Rarely are small businesses capable of hiring a large workforce. The common situation is that a few brave souls have to take on large responsibilities that are meant for a larger employee collective. Thankfully, we live in an increasingly automated and mechanized business environment that can offload these big tasks from your shoulders. Not to say that technology is a blanket solution that will solve all of your problems, rather that it is a mitigating factor.
The future or your company’s growth could depend on your ability to maximize and optimize the performance of an already small team. Luckily for you, technology offers a wide array of choices and it is up to you to find the ones relevant to your industry and niche. Here are some of the most important pieces of technology a small business should implement.
Screen real estate
When talking about improving productivity in an office, the most neglected problem is the lack of available workspace. And not in the terms of not having enough elbow room at your desk, but rather not having enough space for your windows and documents. Integrating multi-monitor solutions can be a game-changer.
Depending on the type of workload, employees can benefit from a dual, triple, or even quadruple monitor setups. Alt-tabbing on a single, small monitor is quite inefficient, time-consuming and put a lot of strain on the eyes and the nerves alike. Multiple monitors allow you to focus and always have what you need right there in front of you. You do not need to put away your resources so that another can take its place.
The advancements in technology do come with their own perils. Viruses, malware, ransomware, and data security breaches are part and parcel of living in an always connected, always online world. Even then, only about more than half of small to medium-sized businesses are actually using protection technologies. Often enough, these businesses are dealing with sensitive information.
Whether it originates from your customers, employees or yourself personally, it is often critical to keep certain information out of harm’s way. Social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, you name it, are all often protected by the law. This means that small businesses without these forms of protection can be fined before any breach even takes place.
As people and resources are scarce when starting up a business, it is of utmost importance to stay connected to one another. An employee might not be able to attend a meeting personally, but if you have a solid communication system in place, that will not be an issue. Reliable broadband Internet and comprehensive phone systems for small businesses are readily available for anyone as global communication is ubiquitous nowadays.
Wired communication in the form of a well thought out computer network is also very important as it will simplify, automate, and accelerate sharing files and documents in a company. In an environment oversaturated with wireless signals, you should never underestimate the power of an old-fashioned wired connection. It will reduce interference and make communication much more secure, tying into our previous point.
The more automated you make your business the more you offload ubiquitous, mundane tasks off of your value-generating employees. Some call it overhead and the less those valuable few employees are experiencing it, the more they can focus on their primary tasks. Certain industries rely heavily on various forms of automation. By eliminating the human factor as much as possible, you can reduce the chances of human error and increase safety.
These, apart from the obvious potential damage to one’s personal health and well-being, will certainly interfere with the precious time and workforce that you have. Automating can fall into the trap of diminishing returns, however. Vital functions will always remain under the human domain, as automation is about eliminating non-essential tasks from your work schedule, not overtaking management-level processes.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Again, only about half of reported small businesses use CRM tools. CRM is a strategy for managing relationships and interactions with customers. It can help companies stay connected to customers and manage the discussion. Other than that, CRM tools are used for contact and sales management, increasing productivity with the primary goal of improving both internal and external business relationships. CRM can come in three forms:
- Technology aspect can manifest itself in the form of a cloud used to record, report, and analyse interactions between the company and users.
- A CRM strategy as a niche-specific policy on how these relationships should look and be managed.
- And finally, CRM as a process is a system that your business can adopt to add value, nurture, and manage said relationships.
Startups and small businesses usually run on a budget. That is the nature of the modern business world which leaves most with the tough decisions on the most cost-effective investments for their companies. Nevertheless, if you introduce these solutions into your office today and enable your employees to focus on expanding their work and themselves, you will have paved the road to long-term growth in your field.