One of the top priorities for any small business is growth. Almost no entrepreneur launches a business with the expectation of staying the same size forever, but remains on the lookout for new opportunities that will take the business to that next level.
In many cases, taking advantage of those opportunities requires tapping into available technology. Technology not only makes it possible to work more efficiently and increases the capabilities of the company, but it can also support a happier and healthier workforce, which is closely tied to the overall productivity and success of your organization.
The problem for many SMBs though is that there are so many different technology options to potentially invest in that it can be challenging to determine which is the best for your business.
The best technology for a small business are those tools that help reduce costs while also helping the business reach more customers and provide better service, move into new markets, and improve overall efficiency. With that in mind, you consider investing your technology budget in the following areas.
By now, your business has most likely leveraged the cloud in some fashion. However, if you’re only using the cloud for storage, or for a limited number of applications, it’s time to consider upgrading your investment. Cloud services can help improve your business’ communication and collaboration and increase agility, allowing you and your team to work from anywhere at any time. Cloud services are also a key aspect of disaster planning and recovery, and considering that a disaster (natural or manmade) could put you out of business within short order, planning and preparation needs to be a priority. Finally, the cloud can save your business money, allowing you to scale up as you need it without a significant investment.
While you may not be able to afford a dedicated IT security team to protect your business (yet) you can still invest in tools to keep your business safe from hackers. From security training and certifications for your staff to upgraded security tools such as advanced antivirus protection, business Wi-Fi systems, and mobile device management. The money you spend on security now will pay off by preventing losses from security incidents in the future.
While the growth of cloud services has reduced the need for businesses to invest as heavily in physical hardware, you will still need to invest in some infrastructure. From computers and mobile devices for your employees to networking equipment, as your business grows you will undoubtedly need to upgrade and expand your infrastructure to accommodate the business’s needs.
Allowing your employees to work on the road requires providing them with tools to securely access your network, as well as secure communication tools. Public Wi-Fi is not secure at all for business purposes, so offering a virtual private network helps your employees work on the road securely. Investing in the technology, again, expands the reach of your business and its security.
From email campaign management to web analytics, ROI calculators to landing page builders, there are dozens of marketing automation tools that can help you get the most from your marketing budget and grow your business. While all-encompassing tools can cost well into the thousands of dollars per month, there are less expensive options as well. Determine your priorities and invest in tools that can make these important tasks easier, more efficient, and most importantly, more effective.
You probably don’t think of ergonomics when you think of business technology, but investing in tools like dual monitors, stand-up desks, and higher quality chairs can help control costs by limiting potential employee injuries or absenteeism due to pain or discomfort, while also improving employee productivity.
Supporting Your Investment
Although you understand the importance of investing in technology to support your business’s growth, you may have questions about how to actually pay for the tools. A business line of credit can provide the funds required to may these important purchases, without incurring the extra expenses or debt associated with making purchases via a business loan or credit card. Planning for new technology investments in your annual budgeting process is also important.
By understanding that you will have to make these investments to remain a viable enterprise, and avoiding being caught by surprise when your older tech is no longer sufficient, your business will continue to grow and your bottom line will continue to improve.