It’s impossible to be a competitive business owner without taking advantage of today’s technology. Even if you think you can run a business doing everything the way you’ve always done it before, your competitors may be eager to use new software, services and devices. In the race to be the best business in your niche, it’s pretty important to operate with maximum efficiency, and it’s technology that helps you do that.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top technologies available to small business owners today.
1. Time-Tracking Software
Time-tracking programs are perfect for monitoring how much time you spend on a set task or group of tasks. Armed with this information, you can more easily determine which of the services you provide are the most profitable. If you come across any services that are not profitable, you’ll know it’s time to streamline your business or consider outsourcing to someone better equipped to handle the task.
2. Bookkeeping Software
Some business owners think that because they hire an accountant or bookkeeper they don’t need financial software, too. Not true. Accounting programs make recording your financial information much simpler, but they also make it easier for business owners to establish a budget and track spending. With the right program, you can monitor profits and losses and make budget changes before it’s too late.
Just about everyone has an email account these days, but are you using it effectively? You might find it’s easier and more efficient to respond to emails by directing them to different accounts — even if you’re the only one responding to clients’ questions. For example you could set up email@example.com for all pre-sales questions, firstname.lastname@example.org for supporting current clients having trouble with your products, and email@example.com for suggestions and testimonials. By dividing emails in this way, you can avoid spending extra time sorting email before you reply.
4. Mobile Internet
If you don’t already have a smartphone or other mobile device, you really should consider purchasing one. This is especially true if you are a solo-preneur. Phones with Internet access and email aren’t just trendy; they are infinitely helpful for keeping in touch with important contacts while you’re working on the go. By the time you get back to the office to answer an email or check your messages, your potential client may have already moved on.
5. Cloud Services
From event calendars to CRMs, the Cloud gives you access to your business from anywhere, provided you have an Internet connection. There are many reasons to use the Cloud in your small business. It saves you the headache of software and hardware installs and updates, as all of your information is securely stored and backed up by the service provider you choose. In addition, cloud services can save small business owners money because most of them feature scalable pricing. This means you can expand services only when you need them.
Remember, taking advantage of new technologies doesn’t mean you have to be an early adopter. It’s probably very wise to wait a few months for developers to work the kinks out of the newest products. And always ask for free trials whenever they are available. That way, if you discover a product doesn’t work for your small business, you can walk away without wasting any money.
What technologies do you use daily in your small business? Are they any technologies you wish you had?