5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Understanding the technology you use (or don’t use) in the office is vital for any entrepreneur. Some have a tendency to chase the latest high-tech offerings available in an effort to keep up with competitors. Others are reluctant to leave behind the technology they’ve been using for years.
In reality, many companies can save money without harming their growth potential by changing the way they use technology — especially when it comes to recognizing outdated or inefficient tech solutions that should be discarded. A few smart transitions will help you cut costs and actually improve efficiency so you can be poised for greater growth in the future.
1. Make greater use of your smartphone
“There’s an app for everything” may have become cliche, but for small business owners, it’s a cliche worth investigating a bit further. Why keep a scanner or fax machine around when you can use your smartphone for document scanning? Rather than sending an invoice to your customer after providing a service, you can use point of sale software to accept payments directly on your phone.
Business smartphone apps cover just about every software niche, from accounting and project management to sales and marketing. By embracing the use of your smartphone in your business operations, you can become fully mobile and able to manage work from anywhere. This also lets you get rid of outdated equipment and software that is less efficient.
2. Consider ‘hot-desking’ or telecommuting
The pandemic accelerated the rise of remote work like never before, opening many business owners’ eyes to the potential cost savings of not renting out a huge office space. At the same time, many felt that having a fully remote work force also brought inherent disadvantages, like a lack of connection between team members that could cause company culture and innovation to slide.
However, office versus work from home doesn’t have to be an either or solution. Many companies are adopting “hot-desking” to embrace flexibility while still encouraging their teams to come into the office. Employees can come and go at the times that are best for them. Instead of segregating departments, they can take whatever desk is available.
While this requires ensuring that each desk has the appropriate equipment setup for any team member, it can allow you to reduce how much office space you need while supporting increased demand for flexibility between home and work.
3. Take phone calls through VoIP
Having a dedicated phone number where customers can reach you is essential for any business, but nowadays, paying an extra fee for a landline is one expense your company can do without. The alternative: Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.
As Dean Genge, CEO of managed IT services provider Ascent Data, explained in an email, “VoIP allows businesses to make and receive phone calls using their internet connection rather than relying on a landline. Many of these systems are entirely cloud-based, meaning you don’t have to install any hardware — instead, businesses can use the internet equipment they already have on-site to save money while also improving their ability to serve their customers.”
Cloud-based VoIP can even be synced with mobile phones so you can take calls when you’re out of the office. Some estimates conclude that this can reduce monthly communications expenses by as much as 50%.
4. Automate, automate, automate
While paying for automation tools may seem like it is adding to your business expenses, the value of increasing efficiency cannot be understated. Research from McKinsey concludes that “half the activities people are paid to do globally could theoretically be automated using currently demonstrated technologies. […] between almost zero and 30% of the hours worked globally could be automated by 2030, depending on the speed of adoption.”
Though there are some concerns about such advances displacing workers, savvy business owners understand that automation actually enables their employees to spend more time on higher-level tasks that drive productivity and profitability. For example, automation tools that assist in data collection and processing will give business owners accurate data for faster and more effective decision-making.
5. Make IT and cybersecurity a top priority
Our ever-increasing reliance on technology also brings its fair share of risk. A quarter of small business owners report spending in excess of $10,000 to resolve a single successful attack, and a similar number reported losing business after a cyber breach. In addition, 45% of small- and medium-sized businesses experience five to 16 hours of downtime because of a data breach — and 12% experience up to 48 hours.
Whether the result of a phishing scam, an employee’s password being stolen or a successful ransomware attack, no business owner can afford to go without IT and cybersecurity management that protects their technology. Small businesses are often a top target because they have less robust security in place than large enterprise-level companies. Ignore cybersecurity at your own peril.
The way your business uses technology will have a major influence on its future. By embracing tech tools that reduce costs and help you work more efficiently, you will be able to deliver better results for your clients. When used properly, technology helps you work smarter while reducing your overall workload — something every business owner can appreciate.