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Technology: Must-Have Equipment to Run My Solo Business
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AT&T 993 Corded 2-Line SpeakerphoneI was recently interviewed by a national magazine and the reporter asked me about some of the must-have equipment I use to run my solo enterprise. Here is what I listed.

Feature-rich telephone. You might think that finding the perfect desk phone is easy, but it wasn’t for me. I finally found everything I needed in one unit that was also priced right. My AT&T 993 phone is a corded, 2-line phone.

In addition to the standard features that come with most phones such as speed dial, mute, auto redial, etc., I also wanted the following:

- Speakerphone to use when I’m on hold.
- Headset connector for hands-free operation.
- Volume control to use for callers who talk too loudly or too softly.
- Voicemail indicator to remind me of messages waiting.
- Call waiting/Caller ID capable so I can see who’s calling when I’m on the phone.

Dymo LabelWriter. I can print my own stamps in any denomination, and also use my LabelWriter to print shipping labels. It’s much simpler for me to do this than to go to the US Postal Service’s Web site, complete all the information, pay for the postage, print the label, then affix. Every time I use the LabelWriter, I feel cool, empowered, efficient, a woman about town.

Business card scanner. I can’t remember what I did back in the old days when I’d have a collection of business cards I wanted to add to my database. My CardScan is at my fingertips. I’ll slide a card in and it starts automatically. With one click, I can transfer the data to Outlook.

Dual monitor setup. In a previous post, I talked about how I love using a second monitor. It’s easy to set up and you’ll increase your productivity by expanding your desktop. Visit the link for more details.

All-in-One Printer/Fax/Scanner/Copier. It amazes people when I tell them that I ran my business for a year without a printer. It was easy because I rarely print anything. I got a free printer when I bought a new computer, and I hardly use it. But it’s nice to know it’s here when I need it. So far, I’ve only printed boarding passes and CD labels.

BlackBerry. I travel a lot and I always have my laptop and BlackBerry with me. I use the BlackBerry for the phone and for monitoring email. Here is a post I wrote on my company’s blog, Changes I Made to My BlackBerry to Make it Easier to Use (I make a point of learning tips and tricks in software I use and gadgets and gizmos that I buy). And here is a post I wrote on how to tether your BlackBerry to a laptop and use it as a modem.

What about your must-haves? Let us know what and why.

Peggy Duncan, SCORE Atlanta
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I'm a productivity and technology speaker, trainer, author, and consultant. I own The Digital Breakthroughs Institute in Atlanta GA.

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Online Networking: Facebook 101
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Facebook

Facebook is a social networking site that gained popularity among college students and soon became one of the most used in the world. With 175 million active users, it’s definitely the place to be. Unlike LinkedIn and Xing, however, Facebook is a “social” networking, not “professional” networking site. This distinction is important for understanding how users behave and engage. People join LinkedIn to build professional contacts, find a job and network with industry leaders. People join Facebook to catch up with their college roommates, keep in touch with their family and stay involved in the lives of their friends. See the difference? So how does a business use Facebook effectively? To survive on Facebook, you must be invested in building relationships. Engage with the community and as always, provide useful information and resources.

There are four ways to use Facebook for business and the method you choose will depend on your type of business, as well as your time commitment. First, create a business page. This option allows members to become “fans” of your company. By doing so, your image is added to their profile thereby increasing your exposure and adding to brand recognition. You can also incorporate your small business blog feed into your profile, which auto-updates every time you publish a new post. Further customize your page with videos, photos and event listings. (Verizon, Nike Women and Red Bull are a good examples of highly customized pages.) The second way to use Facebook is by creating a group. For a group to be successful, you have to be committed to actively seek out and engage your members. Find issues your target audience is passionate about and build a group around it. Again, you can customize your group page much the same way you would do with your business page. The third method for using Facebook is specifically for non-profits. Using the Facebook Causes application, your organization can “recruit” members and solicit donations. Actually obtaining funds, however, requires proactively searching for members who are excited about your cause. The fourth use of Facebook for entrepreneurs is the only non-free tool, customized Facebook Ads. Upload an image, write the copy, choose when it displays and Facebook will make sure your message gets viewed by your target audience.

Resources:
Facebook for Small Business and Entrepreneurs
Top 10 Business Applications for Facebook
12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally
Facebook for Business: Opportunties and Limitations

Jacalyn Barnes, SCORE
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SCORE
For 50 years, SCORE has helped aspiring and current small business owners achieve their dreams. Through a network of over 11,000 volunteer business mentors in 340+ chapters across the country, SCORE connects decades of business experience and knowledge with those who can best use it.
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