Technology and tech tools have, without a doubt, reshaped the business landscape. Companies — heck, even one-person shops — can sell to people in the neighborhood or customers around the world.
No longer the exclusive purview of big business, technology is agile, scalable, and affordable to every business these days. The trick is knowing how to take advantage of the opportunities it creates.
If you own a small business, you may think it takes an IT staff to implement software, platforms, and tech tools. But you might be surprised how user-friendly most of them have become. That phenomenon is driven by developers who want more companies to invest in what they have to sell.
If you aren’t taking advantage of today’s technology, you’re missing out on incredible opportunities to grow your business. Here are four tech tools you should add to your toolbox.
1. Contract Management Software
One change that has hit small businesses as hard as large ones is the growing need for enforceable legal contracts. Even the smallest companies should have contracts for employees and vendors. Depending on what you sell, you may need them for customers as well.
Because you need contracts, you need to work with attorneys from time to time. You can rack up legal fees pretty quickly, even when you’re creating essentially the same contract over and over. Save yourself some time and money by using a contract management platform.
Intuitive contract lifecycle management software helps you avoid redundant legal work and often integrates with your existing software programs. Contracts can be redlined and revised in real-time and shared by every person who needs access to them. Moreover, your CLM will alert everyone about upcoming deadlines, monitor progress, and gather data useful for the next contract.
2. Project Management Software
It doesn’t matter what size a business is. Every one of them needs to keep track of projects, schedules, and tasks. If you aren’t using project management software to help, you’re letting a lot of important things slip through the cracks.
Of course, when it’s a small task with a quick turnaround, you may not need project management software to keep you on point. The same is true if the task is yours alone to accomplish. But for anything else, this technology could be a godsend.
Project management software helps businesses set specific project goals and monitor budgets from start to finish. It tracks deadlines and allows teams to make task handoffs friction-free. Such software gives everyone who needs project information easy access to it in real time.
Productivity is critical to the success of every business. To get a handle on how yours is doing, put one of these tools in your tool chest. They’re user-friendly, and some are even free.
The value of chatbots lies in their ability to engage with customers immediately, 24/7/365. That’s a particularly great support feature for small businesses that can’t afford to hire round-the-clock representatives to answer questions. Given that audience engagement is a crucial component of the customer experience, chatbots may be just what your business needs.
Of course, you’ll have to invest some time initially plugging the necessary information into a chatbot builder. But your little guy or gal will take it from there by simulating human conversations. Chatbots use artificial intelligence to leverage data gathered from customer interactions to continue providing on-target responses to questions.
You can employ your chatbot across all your platforms, including your website and social media accounts. That improves customer access to support. But it also gathers the maximum amount of data to keep your chatbot’s AI fed. The data collected by your chatbot will customize and improve your customers’ experience — and the best part? There’s no overtime pay required.
4. Website Analytics
Websites are important tools for small businesses because they level the field with competitors of any size. But small businesses are notorious for throwing up a site on the web and never looking back. Keywords are overlooked, content ages, and customers are frustrated by slow performance — particularly when websites aren’t optimized for mobile devices.
The secret to addressing these problems is analytics. “Analytics” may strike fear into the hearts of many small business owners who don’t have an IT pro on the premises. But in this day of user-friendly technology, analyzing your website’s backend has become user-friendly as well.
You’ll need to know what to measure, such as time on the page, bounce rate, and click-through rate. Then you can find a free or affordable program that will tell you how your website is doing. And don’t worry; these solutions will translate performance into terms anyone can understand. You’ll be able to see at a glance the web content that’s holding visitors’ attention and what’s falling short. Then you can make the adjustments necessary to attract — and retain — your audience.
Fill Your Small Business Toolbox
In business, bigger is not always better. Small businesses that use technology to play with the big dogs can enjoy a much better bottom line. If you aren’t taking advantage of the increasing number of tech tools designed for companies like yours, you’re missing out.
Remember that it’s not the size of the toolbox that matters. It’s the tools you put into it and how you use them that counts.