How to Use Technology to Improve Your Small Business in Just 1 Year.

How to Use Technology to Improve Your Small Business in Just 1 Year.

How to Use Technology to Improve Your Small Business in Just 1 Year.

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎04-04-2017 11:29 AM

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Technology can make you faster and more efficient in every aspect of your small business. While the array of options may be intimidating, if you focus on bringing technological solutions to one area at a time, you can easily revolutionize your business in one year.

 

To help you, here are 12 common business areas where technology can play a vital part in contributing to streamlining your efficiency and overall operation. Tackle one per month and watch your productivity and sales soar!

 

Analytics and Insights

 

Understanding how your business is performing at any given moment will allow you to make better decisions…but data can be confusing. Fortunately, business intelligence dashboards can simplify the process and enable you to gather analytics in one location and visualize it with charts and graphs. There are many useful tools available; compare features to find which is right for you.

 

Building a Team

 

The majority of small businesses are operated by a solopreneur or a small group of workers. When you do add a team member, you can use HR software to keep track of applications and interviews, online background check services to vet new hires, and training software to teach about job basics.

 

If you are not big enough to hire employees, then outsourcing is a great option. You can use online freelancer platforms like Upwork and 99Designs to find virtual workers for everything from writing blog posts and marketing copy to designing logos and graphics.

 

Collaboration/Communication

 

Technology can come to the rescue for team collaboration and communication. Instant messaging programs like Skype and Slack are much quicker than calling, emailing or stopping by someone’s office. More sophisticated tools like Asana and Basecamp also allow you to organize projects, assign tasks and due dates, and keep all conversations and files within a common thread.

 

Credit and Money Management

 

Technology can help you manage your credit and finances, including:

 

  • Credit monitoring sites that will tell you your credit score and monitor it for fraudulent activity.
  • Budgeting tools like Mint that give you an overall view of your finances, and also help you create a budget to reach your financial goals.
  • Debt repayment calculators and apps that help you manage credit cards and make a plan to pay them down.

 

Customer Service

 

Customer service is more complicated today because inquiries are coming at you from all angles: phone, email, and even social media. Platforms like Zendesk can help you funnel all of these messages into one place and create a ticketing system, so everything is answered promptly. This tool and other customer service technologies can also help you set up a live chat feature on your website, and develop a knowledge database for answering frequently asked questions.

 

Email Marketing

 

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your customers. Tools like MailChimp and Aweber are user-friendly and great beginner-level tools for small business owners who want to build their list and start sending regular newsletters. For the more advanced, consider a full CRM system like Insightly, Infusionsoft or Ontraport.

 

File Management

 

Digital file systems reduce the clutter in your office and improve organization, allowing you to find the exact file you need in lighting speed. Microsoft, Apple, and Google all offer cloud storage solutions, and there are other options like Dropbox and IDrive. The latest scanners have tie-ins with these cloud storage systems, so paper files can get a digital home immediately after they come into the office.

 

Invoicing and Payments

 

With the right technology, you can have an invoicing system that is not only organized but also conveys your professionalism.  Although QuickBooks is perhaps the most popular software available, there are many other billing and invoicing platforms to consider to find the one right for your business.

You can also explore other methods of accepting payments besides the traditional cash, check or credit card. While PayPal is a good option for receiving payment from clients, there are several impressive alternatives. The latest technology can also improve your in-store POS system.

 

Online Advertising

 

Whether you are a local or online business, your customers will be using the internet to find you. You can put technology to good use by:

 

  • Setting up your business page on Google, so people who search for you quickly find valuable information like address, phone number and hours.
  • Using Google Adwords to create pay-per-click ads to generate more business (including using their Keyword Planner tool to target the right keywords).
  • Adding your listing to the many online business directories, so people can find you regardless of where they are searching. 

Security

 

No small business owner can afford to take security lightly. When it comes to your website, website security tools can help keep you protected from SQL injection and other threats and attacks. Meanwhile, the technology in your office should be protected by keeping your anti-virus and malware software up to date or even investing in a full security suite.

 

Social Media

 

Social media is a must for today’s businesses, but you can let technology simplify your work. Social media scheduling programs like Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to set up social media posts for days or even weeks in advance. With tools like CoSchedule, you can even schedule social media when you are setting up your company blog posts.

 

Website

 

There is no reason for your business not to have a website! Using today’s technology, you can build your own website; Wix even allows you to create one for free. You can also get more visitors by setting up a regular blog. Tools like WordPress make it simple, and with the all the various plugins, you can get help with everything from design to SEO.

 

When it comes to business technology, there is no shortage of options. Choose the most important area of your small business and work for one month to explore and implement technological solutions that will make you faster and more efficient. Proceed from one area to the next, and in just one year you will become a master of technology!

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Contact the editor: tumara.r.jordan@verizon.com