Need a little extra spending cash for the summer months? We are giving away a total of $500 to 4 of our lucky Google+ followers! We will be drawing 4 winners over the course of a month. The first winner, picked March 22, will win $50. The second winner, picked on March 29, will win $100. The third winner, picked on April 5, will win $150. And the last winner, picked on April 12, will win $200. You must follow all instructions below to enter. Good luck!
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Terms and Conditions for NextAdvisor $500 Giveaway
- To be eligible, participants must fill out the survey by the closing date, April 11, 2013 at midnight PST.
- No purchase is necessary to participate in this contest. Participants who don’t have Facebook or Internet access can send a postcard with their name and address to 1110 Burlingame Ave. Suite 201, Burlingame, CA 94010
- Anyone over the age of 18
- Each participant may enter only once. All additional entries will be disqualified
- Participants must be citizens of the United States and must have a valid ID and U.S. mailing address to apply.
- Contest opens: March 13, 2013
- Contest closing: April 11, 2013
- Drawing of winner: March 22, 2011; March 29, 2011; April 5, 2011; Grand Prize: April 12, 2011
- There will be a $50 prize (March 22), a $100 prize (March 29), a $150 prize (April 5) and a $200 prize (April 12). (All prizes are in USD.)
- The Sponsor and Promoter of this Contest is NextAdvisor Inc.
- Participants may not be employees of NextAdvisor, connected advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates or such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees reside.
- NextAdvisor retains the right to extend or alter the contest including closing date without prior notification.
- Incomplete entries will be disqualified.
- Proof of identity must be produced on request.
- Decision of the winner is final. No correspondence will be entered into except with the winning entrants.
- By claiming the prize, the winners authorize the use, without additional compensation, of his or her name for use in promotional/advertising efforts in any medium (including and without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications in television or film releases, slides, videotape, and distribution over the internet) which NextAdvisor may deem appropriate.
- In accepting the prize, the winner acknowledges that NextAdvisor may not be held liable for any loss or damage associated with accepting or using the prize.
- By submitting an entry, participants acknowledge their acceptance and understanding of these rules.
- Any false information provided within the context of the contest by any participant concerning identity, mailing address, telephone number, email address, ownership of rights or non-compliance with these or the like may result in the immediate elimination of the participant from the contest.
- NextAdvisor reserves the right in its sole and unfettered discretion at its sole discretion to choose winners.
- NextAdvisor further reserves the right to disqualify any entry that it believes in its sole and unfettered discretion infringes the rights of any third party, otherwise does not comply with these Official Rules, or violates law.
- NextAdvisor further reserves the right to disqualify any participant who tampers with the submission process or any other part of the contest. Any attempt by a participant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the contest is a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made and NextAdvisor reserves the right to seek damages from any such participant to the fullest extent of the applicable law.
- NextAdvisor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the contest.
- This contest is subject to all federal laws of the United States of America. These rules shall be governed by, subject to, and construed in accordance with federal laws. If any provision(s) of these Rules are held to be invalid or unenforceable, all remaining provisions hereof will remain in full force and effect.
Q: I run a small home business, and though I don't get a lot of business calls, I worry that having my family (and often my kids!) pick up sounds unprofessional. Is VoIP a good way to get my business its own phone line? Or is there some way to have a different ring or different phone for business calls?
With VoIP, you could set up a phone, say, in your home office, that has its own phone number and rings separately from your house phone, just for your business. One popular provider that allows small business use is VOIPo. With VOIPo, you could get two years of service for $6.21/mo plus taxes and fees ($1.50/mo). This includes unlimited calling in the US and Canada as well as 60 international minutes per month to select countries. This way, you'd always know a call was for the business if it rang on the business phone. However, you wouldn't have an enterprise-style answering system or attendant–it would just be a low-cost, separate phone line with some advanced VoIP features.
With a virtual phone system, you could have a separate phone number that would be forwarded to your regular home phone or your mobile phone by a virtual attendant. This means you could set up the attendant to pick up the phone and then offer a business caller a number of options, creating the appearance of a much larger company. When the attendant puts calls through to your phone, the attendant is on the line first, and waits for you to press a key on your phone to transfer in the caller. This means that kids who picked up the phone would be able to hand the phone off to you so the first person the caller speaks to is an adult. You'll also be able to pick up with a professional greeting, since you'll know it's a business call. In general, virtual phone systems offer fewer minutes per month for the money than VoIP systems do. Our favorite option, Phone.com, charges $9.88/mo for 300 minutes and unlimited extensions. After you use your monthly minutes, you'll pay 4.9 cents/min for extra time or you can upgrade to a larger (and more expensive) plan.
Overall, if you're looking to create a professional impression and you receive fewer than 300 minutes of business calls per month, a virtual phone system is probably the most effective solution for you. If you use more minutes each month or you're just looking for a basic phone service that could have its own number and ring to its own phone, then VoIP may be a better way to go. You can check out more information about VoIP here and virtual phone here. If you'd like to compare VoIP or virtual phone providers, check out our VoIP comparison chart and our virtual phone comparison chart.
ING Direct and Ally Bank are two of the biggest names in online banking. In fact, both of them ranked 5 out of 5 stars in our online savings account comparison. Both ING and Ally have no monthly fees, no minmum deposit requirements, and no ATM fees at hundreds of specified locations. That being said, the two online savings accounts do have some minor differences:
1. APY (annual percentage yield). ING is currently offering a .80% APY on their savings account, while Ally's is slightly higher at .89%. Another factor to note is that ING compounds interest monthly and Ally compounds interest daily.
2. Customer Service. ING's phone support is available 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can also send them an email, which will be answered within 24 hours. Though Ally's customer service is less available (Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on Sundays) they do have a live chat feature at those times, which customers may find more conveniant.
If you are looking for the savings account that offers the most interest, Ally is the one for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for the most reputable option, ING Direct is the perfect choice. Read full reviews of online savings accounts and check out the full comparison chart here.
Q: I'm interested in using VoIP to add a second phone line for my business, but I'm not sure if this is possible. Can I use a regular VoIP plan? What if we use more minutes than a residential customer?
A: Good questions! You're right to wonder about the differences between VoIP service for business and residential customers. Some VoIP companies offer both business and residential plans, while others specialize in just one or the other, but many VoIP companies require a different plan for business customers because of their different use patterns.
Choosing the right business VoIP provider depends on your usage patterns and needs. If you're looking for a fully-featured business phone solution with complex voicemail and other business features, you might want to check out one of our business VoIP providers, which we compare here.
If you need a simpler solution, some of the residential VoIP providers we review offer very similar business plans. Of these providers, we often recommend VOIPo and Phone Power, which both offer inexpensive basic plans for small businesses with simple VoIP needs. If you plan to use a residential plan for your business' VoIP needs, be sure to check the provider's Terms of Service to be sure the company allows this.
Need to start a business? Draft a will? File for divorce? With a traditional lawyer, these all can be complicated and expensive. That's where online legal services come in. They are designed to help you with a wide range of legal issues without the hassle of a traditional lawyer. Online legal services are cheaper than a lawyer and the top services break down the complicated legalese to make it understandable for those of us who didn't go to law school.
We reviewed 6 of the top online legal services to determine which were the best for everyday users. We tested the sites as if we didn't know a thing about the law and ranked them based on user-friendliness, number of features, price and customer service options in both technical and legal advice. So who was the best? We found that LegalZoom was the most helpful and easiest to use site out of all the services we reviewed. Rocket Lawyer also offers a simple interface along with one of the widest range of forms and features.
Part of your business requires gathering personal data about your customers, but how do you make sure that data is stored securely? As part of National Consumer Protection Week, we've put together some key points to remember when dealing with customers' data, via the Better Business Bureau's data security site:
1. Take inventory of everything. Document what information you keep, how you collect it, where you keep it and who has access to it. Make sure you are fully aware of the security measures you have in place and how they work. If you have a clear record of everything, you can better determine what happened if a security breach occurs and quickly take the steps to stop it.
2. Dispose of data correctly. When you don't need something anymore, it's easy to quickly forget it even exists, making it less of a priority. But customers' personal data is still a sensitive, and you need to treat it as such. You should know who is disposing of the data and how it is being disposed of at all times.
3. Communicate your data protection policy to your customers. Make sure your customers know how you are protecting their personal data, but don't be too specific or you'll be giving identity thieves a how-to on breaking in to your system.
4. Know how to spot identity theft. Create a written policy for your business on how to spot identity theft and the actions to take if anyone notices suspicious activity, and make sure every employee knows the policy inside and out. This will help in both spotting identity theft before it happens and quickly putting out any identity theft fires once they happen.
5. Have a plan in case customers' data is stolen. It's never a good idea to be caught off-guard by identity theft. Make sure you have a plan in place in case there is ever a data breach. Know which financial institutions to contact. Notify your legal services as soon as it happens. And, above all, keep up the lines of communications with any customers that might be affected.
If you are looking for a secure place to store all of your customers' data, consider an online backup service. Of the services we reviewed, Mozy and iBackup were some of the best for businesses, and both offer secure, encrypted backup options. To check out the rest of our online backup reviews, click here.
Avast! is offering NextAdvisor users 30% off their top-rated security software for the holidays, bringing the price down to $34.99, making it one of the cheapest and most reliable security software we review. Avast! has everything the average consumer could want from security software. Fast installation. User-friendly interface. Top-rated protection. Quick performance. All combined with enhanced protection features makes Avast! one of the top user-friendly security software suites in our opinion. To read our review and get this great deal, click here.
For one day only, Yahoo! Web Hosting is offering NextAdvisor users 40% off their web hosting services for 12 months. Yahoo! Small Business web hosting is one of the few stand-outs in web hosting, and will be perfect for the beginning site owner who doesn't really know what to expect from web hosting. It's the one to be recommended for the less tech-savvy among us.
Yahoo also offers a number of cool features, including an all-inclusive site builder, e-commerce features and better-than-average scores for uptime, response time, and download speeds. To read more about Yahoo! Web Hosting and to get this exclusive 1-day deal, click here.
Q: On Norton's customer support, if I am having problems is there a charge or is this part of the service?
A: Norton Internet Security 2012 offers customer service as part of their security suite package. And not only do they offer the service, they customize it to your particular software, so that you don't spend precious time searching their site for an answer.
After you select the software that you need help with, they first offer you personalized assistance via an online chat with their online customer service rep, Nathan. If Nathan can’t help you, there are other features that include common FAQs, a copy of the product manual, customer service forums and other specific categories to help you narrow down your search. In addition, they also have paid professional service that will fix the problem for you, so you don’t have to do any of the work. They also include an email and phone number so that you can contact customer service directly.
If you are starting a business and having trouble handling all the items on your to-do list, the cloud is here to help. More and more services that are essential to today's businesses are moving to the cloud, and that means that it's not only easier to get access to these services, but it's also easier to start a business from scratch. Services in the cloud are often easier to set up and control, and in most cases are cheaper than traditional services.
Check out the 5 Reasons that Businesses Are Moving to the Cloud to get a more in-depth look at why more companies are using the cloud to run their business. And to check out which of our cloud services are best for starting a business, check out our Small Business Resource Center.
Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most of the services we review. Our editors thoroughly research and whenever possible test each service we review and offer their honest opinions about each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.