Technology can help small business owners leverage limited capital in smarter and more effective ways. In some cases, using technology is a natural progression for processes you may already have in place in your business. In others, you may need to make some adjustments to reap the benefits of these tech-friendly alternatives. The good news is that the benefits will often outweigh the short-lived challenges of the transitional process, once your new systems are in place.
These ideas will help you use technology in your small business to do more with less and become more efficient and versatile. Not tech-savvy? Don't worry. Many of the ideas include links to articles that will help you get started, quickly and painlessly.
1. Use time tracking software to see where you are spending your time so you can become more productive.
2. Explore open source applications to replace some of the more costly "name brand" alternatives.
3. Streamline your work processes with digital dictation.
4. Use project management and task management tools to stay on top of your daily business responsibilities.
5. Create a digital filing system to make it easier to sort, save, share and find documents.
6. Develop an efficient email management process that makes it easier to stay on top of the flow of messages.
7. Use an online invoicing service to reduce the costs of collecting payment from customers.
8. Use online budget tracking to keep on top of — and reduce — your expenses.
9. File your taxes more efficiently online.
10. Create a new income stream by selling your products online.
11. Use a comprehensive accounting software to streamline your business finances.
12. Share digital files with your bookkeeper or accountant to improve your ongoing bookkeeping processes.
13. Use software to create a marketing plan that you can edit, update and share with your team.
14. Use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. to promote your business, products and services.
15. Start a blog related to your business and target audience.
16. Collect email addresses through an opt-in form and start utilizing the power of email marketing.
17. Use video marketing.
18. Promote your business with a website and/or online advertising.
Collaboration and Learning
19. Conduct teleconference calls to make sure team members in different locations are on the same page.
20. Hold a webinar or web conference for travel-free face-to-face time.
21. Expand your knowledge with online business training.
22. Share files and data with the Cloud.
23. Set up an Intranet for local file sharing.
24. Communicate quickly with your team through instant messaging.
25. Use social media to conduct customer service.
26. Set up an online help desk or ticket system to handle customer issues.
27. Allow clients to schedule appointments online at their convenience.
28. Use online surveys and questionnaires to get customer feedback.
Mobile Working and Telecommuting
Create a mobile office that allows you to work productively from anywhere.
30. Use remote desktop applications to access files on your office computer.
31. Go paperless to save money on supplies and storage in your office.
32. Get a virtual phone number and an electronic fax line that you can take anywhere.
33. Use your smartphone and select apps (that sync with the Cloud) to stay connected when you're on the go.
For more on using technology to lower costs in your small business, read: Top 12 Low-Cost Technology Solutions for Small Business.