It’s estimated that around 20-30% of the working global population work from home. Most make do with a laptop, a handful of applications, and an internet connection to do their job – but that doesn’t mean that’s all that’s needed if you want your home-based business to fly.
Outside of your core apps and hardware, there are a handful of additional resources that could take your working to new levels. From software that’ll maximise your business opportunities to hardware that’ll keep you mobile, there’s a host of IT that could take your business to new heights.
Unfortunately, people are found to be the weak link in the chain of virtually every sales process the world over.
Sometimes, you’ll lose track of time, you’ll misplace contract details, you’ll make an error when you schedule a call-back, or you’ll simply forget to follow up in the way you’ve promised.
Sales processes are so important because the showcase best practice – then lay out a roadmap for repeating that best practice again and again. This is exactly where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool comes into play. Aside from the fact it’s a way of securely storing customer data, you put together your different workflows in a CRM, then it’ll either automate or prompt you or your staff to follow the process.
What’s the result?
Well, the stats really speak for themselves.
- The average return on investment is $8.71 for every dollar spent
- CRM applications can increase sales by up to 29%
- Data accessibility shortens sales cycles by 8-14%
- 47% of users say CRM has a significant impact on customer retention
Now, those stats only really tell part of the story – because 35% of businesses do not adopt a CRM within their first 5 years; 40% of salespeople still use informal methods like spreadsheets and email to schedule their pipelines, and over 20% of sales people don’t know what a CRM is. Proof indeed that there’s plenty of scope for a CRM getting you ahead of your competition.
In much the same way that a CRM keeps your customer and sales data tight, it’s extremely useful to make sure your time tracking is equally tight.
The Pareto Principle says that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes – but unless you’re tracking what you do and how much time different elements of you day take up, there’s little way of proving where you’re most effective.
This is where it’s good to have a physical time tracker – a device that sits in front of you starts tracking the time spent on a particular task when you flip it over accordingly.
There are a few on the market. Devices like TimeFlip and Timeular are cost effective ways seeing how your day breaks down – especially since each comes with a piece of software that’ll help you reflect on your day.
If you want to understand how to grow your business or which parts of your business are the most lucrative, you’ve got to tie a time to each. Afterall, on the face of things, a client that brings in $2000 a month might look more attractive than one that brings in $500 – but if that first client demands 75% of your time and the second client is happy with just 10% – then you start to be able to break down your time into an hourly rate.
When you work from home, your internet connection is likely to be essential. It’s the thing that powers so much of what we do – from emails, website management, client communication, project management and tracking – and, if you’re already on top of the first point on this list – your cloud-based CRM service.
The problem is, a fixed line isn’t always the best option. Sure, it’s important – but what happens if you need to visit a client site? Or you want to work out and about? Maybe home is full of distractions and it’d be useful to get into a library or coffee shop?
If this is the case, you might tether your device to your phone – but a single SIM internet connection isn’t always robust enough to power a small company’s infrastructure – and this is where a 4G or 5G router comes in handy.
A cellular router connects to your device then provides a robust internet connection. The reason this type of tech is much more suitable for business use comes down to load-balancing and load-bonding – the way a router combines connections from a number of SIMs.
Whichever you choose, you’re creating an internet connection that’s suitable for running a small business – rather than hoping for the best with a domestic or personal cellular connection that’s designed for leisure use.
Just because you’re a business that operates from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to the same resources that help bigger businesses work to their full potential. The good news is, large tech companies share this belief – and they’ve thrown open the doors to their most sophisticated tech infrastructure in a way that makes it affordable for business of all sizes.
So, if your business needs its own hardware infrastructure but you’re not crazy about the thought of having a server stack in the corner of your kitchen, IaaS is likely to be an ideal solution for you.
IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service – and it’s the idea that most companies don’t require physical servers of IT tech on their site. Instead, large tech companies create virtualised resources – email servers for instance, which allow you all the control you’d expect with your own devices, but delivered over an internet connection. As a result, if you feel your business could expend quicker with otherwise costly tech – looking into cloud-based solutions might be a good next step.
Of course, it’s not just infrastructure that this way of working unlocks. Platform as a Service is becoming more attractive for small businesses too – unlocking a way of developing your own software platforms without the need for the paid-upfront infrastructure that you’d normally need to get you moving.