By Larry Alton
Technology and business are so intertwined that it's often difficult to analyze them independently. This is particularly difficult when you're trying to decide whether it's time to invest in new small business technology. The fact that there are so many new technologies, tools, and resources only compounds the problem.
How do you know which technologies are right for your small business? It's a complex issue—and one that requires careful analysis. However, there are some general rules that apply to most businesses and could be helpful in pointing you in the right direction. Let's take a closer look at them.
4 Signs Your Small Business Needs New Technology
Most of the time, small business owners look for ways that they can grow their businesses and, at the same time, take a hands-off approach that lets them spend more time with their families.
Let's assume this applies to you; you want to gain a competitive advantage, but don't know where you're going wrong. If all other systems are properly in place, you're probably messing up by using the wrong tech solutions. Here are a few signs that indicate you need to change things up
1. You're restricted by location
Are you restricted by where you can work? With so much mobile and Internet technology in the marketplace, you should be capable of working from pretty much anywhere. If you can't perform most of your responsibilities from a computer at your kitchen table, you're probably not using the right technologies.
2. Social media overwhelms you
Stressed out by social media? If you can't find the time to give your social media profiles the attention they demand, you probably aren't making use of the hundreds of social media monitoring tools and resources available to you.
3. Technologies fail to scale
When your business grows, do your technologies seamlessly scale with it? If you have to replace software and devices every time your business adds a new component, you're not investing in the right solutions.
4. Everything is cheap and convenient
When you shop for new technology, how do you reach a decision on what to buy? Many small business owners make the mistake of selecting the most convenient or least expensive option. As you might guess, this isn't always the best solution.
As Keith Tanaka, vice president of tech support company Digity, told Business News Daily, "Since small business owners wear so many hats, they may not have the time to learn and think strategically about technology." However, if any of the four signs we listed above sound familiar, it may be time to make a change.
Investing in New Small Business Technology
If technology isn't your strong suite, it's important that you surround yourself with industry experts who know what they're talking about. And while you may not be able to afford the salary of an in-house technology expert, there are always options to outsource your IT needs. Regardless of how you do it, it's time to consider investing in new technologies for the future of your company. Here are five excellent areas on which to focus.
1. Cloud technology
The cloud continues to grow rapidly, and you would be wise to invest in cloud computing and cloud storage sooner rather than later. The cloud not only does a better job of protecting your data, but it also offers more flexible project management and increased control.
2. Responsive Web design
Ever use a mobile device to view a website that isn’t optimized to display properly on a small screen? It isn’t pretty, and mobile customers will click away to a competitor before you can say "crappy website." As the number of mobile devices in the marketplace increases, investing in responsive Web design ensures that your website provides a high-quality user experience—no matter what device your customers use to access the site.
3. Social media monitoring
As mentioned earlier, monitoring your growing social media presence can be extremely challenging. Thankfully, you'll find a number of tools and resources designed to keep you in the loop and warn you when you need to address an issue. Most of these social media monitoring tools are cost-effective and completely scalable.
4. Mobile devices
Almost every business has implemented some form of mobile technology into its structure, but it's still worth mentioning. Mobile devices remove geographical borders and let you work from anywhere. If you aren't already using tablets and smartphones, now's the time to catch up.
5. Automated marketing
Perhaps nothing is more impactful than a sophisticated automated marketing solution. Research the various solutions and find one that not only fits your marketing needs, but can also be effortlessly integrated with your existing technologies. The money you spend here can play large dividends in the future.
Moving Your Small Business Forward
In the beginning stages of business, growth can be rapid and owners can run on adrenaline. However, after the excitement of the initial stages wears off, it can be challenging to achieve sustainable growth. By recognizing your shortcomings and investing in new technologies that move your small business forward, you can combat these issues and continue scaling.
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