Everyone knows just how much of an impact technology has had on global business, but if there's one segment that has benefited the most from technological innovation it's entrepreneurs. With mobile phones, cloud computing, do-it-yourself accounting software and ubiquitous connectivity, business owners can now create successful companies quickly and from anywhere.
However, with so much technology out there, it can be hard to know what programs and tools are essential for getting a company off the ground and growing. There are some must-haves, though, including these five types of tech.
Super-Size Your Storage
In today's world, most budding businesses need far more storage than their computers can provide. Things like high-resolutions photos, data-heavy PowerPoints and an endless stream of documents will max out CPU storage in no time. Fortunately, cloud-based companies like Dropbox, Box, Apple and Google offer several terabytes of data for a reasonable monthly cost. These programs also make collaboration easier as you can quickly share files and folders with contractors and employees. Thanks to these storage sites that many small companies can create a global workforce from the start.
Keep Up With Collaboration
Whether you're in an office or have a remote workforce located in different cities, being able to collaborate and connect with staffers quickly is a must. Over the last few years, sites like Slack, Basecamp, Trello and others have revolutionized the way small business employees interact with one another. Forget e-mail--you can now send messages to individuals or teams in an instant, you can work together, in real-time, on complex projects, and you can even build camaraderie by creating "channels" dedicated to more social communication. Messages and files are also easily searchable, making it difficult to lose something important.
Crunch The Numbers
As excited you may be about your brilliant idea, you still need to run a business. That means keeping receipts, adding up bills, doing taxes and other more mundane work. While it may still be a good idea to have an accountant nearby, technology can, and should, take care of most of this work. Quicken, the classic accounting software, is still popular for tax work, but other programs like Wave Accounting, Xero and Zoho Books come with a variety of features like invoicing, payroll, bill payments and other mission critical applications and fall well within the budgets of most small businesses.
Show Your Face
Instant messaging and email only goes so far. In many cases, you still want to see clients or employees face-to-face--maybe you have to walk them through a presentation or just want to catch up. That's why having a good video program is critical for small businesses today. You'll want to find software that allows you hold meetings with multiple participants, share files with people on a call and you may want to be able to record conferences for future viewing. Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, Zoom.us and GoToMeeting are just some of the popular video conferencing sites to choose from. While it may not be quite as good as a face-to-face meeting, it saves a fortune in travel costs and wear and tear.
Set Up A Store
There was once a time when creating a consumer-focused e-commerce website was a painstaking process. Now, though, sites like Shopify and Tictail let even the smallest companies create sleek websites with all the e-commerce fixings. Companies like these have been a boon to entrepreneurs--they let users create online shops in snap and take a variety of payment options, such as credit card and PayPal, so that every potential customer can buy what you're selling. It only takes a few hours to get a store up and running and turn your company into a potentially global business.
While there are plenty of other useful technologies out there--security software, customer relationship management programs and so on--incorporate these five tools into your budding business and you could find yourself ahead of the competition in no time.