There’s never been a better time than now to start, grow, and operate a business. Why?
In one word: technology. You can now find solutions to help every aspect of your business. There are tech tools that save you time, enable your staff to work efficiently, increase compliance with government rules and regulations, and much more.
Here are four key areas in which technology can be a boon to your business.
Managing operations and finance
In the old days, a pencil and a calculator were all a business owner needed to stay on top of critical financial information and associated tasks. Now you can use technology to manage your money. Here are few examples:
- Project cash flow. You need to ensure that you’ll have the money on hand to pay your workers and other expenses when bills come due. That means you must stay on top of cash flow, and software can help you easily do this.
- Keep financial books and records. Being in business requires you to keep track of income, expenses, and other items so you can analyze how your business is doing. It’s also mandatory for tax purposes; you need these records to prepare your returns and back up positions you take on these returns.
- Invoice customers. Unless your customers pay on the spot with cash, checks, credit/debit cards, or electronic payments, you must send bills for the money they owe to your company. Viewing outstanding invoices can help you monitor collections to ensure that all your customers pay and do not become deliquent.
Managing your customer experience
Customers and clients are the lifeblood of any business, and technology can help you optimize your connections with them. Take Sports Basement, for example. With the goal of adding a store location every six months, the California-based sporting goods chain needed help with customer engagement. The company wanted to be able to adapt and react quickly to the changing market and customer needs as well as better engage customers in their communities. The software solution Sports Basement implemented now gives the power to better understand and serve customers.As demonstrated in this customer’s success, customer relations management (CRM) technology can be used to:
- Follow up on leads. Connect with prospects and make the ordering process simple for them.
- Close sales. Reveal deeper insights into customer needs, enabling you to make an impact and close the deal.
- Find new leads. Find new prospects.
- Handle customer problems. Give customers, who have an issue with technology, delivery, or product satisfaction, immediate access to resources that can resolve concerns or complaints.
- Create customer loyalty. Enhance the customer experience by facilitating loyalty programs and referrals and informing customers of new products or services and discount/sale opportunities.
Facilitating your workforce
Your staff, whether onsite or remote, can do their jobs better through technology. For example, technology can:
- Enable working remotely. Allowing employees to work from home can be a highly valued benefit. Employing workers who are located far from your location means you can hire the best individuals for your company’s needs. Enabling those in the field to connect with co-workers and others while mobile provides real-time answers. Technology can make this all happen.
- Enhance collaborative efforts. Technology helps teams collaborate to complete projects quickly and efficiently.
- Empower workers. Adaptive technology can accommodate disabled workers.
When David Leadbetter Golf, for instance, decided to take their brand global, they were looking for cloud-based solution that could give the company worldwide data visibility and security to expand quickly and confidently into new markets. With a new system in place, it created a consistent platform to build out coaching programs in emerging markets, from first-touch beginners to elite tour player development. The new technology helped increase its revenue by 15%, improve instructor productive by 12%, and lower operational costs by 10%.
In addition to boosting the bottom line, technology tools can assist small business owners with complying with tax codes and regulations, which can be a heavy burden when you can’t afford to retain a full-time accountant or HR manager. Technology can ease this challenge and save money by handling the payroll including figuring withholding, paying staff, and making necessary tax deposits. Technology tools also help business adhere to Affordable Care Act requirements by monitoring employee hours and determining whether the company is an applicable large employer subject to the employer mandate.
Managing business insights
Albert Einstein said, “Information is not knowledge.” By keeping records of sales, customers, and other vital information, you have the data available to learn what’s working and what isn’t—but you need to analyze it. Your data should tell you if sales are growing, if you’re losing customers (and why), if you can afford to expand, and when you’re facing critical issues that require consultation by outside experts. Technology can help you translate your Big Data into the meaningful information you need to operate profitably and grow.
Technology can also save you valuable time by populating all needed data with a single entry. For example, entering customer information should enable you to use it for invoicing as well as customer service needs. Make sure your technology solution can do this for you.
Whether you’re working to launch your business or take it to the next level, technology tools can help you and your employees better understand and operate your business, while also saving you time and money. As a small business owner, you wear many hats – CEO, CFO, HR manager, head of marketing, etc. The technology of today and tomorrow can help you work smarter and achieve your entrepreneurial dreams.
Building a successful company is hard work. SAP’s affordable solutions for small and midsize companies are designed to make it easier. Easy to install and use, run all aspects your company with SAP software – on premise or in the cloud. Our scalable business management software supports ERP, HR, e-commerce, analytics, reporting, and more. As more than 250,000 small and midsize companies have discovered, you’ll never outgrow SAP – no matter where your business takes you. Visit sap.com/sme.
This blog was written by Karen Kerrigan and Barbara Weltman, and originally appeared on SAP’s Digitalist Magazine.