Small businesses are a vital component to the overall health of the economy. To remain competitive, these entrepreneurs turn to technology to stay connected with customers and streamline tasks.
Mobile and cloud power
“Technology is a means to enable small businesses,” states G. Nagesh Rao, Chief Technologist and Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Small Business Administration (SBA). “We live in a world where we are all digitally connected with each other, and smart entrepreneurs take advantage of the tools available to expand their customer base and encourage growth.”
According to a survey by SCORE, a network of volunteer mentors, small companies rely on cloud computing more than any other type of tech, with 92 percent using at least one cloud solution and more than half relying on the cloud for data storage. Mobile devices are a close second, with 80 percent of owners stating they use smartphones and tablets every day for tasks ranging from banking to managing schedules.
Too many options?
Beyond the basic tools, however, many entrepreneurs find the tech choices overwhelming and don’t feel they have the knowledge to make the right choices. For example, the SCORE survey revealed that only 29 percent of respondents use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, even though they recognize how beneficial having a CRM can be.
Beyond mobile devices and computers, Rao contends that the more helpful technologies include mobile payment options, open source software that is free, and the best internet access you can afford. In addition, he cites accounting software to easily create a budget and keep track of profits and losses; time tracking software that can assist in helping you recognize which tasks are losing money; email management systems, to streamline accounts and handle security; video conferencing — especially to cut down on travel expenses.
Remaining socially relevant and safe is important, too. To that end, Rao also offers up social media tools that market the company and to improve customer service, as well as firewalls, anti-virus software, and encryption from a cybersecurity perspective. As the SBA website states, these latest technologies increase efficiencies and productivity, and are a necessity for any small business owner.
Sue Poremba, [email protected]