Although we might take its presence in our lives for granted, technology really has changed the way we do business. Thirty years ago, new businesses would have had to jump through hundreds of hoops to get customers to notice them, and possibly bankrupt themselves in the process. Nowadays most people only need a laptop to get their initial startup off the ground, and they can take time building a following before they start expanding the business they have started. Even if you don’t think you have the budget to expand your small business, technology allows you to go at your own pace without blowing your funds on one aspect; you can focus on marketing, sales, and promotions equally. Let technology take your business to the next level and enjoy the steady climb.
Expanding your team
There are two sides to an increasing workload in your business; on the one hand, it’s a sign that people love what you’re selling and it confirms that you made the right choice to go down this route, but on the other hand it’s too much for you to handle on your own. However, the decision to hire more people is not an easy one to make, especially if you mostly work from home instead of an office. Fortunately, technology opens up your options in regards to getting the best team possible.
So far, telecommuting is a widely untapped, cost-effective, business tool . Once you’re earning enough money to expand your business, telecommuting will save you from having to search for an office building. You could keep working from home if that’s what suits you best, and you can use the money you’ve saved on renting a space to further invest in your business, or it pay your new employees.
Telecommuting could also benefit your business by increasing your talent pool; there are probably hundreds of people who would be happy to work for you, but they live too far away for commuting to be practical. If they have the option of working from home, they are more likely to apply for a job with your company, providing you with more talent to drive your business forward.
You should also consider the potential of all your prospective employees, instead of just looking at their achievements. The world is full of graduates and young people who are eagerly looking for work. All they need is a foot in the door, and they will work hard for the person who hires them. They’re more likely to favour a telecommuting job because it saves them money on moving closer to their job or from expensive commutes to the office. The best part for you is, they’ll only be expecting entry level positions and salaries, so you can keep your employment costs low. Additionally, you’ll be the one coaching them in your industry, so you could have efficient and enthusiastic workers for a long time to come.
Additionally, studies suggest that telecommuting allowances and other types of flexible work arrangements have positive implications for employee morale and job satisfaction, both of which are positively correlated with productivity. Therefore, you’re actually benefitting your business by giving your employees to flexibility. If you need some face to face time with your employees, it’s easy to schedule a monthly meeting, either through Skype, or the occasional coffee meeting. Considering they don’t have to make the journey on a daily basis, they might not mind this so much.
Staying in touch
Once you’ve built the best team for your business, technology can help you stay in touch with them instantly. Sure, emails are useful, but you can waste a lot of time waiting for a response. Instead, use such as Slack, Hipchat, or Campfire to instantly pass work updates to your colleagues, share files, start conversations for group projects, and automate tasks. There are also many phone monitoring apps for android that can help you track what your employees are doing on their phones while they’re supposed to be working. Apps like Shadow SPY can even track their WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger conversations. RescueTime allows you to set a productivity goal, and it will block Facebook if you spend too much time on it. This app tracks your time so you don’t have to, and also gives you weekly reports on your productivity so you know where you need to improve. If all your employees use it then you can rest assured that all your business targets will be met each month.
If your business already has a page on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, then you might already understand the benefits that social media offers for startups; free marketing, a way to improve customer services, and it can increase traffic to your website. However, you should never forget to utilize social media for its original purpose; networking.
Newcomers hoping to break into any industry understand that networking events are important for catching up on valuable industry updates and learning from established business owners. But you should also know that these events are excellent for finding people who know how to take your business to the next level; from manufacturers and suppliers of your products, to delivery drivers at Truck Dealers and van driving companies to transport your goods all over the country. While there’s no harm in learning everything you can to become a successful business owner, there are people out there who already know how to do certain jobs. Your business doesn’t need to wait until you become an expert; reach out to existing experts you’ve met through social media or events, and ask them for help.
Social media has also changed the way that startup companies get financed. Instead of trying to get a loan from a bank, many entrepreneurs are using crowdfunding such as Indiegogo, professional vloggers and comic artists are asking followers to support them on Patreon, and small startups are getting their funding through Kickstarter.
Get your head in the cloud
The most significant technological advancement for businesses in recent is the development of the cloud. Although you might prefer to work primarily from home, there is nothing stopping you from eventually taking your business to an office and working from multiple locations. Whether you prefer to use Dropbox, Google Drive, or SpiderOak, the cloud offers incredibly cheap storage and a range of shrink-wrapped solutions that can reduce a small business’s capital investment in technology. You can use cloud services to fulfill multiple business needs, such as invoicing, marketing, finances, and more. If you’re taking the first steps to expanding your team, a cloud server can promote communication at work and make sure everyone has access to the same information, therefore significantly reducing the chances of any miscommunication.
Entrepreneurs no longer have to spend money on print ads to advertise their business to new customers. The first step to launch your business is build a website, which is a combination of marketing, the sales platform, and the first business premises. You can also use email marketing, advertise on search engines, or even try mobile marketing. This is is a relatively new frontier that reaches people through text messaging, and advertising on mobile applications. As the internet becomes more mobile, your marketing campaign can potentially reach millions of people anytime, anywhere.
Speaking of going mobile, it’s worth spending some money to make sure your amazing website is available on a mobile app. The easiest way for prospective clients to interact with your company is through their smartphones and tablets, where they spend most of their time. If your app links your customers to coupons, limited offers, or creates hype about new products, you’re not only increasing website traffic but generating more interest in your business.
No matter how far your company has come, constructive criticism will always be your greatest resource. Customers can provide the best feedback, but only if they can contact your directly. In your website, include your email address, or links to your social media pages, so your customers can instantly get in touch with you to discuss your products, the efficiency of your website, and the quality of your service. Not only can you display the positive testimony on your website to attract more customers, but you can also use their feedback to fix any faults and improve your services. Once you’ve established a reputation as someone who takes customer concerns on board, your existing customers are more likely to tell their friends about your business.
Using technology for even one of these purposes can dramatically increase the demand on your business by generating interest in your products and expanding your customer base.
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