Kabbage asked small business owners how they use technology for their companies and where they see it growing by 2020. Here’s what six had to say.
“The two technology tools I’ve implemented in the past year that have saved me the most time are:
• Integrated invoicing, payments and accounting system
• An online booking system
Setting up automated invoicing and having online payments automatically added into my accounting system has been a definite benefit – and impressed my accountant, who recently praised me for being extremely organized when I sent my records for review before filing my taxes.
Another time (and aggravation) saver for me is an online booking system I set up a few months ago. Now instead of having to email back and forth to find a good time for a phone call, the client can check my booking schedule and find a time that works for them. When they book an appointment with me, my calendar is automatically populated, so I know what I have on the schedule.
My prediction for small business and technology is that the need for cybersecurity will continue to increase and become even more important for small businesses, as they become more dependent on technology to run their businesses. In addition to the need for small businesses to find technology solutions that help streamline their processes, they also need to remember to update their business continuity plans to account for the potential disruption of the services they use.”
“We use Slack at Badger to always stay connected with the different teams and across our offices in Spain, San Francisco, Utah and the Philippines. It helps us to quickly communicate important updates, share files and improve internal communication and employee engagement.
We organize all documents and spreadsheets for our projects in Google Drive and sort them by department and topic etc. It makes it very easy for the whole team to work together on projects even if they’re not in the same office and stay on top of the progress. This helps us scale processes and work more efficiently.
The most important trend I see is what I call the ‘Small Business-izing of Technology’. Cloud-based technology is bringing enterprise-class business software to small businesses, which 10 years ago was only available to large companies with big technology budgets.
In the past, the big tech companies like IBM, Oracle and SAP focused on high quality and high expense solutions to Fortune 500 companies. Today, even a small business with just a handful of people can get fantastic software to run their business. You can use Gusto for your payroll, Base CRM for your Sales Team, Hubspot for your Marketing and Google Apps for your collaboration and email. You don’t need to buy a data center; you can run your technology assets in Amazon Web Services and consume a ton of services via the many APIs available today.
This lowers the barriers to entry of starting a company because it takes so much of the complexity and costs off the table and clears the way for small businesses to innovate. Because of this technology, we were enabled to start our company on our savings and a shoestring budget, and over just five years, grow into the #1 routing app for salespeople in the App Store.”
Adro Solutions, LLC
“The tools and apps available have helped me run and operate my business in a more efficient manner and wisely use the time that I have available. For example, I can send professional invoices at a minimal fee and no upfront setup cost. I use a free CRM to manage my customers, contacts opportunities and deals. This is incredibly useful since I run my small business on the side, and time is a very important asset. Since I’m in the software development fields, there are free versions of Visual Studio for application development and Visual Studio Team Services (for source control).
I feel like technology is going to make the barrier to entry for a small business much lower. I can see the number of small businesses and freelancers growing over the next several years.”
“Technology has been amazing for my business. Being that I specialize in digital marketing, tools and apps are pretty essential to what I do! Whether it be social media apps like Facebook and Instagram, post scheduling tools or online tax software, these things really have made my life as a small business owner much easier and organized.
I believe that technology will become an even bigger asset to small business, especially when it comes to reaching customers that are a greater distance away. As technology advances, I think it will make it much easier for small businesses to connect with business owners from all over the world and make it easier for them to interact with their customers in a more positive and meaningful way.
Although I believe technology is a wonderful asset, I would like to note that I do not believe that it will ever replace the value of genuine, real-life relationships and networking. I don’t believe anything will ever be able to top that.”
Garrett Public Relations
“Technology saves me time in my business. Here are some examples:
Buffer: When I schedule social media posts using Buffer, it saves me a lot of time. It also helps me by posting during times when I’m not at my computer, like overnight and on the weekends. This helps me grow my audience. Buffer has a free version, too.
Pablo: I use this to create images to go with social media and blog posts. It’s a free tool. It works nicely with Buffer (Buffer created Pablo).
Wave: I use this for accounting. It has free versions.
MailChimp: I use this to send out a monthly electronic newsletter. It’s free, up to 2,000 subscribers.
Grammarly: I use this to edit my writing. They have a free version (I use the paid version). There’s also Hemingwayapp and ProWritingAid that are similar. Both also offer free versions.
As far as what I see for the future, I see more integration coming. So, for example, small businesses would be able to use a tool that would schedule meetings, handle invoices, provide CRM and more from one dashboard. There may be a few apps like this, but I see them becoming more sophisticated and easier to use.”
M&A Solutions Ltd.
“One of the most helpful technologies to me is the GCP (Google Cloud Platform). I have it set up so that my regular desktop and my development environment (Jupyter) for data are easily accessible for prototyping from any point in the world. I can deal with large datasets and choose any machine specification I want in order to run this. This enables me to fit technology to my needs, and I really can’t explain to the fullest what a powerful thing this is.
Considering my level of technological sophistication, I think this is going to be an increasing trend; the more complicated stuff like AI and machine learning are going to become increasingly accessible to the wider layers of the population. Hopefully, they will change the way the news is consumed too, in order to give people more unbiased view. However, we are still a long way away from that.”
This article is excerpted from “Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: How to Invest in Technology,” available at https://www.kabbage.com/greenhouse/article/how-to-invest-in-technology-for-your-small-business/