The best technology hacks for small businesses

Digital and innovation

23 July 2019

Your business may be small, but your work ethic is unmatched.

You’re the owner, the accountant, the call centre, the marketing team, the HR director and the office admin all in one. You work hard, through the long hours and the sleepless nights. And you deserve a bit of help now and then.

Luckily, whatever small problem or big issue is facing your business on any given day, chances are there’s a tech hack to help make it a little simpler.

Take a look at our list of six small business tech hacks and discover the tools that can help make your day run a little more smoothly.

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Hack one: employ a personal assistant (in your pocket)

One of the most important pieces of kit which small business owners can’t do without is probably already in your pocket.

With an in-built calculator, alarm and calendar, plus access to almost any information you can think of at the click of a button, the smartphone has become essential to most people’s day to day lives. But for small business owners, the smartphone can become a handheld personal assistant.

Most smartphones have some sort of personal assistant feature, from Siri to Bixby and from Cortana to Google Assistant. With the right downloads and apps, your smartphone could soon be managing everything your work email inbox and diary, your business’ website and social media presence, your company’s finances and receipts, and anything else in between.

Use project management tools and task management apps like Asana or Trello to get things done more quickly and stay on top of your to do lists. And if things start piling up and you feel like you need a break, let a Spotify playlist whisk you away to calmer chillout vibes, or use Headspace to practice mindfulness when you’re on the go.

 

Hack two: tap into free learning

We live in the information age, now more than ever. That means there’s more online learning being made available every day to help small businesses, and much of it is completely free of charge.

Google Digital Garage offers free online training courses to help small business owners learn some of today’s most in-demand skills, including digital marketing, coding, public speaking and content advertising. You can even gain a certification asserting that you’ve put in the work to take your business to the next level.

Youtube is another great place for free online tutorials, while knowledge sharing websites like Quora can crowdsource answers to specific questions you might have on any topic relating to your business. If podcasts are your thing, the Seth Godin Startup School podcast is an online audio workshop where startups can learn how to make their business dreams a reality.

 

Hack three: (social) networking

It’s a good bet that you’re already on social media every day for personal use, but there’s a range of tools and apps to help make harnessing social for your small business easier too.

Online review sites like Google Reviews, TripAdvisor or social sites like Facebook are the ‘word of mouth advertising of today, and social media is a great way to connect with your customers or target audience quickly. And these days, there’s more and more tools available to help business owners manage their social media accounts from one place easily.

For example, social media management platforms like Hootsuite allow you to schedule posts for the future, engage with comments and customers and post photos and videos across different social platforms simultaneously.

But while managing your social networks is becoming more simple, the danger of social media becoming an attention drain and productivity black hole is greater than ever. To avoid this, keep some productivity apps like Todoist close to hand, which aims to help ‘tame life’s chaos’ by allowing you to create easy to follow online to-do lists to keep your business tasks in order.

 

Hack four: get on Google

As a small business, one of the hardest parts of making it work is just getting your name out there in the first place.

Google has fast become the first stop shop for most people looking to search for products, services, people or businesses, either locally or further afield. In fact, 45% of all searches on Google are local, and 18% on average lead to a sale.

Google are making it even easier for small businesses to get online with Google My Business, which lets you claim and verify your local business’ listing on the internet. If your small business is looking to be found quickly by customers online, follow our guide on how to your business on Google.

To further make your business as Google-friendly as possible, there’s a number of quick wins and handy hacks to raise your web profile and drive more customers to your site. To find out more, take a look at some SEO tips for small businesses.

 

Hack five: beat the bookkeeping blues

It’s one of the biggest bugbears of small business owners. One word that’s likely to strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned entrepreneur: finances. But if spreadsheets make your head spin and expenses make you want to explode – there’s an app for that too.

One of the leaders in the small business finance field is QuickBooks, an accounting software package designed specifically for small businesses or self-employed people who may not have access to a dedicated accountant. Or for on-the-go financing,  Crunch Now is a mobile app designed to handle quick bookkeeping tasks like claiming an expense, sending an invoice or adding a new client to your payment list.

Another financial fear for many small businesses is getting paid the correct amount, on time. Some 20% of small businesses have run into cash flow problems due to late payments, so why not try PayPal or Pingit to help make making and receiving payments faster.

 

Hack six: keep it simple

Being a small business certainly comes with its challenges, but being small can sometimes be the ace up your sleeve.

As a small business, you can respond more quickly to changes in the market, respond to customer needs more quickly, offer a more personal service. They say less is more, and sometimes the most straightforward solution is the best one, so why not keep things simple in your small business?

Create a mobile office so that while you’re on the move, your business doesn’t stand still either. Adopt cloud computing to save on storage and network memory. Consider going paperless to save money on supplies and storage.

Instead of spending time and money travelling to meetings, use Skype or Google Hangouts instead. Use Google Drive or Dropbox to share and collaborate with others without the need for printing and postage costs.

Use your small size to your advantage, go for the simple option and keep yourself agile enough to adapt to whatever comes your way.

There’s countless other tech tools and smart hacks to help your small business run a little more smoothly – but find what works for you. Every business is different, and one business’ time-saving tool might be another business’ time-wasting trap.

Experiment, try new technology and find an app, process or hack that suits your small business. With the right tech, your small business could make a big splash.

 

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