Category Archives: Emergency Preparedness (EP)

Tame Those Pesky Details – February – How well can your business run without you?

TTPD – February – How well can your business run without you?

If you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, chances are you’re focused on growing your business. Or, at the very least, maintaining a smooth operation. A good mindset to have, but what happens when – Heaven forbid – something unexpected occurs and you’re unable to helm the day-to-day activities of your company?

If you were part of a large organization, there would be multiple people at the ready to take over in your absence. But, if you’re a one-person show, it’s very possible that no one else has a complete understanding of how your business is run. Every business has so many different facets that it’s more than just leaving passwords, mission statements and banking information for your temporary CEO; contracts, trademarks and even fonts and colors of your logo are all crucial information.

I’m following along with my book, Tame Those Pesky Details (TTPD), where I focus on one specific item each month to keep your business in tip top shape, February is Legalities and it covers a wide-range of issues. Having a way to provide a temporary – or even permanent – means of understanding and operating your business will bring peace of mind.

I’ve been busy updating a lot of personal and business items lately, and although I have binders and electronic and paper files filled with the proper data, I realized that it would take a concerted effort for someone to step into my shoes should that unexpected need arise. I also discovered that I was missing some crucial information because my business has been operating for so long and I’ve moved so many times, some things have gotten misplaced.

I also think in terms of emergency preparedness. I keep hearing stories of people who had to leave their homes with moments’ notice and left behind some key business info because they were unprepared and were worried about saving their lives, which, of course, is most important.

In addition, I’m looking forward to expanding my business in the foreseeable future. Parts of this data collection can easily be organized into an employee reference manual. A little extra work up front will pay big dividends down the line. Again, this is all normal in a larger organization, but smaller businesses might not view this as a high priority. I’m all about having a solid foundation to build upon so this data collection and coordination will benefit me greatly as I move forward. Having all my info at the ready will save me time and frustration and enable me to easily update any changes. Whew!

While you’re organizing your business, think about vendors or employees who perform key tasks that you personally don’t know how to do, for example, adding/deleting items from your online store. This may seem like a small item but your inability to make these simple changes can have an impact. That employee or vendor can disappear on a moment’s notice and your ability to run your business smoothly will be hampered until you either learn how to do it or find someone new to work with.

Aside from determining the safest place to keep this info, my next decision is whom to share it with. And, I’m even thinking about a permanent succession plan for down the road. If there’s someone in my family I’d like to groom to take over the business, one can never start the process too early!

It will take a couple of months to pull this all together, I suspect, but once I’ve completed it, I’ll post a free checklist in my store. I might even do another blog post with more details. So, keep your eyes on all my social media so you can access the information as soon as possible.

I do hope you’ll enjoy my blog posts, Instagram photos and tweets on Twitter!

If you’d like to follow along through the year, purchase your copy of Tame Those Pesky Details. (link below) Print books will be available soon!

How do you organize your business data? Do you have a plan for someone to take over in case of emergency? Have you ever experienced the need to have someone step in your shoes? I’d love to hear all about it. Please leave details in the comments below.

Enjoy!

Cindi

Emergency Preparedness: Backup Your Backup- 3 Tips to Keep Your Data Safe

Backup Your Backup

BACKUP YOUR BACKUP: 3 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR DATA SAFE

Greetings Sparklers!

Whether you own a business or keep a lot of personal data on your digital devices, the truth is, it can all be gone in a flash. After my own personal experience with a quickly dying computer about a year ago, I’ve been on my soapbox about reminding people to back up their data. The sad part is, I continue to find people who have never even thought about backing things up. And, once again, I had a weird technical event that reminded me to remind you to backup your backup.

There is nothing more frustrating than investing hours, days, months, years in creating a project and having it all disappear when your computer suddenly does a crash and burn. I had a situation recently where I was working on a document and when I went to save it, the program crashed and restarted but there was no autosave file to recover. I looked everywhere and even contacted a community forum where respondents were very kind but could not offer a solution for file recovery other than the steps I had already taken.

While the loss of a file in that manner is a bit unusual, the most common culprit is not backing up your devices. I feel I cannot remind people often enough. Every time I bring up the subject I meet people who lost some important part of their lives because they didn’t back up their stuff.

In the last few months alone, I’ve heard of someone who lost nearly 10,000 digital photos, an author who lost his entire novel, someone else who lost years of contacts and business data, another who kept everything on a portable drive until the drive died. I could go on, but you get the point.

In the IT world, there’s a belief in redundancy. In the prepper world, the saying is two is one and one is none. Whichever mantra you prefer doesn’t matter, as long as you’re taking the time to REGULARLY back up your digital devices.

Here are three tips to help you to keep your data safe and secure:

  1. Do your research.
    Take the time now to research and decide what is the best backup routine for you – and stick to it! I copy files every night to the cloud, then once a week copy to an external drive. I would recommend at least one external drive and a cloud backup of some sort. If you can do two external drives and keep them in different locations, one offsite, plus the cloud, that’s even better. Of course, it all depends on how much space you need.
  2. Back up all your devices.
    Desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, flash drives, memory cards – copy all of it. Check with your cellular service to see if there is a secondary way to backup your phone. You might also want to download your contacts from your phone on a regular basis…just in case.
  3. Don’t forget about your website.
    Check with your ISP/host company to verify that your entire website is backed up. In my case, the database is backed up but any external items I’ve added, such as images, videos and files are not. Twice in the last couple of months, I’ve updated my website and it completely crashed. It hadn’t happened in the previous decade but suddenly it happened twice in a short period of time. If something bad happens to your site, you want to have as little downtime as possible. I use FileZilla to transfer all my files monthly, then back them up to the cloud and on external drive.

Weird things happen when it comes to technology, so always, always, always be sure to backup your backup! I’d love to hear how you keep all your digital data safe. Please share in the comments below.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

Cindi’s Thoughts – Where to find me in 2016

binoculars

I like to think that everything we do somehow sets a foundation for our future life. We might not always see an immediate correlation, but somewhere along the line, our decisions today will affect our future tomorrow.

in 2015, I decided to consolidate my websites and to be more active on social media. The websites were easy; social media I’m still working on, although I have improved.

Previously, I had a separate website for each project under my creative hand. It just got too unwieldy to maintain an ever-growing list of projects and their accompanying sites. I finally got things down to what I hope will be a manageable four.

I’ve also tied my blog posts to Facebook and Twitter, so every time I have a new post, you’ll be alerted if you follow me on either one. So, I wanted to provide a breakdown of what you can find on each site.

www.CindiMaciolek.com – This is my main blog site. Here, you’ll find out things about me, my KonMari journey notes, recipes, favorite things and so on. It’s an all-encompassing Cindi Maciolek overview.

www.GrandArborPress.com – This is my business site. Anything related to my books, CDs or products can be found here.

www.Divatiel.com – Anyone who knows me knows I loved my little birdie so much I wrote a book about her. I have plans to do a few things with this down the line, so I’ve decided to keep it a separate site. That may change in the future, but for now, blog posts will be updated on my Facebook page but on a different Twitter account.

www.AuntiCindiPresents.com – This site is dedicated to my latest non-fiction book series. You’ll find blog posts here related to topics in my Aunti Cindi Presents books including business, caregiving and emergency preparedness tips. Emergency Preparedness was originally on my CindiMaciolek.com site, but I’ll be transferring  the content here. As other books are added to the series either by myself or other authors, the subject matter will grow.

You can also join my email list. I currently do not send regular updates via email, but I welcome you to add your name to my list.

Social Media

As I said, I’m not a social media expert while I understand its significance. All my blog posts will also post on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, in the last year I’ve opened Pinterest and Instagram accounts, both of which I hope to build on during 2016. I’m also toying with the idea of YouTube. Maybe somewhere down the line.

So, there you have it! If you’re looking for me, I’ll be on my laptop, fingers traveling a mile a minute, keeping you posted on random thoughts and somewhat useful information while I continue to focus on my books and other outlets for my writing.

See you in cyberspace!

Cindi

 

New Computers Are Not Without Fault (Emergency Preparedness 2 – EP2)

My life these last few weeks has been in technology turmoil. In addition to my old and trusty laptop barfing all over my Wi-Fi and itself, i was struck by a new face of reality when my new laptop decided to hold me hostage and become unresponsive. Can’t do CPR on a laptop.

Many people, when they get a new computer, trust that it’s perfect and it will be a very long time before anything goes wrong. As a result, they become complacent and don’t do important things like backup their data and check for all those nasties that somehow make their way onto our computers.

It’s especially difficult for solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and small business owners to find the time and understand everything that’s going on with all the technology at your fingertips because, in many cases, on top of all the work required to plan and operate your actual business, you must also act as your own IT department.

As i remind readers in my book, Tame Those Pesky Details, it’s always important to backup your data. However, I’m here to remind  you that you must do it right from the start. I don’t want to harp on you about this but when your computer starts going wonky, you’ll be glad you are prepared.

Whenever you get a new computer, you spend time playing with it, bonding with it, learning its quirks and habits. It’s always fun to get a new computer. Like driving a new car, so much has happened in technology upgrades since your last one you are amazed and overwhelmed with your new toy.

As a business owner, a new computer means adding new software and transferring files to be productive as quickly as possible. There are also some key steps to remember:

  1. Be sure to load your anitvirus and anti-malware software right from the start. You will inevitably be on the Web, so be certain you are protected.
  2. Backup all your files from Day 1. Periodically, make a mirror image of your drive.
  3. Create the recovery/restore disks you are prompted to do once you begin using your new computer. It took about two hours to create six disks. Place them in a safe and accessible location, all properly numbered. You can only make one copy so do it right and always know where they are.

Here’s my experience. Just a few days into use, my new laptop was being stubborn, uncooperative, fussy like a baby. It was only a week old; what could be wrong?

Per my savvy tech friend’s orders, i ran my antivirus and anti-malware software. Surprisingly, for such a newborn, it was rife with junk! Who would think that in just a couple days’ time, so much unwanted stuff would make its way onto my new business partner?

I was worried I would have to restore Windows. I had backed up the files I created and i had my restore disks at the ready, just in case. I just didn’t want to have to use them.

Luckily, I didn’t have to take such drastic measures. After a couple of reboots, everything began to operate properly again.

I’m still adding software and updating my music library. Once that’s done, I’ll make a mirror image of my laptop so should I have to do a complete restore, I have all the software I’ve loaded as well.

Don’t take even one day of chances with your computer. Back it up and keep it backed up. You’ll be glad you did. I know I am.

Wired in a Wireless World (Emergency Preparedness 1 – EP1)

In my book, Tame Those Pesky Details, I go into a lot of detail about making sure the data on your computer is backed up so you can jump right back into your business or life as quickly as possible should disaster strike.

Much to my dismay, I recently had a laptop which decided to go to places hitherto unknown. In spite of having great systems in place as far as backup and recovery, I learned many new things along the way. I will include them in various posts under the title of Emergency Preparedness. These posts will ultimately cover a wide range of preparedness topics, but for these first few posts, I’ll rely on my own recent personal experience with my laptop nightmare.

With the advent of wireless Internet, i think many of us have forgotten that wired works, too! If you work in an office, chances are you have a high-speed Ethernet cable running to your computer. For those of you who have forgotten what one looks like, here’s an image from Amazon:

Cat5 Ethernet Cable
Mediabridge Cat5e Ethernet Patch Cable (50 Feet) – RJ45 Computer Networking Cord – Blue

This cable comes in a variety of colors and, in a home office setting, connects between your modem/gateway and your laptop.

Netgear gateway
NETGEAR AC1200 WiFi DSL Modem Router 802.11ac Dual Band Gigabit (D6200)

You probably have one of those cables somewhere in your house. You need it when you have to set up your Wi-Fi or fix the IP address. The funny thing is, when your wireless is out, you can use this to get onto the Internet! Of course, it will only work with your computer because your tablet and smart phone don’t have room to plug in the cable, but at least you can continue to work or catch up on some binge watching.

Here was my nightmare come to life. Over the course of a couple weeks while my computer was deciding to do the crazy dance, I was having trouble with my Wi-Fi. I called my provider who had several equipment issues in the area due to car accidents, so I thought the problems I had were all their fault. Not so.

The company came out to test their equipment and all was well. My gateway was working just fine, too. However, within a few hours of the technician’s departure, my Wi-Fi was out again.

As I read the repeated error message on my laptop, I was simply frustrated, not empowered. It’s nearly impossible to get anything done nowadays without access to the Internet, even for a writer! Turns out, my laptop was having problems with its wireless network adapter, among other things. It was causing the Wi-Fi signal to go out about every five minutes.

When I finally decided to power up the new laptop, I hadn’t quite given up on the old one yet, so I was still in the midst of Internet turmoil. I had a quick project to complete and I absolutely had to get on the Internet. I dug out my yellow cable and connected my new laptop to my gateway and voila! It worked! My only problem was that the cable was a mere four feet long so I practically had to be on top of my cable connection in order to get work done.

Then it all came back to me, all those years of wired Internet. How spoiled we’ve become with easily accessible Wi-Fi.

I’ve decided, as part of my emergency preparedness, to purchase a much longer Ethernet cable to keep on hand, one that will at least reach the other end of my office, if not more. And, I will make sure it’s easily accessible should I have any Wi-fF issues in the future.

Do yourself a favor. Buy an Ethernet cable. It’s money well spent.