Capital is possibly the most common reason hindering SME's from launching out. Small business owners spend months trying to acquire loans from banks often with little success and when the money finally comes, it's becomes surprisingly difficult to keep a rein on spending all of it.
Telephone and internet connections, shipping contracts, printing, stationery are some of the numerous day to day requirements of running an office and the expenses tend to add up.
Thankfully, operating business in the 21st Century comes with its perks. Technology is not only available to large companies but is also now affordable for small businesses including the possibility of integrated technologies that can provide services of two or more functions at the same time. Another advantage of technology is that it breaks the barriers of location, space and time.
New technologies have become increasingly simplified and user friendly so everyone can benefit from them regardless of age, physical ability or type of business; there really is something for everyone.
The following are some ways you can ditch analogue and go digital to help your business save time, effort and most important money.
1. Switch to a small business VoIP - A traditional phone system is inflexible; it uses specialized equipment and can do only voice calls and fax. A small business voice over internet protocol, VoIP, on the other hand gives you a communications solutions that combines voice, data and video. You will save money from travel costs by using collaborating tools like web and video conferencing. Your voice and data networks are more secure and you no longer have to pay for long distance and other phone charges. Other features like call forwarding, voice mail and caller ID also comes with the package at no extra cost.
How about effort? Your employees can now work remotely from home or anywhere other than the office because they can easily access your network. With the 'presence information' technology, you can tell which of your employee is available or not, see who they are on the phone with and monitor where they are working from - the office or otherwise.
The VoIP also has text chat functions, call recording and so much more.
2. Go paperless -
Aside the fact that you save more trees, this option is relatively cheaper because you cut costs in storage and printing which involves the printer, ink and paper. Electronic invoicing and receipts via email is convenient becoming more acceptable for small business owners. Customers too can easily recall receipt or coupons in their email for returns or discounts.
Small businesses are fast ditching traditional cash registers for mobile payment systems. It is more secure, reliable and with your smart phone transferring and receiving money, your business travels typically with you.
3. Social media marketing - You save overhead cost because one person can manage all your social media accounts and that's all you will pay for because most social media tools are free. Find the social media platform that best reaches your market and focus on them, you really don't have to be on every platform there is out there. Be sure to link your social media accounts and most important your posts should link customers back to your website.
Your content is a reflection of your brand so make sure it's great and interact with your market consistently and frequently.
4. Work with the cloud - The most obvious use of the cloud is storage. Data stored in the cloud is as secure as any physical data storage and saves operational storage cost. However, cloud technology offers a wide range of services like analytics tools, expense management, e-mail marketing, customer service management, and so on.
The cloud also makes collaboration on business projects from different locations easy in terms of file sharing and access to documents. Like the social media platforms, you need to determine the right cloud tool that will enhance your business process and effectively grow with your company.
Finally, don't be afraid to partner with new start ups and try out new technologies out there. Be creative and brave, use software trial periods to see if they work for you, if they don't you can easily uninstall or delete them. Customer feedback on new technologies is also encouraged if customers will be using them and when you find a cost efficient technology that works for you, stick to it.