Most small businesses don’t have a massive tech budget. As disheartening as that may be when you want to keep up with the latest, greatest gadgets, there are many affordable bits of tech that can take your business to the next level. Technology has come a long way in the last 20 years, and high-end hardware, reliable accounting systems, and off-site warehousing have become accessible to the rest of us. So, continue reading for a few ideas on how to bring your business into the technological age.
If you want to look like a rock star to your customers, you have to make your products and services as accessible as possible. Two of the best tools to help you do just that are dropshipping and appointment reminders.
Dropshipping is when you offer a product for sale but do not stock it in your on-site warehouse. Instead, you accept orders from your customers, and the product is filled through a third party on your behalf. One of the biggest advantages of a dropshipping model is that it allows you to offer a broad spectrum of items without a significant investment. You can easily switch from offering trending products, such as fidgets spinners and drones, to timeless staples, like wedding supplies and children’s clothing. A website tracking service can help you keep track of which product pages are visited and by which customers. This can give you valuable insight on what items generate the most interest.
Another valuable service that does not require a huge investment is providing your clients with automated text message reminders that integrate with their calendar software. This is beneficial for you because it reduces no-shows and increases repeat business. Your customers will appreciate a reminder in a non-intrusive form. Appointment Reminder is an example of this type of service. Bonus: It is essentially a plug-in-play program that requires very little training.
Not all computers are created equally, and you have to consider factors such as RAM, storage capacity, and the type of graphics card you have installed. While laptops certainly have their place in our mobile world, for the most power and performance, plan on having at least one desktop PC as your central tech hub. Remember, laptops can be lost or stolen, and it is much harder to misplace a computer that stays stationary.
If you have more than one piece of computer equipment in your office, having the right networking hardware is crucial. Newegg Business goes into considerable detail in their 2019 small office network setup guide. Having a system in place now can save you money as you expand and find it necessary to scale your business capabilities to follow suit.
Your computer system is only as powerful as the hardware that you utilize. Depending on your industry, you will need to research the best types of programs. Store owners, for instance, can benefit from a point-of-sale system that combines in-store and online selling. Other key features to look for in this system include built-in tracking, the ability to manage your inventory, and having access to real-time sales and labor costs reports.
If you are a graphic designer, you will need access to powerful illustrating and photo editing programs. There are many free options currently on the market, but you get what you pay for. Adobe, which would be relevant to the above profession example, costs users between $10 and $83 per month for access to their creative suite and cloud storage.
Regardless of your industry, you will do yourself and your customers a favor by investing in reliable accounting software, which will let you monitor your business financials so that you always know where you stand.
Despite the affordability of technology, if funds are low, consider financing sources to help you cover the cost without interfering with your day-to-day operating budget. There are many options for small business financing, including lines of credit, equipment financing, and SBA loans. You might find that what you spend on technology and loan fees is little in comparison to the return on your investment.
Your company might be small, but there’s no reason you can’t utilize the power of today’s tech to keep up with the big guys. The best part is that you do not have to have an IT department to access technology that entrepreneurs 20 years ago could only dream of.
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