In today’s digital world, there’s no question about the fact that technology and the internet
have changed the game. Owning and managing a small business often means you’re a
multitasker who takes on pretty much every aspect of the business, or you rely heavily on a
few trusted employees. You don’t have the budget (or need) to invest in a huge
technological infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t access some great tools to
make running your business easier and more profitable. Of course, there is a point when a
business can rely on technology too much, but for the most part, technology has provided
solutions for every type and size of business which could keep you ahead of the competition.
It’s not a question of whether you should be embracing the technological revolution, but
rather which elements will be of most benefit to your business. Here are 7 ways that
technology can help you to take your small business to the next level through better
organization, efficiency, and productivity.
- Increase Your Visibility with a Great Website
One of the best things you can do for your business today is to get a high-quality website up
and running. Your prospective customers or clients expect a professional organization to
have a website. In addition, having a presence on the internet means you may be found by
people using search engines to find products or services like yours. To increase the
likelihood that your website will be found by search engines like Google or Bing you should
learn some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques. You can use online website
builders for DIY website design, but for a professional and branded finish, you should
consider hiring a website designer.
- Build Brand Awareness with Social Media
Social media is a great way to build relationships with existing customers and to increase
your brand’s following with potential prospects. The main platforms to consider are
Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but you don’t need to open an account on all of them as
some will be more suited to your industry than others.
Social media is a busy place, but with relevant, engaging and unique content you can really
make an impact. It can give your company a more human face while establishing you as an
authority in your niche. Keep an ear to the ground for topics and news which is trending and
connect it with your brand for maximum effect.
- Boost Your Business Skills Through Online Learning
The internet is an endless resource for knowledge, and this is a fantastic opportunity to
advance your own business skills. You could study customer service, and marketing courses
or even more advanced qualifications such as a degree or masters in a specific element of
business management. For example, you can study for a masters degree in online supply
chain management masters from Kettering University Online on a flexible basis so you can
continue running your business.
- Save Time and Hassle with Online Finances
For many business owners, accounting and finances are a necessary chore which can be
time-consuming and complex. Luckily, there are now several online accounting programs
such as FreshBooks which is affordable and easy to use with a smart device or computer.
You can also track your business expenses and pay your staff through programs like
QuickBooks, and your business bank account is almost certainly accessible online. Putting
all your finances online can save you a lot of stress and free up time to work on other areas
of the business.
- Get Organized with Online Planning Tools
If organization and planning are sticking points for you and a lot of your business is centered
on managing appointments or even filing documents for customers, you should consider
simplifying things with some online planning tools and apps. For example, both Microsoft
Outlook and Google Apps for Business include a calendar system. You can also download
systems like BaseCamp which enable you and your staff to access, share and edit
documents in one place.
- Smarter Communication with Staff and Customers
In any business, streamlined and efficient communication is key to success, whether
between you and your staff or with your customers. You should keep a dedicated business
smartphone so people can get in touch with you wherever you are. You can reduce
teleconferencing costs with services like Skype which connect you to others via a live video
stream on either a computer or mobile device. Many companies now have a Bring Your Own
Device (BYOD) Policy which is another way to cut costs in communications. Staff can bring
devices of their choice from home to use at work and avoid having to buy equipment for
In terms of customer communication, social media is one of the quickest and most
accessible ways for your customers to reach you with queries. They can send instant
messages which you can either respond to on a case by case basis, or you can set up
automated replies for frequently asked questions. It’s a very good idea to consider some
email marketing software as well so you can connect with and increase your audience via
regular updates and newsletters. Programs like MailChimp offer easy to use email templates
and can automate email campaigns to be sent at optimum times of day for maximum
- Secure Your Business
All your devices should be protected by security software and anti-virus and malware
protection systems like MacAfee to reduce your exposure to cybercriminal attacks.
Employees should be changing passwords regularly and have extra security measures, such
as fingerprint recognition, in place.
A popular and secure way to store company and customer confidential information is a
Cloud storage system. Rather than saving information and documents to hardware, you can
store it virtually so it can’t be physically damaged or stolen. It is only accessible by
authorized personnel with the correct security information. Cloud systems also mean that
multiple people can share and edit the same document without sending it back and forth or
working with multiple versions which can have a positive impact on productivity and