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.

 

 

Featured image: http://www.technology-in-business.net

Cloud-based applications for SMEs I Cloud myth-busting

South African SMEs are enthusiastically embracing cloud-based applications such as Dropbox and Google Apps. Though the market is becoming more sophisticated, there are still a few myths that prevail about the risks and benefits of cloud computing, says Ivan Epstein, CEO of Sage Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa. “The cloud promises to make the use of business IT resources online and on-demand as easy as services such as Gmail and Dropbox,” says Epstein. “It’s about having a flexible new way of buying technology applications and services you need. Many of the fears that surround the cloud are now out of date.”

South African SMEs are enthusiastically embracing cloud-based applications such as Dropbox and Google Apps. Though the market is becoming more sophisticated, there are still a few myths that prevail about the risks and benefits of cloud computing, says Ivan Epstein, CEO of Sage Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa.

“The cloud promises to make the use of business IT resources online and on-demand as easy as services such as Gmail and Dropbox,” says Epstein. “It’s about having a flexible new way of buying technology applications and services you need. Many of the fears that surround the cloud are now out of date.”

Myth 1: It’s not secure

Many SMEs worry that their data will not be safe with a cloud software provider. But provided you choose a credible vendor, it will host and manage your application and data in a top-tier data centre underpinned by world-class technology, says Epstein. Such a facility will feature the latest and best information and physical security, he says.  “These facilities will be as secure as those where your bank keeps your confidential financial information locked up. No SME can afford to spend as much on security as a good cloud service provider does.”

Myth 2: An ordinary mobile broadband or ADSL line isn’t good enough

Many SMEs are already using cloud services on standard ADSL and mobile broadband connections with no problem. The user experience is more than acceptable for most services including accounting and payroll software. “You don’t need a fast, uncapped fibre line to use cloud apps,” he says. “Your ADSL line will do just fine and you won’t burn through huge amounts of bandwidth.”

Myth 3: You have to commit fully to the cloud or stay off it

Many SMEs think that taking advantage of services in the cloud means throwing out their existing applications and committing completely to a cloud provider. That’s not true, says Epstein, since you can opt for “connected services” that allow you to move over to the cloud at your own pace. “Connected services offer hooks into the cloud so you can benefit from working online while still using a PC software package,” says Epstein. “For example, a desktop accounting solution might allow you to access a range of digital transaction and payment solutions from within the package’s interface. We believe the future is in the cloud, but not everyone is ready to move completely over to using their software online.”

Myth 4: It’s just about cost-savings

The cloud can help you to save money on buying servers and installing software. It can also allow you to pay for your software per month rather than committing a big some upfront to buy a software package. Those are important benefits, but they are not as significant as the way the cloud gives your business more flexibility, he adds.

“The cloud turns IT consumed into a utility, transforming fixed costs into variable costs,” Epstein says. “It allows you to buy applications such as accounting not as a software suite but as a collection of services. You can buy what you need and increase your use of these services with a few clicks when you need to.” And the cloud makes information and business services available everywhere your employees have Internet access, making your workforce faster, more responsive and better informed.

Gathering clouds

“Judging from the demand for our online solutions, the cloud is gathering traction in South Africa’s SME sector. As the next step in Sage South Africa’s continued investment in the cloud, we have consolidated our Sage Pastel My Business Online, Sage Pastel My Payroll Online and Sage VIP Liquid offerings under the Sage One brand name.” Sage has built on this solid South African foundation, and applied global insights gleaned from the Sage One businesses in Europe and the US, to bring Sage One to South Africa, he adds.

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.

 

Featured image: http://michaelhyatt.com

Sage One Accounting Software: How it can help you run your business smoothly

In a previous post we took a look at the reasons why your small business needs Sage One Payroll software, so in this post we’ll be showing you how Sage One accounting software can help you run your business more smoothly. Here at Sage One, we value the hard work, effort and commitment that goes into getting a new business off the ground and operating smoothly and efficiently.

In a previous post we took a look at the reasons why your small business needs Sage One Payroll software, so in this post we’ll be showing you how Sage One accounting software can help you run your business more smoothly. Here at Sage One, we value the hard work, effort and commitment that goes into getting a new business off the ground and operating smoothly and efficiently. We want to see entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed, and that’s why we’re dedicated to doing what we can to get you there. The online accounting software Sage One offers is designed to help you manage the financial side of your business in the simplest and fastest way possible – something that will hopefully take you and your business a step closer to becoming a serious player in your particular industry.

Saves you time

You’ve heard it before, but it’s true: time is money. In business you want to be able to use your time wisely and find ways to avoid wasting it unnecessarily. One way of achieving this is by incorporating simplified processes into the everyday running of the business – the easier things are, the faster they’ll be completed which will save you time. Sage One’s accounting software is simple to use and a lack of confusing jargon makes it a breeze to deal with on a daily basis. It has an “intuitive interface”, making it easy for you to navigate your way around the system and find what you’re looking for fast.

Hassle-free

Fewer hassles with your software and operating systems usually results in smoother running of things all round. There are numerous “hassle-free” features of Sage One software, such as:

  • Upgrades: Because you’re working in the Cloud, your work is automatically “updated” instantly whenever you make changes which ensures that you’re always working on the latest version.
  • Installation: Again, using the Cloud means there’s nothing to install.
  • Accessibility: Provided you have Internet access, you’re able to access the system 24/7 from where ever you are. What could be more convenient?
  • Security: The Cloud stores all your data safely and securely, so you never have to worry about it landing in the wrong hands.

Full over-view of the business

Having a bird’s-eye view of your whole business is best when it comes to running things. When you can see every aspect of the financial side of your business, you’re able to manage it in the most effective way possible. With Sage One’s carefully designed Dashboard, you can keep your eye on everything, from who are your best customers, to your sales history and which are your top-selling products. Having a full-overview of the business will help you spot problem areas faster, make changes where necessary and overall, have a better idea of your business’s financial landscape.

The Drill Down feature is an added bonus that allows you to look deeper into the information presented to you by the interface. Having immediate access to the details behind the information you receive will provide you with a better understanding of why things are the way they are and this will hopefully lead to faster problem-solving and improved relationships with customers.

One-stop shop

Sage One software provides the perfect platform for business owners to deal with many things at once. From managing customers, suppliers and inventory, to creating customised invoices using the Sage One Custom Layout Designer, producing reports and managing the business’s bank accounts, Sage One’s online accounting is truly a one-stop shop. Furthermore, your accountant can be granted access to the system, allowing him to keep an eye on the financials from where ever he is.

Sage One software is everything rolled into one, making it the ideal financial management tool for any small business. To find out more about this fantastic software and its features, take a quick tour on the Sage One website.

 

Featured image: http://blogs.voices.com