The importance of having the right tech tools on hand is undeniable for small business owners. If you’re not up-to-date and using all of the available channels and options available to you, you’ll eventually be left behind. Think about it this way: using tech ultimately makes your business seem bigger, giving customers greater confidence in your brand and your products.
“Small businesses can do BIG things using low-cost technology and readily available expertise,” says Ramon Ray, Journalist and Editor at Smallbiztechnology.com.
So what types of technology will launch your business? It goes without saying that you should already be setup with internet, a computer and a smartphone device, but we’ve got a few more suggestions, from the basics like a website and social media to more advanced tools like mobile hotspots and cloud storage.
If you’re brick-and-mortar small business, having a website gives you the chance to brand yourself to a much wider audience. If you’re an online retailer, a website is obvious. There are plenty of easy-to-use website builders that offer e-commerce and other fun bobbles, including blogging tools, which, with constant content, will allow for search engine web crawlers to find and share your brand with the world. Also, don’t forget to make sure your site is mobile-friendly, or Google won’t give you the attention you want.
The small business customer service game is played out largely on social media these days, making your business’s presence on Twitter and Facebook more important than ever. Having accounts on Vine, Instagram, and Pinterest give you an even greater edge with their visual branding possibilities. A constant social presence gives you the opportunity to get to know your customers, share brand activities, and offer new and exciting ways for customers to connect. Don’t forget to claim your business on Yelp, too!
A bit of a more advanced tech tool for small business owners, CrazyEgg is the king of heat mapping, which helps you figure out the ins and outs of how customers are experiencing your website. You might think aspects of your website are winning out, but through heat mapping you’ll probably discover that your customers are more attracted to certain links and images than other calls-to-action. CrazyEgg will give you the advantage in understanding your customers and being able to better cater to their behaviors and needs.
Having a social media plan is a great, but knowing how to analyze and understand what’s happening on social is even better. Hootsuite and SproutSocial are amazing tech tools that allow you to create reports about your interactions, your posts, and your users. Curious about your demographics? Where those Twitter followers are coming from? Maybe you want to know the best time of day to post. SproutSocial gives you the upperhand on all of these things, even allowing you to create competitor reports so you know how you’re social plan is competing.
No matter where you are, as a small business owner you should always be able to access your company’s files, inventory, emails, and anything else you need to feel connected. Enter the mobile hotspot. The “hotspot” — a small device that plugs into your computer — essentially is a mobile wireless router that allows you to access the internet no matter where you go. Whether you’re at the airport heading to an investor meeting or sitting in a coffee shop, a mobile hotspot keeps you connected.
If you’ve got a mobile hotspot available, then setting up a cloud network will make your life all the more easy. Using cloud storage through DropBox or Google Drive gives you access to all of your important files no matter where you are. No need for large servers back at home or having to rely on someone to send you something at the last minute because you don’t have the files on your computer — with cloud storage, you have secure, convenient access to everything.
Of course there are hundreds of other amazing tech tools available to small business owners, ranging from point-of-sale systems to smartphone apps that will keep your operations running smoothly. However, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or newbie to the small business tech game, we recommend thinking macro until you’re comfortable and then getting down to the nitty gritty micro tech tools. Think big, and your customers will, too.