With a small business, you need to be careful about your budget and analyze every expenditure. When it comes to technology, you don’t need to buy the latest and greatest of everything. However, there are areas where you should spend the money because it will pay off in the long run. Let’s look at some of the technology that is worth investing in, as well as various free and low-cost tech solutions which can also increase your productivity and profitability.
Internet and Phone Service
Fast, reliable internet service is one of the keys to productivity. Also, business marketing and sales are done on the internet as well these days; therefore, you shouldn't cut corners when it comes to an internet provider. So, choose a reliable company that offers security, unlimited bandwidth, high speed, and 24/7 customer service. You also need a quality cell phone provider, so you can take phone calls, conduct video chats, and answer emails on the go. Look for an unlimited data plan so that you won’t have to worry about overage charges and how much data you’re using. Some providers offer specific plans for businesses that accommodate multiple phone lines.
You don’t need to invest in an in-house IT team when you are a small or new business. However, you need to have access to professionals in case a database crash, phishing attack, malware scam, or other catastrophe causes system failure or data loss. Identify a reputable company that specializes in data security that can get your computer system back up and recover your data quickly with minimal loss. Having a company on retainer (or at least on speed dial) can protect your business against significant loss. While you can’t guarantee you won’t suffer a breach or experience a cyber catastrophe, you can take some preventive steps. Make sure all your business computers feature antivirus protection and file encryption, use a password manager, and regularly back up your data.
Customer Service Assistance
When it comes to customer service, don’t slack off, as this is the key to retaining customers and clients, and poor customer service could be very costly to your business. If it’s become too overwhelming for you to handle all your phone calls, emails, and other inquiries, you don’t need to add a slew of full-time employees. For online queries, you can enlist the services of a chatbot. Chatbots use artificial intelligence to answer your customer’s questions and enhance their experience on your website. The cost of setting up and deploying a chatbot varies depending on your specifications and needs. Another option is to hire freelancers to take over customer service responsibilities.
For the day-to-day management of your business, you probably need access to a word processing program, spreadsheet software, and so on. If you are just starting out, you don't need to spring for Microsoft Office Suite. Instead, you can use free, open-source software such as LibreOffice with nearly the same functionality.
Fortunately, you can find a number of free voice and video teleconferencing services that allow you to keep in touch with all your team members, clients, and more. Skype is a popular option with a simple interface that many people are familiar with. Zoom and GoToMeeting also may be suitable, low-cost options for your business needs.
Stay connected with remote employees, freelancers, and clients by using collaboration tools. These tools can be used for brainstorming, group projects, file sharing, task management, and more. Slack is used by many businesses, large and small, for both messaging and collaborating. They offer a free version, as well as low-cost, fee-based packages with more functionality. Trello, Asana, and many other online collaboration tools are also worth exploring.
New technology is exciting, and it’s always tempting to spring for all the latest computers, gadgets, software, and tools. However, for a small or new business, it’s best to refrain from overspending and only spend money on tech when it makes sense.Photo via Pixabay