September 11, 2016
It’s never been a better time to own a small business—for never before have small businesses been able to better leverage enterprise-level technology, at a fraction of the time and expense required for traditional solutions. This creates an unprecedented level of possibility for small businesses that want to run lean but mighty operations.
Don’t just take it from me; noted family business expert and author Wayne Rivers summed it up perfectly in his Wall Street Journal Blog post, saying, “In some ways it’s easier today to be a small-business entrepreneur. Because the marketplace is so large, technology that was available only to corporate giants 20 years ago now makes running a small business a bit simpler. Bookkeeping, payroll and staffing, marketing and lead automation, and other technological tools and services help small-business owners rein in costs and unload busywork thereby increasing their efficiencies and the amount of time they can devote to productive activities.”
Sounds exciting, right? It is. The tools are there for the taking and can help you worker smarter instead of harder. You’ve just got to know where to use them. Here are three areas that I often see small business owners overlook:
Third-Party App Integration
This trend has really been gaining momentum—and for good reason. No longer do you have to juggle multiple disparate software tools to make the most of your time and resources. Recent advancements in third-party integrations now make it possible for web-based software services to talk to each other and share information automatically. It’s no surprise that kind of connectivity saves tons of time, hassle, and energy spent on repetitive tasks. The question is: Are you taking advantage of it? So many don’t out of fear that it’s too expensive, cumbersome, or hard to implement. That’s a fear you can let go of—times have changed. The level of connectivity in today’s marketplace is unprecedented. Check out one of my favorite tools to see what I mean (Zapier).
My guess is that regardless of what business you’re in, you spend a lot of time thinking about how you can better communicate the right message to the right customer at the right time. The good news is that you don’t have to figure this out on your own. Now there are affordable tools that help you track customer data to see what your customers are interested in, what method of communication they are most likely to respond to, and the best time to contact them. Taking advantage of this kind of predicative data can be an absolute game-changer for improving contact management, which ultimately drives sales.
Desktop Software with Cloud Integrations
If you take a look at your smart phone, you probably have at least a handful—if not far more—of apps that integrate to the desktop versions you use to run your business. Google docs, Evernote, and Dropbox are a few that I use on a daily basis. The ability to seamlessly go from my computer at the office to my laptop when I’m traveling to my smart phone when I’m on the go saves untold amounts of time and let’s me be much more responsive to both my team and customers. Just a few years ago, this type of connectivity would have required a big financial investment in both equipment and IT support. I would have needed to transition my entire team from desktop to cloud-based software, set up a web server, trained my employees in how to use the online version of their favorite tools— the list goes on. Now it’s affordable for even a soloprenuer and so much easier to connect. Selecting the right desktop software for your company today can enable your business to be in the cloud even when you’re operating from your desktop solution. No upgrades, add-ons, web servers or technology overhauls required. Consider: How would utilizing this competitive advantage improve your business?
If you haven’t explored one or more of these shortcuts, now is the perfect time. The technology is there. And it’s never been easier to use and or integrate. There are so many reasons to simplify your business operations and automate everything that doesn’t require your personal touch. Save your time and energy for the few things you want to do in person. That’s one of the greatest gifts technology gives us—the ability to choose. I recommend you choose the shortcuts.Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community