In a fast-changing world, get ahead by upgrading your technology for these four processes.
As a successful small business owner in 2012, there is no doubt you've been smart in running your operation. You've made it through some difficult times and that requires organization, a solid business model, and an ability to adapt.
But even a smart business can get smarter. With all the options available to us now thanks to technology, business owners have to be careful not to fall prey to inertia. Just because something has worked for a number of years doesn't mean that it will continue to work, or that you can't find a better way to do it.
Here are four processes you should consider upgrading:
Storage Hard drives are so 2011, and filing cabinets feel almost prehistoric at this point. With online services such as Dropbox, you can store your important files and documents in the "cloud". If your computers are hit with a virus or your office burns down (God forbid), at least you haven't lost important data.
Contracts If you're still faxing or mailing contracts back and forth, you're simply moving too slowly for today's economy. With a service like Sertifi, this can all be done electronically and almost instantly.
Customer Relationship Management Excel is a robust program, but the capacity of something like Salesforce.com is vastly superior as a customer relationship management tool.
Payroll Our small business customers use SurePayroll (where I'm the president), because it relieves them of the burden of calculating payroll, worrying about complicated tax regulations, or paying for direct deposit. An online payroll service can save a lot of time and money on a task that's best left to someone else.
It's easy for small businesses to fall behind on upgrading to the latest technologies because it's changing so rapidly. It's difficult for even the tech savvy to keep up.
You don't have to become an innovator. You don't have to change everything. But you do have to change your mindset.
We've moved into a universe where many of the things we used to be amazed we could do on a computer are now easy to do on the phone. If you have a question, you can literally ask a smartphone, and it talks back!
If you're to continue to succeed in small business, the gap between the early tech adopters and those trailing behind must start to close.
MICHAEL ALTER is president of SurePayroll, America’s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University. @michaelalter