Modern technology has been a part of almost all facets of modern-day living. It transformed everything from how we get information to how we shop. In running a small business, technology can simplify and streamline various operations, saving you time, energy, and money.
Did you know that small businesses that employ digital initiatives earn twice as much revenue per employee, experience more significant revenue growth rates, and have above-average employment growth?
If you’re a small business owner, your days are full, from updating your marketing plan and meeting with partners to keeping on top of customers' data and other administration tasks- It’s easy to become overwhelmed and exhausted. Fortunately, technological advances in the form of software and apps mean that today, plenty of digital tools are there to help you streamline your tasks and make your work less stressful.
But with so many options available, how will you know the most effective for your business? In this article, we’ll share some recommendations for tools to help make your life easier.
Whether you run a retail business, own a food franchise shop, or work as a manager in a coffee shop, you can benefit from these ten pieces of small business technology.
Benefits of Using Tech Tools for Small Businesses
Before we dive into our list, let’s explore some of the benefits of using technology in running your small business.
Technology saves your time. It saves you time while automating and streamlining other tasks so you can tend to the more important tasks in running a business. Instead of toiling over manual tasks such as data entry and invoicing, you can invest that time engaging with your customers and prospective partners, improving your products and services, and other efforts to grow your business.
Technology saves you money. For example, accounting software might reveal insights that show you’ve been paying too much tax. A backup solution for your files and documents can ensure that you don't lose data or experience unpleasant downtime that leads to customer agitation or revenue loss. A modern POS will ensure that you can still make sales and record each, even during an internet downtime.
Technology supports the New Normal. The new post-pandemic paradigm represents people and businesses wanting to limit in-person interactions due to ongoing health concerns and regulations. The digital nature of software and apps allows people to keep “business-as-usual” activities from wherever they are and from any device. Additionally, most tools are available as software-as-a-service (SaaS), so you only pay for the features you need; you can cancel your service easily if you decide a tool isn’t right for you.
From the benefits above, it’s clear that choosing the right tech tools and knowing how to make the most of them in your small businesses is crucial. Now, it’s time to suggest solutions for you to consider in each tech tool category. We’ll also discuss their advantages and potential drawbacks or limitations.
1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
No matter what kind of business you run, your success heavily relies on how satisfied your customers are. Therefore, you need to generate leads and convert them into clients ready to dish out money in order to make a profit. A customer relationship management (CRM) is a cloud-based software that lets you track and manage your business’s relationships with potential leads and your already existing customers.
A CRM helps improve usage growth, improve lead conversion, and decrease marketing costs. In today’s market, there are various tools you can choose from, allowing you to pick a product that best suits your business size, type, and needs.
2. Payment Processing System
Regardless of what industry you may be in, payment processing is a crucial business function. As a small business owner, you want to make it as easy as possible to accept different types of payment options from your customers. This spares them the agitation at checkout and improves their overall experience with you. For example, if a consumer can’t pay with their preferred method, it’s easy for them to walk out your door to another store.
A payment processing system lets you put your customers' convenience first by accepting various payment options, like credit card and online payment gateways (e.g., PayPal and SecurePay). There are payment processing platforms that accommodate credit and debit cards. PayPal, Venmo, and digital wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay are great options that are also starting to become increasingly popular.
3. Cybersecurity Solution
Technology may make modern life easier, but you can’t let your guard down because they also bring in new threats. Cybersecurity is a grave concern for any business owner. You want to protect confidential company data, like your employees’ Social Security numbers. You also need to safeguard customer information, like their card payment details.
Luckily, there are data security solutions that ensure the integrity of your digital tools and systems from cybersecurity threats. The proper protection defends your important and sensitive business information against cyberattacks and threats.
4. Project Management Platform
It is important to keep track of your project deliverables and deadlines for your business to succeed. This ensures the prompt delivery of your goods and services, which is critical to customer satisfaction. Managing multiple projects can get tricky, especially when many people are involved in your team. It gets even more complicated when you have staff working remotely.
This is where a Project management software solution comes in handy. These tools allow you to see who is doing what and ensure projects are advancing on time. You can also use these to assign specific tasks and deliverables to individuals and follow up on assignments. Messaging functions within the tools so everyone is always kept in the loop.
5. Inventory Management Software
Inventory tracking is likely one of your main concerns if your business sells products. You must ensure you have enough goods to meet your customer demand. At the same time, you also want to avoid overstocking, which takes up storage space and could leave you with unsold products you can’t move.
Inventory management software can help your business facilitate data analytics and reporting and simplify operational workflows that involve inventory. With robust inventory management software, it’s easier to grow as a retailer. Finally, inventory management software can make it easier to track products so your customers are happy.
6. Social Media
Social media has become more than just for posting photos with friends and family. It has become a powerful marketing and engagement tool for small businesses. You can use your social media platform to attract new customers, transform them to leads, and strengthen engagement with existing customers. You can also encourage a positive customer experience and enhance loyalty by sharing exciting deals and promotions through social media.
There are many social media platforms today: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Facebook. Our advice here is to focus on one or two that best align with your target audience instead of getting on every network possible. For example, younger audiences are more likely to be on TikTok, while older consumers are more active on Facebook. You can also use automation tools to post across platforms, saving time and effort.
7. Business Website
Your business website is one of your most valuable digital tools. This space allows you to give consumers critical information about your business, such as your product offerings and services, prices, and business hours. You can generate new business leads by optimizing your website for search engines.
Let's put it this way; your website is the digital storefront for your business. Not having a website makes your company look unprofessional and can turn off consumers. There are tools and services that make you create a site quickly and easily.
8. Location-Based Technology
Thanks to advances in mobile technology and GPS, consumers can quickly use location-based tools to find services and products in their vicinity. This is another way to attract consumers and boost your business’s online presence. A localized web presence is critical to ensure your business appears in area-specific listings.
Ensure your business name, address, and contact information are consistent on all these platforms. Additionally, have your business listed on Google Business Profile. Create a profile and link it directly to Google Maps to increase your findability when customers search on Google. Plus, you can accept online orders and reservations from your profile, making it simple for customers to get takeout or dine-in. You can also get customer reviews through this platform. Such testimonials and user-generated content are excellent marketing tools.
9. Customer Interaction Management
Your small business’s success relies on customer satisfaction. Nowadays, there are multiple ways to interact with consumers, including chatbots, social media, review sites, phone, email, and website contact forms. As a small business owner, keeping track of all these communication platforms can be overwhelming.
A customer interaction management solution lets you monitor your consumer interactions in one place. You enjoy better customer communications management and can improve the consumer experience with more responsive, real-time communications.
As a small business owner or manager, you face a lot of challenges throughout the day, enough to keep you up at night. This is why it is essential for you to invest in the right tools to ensure the processes run smoothly while minimizing work on your side.
A POS system is one of the most important tools you must have in your business. It will save you a significant amount of time and money, so you can spend more time engaging with your customers and building your brand, rather than sorting through piles of cash register receipts and putting out fires.
A modern POS has a good report and summary feature called the Back Office that can help you have a clear overview of your overall business performance. With the use of a highly intuitive interface and neat visualizations with charts and graphs, you can have a complete overview of your business and how well you are doing. With a cloud-based POS, you can still have a good grip of your business performance while being away on a retreat or taking care of other more important matters. POS today has a powerful Inventory Management feature that can update your stocks in one click through purchase orders and also easily send orders to your suppliers. The system will automatically track it in the system and calculate the average price of received items.
Making the transition from an old-school cash register to a POS system can increase the efficiency on the front and back ends of your business, significantly shortening the list of things you are going to stress about.
Embrace Small Business Technology
Small business owners have to wear many hats. You juggle tasks from store management to accounting and human resources. The above tools will make it easier to stay on top of everything.
The size of your business, the industry in which you operate, and your budget will influence which digital tools you decide on. However, you can’t understate the value you’ll gain from these tools thanks to their ability to automate much of the time and effort involved in mundane tasks. Besides, in a post-pandemic world, these tools can help satisfy people's desire to run their businesses remotely.
Most of these tools offer free trial options, so try a few out and observe which ones work for you. You can also ask for feedback from your team, customers, and partners about which ones they enjoy or don’t enjoy working with. Then, once you’ve identified them, you can start scaling them up.