Covid-19 has highlighted technological innovations and has made technologies, such as Zoom and G-Suite, part of everyone’s lives and has even made ‘Zoom’ into a verb in much the same way as the verb ‘Google’ has been added to our dictionaries.
However, even before this small businesses were relying very heavily on technology as this has very significant benefits for how they do business and – for want of a better word – allows them to play with the ‘big boys’.
Here are several applications that have allowed them to scale their businesses and increase the amount of value that they provide their customers.
Email has become part of a parcel of our everyday lives so much so that it has supplanted the traditional ‘snail mail’ in many areas. Without this essential communication tool, small businesses would not be able to communicate with their suppliers and customers. Also, what makes it very attractive is that – as opposed to the postal service – email has some advantages, such as being:
- Instantaneous (well, unless there is a problem with the IT systems)
- Very cost-effective (for the price of a cup of coffee, you can hook into the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi and, using a free Gmail account you can email to your heart’s content)
For face-to-face communication, small business owners have traditionally used Skype and this allowed them to communicate with people around the country as well as around the world. While this technology is still available, there are other platforms – such as Zoom – which are more stable and allow you to conduct a two-person meeting for free.
As small businesses – particularly freelancers – tend to bill by the hour, they have always needed a great app with which they can measure the hours that they spend on a particular project. Some firms, such as Sage, allow you to directly capture the time that you spend on a particular product and you can invoice, based on this time, by importing the hours into your invoice.
This is a paid-for product and is quite reasonably priced. However, if you want to go for a free option, then the best productivity app out there – without a doubt – is Clockify. Using this application, you can track your time for a variety of clients and are then able to pull reports based on your times.
If you have a small team who collaborates on various projects, there are many tools out there which will help you keep an eye on deliverables. Asana, which is a project management system based on the Kanban methodology, allows you to create boards for various projects, populate these boards with different tasks and assign these tasks to various members of your team. Monday.com is another similar application. This is a paid service and, as such, allows you more flexibility than the free Asana product.
Technology opens up a whole new world for small business as it allows them to collaborate with suppliers and clients from all over the world. Various options can be chosen based on the business’ needs.