Fifty years ago, the only items of technology small businesses had in their offices were telephones and typewriters. Computers were unheard of and the internet had yet to be invented. In many ways life was a lot simpler. Accounts were kept on paper and filing cabinets held records and paperwork. The only way you could lose an important document was if the admin assistant misfiled it or you left your briefcase on the train.
These days things are very different. We are surrounded by modern technology and although it is supposed to make life easier, it isn’t always the case. We have all been there: you spend all day working on an important proposal for a new client and then wham! Your computer dies and you lose everything you typed in the last two hours. It’s infuriating, but unfortunately this is one of the many curses of modern technology. But taking all of the irritations associated with modern technology out of the equation, it is important to remember that in many cases modern technology does help small businesses grow and prosper.
Streamlining Business Practices
Ensuring you do everything possible to streamline your business is not just sensible – it is essential. An inefficient business is unlikely to be a profitable one. Money will be haemorrhaging out everywhere and because you haven’t got efficient business practices in place, you won’t be any the wiser.
Technology can help you run a tight ship.
- Computerised accounts can be used to produce regular management accounts so you are able to keep a track on spending and have an early warning system in place should cash flow become a serious issue.
- Cloud-based storage systems make it easy to share documents. They also make it easy for multiple people to work on or edit files.
- Online document management systems are ideal for storing and collating large amounts of documentation.
- Photocopiers and printers may not be so good for the environment, but how many offices could manage without them?
- Scanners are also extremely useful, especially if you run a paperless office.
Marketing and Sales
Let’s not forget how important technology is for the marketing and sales. Once upon a time, newspaper adverts, billboards and posted newsletters were all common marketing strategies for small businesses. These days things are very different and many marketing campaigns take place online instead.
- Social media marketing is crucial these days. A massive percentage of the population spend their waking hours on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so if you don’t make a serious effort to increase your exposure on these platforms, you run the risk of losing a significant share of the market.
- Email marketing is also very important. Instead of printing off leaflets and posting them, all it takes is a click of the mouse and voila! Hundreds of customers, past and present, will have your latest newsletter in their in-box.
Communication Made Easy
Technology is great for making communication easier. Instead of racking up overseas telephone call charges you can hold a telephone conference or even a video conference. There is plenty of free software available to help you communicate with clients, suppliers and other employees as you grow your business. Skype is probably the best-known tool, but there are others.
Video conferencing is a great platform for small businesses. Video conferencing facilities can be hired for small periods of time and are a cost effective way of enjoying high-spec equipment without a high financial outlay.
Remember, even if you are a serious technophobe, you can’t afford to ignore technology. Used wisely, it can help you grow your business to the next level.