Can Technology Help Small Businesses To Save Money?
Most small businesses that I come across don’t have an IT strategy. But to be fair, when I speak to Marketing Consultants, they say that very few small businesses have a marketing strategy. So it’s not just an IT thing. People working in small businesses are busy! We haven’t got time to strategise – we have clients to help and sales to make. But over the last 18 months we’ve all been forced to reassess how our businesses work – whether that’s what we sell and how we communicate with clients or how our teams can work remotely. Now that restrictions are being eased, it’s easy to slip back in to our old ways and not regularly review how technology can work for us. So let’s look at a few ways that technology can not only help us, but save some money too.
Server replacement. A server always used to be a staple in the office of most small businesses. Somewhere to store files, manage user accounts and perhaps a database of clients. The cost for a new server can be anything north of £3000 and you’re probably looking at a 3 to 5 year life. Then there are the associated management, support, backup and running costs. If you already use Microsoft 365 then why not take advantage of SharePoint – storage space on the cloud. Can your database be moved to the cloud too? Or maybe some sort of hybrid option – some data stored onsite and some in the cloud.
Ability to outsource your work. With services such as Microsoft 365 and Salesforce, it’s easy to give people access to whatever they need, wherever they are. It doesn’t matter where they are in the world – if they have an internet connection, then they can access your company data.
Your team can work from home. Perhaps they’ll only come in for a few days a week rather than every day. But think of the savings you can make on office costs and utility bills. Plus the savings that your staff will make on commuting costs…not to mention the extra time this will free up.
Less travel. We’ve already mentioned the savings that working from home will produce but how about business travel in general? We still need to meet suppliers and clients but now we can take advantage of Zoom and Teams for some of these meetings. More environmentally friendly too.
Technology isn’t just about computers and the internet. Use it for other things in the office too, like automatic printer consumable and washroom supply replacements.
Still using a traditional phone system? Use Zoom, Teams or Skype to make calls over the internet. Or look in to a VoIP solution.
Make the most of free technology to market your business. Social Media, Google My Business, Search Engine Optimisation…get your message out there!
Streamline business processes to make your business more efficient. If the details of a new client have to be entered in to several systems then it’s not only going to take a long time, but there are more likely to be mistakes. But this is how businesses evolve. They get an accounts package, then later on there may be a CRM system to keep track of potential clients, then may be another system that does quotes and contracts. How about streamlining this so the details only need to be entered once? Think of the time that will be saved with just this one change. How about using automation for things like holiday approval processes? No more manually keeping track of holidays on a spreadsheet. What else could be automated?
Use an accounting package that connects to your bank account. This is so much easier when it comes to reconciling your accounts.
Review your broadband contract. Been on the same tariff for the last few years? Look in to whether there’s a newer or better technology that would suit your business better. It’s not about getting the latest greatest technology – it’s about getting the best technology for your needs.
Over the last few years software companies have been making it easier to buy software. From buying licences upfront to more of a subscription model where upgrades are part of the plan. So you can increase or decrease your licence count as required. This makes is so much easier to get everyone on the same versions of software so you can reduce training costs.
Standardise on software. Have a company-wide antivirus system rather than multiple different versions on different credit cards. Easier to keep track of renewals as well as ensuring everyone is up to date.
Of course, none of these suggestions are much good if the computer you’re using is slow and stutters every time you click on something. It may look like a large upfront cost, but a properly-specified computer will ensure that your team member can be productive from the get-go. Lots of suppliers are offering rental agreements (or hardware as a service) so you can subscribe to the hardware. This often works out a lot cheaper and removes the large upfront cost.
If you are handing a manager’s laptop down to someone else in the team, ask your IT team to reinstall the operating system and applications so it’s as fast as it can be. It should just take a couple of hours but will save so much time for your colleague.
Use Smart Meters to see how much energy you’re consuming. As the saying goes, what gets measured gets managed.
Use an inventory management technology to keep track of what’s in your storeroom. Then you’ll soon be able to work out what’s taking up space unnecessarily.
And finally… duplex printers (printers which print on both sides of the paper) used to be much more expensive. They aren’t now. Use the technology to save on paper supplies. It’s a small thing, but lots of small things make a big difference.
Are you an owner of a small business? Would you like to have a chat about how to get the best out of technology? Why not get in touch? firstname.lastname@example.org