How many businesses have been using the same business technology year in and year out? And how many have thought about becoming more current, but have never followed through? It’s easy to keep outdated technology and services simply because making a change involves time and effort. This is especially true for small businesses with little extra time or resources to spare.
Traditionally caught between business enterprise technology and consumer products, small businesses may actually be hurting their business (and bottom line) by not using services specifically designed for their unique needs.
That’s why it’s the perfect time for small businesses to look at the technology and services they’re currently using (and their associated expenses) and make sure they’re getting the most out of their current solutions. By researching new affordable technology options, small businesses can maximize returns and streamline operations by working smarter, not harder with the status quo. Here's a look at new small business technology you should consider while it's still technically the New Year:
While there is still some confusion with consumers as to what exactly is “the cloud,” this much is clear: the cloud is a great friend to small businesses. While large enterprises are able to afford massive data centers and cloud platforms, there are plenty of small business-friendly cloud technologies that are not only affordable, but easy to use. Consider switching to cloud storage (like OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive or Box) for commonly accessed and shared documents, like staff schedules, shipment tracking, inventory, or sales contacts. By hosting documents on cloud platforms, not only will employees be able to view them on-the-go from mobile devices and home computers, but small business owners can also control who can edit and access it through access privileges and security features.
Beyond the addictive games and social media platforms most commonly associated with apps for tablets and smartphones, there are a number of mobile apps that every small business should consider downloading. This is especially true because so many small businesses are run by partners or hand-on employees, who are involved in managing the business day-to-day and aren’t always located in a central office. From point-of-sale to accounting to business travel management, there are a number of mobile apps that could replace expensive traditional business services.
VoIP Business Phone and Faxing
Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) technology allows small businesses to utilize their high-speed Internet and existing phones to connect with customers, vendors and employees. With features like a virtual receptionist, extension dialing, conference bridge and much more, VoIP services can help a small business present a polished, professional first impression at a fraction of the cost. Switching phone service sounds more daunting than it actually is and can significantly cut costs while improving service. And the money saved can be invested to improve other parts of the business.
Social media can be an amazing tool for small businesses to reach new audiences and connect with their current customers. However, managing it can be very overwhelming for small businesses who have so much else to juggle. Instead of spreading resources thin over multiple platforms, picking one or two that best suit the business’ audience. Consider using Twitter to promote deals and daily specials or Instagram for great visuals like new retail inventory. Facebook is a great way to start dialogues with customers. Furthermore, look for social media aggregators that post and monitor multiple channels at once, schedule posts in advance saving time and resources.
If you were brave enough to start your own business, find the right market and invest in a future you are creating, then you shouldn’t settle for the status quo when it comes to your business technology. By taking the first step to adopt a new solution and you’ll find it’s not as intimidating as it seems and you’ll can set your small business up for even greater success in 2015.