On a daily basis, small business owners find themselves in an extremely competitive environment. It’s been said before that, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.” This is especially true now that advances in technology and communications are occurring more frequently and businesses both large and small are able to adopt them with relative ease. Effectively increasing your business’s productivity can mean the difference between just “getting by” and dominating your market. Here are some tips to help you achieve the latter.
- Provide anytime, anywhere access to out of office employees – It’s becoming more and more common for employees to work from outside of a physical office. Whether they’re working from home, out in the field or just gone for an event, you want to make sure they have instant access to the information they need. Without proper mobility solutions in place, your team is guaranteed to lag on projects and customer service. Small business cloud computing services are often the easiest way to improve on your business’s mobility.
- Make it easy to manage information – If your business is still passing around manila folders, listen up. The way your business organizes and acts upon its information might very well be the most important component to your success. It is imperative that both you and your team be able to access and manage your company’s data with ease and minimal downtime. Things like email, file storage, permissions, etc. are all part of this information management. This also means ensuring your data is backed up often and you have a solid disaster recovery plan in place for when (not if) theft, human error or natural disaster strikes.
- Streamline customer communications – Have you incorporated a CRM (customer relationship management) solution yet? A solid CRM will exponentially increase your interaction with your customers and prospects, helping you deliver fast and knowledgeable services. One of the more popular small business CRMs is Salesforce but there are many CRM’s that are more industry specific or perhaps more suited to your unique needs. Here is a link to get you started if you’ve yet to explore your CRM options – Popular CRM Tools.
- Employ a managed service provider (MSP) – It’s no mystery that small business owners and executives can wear many hats. Hooray for building your skill sets but unfortunately, this dilutes your ability to handle the more pressing responsibilities within your company…like maintaining “high-level” thinking and running your business as a leader. Managed IT services allows owners, executives and even IT managers to stay out of the weeds by removing the hefty technology burden that comes with being a competitive company. MSPs provide ongoing IT support, maintenance, project work, consultation and more. Essentially, they act as your IT department; a full team for a fraction of the cost of bringing one person in-house.
- Develop both short and long term technology plans – Sure you know where you want your business to go (right?) but how you get there is equally as important. Without methodical planning regarding your technology and business productivity solutions, you will unnecessarily burn through your hard earned cash. People hire consultants for all kinds of things and IT should absolutely be one of them. Make sure you choose a company that’s local (who can physically look at your network and perform an IT assessment) and one that’s reputable with years of experience. They will provide you direction and suggest any needed changes to make your business as efficient as possible.
Heed these tips like you heed a stop light! If you plow through it without paying attention, you’re asking for a serious, costly accident. If you take your time and make educated decisions, the end result will be a company that’s healthy from the inside-out; resilient, competitive and a force to be reckoned with!