Why Should an Invention Be Patented?

How would you feel if someone stole an idea you spent years and invested tens of thousands of dollars developing? In today’s ultra-dynamic market, piracy and property infringement issues are quite common. So, whether you’ve come up with a revolutionary consumer product or have developed a new cybersecurity business software, you might risk losing your competitive advantage as well as tons of market shares if you’re not vigilant enough. This is where patents come in handy. In the following guide, we will explain what patents are and why it is imperative to protect your newest invention by filing one at the earliest opportunity.

What is a Patent?

In essence, a patent is a type of intellectual property that guarantees the protection of a product, service, design, or process. The owner of said property is given sole ownership, meaning only they can manufacture, market, export, and sell it. Patents are essential across all industries, from automobiles to high tech. According to the business laws in effect in a state or country, a patent will be valid for a limited period, usually around 20 years, after which it must be filed for again. There are 3 main types broken down into utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.

Patent Granting Procedure

Filing for a patent is a notoriously lengthy and costly process. It can take up to two years and cost anywhere between $10,000 and $25,000. That said, these figures shouldn’t discourage you; on the contrary, acquiring a patent will do wonders for your business portfolio by showcasing your potential for innovation and creativity. Now, irrespective of the nature of your invention, it’s important that you refer to your local patent delivery authority to get a comprehensive idea of what is required, essential paperwork, and fees. Remember that, once granted, it’s an investment that will basically pay for itself.

Protection from Copycats

One of the main advantages of having your invention patented is ensuring its protection against intellectual theft. Developing a product or a service is complicated and time-consuming enough without having ill-intentioned individuals copy your idea and profit from it. When it comes to tech services, the IT experts at solutionpartner.com go to great lengths in explaining that a new piece of software, for instance, must always be patented. Information travels fast online, and it would only take a few days for your invention to be duplicated and commercialized. However, if you own the patent to said product, you’ll be able to sue anyone who infringes on your intellectual property rights.

A Sizeable Competitive Advantage

Companies and brands with patented inventions tend to fare relatively better than their unprotected counterparts, on both the commercial and financial fronts. This owes to the fact that a patent grants your business authority. With this, you’ll enjoy a far better market positioning, which will help you capture valuable opportunities to grow your customer base, bring in new investors, expand your operations, and turn a profit. This gives you a leg up over your direct competitors, no matter how niche your industry is.

Legal Protection

A common mistake many business owners make is publicizing their inventions too early. Whether it’s in a presentation or a featured article on a public forum, they risk giving off that novelty for others to exploit. Once that’s underway, there isn’t much you can do to prove that you have in fact pioneered that property. By contrast, keeping your invention under the radar until you’ve been delivered a patent places you under the protection of the law. As such, any entity that attempts to duplicate your product or service for commercial purposes exposes themselves to greater legal sanctions, from hefty fines to prison sentences.

Striking Business Deals

Aside from initial expansion, selling or licensing is often the end goal of company owners. Now, what happens to your expensive patents once you decide to part ways with your ventures? In practice, patents can be traded just as any other commodity; you can include it in your licensing deal for a fee and under certain conditions, which grants others the right to exploit your invention or sell the patent altogether at a profit. At this point, you may want to enlist the services of a specialized intellectual property lawyer to help you weigh your options and decide on a course of action.

In a world that thrives on market competition, no business owner or entrepreneur is safe from having their ideas plagiarized and hard work undermined. This is why patents are an extremely useful legal tool that you should use to protect your invention, develop your venture, and fulfill your strategic objectives.

Can Smartphones Improve Small Business Productivity?

The advancement of smartphones means that a fully working small business can operate from the palm of the business owner’s hand. From accounting software to website design, social media management to lead organization, almost all small business tasks can be completed on a smartphone. While this is beneficial for those on a shoestring budget or for those who work on the go, it can also blur the lines between focusing on business and dealing with the rest of our lives that pop up on our phones throughout the day. Could our smartphones also be used to make us more productive?

Managing Time

One of the most important and productive uses of time is to actually have a break. This may seem counterintuitive, especially with overflowing to-do lists, but adequate breaks help you focus and ensure you are firing on all cylinders. Many use the app based around the Pomodoro technique which makes you work solidly for 22 minutes and then allows a short break. The timeframe is just long enough to prevent distractions. Scheduling breaks is crucial. For better productivity, people should do something in these breaks to allow them to properly focus away from work.

Utilizing and engaging in various forms of entertainment can actually help improve focus when we return to work. For example, playing mobile games that require some thinking, such as Words with Friends, helps improve memory and our attention spans. Furthermore, those who play online casino games can take advantage of poker as part of the live casino offering, which allows players to see a live dealer in front of them as they play. Playing poker has been proven to boost strategic thinking, which helps improve focus. Even more interesting, is that video games have been proven to improve hand-eye coordination and our ability to process information quicker.

Managing Distractions

One of the main issues that derails those who need to focus on work is the myriad of distractions that life throws at us, that seem ever-present, especially for those who use their smartphones for both business and pleasure. Some business owners ensure they have separate devices, but for those where this is impractical, many need a little extra help. For starters, you should ensure that unnecessary notifications are turned off.

Many install the Screentime app, which helps track where our time on mobile is spent and can help us block various apps for short bursts, which boosts productivity in the short term. Moreover, the Forest app turns not using your phone into a game. If you achieve the goal of not using your phone for whatever interval of time you are aiming for, a tree grows in your digital forest. This helps place the onus of not being distracted on your smartphone and less on your willpower.

Managing both time and distractions is key to succeeding as a small business, especially being in charge of yourself and thus being unable to exact punishment for uncompleted work. Time can be managed through giving yourself adequate breaks, while distractions can be mitigated against through apps on your smartphone. The smartphone is the most useful tool for small business owners – if they use it effectively.

The Advantages of Sticker Rolls

Stickers come in many shapes and sizes. Take a look around you, you will see that you will find stickers everywhere. One of the most printed stickers are stickers rolls (translation: stickers op rol). The advantage of stickers on a roll is that you can use them for many applications. Would you like to discover more advantages of sticker rolls? Then read on.

Your Own Sticker Rolls

The biggest advantage of sticker rolls is that you don’t have loose stickers everywhere. Stickers rolls are easy to store and are always at hand. In addition, the sticker rolls fit in dispensers and labeling machines. This makes it easy to remove the stickers from the roll and stick them on.

Sticker rolls can be used for many different applications. For example, the sticker rolls are often used in the kitchen of large companies and the hospitality industry. They are ideal as preservatives stickers. You can also use them for safety reasons such as inspection stickers or warning stickers. Another way stickers on rolls are often used as labels on products or packages.

Stickers on a roll are available in many different varieties. So you can choose the material, the finish and the shape yourself. For example, round stickers on a roll are often used as closing stickers for parcels. And rectangular stickers on rolls as name and address stickers. You can also have the shape cut to your liking, such as the shape of your logo.

Create Your Own Stickers

Would you like to make your own stickers (translation: stickers maken) for promotional purposes? Stickers on a roll is just one example of the many existing sticker products. You can have stickers printed on floors, windows, cars and walls. You also have a choice of sustainable variants if you want to make an environmentally friendly choice. 

Logo stickers are always handy to have at home. They are multifunctional, because you can stick them on anything. With logo stickers you can easily and inexpensively promote your brand. Stick them on packaging, laptops, notebooks and other objects where your logo should not be missing. Besides that logo stickers are a nice and inexpensive give-away at fairs and events.

Stickers are also very suitable to convey a temporary message. This is useful if you want to promote a temporary campaign or discount campaign. For example, you can have window stickers made with a discount percentage and stick them on your store window. In this way (future) customers walking down the shopping street can see that there are sales.

Do you already use stickers on rolls or other stickers within your company?

The Importance of Observing a Work-Life Balance

What “Work-Life Balance” Means

Having a work-life balance is an idea that’s been thrown a lot around the lifestyle scene, especially with the current “work-from-home” arrangements some of us are facing. The new workforce comprising of millennial workers seems to hold this aspect as a core part of the work environment.

How to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

To maintain this work-life balance, you need to separate your work and life responsibilities from each other. Let your work worries stay in the office, and let your worries stay at home, with none of them encroaching on each other. This new shift towards maintaining this balance can benefit workers by cutting down on their stress and lessening the chance of burnout.

Stress is the 5th biggest killer in the United States, with a quarter of Americans saying that the jobs they have are their 1st and foremost source of stress. Healthcare software development by companies like this have produced lifestyle apps that can help you rein in the body you want. This might come from their heavy workloads, or maybe an internal feeling of having no control over their work-life balance.

Setting Priorities, and Learning Your Strengths

When balancing your work and life, you need to set your priorities. Find what things are truly important to you, and stick to them. Drop anything that might add unneeded pressure onto your already busy lifestyle. Plan out what your career path is, and take steps towards your end goals. Lastly, simplify any part of your life, and find whatever part that you can change for the better.

Playing to your strengths can also be a great move towards a better work-life balance. Instead of focusing to become everything, focus on the few things you know you can do confidently. Use your skills to find a workflow that you can use. This will save you from headaches later on.

Stay Realistic and Grounded

While you chase the career goals you’ve set for yourself, it’s important to keep yourself grounded in reality. A little self-analysis can go a long way when planning for the long-term. In the face of a problem, ask yourself what caused it and what you can do to prevent it from happening next time. Ask your friends and peers for help in managing yourself and your time. Ask them what you could do to better yourself. Remember that life in itself is a learning process, and we can only know what we’ve learned. 

Take Breaks When Needed

Take time for yourself, even when it’s tempting to take on your work with everything you’ve got. The people you give your time to can be a great support when you experience hardships in your work. It’s crucial as well to look into your health, and the steps you can take to make sure you’re in top shape. Take time to exercise, and make sure to prioritize it. A healthy mind and body can be an amazing tool in landing the deals that you want.

Use Health Management Applications

With today’s technology, you can use applications to help in managing every aspect of your life. Management apps can help to plan out your day in the most efficient way possible. Lastly, messaging apps can get your word across to clients all across the globe and help you create a network. It can even help you stay close to the friends and family members you hold dear.

Manage Your Mental State

Last, manage your mind and your mental state. You can do this in a variety of ways, whether that’s through a hobby or maybe a long-needed vacation. When anxiety creeps into your mind, do some exercises to reassure yourself that you can achieve what you set out to do.

The Effort to Change

This will require a massive effort to change up what you’re already used to, but in the end, it’ll be worth it. Work-life balance isn’t just a matter of managing your time; it’s about managing your mindset around it as well. Some people can be immersed in work so much that they spend less time on themselves. At that point, anyone would want a change in their lives.

Work-life balance is about finding a purpose and meaning in living your life. It means to be confident in yourself and to have peace of mind with regards to how you spend your time and energy.

Tools That You Need to Master if You Wish to Sell on Amazon

Amazon is one of the most reputable e-commerce platforms available in the digital world. The success of Jeff Bezos is undeniably legendary for creating such a major hub for online purchasing, selling, and shipping. Anyone can sell products online, but not all of them can say they master the process. Selling on Amazon needs patience, consistency, and reliable tools that streamline every step effortlessly. If you want to start selling on this platform effectively, then read on to know more about some of the tools that you must master.

Brand Gate Checkers

Using a brand gate checker is highly convenient for researching keywords and product development. You will have a tool that is designed for optimizing listings effectively with minimal mistakes. Strategically and consistently generating long-term sales will always be beneficial, increasing your monthly profits using Amazon tremendously. Using a brand gate checker tool will help sellers leverage the specifics surrounding optimization, making it easy for them regardless of the scope of their plans. The most convenient aspect of tools that provide these features is that they’re versatile and a great value for their money, increasing ROI levels significantly. Another competitive advantage of a brand gate checker tool is that you get to monitor the rest of the industry. It allows you to research what your competitors are doing to be one step ahead of them.  

Niche Hunting Tools

The idea of effortlessly streamlining product research is quite appealing, and you can do it with a nice niche hunting tool. You can use these tools to your advantage to find the optimal sale opportunities on Amazon, making the process tremendously easier than traditional methods. Advice from the fulfillment by Amazon specialists at Infinite FBA suggests that taking a seller’s business to the next level is achievable by utilizing features that find top-rated niches and products. This tool helps you find the rankings of bestsellers, reviews, and price points of a specific niche product. 

When you’re able to find how lucrative and marketable a certain product can be, you can use that to your advantage and get a piece of the profits by selling it too. Whenever you feel hesitant or doubtful of a specific niche, the tool helps you track and gather the sales data with one click. This is possible thanks to due diligence steps that allow you to review and confirm specific facts about that product. When you examine that data, you will have all the proof you need that this niche is a great choice to make some money. 

Feedback Tracker 

Another tool that can be quite useful to master is a feedback tracker tool. It compiles every customer review and feedback into one spot for you to check, getting more info on how good a specific product really is. The importance of customer feedback is vital to your sales goals because analyzing the data you get will help you determine which products are loved the most by customers. These tools also have features where they can help you with your own sales and product choices, allowing you to create custom and personal emails to those customers. This approach will help you get more context from customers, fixing any negative feedback, and solving people’s problems with orders. This tool helps you increase customer satisfaction levels, allowing the products you sell to get more positive feedback to generate more sales.

PPC and Competitor Analysis  

Using PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and competitor analysis tools will help you determine which products are profitable and lucrative based on the number of clicks it got. It allows you to analyze sales data of every competitor in the market that sells the same product or targets the same niche. This tool is convenient for beginners because it allows them to calculate fees, making the process easier if they don’t have a high budget. It helps sellers avoid products that will be difficult to maintain on the listings page. Also, categorizing the sales data of specific products by seasonal periods is convenient for choosing the right time to list something.

Making money online is possible when you have the right tools in your arsenal. Researching and finding the right steps to reach a point of excellent returns is worth the effort and time spent. All you need is a computer, laptop, or even a smartphone to start your ecommerce journey right. Evaluate the market, choose the best sellers, and capitalize on the opportunities for more sales. Product research is key, especially if you’re planning to dive into the e-commerce world full-time. Focusing on bankable or best-selling products will always increase your profits tremendously. Consider using these tools to make your money-making goals a reality.

6 Processes That CRM Software Can Automate

Being an entrepreneur and running your own company seems like a rather fun experience. A lot of business owners would agree. However, it’s also a challenge. There are many different factors involved, and a business owner has to deal with many tasks on a daily basis. Some of those tasks require creativity or problem-solving abilities, while others are pretty mundane and boring. Those brainless tasks usually kill productivity in the office. No one likes to do them, but they still have to be done. This is exactly why you need automation.

One of the best ways to automate specific processes in your company is to utilize the power of the Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). Having a good workflow in the office is paramount if you want to be successful, and this software can help you achieve that. Here are the six processes you can automate with CRM.

Data Entry

It doesn’t matter what line of work you are in and what your company is about; data entry is definitely a significant aspect of your day-to-day operations. Unfortunately, entering data and keeping track of important daily numbers can be a bit tedious. More importantly, it takes a lot of time to do, and it usually leaves you exhausted. This can be a problem, especially if you don’t have enough human resources, and your primary job requires creativity. Fortunately, this is where CRM can come to the rescue. As experts from https://crm.webfletch.co.uk/ say, the automation of the data entry process can save you a lot of time and money. Leave the boring jobs to your computer. This way, you can work on creative tasks in your company, and the machines can crunch data.

Email Marketing

Even though email marketing should be personalized, especially if you don’t have a lot of customers, some aspects of it are generic. For example, promotions, limited offers, and follow-up emails can be automated This will save you and your employees a considerable amount of time on a daily basis. The time that can be spent on improving the company.

Customer Support

Conversations with customer support agents regarding complex problems can’t be automated, of course, but simpler issues can be fixed with things like chatbots, for example. If you are selling a product or offering a service to your customers, you will probably answer thousands of similar questions every day. This can be frustrating, but more importantly, it can be rather time-consuming. Therefore, if the customer doesn’t have a complex problem, it’s a good thing to leave a computer to provide a user with an answer. If you want this method to provide you with good results, you have to know what the most frequently asked questions are and make sure you have the answers to them. 

Reports

When you own a company, you have to deal with a lot of different reports on a regular basis. Every time your employee makes a sale, every time you get a new client, and every time you pay your workers. Filling those reports can be rather boring and exhausting, especially if you have other work to do. This is one of the mundane tasks CRM can help you with. If you have a lot of reports that don’t require detailed analysis and checking, make sure to automate them. Automated reports are one of the best ways to save time and resources.

Documentation Management

It doesn’t matter what you are selling or what kind of service you are offering to your customers; if you want to keep things in order, you must have proper documentation. Every sale and every payment has to be documented. This means there will be a lot of files like invoices and receipts you have to enter every single day. This is a lot of work, even if you have a good accountant in your office. However, a good organization and automation can make this process simpler and easier.

Appointment Scheduling

If you are meeting with clients and customers on a daily basis, the receptionist in your office probably has a lot on their plate. However, if you are a small company, you probably don’t have a receptionist or a personal assistant to take care of your appointments. Doing this yourself can be time-consuming. Therefore, your best option is to automate this process. It will save you a lot of time, and you definitely won’t forget a meeting.

Being an entrepreneur is not a simple thing to do, especially in today’s competitive market. If you want to find your place and succeed, you must find a way to organize your workflow better and save time. Automation of specific tasks will definitely help you achieve this.

Most Effective Ways to Make Your Workspace Focused and Productive

Productivity has become a hot button topic. People are making crazy amounts of money by writing guides for productivity for people of all ages (some starting as young as middle school). While finishing the tasks you want to is an admirable goal, we have found that often it is the smaller, quieter things that most influence productivity.

A new area of research called environmental psychology has emerged and has been finding very interesting results. Consistently, studies are showing that people’s environment affects their mood, creativity, focus, and, you guessed it, productivity. You might not need to force yourself to sit and do things that you despise. You might just need to tweak up your space a little bit so that it is more encouraging for productive work. The following will explore some of the things you can do to your workspace to make sure that you can get your work done when you need to.

Clean Up Your Room Or Workspace

Not to nag you, but maybe you should clean up your workspace. Studies have found that people are far more productive in clean spaces than in messy ones. Beyond productivity, a messy room has been shown to correlate with depression. Clean rooms reduce allergies, boost your self-esteem, and build a sense of productivity within you that makes you feel excited to feel more productive. This seems like a very small point, but it can make a huge difference regarding how much work you get done and how easy it feels to get it done.

Take some time to pick up anything that isn’t where it should be. Change the garbage. Wipe down your surfaces. Vacuum or mop and, if you are able, let in some fresh air through the windows. While you’re cleaning, consider how much clutter needs to be out on display and which items you can put away for a sleeker feeling.

Make Sure All Your Tools Are Within Reach

If you keep all the things you need to finish your work nearby, let’s say at your desk, you minimize the number of times you need to get up and go looking for something that you need to finish your work. If it’s schoolwork we’re talking about, you’ll need your class notes, your textbooks, and some pens or pencils. If you’re working remotely you’ll need your computer or laptop, your mouse, and keyboard.

If just thinking about all these items makes you want to run in the other direction, consider adding a bit of fun to them. Maybe you find a book cover with your favorite anime character on it to ease the dread of opening that textbook. Maybe you could find a custom playmat for your keyboard and mouse. For some people, all it takes to lighten the work mood is their favorite type of pen with colorful ink. Figure out what little joys you can hide in your daily work.

Think About Colors

The color of the walls around you or the color of large items like rugs, curtains, bedding, and furniture, can have a big impact on your mental state. Take a few moments to read about color psychology and you’ll begin to understand how influential colors are on the human mind. Studies have even found that the color of a placebo pill (a sugar pill designed to do nothing to the body) alters how effective people feel the pill is. During sports matches, the team wearing a black uniform is more likely to be given penalties. People driving red cars are given tickets more often than people driving cars of other colors. It may seem a little strange to start looking at the impact of color, but it can be incredibly helpful not only when you’re designing a space ideal for productivity, but when you’re choosing outfits for dates or job interviews or icing for your friend’s birthday cake.

Add A Houseplant

House plants are pretty, and often require minimal work for maintenance. Beyond this, they have been shown to increase the levels of oxygen in the room (this can help with focus and concentration) and they reduce stress and anxiety (which are two of the big inhibitors to productive work). Studies have found that indoor plants boost productivity by up to 15%. That’s a big improvement for such a little alteration!

The above tips should help you set up a workspace that helps you finish the work you need done. Of course, it is important to make sure that you are not pushing yourself too hard. Make sure you’re getting adequate sleep and eating high-energy foods. All the productivity advice in the world isn’t going to help you battle exhaustion. Your life is about far more than what you can get done in a day.

How to Run Virtual Machines from External Drives

There are countless reasons you might be interested in hosting a virtual machine. Depending on the work you do and the tasks you need to accomplish with your computer, you might want a separate operating system just for certain activities. Suppose your work involves interacting with malware or computer viruses, for example. In that case, you don’t want to risk your own operating system while working, so a virtual machine makes perfect sense for you.

A virtual machine is, in a sense, just another file located on your computer. Because of this, you can store the virtual machine on an external drive, just as you would any other file. The following will explore how you can store and run a virtual machine from an external hard drive, as well as the pros and cons of choosing to keep your virtual machine external. 

What Is A Virtual Machine

In the broadest sense, a virtual machine is a file (often called an image) that acts as if it is a computer. It is a computer within another computer. Like most other programs, it will run in a window, giving you the same basic experience that you would have if you were using the host operating system in a non-virtual sense.

It is important to note that the virtual machine is kept separated from the rest of the computer system. This means that you don’t need to worry about the software within your virtual machine influencing the computer itself. Because of this, many view virtual machines as excellent grounds for testing beta releases of operating systems, working with data that has been affected by viruses, creating backups, and using software or applications on operating systems that they were not designed to work with.

When people speak about virtual machines, they sometimes use the term guest to refer to the virtual machine and host to refer to the machine that the file is being run on. More than one virtual machine can exist within a host at any given time.

How To Get Your Virtual Machine On An External Hard Drive

To begin, you are going to want to make sure that your virtual machine is shut down. Once this is done, locate the virtual machine on your device. By default, on Mac, virtual machines are often saved to Documents/Parallels within your User folder or in /Users/Shared/Parallels. This being said, you may have chosen a different location to store your virtual machine in. If you are unsure where your machine is located, you can search for files with a .pvm extension.

Once you’ve found your virtual machine file, you can copy or move the file to your desired location. The location you choose to store the file in will have an impact on how quickly the virtual machine can function. It wouldn’t hurt to do a little research on the best external hard drive for your purposes to make sure you’re not slowing yourself down unnecessarily. Once the file has been moved over, you’re done. Any time you wish to use the virtual machine, you can connect the hard drive to your physical machine and open the file. It is as simple as that.

The Pros Of Virtual Machines

You might be wondering why someone would be interested in using a virtual machine. There are many factors to consider, but one of the main reasons an everyday consumer might be drawn to the prospect of hosting a virtual machine is because this will allow them to use multiple operating system environments on a single computer. Additionally, virtual machines are easy to access, manage, and maintain. They can easily be moved from one server to another (even while they’re running) and can be created quickly via cloning. Virtual machines also offer disaster recovery options that many find appealing.

The Potential Drawbacks

While internal or external locations for your virtual machine make nearly no difference, there is one factor you might want to keep in mind depending on why you are running a virtual machine from your external drive. Because external hard drives are typically connected to your machine via USB interfacing, the speed of your virtual machine will be affected. This being said, if you’re using the virtual machine for basic operations, this change in speed is not likely to be too noticeable.

With the above information, you are well on your way to running a virtual machine from an external hard drive. As with all technical advice, it is important to remember to complete regular backups of your devices. This includes your virtual machine. Some conditions can result in damage or data loss.

5 MS Teams Apps You can’t Live Without

Introduction

Workforces around the globe have hailed Microsoft Teams as a force for collaborative good. In April 2020 MS Teams recorded a user base of 75 million users daily, meaning it must be doing something right. One of the things the communication platform has done incredibly well is its application integration. By allowing such a level of integration with third-party applications we have seen an astronomical rise in said applications. What follows is a brief list of the top applications for improving workflow and the work environment.

Planner

There are several third-party project management apps that integrate seamlessly with MS teams, however, one of the easiest to get the ball rolling is Planner. When scouring the Internet for the best teams apps, Planner has the advantage of already being integrated with MS Teams by default and is a lifesaver when working with multiple teams. Each team will have its panel and navigating between panels is just as easy as creating a new one. Onboarding teams is also a simple task making sure everyone is on the same page.

ScrumGenius

For development teams who apply agile scrum methods to development cycles sometimes post it’s on a whiteboard just doesn’t cut it anymore. These minefields of neon colors can be just as confusing as the jumbled meeting schedule. ScrumGenius is an app that looks to clear up the whiteboard mess and allow team leaders to automate meetings and recurring tasks. Further, this higher level of automation can be used to help take minutes during those daily meetings.

Polly

This app is as simple as it is brilliant. Polly allows for the creation of polls within Teams channels. The upside of this is that it allows teams to quickly decide on a wide range of things from the more mundane like lunch orders, or quickly deciding on what documentation to send stakeholders without the need for taking up valuable meeting time.

Health Hero

The global pandemic has thrust health, mental and physical into the spotlight. With many employees now working remotely, keeping tabs on the well-being of staff has been harder given that they barely physically see each other with their own eyes. An app that looks to improve the health of teams is Health Hero which allows the linking of health-tracking devices to the app as well as providing challenges and leader boards designed to help keep your team healthy.

Mio

Not all projects can be assigned to one team within one company, often projects can span multiple partners who invariably use different platforms to communicate. Mio looks to help connect teams using MS Teams with others using Slack or Cisco WebEx Teams, for example, helping ensure communication and collaboration by preventing teams from working in bubbles. This has a nasty habit of generating problems that are thoroughly preventable and deadlines being missed.

Conclusion

This is certainly not a comprehensive be all and end all list of apps to improve your MS Teams experience, it certainly shows a wide range of applications that can be tailored to a team’s needs without a massive outlay of capital.

Is It Possible to Hire A Remote CTO For A Startup? 7 Pitfalls to Avoid

Hiring tech-talent has become a new norm in IT and software development fields. Initially, hiring software developers was very popular; but nowadays, hiring C-level executives has become a new trend in the industry. Recently, a sizable number of dedicated websites and portals such as FindVirtualCTO.com for hiring CTO or Chief Technology Officer for startup businesses have emerged in the marketplace.

Why Are More Startups Turning to Hiring Remote CTOs?

According to the Flexjobs information, more than 159% of growth in the remote work market has been noticed during 2005 and 2017 in the US only. A massive uptrend in hiring remote tech-talent is highly prevalent worldwide. Meanwhile, the State of Remote Work 2019 report reveals that software development and IT services are the top 2 industries making over 56% of the entire remote workforce.

Hiring a C-level executive, especially a remote CTO is becoming a new uptrend in startups and SMEs due to numerous reasons. A few important ones are listed below.

  • Cost-saving – The cost of dedicated CTO at the office is huge as compared to hiring a remote CTO. Normally, startups are in cash-crunch. So, they turn to this option due to a competitive remote CTO salary.
  • Increased ROI – Hiring CTO is faster and he/she can increase the speed of technological transformation in the technical infrastructure and resources quicker to improve ROI much faster.
  • Skills and Experience – You can hire a highly skilled CTO with diverse experience in revamping and streamlining resources and infrastructure more effectively at a very affordable price.
  • Flexibility – Hiring a virtual CTO offers huge flexibility to choose from a large pool of experts from across the world. You can choose the right tech-talent for filling a C-level technical position without any constraints and problems. You can also replace your existing CTO with a new one easily if required.  

Responsibilities of a Remote CTO?

A Chief Technology Officer CTO is the head of the engineering or technological department in an organization. He is responsible for fulfilling the technological requirements for achieving the best possible performance of the company. 

The major responsibilities of an expert chief technology officer include the management and utilization of the company’s technological resources including human resources and technical infrastructure efficiently. The effective use of existing resources and adding new technologies that are needed for developing a competitive-edge with the market competitor also form the fundamentals of a CTO’s responsibilities.

The detailed list of responsibilities of a virtual CTO is given below.  

  • Professional assessment of the existing resources and infrastructure
  • Devising strategy for technology use and identifying suitable technologies for the same
  • Implementing cutting-edge technologies to increase business competitiveness
  • Identifying flaws in business process and patching them up with the modern technologies
  • Devising an effective strategy for efficient use of the power of the latest technologies
  • Effective investment in technology and technical resource to improve Return on Investment ROI
  • Reducing business dependency on manual processes and automating them through technology
  • Making business processes in line with industry best practices and standards
  • Devising policy for phase-in, phase-out, migration, and implementation of modern technologies

Top Skills to Look for While Hiring a Virtual CTO?

Hiring a CTO is a very critical process, which needs professional-level expertise to access the skills, experience, and qualifications of a CTO candidate. A remote CTO in startups is supposed to take responsibility for all technical aspects of the company. So, he/she should possess all major skills to achieve those objectives in startups. A few very important skills to look for while hiring a virtual CTO are mentioned below.

Technical Skills

  • Knowledge of network and IT infrastructures such as OS, cloud, internet, and telecom
  • Artificial intelligence AI, automation, data analytics
  • Knowledge of business process management
  • Extensive knowledge of different software tools for process automation
  • Knowledge of communication and collaboration platforms
  • Infrastructure assessment, analytics, and auditing
  • Knowledge of all trending technologies in the IT domain
  • Developing technical requirements – short term and long term
  • Developing the state of the art business solutions powered by the latest technology tools

Soft Skills

  • Detailed-oriented and solution-oriented approach
  • Innovative and creative thinking
  • Great interpersonal communication skills
  • Effective technical understanding
  • Team leader and thinker
  • Problem-solving and pressure handling
  • Professional commitment
  • Motivator and supportive
  • Strategic thinking

Management Skills

  • Budgeting and planning different projects and business processes
  • Conflict management and change management
  • Project planning, implementation, and monitoring
  • Project management methodologies
  • Team management and collaboration
  • Effective reporting and presentation

Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid While Hiring a Remote CTO

A Chief Technical Officer (CTO) plays a pivotal role in the progressive future of modern businesses. So, hiring the wrong person would result in complete devastation. So, a remote CTO should be hired very carefully to avoid the following top mistakes while hiring a remote CTO.

  1. Considering cost as the top priority – Without any doubt, cost is a big factor in any competitive business, but considering cost as the top priority is a big mistake while hiring a remote CTO. You should make a better trade-off between cost, quality, experience, and skills to avoid this mistake. A CTO acts as the technical spine of the company so he/she should not be measured in salary at all.
  2. Focusing on narrow Picture – While hiring a virtual CTO always consider a broader picture of your business and the entire business ecosystem. Don’t confine your thinking to a certain domain such as enhancing existing infrastructure, cutting cost, or adding process automation. Consider the broader picture to improve the performance and business outcome thoroughly.
  3. Overrating skills over experience – Many times, hiring managers make a mistake by focusing unduly on the technical skills rather than counting the experience at large. A CTO is not supposed to work with technical things but he has to plan the effective use of those technologies. In such circumstances, always focus on a balance between skills and experience. 
  4. Missing experience in the relevant field – Experience should be in the field exactly in a similar environment that your company works in. Sometimes, this point is missed, which leads to undesirable results. Always focus on the relevancy of the experience.
  5. Skipping portfolio analysis and feedback – Analyzing portfolios and taking recommendations from past employers is very important in hiring a CTO for startups. This factor is missed in some cases, which may lead to disastrous outcomes.
  6. Forgetting about business acumen – The position of a virtual CTO is not all about the knowledge of technology but the effective use of technology through business acumen to increase the performance, competitiveness, and business process efficiency. Normally, hiring managers commit a mistake to miss this domain during the hiring process.
  7. Mixing rhetoric with creativity – Creativity is not all about talking beautiful quotes and experience. Solving common problems with the most efficient way and thinking out of the box is the most fundamental item for developing innovative solutions. Don’t miss to check-out the creative approach of the CTO.

Final Takeaway

Hiring a professional CTO remotely is possible for startups to earn numerous business advantages such as cost-efficiency, better ROI, and flexibility. The hiring process should be accomplished professionally by finding the right skills and avoiding the most common mistakes while hiring a virtual CTO as mentioned in this article.