Low-cost technology solutions for small enterprises
The technological advances in the last decade have been vast. These have given the opportunity for small business owners like you to make your business costs far cheaper and the business as a whole far more efficient.
Below are 10 ideas to help you make full use of technology; giving your business the upper hand in a competitive environment.
1. Business education
As a small business owner, gaining the knowledge to grow and harness your business is invaluable. The internet offers numerous sources of information on every subject which allows you, as a small business owner, to train yourself on the go.
Unfortunately, the internet can often be unreliable. When looking for free online business training programs, take care so that you don’t waste time learning from unreliable sources.
There are many one-on-one online courses that you can take to further your business education. However, this will work around the teacher’s timetable as much as it works around yours. At MachFast blogs, we offer free business advice whatever the time of day. You can pick up your tablet and read a blog from the comfort of your own home, for example.
2. Open Source Software
It’s beneficial to use open source software as it is a cheaper and often more efficient way to serve your business’ needs.
Open source software is predominantly free to use. Commercial software tools, on the other hand, usually require a monthly fee. This will become costly to your business over time, especially if you are using multiple commercial software tools.
Open source software is very flexible and can be modified to suit your business’ needs. Unlike commercial software, if you, the business owner, think there is a specific feature missing in your software you can add it in yourself: after all, all the source code is there. Naturally this requires you to be able to code, but even if you can’t, there is likely an active community of coders behind it who would produce the feature for you.
A common fear is the security of open source software. You may think, isn’t the source code open to anybody, even hackers? This is true, but there is a whole community of coders who have an invested interest to protect the software they use. The hundreds of programmers who have been using the software for years are likely to have made the software far more safe than any commercial software.
A popular office suite software is OpenOffice. This open source tool has word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, graphics, databases and more.
3. Time Tracking Tools
Optimising the productivity of your employees is a great way to save money. Increasing employee workefficiency, through time management apps, will increase the amount of work done per billable hour.
Apps like Focus Booster and Rescue Time help employees focus on the tasks you’ve set them.
Software such as Paymo and Toggl for example, help track employees time usage, time spent on different tasks and, therefore, their billable hours.
Time tracking will allow you to understand if a business idea has worked or whether you will need to re-prioritise certain tasks. Keep tabs on the productivity of business ideas over time.
4. Teleconference Tools
With the outbreak of Corona, we have got used to using many teleconference tools such as Zoom or Skype to either chat with friends and family or dial into work. These tools are also a simple way to cut costs and increase productivity.
They bridge the gap when it comes to travel. As a small business, you will often need to conduct conference calls with team members and/or clients in different locations. When done remotely through the use of technology, all travel expenses are completely cut and, unless your internet connection is down, you will see little delays: the same cannot be said for the British rail system.
Unlike telephones, you can conduct teleconferences with multiple parties without the need to pay for any special telephone or bridge line.
5. Invoicing Services
Accounting software comes in many forms, but depending on your individual needs, you may not need an extensive accounting suite to manage your invoices. In fact, a streamlined online bookkeeping service can be an appropriate alternative for your business. It’ll allow you to manage your billing process quicker and more productively.
Many invoicing services automate the process of an accountant. Using accounting services like QuickBooks will save you money and time.
When it comes to being paid by customers, technology also provides many online payment options.
6. Remote Desktop Applications
For a small business, having the ability to access your main database from any computer, tablet or smartphone is important. Whether your database is simply your computer drive or a server, remote access to it allows for maneuverability.
Software like Citrix allows remote login to both desktop and server. This will keep you, and your team, connected and able to work even when not working from the office.
7. Online Appointment Scheduling
Appointment scheduling, unlike time tracking, allows the allocation of time slots. This software organises you and your team member’s days allowing increased productivity.
Whether it is an appointment with a client, a product demo for a new prospect, or even planning a personal lunch with a friend, online appointment schedules let you manage everything in one place.
Some appointment-scheduling tools can give someone, other than yourself, access to your calendar. This allows you to create a system where someone else takes on the task of meeting management, such as a secretary for example.
8. Help Desk Applications
Customer service is important for all business owners. One of the ways you can incorporate customer service into both your business and your website is through a help desk/customer service application. These tools allow you to engage with your customers directly making the customer-response-loop faster.
Faster customer service should create happier customers. Therefore using customer service applications should make the process of managing customer relationships much smoother.
9. File Manipulation Tools
Working between an Apple system and a Microsoft system will require you to convert files into multiple formats. This is easily solved nowadays with file conversion tools. Similarly, files received in uncommon formats should be converted into more common formats before being sent to your team. This will stop any unnecessary delays.
File parsing tools can be very helpful too. As often happens, when you receive graphs in a PDF format, you are unable to use them. Parsing a PDF graph will allow you to put the graph into an excel or sheets format allowing you to run calculations on the graph.
Both of these types of tools you can get for free.
10. Setting Up a Business
Computational technology has allowed small business owners to make their enterprises far more efficient and streamlined in many areas. The speed at which you can now set up a company with MachFast is indicative of the streamlining process that technology has given many new businesses.
For example, the MachFast app lets you get a business current account and domain name in less than 10 minutes. You can form a limited company for as many shareholders and directors as you wish.
Unlike the UKs Companies House, MachFast will allow you to apply for a business current account with a few clicks. On the whole, MachFast is a quicker way of setting up a business than the Companies House too.
One of the best ways to set up a business is online. There is no paper needed, little delays and it is a landmark on the way to materialising your business idea.
Was this helpful? Are you looking for more advice starting a business? If so, check out our other blogs designed to help small business owners and creators like you.