Fast-paced growth through technology: For small businesses
Business growth has always followed hard on the heels of technology and innovation. Each emerging technology trend has soon found itself being used to further the goals of businesses. A few decades ago, investing in technology was expensive, and restricted to the bigger players in the market. Therefore, most of these trends solely benefited the giants of business, and such benefits were a closed book to many of the small and medium businesses.
However, running a small business is as demanding a task as running a conglomerate, and it wasn’t long before tech providers realized that there was a huge untapped market in the SMB arena. Small business owners must manage multiple fronts at the same time, sometimes even without the help of specific team members such as a large conglomerate can afford. This is where technology now steps in and helps to ease the burdens of SMB owners. Given how much technology has grown in the past decade, tech now plays a vital role in the growth and efficient running of many SMBs. Let’s discuss a few of these trends and how they foster growth in small businesses.
Technology for small business growth
Few technology trends have had as much an impact on business operations than the advent of cloud computing. Cloud computing provides access to your business data and applications from anywhere in the world, with 24-hour uptime, and accessibility on a host of devices. All this comes at a very reasonable cost, when compared with the soon to be the outdated practice of hosting and maintaining inhouse servers. The move to the cloud has been met with such approval, that Gartner forecasts that by 2020, 60% of organizations will be hosting their data and applications on the cloud (https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-11-13-gartner-forecasts-worldwide-public-cloud-revenue-to-grow-17-percent-in-2020). By moving to the cloud SMBs can host their applications at a fraction of the cost, taking into consideration staff savings by removing the need for inhouse specialists to maintain servers, space savings by removing the need for a physical server room and associated costs in maintaining a server friendly atmosphere.
Software as a service (SaaS)
Purchasing software to run your SMB used to a large capital expenditure that many owners found restrictive. Add to this, the cost of maintaining, upgrading, and patching the software was a constant headache to many. SaaS, with its operational cost model becomes very enticing for small businesses for this very reason. There is no initial cost involved, and in most cases, you pay on a subscription model where you are charged only for the actual team members who are using the software. SaaS applications being cloud based, are also available on nearly any device with an internet connection, and due to the applications being hosted on the cloud, does not need a lot of processing power on the user device. Additionally, SaaS products take away the need to worry about upgrades and patches, as the applications are managed centrally, and the provider will be managing these aspects for you.
Cloud based versions of office applications such as Google Apps for business and Microsoft 365 are fast replacing traditionally bought and installed business suites. Google Apps for business for example provides email, calendars and scheduling, and Google Docs, and Google Drive etc. all for as little as $5 a month.
Microsoft 365, formerly known as Office 365 provides your team with the familiar office suite hosted in the cloud. As a subscriber you will gain access to future upgrades and additional cloud storage features (currently 1 TB per person). Once again, this moves your expenses from an unaffordable capital expenses, to a more manageable operational cost.
We have discussed how technology can help you run your business while lowering your overall operational costs. No longer do you have to rely on loans or large capital availability to grow your business. Additionally, creating websites to promote your business is also easier and more cost effective than ever. With many services available to help you create your website yourself, with little to no technical knowledge.
Marketing and customer communication
Another aspect that has seen massive change is how SMB can now market themselves and entice potential clients. In addition to traditional marketing methods, email and social media marketing has become a huge business in the past few years. While email marketing is becoming a little dated, many companies have been setup with the sole purpose of helping other organizations promote themselves over social media and run successful social media campaigns. Many of our purchase decisions are influenced by what we see online, shared by friends, family, or influencers. SMBs can harness the power of social media by working with social media companies or even directly with influencers to promote their products and reach out to their target market. Of course, as with any marketing effort, you need to spend some time and resources in creating the perfect campaign to gain full benefits, but it’s important to note that the platforms themselves remain mostly free to use and you are only limited by your own creativity and ability. This holds tremendous value for growing a small business as you never know when your videos and campaigns will become viral and kick off a massive growth in your market segment.
During the current health crisis, we would be remiss if we don’t mention technologies assistance in maintaining business continuity and even promoting business growth through remote work. Small businesses which would’ve been hard hit during the pandemic were able to function and, in certain cases, even flourish due to the ability to work remotely, thanks to technological leaps such as conferencing, collaboration tools, and cloud enabled applications. These trends make it less important to have a physical office space and instead enable your team to work from different geographical locations. This not only increases your talent pool but also reduces the costs incurred through space rental and maintenance.
Technology plays many roles in the current business world. Small business which properly harness the benefits offered through technology are able to reach unprecedented growth. not only does technology enable business owners to save money and resources, but also helps to promote the organization and products to the target market. Nearly every aspect of a small business can be enhanced through investing in the correct technology.