If you’re like most small business owners, you will always be finding methods to increase productivity and efficiently manage your cash flow.
As a small business, there are already plenty of challenges, but now that an inflation is upon us it’s important to take extra steps to improve operations.
Small businesses are facing a problematic challenge in today’s world; they are having trouble competing with larger and more established companies. While this has always been an issue, the advent of AI and automation has accelerated the gap between small and large businesses.
Unfortunately, small businesses simply do not have the same budget for technology as big businesses do, and the lack of resources puts them at an automatic disadvantage. Technology offers so much opportunity to increase efficiency, productivity, and customer engagement—all things that can give bigger players an edge.
By investing in technology such as automated processes and marketing tools, large enterprises can move faster and better leverage their data for greater insights. For many small businesses trying to outrun the competition without access to cutting-edge technologies will feel overwhelming, so let’s have a look at the essentials.
Tools that maximise your time are the equivalent of saving money, and project management applications are part of that list. This tool enables businesses to manage multiple projects and tasks in an organised, efficient manger – letting your team focus on their work in a streamlined process.
Project management systems have come a long way in recent years and there are many features that small businesses can take advantage of. Some powerful features include task tracking, resource allocation, portfolios and Gantt charts for measuring progress over time.
Because small businesses usually have fewer resources, these can bridge the gap by assisting in planning out complex projects with ease and ensuring that all team members are working towards the same goal. Some project management software comes with integrated analytics capabilities so users can track progress across multiple projects at once – this will help teams understand how they perform across all tasks and identify areas which require improvement.
The bottom line is, if you’re a small business that needs to streamline tasks, track progress and increase transparency – project management tools are the way to go. Asana is a great example of a project management application, whilst also being easy to learn.
Managing important data
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a powerful and quintessential tool for businesses of all sizes to improve customer service, increase sales and bolster overall productivity.
Running a business without a CRM is like riding a bike without wheels, so be sure to acquire this as the first tool in your repertoire.
CRM software is used to effectively manage customer data and track interactions with potential customers, allowing businesses to gain insight into their behaviour. This knowledge is important for small businesses as they get the chance to create stronger relationships with their customers.
It also saves cash flow with your marketing efforts by increasing knowledge on target markets, which will assist in creating targeted campaigns. CRM software is also utilised to automate sales pipelines so that leads are followed up on quickly, allowing businesses to close deals faster.
But that’s not all.
CRM software can simplify communication between departments. With a unified system for managing contacts and tracking customer conversations, everyone across the business can stay informed about consumer activities without having to go through multiple channels or platforms. Conversations with customers on platforms such as Facebook Messenger chats or Twitter DMs can all be monitored to ensure quality control.
This makes it easier for teams to stay organised throughout the sales process, which is what a small business needs. The software’s customizable reports make it simple to quickly identify areas in need of improvement or where opportunities may exist for growth.
Overall, without a CRM smaller businesses will struggle to keep up with competition and miss out on growth potential. If you were only able to choose one of the technologies from the ones listed in this article, we’d recommend a CRM software.
No small business has the time to manually send out marketing campaigns via email. Undoubtedly, tasks like this should be automated and luckily there’s plenty of options available to do this.
Applications such as MailChimp are a great example of giving businesses the capability to personalise messages for each customer that’s sent immediately after they make a purchase or sign up for a service – perfect for building trust and loyalty within your target audience.
They also have the option of sending newsletters and just about everything you can think of through email in an automated fashion – keeping your customers in the loop with frequent emails is a great method to remind them of your brand.
And it’s small automations like these which make life as a business owner much easier.
Managing your inventory
Have you ever walked into a store after seeing a product is in stock online, only to be told it’s sold out?
That’s called an inventory management failure.
If your business involves selling products, then inventory tracking and management will be of concern. This technology will ensure you avoid overstocking and mitigate the risk of providing customers the wrong information in terms of what stock is available.
This is a simple customer service facing tool which small businesses should have to streamline operational workflow.
According to BullGuard’s research, this year up to 43% of small business owners have no cybersecurity defence plan and nearly 60% believe they are unlikely to be targeted by cybercriminals.
Why would a cybercriminal attack a small business? It’s understandable to think that you’re an unlikely target when the news only mentions large corporations with lots of cash – but what’s preventing them from attacking someone with no cybersecurity?
Small business owners are confident with their safety, yet majority of their staff have zero cybersecurity training.
User consumer-grade cybersecurity is the bare minimum to protect your data. Small businesses need to safeguard themselves as any ransomware software can be devastating and take a long time to recover from. Sourcing business level security isn’t difficult and you’re cybersecurity software should be running on the day of the purchase.
Think of this technology as saving cash in the long run.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a driver of efficient operations – the theme of all the technology listed in this article.
AI is revolutionising the way small businesses operate, saving them time and money while improving their customer service. AI systems can independently analsze data to identify patterns, trends, and correlations to make predictions based on that data. This means that instead of relying on manual processes to collect and analyse data, small businesses can turn to AI-driven tools to provide actionable insights quickly and accurately.
But keep in mind, a degree of manual input is required and AI can’t replace your team.
Another powerful use of AI is content generation – take ChatGPT as an example. While it’s not at the stage of being your sole source of content, it can greatly speed up the process and help with the ideation phase. Whether you’re creating blogs, social media posts, video scripts, marketing plans, stories, emails or just about anything you can think of, the AI will generate content for you to work from.
The best part is it’s free! There’s no personal investment involved other than the time taken to learn its functions.
Choose what’s necessary
Your business may not require or be able to purchase all of this technology. Often times, businesses tend to rush and acquire a lot of technology without knowing how to optimise its usage, which results in a resource being underutilized -a true waste of capital.
Research what technology is most relevant to your business and ensure it’s something your business will make the most of.