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Small businesses accelerating growth with cloud computing

8 Signs You Aren't Managing Money
 by Frederick Leighton
 (BPT) - Small businesses seem optimistic about increasing sales and hiring in 2013 and are looking to squeeze more productivity out of limited time, staffing and resources.

For these reasons, finding the right business tools that can grow with you but also work well with the tools you already use are essential to helping your business focus on what you do best - serving your customers.

Having the right tools - such as business-class email, online meetings, remote access to documents, shared calendars and shared contacts - to create, collaborate, connect and help manage day-to-day tasks can help cut costs and increase productivity.

Naturally Me, a small company in Durham, N.C., that makes natural beauty products, uses Microsoft Office 365 to hold regular-Web conferences. "I downloaded the trial version and fell in love," says Chaundra Smith, founder of Naturally Me. "I had no hesitations moving Naturally Me to the cloud because it's from Microsoft, so it felt safe and secure." The company also collaborates on documents by using Microsoft SharePoint Online, and sales consultants use it to support their sales efforts. "They don't have to print out paper catalogs anymore. Instead, they bring a portable computer and use SharePoint Online to present our products to party guests."

Kevin Lisota, CEO and co-founder of findwell, a real estate startup in Seattle, makes comprehensive use of Microsoft Exchange Online for its shared calendars, support for multiple email boxes and mobile messaging. "Our agents need to be able to send and receive email on all sorts of devices from anywhere they happen to be," Lisota says. "The sync capabilities of Exchange Online mean that I can easily enable my employees to get email on all their phones and computers from any Web browser."

Imagination Yoga, a small, family-owned business in Portland, Ore., teaches a "kindness-based" curriculum instructing children on yoga concepts and storytelling to spark their creativity and get them exercising. "Like most small businesses, we thought that the tools available with a service like Office 365 would be outrageously expensive and impossible for us to attain on our own," says Jon Hopkins, co-founder of Imagination Yoga. "But that's definitely not the case with Office 365, which makes everything easy to set up and use at an affordable price."

Having the right tools to improve communication and collaboration can make even the most challenging things, such as increasing that bottom line, seem more manageable. A cloud-powered small business is more nimble and prepares you to adapt to changing business needs - now and in the future. To help get your business on track for 2013, 90-day free trials of Office 365 are available through the end of February.

Three-year degree programs shorten the path to rewarding careers..

HURRICANE SEASON 2016

JUNE 1 THRU NOVEMBER 30TH

BE PREPARED
Plexus Products
(BPT) - Three-year bachelor's degree programs are gaining popularity as many students look for ways to enter the workforce faster. Though these programs are common in Europe and Canada, condensed programs are now attracting greater interest in the United States as students and education providers realize the unique benefits.

Students might identify three-year options as a swifter path to earning a bachelor's degree, particularly as the value of a college education rises in the current marketplace. The median family income for those with a bachelor's degree or higher was $99,716, compared with $48,332 for those with only a high school diploma, according to "Trends in College Pricing 2011," a report detailing findings from the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges.

Some leaders in higher education are exploring three-year degree programs as a solution to growing workforce issues. Many professional fields are growing faster than students can acquire the necessary education to fill the positions, and three-year degree programs reduce the time it takes for candidates to graduate and enter the job market.

The healthcare industry, for example, is grappling with a nationwide shortage of workers in several disciplines, such as healthcare information technicians and clinical laboratory technicians, which U.S. News and World Report listed among its "25 Best Jobs in 2012." Three-year bachelor's degree programs are available for prospective students looking to enter both fields.

Perhaps one of the most widely acknowledged healthcare worker shortages is registered nurses (RNs). More than half of the RN workforce is close to retirement, according to the American Nurses Association. This issue is to become more acute as the industry responds to the patient needs of a growing population of aging baby boomers and the demands of a changing healthcare environment. Three-year degree programs allow graduates to fill these in demand roles and launch a career in nursing before their peers in traditional four-year programs.

"As a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree becomes the standard requirement for many entry-level nursing positions, a three-year degree program is an efficient route to a desired career," says Patrick Robinson, dean of undergraduate curriculum and instruction at Chamberlain College of Nursing. "A shorter program can be more intense with the same curriculum standards as typical four-year degree programs. However for motivated, organized students, the professional reward can be worth the hard work."

Chamberlain offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program that enables students to earn their degree in as few as three years of year-round study, instead of the typical four years with summers off. Mary Flemister, a June 2012 graduate of Chamberlain's program, is currently employed as a nurse at a family practice in Virginia.

"It was important to me to find a program that balanced expediency with diversified classroom and clinical experience - Chamberlain's year-round structure was ideal," Flemister says. "I had transfer credits so I was able to earn my BSN degree in only two years - the same length of an associate degree program. However, I am more competitive in the job market because I earned a bachelor's degree."

Recent industry data illustrates that demand is mounting for degree programs with this structure. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the number of three-year BSN degree programs increased from 31 to 230 between 1990 and 2010. This trend is expected to continue as factors contributing to the national nursing shortage escalate, and the industry necessitates BSN degrees.
Things you need to know about Hurricane Season 2016!!
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