Technology is not the answer to all small business problems. You must deal with employee theft, salaries, processes, credit, insurance, customer relations, cash flow and more. But in all of these areas the proper implementation of technology can save you time and money and enable you to work more efficiently. Remember, it is all about working smarter, not harder; information technology is supposed to serve that specific task. Here are some must have, low cost tools for your business:
- Web Site
This is a low cost and efficient means to give you 24/7 customer support, sales and communication, not just in your geographic area, but around the world. Your Web site can even be a tool of internal communication for your employees. The big hype of making tons of money “over the Internet” is exaggerated, but your Web site can be an excellent communications and advertising tool — which leads to indirect profits — and even a direct money making tool if developed properly. A good website, built from a professional web design company Manchester, explains your product or service and introducing perspective customers to your business. Remember to focus on the customer when designing your website, not yourself. Focus on benefits and advantages that you offer.
Neater and cheaper than faxing, faster than FEDEX or the Post Office. Email is the premier tool for communications. For example, one of our client companies had telephone bills that reached into the thousands of dollars per month; after implementing a simple email system their phone bill was $68.00. They actually communicate more frequently, but email has cut down on expensive faxing costs. The danger of email comes from junk mail, viruses and bad email etiquette.
Junk mail can be dealt with by using simple filters. For example, Microsoft Outlook comes with built in junk mail filters which work quite well. Another great system is Business Gmail which can be linked in to your web design project when dealing with a website agency. Leverage the systems you have before running out and spending money. Just figure out what works for you and then let people in your business know what you prefer. Email opens the doors to great advantages but equally dangerous threats. That is why you must, absolutely have the next item on this list.
- Anti-Virus Software
Viruses will attack your computer systems. The only question is will you fight back. Protect your data! In the 21st century information is more valuable than cash! An Anti-Virus program will alert you to a possible virus infection, and be able to get rid of the virus before significant damage occurs. Most modern anti-virus software programs will also protect you from other types of malware, including spyware, bots, and other such internet dangers. Any anti-virus software from a reputable vendor will suffice. Be sure to turn on automatic updates as new viruses are created every day.
- Back-Up System
If your business catches fire, if your hard disk crashes, if your computer is stolen — where will your data be? Across the border? In 10 feet of water? Back it up, store it off-site and sleep soundly. A recent customer recently lost over 10,000 files (email, contracts, original artwork, etc.) none of which was backed up. We were hired to try to recover the missing information. Do you know what a headache it was to manually get back SOME of those lost files? Some businesses never recover all of their data and subsequently, go out of business.
- Office Productivity Software
The most common software applications in all businesses are a word processor, spread sheet, desktop publishing, and presentation software. These basic business programs will enable you to create, edit and manage information, publish your own brochures, make your own newsletter, and make exciting presentations. There are numerous productivity suites on the market, including some excellent online editions, such as Google Apps, that are free.