When it comes to small business owners, they need all the help technology can give them. So when technology trends are specially made to fit small business needs, they are more than welcome. Do you have a small business to run?
Let’s have a look at what tech trends 2016 may have in store for you. There are many reasons to believe that 2016 can be the year for small businesses – so this information could be more useful to you more than you might think…
We all know that one of the most central issues faced by small businesses is the budget. Any solution that may save a few pennies, which can then be channeled into business development, is more than welcome.
Lucky for us, cloud-based services are becoming more and more affordable, allowing small business to do their daily tasks more efficiently, without consuming too many all-too-valuable resources. With the help of these services, businesses can save on the bookkeeper or the consultant and bring in these services from the cloud.
New software means that small business are paying a one-off fee for the services they need, leaving them to continue running their company without the same additional costs.
The cloud will not only be used for the much-needed admin tasks, but is also the only solution for today’s small business for data storage. Until recently, to manage data storage issues, a business needed to invest in hardware, software and personnel.
Only an IT specialist was capable of solving the complex issues related to managing databases and data packages, not to mention safe storage and data protection of large quantities of information. Cloud storage options provide businesses with a much cheaper alternative.
There is an incredible capacity for storage and of course the security of knowing that your information will be kept safe.
This is something that started to gain ground relatively recently, as more and more small businesses discover the advantages of hiring specialists online.
This enables companies to bring in resources as and when required. So a small business will not need to employ a full-time assistant, web designer, programmer, marketing experts etc etc etc…instead they can cut staff costs by using online freelancers and only pay for the work when there is a requirement for a job to be done.
Thus cutting staffing costs and creating a more fluid workflow. Fortunately, the Internet is filled with freelancers that are competing on various websites for work on any number of projects. A virtual assistant is usually paid by the hour, so it is up to you to decide how much work you will need for any particular project. Other jobs, such as a design task, may be priced by project.
This puts the businesses in the driving seat, with a diverse and competitive marketplace from which to source the right person for your job.
Marketing becomes automated
Every small business owner knows that marketing is a must-have. In the past it has always taken a huge proportion of the business’s (often modest) budget. Today we have affordable marketing automation software which enables small businesses to save a fortune.
The exorbitant fees of marketing agencies will become a thing of the past because automated software is developing to drive your business towards its goals. Tasks such as placing posts on social media, delivering personal, customised messages, and many many more, will be taken care of without exhaustive man-hours they have consumed in the past.
This will provide huge relief, both from a financial point of view and in the resources that will be freed up for other business critical activities.
Apps for businesses
In this mobile era, it is a smart and popular move for businesses to develop a customised app for their customers. A website is a must, of course, but desktops have fallen in popularity in recent years due to the rapid expansion of mobile technology.
So as a small business owner, if you want to stay in market it is best to play the game. How will your app work? Ideally, it will create a direct line of communication between your customer and your business. So when a problem arises, the business can be made aware quickly easily, and the customer can benefit from a rapid resolution.
Cleverly designed apps can help with the launch of a new product, you can even offer customers the chance to communicate with each other, sharing experiences and opinions and even provide troubleshooting advice. This kind of visibility is a great way to put your brand in a good light.
Customer relationship management systems are evolving fast and are becoming ruled by the digital age. Every business, big or small, will really need a CRM strategy, built around a good CRM system which offers a wide diversity of services to the customers.
The behavior of consumers has changed a lot in the past years, as they demand a new and faster set of services and more care and attention from the brands they trust. No one expects to wait on the end of a phone while a robot plays mind-numbing music to be able to speak to a business rep these days. Times have changed, and so should the CRM services.
Businesses should be able to solve customer problems fast and efficiently, keeping in touch with clients, knowing and predicting their needs and preferences, and ultimately deliver what is promised. This can only be achieved now by going digital.
If you want to have a successful business these days and increase your sales figures, you should accept more than credit cards and wire transfers.
People are starting to use payment programs and apps, such as Apple Pay, PayPal, LifeLock Wallet, and many more, which allow them to make payments online without the need to introduce card numbers and personal details each time they want to make a purchase.
As a business owner, you need to be aware of this trend and start widening the acceptance of alternative payment options, for the benefit of your business.
The dreaded stock take
You can ask any employee what they hate to do the most, and they will answer to manage and keep an inventory. A poorly managed inventory loses a lot of money for businesses all over the world. The good news is that with the help of smart software, specially created to serve such purposes, the management of inventory becomes a breeze.
For example, Fishbowl is one of the most used and appreciated inventory software among small and medium-sized businesses. You may be surprised to see that it can easily integrate with most CRM software, making it even easier to use and valuable to businesses.
Everything becomes easier with analytic tools
Analytics software will help you see how your business is going, what to be proud of and what aspects you need to improve. And all of this information is available in near real time. After introducing data concerning your business into software designed to analyse the business performances, results are available immediately and the only thing left is how you’re going to use it.
The software will show you exactly how the situation is at that precise minute. This is a great advantage because you can see clearly if anything is likely go wrong and take the appropriate measures in a timely manner.
It is much easier to set goals with analytics software in place because you will constantly be aware of your position in comparison to your targets. Large businesses are very much aware of how important it is to analyse data, as doing so often provides answers to questions that are hard to answer, this is no different for small business owners either.
Every business owner that wishes to make customers feel safe while shopping online or requires users’ personal information will invest in security this year. Security is an increasing concern of consumers and therefore business owners, including small businesses.
Technology is developed very quickly in this area, offering more reliable and efficient solutions which are affordable even for the small business budget. Bearing in mind that customers are not the only ones that suffer, as many companies have recorded significant losses because of unauthorised access, it is evident that security is of great interest.