We all have enough on our plates, so why not ease the burden where we can?
Late payments, Brexit uncertainty, a changing workforce need, and even seasonal disparities are all factors that SME business owners are currently contending with.
What’s more, recent studies have shown that as many as 65% of small and medium sized businesses are losing time and money through failing to adopt technology and use it to its full potential. And although the large majority of SMEs use the internet for business purposes, including online banking and emailing customers, many of these owners have admitted to not possessing basic digital skills and knowledge beyond this. This is despite a proven correlation between digital skills and a high business turnover.
So why wouldn’t an SME want to adopt a few simple tools to help streamline their business processes? In this article, Opus Energy, renewable energy provider to businesses, shares its top 6 tech solutions for helping business owners save both time and money.
1. Get a project management tool
Being able to stay on top of your workload is important, but when you’re juggling twenty different tasks, it’s easy to lose track of where you are.
There are lots of handy online tools to help you manage projects more efficiently. For example, Trello and Asana use the Kanban methodology, a production-line style approach which enables you to see what work you need to complete, and when. This can help you stick to deadlines, keep your priorities organised and ensure nothing gets forgotten or dropped.
2. Make the most of the cloud
It’s been argued that the one of the biggest impacts on businesses over the last few years has been the introduction of cloud technology, but not everyone is reaping the benefits yet. In the past, people would use programs on their computers or building servers to do their work, but cloud-based software allows the same programs to be accessed through the internet. As long as you have an internet connection, you can complete your work anywhere, when it suits you.
Cloud software like Office 365 allows multiple users to simultaneously collaborate on the same document, without creating multiple versions. Users can see changes in real-time, including who has made what changes, which saves time as you don’t have to wait for other people to finish editing before you can start.
At the same time, it’s easier to protect sensitive information and prevent data loss with cloud-based software. For example, Office 365 has advanced security features to safeguard your data. From encrypted emails to mobile device management and threat intelligence, you can be confident that your data and intellectual property is well protected.
3. Train yourself and your employees online
As a small business owner, it’s vital to continue to develop and expand you and your team’s knowledge, whether that be in your specific sector, or more general business updates. In an ideal world we would attend all of the seminars, meetings and training events possible, but these can be costly and time consuming. However, self-paced training and online business training programs, which are often free, are the ideal way to expand your know-how from your own office.
There are various business training resources that will cover everything and anything you need to research and educate yourself on, so get familiar with these tools and pick the right options for you and your team. Don’t forget podcasts either; they can be a great source of entertainment, but they are also a viable tool for education, and you can listen at any time, even on the commute.
4. Share your calendar with everyone and anyone
Finding a time that works for you and a supplier, a new client or even a lunch date with friends can often be an exercise of email tennis, with dates and times suggested back and forth over email for weeks before anything is set in stone. Using online calendars will allow others check your availability for meetings. This not only takes the management of your calendar out of your hands but will save everyone a lot of admin time and hassle.
5. Digitalise your invoices
When it comes to getting paid, the easiest way to track and log your finances is online. There are currently several companies offering similar invoicing services, so businesses need to do their research to ensure that the chosen system will complement their working methods and will be adaptable to their business.
In fact, a digitalised and streamlined online invoicing service may be an appropriate alternative for your business that allows you to manage your billing process quicker and more proficiently.
6. Track every second of your time
Whether or not you bill customers and clients by the hour, there is much to be gained from keeping track of where you and your team’s time goes each day. This not only ensures you bill those who pay by the hour, but helps you spot where you can be more time efficient, and which tasks are taking up too much of your time.
Like bookkeeping tools, there are many of these time-tracking tools available so be sure to select one which will integrate easiest into your day to day activity.
It might not be possible to adopt all of these solutions for your business, and some may not be relevant. But for businesses, time is a great commodity; freeing some up and saving money can go a long way to building a more lucrative and sustainable business.