With new tech solutions hitting the market almost daily, small businesses have fallen behind because they lacked the resources to adapt at the same pace and are often unsure which tech is right for them.
The subscription-based software solutions that emerged helped them stay up-to-date and adapt to new changes faster. Businesses no longer have to decide whether or not to invest in upgrades, because upgrades happen automatically. Most subscriptions are also great for small businesses because they can upgrade or even downsize their subscriptions to meet their changing needs.
But which options are best for small business owners? Here are four tips to help you choose the right technology solutions for your small business.
1. Delegate Tasks and Empower Your Team
Delegation rarely comes easily to small business owners. This is because when they started their own business, they were doing everything themselves. This habit often persists as their business grows, because it is what they are used to. Because SMB’s rarely have IT departments, SMB owners often think they need to be the ones to find the right tech solutions for their business. In many cases, this can be a mistake.
It‘s not up to the owner or manager – it’s up to the whole team. Empower them by inviting them to voice their opinions, suggestions, and concerns regarding how things are done right now. Not only will this help you get an insight into a possible issue, but your employees will also be engaged and happy to work with you.
2. Identify Your Pain Points
Why are pain points so important to identify? Simple: Before you can seek solutions, you need to know the problems. Your employees are your front line, they probably have some pretty good ideas of what kinds of features they are lacking and what would help them make their workday easier. They help you identify all the pain points that need to be addressed – chances are, you might not even know of some issues with your current business operations.
Listening to your team’s input will do nothing if you don’t act upon it. Aim for a smooth, integrated system. If you address each one of your pain points individually or fix them one at a time -you will often end up with a jumbled mess of multiple processes that just creates more work. In some cases, you may find tech solutions that help you eliminate certain tasks entirely.
3. Explore Options and Try it Before You Buy it
One of the biggest challenges of finding tech solutions for small business is sorting through all the many options available and weighing the pros and cons of each. That is a monumental task.
Potential solutions can include systems for:
- Inventory management
- Invoicing and Payroll
- Project management
- Team communication
- Human Resources
and many others.
When you identify your pain points, you have already narrowed down your search considerably. Sometimes you will end up making a switch to a new system that is not a pain point but integrates more efficiently with a system you are switching to for a known pain point.
Here’s a good example of this:
You use three separate systems for finances: one for cash management, one for invoicing, one for payroll. All of them work perfectly for you and are easy to use.
The problem: Your payroll software doesn’t integrate with the other two. You have to handle it separately and update accordingly.
The optimal solution: Something that includes all three options or at least offers integrations in case an option is missing. In the case of finances, you can choose something like Quickbooks and reduce three different processes (cash management, accounting, and payroll) into one smooth, streamlined process.
But what if you don’t like the new software? The good news is, many apps and programs offer either a free trial or even a free tier that just has fewer premium options. In most cases, however, you can try it for a while in some kind of limited way before deciding to go all-in.
4. Make Sure to Include Your Team
When you implement tech upgrades properly, they can increase efficiency and performance and even clear up significant time for employees to innovate. When you don’t, they can cause major hassles and headaches and end up being trashed in favor of familiar but less efficient systems.
To make any kind of switch successful, you will need full employee buy-in. Get employee input from the start.
It’s helpful to put someone else in charge of researching and organizing onboarding, so you can run interference when hiccups arise – and you can be sure they will. Here, choose employees who are in favor of implementing new tech solutions, as they will help others see the long term benefits.
Start with small changes that will bring the biggest benefit. For example, instead of updating your documents via endless email chains, use a cloud-based file sharing system such as OneDrive for real-time updates. Since most businesses use Office 365, a switch to OneDrive shouldn’t be a big issue – its user interface will be well known to your employees.
Small businesses often rely on word-of-mouth for procedures. Start to document your processes and leverage your new cloud storage system to upload them. This saves you from having to answer the same questions again and again and helps everyone manage the same issues in the same way. When everyone is dealing with the same issue a different way, it can cause chaos and confusion. Cloud-based file storage systems help get – and keep – everyone on the same page.
5. Always Choose Technology that Helps Your Specific Needs
At this point, new tech is less of an option and more of an imperative for SMB’s. Luckily, subscription-based services help you close the gap with big players. The right technology solutions for your small business are out there, but finding them can be a challenge. Always include your team, listen to their input and identify your pain points. The right tech will help you solve those pain points, do more with less, and improve your overall efficiency and employee satisfaction.