If you’re the founder of a small business, especially if you’re running it primarily from your home office, you probably do the work of at least five or six different people at a large company. You’re in charge of accounting, marketing, networking, and selling, and it can be hard to juggle all your responsibilities and stay organized when every aspect of the business comes down to you. Luckily, you live in a technological age, where more and more gadgets and software have cropped up to make becoming an entrepreneur from your own home easier than ever before. If you’re thinking about starting a business or need help getting one off the ground, here’s a list of the most valuable tech tools for the home office. Put them on your checklist.
Most valuable tech tools for the home office
1. File Sharing on the Cloud
Most people get confused when they think of the cloud – it’s really just a term for any kind of information you can access on any device that connects to the internet. But these days, that means more than just email. There are plenty of web-based document sharing tools like GoogleDocs, or downloadable software to build cloud networks, which mean that all the electronic paperwork associated with your business can be organized, backed up, and made accessible to whoever needs to see it. This includes the scripts and information you need to build and maintain your website. Apps like Dropbox and others mean that you can access the cloud with your phone, so if there’s a problem with your site or an issue with a customer, you can work on a solution even if you’re not at your desk.
2. Good Merchant Account Software
One of the most important aspects of a home business is keeping track of earnings and expenses. Not only is it vital when tax time comes around, you can also keep track of the health of your finances so you don’t overspend. Software that is linked with your merchant account will come with extra features like Customer Relation Management, Industry Management, and POS capability for processing sales. If you sell products or services on your website, you will need to learn about payment gateways, which enable you to create an online shopping cart service that accepts credit card transactions and gets them processed by the bank. There can be a long list of overwhelming aspects to your finances, and it’s good to have software that manages them all.
3. Bluetooth, Skype, and Other Teleconferencing Tools
When it comes to things like Bluetooth and Skype, the basic idea is that you need to be personally available for customers and clients in the easiest, most personal way possible. In the old days, the success of a business depended greatly on face-to-face meetings, introducing yourself, and making personal connections. These days, technology makes that possible across great distances. Think about your options if you expand your business. Studies show that over 80 percent of American workers wish they could telecommute. Skype and teleconferencing can make it easy to hire employees and be able to provide communication and training. Even if it’s just you, chances are you will need to network with people in more ways that email and social media. Or you should.
4. A Contact Manager
This is an obvious but often overlooked part of running a business. If you want to remember important phone numbers as well as who to call when you need something, you should have a solid app for storing contact information, preferably on both your mobile and desktop. Part of running a business is knowing who you want to do business with, and if you find that particular company that offers you fast service and good prices on shipping, product parts, consulting – whatever your particular business needs are – you don’t want to lose track of them. You should be able to store relevant names, emails, and phone numbers so you know where to go if you need something quickly.
When starting a home business, you shouldn’t be afraid to look around for as much convenient technology as you can. One of the reasons most start-ups fail is that their founders get in over their heads and don’t understand the time management and organization skills required to get a business off the ground. The devices of today’s world are there for a reason, and if you learn how they can help you, you will be able to conquer the internet one dollar at a time.