Small business owners, listen up! If you have a small business and you’re not using technology to create shortcuts and to generally make your life easier, then you need to read this. If you’re thinking, ‘Of course I use technology – I have a computer and a mobile phone, and some social media accounts’ – then you’re off to a great start, but there’s so much more that you can be doing. Take a look at these five ways that you can use technology to hack your business better and to build your productivity and efficiency.
You might have some Facebook fans, and perhaps some followers on your Instagram – but do you actively drive people to engage with your products, services or business through these platforms? If your business depends on people in a local area for revenue then use your social media to enhance this reach. Things like Google Places, Foursquare (and to a lesser extent, Instagram) all have location-based options for reach, so you need to use this. People will rely more and more on the Internet as a means for searching for products in the future, so be sure that you’re at the forefront of this and hooked up as much as possible. Don’t have any idea about how to use social media? Find a tafe course in marketing or social media (search on www.tafecourses.com.au) and get updated!
2. The cloud isn’t just something in the sky
If you’re still working with paper for accounting and communication you need to stop it. Stop it right now. Get yourself to a computer and get yourself onto the cloud. The cloud is basically a means of storing documents and information in a single place online where it can be accessed from anywhere. It’s also a secure means of communication and allows you to be more mobile. You can share different projects and collaborate online, and accounting software, like Xero for example, allows you to use your mobile and computer to streamline the accounting process.
3. Get yourself an EDM
That stands for electronic direct mail, by the way. Remember the days of getting a flyer or letter in the mail telling you about a great new promotion or opening? Well, now we do that through email. A well written EDM is a great way to reach out to your customers and to advise of promotions, and the success you have is all dependent on the frequency of your mailouts and the subsequent follow up that you provide. You can use things like MailChimp to make an effective templated email, and you can source blogs or news to populate the mailout to make it interesting and informative to your customers.
4. Set up an online store
If you sell in the real world but don’t have an online store, then perhaps it’s time to consider eCommerce. So many people shop online now that it’s becoming harder and harder to compete if you’re not online. If you have a restaurant you should consider getting involved with an online menu ordering service that lets people shop for your food online. This is a great way to enhance your location based sales, too, and allows people to leave reviews for your business.
5. Increase your customer service with your online presence
If you have a blog or a website, you can use this to provide a question and answer section to some of your most common questions. People will almost always automatically navigate to your website when they have a question, and if they can’t find the answer there they’ll either phone you (taking up your time that can be used for other things) or they’ll lose interest (not a good thing!). Be sure that you have a comprehensive Q&A section for your customers to make life easier for everyone.
Good luck with your tech hunt and enjoy the growth in your business.