Technology is the great equalizer. Businesses of every size are investing in advanced technology to maximize efficiency and growth. However, small businesses have access to many of the same tech tools as larger businesses, leveling the playing field. When starting a small business, leveraging technology is vital to success. Technological solutions can increase productivity and help small operations contend with bigger competitors. But how exactly do you leverage that technology? Which tools are necessary and which are superfluous? The following is a guide to ten crucial tech tools for starting your small business.
This may seem obvious, but the first tools that you should implement are high-speed Internet and mobile devices. High-speed Internet access is necessary for any functional business; it opens the door to countless other tech tools. By comparison, dial-up access is painfully slow and limiting. Additionally, assuming you are already fully equipped with desktop computers, consider incorporating mobile devices into your business. Smartphones and laptops are incredible tools for productivity. Work is no longer tied to the office, and communications and transactions can continue wherever there is Internet. When you and your employees are mobile, your business is mobile.
Anti-Virus Software and File Backup Systems
Once you’ve established a network for your business, it’s important that you protect it. One of the first lines of defense in the security of your network is anti-virus software, which guards all your devices against viruses and other malware. An infected computer could lead to security breaches, down networks and stalled productivity. In addition, you need to have file backup system in place to guard against potential disaster. You don’t want to lose your computer’s hard drive and find that you’ve also lost years of valuable files and records.
A comprehensive understanding of your financial position is key to your business’s success. Accounting software (such as QuickBooks, Microsoft Office Accounting Express or Peachtree) simplifies the accounting process, helps you to keep up-to-date records and allows you to easily share those records with your accountant. Most software also provides you with updates and reminders concerning your finances, enabling you to make savvy business decisions.
Your business should have a strong online presence. You want to build a website that is aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly to attract potential clients. Web hosting services (such as iPage or Just Host) can help get your website up and running. These services can secure a domain of your choosing, offer various design options, store and upload website data and support app and email functionality. You should also ensure that your website is mobile-friendly, as most potential clients will be accessing your site through mobile devices.
You should not neglect your business’s telephone presence. With a virtual switchboard, you can create custom-recorded greetings; manage routing to departments and employees; implement call forwarding and call screening and utilize advanced voicemail options. Virtual switchboard software enables you to manage your telephone system through the Internet, and this software is typically more efficient and cost-effective than what your phone provider can offer.
Time Tracking and Management Software
As a small business owner, one of your central goals is to maximize productivity and instigate growth. Time tracking and management software can help you to achieve this. This software monitors and records employee hours. This including work hours, vacation time, sick leave and overtime. The software also has the ability to track individual projects, expenses, invoices and customers. With these tools, you can better manage the productivity of your employees and your business.
Online Project Management Software
Online project management software allows you to better manage the complex and collaborative projects of your business. This software offers your team an online collaboration space and allows managers to organize and allocate tasks and resources. The software streamlines communication, document sharing, scheduling, issue tracking and status updates. This allows you to perform the day-to-day functions of your business with the upmost efficiency.
Cloud-based business solutions (such as Google Account and Microsoft 365) offer your business greater agility and greater access to resources — all while increasing efficiency and reducing operational errors. By employing cloud-based solutions, your business benefits from online organization and online data storage, reducing your need for physical technology and reducing your capital expense.
Email and Email Marketing Tools
While email may not seem to be the most modern of technologies, it continues to be a cost-effective medium for communication and promotion. Your web host can set up an email account for your business. You can also employ email marketing tools (such as MailChimp or Constant Contact) to run email marketing campaigns and take advantage of your email contacts.
Payment Processing Software
Of course, you need to get paid so that you can continue to invest in your IT infrastructure and your business. To that end, payment should be as simple and seamless as possible for the customer. Whether this involves shopping cart software for your website or credit card processing and POS systems for your principal place(s) of business, you want to invest in payment processing software. This software will simplify the payment process, help you track sales and inventory and allow your business to function smoothly.
Implementing and managing this IT infrastructure can be challenging, time-consuming and expensive. Start-ups and small businesses require tech support — in addition to all of these tools — to keep everything up-to-date, secure and running smoothly. AIS specializes in strategic solutions to help companies proactively leverage technology and grow their business. We can offer big company support to smaller businesses at a cost-effective price. Consider engaging a technology partner so that you can focus on what really matters — growing your business.