No matter what type of business you’re in, it’s important to ensure that you’re working as efficiently as possible – not only to maximise your time, but to stay competitive. Technology has developed so fast of late that yesterday’s new innovations are today’s standard operating tools – and it’s easy to lose track of all those technological developments and indeed discover which ones are essential to the development of your business and which are just a waste of your capital.
We’ve put together a round-up of five key cost-effective technological tools and small business software solutions which will assist any business to work smarter and harder – giving you time to dedicate to developing that bottom line profit.
1. Mobile Communications
It’s now rare to find any business which doesn’t make use of mobile phones to keep their team connected. If you’ve already made the leap to smartphones, have you fully researched the productivity and utility apps which will make that expensive piece of hardware a real asset on the road? Calendar applications, such as Google which can integrate with your Microsoft server, keeps everyone’s business diaries always at hand – and if your business doesn’t have a dedicated server, think about online secure file storage such as FilesAnywhere, which has its own mobile app – meaning your staff have 24/7 access to files, wherever they are.
2. Cloud Computing
It’s a phrase which seems to be on everyone’s lips at the moment – but what exactly is it? In simple terms, it means software applications are stored, managed and customised on the internet. More specifically, it means you don’t have to host, manage and update your business software – saving you valuable time and cost. There’s a wealth of cloud-based companies out there, one of which is Fusion’s online accounting software, some offer a single application while others offer a whole host of developer and software solutions. For SMEs, the rise of cloud computing offers greater flexibility, cost-effective small business software solutions and a potential end to those frustrating times we’ve all experienced when the server goes down – again.
The VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service Skype has been with us for a while, but are you using it as part of your business? Skype accounts are free to set up and calls are free to other Skype accounts – and can include groups of attendees and web conferencing too. It’s the ideal way for small business to make the first steps into teleconferencing and there are cost savings to be made by using that unlimited free call time, too
4.SMS as a marketing tool
How are you connecting with your customers? Are you using the now-traditional methods of newsletters by email – or even not connecting with them at all? If you’re conducting email campaigns, you’ll not be surprised to know that due to the familiar issue of spam, marketing emails have a less than 30% chance of being opened. When you realise that the open rate for SMS marketing messages is around 90%, it’s easy to see the value. SMS marketing campaigns can be conducted simply and easily via companies such as TextMagic via online or downloadable software and have the added benefit of being time-sensitive – great for a call to action to your sale starting tomorrow morning.
5. Social Media
Seemingly, the whole world is on some kind of social media. It’s not quite the case, but it is true that social media is the world’s number one use of the internet. That’s impressive enough for you to need to get your company on there, too. It’s not just for the big boys, either – small companies can benefit hugely by conducting a social media campaign. Plus, using Facebook and Twitter isn’t as difficult as you might think. There are plenty of good courses out there in business social media to give you a head start, which will teach you how to initiate and develop conversations with your customers, track what they’re saying about you, and build relationships with consumers and key influencers alike. If you do nothing else this year in terms of marketing innovation or small business software, make sure your social media presence is working for you.