Small businesses are under a lot of pressure to grow fast, yet without spending much cash.
Today’s companies also need to make sure they’re investing in the best opportunities for improved customer experience to grab attention in a cluttered environment.
Unfortunately, there’s not much money available for small businesses to use.
To accelerate your profits as a small company, you need to be agile enough to adapt to suit the latest trends.
With most companies only spending around 4 to 6% of their budget on IT, now might be the time to rethink ways to bring advanced tech into a smaller corporate environment.
Step 1: Assess Your Needs
Not every innovative new tool will appeal to every company. The only technology you should be investing in is the stuff that’s bound to generate positive results for your company.
Start by examining the most significant pain points your team currently faces.
For instance, are your employees wasting time on manual data entry when you could be using automation to deal with those repetitive tasks for them?
Are you wasting cash on fees and financial headaches because you don’t have the right accounting software in place to automatically track transactions?
The first things to invest in are the strategies that will help you reduce costs and generate more profit in the long run.
For instance, almost 88% of buyers do online research before buying from a store. Therefore, investing in more digital marketing tools could help you make more sales.
Step 2: Weigh Costs With Benefits
Sometimes, you need to spend money to make money. This means thinking about how much you’re going to spend on new investments, and what kind of profits you can generate in return.
For instance, one of the easiest ways to upgrade your brand reputation today is to adopt better customer experience strategies.
To start helping your business grow, you can make a few initial investments, like spending cash on a website that’s responsive and mobile-ready, or building a dedicated mobile app.
This will simplify the customer journey and give them more ways to buy from you when they start to discover your products and services.
Additionally, the right mobile strategy could include delivering extra features to your mobile users, such as codes for accessing special discounts in-store, or apps where they can get immediate support through live-chat or a chatbot for an issue.
Step 3: Consider Scalability
The good thing about technology in the modern landscape is that you don’t have to go the all-or-nothing route. The business environment of the future will be an automated and data-driven one. However, you don’t need to jump in head-first and splurge on expensive business intelligence tools just yet.
With the cloud and flexible as-a-service solutions, it’s easy to adopt the technology you need now, and gradually upgrade as your business grows.
For instance, you might find some initial cash in your budget to invest in AI and data analytics software to help you make more intelligent business decisions.
From asset and inventory management to recruiting, there are tools and services flexible enough to grow at the same pace at your company.
Step 4: Look at the Bigger Picture
Sometimes, the investments you make in your small business when you’re first investing in advanced technology won’t seem to have any initial impact on your profits or customer experience.
However, when you look at the bigger picture, you discover that spending a little now can save you a lot in the future.
For instance, look at cloud computing.
Companies that invest in cloud-based strategies to keep their companies up and running from anywhere have a consistent source of business continuity.
They can grow their organizations at a time that suits them, without having to spend extra on physical equipment. Additionally, the cloud allows you to scale back and adjust your services however you choose.
Investing in the cloud could also help to reduce your expenses long-term.
If your current employees use cloud technology instead of on-premises assets, you can run your entire team remotely, and avoid expensive overhead costs.
Step 5: Track Your ROI
Finally, sometimes it can be difficult to determine how well an investment is going to pay off without testing the water first.
Often, the best option for small businesses is to start with a small rollout of a product or service with a few beta testers first.
For instance, you could have your lead financial expert try out a new piece of accounting software and track his or her efficiency when using it.
This way, you will be able to get an insight into whether the technology is worth the initial cost in terms of productivity and long-term results.
As you begin to deliver technology to more people on a wider basis, you can keep a close eye on whether your productivity levels and other crucial metrics keep going up.
This will help you see where you should be investing your cash.
Over time, your historical and real-time data will show you whether you’re focusing on the right tech areas for your company.
Make Spending Smarter
Small businesses don’t have the resources to waste on strategies that aren’t going to generate measurable results.
However, the right technology could be the key to making your business more effective, and ready for growth. By starting small with what is already accessible on the market, such as cloud, AI, and automation technology, you can stay on track and ensure you don’t lag behind your competition.
Remember, all businesses are different. Taking the time to figure out which tech is most valuable to you and how you can generate the best return on investment is crucial.
Jen McKenzie is an independent business consultant from New York. She writes extensively on business, education and human resource topics. When Jennifer is not at her desk working, you can usually find her hiking or taking a road trip with her two dogs. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie