According to the Small Business Administration 99.7% of US employer firms are small businesses. Inc Magazine said in 2014 that 49.2% of America’s workforce is employed by these small businesses.Small business owners often feel immense loyalty and thankfulness to their employees. Many entrepreneurs worry that implementing new technology will hurt those who work for them and make jobs obsolete.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Technology helps employees do their jobs better. It often gives employees the support they need to be more efficient and effective thus increasing the time they have available to take on additional projects and tasks. The goal is to give employees the tools they need to better manage their days.
Sometimes the best thing a business can do is figure out how everyone is using his or her time. This doesn’t mean micromanaging employees, but rather giving them the tools to see how they manage their time. It can include something as simple as using a to do list app like Any.Do or a time management app like Toggl. Using tools like this are important for self-management. They are less for your observation than to help your employees make us of their time. If someone is spending four hours per day following up on outstanding invoices, it may be time to think about how you manage that particular task.
Speaking of invoicing, transitioning to a cloud based invoicing and budget system will save both you and your employees time. Imagine the amount of time you spend tracking down outstanding invoices and updating your expenses and income. Now move that to a system that necessary employees can access, and you can make sending invoice reminders as simple as a click of a button. This allows your employees to spend their time working on other projects.
Marketing Plans and Implementation
This includes everything from creating an easy-to-follow marketing calendar and plan to managing social media. There are simple options such as sharing a Google Calendar and more involved and detailed programs like HubSpot. Moving marketing to a technology based plan makes it simple for all necessary employees to access the information and manage it appropriately. These simple changes can alleviate some of the repetitive work when employees duplicate each other.
Calculate the amount of time employees spend standing at each other’s desks talking and working through things. Or, if your employees are remote, think about how disconnected they may feel from everyone. Collaboration means using technology that makes it easier for employees to communicate and keep records of that collaboration. Using things like Skype or another messenger app means employees can talk to each other easily and as necessary and have a record to refer back to if they need to recall something. Using shared documents via Google Docs or another cloud based system makes it simple for employees to work together on projects in a time efficient way.
Programs like Zendesk and Salesforce make it easy to manage customer service needs and requests. They centralize incoming and outgoing communications making it simple for employees to move between different customer service requests. Additionally they provide customers the chance to leave feedback and communicate via email, giving you and your employees the ability to streamline and improve function.
In the end, technology is just the incorporation of tools to improve business operations. It doesn’t have to be as drastic as automation or employee replacement. Technology mostly exists to help businesses and their employees do their best work. This is especially true for small businesses that need to be wise with their money and time. Implementing technology to manage some tasks means more time to work on new contracts, build business, and make more money.