(BPT) - Small-business owners say that managing their business creates twice as much stress as maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner, according to a recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. And it is nearly three times more stressful than raising children, small-business owners report.
While technology can enhance productivity and sales, provide access to wider audiences, and, ultimately, increase profits, it also can be a major source of stress for the small-business owner. There is so much change out there, small-business owners often experience fear and frustration as they try to keep up.
When it comes to implementing new technology, the two main challenges for anyone operating a small business are: money and time. However, it's impossible to be a competitive business owner without taking advantage of today's technology. The trick is investing in technology that will make your life easier not harder. While there may be a learning curve, there are a variety of ways to afford the technology you need as well as the technical support to help you learn how to use it.
Here are four turnkey technology strategies that just about any small-business owner can start using today.
1. Re-think your cash register - Until recently, millions of small businesses have long been at a technology disadvantage. By using antiquated, time-consuming methods of taking payments, they have missed out on the ability to capture useful sales data for inventory and sales tracking. Today, more affordable cloud-based point-of-sale software such as NCR Silver is made specifically for small businesses. More than a simple credit card swipe system, NCR Silver provides inventory support, profitability analytics, accounting integration, and live customer service and support to help the technology-shy small-business owner. Plus, with tablet capabilities, even mobile businesses can enjoy technologies that were previously only available to their larger competitors.
2. Amp up and automate your marketing efforts - Sending meaningful and relevant communications has never been easier for small-business owners who utilize smart technologies. Social media is here to stay - so it's a wise business move to start a Facebook or Twitter account to interact with core audiences. Plus, it's free. Email marketing also makes connecting with customers quick and easy. Seek out systems that allow you to set up automatic email marketing campaigns as an easy way to save time and stress. But remember, no one likes spam. Be sure to communicate with your customers in ways they actually want to be reached, otherwise they'll opt out and move on.
3. Make sure your website is up to speed - Customer impatience is at an all-time high. Customers won't wait around if your site is slow to load or if transactions are too time-consuming. Make sure your site can handle the traffic peaks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Google Analytics is free and offers a simple snapshot of your customers' experiences and how fast your pages load. Also, make sure that visitors can see and navigate your site no matter what device they're using to view it. Test your user experience on smartphones, tablets and various email services.
4. Protect your computer system - Every day, viruses infect approximately 1 million computers around the world. Viruses can travel in anything from a USB flash drive to an email message, and can completely halt the productivity of a small business. To minimize your company's exposure to viruses, worms and hackers, be sure you use the latest patches, system updates and firewalls for your software and computer systems. You can usually find patches and program updates on the software manufacturers' websites. If you choose a cloud-based sales system, make sure your information as well as that of your customers, is safe by adopting an encryption strategy, such as NCR Silver's encrypted card security feature.
To thrive in a competitive marketplace, small-business owners need to utilize technology like NCR Silver, social media and free online tools like Google Analytics. These modern tools will help grow a business, save you valuable time and perhaps make your day-to-day activities fun once again.