Making the Most of Technology in Small Business
Paul Ryan | December 12, 2017
A lot of small business owners might not be taking advantage of readily available technology that can help them to grow their businesses and make their working lives easier. This might be happening for a whole variety of reasons.
Some of these reasons can include feeling overwhelmed by all the programs and apps available, feeling the business is too small to need technology, thinking it would all be too expensive or too hard to keep up with, or even preferring to “do things the old-fashioned way thanks very much!”
In some instances, it might not be that business owners don’t use technology, but rather that they just don’t know how to get the most out of it.
For example, research shows that many smaller businesses do not have a social media strategy in place. Business owners might use social media to make the occasional post or link to their site, but they fail to really engage with users or use social media as a valid promotional tool.
Mobile technology is another pretty incredible growth area that is loaded with opportunity and possibility. Scientific research isn’t needed for this – a quick glance around while out and about will reveal just how much time people spend using their mobile devices! If business owners are not using mobile technology in their businesses, they might be missing out on a big chunk of the market and not reaching the very people who need to hear about their products and services.
So how can you use technology in your small business?
Here are some suggestions for making more use of technology in your small business.
Using social media platforms
It’s not enough to just post just for the sake of it, or because someone told you that you should, and then walk away and forget. To get the most out of social media:
* Start by defining your target audience and checking out where they spend their time on social media (i.e. whether simplyaskit, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube and so on). You should also determine what their interests, needs, desires, and purchasing habits are.
* Find out when your target audience is mostly online and make sure to time your posts according to that.
* Create a regular schedule for social media posts and stick to it. The schedule should be based around when you are most likely to connect with users.
* Make use of tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite to manage your social media strategies. These tools can be used to post ahead and schedule when posts will appear.
* Make sure your posts are interesting and have high relevance for your audience.
* Spend time engaging with users, answering questions, responding to queries, and asking for feedback.
* Make use of available analytic tools to determine how your strategies are working, and use this information to refine them.
Using mobile technology
This is another major factor missing from many small businesses. Mobile device use is rapidly increasing, and if you have not optimised your site for mobile you might be missing the mark.
Optimising your website for mobile also enables your customers to purchase from you while they are out and about at their favourite café, at the shopping centre, or on the train home in the evenings.
Programs and apps that can enhance your business
There are all kinds of free and low-cost platforms and programs that can help make your business more efficient, and make it easier to engage with your customers and promote your business more widely. Examples include:
Buffer: This program lets you create and save lots of posts in one go and schedule when they appear on your various social media pages.
Hootsuite: A social media management tool to streamline and optimise your use of social media platforms.
Google Docs: A free cloud-based program that lets you create Office documents and share them with others in real time, enabling collaboration on projects and jobs.
OneDrive: Microsoft cloud platform for storing files and photos that can be accessed from anywhere.
Evernote: This program is a bit like an electronic notepad for jotting down notes and accessing them later.
Mail Chimp: This software automates and streamlines the sending of marketing emails.
GoToMeeting: Online meeting and video conferencing software that can do away with the need for face-to-face meetings.
Square Register: This is mobile card-payment software that enables you to process payments instantly using your smartphone.
Many of the programs available have free options or free trials for the paid options. This enables you to try them out to see if they will suit your business before making a commitment.
Another trend that has grown out of technology is ‘crowdfunding’ – a system of raising the funds required for a start-up business, project or cause via the internet, providing an alternative to taking out loans with finance companies. Funds can be in the form of either donations or investments. Options for crowdfunding include Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and Crowdfunder.
There are many more apps and programs available that can make it easier to run your business. Take the time to research a few – you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find!