By Randy Johnston
Technology is the key to running any size business – including small businesses and startups. But, given budgetary constraints, how can smaller enterprises afford new technology? First, start from this viewpoint: technology should be considered as an investment, not an expense. Further, properly implementing the latest technology into key operations can set your business apart from the competition. Therefore, the investment you make in technology should yield returns above the price paid. In this blog I provide four ways small businesses can update their technology and achieve outstanding returns in the process.
Overhaul Your Website
With more people searching for businesses online, having an exceptional and efficient website is more important than ever. If your website lacks luster, you may want to invest in bolstering your online presence.
Hiring a web developer can give your business site the edge needed to stand out among the competition. A freelance developer could be the key to ensuring that your website is user-friendly. Further, with the right updates, you should be able to make future changes on your own. You don’t want to hire a developer every time your site needs to be altered.
Freelance job boards make it easy to search for web developers, but you should still confirm each candidate’s knowledge of both test suites and project management tools. You can also use the links provided to enhance your own knowledge of these essential technology terms so you will be better prepared to hire the most qualified candidate.
Every small-business owner should consider adding e-commerce capabilities to their website. If you’re not sure how to get started, use one of the many e-commerce wikis and resources available online. Helpful resources will contain valuable information regarding all aspects of getting started with an e-commerce business. Examples of available content include resource management, customer service, brand equity, and effective advertising. Having these resources at your fingertips can make adding or enhancing the e-commerce section of your website much easier.
If you already have a wide selection of e-commerce products but need help moving those items faster, technology can help there as well. Consider enhancements such as guest checkout capabilities and a streamlined checkout process to help reduce shopping cart abandonment. By converting abandoned carts into successful checkouts, your profits will increase and you will be cultivating loyal relationships with new and existing customers.
Do you still use two phones to keep your work life and personal life separate? By upgrading to one of the latest smartphones, you can take advantage of apps that allow you to use a single device for multiple phone numbers. Apps such as Google Voice and TalkU also make it simple to get a new number specifically for your small business. In turn, this can help you maintain some privacy in your personal life and achieve work-life balance.
No doubt, having one phone for work and business will keep you from juggling two devices, but it can also help reduce business expenses. It’s also crucial that you’re not using an outdated phone. The latest smartphones have the speed and capability you’ll need to handle communications and run your business. If you’re looking to purchase a new model, top phone wireless providers often have trade-in deals on new models. Once you have a high-powered phone, you can access business apps for an added boost in efficiency.
Small-Business Internet Connections
Is your business using a virtual private network (VPN)? If not, consider upgrading your internet connections to incorporate this technology. By using a VPN to secure your company’s connections, you create an encrypted pathway to the internet. This will help keep cybercriminals from gaining access to private and confidential information. You can deploy VPNs through subscription-based services or by purchasing a VPN-enabled router. With a few minutes of setup time, you can create your own private internet connection to add a layer of security to your daily business operations and communications.
By upgrading the technology that powers your small business, you could boost your company to the next level of success. Technology has the power to promote growth, increase profits, establish security, and streamline daily operations. However, to be successful you need to know which upgrades to focus on first. Setting up a VPN or adding e-commerce capabilities can be almost effortless changes. Likewise, addressing communications needs and upgrading your website can yield almost instant results. Each of the presented enhancements have the power to distinguish your business as a leader in your field, boosting return on investment in the process.
Randy Johnston is executive vice president of K2 Enterprises. Johnston develops and delivers technology-focused learning opportunities for accounting, financial, and other business professionals. You can contact him at email@example.com.
Sign up for weekly professional and technical updates in PICPA's blogs, podcasts, and discussion board topics by completing this form.