Want to get ahead? Update your web browser

Update your web browser

Mozilla recently stated the foundation’s intentions to focus the Firefox web browser on consumers rather than businesses. The argument is that consumers are better able to cope with the fast release cycles of the updated browsers, while large businesses get bogged down in IT policies and processes so they can’t download the latest versions as quickly.

But where do small businesses fit in this picture? Well, I would argue that the smaller your company, the easier it is to be agile and adopt new technologies quickly (particularly when they are free!) as you’re not hindered by the need to train or inform hundreds of staff or worry about large volumes of licences.

This can sometimes mean that small businesses can have access to better, more up-to-date and more efficient tools than large businesses, as is the case with Firefox, which is great news for small businesses.

Big deal, you may say, it is just a browser after all. But take heed: we all rely on the internet to an increasing extent to do business and a fast, secure and user-friendly browser can go a long way in saving you time and helping your business stay responsive!

Google is so convinced in the power of the browser that it recently launched the Chromebook, a laptop built on a browser for the sole purpose of accessing the web. We’ve yet to see whether it becomes a valuable business asset but one thing is for sure: the web browser isn’t going away any time soon so you may as well keep yours up-to-date, something your larger competitors may struggle to do.

Below you can find a quick comparison between the most popular browsers, including Chrome and Internet Explorer. For more detailed information on web browsers click here.

What browser do you currently use for business and what do you like or dislike about it?

Advantages of Google Chrome (10):

  • Uncluttered interface
  • Automatic browser updates
  • Reduced use of dialog boxes
  • Runs several web apps
  • Rich and diverse set of extensions
  • Enhanced security and stability

Best for users who:

  • Value speed and working without distraction
  • Frequently use web apps

Advantages of Safari (5):

  • Reader button transforms cluttered web pages into an easy to read format
  • Smaller feature set and limited flexibility help reduce distraction and clutter
  • Hundreds of extensions to choose from
  • Simple, fast and easy to use

Best for users who:

  • Use the Internet for light browsing
  • Have a low interest in customizing a browser
  • Spend a few hours a week on the Internet
  • Want applications to have the same look and feel as their Mac

Advantages of Internet Explorer (IE9):

  • Fast on graphics – intensive sites
  • Tabs are separate processes, benefiting security and performance
  • Browser integrates with Windows Operating System
  • Uses less vertical screen space

Best for users who:

  • Use small screen devices such as a netbook
  • Regular users who use Windows 7 or Vista systems
  • Power users who enjoy the extensive feature set and configuration options

Advantages of Opera (11):

  • Comes with ad-blocking (not automatic), note-taking, and various tab features
  • Flexible framework for sharing data across devices
  • Supports many forms of customization through third party add-ons, including plug-ins, skins, panels and separate applications such as widgets
  • Fully supports extensions
  • Works on a wider variety of operating systems than any other browser

Best for users who:

  • Spend hours a day using a browser with 2GB of Ram or less
  • Frequently uses web apps such as Gmail, Google Reader and Google Analytics

Advantages of Firefox (5):

  • Installation covers browser basics
  • Better support for Android than Firefox 4
  • Vast library of add-ons – powerful and flexible
  • Added support for CSS animations
  • “Awesome bar” feature combines search and address boxes together along with bookmarks and browsing history
  • High level of security

Best for users who:

  • Have less than 2GB of RAM available
  • Work as a developer
  • Power users who want to customize and personalize their browser

Social networking for business: Making LinkedIn work for you

LinkedInA recent survey suggested that more than half of professionals have seen a direct boost to their business from using social media. The same study pointed to LinkedIn as the favourite business-to-business networking site.

Personally, I’ve found chatting with small business owners on LinkedIn very interesting and enjoyable so I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some tips on using LinkedIn to best effect:

Be a participant, not a silent witness: The more active you are in discussions and making connections, the more you’ll get out of the service. Joining a discussion can even be a good way to get introduced to influential people who would otherwise be put off if they thought you were just offering a sales pitch.

Create a detailed profile page: While this isn’t the place to advertise your business, people do want to know about you, your achievements your interests outside work. The more information you provide, the easier it will be to build contacts with others, who may spot common interests or previous experiences in your profile. A photo also helps create an approachable, memorable profile.

Don’t be afraid to accept invitations: If someone wants to connect with you and you’re not sure who they are, keep an open mind. Even if you can’t see instantly how they’d be a useful contact for your business they may change role or be able to help you out at some point. It also helps you to look influential if you have a large number of contacts and are part of lots of groups.

For more background on what LinkedIn is and how you can use it check out the Business IT Guide.

Have you managed to boost your business by using LinkedIn? I’d love to hear your own advice on how to get the most out of the service.

You’re the Boss

World's Best Boss mugWe are starting to see more and more people take the entrepreneurial route to business – for some it is the lure of the work/life balance, for others it is the freedom of a flexible schedule. Unsurprisingly, for most the biggest reason for entrepreneurs to start their own business is the feeling of being free to make one’s own decisions.

Preferring to go it alone, 28% of 588 company directors have identified that ‘being my own boss’ is the key factor in persuading them to start up their own business.  The SmallBusiness.co.uk research revealed that 22% said ‘To improve my work/life balance’ as the next most popular choice.

Interestingly, the option ‘To make my fortune’ was chosen by just 13%, making it second only to ‘I grew tired of corporate life’ (6%) as the least popular choice, suggesting this 6% could be seeking a career change.

It’s interesting to see that a high proportion of bosses chose to go it alone to improve their lifestyle over their bank balance. Has the recession made us focus more on what’s important in life? Would people have said the same five years ago? It would also be interesting to know how many bosses have actually achieved a better work/life balance since working for themselves, if that was their motivation for doing so. When the buck stops with you, it is much harder to switch off and leave your job at the office. While many people thrive on it, the only way to really know if it suits you is once you take the plunge and actually set up on your own.

It would be great to hear from real bosses how they are finding the experience. Are you your own boss? What was your motivation for making the move, and have you achieved it?