Just a decade or two ago, business technology was reserved only for the big names in the industry as utilizing whatever little that was there, came at a high expense that no small business could afford. However, the internet in its modern form has basically changed everything forever and technology is now one of the reasons why many small businesses are able to survive. If you have a small venture that you want to grow beyond its current stature, here are seven ways in which technology can help you do just that.
Build a Website
Everybody needs an online presence and given that this is 2018, one would expect most businesses to have that. However, as it turns out, even in developed nations such as the USA and Canada, more than half of small businesses do not even have a website! If you happen to be one of those businesses in Canada, it’s time to check the best web hosting comparison on Hosting Foundry to find yourself a reliable web hosting service and begin from there. Building a basic website is very easy these days and while you may need help to take care of the more complex aspects, such as building an online retail unit (e-commerce site) of your business, later on, feel free to take it slow.
Once you set up a website for your local business it’s important to scale it to another level. You don’t want a website just for the sake of it, you want a website to spread your name around and get clients. The fastest way is to use paid advertising but if you don’t want to spend money on it you can make use of SEO. The SEO tactics for local business are almost the same. You can check out the one400 SEO guide for some powerful tips on local business SEO.
Market Your Products/Services on Social Media
Business on the internet is more about social media these days than anything else, so after you are done building your e-commerce site, it’s time to create an official presence for your business on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. As soon as you have done that, it’s time to launch a social media marketing campaign across the various platforms to get your company some digital exposure, and also to find your target audience. Facebook has some surprisingly advanced and efficient tools for small businesses to make the most of their marketing efforts and if you are not using any of them to create brand awareness yet, you are definitely missing out.
Invest in an Inventory Management System
If your retail business is not using a state-of-the-art inventory management system for some reason, rest assured that you will see a tremendous boost in your overall productivity when adopting one. It is an essential tool for tracking everything that you have in stock, alongside managing your cash flow.
Shift to Smart Devices
Even if you are a relatively small company, make sure that all your employees are carrying secure, smart devices to make every step seamless. This also allows simultaneous database access to all authorized personnel, as and when required. Smartphones and tablets loaded with barcode scanners, inventory, and asset management systems, internal email and text communication applications, etc., can not only help a business streamline some of its major aspects, but they can also change the outlook of the company itself.
Utilize Artificial Intelligence
To someone who isn’t really up to date with the latest tech trends in business, the term “artificial intelligence” will either sound too expensive or too far-fetched. In truth, however, a lot of small businesses around the world are making use of machine learning, aka artificial intelligence, to induce growth in their respective businesses. Now, it must be understood that AI is still in its nascent stage really, and despite what popular media might lead people to believe, it is still going to take a long time before machine learning reaches a stage where it can be considered as being anything more than an advanced service. While the cost of using all AI services on offer might not always be profitable for small businesses at the moment, the ability of AI to interpret data and predict future patterns is quite remarkable. Any small business out there can use those features sparingly to give themselves an advantage in the market.
Accept More Modes of Payment
Whether it’s the online transactions on your e-commerce website or offline payments at your register, offer as many modes of payment to your customers as possible. While everyone accepts Visa and Mastercard, also add the option to pay via popular e-wallets such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Skrill and maybe even cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. The blockchain technology is deemed by many to be the future of currency, and most businesses that accept payment in cryptocurrencies are generally smaller establishments since it’s more secure, discreet, and merchant-friendly than other modes of payment.
Upgrade Your Hardware and Software
This is something that you simply can’t ignore and it’s one of the basic points really. Upgrade the hardware and the software that your business is running on to stay relevant, especially when it comes to the tools of your trade. If you have a small handyman business, make sure that your employees are still not dependent on the old hammer for everything and they have access to the latest power tools. If you have an office full of digital artists, they will need decent firepower in the hardware department to make those demanding software systems work properly.
If all this seems too expensive, you can also opt for the “carry your own hardware” rule, which means that all your employees must bring their own hardware to work, where applicable. It’s a great way to cut down on costs until the business becomes financially strong enough to afford upgraded company hardware.
There’s so much more technology can do for a small business, but if you are only just starting to get used to the idea of using technology for growing your business, exploring what we just discussed is a good enough start.