Even though your business is small, you still need to innovate in order to grow. Jack Wallen identifies five budget-friendly ways to do so.
There are technological ways in which you can expand your small business that won't break your budget. I don't mean purchasing new systems or adding a fiber pipe to your building (though that couldn't hurt); I'm talking about inexpensive and/or free ways of embracing technology and tech-based services to help with your business expansion. Let's dive into five tech-based strategies.
1: Go mobile
You may have already spent a ton of time and money on an outstanding website that shows off your products and/or your services, but if that site isn't mobile-friendly, you need to correct that ASAP. If your site was developed by another professional company, it shouldn't require much for them to pull off the addition of a mobile-friendly version of your site.
Once that's complete, you should seriously consider developing a mobile app for your business. The easiest way for prospective clients to interact with your company (when not face-to-face) is through their smartphones and tablets. Your app doesn't have to be feature-laden and award-winning — it just needs to be a simple way for clients to gain access to your information, products, and services.
2: Reach for the clouds
People were quick to mock the cloud for many reasons, but the truth has been fairly enlightening, and the cloud isn't going away. In fact, the cloud will continue to expand into more services and niches. You can expand your company by adopting a cloud-based office suite solution (e.g., Zoho) that can become a one-stop shop that will fill many needs such as invoicing, marketing, finances, and more.
The cloud is also a fantastic means of backing up and syncing your data; this can take place of costlier on-site services and allow you to easily sync your data to multiple machines. One of my favorite cloud-based backup/sync solutions is SpiderOak. Unlike Dropbox, SkyDrive, or Box, SpiderOak is both a sync and backup tool that allows you to get very granular with what and where you back up.
3: Find your funding
You develop a product that will revolutionize your niche. Instead of going the old-school route and searching for venture capital, try crowdfunding your idea. Canonical raised well over 10 million dollars in less than 30 days in an attempt to fund a high-end smartphone project. Even though the Canonical campaign ultimately failed, it proved crowdfunding can work and that companies can raise a lot of cash very quickly.
One of the best sources for crowdfunding is Indiegogo. You'll find fundraising campaigns for various categories, including technology, gaming, and health.
4: Socialize your company
It's become a crucial component of business to have a social media presence. Facebook and Twitter are no longer just for people to post cute cat videos, relationship status updates, and various snapshots of life's little moments. These social streams have become ways in which businesses can easily (and inexpensively) connect to possible clients and other businesses.
While you're working on your social platform, don't forget channels such as YouTube. People love video, and what better way to promote your company, product, or campaign than to create a YouTube video? In fact, your company should have its own YouTube channel filled with videos.
5: Toss the old register
A lot of smaller businesses are opting for iPad and Android-based register systems. These often make great solutions because you can immediately link sales to, say, your cloud-based QuickBooks solution.
The idea of migrating to a tablet-based POS should appeal to smaller businesses because it has a much lower upstart cost, and customers (particularly younger clients) will see that you're leading or following the current trends. The ability to tap into the younger client market is becoming critical for growth.
Your business doesn't have to suffer tired technology and waning growth. By employing some cost-effective means (that have the added benefit of being easy to deploy), you can grow your business faster and cheaper than ever before.