An article about how technology solves problems? Isn't that what it, you know, does?
Okay, so you have a point. Sort of. Why the qualification? The sheer number of business challenges that a healthy dose of technology can solve is downright astounding. Better, many solutions could have been custom-built for hurdles small organizations commonly face.
Here are four universal obstacles and how to get around them with the right technology:
1. Side Revenue Streams, and Why You Need 'Em
Speaking of obvious things, businesses (or at least the people who run them) enjoy making money. It could even be said that most organizations exist solely for that purpose, or at least need the green stuff to continue running. Crazy, right?
As it turns out, technology is pretty darn good at helping you find new ways to do that, with a strong emphasis on the "new." Collaborative tools and their ability to build productive business relationships are one fine example of this idea. Take the slew of B2B-focused food industry vendors that effectively add delivery service to any restaurant. Many organizations assume the legwork, risk, and back-end costs of making food portable, offering a low-investment (potentially) high-return path to a whole new market. And this comes without the infrastructure and human investment it would require to do the same thing on your own.
2. Your Experience, Improved
If the digital era has taught us anything, it's that customers crave positive customer experiences (CX) above all else. Do a good job with it, and you'll build a rabidly loyal base of customers in no time. More, providing a CX that stands against larger, enterprise-level competitors rides high on the list of small-business challenges. When the "other guys" have a marketing and development budget that matches a small country's GDP, you know you have a tough row to hoe.
Technology can help in more ways than one here. Going back to its collaborative nature, a simple internet connection can — wait for it — connect you with skilled, affordable graphic designers who are willing to work on an a la carte basis, giving your business access to a new visual identity without a massive investment on your part. For companies with a little more capital to spare on the customer experience, loyalty programs can be purchased as configurable products, opening the door to bonuses on the customer's side and invaluable data on yours.
Then, there are the simple things, such as a responsive and active social media presence, which any company can provide with a little savvy. These are just three ways to bump up your experience with technology — as hokey as it sounds, the sky truly is the limit on this front.
3. Cut That Overhead! Cut That Overhead!
If you'll forgive the reference to a decade-old commercial, there's no question excessive overhead costs are among the biggest small-business challenges around. And while some companies may feel the need to inflict mutiny-worthy measures to lower overhead — such as removing the free coffee that is the lifeblood of your organization's productivity — there are much nicer ways to get your operational costs down.
Savings, thy name be the cloud. While making the move to cloud business systems does require some upfront investment, the list of overhead-slashing cloud tools is so long we'd be hard-pressed to name them all in 100 articles. For instance, a company worried about excessive document usage could move to a cloud-based generation-and-storage system, which makes the creation of and access to critical papers such as invoices and contracts far easier than the days of fax and copy.
4. Grow That Business! Grow That Business!
Okay, we'll stop now. However, the fact is that many owners and decision-makers spend so much time caught up in the day-to-day aspects of their business that they don't have time to focus on the whole "long-term growth" thing. This is what experts like to call a serious problem.
Here's where cloud integration comes in again. Doing a good job of it takes a smart road map, some capital, and a long-term vision to make it work. However, if you do it right, oh boy. By tailoring your operations to the mobility-enhancing, process-simplifying strengths of cloud apps, you can remove the dreaded time overhead from your already swamped schedule.
How nice would it be to manage inventory from all your locations from a single portal that can be accessed from anywhere? How much more time could you spend on the business (as opposed to in it) if you could delegate critical tasks to trusted employees, all while keeping near-omniscient oversight? These are the things the cloud can do for you if you're willing to embrace it properly. Better, they're just the start.
Of course, small-business challenges are always going to be around. Unsurprisingly, your skill in handling them will play a major hand in how your business thrives. Technology may not be a panacea, but it does provide many ways to address your problems head-on — and, if you're lucky, may even lay a path to your very own Scrooge McDuck-style money vault. Either way, that's something worth pursuing.
Cloud integration isn't just for the big fish in your pond. Contact Vonage Business to learn how it can transform your business.