Now more than ever, small businesses need ways to drive and improve business productivity and maximize investments on each small business IT solution in order to deliver excellent customer service and accelerate revenues. The good news is, there are numerous, actionable steps business owners can follow to move beyond survival mode into thrive territory.
When you think about IT, you may immediately see dollar signs, but there are ways to maximize your IT expenditures, which will ultimately help boost revenue. According to market research, small business IT solution spending is on the rise. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that small and medium sized business spending on IT will increase 5.5 percent over the 2010-2014 forecast period. Research also shows that IT decision makers for small and medium sized businesses will be focusing more of their time on IT expenditures, however with a limited budget.
Since small businesses continue to feel the pressures of the economy, they will remain cautious in their IT spending, but these simple tips will help maximize the benefits of your small business IT solution expenditures and help create dramatic increases in your productivity and overall business growth.
Below, I have outlined 10 tips that businesses owners should consider and execute to boost profitability and improve business productivity. If you’re an entrepreneur, consider one or all of the following tips to take your business to the next level.
Boost Profitability with a Cost-Effective, Comprehensive Small Business IT Solution
1. Boost Your Email. In the world of small business today, email is the central form of communication. It enables you to communicate efficiently with your fellow employees and customers. Equipping your business with a reliable and robust email platform is a critical piece to improving business productivity.
2. Build a Web Presence. If your small business does not have a web presence then you are missing a golden opportunity. There are tools available at your fingertips that will help you create a website that is interactive and engaging for your customers and prospects; try adding video or a blog.
3. Work the Web. Does your website still fit the needs of your business? If not, it may be time to upgrade to a small business IT solution, such as an e-commerce system, that enables you to sell your products or services online.
4. Upgrade Your Apps. Move your accounting off the spreadsheet and into a professional accounting software application. Whether free or subscription-based software on demand or a self-hosted solution, this is not a time to short-change your cash management.
5. Back It Up. Can the server in your IT closet withstand a flood, fire, tornado or your building’s sprinkler system? If you’ve answered no or are unsure, consider offsite data backup services as a part of your small business IT solution. Scrimping now may cost you later.
6. The Search Is On. Search engine optimization improves your rank on sites like Google and Yahoo!. A few keywords can improve your business productivity by catapulting your ranking in only a few months and earning you more business.
7. Be Smart and Social. Do some social media due diligence to find out if your industry cares about tweets, friends or followers before you invest valuable resources in social media.
8. More Productivity, Fewer Problems. Focus on services that improve business productivity, like providing your mobile sales force with anywhere access to your office’s network. Even though the economic tide is starting to improve, your customers still expect you to do more with less.
9. Inspect Your IT. Complete a technology audit of each small business IT solution that you pay for and determine its value. For example, what benefit does the company receive from employees having unlimited texting?
10. Consolidation Is King. Move voice, data, web hosting and other IT services to a single provider so you only have to pay one bill or contact one provider if you have a question. A consolidated small business IT solution will save you time by not having to chase down different providers for one problem.
11. Count on the Cloud. Prioritize your technology decisions by how much they will accelerate your company’s ability to grow and thereby improve your business productivity. For example, using cloud-based services gives your business access to productivity-enhancing technology at a fraction of the price.
12. Can the Spam. Spam costs US companies almost 22 billion dollars each year, and has a significant impact on employee productivity and business growth. Proactively protect yourself by self-filtering incoming emails. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know or don’t recognize, simply delete it.
Growth is good. Follow the tips above to improve business productivity, accelerate growth, and prepare for unmatched success with a comprehensive small business IT solution.
Jonas Fruge is the Seattle-based vice president and general manager for Cbeyond, a leading provider of voice and data packages to more than 50,000 small businesses throughout the United States. Fruge joined Cbeyond in October 2005, serving in various roles in sales management before obtaining his current leadership position.