Technology can help small business owners leverage limited capital in smarter, more effective ways. In some cases, using technology provides greater efficiency and versatility, making it a natural progression for processes you may already have in place in your business. In others, you may need to make some adjustments to reap the benefits of tech-friendly alternatives.
The good news is that the benefits often outweigh the short-lived challenges of the transitional process, once new systems are in place. Here are some areas to explore when you're ready to ramp up your use of technology in your business.
There are a wide range of productivity tools that can increase your efficiency as a business, meaning that you get more done and hopefully achieve higher revenues as a result.
- Time tracking software is an excellent tool for mapping out where time is spent and by whom, helping you spot where time is being wasted and identify opportunities for more efficient use of time. Such analysis, when properly utilized, is great for accountability, process improvement, and productivity.
- Digital dictation can help you streamline your work processes, particularly if your business includes a lot of time-consuming transcription work.
- Use project management and task management tools to stay on top of your daily business responsibilities.
- Create a digital filing system to make it easier to sort, save, share, and find documents.
- Develop an efficient email management process that makes it easier to stay on top of the flow of messages.
Tools that can manage your company's financials can help you spot wasteful spending and increase your bottom line.
- Use an online invoicing service to reduce the costs of collecting payment from customers.
- Use online budget tracking to keep on top of—and reduce—your expenses.
- File your taxes more efficiently online.
- Create a new income stream by selling your products online.
- Use a comprehensive accounting software to streamline your business finances.
- Share digital files with your bookkeeper or accountant to improve your ongoing bookkeeping processes.
- Explore open source applications to replace some of the more costly "name brand" alternatives
Software can help you market your business better by streamlining workflows and increasing collaboration between different marketing channels.
- Use software to create a marketing plan that you can edit, update and share with your team.
- Use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. to promote your business, products, and services.
- Start a blog related to your business and target audience.
- Collect email addresses through an opt-in form and start utilizing the power of email marketing.
- Use video marketing.
- Promote your business with a website and/or online advertising.
Collaboration and Learning
Technology today helps to coordinate teams and train them to increase their productivity.
- Conduct teleconference calls to make sure team members in different locations are on the same page.
- Webinars or web conferences are great for keeping everyone in the loop with travel-free face-to-face time.
- Expand your knowledge and empower your team with online business training.
- Share files and data on the cloud.
- Set up an Intranet for local file sharing.
- Communicate quickly and clearly with your team through team messaging.
Software tools can also help improve your relationship with your customers.
- Use social media to conduct customer service.
- Set up an online help desk or ticket system to handle customer issues.
- Allow clients to schedule appointments online at their convenience.
- Use online surveys and questionnaires to get customer feedback.
Mobile Working and Telecommuting
Software makes it easier for people to work from home, saving money on office space and utilities.
- Create a mobile office that allows you to work productively from anywhere.
- Try a remote desktop application to access files on your office computer.
- Go paperless to save money on supplies and storage in your office.
- Get a virtual phone number and electronic fax line that you can take anywhere.
- Use your smartphone and select apps that sync with the cloud to stay connected when you're on the go.