When you have limited resources and only a small number of staff trying to take on an increasingly global set of competitors, every small business could use a helping hand. The good news is that that helping hand could very well be the smart and efficient use of low-cost or even free technologies to help you get more done with less effort. If you’re looking for ways to reduce your costs, boost productivity in the office and make the most of every resource at your disposal, then read on!
Take project management into the cloud
Used correctly, cloud-based project management, time tracking and digital filing software can reduce your administrative burden immensely. If every employee can easily track the tasks they’re meant to complete, find the documents or resources they need to complete them, and upload their finished work all to the same place, it makes everything in the office run more smoothly. As an added benefit, they have access to these resources wherever and whenever they need them and can easily share them with other employees.
Get some free marketing
Few small businesses have a big budget to spend on advertising, but if you’re not already taking advantage of the free opportunities out there, it’s definitely the place to start. Having a presence on social media is a must, not just as a marketing platform but also as a way to communicate with your customers. Younger customers especially might feel a lot more comfortable reaching out over their preferred social platform than picking up the phone to speak to a stranger.
Running a company blog where you can share your expertise, invite potential customers to ask questions in the comments, and boost your SEO rankings all at the same time is another worthwhile investment.
Use the right telecommunications solution for your size
While the likes of Skype and GoToMeeting have made communicating with suppliers, clients and contacts overseas a breeze, their features are still somewhat limited, and call quality is not always reliable. Combining these useful technologies with the right ‘real world’ tech for your office in the form of suitable pbx services allows you to get the best of both worlds – free overseas calls when needed, as well as reliable inter-branch calls, cell routing and advanced features like call recording for improved customer service.
Learning and training
If you’ve implemented a cloud-based filing system, you’ve unknowingly also created a valuable knowledge base that can be used as a tool when training new staff members, as well as a useful reference or refresher for experienced employees and even clients. Aside from your own resources, there are hundreds of online courses (many of them extremely affordable or even free of charge) that you can “send” your employees on at a fraction of the cost of traditional training. It’s one of the easiest and most affordable ways to invest in your human capital through platforms like Coursera, Udemy and Lynda.com, or you can even take it one step further by creating your own courses and distributing them through a channel like Docebo – great for helping new clients get familiar with the product or service they’ve purchased from you.
HR, payroll and accounting software
Managing all your accounts, payroll and HR requirements like leave and employee benefits through a trusty Excel spreadsheet might be more than enough for a brand-new startup, but it gets very tricky to maintain once your business starts to grow and new regulations start to apply to you. There are plenty of cloud-based software packages that can make all these functions faster, easier and more accurate, including all-in-one packages. It’s a good idea to choose one that has a local version for your country or region as well as a local support team, so you know you’re complying with the applicable regulations without having to check every minor detail.
Far too many companies set up a website because they feel they’re ‘meant’ to have one, and then sit back, cross their fingers, and hope for the best. But used to its full potential, your website can be your number one salesperson, the face of your company and a treasure trove of information for your clients – 24/7 and without even asking a salary. You can’t achieve this, however, if you don’t know where the issues lie, what’s working and what isn’t, and what kind of customer your website is attracting.
Google Analytics can help you with all of these areas and more, including information about what kind of demographics your site is attracting, where traffic is coming from, how long people spend on a particular page before leaving your site, what devices they’re using to view your content, ecommerce metrics, and much more. If knowledge is power, then this is the kind of knowledge you want – and Google Analytics integrates easily with any website.
Whether it’s running your office and in-house admin more efficiently or better managing the digital face your company presents to the world, these kinds of technologies can make all the difference to your small business.