These days, if you run a business, it’s almost required that you use technology to run and promote your business. While the relatively recent explosion in the number of digital tools has made it so you have many options, it can be difficult to know where to start. If your business needs a digital upgrade, look at these six areas of your company first.
Just as important as the product or service you sell is the communication among your team members. While there’s still a place for phone calls, we’re much beyond that, with tons of great tools aimed at making communication easier, no matter the medium. While email is still a good digital communication solution, it doesn’t quite have the immediacy of a messaging platform. Consider making use of Google Hangouts or Skype, instant messaging platforms that have the added benefit of allowing for video chatting.
Depending on the size of your workplace, the number of daily tasks and responsibilities can range from “manageable” to “insane”. If your business leans more toward the latter, it’s time to introduce a project management system into your process. There are a great many apps and programs dedicated to making workplaces more efficient, and finding the right tool for your needs will take a little research. That said, Basecamp, a web-based project management system, seems to tick many checkboxes, allowing users to keep track of individual projects, deadlines, and responsibilities. As an added plus, it has chat built in.
For most businesses nowadays, marketing is a necessity. The internet has allowed potential customers to easily find your competitors, meaning that it now takes more work for you to stand out amongst the crowd. To do this, you need a marketing strategy. Although you may not want to get too deeply involved in marketing your business, the least you can do is set up a website for your work; this will act as a “proof of concept” that your company indeed exists. Other ways to keep in touch with customers (and gain new ones) is to start a mailing list. Mailchimp is the tried-and-true champion for creating newsletters. Finally, if you plan on opening any social media accounts for your work, use Hootsuite to keep track and schedule out posts in advance.
As far as sharing files with your coworkers and clients, servers are becoming somewhat obsolete in many cases. Servers are a hassle to set up, and if anything goes wrong, it takes the tech guy to fix whatever’s wrong. Not only that, but servers are also sometimes difficult to access off-site. Instead, use a service such as Google Drive or Dropbox to keep your files in the cloud with the freedom to access your documents from anywhere and with any device.
Money is an important thing to keep track of, and if you have a lot of it coming in and going out, you’ll quickly run into difficulties doing everything by hand or using a basic spreadsheet. What you need is dedicated software to keep track of your earnings, taxes, invoices, and payroll. Quickbooks is one of the most popular options, with all of these aspects of business finance built in to a cloud-happy system. Freshbooks is a competitor that offers similar features.
Clearly, there are many digital business solutions. For those that would rather not deal with installing and experimenting with all of these programs, your best bet would be to find a program or system that does it all. They exist, and they’re called ERP systems. Some of the most popular ERP systems are Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle e-Business Suite, SAGE, and SAP Business One. These systems have all the tools you need for communication, logistics, and finance that your company needs. While they may be costly, the time and hassle saved by getting an all-in-one program may pay off for your workplace.