In many ways, technology can help level the business playing field – allowing small businesses to accomplish more with fewer resources, reach a wider audience, and gain insights that would normally only be available to large corporates with big market research budgets. If you’re a small business owner, then you might want to consider taking advantage of the following tech tips to give you that much-needed boost.
Get paid faster
If there’s one thing every small business owner has in common, it’s worrying about cashflow and collecting outstanding payments! If you’re spending more time chasing outstanding money than chasing new customers, you might want to start thinking outside the box. Consider offering more payment options, such as adding a ‘Pay now’ button to your invoices and statements, accepting payment through more channels, or using an automated accounts receivable solution.
Focus on communication
Without clear communication between you and your employees, and your company and its customers, all your other efforts are severely hampered. Where are these areas of miscommunication, and what technologies might be readily available to help you at little or no cost? If you’re trying to get your customers more engaged, then make sure you’re reaching out in ways they’re comfortable with.
A younger audience might respond better to Instagram than to Facebook, for example. Many customers would rather find the info they want on your website or by firing off a quick email than having to pick up the phone during business hours when they themselves might be at work. If you’re spending hours each morning responding to website queries, then save yourself some time and get back to your potential customers more quickly by putting an autoresponder email in place outside of business hours with brief answers to your most frequently asked questions.
If there’s a lack of communication between branch offices or remote workers, then implementing a quick daily Skype meeting to get everyone on the same page could save time and eliminate potential frustration or duplicated work.
Make use of Google Analytics
If you want to compete with larger companies, you need access to the same kinds of quality information they use to make their marketing decisions and plan new strategies. The good news is that the standard version of Google Analytics is completely free, so it just doesn’t make sense not to take advantage. If you’re not comfortable with the technical aspect, encourage and incentivize your ambitious and more tech-savvy junior employees to upskill themselves and learn about it for free online! They’ll be learning a valuable skill, and you’ll be able to gain insights you just can’t get otherwise.
Protect your data with cloud security solutions
Cloud storage services aren’t just a more affordable IT solution for small businesses, they’re also more secure. This is because you have the ability to set passwords and limit access, and because it’s in the provider’s best interest to keep up with the latest security strategies – so you don’t have to. It has the added benefit of making sorting and keeping track of your data easier too. If you are managing some of your data in-house, then make sure you have a good backup and data recovery solution in place in case things do go wrong.
Modernize your website
Putting together your company’s website is not just a once-off undertaking – especially if you’ve been using the same layout and coding for several years already. Websites that look old and outdated don’t inspire confidence in potential customers… or in search engines! Start with the following basics:
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and optimized for new devices
- Update old information or blog posts
- Set up a schedule for adding fresh content such as new blog posts, more in-depth information on services you provide, FAQ’s, or even tutorial videos
- Learn how to improve your visitors’ user experience
- Make sure current best practice SEO strategies are in place
- Make sure your website is easy to navigate and follows a logical flow towards making that sale!
Make use of free open source software packages
From full-on Enterprise Resource Planning packages to dedicated accounting, HR and payroll management software, there’s a perfectly serviceable free open-source software package out there for just about anything. If you want to streamline time-consuming admin tasks, have the benefit of easily accessed reports that would otherwise take hours to compile manually, or simply make managing your finances and budgeting decisions simpler, it’s a good idea to explore your options. If you find a system that works well for you, you usually have the option to upgrade to a paid service with free technical support when and if you need it.