Techie Treats for Small Firms
Technology has transformed business in the last twenty years and has created opportunities for people from a diverse range of backgrounds to run their own small firms. Today a website is considered more or less essential for a business and developing your own can help to gain wider exposure for your firm. For those starting out a website should be a priority, if only as a catalogue type site. As your business grows this can be developed to suit any changing needs. In addition to the online face of your business there are a number of excellent tools that make running a firm simple and straightforward from just about any location you could choose.
Having your own website is great, but understanding how well it works is less straightforward. Google Analytics offers a free and simple to use set of tools that help you to understand the behaviour of your site’s visitors. Although free, the service is comprehensive and easy to understand – even for the more phobic tech user. On the same lines, User Testing offers a more detailed appraisal service; this is a paid service but it uses focus groups to assess your site. This is an excellent way to establish what is and what isn’t working.
One huge benefit for small firms that the internet offers is the ability to communicate with clients and/or staff in different locations. SKYPE is an ideal way to offer your customers a free option to contact you – avoiding the need to have a toll-free number. In addition you can hold video conferences with staff who work remotely. Similar toSKYPE is GoToMeeting. This service is a web conferencing software package that has a range of different functions and is specifically designed with business needs in mind. In addition to straightforward conferencing it also offers the opportunity to design and deliver online training, which is particularly useful for firms whose staff is not centrally located.
Accounting software is essential to any firm, whatever the size. Modern packages include the traditional desktop variety and are now widely available in cloud form. Quickbooks, from Intuit, is a good example of this type of software and it’s designed and built with small firms in mind. There are a range of packages available from start-up level to packages suited for more established firms. The cloud version is particularly useful offering remote accessibility for both you and your accountant. The online form of accounting software is particularly useful for the smallest of firms, ensuring that data is stored securely, backed up and can be accessed on the go, cutting back on time spent managing accounts when you could be doing something a little more interesting!
The Most Important Tool
Whether you run a cleaning firm, a mobile hairdressing firm or a cake baking service, the power of technology allows you to run your company in a more efficient and simple way. By harnessing technology you can free up a great deal of time, which is probably the most important tool for any small firm. Online accounting, online communication and online document storage are all simple, cloud based tools that save time, money and hard drive space for small firms. If you’ve not already got your business head in the clouds, now may be the time!
Carlo Pandian is a business graduate at Birkbeck College (London) and blogs about internet tools, technology and human resources covering everything from online accounting to Iphone apps. Aside from his daily job, Carlo loves helping his local community center with his PR and marketing skills.
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