In recent years, small businesses have gotten used to being spoiled for choice when it comes to technology.
Where they were once at a disadvantage compared to bigger firms, they can now compete on equal footing. But just because they can make use of more technology, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they should.
The reason is simple. It’s that technology providers recognize the SMB market as an opportunity to turn a tidy profit selling businesses things they may not need. And they know they can get away with it due to the relative inexperience that some SMB owners have relative to corporate purchase decision-makers. That means there are some areas where an SMB owner can get in way over their heads and end up spending far more on tech than necessary.
In reality, there are only a limited number of areas where the average small business should be spending money on technology. And by sticking to them, an SMB can make smart spending decisions that will likely pay for themselves. Here’s what they are.
Productivity Tools and Trackers
No matter the industry that an SMB operates in, there’s a good chance that labour represents its single largest operating cost. And that means anything that optimises labour spending is well worth considering. But as is the case in most operational areas, you can’t optimise what you don’t track. That’s what makes employee tracking software such a worthwhile tech investment. With it in place, managers can track worker productivity and identify workflows that may benefit from updates and changes. In many cases, the labour costs realised through such software help it to pay for itself in no time — after which it delivers continuous bottom-line added value.
Sales Tools and Automation
While labour represents an SMB’s biggest cost driver, sales are always its primary revenue driver. Therefore, it makes sense to try and apply the latest tech to the sales process to improve results. One of the best ways that SMBs can do that is by investing in solutions like CRM software and sales automation tools. The former provides the SMB with a central repository for all knowledge and information pertaining to its customers. And the latter helps them to manage outreach and communication campaigns that would normally require a much larger sales force. Together, the technologies offer a path to an outsize boost in sales for a minimal investment. A true no-brainer if there ever was one.
Communication and Collaboration Technology
While tracking employees’ work outcomes is a good tactic to find ways to improve efficiency, there’s another way that works as the perfect complement to those efforts. It’s to provide employees with high-quality digital communication and collaboration tools to make their work faster and easier to do. Solutions like unified communications platforms typically make for good investments, as do online collaboration tools like Slack, Trello, and others. It’s even worth it for businesses using Google’s ubiquitous G Suite of products to invest in one of the many high-quality Gmail apps for Windows to streamline employees’ communications and make the most out of what the service has to offer.
If It Cuts Costs or Raises Revenue, Go for It
The truth is that no two SMBs are alike. And as such, they’ll always have unique technology needs that don’t fit neatly into the categories above. But if you examine the areas identified here, you’ll notice that they have one thing in common. It’s that they all can create clear and measurable bottom-line results. So, the major takeaway here is this — if a tech investment has a use case that will either save your SMB money or help it make more, it’s probably worth exploring. And if it’s not, there’s a good chance that a tech purveyor is looking to make a quick profit selling you something unnecessary. After all, they’re in business to make money too, aren’t they?