unauthorized access, and sends a software alert in case of tampering or removal. Internal USB connectors let you install valuable USB peripherals such as software dongles inside the case, under lock and key. Ease of use. Your time is valuable, which is why we have made HP Workstations easier to set up, configure and maintain. For example, the tool-less chassis lets you replace or upgrade all the major components of your computer without the need for specialized tools. It’s the same with software configuration – the HP Performance Advisor helps you fine-tune your Workstation’s performance to get the best possible performance.

In addition, as part of the HP family, HP Workstations are available with advanced extras including:  True-to-life colour. The HP DreamColor Professional LCD Display is the world’s only color-critical LCD based on HP DreamColor Engine technology. Maximum color accuracy and support for up to

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one billion colors makes this the ideal monitor for graphic design, video production, photo editing and many other creative tasks. This accuracy is critical for people working in photo editing, print, video production and other media where it is important to see what you’ll get as accurately as possible.  Accessories. Because HP Workstations are so expandable, you may want to improve performance with more memory, enhanced graphics cards; add peace of mind with an extended warranty or simplify 3D editing work with the HP SpacePilot USB 3D that makes 3D graphics modeling more intuitive and efficient.

For more information  HP Workstations: hp.eu/workstations  Total Care: hp.eu/totalcare  HP Business Monitors  Accessories: http://hp.com/eur/hpoptions

How to choose the right PC
Desktop or laptop? Consumer or business model? Buy from reseller, online or retail? What is the best way to choose and buy a computer for your business? When you buy a car, you want to get a good price but you also think about the long term. How much will it depreciate? How much will it cost to service? What about fuel economy and CO2 emissions? The purchase price, however attractive, doesn’t tell you the whole story about the lifetime cost of owning a car. It’s the same with IT. PCs look similar but differences in design, durability and features can make a dramatic difference to how much you end up paying in the long run. Desktop or notebook?  Desktop. Generally, desktop PCs are cheaper than notebooks with similar features. They are also easier to expand – they usually have space for additional hard disk drives or plug-in upgrades, such as enhanced video cards. Desktop PCs come in different sizes, shapes and prices: from ultracompact models that take very little desk space up to massively powerful personal workstations. Notebook. If you plan to work in different places or you need to take your computer with you, then a notebook PC is the way to go. Like desktop PCs, you can buy notebooks in different sizes and shapes. Some people choose ultra-portable laptops if size and weight is important, even if the computer costs a little more. Others prefer more capable and powerful machines, even if they weigh a little more. Then there are tablet PCs. They are regular notebooks that flip into A4-sized tablets with handwriting recognition. A recent innovation is the ‘netbook’. This is a very compact, low-cost laptop. They are fine for running simple programs or browsing the web but usually don’t have the power or storage for more demanding applications.

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Notebooks as desktops. You can turn a notebook into a desktop computer with a docking station. This will let you dock your notebook while you are at your desk. The keyboard, mouse and screen on your desk stay connected to the docking station so that it works like a desktop PC. Then, when you’re ready to go, you undock your notebook and you can take it away with you. This is perhaps the best of all worlds – the portability of a notebook and the expandability of a desktop – but, of course, you have to buy the docking station.

Consumer or business model? It could be tempting to go to a shop and buy a consumer PC for your business. In practice, spending a little more to buy a business-class PC would be a smarter, more economical decision in the end. Outwardly, all PCs resemble one another, so what’s the difference?  Reliability. Business-class PCs are built using stronger materials and tested more thoroughly to ensure that they are more reliable over the long term. For example, some HP Business Notebooks use a strong magnesium alloy chassis (the same material that is used in F1 cars) and feature spillresistant keyboards and shock-protected disk drives. Business features. Consumer PCs have all kinds of features, such as TV tuners, that make them great for home use. But for business, you need different things. For example, HP Business PCs come with professional operating systems and HP ProtectTools (software that protects your data against theft and loss). Security. Business PCs often include features such as fingerprint readers and TPM security chips that protect your computer and data against theft and inappropriate access. Easy to use, built-in security features mean you can focus on your work without losing sleep over security problems. Business-class notebooks are often available with additional services that help you deal with business problems and emergencies; for example on-site support while travelling, tracking services for lost and stolen laptops and insurance against accidental damage.

Specifications There are many factors that you should consider when choosing a PC. For the same price, you can buy different systems with many different permutations of a handful of basic variables. It’s just the same as buying a car: for the same money, you could buy a sporty convertible, a family estate car, an off-roader or van. It pays to think about what you want before you start shopping. Here are the main factors:  Screen. Desktop monitors come in a range of sizes (like TVs) starting at 17 inches, measured diagonally across the screen. The most common screens are 19 and 22-inch and they work well for business applications. There is some evidence that larger screens increase productivity by letting you display more documents at the same time. On notebooks, the screen size relates closely to the size and weight of the computer itself. The trade-off is simple: a bigger screen tends to mean a bigger, heavier notebook.

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Processor. Unless price is very important, it pays to choose a multi-core processor. A dual- or quadcore processor will allow you to run applications such as Microsoft Word while, at the same time, running routine operating system tasks such as virus scans on a separate processor. The result is smoother operations. Memory. Main memory or RAM (Random Access Memory) is an important factor in computer performance. In fact, it can be more cost-effective to buy extra memory rather than a faster processor if you want your PC to run faster. The reason is that if your computer runs out of RAM, it uses the much slower hard disk as a temporary store. This is why computers sometimes run very slowly and the disk light seems to be on constantly when you run many applications at the same time. For Microsoft Windows, two gigabytes (GB) of main memory is sensible. Don’t buy a system with less than 1GB. It’s best to buy the memory you need when you buy your computer. Although it is possible to buy extra memory later, you may need technical help to install it and this can cost more than the memory itself. Hard disk. The hard disk in your computer provides long-term data storage. Typical PC hard disks store between 160GB and 750GB. Photos, graphics files, audio and video content use up a lot of disk space but for most business applications, 160GB-250GB should be fine. You can put additional disk drives into most desktop PCs and you can add an external disk drive to any computer using a USB cable. Solid state drives (SSD), which use computer memory chips to replace magnetic disks, are becoming increasing popular. They are more expensive than conventional storage but faster and, with no moving parts, more reliable. Network. The latest business notebooks and desktop PCs should have a built-in Ethernet socket to connect to a wired network. In addition, business notebooks should have a wireless (also known as Wi-Fi or 802.11) network capability. This comes in three main versions: b, g and n. Each version is faster than the previous one, and the latest 802.11n version is the best. Luckily, the latest technology is backwardly compatible with earlier versions, so it makes sense to buy the latest version if possible. Wireless networking capabilities can be added to a desktop PC with an adaptor. Battery life. HP makes a Notebook that will run up to 24 hours on a single charge 3 (the current record holder) but three to five hours is more typical. Some laptops will only run for about an hour without recharging and should be avoided for serious business use. If you plan to use your notebook away from a desk regularly, you need a notebook with a longer life. A bit like car performance, manufacturers tend to quote maximum battery life; in normal use, you will get 50-75 percent of the quoted figure, depending on usage.

3

Requires separately purchased Ultra Capacity Battery and customer download of the latest Intel graphics driver and HP BIOS. Notebook must be configured with optional Intel 80 GB SSD drive and HP Illumi-Lite LED Display and requires Microsoft Windows® XP operating system. Battery life will vary depending on the product model, configuration, loaded applications, features, and power management settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will decrease with time and usage.

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Environment. Green issues are increasingly important for many people. Some vendors are more environmentally conscious than others. Within each manufacturer’s product range, some machines will be greener than others. Choosing energy-efficient PCs is good business because it will reduce your energy bill. For more information, see: How to choose green IT.

So many vendors, all offering the same screen size, the same processor speed and the same disk space at similar prices. How do you know what to choose? The truth is that specifications only tell part of the story. The things you don’t find on a specs list are differentiators like quality and security. Therefore, when it comes to shopping for your new, growing business, it also pays to look beyond specifications and consider the reputation of the manufacturer. How to buy  Online. Buying online is efficient, although it can be difficult to evaluate things like size, weight and construction quality over the internet. You can buy HP PCs from internet resellers or, where available, direct from HP. Retail. Buying from a shop, especially an IT specialist outlet, lets you choose between different models and evaluate their physical characteristics. There is also the reassurance of having a local place to go to for support if something goes wrong. Keep in mind that many shops focus on consumer PCs, which may not be ideal for business use. IT specialist. IT experts, such as the network of HP Preferred Resellers, can help you choose the right system, install it and then provide technical support and business advice. A relationship with a good IT specialist is helpful for business growth.

Accessories The right accessories can increase the productivity and value of your PCs:         Extended life batteries for notebooks. Notebook docking stations. Spare power supplies so you don’t have to carry one home with your notebook, for example. Security locks to protect PCs from theft. Carry cases for notebooks. Extra memory to increase performance. Extended warranties to extend a standard warranty to three or four years and add on-site support. Large, high-definition or multiple monitors.

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Wireless network adaptors for PCs. Washable keyboards, which are ideal for environments which require keyboards to be immersed and cleaned in water with bleach, disinfectant, soap or other cleaning materials

HP recommends  Notebooks. HP has a complete range of Business Notebooks to meet all your needs. From the entrylevel and value-priced models, Tablet PCs which recognize your handwriting, powerful and elegant HP ProBooks through to high-power HP EliteBooks, which take performance and productivity to new heights. HP also has accessories to help you get more out of your notebook – more flexibility with a docking station, more power with a secondary battery, more privacy with a display privacy filter. Desktops. HP has value-priced Desktop PCs, which meet essential computing needs at surprisingly affordable prices and a full range of models that add extra power, expandability, security and manageability. Optimize your PC experience with an HP business monitor. Our HP monitor lines ensure that you can easily find the right one to fit your needs. Choose the Essential series for general office use or the Advantage series for bigger, more comfortable viewing.

For more information    HP Business Notebooks HP Business Desktop PCs HP accessories: http://hp.com/eur/hpoptions

How to choose the right PC accessories
The right accessories can increase the productivity and value of your PCs When you buy a new Notebook or Desktop PC, it’s a good time to think about how you’re going to use it and what sort of accessories might help you. You can increase your flexibility, productivity, comfort and security. For example, a docking station and external keyboard can turn a notebook into a fully-fledged desktop computer. Or an extended life battery means you can get more done without recharging. Similarly, a large, wide screen monitor can help you get more done with your PC in your office. There are plenty of options and many benefits. The following accessories could be right for you. Flexibility  Mouse. Most people find a regular mouse more productive than the trackpads or pointers built into notebooks. A compact travel mouse lets you take one with you.

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Car and plane power adaptor. Some airline seats have built-in laptop power supplies and most cars have a cigarette lighter. HP’s car and plane power adaptor means you can keep your notebook fully charged while you’re on the move. Smart power adaptors. HP Business Notebooks come with a power adaptor but if you regularly use yours in two different places, you could buy a second adaptor and save yourself the trouble of carrying one back and forth. Docking station. A docking station is the way to turn a notebook into a desktop computer. It sits on your desk and lets you connect an external monitor, a full-size keyboard, a mouse, your power supply and any other connections. When you get to your desk, you just slide your notebook into the docking station and everything is connected in an instant. When you’re ready to leave, press a button and it’s ready to go, back in notebook mode.

Productivity  Extended life batteries. With HP Extended Life Batteries and certain HP notebooks you can get up to 24 hours use from a single charge4.Depending on how you use your computer, this means you could work all through a long-haul flight or go a whole day without recharging. HP Long Life Batteries. Using new technology, HP offers a new laptop battery that lasts up to three times longer than traditional batteries, retaining 80 percent of its original capacity after 1,000 charge cycles. They are compatible with select HP notebook computer models. The result is less landfill and lower long-term cost of ownership and replacement. It also contains no dangerous heavy metals or PVC, further reducing its environmental footprint. 3G Mobile Broadband. 3G Mobile Broadband lets you get online at high speed with your notebook. Because it uses the 3G mobile phone network, you connect virtually anywhere – not just when you’re near a Wi-Fi connection point or in the office. The extra speed means that you can download files and emails much quicker. (Broadband connections require separately purchased wireless data service contracts.) Large, high-definition or multiple monitors. Optimize your PC experience with an HP business monitor. A bigger screen will help you get more done, for example by allowing you to display two documents side-by-side.

Comfort

4

Requires separately purchased Ultra Capacity Battery and customer download of the latest Intel graphics driver and HP BIOS. Notebook must be configured with optional Intel 80 GB SSD drive and HP Illumi-Lite LED Display and requires Microsoft Windows® XP operating system. Battery life will vary depending on the product model, configuration, loaded applications, features, and power management settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will decrease with time and usage.

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Carry case. The majority of notebook accidents happen because people drop them. A well-padded notebook carry case can protect your PC from accidents. Washable keyboards and mice. These are ideal for environments which require keyboards to be immersed and cleaned in water with bleach, disinfectant, soap or other cleaning materials.

Protection  Protect against malware. To help you protect your business against viruses and spyware, HP includes a 60-day trial and a special subscription deal for Norton Internet Security with new commercial PCs. This includes essential protection against the most recent online threats (viruses, spywares, trojans, phishing etc.), without slowing your PC down. Care Packs. HP’s standard warranty runs for a year, but you’ll probably keep your computer longer than that. Consider adding an HP Care Pack (an extended warranty). For example, you can buy three years’ collect and return or a next day onsite repair service. Kensington Security Lock. Laptops are very attractive targets for thieves. Securing your computer (and the valuable data inside it) with a tough Kensington Security Lock whenever you leave it unattended in a hotel room or office can deter the bad guys.

For more information  HP accessories: http://hp.com/eur/hpoptions

How to choose green IT
We are all environmentalists now. How you buy, use and recycle computers can make a big difference to their environmental impact and save you money at the same time. Everybody’s an environmentalist now. The choices we make as individuals and small businesses can reduce our environmental impact. When it comes to IT, you can help by choosing a green-minded manufacturer, recycling packaging and old computers, reducing energy consumption and choosing PCs with the least environmental impact. Green IT checklist  Buy from green-minded manufacturers. Most PC manufacturers have information on their website about corporate social responsibility. Check it out and buy from a company that shares your values. Recycle packaging and old computers. Reputable manufacturers make nearly all of their packaging out of recycled materials. HP does. You can do your bit by recycling the packaging after you have unpacked your PC. It’s good to find ways to reuse or recycle old computers. There are charities who will find good homes for old, working PCs, for example.

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Reduce energy consumption. Use system settings and energy management software to help your PC use as little power as possible. For example, HP Power Manager (available on select HP Business Desktop PCs) can cut energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Check your own carbon footprint using HP’s free web-based Carbon Footprint Calculator. Compare different systems. PCs may look alike but there is a big difference when it comes to their environmental credentials. Reputable manufacturers publish detailed environmental assessments for their products. For example, HP has published 1,200 IT Eco Declarations about its products. Use objective standards. Look for systems that meet the latest, highest standards, such as EPEAT™ Gold and ENERGY STAR®. This will tell you which machines have the least environmental impact and the lowest energy consumption. Choose PCs that are easy to recycle. It is more environmentally friendly to buy PCs that are designed to be recycled easily. This means steps such as labeling different plastic components and making systems easy to disassemble. For example, HP PCs are more than 90 percent recyclable, by weight.

HP recommends  HP Eco Solutions. HP Eco Solutions is the technology industry’s leading environmental program. For example, HP is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and FTSE4Good, recognizing its commitment in this area. HP Business Notebooks meet the rigorous standards set by The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) rating system and are ENERGY STAR ® qualified for superior energy efficiency. Recycling program. When your HP and non-HP computer hardware or printing supplies reach the end of their life, take advantage of HP’s Planet Partners return and recycling program, available in more than 45 countries, regions and territories. HP Disk Sanitizer software, built into the computer, means that you can completely and securely erases the hard disk before recycling it. HP’s power management features, such HP Power Assistant, can help you cut power consumption and CO2 emissions. Features like this have helped us cut the energy consumption of our PCs by 41 percent since 2005. HP Smart AC Adapters for HP Notebooks only draw around half a watt when they are not actually charging a laptop. HP Long Life Batteries. Using new technology, HP offers a new laptop battery that lasts up to three times longer than traditional batteries, retaining 80 percent of its original capacity after 1,000

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charge cycles. They are compatible with select models of HP notebook computers. The result is less landfill and lower long-term cost of ownership and replacement. It also contains no dangerous heavy metals or PVC, further reducing its environmental footprint. For more information    HP Eco Solutions EPEAT EPA Energy Star

How to set up a small business network
When you link computers together in a network, you can help your staff to become more productive and efficient.
Networking your computers and other IT equipment allows you to share files, databases, printers and internet connections. It also allows you to run software, such as intranets, that enhance teamwork. In short, networks enable efficiency, productivity and collaboration. Network checklist

Wired connections. You can network PCs together using cables or wireless networking. Business desktop and notebook PCs include a socket for a network cable – it looks like a phone socket. You connect each PC to a central switch using an inexpensive connection (often called Ethernet or Cat 5 cable). This allows each PC on the network to talk to the others. Wireless networks. Alternatively, many computers also support the ability to network without a physical cable – using a wireless connection. Sometimes called Wi-Fi or 802.11, a wireless network can even operate through walls so you can move around with your computers more easily. The best approach is an integrated wired and wireless network, which gives you the best of both worlds. Bandwidth. The speed of the network is called bandwidth. Wired connections are usually 10, 100 or 1000 megabits per second. Wireless networks are slower; 802.11b runs up to 11 Mbit/s; 802.11g up to 54 Mbit/s; and 802.11n (the newest and fastest standard) up to 300 Mbit/s. For many startups, 10/100 (wired) or 802.11b/g (wireless) is sufficient. However, if you will be using multimedia applications or sharing large files regularly, you may want to consider faster speeds offered in 1,000 Mbit/s (or gigabit) and 802.11n solutions. Keep your network safe. Since the network links your IT systems together, it’s a critical part of your business. You need to protect it against unauthorized people intercepting your information. Make use of the built-in security features, such as encryption on wireless networks, to keep intruders out. Get help if you need it. Setting up a network is straightforward. Just follow the instructions that come with the access point and your PC. However, it can sometimes make sense to get professional

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help to make sure that it is set up securely and to ensure you get the best performance from your network.
For more information   HP ProCurve Network – solutions for small and medium-sized businesses Find an HP ProCurve Networking reseller

HP Notebooks and the environment
HP Business Notebooks can help you reduce your firm’s energy costs and environmental impact. Because of their energy efficient design, notebook computers in general use less power than desktop computers, making them a smart choice to reduce overall energy consumption. However, HP’s Business Notebooks are specially designed for optimal energy efficiency. Not only does this mean better battery life, it also means a smaller carbon footprint. Combined with designs that are 90 percent recyclable (by weight) and which meet EU regulations on hazardous substances, HP Notebooks are good for business and better for the environment. Notebooks can enable environmentally beneficial changes to working practices. They make it easier for people to work flexibly, especially when equipped with optional 3G Mobile Broadband for anywhere, anytime connectivity and webcams for video conferencing. By reducing commuting and using less energy, notebooks contribute to overall reductions in CO2 emissions. Energy efficient HP Business Notebooks deliver better battery life, increased productivity, reduced energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint. For example:  The HP Business Notebooks meet high ENERGY STAR® standards for energy efficiency. This can translate into substantial savings per computer in your electricity bill. Battery life (and power consumption) is reduced by features such as HP Ambient Light Sensor which dims the display in low light conditions, HP Illumi-Lite displays which use up to 10 percent less power than traditional screen backlights. HP Smart AC Adapters use barely half a watt when plugged into a power outlet and disconnected from the device itself. HP Business Notebooks offer a choice of energy-efficient processors.

Designed for easier recycling Design innovations and clever construction make it easier to reuse or recycle HP Business Notebooks, reducing landfill. For example:

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Magnesium cases – used in many HP models – are easier to recycle than previous cases. HP DuraFinish is more recyclable than painted parts. Over 90 percent of HP Notebook products (by weight) are recyclable or recoverable. HP Disk Sanitizer software, built into the computer, means that you can completely erase the hard disk before recycling it. HP Notebooks are designed for easy disassembly during recycling by avoiding glue and welding where feasible. HP makes it easy to recycle unwanted computer hardware and printing supplies responsibly. When your HP and non-HP computer hardware or printing supplies reach end-of-life, take advantage of HP’s Planet Partners return and recycling program, available in more than 45 countries, regions and territories.

Designed for the environment The latest HP Business Notebooks use fewer materials of concern, reducing their long-term environmental impact. For example:   Several HP Business Notebooks have achieved the coveted EPEAT™ Gold rating for meeting a range of environmental standards. The rest have achieved the Silver rating. HP Business Notebook PCs fully comply with the European Union Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive. HP Illumi-Lite displays feature mercury-free LED backlighting, reducing the amount of hazardous materials used. HP is eliminating the remaining uses of brominated flame retardant (BFR) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from new computing products by implementing technologically feasible alternatives as they become readily available. HP has reduced the amount and size of product packaging, printed documentation and in-box CDs to reduce waste and cut shipping costs.

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For more information   HP’s environmental programs: http://hp.com/eur/environment HP Planet Partners recycling program: http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/environment/recycling/product-recycling.html

HP Desktop PCs and the environment
HP Business Desktops offer a wide range of energy-efficient desktop PCs. They are engineered to be easier to recycle, easier to manage and to meet the latest environmental standards.

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HP Business Desktops offer a wide range of PCs, in different form factors and with different combinations of manageability, energy efficiency and performance. The range includes systems that comply with the most stringent environmental standards, such as ENERGY STAR® and EPEAT™ Gold. Energy efficiency HP Business Desktops offer a range of features to reduce energy consumption dramatically.  Many models feature highly efficient power supplies, which are up to 25 percent more efficient than standard power supplies, depending on environment, usage and configuration. This allows the PCs to meet the highest standards for energy efficiency. HP offers a variety of management tools, including HP Power Manager and Verdiem SURVEYOR, that maximize operating efficiency. These features can save up to 481 kWh or 241 kilograms of CO2 per year. Intel® vPro™ technology (available on certain models) gives IT technicians remote control over computers, including the ability to control power settings. So people can turn off their computers at night, for a big saving in energy consumption, and IT can still remotely install patches and upgrades. HP Client Energy Calculator makes it easy to compare different HP models and make energyconscious purchasing decisions.

Materials innovation HP Business Desktops comply with the latest regulations and meet the highest environmental standards.   Many HP Business Desktops meet the requirements for the coveted EPEAT™ Gold standard. Small form factor machines take less office space, require fewer materials to build, less packaging to ship and, ultimately, contain fewer components to recycle than larger, conventional desktops. HP offers a range of small form factor and ultra-slim PCs. HP Business Desktop PCs use less painted metal than previous models and bromide-free plastic surfaces to allow for easier recycling. HP Business PC products fully comply with the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive.

Recycling and reuse HP Business Desktops are designed to last longer and be easier to recycle. In particular:  Extensive testing ensures greater reliability and a longer service life. The result – fewer configurations, fewer images and fewer spare parts – can bring big savings and greater product longevity.

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HP has reduced the amount of printed documentation and CDs that it ships with each product, cutting down on waste. HP works to reduce the number and types of materials used, and standardize the types of plastic resins we use so that our products are approximately 90% recyclable by weight. In addition, all commercial desktop packaging meets US Government guidelines for post-consumer content

For more information   HP’s environmental programs: http://hp.com/eur/environment HP Planet Partners recycling program: http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/environment/recycling/product-recycling.html

How to choose a reliable Notebook PC
As business goes mobile, a broken laptop can mean a broken business. Find out how to pick a reliable, welldesigned notebook. Tom Peters, the management guru, knows more about laptop reliability that most people. He takes 70-100 trips a year to give speeches. Like many business people, he uses his laptop to run PowerPoint presentations, stay in touch, write his blog and stay on top of business. Quite simply, if his laptop broke down, so would his business. (He is notorious for spilling coffee on laptops on a regular basis.) This is why he his personal assistant always has a replacement computer ready to go at all times. Laptops enable a new way of working, even if you don’t make two business trips a week like Tom Peters. They let people work wherever and whenever they want. It’s not just business travel. Think of people working from home, the architect checking plans on site or an accountant visiting a client. They allow companies to respond positively to requests for flexible working. They let companies switch from traditional offices to hot desking. (HP does this and it helps to reduce costs and makes teams more flexible.) Modern laptops can store all the files most people ever need. They have enough power to run the most demanding applications. With add-on batteries, they can run all day without recharging. Thanks to wireless networks and new technology like 3G Mobile Broadband, people can stay connected to company networks, email and the internet wherever they are. Damage, defects and disaster More people are using laptops. More people are working away from traditional offices with traditional IT support. This puts a huge premium on reliable design and solid construction. Gartner, another research firm, calculates that one laptop in ten is damaged each year. Dropping laptops is by far the most common cause of disaster but spilled drinks and poor packing are major contributors. Accidents aren’t the only problem. Computers break down and wear out. Hinges break, latches fail, power supplies short out, motherboards fuse. Gartner reports that 15-20 percent of notebooks break down every

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year. Including lost opportunity costs, they calculate that the average incident costs a business much more than the original price of the notebook. There is a big difference between low-cost notebooks designed for consumer use and more robust notebooks designed especially for business applications. Typically, manufacturers will swap plastic cases for metal ones and beef up the substructure. There is also a difference between manufacturers. The only way to produce a more reliable laptop is to combine the right materials, heavy-duty engineering and rigorous testing. What to look for in a notebook With so much at stake, it is important to choose a manufacturer who can deliver laptops that are less likely to breakdown and which are as resilient as possible. Although they look similar on the surface, there is a big difference between makes once you get under the skin. Here are a few of the things you should look for:  Designed to last. Isn’t it depressing when the characters on a keyboard get worn out after a year or two and cases get scratched and damaged? So look for laptops that are designed to look newer for longer. Thoroughly tested. Find out how each new model is tested. The more rigorous the tests, the longer the laptop is likely to last. For example, if screen hinges are testing for an average of three years’ constant use you can bet that the manufacturer isn’t staking their reputation that the hinge will last for five years. Damage-resistant. Since laptops are more likely to be dropped than suffer any other sort of disaster, look for laptops that can detect a fall and, like an airbag in a car, protect the hard disk. Look for a system that can do this in three dimensions, not just one or two because computers don’t always fall butter side up. Also, look for features that mitigate the risk of spills damaging a computer. Strongly built. What is the internal structure of the computer made from? What about the case? Flimsy plastics or strong metal or alloy? How well-built is the screen hinge? It should look and feel robust.

Conclusion Although one laptop may look much like another, differences in design, construction and testing can make a big difference on the day you have an accident. It could make the difference between continuing productivity and a complete shutdown. When you’re away from the office and away from help, this could be a critical difference. It makes sense, to look beneath the skin and make sure that the laptops you buy for your business are as reliable and robust as possible. HP Recommends HP Business Notebooks protect against common accidents:

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Dropped laptop. Dropping your laptop is never a good idea but accidents do happen. HP 3D DriveGuard protects your hard disk against drops, shock and impact. Keyboard spill. We put a thin layer of Mylar film under the keyboard to reduce the risk of damage to the sensitive components underneath. It could make the difference between a broken computer and the price of second cup of coffee. Broken laptop. HP’s competitive laptop warranty and optional Care Packs, which extend the basic warranty, mean that you can turn to expert support and repair facilities worldwide. Wear and tear. HP DuraCase, DuraFinish and DuraKeys technology protect the appearance of your notebook and help to protect it from wear and tear.

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For more information   HP Mobile and Wireless Expertise Centre – Reliability HP Notebooks: http://hp.com/eur/notebooks

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How to choose the right software
What kind of applications might your business need? What options can you choose from in these application sets? How might licensing and piracy issues affect the software you choose? Your business will need various types of software to function. In some cases, you may only need one or two basic packages; in others, you may need to bundle together a few applications to get your work done. Assess the available choices here and choose what you need to make a start. Software checklist In some cases, the computers that you buy may come with a range of software applications on board. Sometimes these will be full versions, but you may get a ‘trial’ version to try out before you buy. Other types of application may be purchased or downloaded separately as you need them.

Software options. You have three choices here. You can, for example, buy commercial software packages where you pay for the right (or license) to use the package. You can also use free packages such as open source software where no purchase is necessary. Or you can use online business software applications. Licensing and piracy. It is illegal to copy commercial software without paying for it. Each product has a license, which covers what you can and can’t do with the software. For example, the license will limit the number of installations you can make. Using pirated software can also expose you to viruses and deny access to patches and updates. Word processing. This helps you produce documents such as letters, reports and proposals. You can also use mail merge to personalize mailouts. Examples include Microsoft Word (commercial), OpenOffice Writer (free, open source) and Google Docs (free, online). Spreadsheets. This is most often used to create financial documentation or basic databases. It comes with a variety of built-in and customizable calculation functions. Examples include Microsoft Excel (commercial), OpenOffice Calc and Math (free, open source) and Google Docs (free, online). Diary/calendar. This allows you to create and manage diary/calendar entries on your computer. Examples include Microsoft Outlook (commercial), eMClient with Calendar (free) and VCalendar (free, open source, online). Email. This allows you to send, receive and manage emails. It also often offers additional add-ons such as scheduling, diary and calendar functions. Examples include Microsoft Outlook (commercial), Mozilla Thunderbird (free, open source) and Google Mail and Calendar (free, online). Web browser. This is the vehicle that allows you to access the internet and to manage your online activities. Examples include Microsoft Internet Explorer (commercial) and Mozilla Firefox (free, open source).

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Presentations. This can help you create presentations. Packages nowadays can create both basic static presentations and more complex interactive ones. Examples include Microsoft PowerPoint (commercial), OpenOffice Impress (free, open source) and Google Docs (free, online). Database. This software is used to create, manage and manipulate databases. It comes with the ability to let you produce various reports from the information in the database itself. Examples include Microsoft Access (commercial), OpenOffice Base (free, open source) and Zoho DB & Reports (free, online). Graphics editing. This allows you to create and edit graphics and often comes with a range of useful desktop publishing add-ons. Examples include Adobe PhotoShop (commercial), GIMP (free, open source) and SUMO Paint (free, online). Desktop publishing. This allows you to create documents for publishing such as sales and marketing materials. Examples include Microsoft Publisher (commercial) and Scribus (free, open source). CRM. This allows you to manage your sales, marketing and service initiatives. Some businesses will use the applications available in general Office packages such as Microsoft Office or OpenOffice for this. Examples of specialist CRM systems include SAP Business Suite (commercial), EBI Neutrino R1 (free, open source), SalesForce.com (commercial, online) and Zoho CRM (free, online). Accounts. This allows you to set up and manage your accounts and payroll system. Examples include Sage Accounting (commercial), TurboCASH (free, open source) and e-conomic (online, commercial).

Is your IT hardware good enough?
IT can help simplify and improve your business, but do you have the equipment? There are five business challenges that keep small business owner-managers awake at night. In each case, there are smart IT solutions that can really make things easier. Consider this a recipe book for highly tuned information technology. Business issue Reduce security worries IT solutions Use HP Business Notebooks. HP’s Notebooks are designed for business users and that means that they incorporate the latest security features, such as HP DriveLock (which encrypts the hard disk so thieves can’t read it), HP Fingerprint Sensors and Smart Card Readers and HP Disk Sanitizer (which erases your data when you sell or recycle an old laptop).

Improve

Get broadband internet access anywhere. Many HP Business

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communication and collaboration

Notebooks are available with optional 3G Mobile Broadband. This means that they can get online, fast, using the 3G mobile phone network, which helps them stay in touch wherever they are. Broadband connections require separately purchased wireless data service contracts. Smarter-looking documents. Microsoft Office includes professionallooking templates, themes and layouts with a vast library of free graphics and additional templates available online. Improve presentations. Microsoft PowerPoint’s SmartArt feature lets you create slick business diagrams, and its new Presenter view makes giving a presentation on an external monitor much easier. Combine this with HP’s Presentation Mode button which instantly switches your notebook into presentation mode and you’re ready to present sooner and with less setup.

Better presentations and documents

Reduce IT downtime

Make sure your computers are designed for reliability. Prototype HP notebooks are tested almost to destruction, with 47,000 hours of testing which includes: 20m keystrokes, 15,000 volts of electrostatic discharge and 30,000 hinge movements. Longer battery life. HP Notebooks are designed to extend battery life thanks to features such as Ambient Light Sensors, which adjust display backlighting automatically and energy-efficient Intel® processor technology. With additional batteries, you can run all day without stopping to recharge.

Improve staff productivity

Find things faster. Desktop Search features built into the latest Microsoft Windows operating systems search your hard disk for files in a flash, listing results just like an internet search engine. Do more with your applications. Users find it easier to get things done with Microsoft Office. The new Ribbon toolbar, Galleries and Live Preview show users exactly how different commands will change their document. It cuts out a lot of trial and error for users and saves money on training.

Hosting online meetings with HP Virtual Rooms
Working together with HP Virtual Rooms

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Were you ever on a phone call wishing you could share a presentation? Do you ever have to travel to meet colleagues and clients in different countries? Do you need to work together with clients to get consensus on plans and proposals? If so, HP Virtual Rooms could be the smart way to improve communications and cut travel costs. What is HP Virtual Rooms? HP Virtual Rooms is an internet tool that creates an online conference centre for people to come together and share their Windows desktop (so that colleagues can see what’s on your screen), review documents, give presentations and chat. It’s secure and private – only people you invite can join the meeting. Presenters can use webcams or computer microphones to present to participants or you can use HP Virtual Rooms in conjunction with a conventional phone conference. What can you use it for? HP Virtual Rooms can be used for many different business tasks:    Training. Share your desktop or applications to show invited viewers exactly how to use software and get things done. Presentations. Invite customers to your presentation and let them see your slides on their screen while you talk through the issues. Respond to questions and flip through slides instantly. Team meetings. Share status reports, graphics, pictures, work-in-progress software or designs with the whole team, wherever they are and get feedback instantly. Use online collaboration and editing tools to mark up changes so that everyone can see them.

In fact, as the name suggests, it’s like a virtual conference room for any type of meeting but, because it’s online, everyone can go there without leaving their desk. It’s compatible with Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS and Linux. How does it work? The organiser logs into the HP Virtual Rooms website and generates a one-time key for the room. This lets other participants join the conference. The first time someone uses HP Virtual Rooms, it installs a small piece of software to display the contents of the room but apart from that joining a conference is as easy as logging into any other web-based service. During the conference, there are one or more leaders and up to 25 participants (depending on the price plan). The conference leaders can share files, applications or their desktop; they appear in a window in real time on everyone else’s screen. Everyone also has access to instant messaging, with the whole group or one-to-one with other people. It’s available in 11 European languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Czech, Greek) so it works well for colleagues in different countries. How do I get it?

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Watch a video to see it in action. You can also get a free 60-day trial to evaluate it in your own business. If you want to use it regularly, you can buy an annual or monthly subscription that lets you hold an unlimited number of meetings. The price only varies according to the maximum number of participants.

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