Small businesses usually have to face massive odds against their success. Investopedia notes that as many as two-thirds of small businesses fail within their first decade of operation. While it’s not as dire as eighty percent failing in their first year as the conventional wisdom has it, the statistic is still a cause for concern. Small businesses especially need to be more focused on the way they do things. From their production and distribution, their service delivery, all the way to their marketing, each of these are crucial to a small business’ long-term success.
One of the innovations that allowed small businesses to hold their own against massive chain enterprises is the internet. Entrepreneur states that Google’s search engine algorithms tend to focus on local results before national ones. Local search optimization to put a business’ website on the first page of Google results is just the tip of the iceberg. Innovations have helped small businesses become more productive and innovative and enable the implementation of new methods of engaging with customers. Let’s explore the ways that technology has given small business a helping hand to access the customers they need to survive and prosper.
Technology, such as scheduling software can enable businesses to be more competitive by creating task lists set within a period. For production and manufacturing companies, this could be software that deals with production goals and maintenance schedules. For service-based companies such as electrical contractors, planning software like FieldPulse Contracting Software offers a one-stop solution for planning jobs, and managing clients. As a business grows their needs for planning software to increase their efficiency may widen, and they might need to consider looking at scalable solutions like cloud-based inventory or customer management software.
Internal and External Communications
The ancient days of communication with a small business usually required the transfer of notes and memos from one department to another. Chron reports that technology now allows for instant connection with clients thanks to eCommerce and social media for feedback. Small businesses that depend on freelancers to drive their competitiveness can rely on communication media such as instant messaging and project planning software to aid them in keeping jobs aligned and on schedule. As the speed of interconnectivity between mobile and wired devices increases, businesses stand to benefit from having access to this new technology.
Marketing and Customer Conversion
Ecommerce is among one of the fastest-growing fields and even brick-and-mortar small businesses can benefit from it. Digital Commerce 360 states that during the year 2018, global eCommerce revenues increased by 18%, weighing in at an overall value of $3 trillion. Small businesses need a functional website and a concise marketing plan to start using eCommerce to drive their sales. For service-based companies, having a blog may be a significant part of developing an online audience. Many larger companies such as General Electric have pioneered the idea of the ‘expert blog’ to drive traffic and increase customer opinion of the brand.
Small businesses have typically had a hard time dealing with customer service issues. New technology may have the solution for this problem, however. Tech such as artificial intelligence has allowed for the creation of chatbots that are relatively inexpensive and can be trained to answer most of the common queries a customer service representative may encounter through clients. Business Insider reports that up to 80% of businesses are considering investing in chatbots by 2020. The sophistication of the technology makes it adaptable to either manufacturing or service-based companies.
Safety and Security
One of the more overlooked technological enhancements that have impacted small business is surveillance of brick-and-mortar premises. Setting up remote viewing closed-circuit cameras has become so affordable that homeowners are adopting the practice. For a business, having access to footage can help recover missing goods, or potentially save the company from liability in the case of an industrial accident. On the other side of the spectrum, electronic security in terms of computer systems and firewalls are also of extreme importance. For businesses that have their data on-site in a physical database storage machine, having impenetrable security is essential to keeping their documents safe.
Tracking Delivery and Logistics
Another emerging technology that doesn’t get nearly enough mainstream exposure is IoT. Hacker Noon states that by 2020, the number of interconnected devices in the world is likely to be close to 13.5 billion. The IoT is a series of tiny devices that can sense environmental conditions around them and relay that data back to a server. IoT has entered many areas of business, but since the technology is relatively new, not many companies have invested much time and effort into it. The affordability of the devices and the ease with which a skilled IT professional can set the system up makes it an attractive way for small businesses to track their product logistics and shipping information in real-time.
Data Analytics and Customer Profiling
Most small businesses don’t consider data analytics because it’s something that they don’t think they will be able to use. However, thanks to the broad coverage of the topic online, even regular business owners can benefit from leveraging analytics to inform their business decisions. It may not be extremely sophisticated, and it might just help the business decide where its shoestring advertising budget is best spent. However, this could be significant in helping the company save money and make the most out of its findings to discover and convert new customers.
Competitive Use of Technology Sets Successful Businesses Apart
While a lot of the new businesses run by younger entrepreneurs are embracing and using technology, a lot of the companies that belong to the last generation’s entrepreneurs are struggling with the new reality. Technology has advanced rapidly in the previous decade, and people who could go weeks without knowing about the internet now access webpages from their phone several hundred times a day. For a small business in this sort of scenario, the crucial understanding is how to adapt to the changing world around them. If they don’t, they’re not likely to survive another ten years doing the same thing and expecting the same sort of results.