That was the year 2000 that was! A year that started with worries that the millennium bug would bring western civilisation to its knees, and ended on a downbeat note of disappointment - a doomed Dome, a botched election, oil prices rising and the sniff of a recession round the corner.
On the plus side was the growing sense of reality creeping into what businesses are doing on the internet. The UK government gave small businesses a tax break for investing in new technology. ADSL or unmetered internet access started to become a reality for many, and a wealth of new websites emerged containing vast information resources, many of them free, for small businesses to delve into.
Here at Manage IT our objective was to give small businesses a helping hand with their spanking new PCs, and advice about getting net-connected and getting a website up and running.
We added a vast amount of data to our database, and the Christmas and New Year holiday period is a good time to catch up on the things you missed first time round. Dip into some of the selection of features below to get ideas for enhancing your business using the web, or using your PCs to full advantage in your business.
- A crafty web sales model Crafts businesses are venturing out of their workshops and on to the web. We talked to three small companies about their online presence.
- Going organic on the web We examine the experiences of five organic farming businesses that have embraced the opportunities provided by the internet.
- A model enterprise Small businesses setting up on the web have a lot of extra challenges to confront, but the returns can be exceptional. We profile a small company that has attracted a global customer base for its scale models of cars, planes, motorbikes and more.
- Specialist shops online We start a new series of features which look at small businesses setting up online. The theme that connects these four ecommerce sites is that they are all aimed at specialised markets.
- Virtual cottage industry We talk to a small agency for holiday cottage rentals in the UK that has used its website to reach new customers and cut costs.
- ADSL for beginners Small businesses need high-speed internet access through ADSL services - so say the big telcos and internet service providers. But what is ADSL? We give you the basics in plain English.
- ADSL: Choose your partners As high-speed internet access becomes a reality in many parts of the UK, Manage IT provides a concise guide to the services offered by the key players.
- At the hub of small business A hub is still the simplest networking tool to set up and use, but a few important factors have to be considered if it is to work efficiently.
- Getting into mobile gear Prepare for an onslaught of big-name IT suppliers offering mobile wireless computing solutions for SMEs. Soon you'll have more power and easier internet connections in mobile devices than you currently do with a full desktop PC.
- Networking starter kits made easy Building a network for a small office need not be overly complex, and to prove it we've gathered together seven starter kits to see how easy they are to install and use. We look at offerings from 3Com, Compaq, D-Link, Intel, Netgear and Farrallon.
- The future in your hands Personal digital assistants are no longer handheld gimmicks. They are making a huge impact in the business and consumer worlds.
- Tune into the wireless Businesses of all shapes and sizes are being targeted to consider adopting wireless networking. We take a look at some of the issues behind this technology.
- Assess your assets Good asset management is an important factor that contributes to successful businesses. But it isn't just for the big boys - smaller companies can get in on the act, too.
- Downloads made easy There's a lot of free software and trial versions of applications available to download from the internet. We show you how it's done.
- Downloads: Top SME downloads Don't forget to check out our Downloads section on Manage IT. Here's a sampler of recent material we've made available.
- Fifty Office 2000 tips Office 2000 has more features than you can shake a stick at. Three experts from Personal Computer World pool their collective know-how to help you get the best out of this suite.
- Keeping the customers satisfied How savvy small to medium-sized businesses are using information technology to manage their customer relationships.
- Inside ASP software Why buy software when you can rent it? In the first of a two-part feature we tell you all you need to know about application service providers.
- What to look out for with ASP agreements Signing an ASP agreement is fraught with potential pitfalls. Before you take the plunge, consider our top tips on maximising an agreement.
- Utilities survival kit Utilities help you make the most of your PC and cope with problems when they arise. In the first of a two-part feature, we list our favourite little workmates.
- E-procurement: Friend or foe? Small businesses are increasingly being targeted by e-procurement companies offering the online ordering of business supplies and materials. But the 'flavour of the month' ebusiness solution may not be the answer for every business.
- Having designs on SMEs We profile three website design companies which offer services to SMEs.
- Let customers serve themselves Customer self-service technologies are essential for websites if you want to enhance user satisfaction and cut support costs.
- Setting up an effective ecommerce website Many SMEs are setting up shop on the internet and reaching a new customer base. We present 10 tips on how to design a winning ecommerce website.
- Top tips for building your own website Many small business owners are now trying their hands at building their own websites. If you're embarking on this new adventure, here's 50 helpful hints to keep you focused on the task in hand.
- Watch how you go! Few PCs are now being operated without at least occasional connection to the internet. We look at some of the menaces attached to internet access.
- A federation of free spirits The Federation of Small Businesses claims to be the biggest organisation of its kind in the UK - larger than even the Confederation of British Industry. So what does it offer its members?
- Better late than never? Late payments can seriously compromise the cashflow of small businesses, but new legislation due to come into force in November is seen by some as potentially ruinous to the very companies it seeks to help.
- Don't get bitten by the ASP Application service provision seems to be the solution for many small to medium-sized enterprises struggling in the new e-economy, but there can be a sting in the tail.
- How to choose a reseller Getting help with the IT side of your business is imperative for every small company in the internet age, and that's where resellers can be of assistance. But before you start on your search, check out our advice on how to select the help you need.
- Keeping company on the web The Companies House website is crammed with information that will come in handy for many small businesses.
- Loan arrangers ride into view Small businesses have an increasingly diverse range of financing options to choose from when considering IT purchases.
- Why small is suddenly big on the internet Small businesses are suddenly flavour of the month on the web. We look at some of the new online services and advice portals aimed at SMEs.
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