My friends laughed at me when they heard I was going to be audited!

Laserfiche tax auditSeveral years ago, I got a letter that my business was going to have a random sales tax audit. When I shared the news with several of my friends that were also business owners, they laughed and predicted that the auditors would find all kinds of things that would cost me additional taxes and fines. To say the least, I was worried even more after talking to them.

The day the audit was to begin was one on those days when you just knew nothing was going to go right. It had snowed the night before, and then the wind had come up, so traffic was miserable. The wind chill and traffic delays had put everyone in a bad mood, including the person who showed up at my office two hours late to start the audit.

She sat down and started by telling me that for a company my size this would be a two or three-day process and that she would start by looking at copies of our invoices for the past 3 years. I told her that I had gotten rid of all my paper invoices after I scanned them into my Laserfiche document management system and that we would have to look them up on-line. Now, that put her in an even worse mood. She said in her twenty years of being an auditor for the State of Minnesota, she had never heard of such a thing–everyone knows you need to keep paper copies of all your important information. I assured her that I would assist her and that she had nothing to worry about.

I don’t think she was convinced, but we started the process. First, she asked for a list of AR and AP for a certain period. She watched, and within a few seconds, I had the info on the screen, but she was not satisfied because she didn’t have a piece of paper with the information on it. I hit the print button and quickly got the reports into her hands. Then she demanded that I show her a certain item that was purchased and the proof that it was sold to a customer. For me, this was a simple search and I had the information in seconds. She was amazed, but not happy until she had piece of paper, so I printed it for her.

Then, I think, it became a game. She would ask me for something and I would easily find it. She picked a serial number of a computer we purchased and wanted to know who it was sold to. That was no problem for me; I just did a quick full text search on the serial number and Laserfiche did it’s magic, on my screen were all the documents related to that serial number. I was able to show her not just the one document she was looking for, but every document with that serial number on it: the packing slip, the bill from the vendor, the work order to install it, the invoice billing the client, and even the service orders when we worked on that computer.

After a few hours of this, the game was over. She was convinced. She said that in 20 years of auditing, she had never experienced anything like this. We were the best company she had ever audited.

Later, my friends were anxious to hear a great story of how miserable the auditor had made my life. They were shocked, and maybe a little saddened, when I told them that it was a really great experience and it was over before I knew it. Not long after that, some of those friends became customers and now use the document imaging system I sold them. They can’t wait for an auditor to show up at their doorstep, because they are prepared for it.

If this sounds like something you are interested in, just let me know and I will be happy to give you a free demo.

What Are The Five Most Common Disasters That Strike Small Businesses

hosted desktop is a good disaster recovery planThe challenges that small businesses deal with never end — and for the small number of employees who have to take on these tasks, it can quickly get overwhelming. No wonder, then, that many small businesses have all but ignored the important task of developing a disaster recovery plan, which involves understanding the risks of the disasters that small businesses face, figuring out how best to prevent against the deleterious effects of these disasters, and implementing a business continuity solution to minimize downtime.
Importantly, the disasters that cause small organizations the most damage are the ones that many business owners may not consider to be all that common, such as hardware failure and power outages. This blog post aims to illuminate five common disasters that small businesses face, so that business owners have a sense of perspective when considering the importance of a disaster recovery strategy.  You would probably guess the most common disasters are caused by floods, tornadoes, and other major storms.  You will be surprise to learn that common causes are much smaller problems that have huge impact on businesses.flood
1. Hardware failure
One of the most disruptive disasters that can strike a small business at any time is hardware failure. Whether it is a clicking hard drive in an email server or a fried motherboard inside a central file server, any kind of hardware failure can result in the inability to access critical data. Possibly the worst aspect of hardware failure is that it is inevitable, yet completely unpredictable. In fact, a recent survey of nearly 400 partners by data protection firm StorageCraft revealed that 99% of them had experienced a hardware failure, with 80.9% of those failures attributable to hard drive malfunctions.1 Failed hardware leads to downtime and lost productivity, both of which can cost small businesses dearly.
2. Software corruption
Permanent corruption of server data, such as corruption of the server’s operating system or damage to line-of-business applications that run on the server, could lead to significant downtime. Even the most sophisticated storage apparatuses are not immune to software corruption: a study by CERN, the world’s largest particle physics lab, revealed software corruption in 1 out of every 1,500 files.2 Software corruption could severely disrupt small businesses that do not have a backup and disaster recovery solution in place.
3. Cyber-attacks
pdf virusViruses, worms, Trojans — any and all forms of malware can wreak serious havoc on small businesses. According to the National Small Business Association’s Year-End 2014 report, 1 out of every 2 small businesses reported being the victim of a cyber-attack, with the average cost of each cyber-attack exceeding $20,000.3 The consequences stemming from cyber-attacks – such as data theft, data corruption, and permanent data deletion — can seriously affect businesses and their customers. Though deploying a firewall and security software is an important first step, having a fallback continuity strategy in place in case cyber-attacks get through to a company’s systems is crucial.
4. Power outages
Blackouts, power shortages, and other power-related issues are not as uncommon as many businesses think. In fact, a 2014 survey by power management firm Eaton Electrical revealed that 37% of IT professionals had dealt with “unplanned downtime due to power-related issues in the last 24 months,” with 32% of outages lasting longer than four hours.4 Even more concerning are the high costs of downtime; according to a May 2013 survey by research firm Aberdeen Group, the average cost of downtime for small companies was a whopping $8,581 per hour.5 Electrical issues are real — and they are costly.
5. Natural or site-wide disasters
Natural disasters, such as include tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes, can cripple small businesses. Even more threatening are fires, floods, and other common catastrophes that can occur regardless of a particular geographic location’s propensity toward certain natural disasters. Since these disasters and catastrophes almost always lead to site-wide damage, small businesses with only one or two locations are especially vulnerable. No amount of money spent can prevent site-wide and natural disasters from occurring; the only recourse for businesses affected by these calamities is to get back up and running as soon as possible after they happen.
Conclusion
The aforementioned disasters that could befall a small business are relatively consistent across different organizations and industries. Understanding these disasters is just the first step; the next, and more important, task is for every small business to figure out how best to guard itself against these threats.
Adopting business continuity services is essential for every small business looking to protect their data and quickly recover from disasters. Business continuity services ensure that all of a business’s digital data is securely backed up off-site and recoverable whenever necessary. If you would like to learn more about our business continuity services please contact me at larry.phelps at marconet.com


1 “Which Hardware Fails the Most and Why.” Web log post. StorageCraft Recovery Zone. StorageCraft, 2015. Web. 30 June 2015.
2 Panzer-Steindel, Bernd. Data Integrity. Tech. CERN, 8 Apr. 2007. Web. 20 June 2015.
3 2014 Year-End Economic Report. Rep. National Small Business Association, Feb. 2015. Web. 15 June 2015.
4 How ‘Software-Defined’ Is Redefining the Modern Data Center. White Paper. Eaton Corporation, Oct. 2014. Web. 19 June 2015.
5 Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Don’t Go It Alone. Analyst Insight. Aberdeen Group, June 2013. Web. 10 June 2015.

source – used by permission of efile inc.