By Alice Williams
Technology is important to everyone, but it plays a crucial role for small-business owners who must effectively manage, grow, and protect their young companies. Yet only around one-third of companies have designated marketing tech budgets.
That’s a shame because high-tech tools and software can help you improve your daily operations, from expediting and automating timely tasks to keeping your financial statements and invoices organized, paid, and received on time. The right tech tools are more than worth the cost.
Whether you’re new to business technology or already using a handful of programs, see how you can tackle these five common problems using tools, apps, and software.
Problem: I’m Having a Hard Time Attracting Millennials to My Brick-and-Mortar Location
We all know that younger consumers have a penchant for social media, but how do you turn those digital interactions into in-person visits to your store? If you want to draw more customers to your physical location, you may try geomarketing, which allows you to use geofencing to set up a digital barrier around your building. You can then send email alerts or app notifications to a customer’s phone or tablet when they enter the geofenced area, encouraging them to stop by your store.
Another option is to offer free Wi-Fi. More than 60% of businesses say customers spend more time in their stores if free Wi-Fi is available. Set up a hotspot and advertise on your store’s front windows that you offer free Wi-Fi.
Problem: I Don’t Have the Budget for a Marketing Department
We’ve all heard the saying “you have to spend money to make money.” But many entrepreneurs don’t have the time to market their business or the budget to build a big marketing department. Luckily, technology provides a simple solution.
Tools like MailChimp, Marketo, and Sprout Social make it easy to send out email blasts, build mailing lists, connect with customers and prospects on social media, and manage leads. With the right marketing technology, one person can fill multiple marketing roles, saving your company both time and money.
Problem: I’m Struggling to Stay Current in My Industry
When you’re focusing on future goals and the growth of your business, it’s easy to neglect the important changes and events that are happening in your industry on a daily basis. Staying on trend and up-to-date helps you understand the problems your customers face and provide timely content and information when they need it, establishing your business as a go-to resource.
Let tools like Google Alerts and content aggregators like Flipboard do the hard work for you—they gather articles on what’s trending in particular industries and package them into a digestible format. After you’ve brushed up on the latest blogs and articles relevant to your industry, you can join a Twitter chat to weigh in on the matter.
Problem: I’m Spending Too Much Time Managing Cash Flow
Managing cash flow is essential to any business, but it’s overwhelming to juggle client invoices, employee timecards, and financial statements on top of your other duties. You can keep your business financially healthy without consuming your days by using money management tools that help you automate bill payments, manage budgets, track unusual activity, and organize receipts.
Bill.com claims it helps clients spend 50% less time approving and paying bills, and it allows users to receive payment two to three times faster. QuickBooks is another cash flow management system that provides both accounts payable and receivable so you can manage and send payments and invoices from one consolidated dashboard.
Problem: My Employees and I Are Struggling to Remain Productive While Juggling Multiple Tasks
According to a CareerBuilder study, 75% of employees lose at least two hours per day in productivity due to distractions. Harnessing the right tools for your team can motivate your employees and maximize your business productivity. The more systems you can use to encourage efficiency, the better chance your team has to achieve goals and stay organized.
Trello and Asana are two of the most popular productivity tools used by small and large business teams alike. They allow you to create projects and assign tasks, all while tracking progress to ensure that no part of the process gets swept under the rug.
From a lack of marketing manpower to productivity struggles, there are a number of problems small businesses deal with on a daily basis. But technology has the power to help you succeed. Best of all, many technology platforms offer free trials that allow you to test drive their capabilities before you add them to your toolbox.
What small-business problems will you tackle with technology? Do you have any go-to tech tools for solving workplace issues?
Alice Williams has written in-depth on a wide variety of topics which include business, technology and social media. She has a masters degree in Communication Studies from San Francisco State University. Follow her at @1alicehw.