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Here’s your factoid of the day: Businesses that harness digital technology earn twice as much revenue per employee as businesses that don’t, according to a Deloitte study. But researchers conducting the same study found 80% of small businesses aren’t taking full advantage of technology.
Although that statistic might seem insane when you look at the raw numbers, it makes sense when you think about the cost. New technology is often really expensive—to the point where you need a small business loan to finance it.
If you’re not ready to dive headfirst into getting something like equipment financing for a big overhaul, you can still make impactful changes. At least one of these 12 easy ways to upgrade your tech should be a fit to help power up your productivity—and make your business soar.
There’s a good chance you probably already have one on your phone for free. Use Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, or Cortana to set reminders, send messages, or schedule meetings and events for you. Just like a real assistant—but a zillion times cheaper
If your work systems are more than 3 years old, it’s time to upgrade. This move will save you money in the long run—not only because tasks won’t take as long, but you can also develop more efficient processes with newer software and hardware. (And better security, too.)
Also consider that you might not even need a traditional desktop or laptop at all. All-in-ones like the Microsoft Surface Pro might combine everything you need, plus integrate the with touch-screen functionality and portability you want, too.
Consumer-grade routers that you get from your internet service provider can slow down your business. Buying a more powerful router can make a huge difference. You can also look into a wireless mesh network, which is just about the strongest new technology there is—and great if you’re constantly losing connection.
Are you still using consumer internet services? Trade up to a business-specific package from your internet service provider for faster speeds. They’ll also give you higher priority and better customer service. Fiber-optic internet, though not available in all areas, is a great option that’s faster and more reliable than cable internet.
Cloud services including Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox can change your life (and your employees’ lives, too) by enabling you to work from anywhere.
With 43% of employees citing remote work as a “must-have” in a Staples survey, cloud tools make it easier to attract and retain employees. Transitioning to cloud-based software-as-a-service apps rather than installed programs will save you time and money, too.
Something as simple as using Skype (free) for business conference calls can save you tons of time you’d otherwise spend in bumper-to-bumper traffic or flying across country to meet with clients. Some 96% of small business professionals say video conferencing boosts productivity. Zoom and UberConference are two popular apps with free options.
Do you have a multifunction printer that barely works—or, worse, an individual scanner and fax machine that you barely use? That’s valuable office space!
Try digitizing these two functions by using an app like TinyScan. Your quality will be just as good—if not better—since the app creates an image from your phone, and you can email and upload documents straight from the app. Plus, this might even push you toward keeping digital copies of your documents—a great idea.
Email marketing automation apps let you set up autoresponders, schedule email delivery dates and times, and remarket to customers. It not only saves time but also boosts sales. Drip and GetResponse are a couple to check out. Here’s more on developing your email marketing strategy if you’re intrigued.
NFC (near-field communication) payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay are the wave of the future. Most point-of-sale systems that accept EMV chip cards can accept “digital wallets,” too. You’ll also benefit from accepting payments on the move using apps such as Square to swipe customers’ payment cards on your tablet or smartphone.
Stop wasting time filling out timesheets and start using an app like Toggl or TSheets. They track your and your employees’ time wherever you are. No more adding up billable hours or making mistakes on payroll.
(Disclaimer: TSheets is a client of the author’s company.)
Delivery vehicles, service vans, or salespeople in their cars all can benefit from GPS devices that track where they are and the route they took to get there. GPS can help you keep track of vehicles and packages, direct your drivers to the customer’s location, and pinpoint exactly when they arrived. (As a bonus, you can see how many miles your staff is driving to see if you might benefit from a different business credit card.)
Reduce the time-suck of email, and increase collaboration with a project management app like Trello, Basecamp, or Wrike. These apps will help you put all of you correspondence in one place, and you can use them with your internal teams, clients, or add contractors, too, to keep things hyperorganized.
Did we miss anything else simple but great? Let us know!