Practical Technology for the Growing Small Business

A guest post from @hfitzy34

Today’s small businesses can’t afford to overlook the tools and opportunities created by tech and Web advancements. More than ever before, new technology is making it easier for small businesses to compete with larger companies through software and services that reduce overhead while making business operations more efficient. A host of tools and applications can be used by a small business to drive various business functions, including payroll, contact management, and human resources work.

Of equal importance are the marketing opportunities provided trough social media. With social media profiles, businesses can engage both local and non-local consumer bases, expand their audience, build brand trust and loyalty, and gather consumer data that can guide the company’s marketing efforts — all at a cost much lower than what would have been the standard a decade ago.

To put it simply, small businesses now have access to a virtual buffet of practical technology tools and solutions designed to help their business flourish and grow. By identifying your business’s most-pressing needs, you can target the technology solutions providing the most value to your company, increasing profits as you cut out the fat and become more efficient.

Tech Products & Services

Most small businesses can’t afford to employ full-time human resources staff. But the services provided by this department are vital to any business. Fortunately, newly developed software tools like applicant tracking and staff management systems enable you to track and organize a variety of functions. Exact Hire is one of a growing sprawl of companies catering to the massive growth of online job seekers with software designed to streamline the application process for both the employer and the to-be-employed. Through software products like these, you can convert numerous business functions to paperless organization, helping you track applications,interviews, employee onboarding, training, and assessments for all of your employees and position candidates, saving time and resources while doing all the organizing for you.

Other contact management and customer relationship software and services, such as Microsoft Outlook, can help you track your customer interactions, sales histories and contacts with ease.

Harness the Power of Social Media

Cloud computing services are rapidly gaining popularity in business circles. The ability to purchase computing work as a service stored virtually through a shared network known as the “cloud” has created a bevy of opportunities for businesses. But perhaps the greatest benefit of cloud computing are the applications and services provided through the cloud that allow businesses to gather unprecedented amounts of information from various social media profiles. Small businesses can use cloud-based products and services to manage social media profiles, evaluate the efficacy of those profiles, gather data and analyze that data to learn more about consumers and their satisfaction with your business. Information has never been more available, nor more valuable, to businesses than it is now, and a smart small business owner will take advantage of the tools and applications created to process this information.

Where to Find Solutions

Product and services claiming to be essential to your business’s success can be found in every direction. But the margin of error in small businesses is so small that investing in sub-standard services and products can be a dramatic setback. Stick to companies with a proven track record and a strong reputation from past clients. If certain functions of your business reside outside of your strengths or comfort areas, you can also consider outsourcing some of these functions — such as payroll services and social media management — to third-party companies that specialize in these services.

Ultimately, today’s small businesses are poised to benefit in numerous ways from the abundance of technology at their disposal. Position your company on the inside track by investing in these new technologies and getting the jump on your competitors.

Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter:@hfitzy34

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