An entrepreneurial spirit is essential to
starting a business. However, you need more than that to become successful and
stay successful. Technology plays a pivotal role in starting a small business.
Tech is everpresent almost everywhere you
look. Businesses of all sizes would be hard-pressed to survive today without
the help of technology. Not only do you have to utilize tech, but you have to
keep up with tech advancements to stay in stride with competitors. When just
starting out, you should be equipped with the proper tech to set your small
business up for success.
How To Prepare Your Small
Business With Tech
One of the most common mistakes small businesses make in the beginning is failing to plan effectively. When outlining your business plan, it’s helpful to keep a digital copy of it on something like Google Drive. This way, current and future employees can access important company info, including:
- Financial projections and budget;
- Target market;
- Marketing tactics;
- Competitor research;
- Hiring plans;
- Employee care plans;
- Communication tools;
- Cybersecurity strategy;
- Efficiency goals;
- Growth projections;
- Adaptable tech.
Tech is always going to be updated throughout
the years — sometimes more slowly or quickly depending on your industry. Keep a
loose set of guidelines for adopting new tech, such as how much budget is set
aside for upgrades, a timeline for when to upgrade, and how to disseminate the
tech and uptrain staff.
Your small business strategy will look
different depending on your industry and specific goals. The important part is
to keep it accessible, and the best way to do so is through digital means. This
is also a great way to share important company assets, including those needed
for marketing your business.
Easier, More Effective Branding
You likely know why you started your small
business. Your values and mission need to then be translated into branding.
This message should be clear across digital channels, and tech can help
facilitate this in the most effective way. Look at what similar-size competitor
brands are doing for inspiration. Ask yourself what colors, imagery, and words
best represent how you want your brand to be perceived.
Then, you can play around with digital tools
that help bring this representation to life. Digital assets, for example,
include files that are used to represent your business’ brand and values
online. They can include branded colors, fonts, images, logos, and more. The
internet opens up a whole world of competitor research when deciding how to
design these digital marketing assets.
For example, logo design typically leans heavily on tech tools. Everything from Canva to Adobe Photoshop can be used to develop logo prototypes and the eventual final draft you go with. You can also see if competitors tweak their logos for certain times, like Pride month, and adjust your main logo template in whichever software you choose. If you’re stuck on names or logo designs, there are even AI tools like Namelix that allow you to put in keywords that have to do with your business and generate unique ideas to stand out in your industry.
Safer, More Efficient Workflows
All small businesses can benefit from workflow
optimization. Thankfully, tech can be used during all parts of production to
streamline processes. The more time you can save for your small business
employees, the better. Use the following tech tools to optimize your time and
improve your bottom line.
Cloud-based Optimization and
Your specific industry will also determine how you use tech to optimize efficiency. For example, if you utilize warehouses to store products, there are specific tech tools to help. Industry 4.0 tech for warehouses improves efficiency in many ways, including cloud-based inventory systems that provide real-time updates on stock and order processing. This can then be shared with team members that need prompt access to this information. If any of the workflows or teams change, you can edit this virtually in no time at all.
Automation of Processes
The Internet of Things (IoT) connects all your tech together so it communicates smoothly and provides you with the information you need to optimize your new business. For instance, employees can use handheld devices to communicate with your CRM software to update stock levels.
Warehouses and other parts of your business
can benefit from automation. For example, you can set your system to
automatically place orders to replenish stock when it is low. Machines can be
automated as well, such as palletizers or conveyors. With all these
interconnected devices, you can track the performance of machines and employees
to see where processes need to be optimized.
Employee Satisfaction and
Educate staff on tech whenever possible and
assure them that there are lateral or higher positions they can obtain in the
company if their role becomes automated. Explain that their expertise in their
specific role positions them to be the first point of contact when
incorporating tech, and they can manage this tech if they choose to do so.
Tech can even help with this education. Offer uptraining and educational opportunities for employees via online courses. Employees will likely be more satisfied if they have the chance to advance.
The Great Resignation has arisen out of an awareness of being overworked and underpaid. If you can optimize your processes and listen to employee feedback using tech, this will help you mitigate turnover and employee attrition. Further, you can even optimize your hiring process using software like application tracking systems (ATS) or human resource information systems (HRIS). These software services give you the most information possible about who you’re hiring and how to cater to their needs while ensuring a smooth hiring process and a positive ROI.
Financial security is crucial to running a successful small business. Although profitability takes an average of three to four years to come to fruition, you can use tech along the way to forecast earnings and expenditures to keep afloat. Instead of keeping this in physical files or spreadsheets, you can encrypt your sensitive financial data online.
Tech can enhance data security. This includes employee, company, and client information that should be kept safe from hackers or competitors. Data breaches negatively impact business reputation, and businesses of all sizes want to avoid this mishap. Start cybersecurity measuring during employee onboarding and continue throughout the lifecycle of each employee and your business.
Make the Most Out of Data
All this technology for your business will give you valuable insight. Take the data that you gather from these different systems and apply it to optimize your processes. Often, tech systems will have automated insights on the software dashboard that allow you to get an overview. However, narrow down your ultimate goals for success in order to determine the most pertinent business data. Then, use tech to optimize even further.