Whether it’s building log cabins in the Alaskan wilderness or offering self-defence classes in the local gym, technology is going to play an integral role in your business. However non-technological your business seems it is still a business and all businesses can benefit from technology.
It is vital for small business owners to recognise which technologies can genuinely improve their business and help them grow. Beyond the basic desktop there are some very useful technologies that often get overlooked. There may also be one or two you have thought about but decided not to implement. Here are five technology essentials that you may not have noticed or may need to re-evaluate.
Tablets are the quintessential technology that nobody thinks they need until they get one. Then they can’t imagine how they ever got on without one. The applications of tablets to any given business aren’t always readily apparent. Not designed for one particular task, they are capable of many.
Sales demonstrations are one of the most useful applications of tablets in business but the range of apps specifically designed for tablets means that everything from stock checks to organizing leads can be carried out more easily.
2. Collaboration Capability
The internet has made a lot of things possible. One of the more useful for the small business person is online collaboration. This might be as simple as sharing a draft brochure with a designer through Google docs or you might use a more comprehensive collaboration utility that allows you to complete a whole project with a wide group of people.
The essential benefit of collaborative technology is that it gives you access to expertise and advice that you would not otherwise have without spending a lot of money on private consultants. As a bonus it can stop your inbox from getting choked with emails.
3. A (Good) Website
Surely every modern business has a website? It seems obvious that every modern business needs a website but not everyone recognises how critical an element of the business it is. About the only thing that should come before the website is a name.
Often, business owners think they can wait until the business is well established before they need to invest in a website. Others think a placeholder website will suffice rather than implementing a fully featured site. The simple fact is that your competition will have websites that do an excellent job of promoting their product or service. Until you do the same you will always be catching up.
4. Data Storage and Back Up
Businesses such as banks that store other people’s critical data have a wealth of measures to ensure the safety of that data. But even small businesses now need to recognise the value of the data they store, especially when it is digital.
Sales records, leads and client data are not just useful when you need to compile tax returns or send an invoice. Over the years that data will grow into an invaluable resource that can inform you in making better business decisions.
There are many relatively inexpensive options available depending on the extent of your back up requirements. A physical onsite server may be enough for some or data can be stored directly on the cloud. Managed IT services and even disaster recovery services can be engaged for those with broader back up requirements.
5. Smart Hardware
Not computers that can think for themselves but hardware that is designed intelligently, that is economical, energy efficient and flexible. When you purchase new hardware such as computers or laptops you should consider what tasks you need it to carry out, if a different device could carry out multiple roles at once, how much energy a particular device will use over its lifetime, if a more expensive machine might offer better value overall.
By spending just a little extra time considering your hardware choices you can potentially get a lot more out of the technology you buy.