Technology can help small business owners make smarter and more efficient use of their limited capital. In some cases, the use of technology can increase efficiency and versatility, making it a natural progression of processes that may already exist in the business. In other cases, adjustments may need to be made to take advantage of technology alternatives. The good news is that when a new system is introduced, the benefits often outweigh the short-term challenges of the migration process. Here are some points to consider as you prepare to expand the use of technology in your business.
- Time tracking software is an excellent tool for determining who has been spending their time and where. Used properly, this type of analysis can be very useful for accountability, process improvement and productivity.
- Streamline work processes through digital dictation.
- Use project management and task management tools so you don’t miss out on your daily work responsibilities.
- Create a digital filing system to make it easier to file, store, share and retrieve documents.
- Develop an efficient email management process to better control the flow of messages.
- Use online billing services to reduce the cost of collecting payments from customers.
- Use online budget tracking to control and reduce your expenses.
- File your taxes more efficiently online.
- Create a new source of revenue by selling your products online.
- Use comprehensive accounting software to streamline your company’s finances.
- Share your digital files with your accountant to improve the accounting process.
- Explore open source applications to replace some of the more expensive “branded” solutions.
- Use software to create a marketing plan that can be edited, updated and shared with your team.
- Use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube to promote your company, products and services.
- Create a blog that is relevant to your business to reach your target audience.
- Start using the power of email marketing by collecting email addresses through membership forms.
- Use video marketing.
- Promote your business through your website and/or online advertising.
Collaboration and Learning
- Organize conference calls so that team members in different locations are on the same wavelength.
- Webinars and online meetings are a great way to keep everyone face-to-face without having to travel.
- Share files and data in the cloud.
- Communicate with your team quickly and clearly through team messaging.
- Use social media to provide customer service.
- Set up an online help desk or ticketing system to deal with customer problems.
- Allow customers to make appointments online at their convenience.
- Use online surveys and questionnaires to find out what your customers think.
Mobile working and telecommuting
- Create a mobile office that allows you to work productively wherever you are.
- Try out remote desktop applications to access files on your desktop.
- Switch to cloud computing to save on office supplies and storage costs. As a bonus, it’s an environmentally friendly choice!
- Get a virtual phone number and email fax line that you can take with you wherever you go.
- Use your smartphone on the go and choose applications that sync with the cloud to stay connected.