Seven Technology Solutions to Empower Your Small Business
Small business owners develop an amazing ability to juggle a wide variety of responsibilities. The to-do list for a given workday may include marketing and customer service, finances and payroll, and (gulp!) managing technology.
With so much on your plate, you demand solutions that are simple, affordable and effective. For an overscheduled entrepreneur, however, the word technology sounds complicated, expensive and time-consuming. But when technology is able to deliver compelling solutions to real-world challenges, small businesses are eager to put it to use. Here are seven opportunities to empower your small business with proven technology solutions.
1. Sell Online
An effective website can bring in more sales in an hour than a team of cold-callers could in a month. Setting up a web eCommerce solution can augment or replace brick-and-mortar storefronts, attract new customers and save you money on overhead.
Dana Reynolds owns and operates Master Cut Gems out of his home in Madison, NC. The company’s website is the key to the businesses, attracting customers from around the globe for its unique collection of fine gems. Buyers from as far away as Australia, Brazil, China and Germany now purchase products through the company’s online store. Click here to view Dana’s story and how TWCBC powers his business.
Installing free tools like Google Analytics as part of your online presence can lend meaningful visibility into how customers are connecting with your business. Analyze how traffic is coming to your website on a regular basis so you know which social media channels, blogs, websites, emails, ads, or search engines are best generating business. These insights will let you know if traffic is up or down so you can take the steps necessary to grow your business.
2. Help Increase Productivity via Collaboration
Make it easy for your team to work together by choosing tools that streamline information access and accelerate collaboration. Solutions like Microsoft SharePoint can serve as a central hub for all your small business content, including notes, documents, schedules, and conversations. Move beyond the days of sending and receiving file attachments via email with employees creating and storing multiple versions in different places. When stored through SharePoint or another collaboration application, essential business information is always in one place, up to date, and available to the entire team through any compatible device. In short, collaboration tools help keep everyone in touch and on the same page.
3. Backup Carefully
As more of a small business’s information assets become digital data, it is essential to back it up regularly. Life teaches us that the best made plans can go quickly awry. Computers can be lost or stolen, data can get inadvertently deleted or corrupted, and hard drives can crash. For the small business with a data backup program, such occurrences are a minor inconvenience rather than a catastrophic loss. A host of affordable device-based and online backup solutions are available to small businesses. Choose one that best meets your company’s needs and use it regularly.
4. Tune in to Video
As the old adage explains, seeing is believing. Showcase your company’s products and services or offer technical support with online video. Websites like YouTube make the process surprisingly simple. Just create a YouTube account, record a video with a digital video camera or even a smartphone, upload it to your company’s YouTube channel, and promote it to customers through your website or social media presence.
Internet videoconferencing services like Skype are another powerful way to utilize the power of video, allowing you to meet with customers and vendors face-to-face without leaving the office. A recent survey finds 52% of small businesses are already using videoconferencing tools to save on travel time and expenses and to make their meetings more productive.(1)
5. Look to the Clouds
Cloud services leverage a third party to deliver essential business productivity, collaboration, communications, and storage applications. This way, small businesses can access innovative information technology (IT) solutions without making large upfront capital investments for hardware and software systems, or paying for ongoing IT staff resources to maintain them.
With a credit card and a few hours of work, even the smallest business owner can purchase and provision everything from email and online collaboration tools to the latest productivity-enhancing applications in the cloud. For a surprisingly small investment, you enjoy the expertise of these companies with the ability to add or subtract capacity as needed.
6. Go Mobile
For most entrepreneurs, work is not just a place to go on weekdays, but activities to accomplish wherever they may be. Not surprisingly, small businesses see big benefits from mobile technologies, including smartphones and tablets. Mobile solutions provide 24/7 access to customers and information, to applications that increase productivity and efficiency, and to company assets for teleworkers.
A recent survey finds that 66% of small businesses are using mobile technology, which means 34% are not. If you are among the 34% of non-mobile users(2), you may want to reconsider. 44% of surveyed small businesses reported productivity gains of at least 10% from adopting mobile solutions, while 21% of businesses reported increases of more than 30%. Indeed, 65% of small business leaders now report that a smartphone is the device they rely upon most, surpassing PCs.
Within an office or retail location, or while on the road visiting customers, mobile devices can help small businesses streamline essential tasks, such as payment processing. For example, tablets are now being used as a point-of-sale device to handle payment transactions by 17% of small businesses.(3)Popular mobile payment processing solutions includeSquare, GoPayment from Intuit and PayPal Here.
When in the office with your smartphone or tablet, be sure to use Wi-Fi to access your company’s Internet connection. This option can help deliver faster Internet access speeds, extend device battery life and avoid extra charges from mobile carriers for data usage.
7. Integrate Social Media
According to Nielsen(4), people spend more time on social media than any other category of Internet sites. Some 56% of all American adults are now smartphone owners(5), and social media accounts for 30% of mobile device time.(6)Not surprisingly, small businesses are eager to reach the massive social mobile “SoMo” audience. Research finds 73% of small businesses are now using mobile technology to drive marketing campaigns through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest(7). A social media presence is a great way to attract customers to your business location or website.
How Can Time Warner Cable Business Class Help?
Time Warner Cable Business Class (TWCBC) Cloud Services offer a flexible, cost-effective solution for delivering the IT services your business needs, right when you need them – without the cost and complexity of managing them in-house. TWCBC Cloud Services† help employees access and seamlessly share emails, contacts, calendars and documents, as well as synchronize information in real time, on virtually any PC, BlackBerry®††, Android™, iPhone or tablet using Microsoft® Hosted Exchange 2010, SharePoint® 2010 and Outlook®. And, you, the business owner, do not have to invest in the latest software and hardware or IT resources to manage all of these activities.
Let TWCBC Cloud Services streamline your communications by moving your on-premise email, file sharing and backup services to the cloud. With free on-boarding and 24/7 support, we make transitioning to the cloud fast and easy.
Online Backup: Time Warner Cable Business Class Online Backup makes it easy to back up data on your company’s computers to a secure, off-site location. There is no special hardware to purchase or maintain. Instead, by following a few simple set-up steps, an Online Backup software client automatically manages the process through the network. A user-friendly administrator portal makes it easy to set up and manage multiple users, whether they are located at the same business site or remote locations. Administrators are kept up to date with e-mail alerts and reports on the backup activities of their users. With Time Warner Cable Business Class Online Backup, small business owners can relax with the knowledge that their company data is safeguarded, minimizing risk associated with unexpected losses.
Wideband Internet Access: By delivering Time Warner Cable Business Class Wideband Services over our Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) infrastructure, we have again proven our commitment to investing in next-generation network technologies that help businesses be more productive. From metropolitan centers to outlying areas, our advanced network infrastructure is able to reach more businesses in more locations. Wideband Internet enables key business processes such as internal and external large-file sharing, streaming video and online order processing. Wideband also simplifies online backup in the cloud with higher bandwidth for data transfer at speeds that easily scale up to 50 Mbps.
Web Hosting: Time Warner Cable Business Class can cost-effectively establish and maintain your company’s Web presence. If your company already has a website, we can offer a hosting package tailored to your requirements. For new websites, our Easy Website Wizard offers over 100 design templates and a number of creative features to help you develop and publish your website in a matter of minutes. Value-added features from Time Warner Cable Business Class, including eCommerce, video streaming and domain name e-mail addresses, can help your Internet presence reach its full potential.
- Global Research Shows Mobilizing Your Small Business Creates Competitive Edge, Citrix
- Global Research Shows Mobilizing Your Small Business Creates Competitive Edge, Citrix, June 6, 2013
- How Small Businesses Are Using Mobile Technology, May 30, 2013
- The Social Media Report, Nielsen, 2012
- Aaron Smith, Smart Phone Ownership 2013, June 5, 2013
- Alex Brophy, Social: A Proven Sales Creator, January 9, 2013
- Sixty-Six Percent of Small Business Owners Use Mobile Technology, Constant Contact, May 7, 2013
† Time Warner Cable Business Class Cloud Services are available only to customers with at least one Internet service from Time Warner Cable Business Class. A commitment of at least three (3) mailboxes (premium, standard, or any combination of these two) is required.
†† BlackBerry® support available at an additional monthly charge.
This Time Warner Cable Business Class article includes references to websites created and maintained and services provided by third party entities not affiliated in any way with Time Warner Cable Inc. Time Warner Cable provides this information solely for our Business Class customers’ convenience. Time Warner Cable does not control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of information contained on any third party website nor does it endorse the views expressed or products/services offered by the third parties. All users accessing any website referenced in this newsletter will be subject to the policies of the owners/sponsors of the third party website. Time Warner Cable assumes no responsibility of any kind for damages that might result from use of the third party services or websites.