Over 50% of all small business owners in America today are over the age of 50. As a result, small businesses are steadily losing touch with the latest technological trends relating to their industries. Studies have shown that small businesses who adopt latest technology grow faster and have a much better chance of success than those who do not. We will take you through some of the main areas of tech innovation you should pay attention to, and see which small business technology trends you should be following this year!
Picking the right technological solution should not be your only concern going into the complex and often convoluted world of tech. It is important to first see whether the problem you have identified is solved through tech better than through the old-fashioned ‘Paper and People’ method. Adopting tech simply because it exists – without assessing the ways in which it will enhance or enrich your business – will only confuse you. It might even bring productivity down! In this post, we will look at four of the most common problem areas for small businesses that can be better addressed with technology in 2016.
- Paperless Payrolls: Payroll management systems are gaining popularity, particularly among small businesses. This is because they enable you to focus more exclusively on other business priorities. Moreover, a substantial amount of money is saved by automating all actions; drawing up pay-slips, setting reminders, automating bank transactions, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements. A paperless system also eliminates waste. Xerox has shown that nearly 40% of all paper printed in offices is tossed out within a day of printing.
Recommended service: Paychex is a great platform that does all this and more. It includes benefits management, retirement solutions, and all kinds of human resource outsourcing.
- Web Based accounting: Accountants for a mid-sized business can rake in over $50,000 annually. Web Based accounting software can drastically reduce the amount spent on recording and managing finances. These tools also help reconcile foreign currencies and enable you to access data from web browsers, phones, or tablets. You can even make your finances as opaque or transparent as you want, choosing from a wide range of access control configurations. The good news is that most of these products cater specifically to small and medium sized businesses (SMB), which means all the features and integrations would be right up your alley!
Recommended service: Xero has taken the business world by storm, being employed by over 600,000 subscribers since its inception just ten years ago. Doing taxes and balancing books is a breeze, and starts at just $20 a month!
- Promotional software: There are dozens of email marketing tools available online, helping you distribute sleek and professional-looking emails with the touch of a button. By drafting templates and custom fields, they take out most of the tedium of designing and sending newsletters, flyers, or press releases to many hundreds of customers. On top of this, the better software providers also help you manage unsubscribers, broader advertising campaigns and inactive customer accounts.
Recommended service: Reach Mail is a solid market-centric software. It enables you to create, execute and manage promotional material. You can then compare the click-through rates of all the different types of content you disseminate to see which ones work better.
- Social media automation: Today, 94% of all small business owners use social media platforms such as Facebook, but less than three-fourths consider it effective. One of the common mistakes about social media marketing is to go into it without a sharply delineated plan. In fact, more than half of all small business owners insist that their social media plans have not even been formalized in writing! For this reason, automation of all your social media accounts can be extremely helpful. It not just forces you to think about online marketing in a more holistic sense, but also offers a lot of analytical information relating to views, popular topics, and conversion rates.
Recommended service: HootSuite is one of the most popular social media management tools, and is a small business technology trend you should definitely look into. It enables you to create content for all your different social media platforms. This content can then be disseminated as per a schedule, eliminating overlap of campaigns and ads.
- Embrace the cloud: Cloud computing was touted as one of the biggest revolutions in tech. While similarly big tech innovations often have steep learning curves, the cloud has been quickly normalized within most industries. In the last year alone, around 37% of small business moved to the cloud in some form. While a lot of tech solutions integrate the cloud into their operations, one of the most straightforward ways is to use it for storage. There are few better ways to organize information than transitioning into cloud storage! It’s a huge plus to have all your data at a central location, available round the clock, and from anywhere. You don’t even have to worry about scaling, backups and security.
Recommended service: Box is a well-rounded content management system for all kinds of businesses. It is an extremely efficient tool that helps you share, save and control content – all at the same time. It also offers integration with a lot of popular apps and services such as Okta, DocuSign and Slack.
- Asset tracking: Just under half of all small businesses do not track their equipment, inventory, and valuable assets. Many do not even know where most of their assets are located or the kind of condition they are in. This is why asset tracking software has become a technology trend pivotal to the success of businesses, particularly those smaller in size who find themselves unable to afford specialists for this purpose. By improving ROI, employee accountability, and utilization of equipment at your organization, asset tracking can greatly increase efficiency.
Recommended service: EZOfficeInventory is the best cloud-based asset tracking software out there. As a comprehensive asset management system, it enables you to predict future needs and account for them well in advance. EZOfficeInventory tracks who has what, which location it is at, and how it is being used. You can reserve equipment for jobs, barcode or qr code your assets, and run audits. It also comes with a handy mobile app that enables you to scan labels and track assets on the go!
- Monitor your cloud apps and services: Like a lot of businesses today, you might be subscribed to a fair number of Web Based SaaS apps and storage services e.g. Salesforce, Google Drive, Jira. Most companies try to make their clients’ experiences as secure as possible, but there’s no standard as such. There can also be hack attempts (e.g. the episode with Slack in 2015) and vulnerabilities surfacing (e.g. heartbleed). Therefore, added control and security is always useful. Having a central place to audit apps, detect threats, protect cloud data, and respond to incidents is a huge advantage. It also reduces the hassle of keeping up with multiple apps and security procedures.
Recommended service: Elastica takes your online security to the next level. It detects malicious attacks and carries out post-incident analyses to ensure that similar security breaches do not happen again. It also offers Securlets – standalone security apps geared towards specific services such as Salesforce or Dropbox.
- Protect your data: Last year alone, cyber attacks caused around $20,000 worth of damage. The disturbing news is that small businesses were victim to almost a third of these attacks, with these institutions being targeted more than ever before. We’re also more connected to the internet (3 billion people) than ever before. The web penetration at workplaces has also increased dramatically over the last few years. This is why data protection has become even more important for smaller businesses in recent times.
Recommended: Symantec offers security solutions to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), acknowledging that their needs are significantly different from the privacy and protection needs of larger businesses. The service includes data privacy as well as data-loss prevention. It also has additional features which help you secure your emails and provide you with endpoint protection.