Run a small business? Here’s what you need to know about what’s trending in IT capability this year. Small changes or a complete overhaul? That’s up to you!
Automation of repetitive manual tasks
Automation is the IT area that most small businesses will focus on for 2020. There are so many tasks that can be automated, the mind boggles.
- Automation of onboarding new staff: forms for capturing details, adding to payroll, online access to business documents, etc.
- Using a CRM to manage customers instead of an Excel database
- Automatic responses to inquiries via email, social media, and even telephone
- Automated playlists of music for your store/reception
- Invoice creation and send after completion of work
- Auto-backups of business information
Use appointment automation software
If your business involves inbound appointment setting for clients, then it’s time to digitize this service if you haven’t already. There are plenty of appointment setting software products on the market (like AppointmentCore) to choose from, all with different features and calendar integrations. Pick one that has a smooth workflow for clients and easily hooks into your website, social, and Google presence.
Clients should be able to land on your site (through various web channels) and see the appointment setting button right away. Some appointment setting automation software has a ‘placeholder’ fee for appointments, so if they are cancelled less than 24 (or 12, 48) hours in advance, you can charge a penalty if you wish.
Add an eCommerce element to your website
Every small business sells something, whether it’s physical items, services, or digital products. That means that every business can incorporate an eCommerce element into their website.
For physical and digital items that are ready to ship, adding easy purchase and ship options with multiple payment methods is easy these days.
For services businesses, think of the packages that you regularly offer customers, and the approximate costs. Chances are you’ll come up with a few ‘standard’ packages that you can attach a dollar value to – even if each client is different.
Automate marketing campaigns
Going into 2020, focusing on online marketing and your online presence should be a high priority for your business. This includes rollout of presence across the right social media channels, location-based Google searches, etc. It also includes automation of marketing campaigns.
A lot of small businesses simply push marketing efforts when they are finished with the content and then wonder why it isn’t effective. You need to coordinate across platforms, push messages often in the leadup and during a marketing campaign, and, most importantly, have everything ready to go in advance and scheduled, so it simply gets pushed out at the right times (and all you have to do is field responses).
This may require an online marketing contractor, or you can DIY with tools like HootSuite.
Self-service SaaS products
Investigating new software products and tools is an essential yearly task – or more often if you are proactive! Each year, there is a new cavalcade of software-as-a-service (SaaS) products that can potentially give you a greater ROI than your current methods.
Explore these SaaS products, for example, to see if they’re a fit for your business:
- In-house graphic design with Canva
- Project management with Trello
- Build your own automations with Zapier
- Mailing list management and automation with Mailchimp
- Customer management with HubspotCRM
- Proposal creation and management with Proposify
- Accounting with Xero
Cloud-based systems for security
Storing your business data on cloud-based systems makes a lot more sense from a security perspective than storing it locally on your computer, external hard drives, an on-site server, or even a single off-site server location.
Using cloud-based storage and backups, like the solutions offered by AWS makes it easy for small businesses to increase data security, while at the same time ensure there are backups available. You will need the correct configuration for secure systems – so if you’d like a hand in setting things up then please get in touch.
The shift away from brick and mortar
Many small businesses are realising that brick and mortar rental costs aren’t worth it anymore. Plenty of businesses can be run from home, with remote employees, and the option of renting office or meeting space by the hour. Of course, for retail, it may not be the best move to go fully online!
Take a look at the options for migrating your office setup to see if it might be a better idea to downsize for cost benefits. Going remote with your employees will require some re-configuration of IT systems to support a different working structure.
Focus on social media
For many small businesses, they know that social media is increasingly important, but simply don’t feel like they have the time to put into it, or that they’ve missed the boat. The good news is that there’s no such thing as missing the boat with social media – it’s about simply picking your platforms wisely and learning strategy for messaging and customer interactions.
You can choose to have someone manage your socials for you, rollout systems and then handover the reigns, or learn how to do it yourself. There’s no time like the present!
Digital transformation overhaul
All these trends are pieces of one big puzzle: what we call digital transformation. That is, taking your existing processes and seeing how they could be enhanced by digital services/products, plus augmenting with any that you’re missing – for a foot up against the competition.
If you would like some assistance with strategy, implementation, and training – or even one of the above IT trends – then make sure to contact A1 Technologies.
Picture credit: <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/business”>Business vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com</a>
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