Technology in Modern Business
Gone are the days where a simple checkbook, cash register, and supply log and clipboard were enough to run your business. Business has evolved into not only an entity that needs technology to thrive, but also to survive and compete against other small businesses. In fact, the Boston Consulting Group found in a study that small and medium sized businesses that use new technology had 10 points higher job growth and 11 points higher revenue growth than those small businesses that did not.
Unfortunately, we cannot rely on simply stocking the cash register with atm paper rolls, buying pens and using calculators to run our business anymore. In order to grow your business and make it prosper, you must understand the basics of how to use technology to cut costs, stand out among the competition, and make the best products.
What are the Uses of Technology?
Some of the more obvious uses of technology might already be apparent to current business owners. For example, data center service makes up a huge part of running daily tasks for businesses. This includes, among other things, hardware installation and maintenance on work computers, internet access, controlled backup and archiving of business transactions, and firewalls and malware protection on office computers to name a few. But even with these simple and wide uses of technology, the competitive market today might require businesses to make use of technology in other ways.
If you’re looking for ways to make your business more competitive and attractive for both customers and future talent, and also looking to maximize profit, then look no further. These ten tips for using technology to maximize your business efforts are just a drop in the pool of endless possibilities.
1. Use Technology to get an Online Loan
One of the biggest trials you will face as a business owner will be finding the right loan to suit your business. There are different types of loans available to business owners already. Much like a homeowner looking to buy a fixer-upper house will use a 203k loan, a business owner will utilize different types of loans according to his or her business. For instance, some businesses might use equipment financing loans to get a lower APR, while others might use a business line of credit to get approved quicker. It all depends on the needs of the business and the business owner.
However, one of the best loan options for small business owners is an online loan. Online loans are now available to those business owners who have access to online technology, meaning almost everyone, and have traditionally quicker approval times, potentially lower interest rates, and reduced fees among other benefits. Online loans make their approval decisions based on up-to-date business health, and not just a business owner’s credit report, making it easier to be approved. In addition, online loans offer the same products as mentioned above, including line-of-credit, short-term and long-term business loans. More importantly, because online loans use independent forms of verifying the financial stability and health of a business, this increases the chances of a new business being approved. Overall, using online technology to use an online loan rather than going through a brick-and-mortar bank might be a better option for those business owners that are new, need approval quickly, need flexible financing options, and can prove their business will take off.
2. Grow your Following using Social Media
There are now more than 32.5 million businesses in the United States, including realtors, small business owners, and independent contractors to name a few. This means that there is now more competition among varied businesses than ever. Social media technology is a great tool to break away from the competition, and better reinforce your brand image, name, and target audience.
Traditional platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can help you not only reach out to people through the internet, but also promote to local audiences deals, events, and other community outreach efforts. In addition, a certain aesthetic is now the common theme for Instagram, giving your business the ability to give itself a personality. For example, are you a tea shop that wants to emphasize your love of reading and attract bibliophiles? Or are you a trendy cafe that wants to attract a hipster, music-loving audience and wants to promote musicians? Personalizing your media page will not only attract the audience you want, but make you stand out against other businesses and give you more than a standard image.
3. Update to Using Newer Technology
One of the biggest ways to gain customer satisfaction is by utilizing the newest forms of hardware for your business. In fact, a recent survey by Microsoft found that 90% of customers would rather take this business elsewhere than work with a company that utilizes outdated technology. Many businesses such as restaurants, cafes, botiques, and even private ambulance services all use updated hardware to streamline their business transactions. Moreover, this streamlines, quick and easy process makes customers feel better about their financial safety, customer privacy, and business practices among other things. All these elements can contribute to retaining a customer base that 40% of businesses say is their biggest issue.
Updated technology does not only mean upgrading from wired technology to wireless tablets and ipads. Using modern payment services such as Google pay, Samsung Pay, Star Rewards for frequent customers, and mobile devices for customers are just some of the examples of updated hardware that can benefit your business.
4. Use Cloud Computing
Technology has evolved to make use of offline services that can make it easier, safer, and cost less for businesses to access data 24/7. Cloud computing is the technology that makes this possible. Cloud computing, put simply, is the ability of a business to run workloads remotely over the internet in a commercial provider’s data center. This is what’s known as a public cloud model, though private cloud models and hybrid cloud models exist as well.
A myriad of public cloud services, including Amazon Web Services, Salesforce’s CRM system, and Microsoft Azure are all viable options to help run your business smoothly and save costs on data storage. For example, maintaining wired technology, hardware, electricity to run the hardware, and hiring IT experts to upkeep all of this technology adds up in cost. However, using a cloud network saves costs on all these items, and typically a business only pays for the cloud service they need. In addition, security for cloud computing is excellent, and you can add more cloud services or scale back as your business demands change.
5. Use Mobile Device Technology for Customers and Employees
There are several different ways for businesses to utilize mobile technology. The ability for a business to use mobile devices will benefit not only customers, but also millennial workers that want the ability to work from home. Attracting talent for a business, like customers, is difficult, and when they walk through your doors, it’s best to offer a plethora of benefits to keep them coming back. With utilizing mobile technology, workers can be given the chance to finish assignments at home in case of emergencies or for child-care reasons. In addition, working from home gives workers the opportunity to feel independent, respect their bosses, and increase productivity by encouraging finishing assignments on time. Taking away the perk from mobile, remote work is sure to motivate employees to continue to work sufficiently and independently if need be. Other mobile services for workers can include online monitoring of health benefits, using apps to schedule their work, and being updated on business tasks through different apps and notification systems.
For customers, mobile devices can be used to access apps for the business, and also be a part of the same notification system as employees. For instance, being able to send out texts about deals, closures, and events for your business can help remind customers of your business and share the news with others. Mobile apps to rate your service, order food ahead of time, place pick-up orders, customize orders, and so on can all help expand your platform, save time and streamline business transactions.
6. Improve Manufacturing
Technology has evolved a long way, and it is essential to use the latest technology to aid in manufacturing for your business. The newer the technology used, the higher quality, and better product a business will provide. For instance, using new technology to design and print silk-screen shirts, manufacture durable clothes and business cards can all help to increase your reputation. In addition, for businesses such as machine shop services, utilizing better technology is not only essential product quality, but also safety. Better technology systems that minimize the risk to workers can also help steer you away from lawsuits, accidents, and a fast turn-around rate.
7. Use Technology to Improve Customer Service
As mentioned above, apps such as Yelp and Glassdoor are now available to customers and employees alike to give a review of your business. However, using technology for more than just reviews is essential to keep customers happy. Being able to quickly take in a large volume of calls, such as with a service provider, process a large amount of orders quickly and without error, and being able to get back to a customer complaint quickly are just some aspects of customer service that need newer technology to function. Do not skimp on these services, as a negative customer service experience can ruin the reputation, and future, of your business.
8. Use Technology for Budget Tracking
Running a small business requires a large amount of accounting, financial knowledge and budget tracking. With the right technology, keeping track of budgeting for projects, employee expenses, business expenses, and so on can help keep your business stay organized. In addition, using technology such as Mint and Quickbooks can help keep your business costs when it comes to tax time. Utilizing the most deductions, keeping track of costs, profits, and quarterly tax payments will be useful, and help save your business from possible IRS fines.
9. Start an Online Business Venture
If your business operates now through a traditional shop, you should consider making an online market and presence to increase profits. For example, if you sell clothes at a boutique, consider opening up an online store, or offering products not normally found within your store. Sadly, the online market venue is one that a good percentage of small businesses do not utilize. In fact, according to a survey done by clutch.co, around 50 percent of business do not even have a website! This is staggering, considering 87% of people use their smart phone to shop online.
This untapped online market can increase your profit, help you market to more customers, and overall help your business grow. Be sure to utilize technology to optimize ease of online payment as well as security for customers.
10. Connect with other Business Online
We’ve already covered how social media can help you grow your presence and utilize the platform of other businesses. However, through online technology, another benefit is the ability to connect and work with other businesses to combine both your audiences and maximize customers. For example, a coffee shop promoting a business that offers an emergency plumbing service, or manufactures coffee beans for their cafe, will not only promote their business, but also reach audiences that are looking for those services as well. Businesses might also offer you money to promote their business through your Website or social media.
The Overall Picture
Technology now has the ability to make or break your business. Whether it’s promoting and marketing, improving customer service, keeping talent and saving on costs, technology is now an essential building block for businesses. These ten ways are just a small example of how to use technology to save, promote, and grow your business.