A small business faces many challenges. Limited capital, assets, and personnel mean they don’t possess much ammunition to challenge the big boys. Yet if they can utilize this ammunition in smart, effective ways, it is possible for a small business to thrive despite the ever-present threat of industry leaders.
The best way for a small business to maximize its resources is by incorporating the right selection of technology and software tools. By delivering greater versatility and efficiency, and with the benefit of automation in various cases, technology eases the burden of many challenges a business – big or small – faces.
While adjustments might have to be made in order to implement technological changes correctly, these short-lived challenges are worth taking on for the long-term advantages. Are you wondering how technology can help to provide your business with an instant boost?
Below are seven areas where technology can improve your company.
There is a reason why accountancy software is often at the top of the most wanted list for small business owners.
Balancing the books is something every company has to deal with, yet it is a job very few look forward to doing. Not only that, but it is something which is easy to get wrong when done manually – and this can lead to various government-related problems.
By using accountancy software, however, the process becomes an incredibly simple one. It is possible to link all of your financial accounts to the software, allowing it to automatically track your income and expenses. It will then calculate all of the numbers, ensuring human error doesn’t come into the equation.
If you have a number of employees on the books, there is also specialist software available for dealing with payroll. By using a fully integrated system that boasts advanced payroll features – including the management of multiple schedules and pays rates, tips reporting, and contractor payments – it is easy to handle a task that is notoriously complicated and time-consuming.
2. Boost productivity levels
Productivity between you and your employees can be enhanced significantly with the use of specialist productivity tools. The good news is there are many productivity-related tools available, ensuring your business becomes more efficient, your employees can get more done, and you can ultimately achieve greater profit margins.
As for which technology makes sense, an excellent option is time tracking software. Think about it: as a small business, one of your most essential resources is time. With time tracking software, you have the ability to accurately document the time you and your workers use. This then gives you the prospect to identify areas where time is wasted and also opportunities to use your time more efficiently.
When the software is correctly utilized, it assists with productivity, process improvement, and accountability, all important aspects that can make or break a business.
Another piece of tech to add to your repertoire is project management software. This is one of the best logistical assets you can have for your business operation. It presents the ability to take complex projects, break them down into individual task segments for specific employees, and still have a comprehensive overall project view for everyone to see.
Everyone knows what their daily responsibilities are within the business, and this provides clarity and reduces the chances of confusion.
3. Automate trivial tasks
For a small business, automation can make a world of difference. It is a way to save significant time, boost employee morale, and avoid the need to hire additional talent to complete trivial yet time-consuming tasks. There are also many ways in which automation can be incorporated into a business, and other points in this guide will also highlight technology that utilizes automation.
While there are too many examples to list here, one valuable automation process is data analysis and report generation. Say your business deals with thousands of pieces of data on a daily basis.
Instead of employees having to manually scour spreadsheets that contain this data, automation can produce thorough, accurate analyses and reports within a matter of seconds. This makes it ideal for finding – and never missing – specific pieces of data within spreadsheets and supplying a clear assessment.
Another example is that it can help during the hiring process. While you will have to deal with crafting the job posting and conducting interviews, there are many steps in between which can be automated.
A human resources management system, for instance, presents the chance to automate the process of managing candidates, meaning you can filter through the best potential employees much faster.
4. Improve your marketing efforts
To reach your target audience effectively, a long-term, fleshed out, and refined marketing strategy needs to be utilized. However, attempting to do this successfully demands ample time and effort. One way of reducing the resources required for marketing, however, is by using the right set of technology.
Now, this doesn’t mean simply using the likes of social media and email. Those points are obvious. Yet speaking of email, this is one area where technology can supply a large helping hand.
Manually sending out emails to customers and prospective clients is a time-consuming, monotonous affair. This is especially the case when it comes to employees having to check and manage all relationship-building information for each contact. With specialist email marketing software, it is easy to automate emails, conduct behavioral targeting, use custom templates, and so much more.
Technology also helps with ensuring your marketing efforts reach the right people. By using the power of Google – and Google Analytics in particular – it is possible to find out everything about your target audience. Simply select topics like interests, demographics, and geography, and it is possible to uncover accurate current information about your potential customers.
5. Collaborate with ease
In this day and age, collaboration tools are more important than ever. Even before the pandemic shook up the way businesses operated, remote work was growing in prevalence. Now with more people than ever working away from the traditional office setting, collaboration software has to be part of your business operations.
There are numerous advantages gained from using such tools. It makes communication easier for a start, and that’s even if everyone is present in the same office. With live chat software, employees can message and remain up-to-date without needing to talk face-to-face or schedule meetings.
Video and audio communication, of course, are also options. Furthermore, collaboration software makes it simple for employees to share information efficiently, while it is even possible for multiple people to edit and review documents in real-time.
6. Enhance your customer service
Customer service is an integral element for any small business. Every customer is important, which means you need to deliver the best service possible. If this area is lackluster, it could lead to missed sales and the breakdown of long-term customer relationships. Get it right, however, and it can lead to more opportunities to maximize your profits.
Technology opens the door to enhance your customer service beyond answering emails and phone calls. One method is to incorporate a live chat function onto your website. This tactic, which generally sees a small chat box appear in the corner of a site, is one that has gained significant traction in recent years, allowing users to instantly fire over an inquiry when needed.
As a small business, you might be worried about having a staff member on-hand at all times to answer these inquiries. However, it is possible to include a chatbot into this function, which can answer everything automatically based on your predetermined entries.
What if you want to gain customer feedback? It is possible to use online questionnaires and surveys to gain the information you seek. These questionnaires/surveys can include simple tick answers, and the specialist software means it can collate and report on all answer results instantly.
7. Keep your business safe and secure
Security is an imperative facet for every business. Yet when you factor in the number of threats that exist due to online attackers, a lot of companies – even large organizations – overlook the true importance of security. All it takes is for a staff member to click the wrong link in an email, and cybercriminals can potentially gain access to all of your vital business data and financial information.
As a result, your business has to use the right security software. It instantly provides a shield to protect your business from numerous cyber-attacks and online threats. It can stop the likes of malware, email viruses, online fraud, and phishing from negatively affecting your company. It also helps with keeping your customers – and their data – safe from those with malicious intentions.
Plus, while it is highly recommended to educate yourself and employees about current threats, you have to understand that attackers are constantly evolving and modifying their approach. This means they are crafting new methods to circumvent your current security measures and know-how.
With specialist IT security software, one that receives continual updates from its developer, you have the foundation to stay one step ahead of the threats that could bring your business down to its knees.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.