Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Dear Danielle: Should I Upgrade to Windows 10?

Dear Danielle: Should I Upgrade to Windows 10?

Dear Danielle:

Should I upgrade to Windows 10? —TM

This seems to be the topic of the day lately for all us PC users.

And really, it depends. There are so many variables to consider.

A lot of it boils down to personal preference and your own business circumstances.

Although this is more of a technical question (I focus mainly on business operating and marketing principles here), there are definitely some business implications so I’ll share my thoughts.

First and foremost, talk to your technology people.

(Don’t have any? Get some! This is one of the important support relationships to have in business.)

In my business, I call on my “computers guys,” a local father and sons computer and IT business who have been my go-to fixers and advisors on all things computer-related for many years now.

When I asked them about ugrading to Windows 10, here’s what they advise:

“Reserve your free copy, but don’t install it. All new software is buggy, and this one is no exception. We recommend everyone wait for at least six months when a lot of the initial bugs and problems will likely have been identified and fixed.”

As you weigh this decision about whether or not to install, a couple other things to take into account are:

  • How old is your computer?
  • Do you have the system requirements for an upgrade to 10?
  • If you upgrade, will all your other software and tools you use regularly still work or will you have to upgrade them as well?
  • If you install and then have problems, how will that impact your client work and turn around times?

I’ve been hearing horror stories from clients and business associates who upgraded to 10 right away.

I’ve also heard from other people who think Windows 10 is awesome and have had no problems (so far, anyway, lol).

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.

Personally, I never install new software right off the bat. 

I have too much work to do to deal with the aggravation and time-suck of computer problems and learning curves that are easily avoided by simply waiting a bit longer.

I know from experience that it takes working with things more in-depth before any issues/bugs raise their ugly heads. And that’s usually at the most inopportune time. I have a fast-paced practice and the last thing I need are computer problems stopping everything up.

Plus, I never upgrade right away to the latest (and the “latest” is not necessarily the “greatest” to be sure) because my clients rarely do, and it causes difficulties/incompatibilities in a lot of ways when you are ahead of your client curve.

In fact, you may be surprised that up until a couple weeks ago, I was still running XP and Office 2003/2006 on my primary workhorse computer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a technophobe in the least. Far from it. You can’t be in this business.

And I have always had all the new stuff on my laptops.

But bad design is bad design.

I just don’t like anything Microsoft redesigned after XP so I kept it on my main computer. If it ain’t broke, there ain’t nothing that needs to be fixed. 😉

It’s like this: Just because something is “popular” and “everyone is doing it,” doesn’t make it good.

Likewise, just because something is new, doesn’t make it good.

But technology marches on and the day finally came that I was forced off my beloved XP and Office 2003/2006, lol.

Now, I have Windows 8.1 on everything and running Office 365.

I am probably going to install 10 on my least-used laptop just to see what it’s all about.

But I most likely will not install 10 on my main desktop work computer for another couple years when I have a new computer built by my “computer guys.”

All in all, in deciding if now is the right time for you to upgrade to Windows 10, take this into consideration as well:

Are you newer in business and have few or no clients? Then this might be a great time to bite the bullet and see what happens.

Because if you do run into problems, they won’t have a big impact and you have more time on your hands to deal with them.

However, if you have a busy client roster and workload, you don’t have the same kind of space to deal with computer issues.

If you can’t afford the time, aggravation and downtime that potential computer problems may cause in your practice, I would say slow your roll and give it another six months.

There’s no reason you have to rush into anything right this second. Windows 10 will still be there and in far better shape than it is right now.

And if/when you do upgrade, be sure to check out all the useful Windows 10 articles I’ve pinned for you that will help you learn all about the new features, tweak your settings and make the best use of it in your practice.

Dear Danielle: What Advice Do You Have for a Vagrant Virtual Assistant?

Dear Danielle:

I am currently planning and readying my new administrative support business for its grand opening in about a month and a half, but my husband is in the military and we will be moving all over (this is why I am starting this business). So my question is two-fold: Do you have any tips for a vagrant VA? And will there be different laws to follow depending on where you are located? –CD

As you recognize, that’s the beauty of a business such as ours. It doesn’t require any kind of physical brick and mortar presence, there are no geographic constraints and we can run our business and work anywhere we have access to the internet.

You don’t elaborate much so I’m not sure what kind of tips you’re thinking of, but here are a few thoughts off the top of my head:

  1. Set up a shared online collaborative office. These are not merely project management programs. They’re full-package organizational tools that you can set up by client so that each “collaborative office suite” has its own shared calendar, contacts/address book, project/task management section, full real-time document filing and sharing, forums and wikis you can set up, and all kinds of other things–all in one. There are so many out there these days; it really boils down to personal preference. Plus, it’s hard to make a recommendation without more specific details.
  2. Get Dropbox. This is a free shared file drive where you can store any and all files and documents that you a) want access to no matter what device you’re one, and b) to share with clients. Dropbox is an amazingly versatile tool that allows you do to so many things. It makes working with clients, keeping them organized and sharing documents between you a breeze.
  3. Perhaps set up your email accounts in an online tool like Gmail. That way, you can have online access to all your communications wherever you have an internet connection.
  4. Get an aircard (also called “mobile broadband”) or mobile hotspot. This is a USB you plug into your laptop or a wifi device that gives you your own secure internet access when you aren’t home. Wherever you can get a cell phone signal, your aircard/mobile hotspot will work there as well. Which means you could be anywhere: in your car, at a park, wherever, and still have internet access. I use Verizon and have been very pleased.
  5. Get a remote access service like TeamViewer. This will allow you to log into your home computer when you need to whenever you are away.

As far as different laws to follow depending on where you live, yes, that might be the case.

Different cities, counties and states have their own licensing and tax obligations. Some cities (like mine) requires a separate business license in addition to the state business license you may have to take out (also required in my state). Others don’t require any separate or special registration at all.

Some areas might have special zoning or laws pertaining to home businesses.

Some cities or counties might require you to file their own business tax reports in addition to what you might be required to file federally or with the state.

It will be your job as a responsible business owner to research those each time you move.

I want to also stress that it’s important to go straight to the source. Contact the pertinent state and local agencies and ask them those questions.

Their directions and information will be the only ones that matter.

You don’t want to rely on the guesses or opinions of others as they are not going to be paying your penalties or fines or dealing with problems if you end up not doing something right based on their “helpful” advice.