When you start a small business, you’ll probably be going up against more established and much larger competition. You are unlikely to have the capacity to spend anywhere near the same amount of money such giant competitors will on running and growing your business.
Ergo, your best bet is to leverage technology in order to maximize productivity and eliminate inefficiency. Here are some useful tech tips to take your business to the next level.
1. Canned Email Responses
Canned email responses don’t have the best of reputations. When you are running a small business though, it can be a lifesaver. You do not have the luxury of a vast team of employees to respond to every customer call in the event that you experience a sudden surge in customer interest or if your systems fail.
Canned emails can be great as a holding response to let the customer know you have received their message and will respond to them within 24 hours.
Chatbots provide similar advantages to small businesses as canned responses. Phone support is great but can be tedious and demands absolute attention. Chatbots provide more flexibility which is useful for the multitasking that’s common in small businesses. As the customer is typing their request or response, the person manning the bot could be doing something else.
Chatbots also cut down on the amount of infrastructure you need. A laptop with the requisite software (or a browser-based fully online chat bot that doesn’t require any installation) will suffice. In fact, if you don’t want to spend on a chatbot service, free and widely available chat services like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp can serve the purpose
3. Utilize Cloud Services
The traditional approach to acquiring an enterprise system was to purchase a server, transport it to your business physical location then proceed to install and configure the application. With the emergence of cloud-based services, this model has proved to be prohibitively expensive in the long run.
Large corporations are abandoning it and instead going for cloud-based services. It’s a move that’s even more relevant for small businesses that have a much more limited technology budget. Cloud services means outsourcing the hardware (and in the case of SaaS, the software too) to a third party so you can devote your energies on actually growing the business.
4. Establish a Robust Monitoring Process
When it comes to technology, prevention is better than repair. Technology failures and outages can be quite expensive not only in terms of the cost of repair but also the loss of business and damage to reputation. It’s a cost small businesses can hardly afford.
To prevent such incidents, establish a robust monitoring process that provides real-time data on the status of your systems. Emerging problems can be tackled before they spiral out of control. For example, if you are running Python applications, this monitoring tool could prove quite useful https://www.appoptics.com/monitor/python-performance
5. Establish Robust Backup Process and Technology
Small businesses tend to store most of their valuable data in just one or two devices such as the CEO’s laptop or a marketing executive’s phonebook. The loss of just one such gadget can severely impair operations.
Setting up a rigorous backup process where all crucial data is stored in a central location that is in turn backed up on a daily basis is vital. The backup technology should include a disaster recovery component that ensures rapid restoration of operations in the event of disruption.
Given how ubiquitous information technology is today, it would be easy to assume that businesses are taking full advantage. Unfortunately, many small businesses are failing to make the most use of technology. Technology can give you the power to compete with big market players on an almost equal footing.