Five technology trends that will benefit your business
For small businesses, technology can be your friend. Embracing online platforms and digital tools can help you reach customers, raise your business's profile, and work more effectively. Here are five trends you can make the most of today.
1. Cloud computing
Run your business on the move by hosting work and financial accounts in the cloud. Ideal applications for small businesses include Microsoft's Office 365 and its suite of tools such as PowerPoint, Yammer and OneDrive. These applications allow you to store documents, manage projects, and, as the business grows, upgrade your capability with new tools for such tasks as customer relationship management (CRM) and data gathering.
When it comes to accounting, Xero has been a particular hit with SMEs for its ease of use and affordable cost. Hosting your business operations and data in the cloud gives you security and 24/7 access to power the company.
2. Mobile payments
Whether selling a product or a service, you never want to lose a sale! Subscribe to a mobile payment solution such as Square or iZettle to accept payments via your phone. You can accept payments from contactless or Chip and PIN cards, send receipts, and gather sales data.
The cost is around 2% of each transaction, but it's a cost worth paying to make sure you're always in a position to accept the customer order.
3. Online marketplaces
Not a technology trend, as such, but online trading marketplaces have become a powerful route to market for thousands of small businesses. Platforms such as Amazon Marketplace mean you can be based from home yet sell to the world. With fulfilment plugged in, you can focus on the core of the business and outsource other functions to the experts.
4. Virtual assistants
There's Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana and they both now speak to each other! Small firms keep an eye on the rise of virtual assistants as they could present opportunities for improved customer service. Think if your business could benefit from an application that runs on Alexa or Cortana, so customers can quickly find out about your offer or, more critically, place an order.
5. Making tax digital
This is something the government is introducing and so it's worth knowing about it. From April 2019, small businesses that are VAT registered will be mandated to submit quarterly tax data in a digital format to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs department (HMRC).
The government is introducing the move to ensure collection of data is more efficient, and so businesses are encouraged to embrace digital working. It's advisable to talk to your accountant now to see how the move might impact you.
These five trends deliver opportunity and potential new sales for small businesses. There's support on offer on how to make the most of the opportunities from Enterprise Nation and partners. If you see technology as your friend, and you will surely prosper!