If you could buy a machine that manufactures more time, would you do it? While there’s no such machine yet, plenty of digital-age devices are available to help you use and manage your time more effectively. With the right technologies, including payroll software, small business apps, and automated services, you can:
- Spend less time on administrative duties
- Improve your customers’ experiences
- Obtain valuable data in real time
- Promote your business
- Predict trends
- Boost sales revenue
These small business technology options can help you save valuable hours, so you have more time to focus on mission-critical tasks.
Tap Into Cloud Computing
Whether you operate an 8-to-5 brick-and-mortar business or practice, offer goods or services from a mobile unit, or work from kiosks and pop-up stands at locations all over town, you can benefit from cloud computing. If you use Apple iCloud, Dropbox, or QuickBooks Online, you’ve already tapped into the cloud.
An example of innovative small business technology, cloud computing is a big time-saver for several reasons. Cloud technology works with various digital devices, such as your smartphone, tablet, or PC, allowing you to access, store, or transfer data 24/7, and you can give others limited or full access, too.
With cloud-based operations, it’s easy to update information, collaborate, and confirm data instantly, all of which boost your efficiency quotient. Cloud computing solutions free you from your office desktop computer and heavy-duty hardware while enabling you to retrieve the information you need to do business wherever you go.
Sample Specialized Software for Small Business
You know administrative duties take up precious time, but they’re a necessary part of your business operations. Specialised software for small business can streamline essential processes, such as:
- Keeping track of inventory so customers get what they want
- Invoicing clients for services you provide
- Scheduling and posting articles on social media to promote your product or service
- Handling payroll for part-time or full-time employees
- Paying invoices you receive from materials suppliers and independent contractors
- Tracking your cash flow
- Time-tracking for your employees and yourself
Accounting and payroll software packages, payroll apps including QuickBooks Online app, and QuickBooks Self-Employed simplify creating and sending invoices. Even when you’re on the road, they help you monitor and manage the financial elements of your business, such as cash flow and inventory control.
Solutions including TSheets allow you to track time that you or others on your team spend on projects. With real-time tracking data, you can allocate time and resources more effectively, and set customer and client prices more accurately. All of this small business technology works for your good, keeping you competitive in the marketplace. Services that offer free trials give you a no-risk opportunity to see if it’s the right fit for your enterprise.
Does Artificial Intelligence Fit Into Your Small Business Technology Toolbox?
Remember when a customer being able to leave messages on a business answering machine was a big deal? When it comes to building customer relationships, artificial intelligence (AI) has moved the ball to a new point on the field and hasn’t stopped moving it yet.
Now you can have intuitive and interactive bots answer customer questions and help them shop when you’re not available Computers using AI analyse data on consumer preferences can make inventory decisions without human assistance.
AI-based small business apps deliver digital coupons and discounts to customers for their favorite products automatically at just the right time for them.
And the AI wave of the future appears to include combining online coupon marketing and voice technology. Whether you’re engaged in e-commerce or you’re an accountant, you might consider incorporating small business technology innovations like these, including QuickBooks’ voice-based accounting chatbots, into your enterprise game plan.
With tools like these small business apps in your business operations toolbox, you can keep customers and clients happy, drive repeat business to your door or website, and benefit your bottom line.
Tie Into the Internet of Things
You might consider joining the ranks of other savvy small business owners who are tying into the Internet of Things (IoT). Just as the internet connects people with each other, machines and devices communicate across the IoT.
Sensors embedded in products create smart machines that know when to start your office heating system before you arrive, or order more toner cartridges for your printer. As an exciting aspect of small business technology, IoT might help you deliver a higher level of customer service, enabling you to be proactive rather than reactive.
Products with connective technology and the ability to collect data allow monitoring of internal workings, providing real-time information so you can address symptoms before they become problems.
Michelin uses IoT technology in tires for the trucking industry, allowing the company to monitor air pressure levels, tread depth, and prevent dangerous conditions from developing in the tires.
On a smaller scale, IoT devices can track data to improve efficiency in your internal business operations, such as reducing energy usage or curbing waste of materials you use to make your products.
Venture Into Virtual Reality
If you’re a retailer, real estate professional, an architect, accountant, or interior designer, you’re part of the large group of small business owners who can benefit from virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications.
Say you offer home improvement products and want to enhance your marketing strategy using VR. Your client can design the kitchen they want, and then put on a VR headset to walk into and experience the finished room, all before purchasing the materials and fixtures to do the project.
Accelerate Small Business Activity With Augmented Reality
An offspring of virtual reality, augmented reality makes the real world look different by enhancing it digitally, using overlays and other visual aids, without a headset. Say you’re an interior designer.
You can show a client what their bedroom would look like with traditional mahogany furniture and floral wallpaper, and what it would look like with contemporary steel and glass furniture and striped wallpaper, all by adding digital overlays over visuals of the actual room.
Numerous practical AR applications exist now, as governments and companies are developing more products and services to expand the reach of small businesses into new AR and VR territories.
Automate Your Routine Business Tasks
Just as an automated assembly line handles repetitive motions that human workers used to perform, there are tasks you can program machines and computers to do. Incorporating automation into your business operations frees you to engage in other activities that demand your unique skill set.
Say you’re spending time posting and re-posting business tweets on Twitter. Consider using a small business app like Buffer to set up a posting schedule and send your tweets and retweets automatically. Before setting your automated schedule, you might want to check out Tweriod, an app that determines the optimum time frame for sending your posts, so you get maximum reader exposure.
HootSuite offers a comprehensive social media automation system that works with Chrome, Firefox, iPhone, iPad, and Android apps. OnlyWire is another option that lets you automate posting to more than two dozen social media outlets automatically.
Want variety in your writing? SocialOomph even rewrites your blog posts automatically, so you’re not resending the exact same pieces time after time. With no-cost and low-cost versions of these and other automation apps available, you have to dig deep for an excuse not to give yourself more free time.
Taking advantage of small business technology tools and apps streamlines your workload. 5.6 million customers use QuickBooks. Join them today to help your business thrive.