Let’s face it. Small businesses don’t have big budgets to work with (unless you’re lucky enough to secure an angel investor – keep those fingers crossed!). For the rest of us, we need to find ways of streamlining business processes and promoting growth with limited capital. The good news is, these days it’s completely possible to grow your business on a limited budget. How? Harnessing the power of technology.
Here are four powerful tech ideas that will move the needle and give you a good return on investment as told by Lottie Hodson, from Bouncepad.
The holy grail of business improvements has got to be automation. Harnessing technology to automate certain parts of your business cuts costs frees up time and helps you to deliver better customer service, among other benefits.
A recent McKinsey report revealed that 45% of paid business activities can be automated with current technology. And the great thing is – automation technology is improving daily with the leaps forward in AI and machine learning.
Take chatbots for instance. No longer are chatbots seen as an annoyance by website visitors. In fact, the AI is so good, it can be difficult to tell whether you’re chatting to a bot or a human. The AI can also be set up to collaborate with a human customer service advisor for the things it can’t manage, to deliver seamless and efficient customer service.
Other business processes can be automated without too much effort. Collecting, organising and analysing data automatically has never been easier. There are plenty of companies that can help you to set up bespoke data analytic solutions for your business.
Traditional marketing methods such as TV, radio and print advertising are either too expensive or too ineffective for many small businesses. Digital marketing, on the other hand, has opened a world of marketing possibilities to the average small business. You don’t need a huge marketing budget to run some pay-per-click ads or targeted social media ads, which are linked to sales pages or lead capturing opt-in pages.
A recent trend is to focus on multi-channel or omnichannel marketing. This means linking up all of your digital marketing efforts to create a seamless “experience” for potential customers or clients. This involves taking control of your social media accounts and putting out content that is valuable to your ideal customers.
Cloud storage is powerful for small businesses as it allows them to compete on a more level playing field with larger companies. Here are a few of the benefits cloud storage brings:
- Access your data and digital assets globally
- Automated backup of data and documents
- Unlimited amount of storage (can grow with your budget)
- Allows for collaborative working on projects remotely
Small businesses are no longer confined to hiring people locally. For certain tasks, you can source talent from anywhere in the world and get them working for you in no time at all. There is a huge freelance community out there, with skilled people that are ready to work on your project needs.
Whether you need virtual assistants, content writers, web developers, graphic designers, marketing consultants – you name it, there are people out there on the end of an internet connection that can help you to grow your business.
Employing remote workers, whether casually or contractually, can be a great way to get the best talent at the best prices – ideal for a small business. Websites such as Upwork or People Per Hour are good places to start looking for the services you need.
Productivity apps such as Slack, Trello or Asana make it easier to manage a remote workforce and encourage collaborative working.
Interactivity and engaging your customers mustn’t be overlooked when considering how to grow your business. From employees gathering on-the-go customer feedback to iPad stands set up with real-time inventory information and interactive retail displays, creating a meaningful and engaging experience for your customers can not only increase the time spent in-store but also improve the likelihood of conversion.
Setting up interactivity in your brick and mortar store isn’t the only way to engage your customers. For those businesses which are purely e-commerce, consider whether you can create an interactive element on your website. Similarly to in-store, websites which are user-friendly but also interactive have a longer dwell-time, meaning potential customers spend longer on your website and are more likely to convert.
- Technology can deliver a good ROI if used in the right places.
- Focus on 5 key areas: Automation, Digital Marketing, Cloud Storage, Remote Working and Interactivity
- Benefits are cost savings, increased leads and sales and business growth