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IBF Entrepreneur Online –

Technology is giving even the smallest of businesses a competitive advantage against even the biggest global leaders. From automation to advanced analytics and AI, technology can help smaller, leaner businesses offer custom products and a level of customer service that the giants just can’t touch. Here are 5 ways that tech can help to move your business forward.

Continuous education above all

Imagine it’s the 1950’s and you want to start your own business. One of the most primary needs of all businesses is money management. Among other things, this used to mean you either had to hire a bookkeeper to keep track of business income and expenses or take several months of classes to learn the skills yourself. And that’s just?one?of the many tasks involved in running your own business. Today, you can purchase a software subscription that keeps your books for you that can even prepare your taxes.

Not only can you learn almost everything you need to know on the internet, but the web can also help you discover?what?you need to know. From marketing to accounting to preparing models for 3D printing, there is very little you can’t learn online – and often for free. Not only that, but your employees can also pick up new skills and quickly learn what they need to as well to keep up with the demands of your growing and changing business.

Connecting all operations

Large businesses may have sales & marketing departments, accounting departments and a host of other departments and employees to keep on the same page and moving in the same direction, but small businesses still have many if not most of the same tasks to accomplish. They still need to sell and market their products, manage their money and inventory and possibly even design new products.

SMB owners may have a small marketing agency doing their social media marketing, a freelance web designer working on their website, a freelance writer working from home who’s writing content that needs to align with the marketing materials. Project management, productivity and communication apps, and programs can help small business owners wrangle all the many moving pieces and parts of their business into one smooth, optimized workflow.

Analytic Capabilities

A small cafe may not notice a sudden 3% increase in sales of pastries on the 3rd Thursday of every month, but advanced analytics can. It can also suggest potential causes. For instance, a search engine bot may discover a post in an online neighborhood newsletter about a new book club meeting on the 3rd Thursday of every month. Additional investigation may reveal the host is purchasing pastries from your cafe, which accounts for the 3% increase. By understanding the cause of the increase, you may be able to turn that 3% increase into an 8 or 9% increase. You may even further capitalize on the opportunity by suggesting they might be more comfortable in the private room of your cafe that they might not have even known was available.

Industry 4.0 is capable of taking data from a wide variety of sources, including news articles, information generated from IoT connected devices, user profiles and even online newsletters and bulletin boards to offer increasingly meaningful insights into the ebbs and flows of even the smallest of businesses. Doing so can help them maximize their potential and compete with even the largest of corporate giants.

Access to Newest Technology at Low Costs

Startup costs on technology alone for new businesses used to be prohibitively expensive. If you have a staff of 5, you generally needed to not only invest in computers for all your employees but also purchase software suites for each. Now, with a wide range of subscription-based Software as a Service (SaaS) programs available and the rise of BYOD (bring your own device) not only do you save on hardware but the startup costs for software is dramatically lower as well. In addition, if you have one employee that prefers to use Asana and another that just can’t function without Evernote, you can even accommodate them both without additional expenditures.

Best of all, most SaaS programs are now integrated to facilitate AI. This means your daily Square receipts can automatically be?integrated with the latest version of QuickBooks?where?Bison Analytics?can evaluate them and offer you valuable insights into your business.

Improved Efficiency and Security

Very often, efficiency is the enemy of security. Passwords that are the easiest to remember, for instance, are generally the least secure. Cloud-based services that allow you to manage your time efficiently by accessing documents anywhere have traditionally lacked in security. Thankfully, modern tech is far better able to bridge this gap.

Best of all, while you may not be able to afford a 24/7 IT department, SaaS companies provide their own. With SaaS companies, you never have to worry about whether the latest updates have happened or whether there is a new security patch out that needs to be installed. From internal social channels to online collaboration tools, efficiency is no longer the enemy of security.

Wrapping Up…

Technology may be the greatest equalizer when it comes to leveling the playing field between big business and small. While big businesses may have more resources and a broader reach, they are also hampered by corporate waste and complicated hierarchies. Small businesses are leaner, cleaner and can change tacks to take advantage of market trends much more quickly. Technology can help them do this.

Source: Futurpreneur Canada

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