That the world is rapidly transforming on account of technology is no longer up for debate. Industries as diverse as medicine, finance, and even real estate barely resemble their former selves. As a small-business owner, you’ve probably seen some radical changes yourself on account of technology’s ever-expanding reach — even if you hung out your first shingle just a few short years ago. Whether you’ve readily embraced the tech revolution or you’re dragging your feet like a true Luddite, there are probably a few areas where you need to embrace the onslaught of zeros and ones. Here are six tech-centered fixes and changes almost guaranteed to help any small business improve its operations and bottom line that you needed to adopt yesterday.
1. A Managed Service Provider
Known as an MSP, a managed service provider takes on some or all of the responsibilities of your small business’s IT department. From staying abreast of software updates to ensuring data storage is on-track, when you entrust your information tech needs to an MSP, you not only free up funds in maintaining your own in-house IT department, you also sidestep much of the costs of staying current with the tech that affect your business. Whether you need Maryland IT support or IT support in the Portland area, an MSP can make staying on top of your business’s tech needs a lot simpler.
2. Affordable POS Solutions
For years, small businesses had to either pony up serious money in order to accept debit and credit cards or forego plastic altogether. While accepting cash for services and products can keep you in business in some industries, in today’s tech-centered world of payment options, most small businesses stand to lose out on a lot of sales by being cash only. Thankfully, affordable POS solutions for processing plastic abound, and all you need is a mobile device, an app, and a Wi-Fi signal. Whether your sales are online, in-store, or both, there are plenty of secure software options that will keep your costs low and your customers’ data secure.
3. The Cloud
By now, almost every small business performs at least some of its operations in the cloud, but you should consider putting “everything” there. From accounting and time tracking to productivity and collaboration, cloud-based software and services free up money and time. Even if all you do is work with the suite of services offered by Google, you’ll find that productivity and efficiency are more easily attained in your business and between your employees. Especially because the cloud offers the option of working remotely or via a mobile device, you and your team can find new ways, new locations, and new flexibility in your quest to get work done.
4. A Mobile Website
The world is quickly becoming more and more mobile, and if your business’s website has not yet been optimized to take advantage of mobile users, you’re missing out on potential business even as you read this sentence. Laptop sales and desktop computer sales are declining, but tablets and smartphones are continuing to find their way into more and more hands around the globe. Traditional websites won’t work with mobile devices’ operating systems and smaller screens, which means a mobile user trying to access your site will run into trouble and likely head to a competitor. Hire a Web developer to redesign your site so it’s responsive and can work on any screen or operating system that tries to access it.
5. Automated Marketing
There are hosts of reasons why so many small businesses fail, but one of the main ones is a lack of marketing know-how. The Internet has vastly changed the ways in which customers find out about products and services, and it’s also provided you, the small business owner, with another vast change: the availability of automated marketing. Numerous cloud-based software applications can be called upon to automate some of the more routine tasks of marketing, including updating social media sites and sending out timed email newsletters. While you’ll still need a solid marketing plan, an automated marketing service can help you pull of your marketing in a timely fashion without needing to hire a massive team or firm to assist you.
6. Better Security
Many small-business owners foolishly think that hackers only go after the big fish in the Internet’s sea — companies like Home Depot and Target. Increasingly, however, small businesses are being targeted as cybercriminals discover that small to mid-size businesses tend to have less robust security. Don’t become the victim of a cyberattack. Get the best and most-up-to-date security you can afford, and be sure to update it regularly.
It can be difficult to stay on top of all the ways technology is changing the world, but for the small-business owner, it is essential. At the very least, make sure your small business has adopted these six tech-centered fixes, and you’ll at least be ready to do business in 2016.
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