Small businesses have to operate with limited resources. Without the funding and staff a larger company would have, small business owners need to get creative about leveraging technology to streamline their business operations and free up time to focus on growing their business. A study found that over 90% of small companies utilize technology to help them improve communication, with 80% using it for essential operations for increased efficiency and effectiveness. Fortunately, plenty of affordable tools are explicitly designed for small businesses that don’t require an IT department to implement. These 7 essential technology tools for small businesses can help you improve efficiency while saving time and money.
USB drives are often used to deliver presentations or information to customers or clients. They’re also a great way to share data between employees or departments. However, if you’re sharing data between computers, you want to ensure it’s encrypted. If you’re transferring sensitive customer data that could be used for identity fraud or other data you want to keep secure, use an encrypted USB drive, so it isn’t accessible to other people. If you’re transferring sensitive information, you can use an encrypted USB drive to protect any information you don’t want others to see or access. You can encrypt files on a USB drive using a utility or app on your computer. Ensure you’re aware of laws regarding storing sensitive and identifiable data to ensure you are maintaining protocols.
Cloud-Based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRM software is designed to help you track your customers and prospects, manage leads, and stay organized. It’s an essential tool for any small business that depends on generating leads or closing sales. The problem is that CRM software is often expensive. That’s why many small businesses opt to host their CRM software on the cloud rather than purchase software that requires installation and maintenance. Cloud-based CRM software is less expensive, more flexible, and allows you to access your data from any computer or mobile device. Several CRM software options are designed specifically for small businesses, including Zype, Streepbit, and Nimble. Some larger enterprises use cloud-based CRM software, but it’s designed for companies that sell to other businesses.
Small businesses can use drone technology to inspect buildings, bridges, and other structures as part of their operations. They can also use drones for marketing and advertising. For example, a roofing company could use a drone to take aerial images of a roofing job and post them on social media or to an online portfolio. Drones such as the DJI Mini 2 are relatively affordable and can be used to accomplish many different tasks. It’s essential to be aware of any regulations surrounding drone use in your area. Drone technology can be used in various industries, from construction and real estate to agriculture, insurance, and journalism.
Employee Time Tracking Software
You need a time tracking tool if you have employees who work in different locations or are allowed to work remotely. Time tracking software can track employees’ hours, keep track of work schedules, track billable hours and generate reports on team productivity. Time tracking software can be integrated with other business tools such as CRM or help you create a virtual terminal where employees can clock in and out of work assignments. Time tracking tools are efficient and accurate, and help organizations comply with government and industry regulations. Several time tracking software options are designed for small businesses, including Time Doctor, Hubstaff, and Zoho Projects.
Location Based Tools
Small businesses can use location-based tools to track employees or contractors in real-time. For example, if you use a ride-share app such as Uber or Lyft to hire delivery drivers, you can follow the drivers in real-time. For employees, you can use a GPS tracking app to track fleet vehicles or track employees who are on company cars. The best way to use location-based tracking is to have employees sign up for the app and share their location voluntarily. You have no right to track employees without their knowledge and consent, so be careful not to overstep any privacy boundaries. Several location-based tracking tools are available, including Waze, Here WeGo, Apple Maps, and Google Maps.
You can use cloud storage if you need to store large amounts of data. Cloud storage lets you store data remotely and access it from anywhere. You can set up a cloud storage account to host data such as photos, videos, or documents. You might need cloud storage if you’re a real estate agent who needs to store large amounts of pictures for prospective buyers or a small business that needs to store large volumes of data, such as medical records. Several cloud storage providers include Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Be sure to read each service’s terms before signing up to ensure you understand how you can access your data.
Secure WiFi Network
You’ll also want to secure your WiFi network if your business has a physical location. You can do this by setting up a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt all the data on your network. You can also configure the network only to allow specific devices to access the web so you can shut out hackers or other unauthorized users. If you use public WiFi at your business, you should also use a VPN to encrypt all data on your computer or mobile device before it’s transmitted over the public network. There are several VPN services available, but check the terms of service to ensure you understand the level of security you’re getting.
As a small business owner, you might have to wear many different hats and take on multiple roles. That’s why it’s essential to find ways to improve efficiency and reduce any unnecessary effort that could eat up your time and energy. These 7 critical technology tools for small businesses will help you stay organized, track data, and eliminate bottlenecks that can slow you down and prevent you from accomplishing your goals.
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