Technology is now an integral part of setting up and running a small business, and having the right systems and using them to their full capabilities can be a critical element in your enterprise’s success. When you consider how essential websites, e-commerce, cloud services, and IT systems are to businesses, it’s clear that technology needs to be a priority. New business owners and budding entrepreneurs may have an abundance of talent and knowledge in many important respects, but that doesn’t guarantee they possess the technical expertise to optimize their IT systems. With so much depending on how well your business uses current technologies, it pays to understand the implications of making mistakes and the value of getting things right.
1. Project management
There are several key technology-related projects that need to be managed when setting up your business. If you have staff in place, make sure you use their skills and expertise to assist in managing these start-up projects, for example, creating the website or setting up a stock control system. If you’re on your own, remember that doesn’t mean you don’t have options when it comes to managing tasks that are outside your area of expertise. For instance, many entrepreneurs may be adept at using office programs on their computer, but wouldn’t have the technical skills to install and configure a complete IT system for the business. In this case, you’d need to be honest about your skills in such areas, and consider outsourcing the project to a specialist who is more experienced in IT project management.
2. Planning and delegating
However large or small your project, it will require attention to detail and precise planning to achieve the desired outcomes efficiently and effectively. Planning how and when to complete each project will give you the best chance of finishing on time and within budget, and again you should consider how you can use either your staff or outside contractors or freelancers to your advantage. Delegating tasks that can be accomplished just as effectively by someone else frees up your valuable time for the jobs that most need your attention, and it’s also an essential way of developing staff and strengthening team bonds. Having a detailed plan for each project ensures that you’ve considered how best to carry out the work involved and how to maximize the positive outcomes. For example, if you were creating a marketing plan, you wouldn’t just throw money at a Google AdWords campaign; you’d create a considered plan that includes market research, cost-effective strategies, and review procedures, giving you a far greater chance of achieving your objectives.
3. Creating a professional website
Your site needs to be a perfect combination of functionality and aesthetics to make the best impact. A website that is purely functional will be visually unappealing, while one which looks beautiful but is hard to navigate or doesn’t have the interactive capability prospective clients expect will not create a professional image for your business. You need to think about what you need your site to do for you and base the functionality around that concept. You also need to project a completely professional image that inspires confidence and trust in visitors to your site. Always include details of who you are, where you are and how people can contact you, and that means not just having an email form, but phone numbers and an address. There’s a particular issue surrounding the creation of an effective website when your business is technology oriented, and that is that it needs to be as cutting-edge as you can make it. No matter what branch of tech your business is based in, having a website that isn’t well-designed and doesn’t incorporate the latest developments in web capability will reflect poorly on your business as a whole. Clients expect a technology company to be at the forefront of all aspects of tech, even if the business doesn’t involve website design and creation directly. Having a site that is no better technologically speaking than a non-tech website will hamper your efforts to stand out from the crowd, so it’s a factor you need to take very seriously.
4. Taking online payments
If your business revolves around e-commerce, you’ll need to enable your customers to order online as smoothly and swiftly as possible. You’ll need to have an accurate inventory, an online catalog that is easy to update, multiple payment methods, and the most secure data collection and card processing facilities it’s possible to have. Customers are increasingly expecting to be able to pay by a variety of methods and security must be paramount, as any breach will seriously affect your reputation. If clients want to create accounts and be billed for their purchases, the system for signing up should be straightforward and quick to complete. Any kind of delay in finding goods or processing payments, or inaccuracies in the online catalog, will see your customers heading off to one of your competitors.
5. Cloud services
Business owners and managers are increasingly learning how beneficial it can be to make use of the cloud. Not only does it provide secure backup facilities, but it enables staff and clients to communicate, view documents, and work on projects far more efficiently. If you haven’t investigated the benefits of cloud computing, it’s well worth considering as part of your technology review. Many business models have been revolutionized by transferring their operations to cloud-based services, and you could find this is an opportunity to get ahead of your competitors.
Most of the processes involved in setting up a business are technology-driven or at least related. Ensuring your background systems are all operating at peak efficiency will make a significant contribution to your overall productivity, and therefore profitability. The significance of having an excellent website that promotes your business as professional, knowledgeable, and efficient, should not be underestimated, and any customer-facing tech or interface must be as user-friendly as possible to ensure visitors and clients engage positively and make return visits. Your success in business will depend a great deal on how well you manage your technology, so don’t underestimate its importance!