One of the key parts of owning a small business is learning how to streamline everything. In a business sense, the term ‘streamline’ refers to making your company more effective and efficient. To do this, you will try new things and implement them into your daily tasks. A streamlined business is met with less resistance than one that’s not streamlined and struggling to make ends meet.
This whole idea of streamlining is interesting as we often think about certain parts of our business that need to be improved. For example, most companies will always concern themselves with boosting sales revenue and expanding their customer base. In the big bad world of business, these are things that matter the most to companies. So, we look for solutions to try and improve these factors, when what we really need to do is make our business more streamlined. In doing so, you can address these problems and fix a whole lot more too.
How do you streamline your business? There are plenty of ways you can do this, but I want to talk about one particular concept; online technology. In recent years, there has been an abundance of online tech brought into the business world. Consequently, small businesses are finding it much easier to become streamlined and design a productive workflow method. What surprises me the most is the sheer lack of knowledge a lot of small businesses have on this subject. They’re unaware of what online technologies they should use, and they don’t know how it can help them out. Often, it’s simple little things that make the biggest difference.
Which brings us to the main meat of this article; streamlining a small business using online technology. In the next few sections, you will see lots examples of online technology your company should start using. As well as explaining what this tech does, I’ll also tell you how it streamlines your business and makes life easier. There’s a lot of information here, so I suggest you make yourself something to drink, settle down in a comfy chair, and enjoy!
Databases themselves have been around for a long time and aren’t really an example of online technology. Most people use Microsoft Access or Excel to create databases or spreadsheet-type documents offline. However, these days, you can get your hands on an online database for business use. Why would you do this, and how will it differ from a standard offline database?
For starters, you can use an online database pretty much the same way you’d use an offline one. Your company can set up files on there and have a spreadsheet system in place if you wish. However, the main difference is that, well, it’s online! This puts a whole new dimension in place as you can access this database from any computer or device with a secure internet connection. Not only that, but your employees can all access it and see the same files too. An online database makes it easy to collaborate with employees regardless of where you all might be situated. Plus, a lot of online database services are completely free to use, while offline database applications usually cost money and have to be bought as part of a larger package – see Microsoft Office as an example of this.
Your business becomes more streamlined as people can work together on your database more effectively. Ideas can be bounced around and shared, and it means no one has an excuse to not do or see things right away. If they wanted to, your employees could even do work in their spare time. Perhaps they want to leave work on time to get home to their family, but they still have a couple of things to do on the database. With an online one, they can use their laptop on the train home or sit on their sofa and access it with ease.
Cloud storage follows up this concept of being able to access files from anywhere in the world, on any secure device. In essence, this is one of the main benefits of all internet technologies for your business. The difference is that cloud storage is used specifically for storage needs and nothing else. It’s a place for you to store files online, as opposed to on your computer.
Aside from you and your employees being able to access files from anywhere, cloud storage also lets you upload and save files. It also acts as a safety measure in case you lose files on a device. It’s really easy to lose lots of important data if you store it all on one physical device like a computer or hard drive. Hard drives can be lost, and computers can break. The cloud doesn’t break and is way more secure, keeping your files locked away and protected.
This streamlines your business in multiple ways. For one, the fact you can find files or upload them anytime and anywhere will help you dramatically. If work has been completed, it gets saved and uploaded straight away. Someone else in your business can then grab the file, check it, and get their job done too. It’s all quick and painless for everyone involved. Plus, the fact your files are secured and stored online means there’s no worry of losing them. You don’t have to freak out and think your data has been deleted, you can just go to the cloud and find it there. This limits time wasting and moves your business along smoothly.
Sometimes, we’re guilty of forgetting about things because they’ve been around for so long and we just view them as natural parts of life. Email is certainly an example of this as we pretty much disregard this piece of online technology. However, it’s definitely a bit of technology your business will benefit from and should use to become more streamlined. In truth, it’s not so much about emails themselves, but more email management.
Email management involves using the technology available to you through an email client to better manage your emails. I’m sure most of you are sick to death of getting spam emails or messages that aren’t important. It bogs down your inbox, and you end up missing important client emails and responding late. This doesn’t look good for your business, and can also slow things down. Thankfully, email technology has developed way beyond what it used to be. Now, all the major email clients will have tools you can use to sort out your inbox. This includes letting you create whitelists for contacts that you deem safe, and blacklists for those you don’t want to get emails from. By doing this, you will no longer see emails from people on your blacklist. You can also use tools to automate your emails and get the email client to do all the dirty work for you. It will sort through your inbox and move things to spam folders, flag important messages, and help you view your inbox through a different lens.
By using email management technology, you make emails great again. No longer will you, or anyone else in your business, spend ages trawling through a dense inbox trying to find important messages and getting rid of bad ones. It will save you so much time, and your business can be more efficient.
Specific Business Software
This last point combines a lot of online technology into one bubble. I’ve done this purely because there are so many things I could potentially talk about in detail, it would require a whole other article! Essentially, specific business software is any type of software that’s based online and designed for specific business tasks. For examples, sales software, human resources software, accounting software, and so on.
All these things differ from databases and cloud storage despite having similar qualities. With the first two ideas, they’re very much used for general purposes. You can decide how you use a database or cloud storage, but with selective business software, you use it for its purpose. The major benefit of this is that you have access to software that enables you to streamline individual processes and tasks. You can manage your sales team with sales software and see what areas you’re falling behind in and where you’re not generating enough leads. HR software is so helpful when managing your employees and tracking their performance or allowing them to book holiday days. Accounting software follows a similar path as you can manage your accounts and view your money online.
Every piece of specific business software you use will streamline your business by making individual parts run smoothly. You get all the cogs moving together, and you become a way more effective business.
Of course, all of these examples have one main thing in common; they use the internet! If your business isn’t making use of the online space, you will miss out. It’s a fact that the best way to streamline a small business in 2017 is by using all the online technology at your disposal.