The value of technology isn’t something small business owners can afford to underestimate. Case in point: according to a survey from Time Warner Cable Business Class, 56% of consumers said a relevant business website inspired confidence in a small business.
When you’re trying to match strides with larger competitors, embracing the possibilities tech offers should be a no-brainer. If you’re not sure where to start, here are four tech-based solutions that can help your small business hold its ground against larger competitors.
1. Mobile applications
These days, it’s possible to do just about everything from a smartphone or mobile device. This is good news if you own a small business. For example, apps like Gusto, Freshbooks, and QuickBooks allow you to manage payroll, create and send invoices, record sales and expenses, and create key reports such as profit and loss statements right from the palm of your hand.
So how do these and similar apps help your small business compete in the marketplace? The answer is simple. The more you’re able to streamline and automate key business processes, the less time and energy you have to spend managing them. Those resources can be redirected to things like fine-tuning your marketing campaign or planning an expansion so you can retain your competitive edge.
2. Integrated software
Integrated software is simply a bundle of applications designed to work together. Customer relationship management (CRM) programs can be particularly beneficial to businesses that struggle with organization or are looking to up their productivity factor.
For instance, you could have separate programs to manage accounting, payroll and invoices, another program for tracking sales and inventory and another program to maintain customer information for your mailing list.
Having so many different standalone programs in place means more work for you if you’re having to manually import data from one software to another. When you streamline your infrastructure with a program like Salesforce or Insightly, on the other hand, you can increase your business’s efficiency and speed, both of which make you better able to compete with larger companies.
3. Cloud technology
The cloud is also an alternative to consider for meeting your small business storage needs. Rather than backing up all of your data on a computer, upload that information to a cloud-based app. Besides that, you can use cloud applications for things like monitoring your cash flow and accounts payable, automating your marketing campaign, and updating your business’s social media sites.
Taking your small business into the cloud can be a strategic move when scaling up is one of your goals. For instance, if you’re hoping to boost online sales, think about investing in ecommerce software. Tools like Magento or Shopify may help you increase revenues faster than simply installing a shopping cart plugin.
4. Web-based communications
If you run a business that has employees, you need to be able to communicate with them quickly and effectively. This is of particular important if you’re working on a project and your employees are assigned different tasks.
When you need to keep everyone on the same page, technology can be your best friend. Tools like Trello, Asana, Basecamp, and Slack are some examples of apps that make it easier to connect with employees. By taking out the hassle of collaborating, your business can get more done. Which, in turn, keeps you from struggling to play catch up with competitors both large and small.
Final word: Know what your goals and objectives are
Technology holds a lot of potential for small businesses who are eager to innovate. You should just avoid blindly venturing into new technology options. Before you start shelling out money on technology, take some time to map out your short- and long-term goals. Having a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish will help you in choosing the best tech tools for your business.
Strategic Funding provides needed operating funds to small businesses. Strategic Funding has helped hundreds of industries. Industries served include: restaurants, personal services, construction, medical, manufacturing, agriculture, retail stores, automotive, and food stores.