Building a successful start-up is challenging, but adjusting to the growing pains of a larger staff, higher-profile accounts, and the need for increased information security is where many entrepreneurs run into serious trouble.
Once your business takes off, you’ll need to start thinking about investing in assistive technologies that can help you streamline growth, hone your marketing strategy, and offer your clients confidentiality.
Here are 5 technological upgrades you can make to ensure your business makes it past the start-up phase and continues to flourish.
1. Invest in Cybersecurity
The National Small Business Association (NSBA) reports that half of all small businesses polled suffered a cyberattack in 2014, with their average loss being about $21,000. In addition to an immediate financial loss, a cyberattack can also harm your company’s reputation with consumers, which can have a long-term impact on revenue.
While it may seem like only large corporations like Anthem and Home Depot are the victims of cyber crimes, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Small businesses are more vulnerable to cyber attacks because they typically don’t make it a priority to take preventative security measures.
To help protect your small business against a cyber attack, seek advice from a cybersecurity professional who can advise you on your most serious security weaknesses and make sure your cloud storage is properly encrypted.
2. Optimize Your Website for Mobile Traffic. NOW.
Changing your website may seem like a huge investment, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to grow your business in an increasingly mobile market.
According to Score.org, 80 percent of consumers use their phone to shop and 96 percent use it to research a product or service. Surprisingly, less than 10 percent of SMBs' websites are mobile compatible.
If your site isn’t optimized for mobile traffic, you could be losing a significant amount of business. Plus, mobile-friendliness is now also used as a factor in determining Google ranking, so it could be affecting Search Engine Optimization.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to determine if your website meets the basic requirements. If it doesn’t, consider investing in new website design, or installing a web optimization plug-in if you use WordPress or a similar service.
3. Use a Customer Relationship Management Solution
When you launched your business, getting customers was your first priority. Now that you have earned them, it is important to make sure your customers are well taken care of.
Use a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to help organize and manage your customer information, identify potential customers, and improve your overall service and efficiency. Zoho and Insightly are two CRMs designed with the small-business owner in mind: they both offer free entry-level plans and can scale to meet your needs as your business grows.
Related Article: Driving Towards Closing a Deal Using CRM Software
4. Move to the Cloud
A study by Intuit states only 37 percent of U.S.-based small businesses have fully embraced Cloud computing, but that percentage will increase to more than 80 percent within the next five years.
Myths about the Cloud may make you understandably leery of embracing it, but getting on board with Cloud computing offers your small business many potential benefits. For starters, migrating to the Cloud can help reduce costs, streamline processes, and increase operational flexibility.
5. Streamline Payroll and Taxes
As you add employees to your team, tasks associated with payroll and taxes will become even more complex and time-consuming. In fact, according to a report by the NSBA, roughly 40 percent of small-business owners spend the equivalent of two work weeks every year dealing with payroll taxes.
Try using a service like Gusto or UltiPro to streamline and automate your payroll, human resources and benefit-related tasks. You’ll reduce your stress level, give yourself more time to spend making strategic decisions to grow your business, and also make sure your employees are getting everything they need to succeed.
Building a small business is hard work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Once you’ve made it past start-up status, preserve your competitive advantage and keep your sanity by investing in these 5 business technology upgrades. Your customers and employees will thank you, and you’ll have the tools you need to continue your well-deserved positive growth.