If you’re in the majority of Small Business owners who struggle with making technology work…
Embrace Technology and Drive Business Performance
Unless you’re an internet entrepreneur, many business owners don’t like technology.
Maybe you see yourself purely as a shopkeeper or craftsman, a chef or a beautician and don’t want to learn all that ‘technical stuff’, and you see your business just being about your skills and your people; computers don’t come into it.
I’m sorry to break it to you, but gone are the days of the corner shop working off the back of an envelope; any business that doesn’t embrace the age of technology will be left behind!
What can business technology do for you?
The adoption and utilisation of technology in your business is a critical pillar of competitiveness and growth. Among other things, the right business technology can:
- Drive more income into your business.
- Save money through automation and cost controls.
- Provide better access to business information.
- Help you run a more efficient business.
- Make your business look bigger.
There is enormous value and opportunity to implement technology to quickly and easily provide information on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to your business, such as stock levels, sales trends, year-on-year comparisons, hours worked by employees, chargeability, efficiency, utilisation and more. This type of information can help you to focus on key areas of your business, run processes more efficiently, save costs, maximise profits and present a company image that is bigger than your physical size.
So, what does business technology look like?
There are some great technological tools available that can help you run an efficient, effective, profitable business, ranging from the simple spreadsheet to high-tech smartphone applications that link to barcode readers so you can keep track of your stock levels. The great thing is, you don’t need to know how this technology works, just how to use it.
If an 80-year-old grandmother can operate an iPad and use Facebook to keep in touch with her grandchildren, then surely someone who has managed to start their own business can embrace a bit of technology!
Technology comes in many forms. In your business, it might include:
- A digital phone system incorporating Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP).
- Fast internet.
- A virtual private network to enable remote access for offsite/home-based workers.
- Fast, reliable and up-to-date network infrastructure, servers, computers, laptops, printers, smartphones and tablets.
- A fax machine (only joking – just seeing if you were paying attention! Fax machines are ‘so 2005’).
- Cloud-based data access, backup and disaster recovery.
- A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system with mobile access to enable on-the-move updates and avoid double handling.
- A modern accounting system.
- Specialist equipment for your area of business.
- Project management tools, including job cost software to track time and expenses.
- Email filtering and management, including autoresponders for email sales, marketing and newsletters.
- Mobile receipt tracking and handling to manage staff expenses.
- Speech to text converters and text to speech converters.
- Time management systems.
- Quality certifications.
- Automated appointment reminders.
- Customer loyalty programs.
- Location-based marketing.
- And many more …
Wherever you are on the technology scale in your business, there’s always room for improvement! If you’re coming off a low base, there are big gains to be had if you’re willing to explore the enormous opportunities that technology can provide in your business. Or if you’re currently scoring well in the technology stakes, it means you’ve made some great strides already and have the right mindset to see what else is out there to help you take things to the next level in your business.
A word of warning from the founder of Microsoft.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft once said, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
This serves as a word of warning from someone who clearly knows his stuff; be careful about which technology you adopt and how you deploy it. Just because something sounds cool and seems like a good idea doesn’t mean it will necessarily help your business. The commercial landscape is littered with stories of companies that adopted some new tech, thinking it was the answer to everything, only to find it didn’t do the job and then had to be replaced by some other system.
Make sure you do your due diligence on your technology choices to confirm that what you’re taking on is a good fit for your business; the right selection could take you all the way up to the ‘Penthouse’, but the wrong one could send you tumbling down to the ‘Basement’.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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