There’s no doubt that technology has already revolutionized the world of business, but when your company is still very small or even a startup, it can be difficult to see how you can really tap into its potential.
Here we look at a few ways you can identify what areas of your business might be improved by implementing a technological solution, as well as a few examples of this in action.
What Technology Can and Can’t Do
Before looking at your own business model, it helps to remind ourselves of the kinds of tasks and functions technology is most useful for.
While many people believed a few decades ago we’d all have robot housemaids and flying cars by now, it turned out to be impossible to predict the kind of things technology actually would make a reality – things like smartphones, the internet and blockchain.
As a rule, technology is good at certain things – making time consuming, tedious and repetitive tasks a breeze, handling huge sets of data, performing lightning fast calculations and quietly running in the background while humans get on with what they do best.
Technology will never be a fix for an intrinsically flawed business model (although it could help you research better alternatives), and it will never be able to make critical business decisions for you (although it can give you valuable data to help you make that decision).
There are some things that, for now at least, only humans can do – but the right technology can help you do it better, faster and more cost-effectively.
Automating Time Consuming Tasks
Virtually every business spends a portion of their time (or perhaps a lot of their time) doing tasks that don’t directly bring in revenue or create growth.
Technology can help you spend more man-hours doing the things that do. Identify some of the areas where you or your staff are losing time to non-core functions. Common examples might be accounting, payroll or other administrative functions.
Your business definitely needs these systems in place, but you don’t want to spend a second more on them than you have to.
There are literally thousands of appropriate software packages out there to choose from, many with both basic free and more advanced paid options available – so you can take advantage no matter what your budget is now.
Spreading the Word About Your Business
Your customers are online, and you need to be too – virtually every business knows this. But there are also tools available that can help you better manage things like your social media, website and blog, help you to build a sales funnel and launch email marketing campaigns too.
If you know one or more of these areas is a weak link in your business, now’s the time to investigate and find out whether there’s a tool that could make your life easier and help you market your brand better.
Picking the Right Hardware for the Job
Of course, running a business isn’t all about the kinds of software and online tools you use, at the end of the day you need some devices and peripherals to do it all on.
One option which is gaining traction is a policy of allowing your employees to bring in and use their own devices – or BYOD. This is a great option for very small new businesses with a shoestring budget or who need to cut costs quickly.
Of course as you grow, you’re going to need to invest in your own equipment, and that’s where the advice and assistance of a professional IT services company becomes invaluable.
Your tech can’t help you if it’s not running properly or you don’t have the skills to maintain it adequately.
Collaboration, Training and Online Learning
Many small businesses take advantage of services such as Skype to video conference with employees and clients who might be in a completely different country at the time.
If you’re still spending money on expensive international calls, stop!
Another extremely useful resource which not many small businesses are yet taking advantage of are the plethora of online courses – including many free options – which are now readily available.
From training an intern to become your in-house SEO guru to clueing yourself up on machine learning or finding out how to make your business more sustainable, the possibilities are virtually endless.
If you have valuable skills to offer, want to save yourself time in the future when onboarding new employees, or have a complex product your customers might need help understanding and using after purchasing it from you, you can even create your own online courses with tools like Camtasia, Beaver Builder or Zapier.
The technology you need to help you grow your small business is almost certainly out there – you just need to take the time to find it!