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Work smarter and not harder. It seems such a simple mantra in theory, but when you boil it down, it can be difficult to know where to start or why with technology. Technology can help small businesses leverage both their limited capital and time to be a smarter and ultimately more efficient business.
Businesses can be skeptical to try new things when it comes to technology because of the perceived transition period and the need for their team to adopt a new way of working. And it’s true, it can take some time to identify and develop a future proof strategy that will actually align with the goals of your business.
The great news is that the long-term benefits of jumping on the technology bandwagon will outweigh the short term teething issues. Using technology can take you out of the small business mindset and put you into that big dog frame of mind. Here are 5 strategies that I would suggest any business can start using.
A lot of people are talking about the cloud. And a lot of people are saying they know they need to be on it, but they just aren't. What is it? This mystical place in space where all the information is just floating around. Well yes and no. Think of it as a place where people keep servers, so you don't have to.
For me, everything is on the cloud. And it works. I could work and deliver the same customer experience to my clients while I'm in Tokyo, the same as I can in Australia. Greater flexibility is only one of the benefits of the Cloud, and in this modern world, it could be one of the most important.
And while the benefits are clear, some still feel that the tried and tested method of using their own servers and keeping them onsite is the best way forward. While, it can be daunting shifting everything from one platform that you have grown accustomed to, to another. The benefits outweigh the negatives.
It will save you money on equipment, but also time for the team. On the cloud, your team can all work on the same project and have it update in real time. So put your files in Google Drive, your production scope in Trello, your projects in Whimsical and get excited about all these new platforms which can make your business run smoother.
Automation is basically the process of making processes happen automatically. Email sequences, customer relationship management, and administration can all fall under this category. Integration is where two systems talk to each other automatically and take you out of the equation.
Technology is all about growth. Take your team (or yourself) off those little mundane tasks that could be integrated and automated, and instead direct them towards the things that will actually make your business money.
Integrate the sales you make through your website with Xero and your stock management system. Delete those spreadsheets and find a POS that manages everything for you. And if those systems don't exist right now, use Zapier, a third-party system, which integrates systems that don't yet talk to each other.
If you have team members, I'm sure you can agree that communication is a challenge. Emails can only go so far and constant phone calls are just annoying. And what does that do? Breaks down the communication between you and your team members.
Technology if nothing brings people closer together. It sounds corny but it's true. It breaks down those barriers that exist. Team members who are in different areas may never communicate, or even team members in different countries.
A great tool I have been using between me and my team is Slack. Before Slack we used Skype. Slack is good though because it allows multiple people to keep in touch about one project and know where everyone is at with its progress. Plus it keeps all that nonwork-related chat off emails.
Another thing I've noticed is those team members who wouldn't usually communicate are now working together. It feels like my business is no longer just a business but a community.
How much value do you place on your time? As the owner of your business could you be spending your precious hours elsewhere. It always perplexes me how some business owners hold on so tight to tasks that some sort of technology could do for them. When I started out, I used to manually invoice all of my clients. I would type it up in Microsoft Word, save it into a PDF, email the client, check off on excel that I had sent the invoice and then watch my account like a hawk until the money had come through. What a waste of time. Now I use a system that automatically invoices, bills and follows up overdue payments.
Technology saves you time and it might just save your business. Doing all these small tasks not only cause you to lose money, but they also cause you stress. Inefficient decision making is one of the main reasons small businesses decide to close.
What I am beginning to see more and more is small businesses not just creating apps for their customers, but for their business itself. A mobile app is great because chances are you are your team have a mobile phone on you all the time.
I've had clients get rid of their file cabinets and go completely paperless because now all their systems run on that little device in the pocket of each one of their employees. Or, I've had clients be able to increase their productivity because their staff now have the capabilities to do any job because they have the company's library of resources on their phone.
Going mobile is not always about getting customer-facing apps that improve their loyalty to your brand. Sometimes getting a mobile app for your business is about leveraging something that everyone already owns and knows how to use.
The thing is, technology is universal. It will not just improve your business in one area, it can improve it in every area. From Marketing and Accounting to processes and team efficiency.
If you have any questions about any of the systems and processes, I use, or perhaps you want to create some for yourself, get in touch with me at Konnect Applications. Let's go mobile.