There are over 12 million IT jobs in the United States and more than 500,000 information technology companies. The U.S. information technology industry is worth over $1.6 trillion.
It’s also one of the fastest-growing industries in America, with an average growth rate of about 6% per year from 2010-2020. And yet, many small business owners still think that IT might be too complex or expensive for their needs?
How can information technology be too expensive for a small business? Impossible!
This article will explore tips that can help any small business owner get started on using digital technologies wisely and effectively.
1. Back-Up Your Data Frequently
Having a backup data system that stores your business files in case of unexpected disasters is critical.
It’s an essential aspect of any IT plan because it helps recover if you lose data in your primary server or computer. Losing important files, such as accounts or customer records, can set your business back. You could lose customers, revenue or even create other problems.
There are many ways you can back up your business files. You could make use of different online services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud. You could also make use of another external hard drive for backing up your documents and pictures.
Whichever way you choose to go about this, it would be helpful to have a small business backup plan. It will show how your business’s data will be preserved in case of any unfortunate events.
However, it should start by developing an IT infrastructure that includes the necessary security measures. Through this, you can make sure that your private and confidential information remains safe from harm or theft.
2. Track Your Business Data
You should realize that having good and complete business data gives you something very powerful: insights.
With insights into your business data, it becomes possible for you to know where your weaknesses are. You can then address them quickly with minimal damage done to your businesses.
Based on your business data, you will learn what works best for your customers, which marketing campaigns deliver results, etc. This is also helpful because you can avoid making risky decisions that may cost your business money and productivity.
You can collect your company’s information from various sources, including:
- Your business website
- Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter
- Website analytics tools like Google Analytics
- Email marketing services
- Reports from your payment processor, merchant account, or online accounting software.
Having good data will also help you make decisions in real-time based on the information you have at hand. This can be helpful if there is a sudden change in market trends that requires immediate adaptation.
For instance, adapting quickly to changes in tax laws concerning online commerce. Or deciding on spending more money on advertising campaigns. These are some of the things you could learn by having complete business data.
3. Use Social Media To Engage Your Customers
If you have a business with customers on various social media sites, you should take advantage of it. The easiest way to do this is by consistently updating your business’s presence on those social networking sites.
This will keep your customers updated about what you are doing regularly. It also helps to set your business up as an expert in your product or service category.
To use social media effectively for marketing purposes, here are some helpful tips:
Regularly update your website and blog with fresh content. This could be in the form of helpful articles that provide value to potential customers or updates about newly added products or services. Make sure that you add share buttons near the end of each article so customers can easily share your content.
Use pictures and graphics for more impact. Don’t underestimate the power of visual content since it catches more eyeballs online. Make sure that you use the appropriate hashtags to be found by customers searching for something relevant on their social media platforms.
Ask questions to promote user-generated content (UGC). UGC can be very helpful in establishing trust with potential customers. They will see real testimonials from other people who have tried your services or products before.
Provide an avenue for customer support through a live chat function on your website and mobile applications. This is one of the quickest ways to help customers with their queries.
It also allows you to develop a relationship based on trust and understanding between you and your customers. If possible, make sure that you respond quickly to all queries submitted by your customers online to provide quality service at all times.
4. Upgrade Your Website’s Security and Infrastructure
Your website is your business’s virtual storefront. It’s where customers can learn more about what you have to offer them before buying or signing up for anything.
You need it to be updated regularly to show new improvements and new content. You should also regularly test to ensure that your website is secure and won’t experience any problems.
Having a strong infrastructure in place for your website gives you peace of mind knowing that you have full control over your site at all times. It helps to avoid security breaches and hacking which are the greatest threats to e-commerce these days. If your website experiences downtime or crashes, this can cost you customer loyalty and even sales.
Here are some things to do:
Hire a good hosting provider. Use web hosts with data centers close by so they can address technical difficulties quickly if they arise. Also, choose web hosts who give unlimited bandwidth, disk space, and site traffic.
Use a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN distributes your web content across servers around the world to speed up access for customers. It also helps to reduce server load, which increases the efficiency and security of your business’s website.
This is one of the cheapest ways to improve the user experience. It also ensures that visitors get connections fast, even when they are thousands of miles away from you.
Host video files on YouTube. Videos can be an excellent way to convey information about your products or services. You could use them for training purposes or give demonstrations online.
5. Use Genuine Software
Unlicensed or pirated software is not only illegal but could also compromise the integrity of your business’s data and even give you trouble with your customers. You need to use genuine software which comes from official sources.
Using unlicensed software can open up your business to security risks, for example, malware, spyware, and viruses designed to steal important information without your knowledge. It can also make it difficult to get support since unlicensed products usually don’t have tech support options.
You should, therefore, invest in licensed software so that you can enjoy the following benefits:
Get official tech support when things go wrong. You should get prompt and professional help from the company’s customer service team anytime the software has a problem.
Reduce infrastructure costs. Most companies offer discounts for bulk purchases of their products. This means that you could save a lot of money if you buy more than one license. In some cases, legal software tends to be cheaper than unlicensed or pirated alternatives.
6. Build a Mobile App
Mobile commerce is becoming increasingly popular these days. Hence, you can’t afford to miss out on this market opportunity and successfully sell products or services using a mobile app.
A mobile app allows customers to engage with your business any time and anywhere they want. It also gives them an easy way to buy items from your website or make reservations.
When developing a mobile app for your e-commerce store, keep the following tips in mind:
Make sure that it supports all mobile devices. You should make your app available to as many people as possible. So, it’s best to develop on iOS, Android, and Windows platforms, for starters.
Built-in security features. There are many ways you can add protection measures to keep customers’ data secure every time they use your app. For example, you could have password requirements or fingerprint clearance locks to access any sensitive information.
Use a traffic management platform (TMP). A TMP compresses images and files before sending them to a customer’s device, leading to faster load times and higher-quality videos or images. This means that users don’t have to wait long for content when they visit your online store.
7. Outsource IT Services
Outsourcing your IT services may be an ideal solution for small business owners who want to focus on their core operations. However, you need to consider the following factors before choosing this option:
Offshore outsourcing is often cheaper than getting local IT support. If you are based in a country with high labor costs, it could make sense to hire offshore talent since they offer rates that can go as low as $5 per hour. This makes them way more affordable than onshore professionals, who usually charge upwards of $100/hour.
In addition, offshore workers tend to have lower turnover rates compared to their onshore counterparts. This means that they’ll save you money by being more efficient at their jobs.
However, it’s very important to know that working with offshore workers can be risky. For example, there is a chance that you’ll lose important data since they’re usually not as familiar with local laws and regulations about business IT security practices.
Either way, outsourcing can be a cost-effective strategy that allows you to focus on your business goals. If you are from Seattle, you can always trust Managed IT Support Seattle to handle your IT needs.
8. Use Cloud Solutions
Cloud solutions make it easier for business owners to keep track of their data. They also allow you to access your files from anywhere and at any time. So you can stay up-to-date with work even when you’re far away from your office.
All cloud solutions offer some level of security. They encrypt all the information a company puts on its servers to ensure that sensitive data is kept safe.
Using cloud services has many advantages:
It’s easy to set up a cloud solution upon installation. It takes just one mouse click (or a few taps) before you’ll have an internet server ready to go live.
They don’t require any additional hardware investments since everything runs through the use of the internet. This means you won’t have to spend money setting up a server or buying additional software and hardware.
Cloud solutions are usually cheaper than whole-fledged in-house IT systems. You only need to pay for the storage space, bandwidth, support, and other cloud services that you use. This is unlike an in-house solution where you’ll be required to fork out more cash should your business expand in the future.
9. Build a Business Website
A website is the face of your business. It’s a place where people find information about your products and services. So, it must look professional.
Here are tips so you can build an effective website:
Always include contact details. Make sure that users can easily get in touch with someone from your company if they have any questions or concerns regarding your products or services. This means including everything from phone numbers and email addresses to physical addresses and social media profiles.
Use clear language. You may be tempted to use complicated words because they sound fancy on paper. However, studies show that customers respond best to simple language. It gives them easy-to-understand info about your products or services.
Write for your target audience and not for yourself.
Incorporate visuals. Don’t bore people with walls of text or too many paragraphs about what you offer. Instead, use pictures to showcase your products or introduce the members of your team. People appreciate images since they add personality to a company’s website and make it more memorable.
An extra tip: Outsource some tasks through an Employer of Record or Independent Contractor
Sometimes, in order to streamline the processes around Tech, some companies contact an Employer of Record to hire professionals in the area for onespecific amount of time. Avoiding time-spending in the search of the right candidate and also, saving money thanks to their payroll outsourcing services.
Imagine for a second you’re looking to create a website, maintain it correctly and increase your score in Google. Well, you perhaps want to hire a Marketing strategist, a web developer and so on. An Employer of Record company might help you with this, as they are so experienced in the field.
Have an Information Technology Strategy
An information technology plan is vital to the success of any company, from big corporations to small businesses. With proper information technology management, your business can be more productive and competitive in the long run.
For more insightful tips, keep reading our blogs.