It’s nearly impossible to run a small business without getting help from technology. Before you let larger businesses get the upper hand, consider whether these 5 technological secrets could help you compete.
1. Use Inexpensive Point-of-Sale Technology
Sometimes, you can only sell your items by going where the customers are. Places like festivals, flea markets, and farmers markets make great places to publicize your small business while making some money.
To take advantage of this opportunity, though, you need to accept multiple forms of payment. If you only take cash, you’ll lose customers who simply don’t have enough money on them.
Affordable point-of-sale technology makes it simple to accept credit card and online payments from practically any location. Some popular options like PayPal Here and Square will give you free credit card readers that plug right into your tablet or smartphone.
You pay a small percentage for the service, but you can easily make up for that with increased sales.
2. Make Your Business More Efficient With BYOD
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) gives employees a chance to use their personal devices at work. According to research, 64 percent of IT managers believe that BYOD improves productivity. About 42 percent of employees agree.
There are some concerns with starting a BYOD program. You have to make sure everyone has compatible devices and that they understand how to protect any private information stored on their mobile devices.
You also might need to convince employees to upgrade to newer phones. Upcoming holiday specials can make the newest technology more affordable. If you can afford to do so, you might even provide a stipend that helps employees purchase faster devices with more memory.
3. Outsource Small, Essential Tasks
Your business needs an accountant to track the flow of money. It also needs human resource professionals who know how to hire valuable team members, train new hires, and write policies that set office standards.
As a small business owner, though, you probably don’t need a full-time accountant or human resource manager. You just don’t have 40 hours of work for them to finish every week.
Instead of wasting a full-time salary and benefits package on someone who essentially works part-time, consider outsourcing those small, essential tasks.
Plenty of Web-based companies have dedicated professionals who provide services to small businesses.
4. Invest in Time Tracking Software
Inefficient businesses face serious obstacles in today’s high-tech, competitive world. Anything you can do to improve your business’s efficiency will take you one step closer to success.
The most efficient small businesses have abandoned pen and paper in favor of software that plans schedules and tracks projects. Time tracking software can show you exactly where your business falters. That can put you on track to discovering ways to improve efficiency while meeting customer demand.
Some top pieces of time tracking software include:
- Timesheet (Android), free
- Timely (PC), expect to pay about $10 per month
- Fanurio (PC), $59 licensing fee
The specific features can vary significantly between scheduling and time tracking software. Take a close look at your business’s needs so you can find an option that truly helps your business improve. Many time tracking products offer trial periods that you can use to decide whether you want to commit to the full, paid version.
5. Turn to the Cloud
Cloud computing has gotten a lot of bad press lately. Celebrity scandals will do that. Despite the concerns raised by these scandals, small businesses should still consider whether they can benefit from using a secure cloud service.
Cloud computing helps many small businesses by lowering prices and improving efficiency. Some businesses choose to rely on the cloud because:
- They want to access files from any device at the office or home
- They don’t want to spend money on dedicated servers
- They know cloud services can update software faster than small offices with several computers
The cloud isn’t right for everyone, but it’s an option you should explore.
As technology advances, small businesses will have even more options. What types of products would help your business thrive? What features do you want most?
Teddy Hunt is a freelance content writer with a focus on technology. When not behind a computer, Teddy spends the majority of his free time outdoors and resides in Tampa, Florida. Follow Teddy on Twitter: @tedhunt9.