Technology and small business

In an ever-evolving technological age, it’s vital that businesses embrace the technology around them and use it as effectively as possible. The world of business is a highly competitive one, so it’s one of your responsibilities as a business owner to educate yourself about the latest technologies and to integrate them into your business as much as possible.  

 

This will enable you not only to remain competitive, but also to meet the expectations of your customers, reduce costs and stay ahead of regulatory demands. Utilising the right technologies can also help a business to improve its relationships with its clients, enter new markets, as well as to increase efficiency and revenue – something that can ultimately lead to the impressive expansion of business operations.

 

With the introduction of cloud computing, businesses have multiple options when it comes to business management solutions. From digital platforms, to business applications and reporting tools, it’s now possible for businesses to have access to a range of solutions that are not only effective and reliable, but most importantly, affordable. The cloud offers simplicity and flexibility, and you’re able to access all your data from wherever you are, any time. Plus, all the information stored on the cloud is safe and secure, so you never have to worry about backing up data or losing it. What follows is five ways your business should be using technology to its advantage.

 

Accounting and Payroll Software

 

Online accounting and payroll software, such as that available from Sage One, means that those days of thumbing through file drawers and battling with complicated, inefficient systems are behind you. Sage One allows you to see your profits and losses at a glance as well as manage all your accounts, payroll and budgets quickly and easily. The best part is that you can do this where ever, whenever, all you need is an internet connection.

 

Automated Marketing

 

One of the common reasons for businesses failing within the first two years is a lack of marketing savvy. If your small business makes it past the two-year mark, then it’s up to you to find effective yet affordable methods to market the business and what it offers. There are many cloud-based marketing applications available that provide the perfect solution when it comes to marketing technology. Small businesses don’t have to rely on sophisticated and expensive technology to do a great job when it comes to marketing, and when used correctly, the cloud-based marketing applications available can achieve the same results to that of larger companies.

 

Social Media

 

Social media is one of the most powerful technological tools available and when used to its full potential, can help a small business grow in the best possible ways. A strong social media presence allows a business to interact with customers regularly, something that helps build brand loyalty, but also extends the business’s reach. For example, having a simple blog on your website that is updated regularly with relevant content will increase customer engagement and hopefully attract new business through it being shared across social platforms.

 

Planning Software

 

Every business should have a calendar system or some kind of planning resource in place. This will help you to be more organised as a business, meet deadlines and run daily processes more efficiently. With so many demands needing to be met on a day-to-day basis, business owners and their employees will benefit from a system that helps them manage their time effectively, because at the end of the day, time is money.

 

Mobile Technology

 

This is something that has become a “must” for all businesses. People are able to do more and more on their phones/tablets, and so it’s not surprising that they expect to be able to do everything via their mobile device. It’s in the best interests of a business to ride the mobile wave, both in terms of its utilisation of mobile applications as well as ensuring that its customers are able to connect with the business via their mobile devices.

 

When it comes to technology, it’s important that small businesses use it in a lean and smart way. It’s become a huge part of the business world and the reality is that it needs to be embraced in as any ways as possible, so keep up with the times and make technology your friend – it’s sure to serve you and your business well.

 

 

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Get ahead of the rest: Smart marketing ideas for small businesses

The only people in the world who can change things are those who can sell ideas. – Lois Wyse, famous American advertising executive, author, columnist So now that you’ve taken the plunge, turned your great idea into a business and got it up and running, it’s time to start thinking about getting your name out there.

The only people in the world who can change things are those who can sell ideas.
– Lois Wyse, famous American advertising executive, author, columnist

So now that you’ve taken the plunge, turned your great idea into a business and got it up and running, it’s time to start thinking about getting your name out there. When a small business is still in its infancy, it’s very often difficult to factor marketing into the budget because money is tight. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. When you have a very small (or even practically non-existent) marketing budget, you simply have to be smarter about your marketing. After reading this, you’ll be ready and armed with the information you need to ensure you’re able to be clever about your business’s marketing.

Expand your network

Networking is one of the easiest ways not only to spread the word about your business, but also to meet other entrepreneurs in the industry as well as potential customers. There are often regular networking events to attend (usually for a small fee, if not for free) which provide the perfect opportunity for you to market your business, mingle with the right people and hopefully start building relationships that will make your business a success.

Helpful tip: Be sure to go to networking events prepared. Take some business cards with you and remember that first impressions are important, so be sure to make a good one.

Social media is power

Whether we like to admit it or not, social media can be a powerful marketing tool. By choosing one or two platforms as a means of connecting with your clients, you’ll be amazed at how it easy it becomes to spread the word about what you and your business offer. Social media is far-reaching and as long as the channels you choose are ones that your specific target audience will relate to, it’s almost guaranteed to do great things for your business. It can also be an excellent way of getting valuable feedback, suggestions and ideas from clients so that you can improve your product or service accordingly.

Establish a basic website

We live in a technological world in which most people turn to the Internet when they want to find something. That’s why it’s important to have an online presence in the form of not only social media, but a website too. Initially it only needs to be something simple that explains what you do and how people can get in touch. You can build it up over time and make it more visually appealing, but in the beginning, it’s really about just making your business more accessible to the masses. Producing relevant content that will interest your clients is also a simple yet effective marketing tool you can begin to implement once your site is up and running.

Use email marketing

Sending out a monthly or fortnightly newsletter to a group of people who have signed up to receive it is a great way of building up a database and keeping interested parties in the loop. Be sure to make whatever you’re sending out interesting and informative because the last thing you want to do is spam people. Email marketing is simple yet effective, and a great way of informing clients about promotions, specials and the latest news within the business.

Focus on customer service

There is one form of marketing that is free yet highly effective – and that’s word of mouth. When you offer an exceptional service or quality product, they will practically sell themselves. People who are impressed with a business and what it offers, tend to share their satisfaction with their friends and family. That’s why it’s important to treat your clients well through impeccable customer service – it’s a sure-fire way to get your name out there.

Before you can work out a smart marketing plan, you first need to work out which marketing options will work best for you and your business. Once you know:

  • what you hope to achieve through marketing
  • who your customers are
  • what you budget is
  • how much time you have to dedicate to marketing
  • who your competition is,

you can get started on crafting a smart marketing plan of action that will hopefully take your business to new heights.

 

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Is your business using social media to its full potential?

It’s safe to say that social media is not just a passing marketing fad, but rather a powerful marketing tool that is here to stay. When used correctly, it can prove to be very beneficial for your business, ultimately contributing to its growth and overall success. There are still quite a few skeptics out there, but hopefully after reading this post, they’ll be more willing to give it a chance.

It’s safe to say that social media is not just a passing marketing fad, but rather a powerful marketing tool that is here to stay. When used correctly, it can prove to be very beneficial for your business, ultimately contributing to its growth and overall success. There are still quite a few skeptics out there though, but hopefully after reading this post, they’ll be more willing to give it a chance. Here’s how clever use of social media (at little cost) can benefit you and your small business.

It increases brand awareness

Any opportunity to increase your visibility and recognition as a brand should be considered golden. Think of social media networks as new pathways leading customers to your brand as well further channels through which your brand’s voice can be heard. Ultimately, this will make you more accessible to both existing and potential customers. You’re also likely to see an improvement in brand loyalty as a result.

It allows for a more humanised connection

Interacting on social media enables brands to come across as more humanised, something that will automatically facilitate a more meaningful relationship with customers. Showing the human side of a brand helps people better relate to it because after all, customers prefer to do business with other people, as opposed to companies. Chances are that having a strong social media presence will result in higher conversion rates as well.

It helps create a higher brand authority

Social media platforms are an excellent way for potential customers to see how others feel about your brand. Very often, people tend to turn to social media when they want to compliment a brand or make a complaint, so it’s an easy way of determining whether or not the brand is perceived as being valuable to the general public. Also, the more people are talking about a brand or following it, the more likely they are to be seen as an authority in a specific industry.

It increases your opportunities for conversion

As mentioned previously, social media helps with conversion rates simply because the more content you put out there and the more conversation you’re involved in, the more opportunities your brand will have to entice potential customers. Each time you post or comment it provides a chance for someone to react which could lead to them visiting your site, which in turn could lead to a possible conversion. At the end of the day, every positive interaction with your brand increases the probability of an eventual conversion. You’re also bound to see an increase in inbound traffic when you use social media correctly, and more traffic means more people are being reached which ultimately means more conversions.

It enriches your customers’ experience

Just like emails and phone calls, social media is a tool for communication as well. It gives you the opportunity to publicly demonstrate the quality of your customer service and to strengthen your relationship with your customers. Social media can be the perfect way to show customers how much you care about them by responding to their needs, requests and comments by taking immediate action. This will only help customers believe in your brand more, enrich their experience with you, and hopefully as a result, recommend you to others. Your brand should always be all about your customers and the immediacy social media provides, can be used to your business’s advantage.

It helps you to learn about your audience

Social media can provide insight into your target audience which can be a huge advantage to your brand. It is an excellent social listening tool that allows you to gain valuable information with regards to the interests and needs of your customers. Once you have this insight, you can then use it when it comes to perfecting your product or service, as well as creating relevant content. You can tailor everything in accordance with what your specific audience likes and responds to, and in that way, ensure you deliver what your customers are after. It’s no use offering oranges to people who are really looking for apples.

Whether or not you believe in the power of social media, the one thing that you can be sure of is that your competitors most likely do, and therefore may be one step ahead in the game. Start small: pick one platform that will resonate and fit best with your customers, and then focus on perfecting it and building a following. Once you see the success it brings, you’re likely to try your hand at others.

Do your business and brand a favour and make sure you’re using social media to its full potential – you won’t regret it.

Sage Onlines offers a great platform for your business to start engaging socially. Visit www.sageonlinetools.co.za for more. Sage One online accounting software can also help your business reach its full potential. Get in touch for more information on its range of products.

 

Credit: http://www.forbes.com

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Here’s what you should be doing differently when it comes to your small business

Sometimes in business, entrepreneurs just get it right. Others will look on in awe and wonder what the secret to their success is and what they could be doing differently in order to become as successful. Establishing, running and growing your own business is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you can choose to do, and it requires consistent patience, persistence and dedication. 

Sometimes in business, entrepreneurs just get it right. Others will look on in awe and wonder what the secret to their success is and what they could be doing differently in order to become as successful. Establishing, running and growing your own business is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you can choose to do, and it requires consistent patience, persistence and dedication. As a small business owner you need to be constantly re-evaluating your business to ensure it’s performing at its absolute best. Here’s our list of a few things you should consider doing differently, if you aren’t doing them already.

Tweak and diversify

In order to have a successful business, people have to buy what you’re selling, be it a product or a service. If you noticed that sales have taken a dip, it may be time to make some changes to the things on offer. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean complete replacement, but perhaps only a few tweaks here and there. For example, you may consider creating new packages for clients that consist of a handful of your products, thereby adding value. You may find this better speaks to the needs of customers, something that should be constantly being met by your business. Diversification can also be an effective route to go and involves branching out a little. If you own a fashion business, you could think about expanding into garment care by offering a range of products that can be used to maintain the items of clothing you offer. You can end up not only appealing to already existing customers, but to an entirely new consumer market as well.

Don’t just market your product – sell your story

The key here is context. Consumers will be far more inclined to buy your product if they understand how it can help solve their problems. So how do you as the business owner go about achieving this? It’s simple: you provide the story behind the business. People tend to connect with stories, especially when it comes to those linked to specific products. The story will automatically inject meaning and emotion into the purchase process, but most importantly, telling a story brings a human element to the often clinical business world. By putting a face to the brand and sharing the story behind it, consumers are bound to feel more connected to it, and connection can not only lead to more sales, but to brand loyalty as well.

Embrace technology

Whether you like it not, the reality is that the role technology is playing in the success of small business is becoming more and more important every day. You can’t expect to grow in a technologically saturated world by turning your back on it. We don’t mean becoming tech-savvy overnight and investing in every possible element of technology pertaining to your particular business, but rather embracing it slowly but surely over a period of time. A good place to start is with social media– when used correctly, it can completely transform your marketing strategy…and for the better. Another thing to consider is the power of the Cloud. Software that operates within the Cloud can help to change how you run and manage your business dramatically. Sage One Software provides you with a fast, efficient and simple way of dealing with the financial side of your business, such as payroll and accounts. Don’t shy away from technology – it could be just the ingredient you need to boost your business.

Don’t compromise your vision

Among other things, flexibility and adaptability are two important aspects to bear in mind when it comes to running your own business. There’s no doubt that you will experience bumps in the road that require you to adapt and make changes fast, but in doing that, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of your purpose and core values. This can be easier said than done, but at the end of the day, if you compromise your vision and the principles you hold dear, you may end up regretting it. By all means make adjustments at times, but that shouldn’t mean having to sacrifice your vision completely.

Part of running your own business is learning as you go. You will stumble at times but the important thing is to get up and keep moving forward. Observe the businesses around you – you can only learn from them.

 

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