You have bills to pay, clients to contact and positions to fill. It’s possible that finding extra time to grow your business rather than managing the day-to-day can feel like a luxury you can’t afford right now, especially when small business tech enters the picture.
I can’t guarantee you a definitive piece of technology that will revolutionize your business, as every business is different, with a unique set of needs, goals, and challenges. But, after working with thousands of business owners and managers over the years, I can identify three areas of technology that almost always contribute to a company’s growth.
I could spend this entire blog on any one of the following areas. Instead, I’ll try to highlight the most important things you should know, and you can decide if you’d like to dig deeper if these make sense for your current business needs.
1. Customer Relationship Management Software
CRM stands for customer relationship management. What’s that you say? Simply, a CRM system is just a database — but a database so powerful that it can hold everything you and your team need to know about anyone touching your company — prospects, customers, vendors, suppliers, partners, etc. With a good CRM system, no opportunity falls through the cracks and no relationship is forgotten.
CRM systems help you grow because they allow your people to reach out to groups of customers and prospects to offer them products of interest, which means more sales. This system can get your service and sales groups working closer together to identify potential issues and opportunities, which means happier customers. Quotes get followed up on, problems get addressed timely. All of this impacts your revenues and your profits.
Break out the stage makeup and hit the lights — you’re going live. It’s predicted that more than 80 percent of internet traffic will be video-driven by 2021, as noted by Business Insider. Sure, much of that is YouTube and Netflix. As more Millennials hit their stride, they’re consuming video data in mass quantities so much so that it’s becoming the preferred way to learn. Smart companies recognize this and are expanding their video platforms, posting new content a few times a month. What kind of content? Interviews with customers, employees, and thought leaders to name a few. You don’t need a Hollywood-level set-up to produce these. You can do what you can with what you have, smartphones included.
Video is a driver of growth for two reasons. First, it’s a popular way to distribute information about your products, services, and company to potential customers so they can see and learn from you in action. Secondly, it’s a great way to show prospective employees — your biggest asset — the kind of company you are, the people who work for you, and the culture you broadcast. Customers are important for growth, but attracting good talent is just as important.
3. Online Advertising
Online ad choices come down to two options: Facebook and Google. Facebook has billions of daily users and more than 70 million small business pages, according to Bloomberg. You can target audiences and for hundreds of dollars create a very specific ad campaign to attract people to your Facebook page, website or e-commerce store. If you believe your audience is not on Facebook as much (which is very possible if you’re a B2B business) then Google AdWords should be your strategy. The platform offers basic tools to help business owners’ ads rank on Google search results pages. It’s the same there: you can target specific audiences by their location.
That said, online advertising is to me the smartest use of a small company’s advertising dollars to grow a business, create awareness or drive visitors to their store or website.
Your business may very well have different needs. These areas of small business tech do require either time commitment, money or both, so it is worth weighing your options before diving into any of these. But if you’re looking to grow revenues and profits, and give yourself an extra edge over your competitors, these technologies deserve a deeper dive.