Today’s guest author is small business and finance expert, and co-host of Sunrise, David Koch.
As a small business owner, I know how hard it is to keep a business running while wearing ten different hats at once. And that’s to say nothing of keeping up with tech trends and identifying the ones that could impact my business.
That’s why it’s not surprising to see a lot of small business owners who are resistant to trying new technology.
If you’re in this boat, don’t shy away from digital developments. Instead, treat them as a cue to consider how efficiently your business is run right now. I can guarantee one of the latest tech trends can be used in your business to help save you time, money, or both.
Working on the go
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a third of small businesses are now using the internet to work remotely. Coupled with cloud computing and cloud storage it’s easier than ever for businesses to work from home, on the road, or just about anywhere with an internet connection.
This flexibility can do many things for a business. It opens up a bigger pool of freelance talent and resources, lowers overheads and keeps staff engaged, productive and satisfied. Which can allow your business to operate more efficiently.
If your office is looking like a fire hazard, it could be time to consider moving online. Switching to online accounting will not only reduce the amount of paper you use but save you time, money and possibly your sanity.
A cloud accounting program like Xero can save time as well as paper. It automatically creates and emails invoices to clients, pays and stores incoming invoices in the cloud, and imports information from your bank so there’s no need to manually reconcile accounts.
Our bookkeeper can even work remotely by accessing our data, which saves me a desk and space. When they do work from the office, they hot desk wherever there is free space.
Taking payments anywhere
Gone are the days of huge point-of-sales terminals, manual credit card swipers, and handwritten receipts. Today there are tons of software options for smartphones and tablets that allow businesses to accept payments from practically anywhere.
If you’ve ever made a purchase from an Apple Store, you’ll be familiar with how this works. A staff member in a blue t-shirts will complete your purchase on their portable device from anywhere in the store. There are no registers, and the receipt is emailed to you. It’s more convenient, right?
But it’s not just the big guys adopting this new technology. At a market day recently, I caught up with stall owners accepting card payments via their phones. So it’s time to say goodbye to ‘cash only’ stores and take payments as, and when, your customers want to make them.
How many times have you searched for the opening hours, contact information or location of a restaurant on your phone? Plenty, I bet.
It’s not just last-minute searches we’re using our phones for, either. For the first time in history, mobile users are spending more time shopping online than their desktop peers. And this gap is only going to grow.
Despite this, and the fact that 73 percent of Australians aged 15 to 65 now have smartphones, only one in five websites are mobile-friendly. If your small business website is one of them, it’s time to smarten up.
Making the incentive even greater, Google has started testing search results for mobile-friendliness. Pages that load easily on smartphones will start to feature the words ‘mobile-friendly’ in search results.
This means small business websites must be optimised for mobiles. They need fast loading times, legible text, and clear contact and map information. Otherwise, you might be missing out.
With all these great developments, it’s time to add an eleventh hat to your role as small business owner: Head of technology trends.
David Koch is the owner of Pinstripe Media. He also hosts Kochie’s Business Builders, co-hosts Sunrise, and chairs the Port Adelaide Football Club. Connect with him on Twitter @kochie_online.
This is the second instalment in a series of articles written by David Koch. Check out the previous post, ‘Why my small business switched to Xero‘.