Technology Advisor Blog

What I learned at Hubspot Inbound 2018

Posted by Nancy Amato on 9/24/18 4:27 PM

Hubspot_Inbound_CollageNancy recently attended Hubspot Inbound 2018 with 24,000 marketing pros from around the country and around the world (plus 400,000 followers!)  "INBOUND is a community of people who are passionate about marketing, selling, and delighting customers in an inbound way. Our annual event and year-round media platform inspire and educate hundreds of thousands of people so that they—and their businesses—can grow better."

Getting out to a conference is a great way to learn and re-charge.  At Ekaru we're always looking for ways to learn and grow.  Here are some of Nancy's thoughts and experiences:

I am excited to share with you what I learned at Hubspot's annual conference –Inbound18Brian Halligan, the co-founder of Hubspot talked about how to fuel your company’s growth.  He believes the old Marketing Funnel that we have been living by in the sales and marketing world has a crack in it.  So he created the Flywheel. His inspiration came from Jeff Bezos who created the circular model and it has helped his growth at Amazon.  Customers are input into our business not output like in the Marketing Funnel.  Modern business needs to embrace this new model, in order to grow in the near future.  Our customers are on the flywheel.  We need to apply force to the flywheel so we can get the biggest return on our investment.  This happens in the engage stage with sales reps.  We then shift to the marketer to attract as many people in as we can.  The loudest channel in the flywheel is to delight.  Put all your force on the wheel into delight in order to make your customer happy. 

We want to have no friction in our buyer’s process.  Brian quotes  ‘’your customer experience has to be 10x lighter”.   The goal is to scale up service, marketing and sales processes.  This new growth model is for sales, marketing and customers to have very little friction and we need to continually delight all of our customers at all times.  The lower the friction in our model, the higher the return on investment will be. 

Dharmesh Shah, the other co-founder to speak from Hubspot talked about how we are living in a new world, and we need to change in order to grow.  Wow…such powerful words!  He said, culture is critical and it defines the destiny in a company.  He believes in SFTC which is Solving For The Customer.  Our goal is to help them succeed and we don’t want to just satisfy them - we want to delight them.  This is part of the cultural code deck (which he has written about in a book) because this puts the customer first.  Remember, the customer experience starts and never ends, just like with the Flywheel that Brian talked about..  What a fabulous great talk by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

Another keynote speaker was Shonda Rhimes.  If by chance you do not know who Shonda Rhimes is, she has created six award winning sitcoms on CBS.  She talked about when she walks into a negotiation, she does NOT surrender, for example her recent experience with Netflix.  She is extremely busy with streaming, Netflix and Shondaland.  It is too early for her to mention anything about Shondaland, which by the way An American Television production company that she founded.  As Shonda says ‘it’s where the bad asses live’.  Shonda feels in the working world we have nothing to lose, and must always speak up.  Shonda spoke about how important time management is with work and family.  I also like how she said losing weight sucks, and she recently lost 100 pounds in one year

I really like Alex Rodriguez's speech about his obsessing with learning.  Did you ever think you would hear a former baseball champion speak like that?  He likes to find people who are respectful and successful to be around.  He had his share of strikeouts and failures and has grown from all of that.  Alex likes to be on the Shark Tank and find people who are poor, hungry and driven -  his version of a "PhD".  He summed up what Inbound18 means to him, by saying it means to educate and inspire yourself and surround yourself with good people.  What powerful words those are to live our everyday lives by. 



Tags: small business, SMB, Marketing

Create a PDF Document in Office 2010 - It's Easy!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/31/11 3:32 PM

Here's a tip to get more from the small business technology you already have.  One of the helpful features in Office 2010 is the ability to directly create a PDF document by using the "save as PDF" feature.  Instead of relying on a third-party application, the capability is built right in.

To create a PDF, simple to to File / Save As Type - and pick "PDF":

Word 2010 Save as pdf

PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and this means anyone can view your file and keep the formatting intact, even if they don't have Microsoft Word on their system.  This feature is also built into PowerPoint, so this makes it easy to share your presentations over the web.

Note that you also have the option to save your file in an older version of Microsoft Word (Word 97-2003), so you don't need to worry about file compatibility if you're using different versions in your small business.

We always advise clients to take a few moments to learn more about the technology you have, because you probably have more than you know.

Tags: PDF, small business, Microsoft Office, technology

"Deep Freeze" to Protect Your Shared Computers

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/18/11 9:54 AM

In this day and age of all sorts of computer viruses and threats, a big problem for businesses is what to do with systems used by multiple people.

In your small business, you may have laptops that are loaned out to employees temporarily, or you may have a training room or a kiosk set up for customers to use.  With different users on the systems and little control over what the users may do, Deep Freeze is a great product which removes any changes to a computer upon reboot.  Therefore whatever happens to the system will be GONE when it reboots, so its a clean slate again for the next user. You won't waste time and money cleaning up the system or lose productivity.

This is a great solution for libraries, schools, training rooms, sales kiosks, hotels, and basically anywhere where people will need a computer for a short period of time, but don't need any customization, or their own data.  If you've ever thought it would be helpful to let customers have access to a computer, but you didn't want the hassle or risk of constant support to clean things up, this is a great solutions for your small business. 

Tags: laptop, small business, computer, security protection

Getting your eMail Through Spam Filters.

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/14/11 9:20 AM

A customer contacted us a few days ago with an email dilemma.  They had been receiving a valued daily report through email, and all of a sudden they stopped receiving it and found that it was in their spam filter and wondered why.

After taking a look at it, it turns out that the sender had changed their "from" address for their bulk email.  Just about all bulk mail (spam if you don't want it, bulk mail if you do), will get flagged by spam filters. The recipient had already "safe listed" the old address, but with the new address, it was getting stopped again.  This was easily fixed by updating the safe sender list to include the new address.

In your own small business, if you send out a newsletter or other sort of daily, weekly, or monthly update, keep in mind that many of your recipients may find it valuable and want to receive it, but spam filters may stop it.  Think carefully before changing your "from" address, because many of your recipients may stop receiving it if you do!

Tags: small business, eMail, spam

Going Paperless in 2011

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 12/28/10 10:28 AM

We've worked with many of our clients to go paperless - law firms, accounting firms, medical offices... and now its our turn.  In a classic example of "the cobbler's family has no shoes", we're the last to update.

The first thing we double checked is the IRS requirements for record keeping.  The IRS has actually been accepting electronic records as far back as 1997 as referenced in Rev. Proc. 97-22.  The electronic storage system must "ensure an accurate and complete transfer of the hard copy or computerized books and records to an electronic storage media".  The electronic storage system must also "index, store, preserve, retrieve, and reproduce the electronically stored books and records".  The full document is 36 pages, but the relevant parts for electronic records is covered in pages 9-11 so its not too much to read.

Like many small businesses, we were faced with either adding a new filing cabinet, getting a crow-bar to squeeze in some more paper records, or finally taking the plunge to go paperless.  We set up a Xerox scanner with a good feeder and a combined flat-bed scan capability, and also ran some tests on our backup to double check that our scanned documents were safe.  Without the safety net of paper records, the integrity of our data backup is more important than ever.

We found a local mobile shredding service that will help us clean out the old records after scanning and with a deadline of two weeks, we'll be motivated to work fast!  We're looking forward to starting 2011 more organized than ever!

Tags: small business, paperless, electronic documents, backup

How to Create an eMail Signature in Outlook 2010

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 12/3/10 3:23 PM

In this short video we go through simple instructions for creating or editing a signature in Microsoft Outlook 2010.  Small Business owners can create a professional looking email, with links to social media accounts:  Create an eMail Signature in Microsoft Outlook 2010.

Tags: Outlook 2010, small business, eMail, Signature

Save Windows Home Server! Great for Small Business!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 12/2/10 8:57 AM

Microsoft has a great gem of a product for small business that's basically "under the radar" - Windows Home Server

Although it's called a "home" server, it's also great for small businesses.  Users can centrally store files, backup of workstations on the network occurs automatically (so you don't have to worry about your employees remembering to backup), and files can be accessed remotely.  This is a perfect fit for smaller offices - a few users who need to collaborate, and don't have the need or budget for a full-blown server.

About a week ago, Steve Ballmer announced that Microsoft was planning to remove an imporant feature (drive extender) from the next release.  Although Microsoft is now indicating they'll revisit this decision, yesterday more bad news came out with HP announcing they were going to drop the product line:

Windows Home Server is a product we have highly recommended to several of our small business clients who we provide IT support to.  Although Microsoft has promotional information on their web site for small business,  it really hasn't been marketed to its full potential. We don't want to see this go away!

Tags: small business, backup, Windows Home Server

Protect your Small Business - Renew your Domain Name

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/29/10 10:36 AM

Every once in a while, we get a panicked call from a small business owner - "Help, my email and website stopped working - we can't get any e-mail and I'm missing important orders!".  After the usual first steps in trouble shooting - such as can they get out to the Internet at all - one of the first things we check is the domain name registration status.  Often what we'll catch is an expired domain name. 

If you don't know the status of your domain name, go to and do a free search.  You'll find a few important pieces of information:  The Registrant, Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, and Expiration Date.  Unless you have taken extra steps to make this information private, this is all in the public record. 

A few important points:

  • The Registrant should be the business name (or owner) and NOT an employee or outside webmaster or consultant.  The Registrant "owns" the name.
  • The administrative contact should be a principal in the business and we recommend using a "real" email account, not a free one such as HotMail (people often set up temporary accounts and forget about them, and risk missing renewal notices).
  • The technical contact can be an outside consultant.
  • Make sure all contact information is current or you could miss a renewal notice.
  • Track your renewal date just in case you miss a renewal notice.

The legal right to your domain name is an important business asset and should be protected with the same level of vigilance as any other valuable asset.

Tags: small business, domain name, renewal

How to Pick the Right Backup Software for your Small Business

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/22/10 8:56 AM

A question we get asked a lot is "What's the best backup solution for my small business?".  The good news and bad news is that there are a lot of choices.  So many choices that it can be overwhelming.  Here are a few considerations to think about:

1.  Get the backup off-site.  If there is a disaster in your office building and your back up is on site, you risk losing everything.  Make sure your backup gets out of the building either by physically removing the media, or transmitting it on-line.

2.  The backup should be encrypted.  Data protection laws often require this, but even if you're not dealing with protected information, you don't want your valuable business information in the wrong hands.

3.  The backup should be automatic.  Relying on someone to remember to run a backup and take the backup off site every day is risky.  On-line data storage costs have decreased dramatically over the past few years, so it's now affordable to transmit everything off site automatically.

4.  How often do you need to backup your data? Once a day is probably not enough. 

5.  Calculate the impact of downtime on your business. Your data can't be reproduced, so at a minimum your critical business data needs to be protected, but also consider the impact of down time.  Using an imaged-based backup can help you recover a lot faster in the event of a disaster, because you won't need to spend a lot of time installing software and customizing settings when you try to recover.

When you explore options to backup your data, don't get overwhelmed with all the technical buzz words.  Stay focused on what's needed to protect your business, and then look at the technical options.

Tags: small business, data backup

Microsoft Office 2010 - Not so fast for Small Business?

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 8/31/10 10:58 AM

Every month I send out an e-newsletter to our clients updating them technology tips and strategies for small business. Recently, we posted news on the Microsoft Office 2010 release - whats new, whats the same.... A few minutes later I got the following response from one of our long term customers: "I hate Office 2007 and wish I could go back to 2003!!!! A new version?? NO WAY!!"

I have to confess I'm still running Office 2003 on my own laptop, but in the next few days I'll be getting my brand new laptop with Office 2010. Can't wait to find out how I'll adapt to the "latest and greatest". Stay tuned...

Tags: small business, Microsoft Office 2010

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