Game Changing Tech Innovations for Small Businesses

by Cheryl Lock November 30, 2018

What small business owners lack in size they can more than make up for in ingenuity.

Successful small business owners know that part of staying relevant means swiftly adapting to changing technologies that help solve common business challenges. Here, small business owners share the technologies — websites, apps, and more — that have made their lives much easier in key areas of their business.

Challenge one: communication

 

When it comes to keeping a business up and running, small business owners may find they’re spending a small fortune on communication products alone.

Aaron Udler, president of OfficePro. Inc, is no stranger to that problem. With 10 employees, each with individual telephone lines, Udler says his costs for the 10 landlines, plus the 10 software Microsoft licenses was $850 per month.

Udler decided to cut the landlines and made the switch to an internet-based phone service, which also comes with Microsoft Office 365, and now saves about $350/month. Plus, in losing the landlines he was able to give his employees the option to work remotely one day a week.

Another solution is G Suite by Google Cloud,which packages email with chat and video meetings, as well as online storage, 24/7 live support and mobile device management.
 

Challenge two: time management and organization

 

Small business owners wear many hats, and without the proper resources in place, things can fall through the cracks. That’s why Andrea Bertola Shaw, a website designer and owner of The New York Website Designer LLC, swears by Táve.

She uses the product forms to capture client leads on her website, which are then automatically added to her saved list of contacts. She uses the automated systems to send proposals and contracts and request electronic signatures. Shaw also likes the automated tools that send invoices and set invoice reminders. 



To save time, Ryan Knoll, owner of a home cleaning service Tidy Casa and Civil Hair, a home delivery service for men's hair products, uses the app Front. “This app helps us answer emails and texts,” he says. “Finding software to do SMS support with clients is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Being able to text customers from a shared number helps us get in touch with clients a lot easier than a phone call. It also lets us use saved replies for answers to questions we get all the time, which is a great bonus,” notes Knoll.

Like Front, Zendesk is another tool for businesses of all sizes to engage with their customers across phone, chat, email, social media, and other channels.

Challenge three: attention to detail

 

Not all small business owners are copy editors, and hiring a copy editor can be costly. Luckily, there are plenty of resources that small business owners can access to ensure that communications are organized, thoughtful and proofed correctly.

“Whether you’re updating your website, writing a blog or sending out an email to your clients, relying on text document editors alone to check your copy is unwise,” says Jack Bedell-Pearce, managing director of 4D Data Centre. To that end, he uses the Hemingway Editor app to catch common errors and simplify his prose, as well as Grammarly to catch grammatical errors, check for spelling, enhance vocabulary and correct mistakes.
 

Challenge four: employee relations

 

Whether a business has 10 employees or 10,000, connections between workers is essential — which is why many tech products have been developed to help with that. Bret Bonnet, co-founder and president of Quality Logo Products, uses a tool to track, plan and collaborate work, which allows employees to create ‘pulses’ of tasks and keep all project information in one place. ClientFlow is another multi-channel, shared email communication, project management and employee time tracking option.

Bonnet also uses PurelyHR, which monitors all time-off requests and punch times. Zenefits is another solution that offers a one-stop shop for everything a small business might need from an HR department, from payroll to benefits.

Mikhail Mikhaylov of APS Electric Inc. uses a similar technology called ClockInEasy, a mobile app and web-based software that employees can use to check in and out from any location or job site. “The app uses GPS location and face recognition to confirm that employees are at the office or job site,” he informs.

“As soon as they clock in, this software creates accurate timesheet reports, which can be exported to a printable document for my payroll company. Along with the five to six hours saved on data entry every week, and the headaches of attendance via paper and phone calls, I have noticeably seen a six percent decrease in my payroll costs due to accuracy and reliability with ClockInEasy,” says Mikhaylov. As an alternative for tracking employee work habits and time, Jibble offers cloud-based tracking in all of your apps, as well.



Tomas Keenan, CEO of the electronic installation company Top Class Installations, offers up one more option: Loom. He uses the software to screen and record videos to share with others. He says this has helped him to make announcements to his team, create training videos for new team members and demo products to customers. For secure file sharing and transfer, including video, Citrix Sharefile can also help send big files at the blink of an eye.
 

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Whether a business has 10 employees or 10,000, connections between workers is essential.
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Challenge 5: website performance


 

It’s not enough to just have a website — you need that website to perform well and to be highly visible. To help with that goal, Dane Kolbaba, founder of Watchdog Pest Control, uses a search engine rank tracker program to keep track of his website performance. It allows him to see how his website is ranking, and at $10/month, he says it’s an invaluable resource.

“It’s important to keep track of where our business is ranking, and this tells us when we have slid in the rankings, or when we have risen,” he says. “This information is invaluable to a small business because it tells you whether the SEO work we have been doing on the site is working or not.”



Jason Patel, founder of college prep company Transizion, uses CrazyEgg to look at where his customers are engaging on the page and fix weaknesses on the website and to keep customers engaged.

RankActive, also acts as an all-in-one SEO toolkit that will help your small business improve search and ranking results and provide spot-on website analytics. For another analytics option, SmartLook records everything visitors do on a website to offer up invaluable input about how to better engage with them.

The smartest small business owners realize that keeping up with the competitors often means staying on top of trends and adapting more quickly to changing technologies. Luckily, small business owners are also generous with their knowledge, and taking a tried-and-tested tip from others, could give your own business an edge, too.
 

Cheryl Lock loves any new technology that makes her financial life run more smoothly. Her work has appeared online at Money, USA Today and Forbes.

 

 

The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article.