The Golden Age of Technology (as I like to coin it) has been amazing to experience! It has also been overwhelming at times given the super-sonic speed at which new technology arrives on the scene. It can be tempting to bury your head and hope it will all be over soon. But resist! If you are a small business owner there are many fabulous, easy to use, affordable and practical technologies out there just waiting to save you time and money. (And don’t worry, we won’t try to fill a bucket with a fire hose.)
Save Money on Gas
- Cut trips to the office or client sites as you can get access to remote (meaning ones not physically where you are) computers from your own computer with software such as logmein.com, gotomypc.com, or teamviewer.com. Video conferencing software such as well-known and free Skype, G Chat (from a Google gmail account), or Adobe Connect makes it easy to interface with a potential client or employees without the travel time or money. These programs often have either a free option or free trial period.
- Cut trips to the bank as many banks now offer a feature that allows you to take a picture of your checks and deposit them online (see this example from Chase). Contact your bank to see if this feature exists.
Save Money on Marketing
- It is officially a necessity to have a business website. But it must look current and professional, not like your friend put it together 10 years ago for free. Great sites like wix.com and webs.com allow you to pick a professional looking website template and simply drop in your pictures and text where indicated. There are often free options or trial periods.
- Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and customer review sites such as Yelp or Angies List: if your business does not have, update, and monitor a presence on sites like these (where it does make sense for your business to be) slap yourself and then get busy. At best you lose potential clients, and at worst your business may be getting negative reviews that you are not responding to. Also these sites usually have interfaces for business owners to use with tools and data analysis to help you maximize your use of these free marketing machines.
Save Money on Systems
- Paper invoicing is slowly following the dinosaur. Online invoices emailed to clients who in turn pay online saves you paper, stamps, envelope stuffing time, and gets money into the bank quicker. It also gets rid of the “lost-in-the-mail” problem/excuse (but I wonder about “lost-in-cyber-space”). Your bookkeeping software may offer this option, or there are other websites like bill.com or Bill Grid.
- Point of sale systems can be costly and antiquated. The c square technology allows a square attachment and (usually free) application to turn your mobile device into a register.
Save Money on Professional Services: With the internet bringing the world to us, outsourcing is getting more efficient, affordable, and therefore possible for small business.
- If you insist on doing your own payroll, ADP RUN is an intuitive online interfaces that allow you to easily enter payroll data and it takes care of the rest, even federal tax payments and reports.
- Don’t risk getting your legal documents wrong. There are many reputable sites such as Legal Zoom that walk you through various legal processes for an affordable rate.
A Word on Apps
The slogan hit it on the head: There’s an app for that. If you can think of anything that might make your business run more efficiently, I bet there’s an app for it. Take some time to browse Apple’s App store or the Android App store. You may be surprised at what you can find.