Alex Williams, Negosentro | In the old times, launching and running a small business normally meant going and staying local, which in turn meant putting everything you have on the line, with a potential reward that’s not as high as the risk taken. Technological development changed that. Starting a small business nowadays also means taking risks, but the potential benefit is much higher, since outgrowing the local market and surpassing the reputation of a local brand is a lot easier. Thanks to innovative technologies, the inner workings, procedures and routines of a small company have been radically changed and some of the business practices have been made much simpler and easier. Here are a few examples.
1. Online shopping
There are several advantages of online shopping. If your product is applicable and comprehensible enough, your market becomes global and your reach is not limited – your product can reach literally any place on Earth. People don’t have the time nor patience anymore to stroll endlessly around shelves and shops in an attempt to find their way through a huge mess of different products they don’t care about. Instead, they are starting to prefer e-shops where they can find what they actually need and purchase it with just a few clicks. A good indicator of how impatient the customers have become is the fact that for every additional second your e-commerce website needs to load, seven percent of them will give up on it. And the money you would otherwise spend on rent, store management and staff can be used in other, more important areas of your business.
2. Online management and coordination
Compared to old-fashioned methods, the expenses and troubles of staff coordination and monitoring can be radically cut by using the advantages of modern technology. Using the cloud to store your data makes it much more practical to find, access and use any relevant piece of information at all times. Furthermore, you can use project management software to connect your employees, make it easier for them to cooperate and make it easier for yourself to monitor their performance and development both as individuals and as a group. This is, in addition, clearly much cheaper than renting an office and paying for travel expenses. Finally, this enables you to hire not just locals but people from all over the world and you can expect your business to function as smoothly as it would if your employees were sitting in the same room.
3. Digital marketing
The key advantages of digital marketing over traditional techniques are better and easier market research, and accurate targeting. In short, modern technology helps you analyze and process market-related data – it’s impossible to see how many people actually read the ad you published in a magazine, but when promoting your brand on social media you can access a ton of data about your ad, in terms of engagement, reach or conversion. This data is normally well-organized and carefully categorized based on demographics and specific interests of people engaged with your ad. All this means that your promotion can be customized to the smallest details, which will make you waste less money because you’ll only be targeting the audience you expect to be interested in what you do or sell.
4. Interactions with customers
Customer service and communication are also made much easier with modern technology. This includes not only interactions with your customers through your website or social media, but also customer relationship management (CRM) systems that enable you to keep all the information about them and their purchases in one place, which will, in turn, help you offer better customer service. In addition to this, you can use online paid surveys in order to find out what your customers think about your product. You can then proceed to analyze what specific types of customers like or dislike about your brand, discover some general rules and improve your products or services accordingly.
5. Online banking
Moving all financial transactions online has saved small businesses a world of effort and expenses. It’s become a dominant way to manage your finances – in 2015, 66 percent of people who used mobile phones have used it to carry out some form of transaction. Thanks to modern technology, it is a lot easier to keep track of your invoices, expenses, taxes and paperwork in general in real-time and you don’t have to pay a whole army of people to keep track of all this but you can do it yourself or with minimum assistance. All your financial activities are in one place, at a click’s distance.
Technology does help your business save a lot of space, time and money. But it’s important to have in mind that as much as it helps you, it also helps your potential competition, and this means that using modern technology doesn’t give you advantage over the others but simply puts you on a par with them. Keeping up with the technological advancements is just a start – in addition to that, you need a lot of energy, new ideas and probably a few bright minds in your team to achieve true success.