So you’ve started a business and you’re getting used to making important decisions every minute of the day. Each time, your focus is to make its future as lucrative as possible. You’ve chosen your niche, hand-picked a team and settled on a location. Now it’s time to select the business technology and tools needed to get things off the ground.
Although this may seem trivial, technology is becoming increasingly important in every type of business. It can help you manage cash flow, make better choices about inventory and employees, connect closer with your customers and save time. If there’s one thing to remember when weighing up your options, it’s that your business technology and tools should be able to grow with your business as it evolves.
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Whether you need a little guidance or you’re not at all sure where to start, we’ve put together this quick list of essential business technology. Every option is designed to help you set up, run and grow your venture.
1. WiFi for you and your customers
WiFi is a no-brainer for coffee shops and bars, but it’s a key tool for other types of business too. From your company laptop or mobile device, to your point-of-sale and card reader, a stable WiFi connection will be required to keep you connected and ready to take payments and check sales activity.
WiFi is a great pull for customers too. If you can market your clothing store, salon or laundrette as a place for people to come and check up on work emails or do a spot of online shopping, you can drive extra footfall. Plus, if people are actively online in your store, you can encourage them to share their positive experiences on social media.
2. An integrated POS
If you’re in the market for new business technology, there’s one thing you shouldn’t go without: an integrated POS (point-of-sale) system. Beyond taking payments, this software can help you run pretty much every aspect of your business. It should have the power and flexibility to grow with you, and that means not tying you into contracts or charging restrictive monthly fees.
Square POS provides you with the ability to manage employees, inventory and locations, as well as communicating with customers. With all of these managed in one place from your iPad or mobile device, you get a simple, sleek setup that can adapt as your business changes over time.
Square Register is the latest touch screen till system that integrates sleek POS hardware with powerful software to help you seamlessly accept payments and run your business.
3. Payment options
With fewer people carrying cash in their pocket, you should have as many different means to take payments as you can. That means accepting mobile (like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay) and contactless and chip + PIN payment cards, as well as being able to take payments remotely, over-the-phone and send invoices for free. Look for a service has all of these areas whilst providing maximum security and next business day deposits as standard.
4. Analytics software
The devil’s in the detail when you’re getting your small business off the ground — it pays to understand what’s happening day-to-day. But your size puts you in an incredible position to make quick adjustments that immediately improve cash flow.
There are many choices for business analytics software, but as with Square Analytics, some options come as part of your mobile and countertop POS. The benefit of having your data integrated in this way is that you can track every aspect of business performance, wherever you are, at any time of day.
The best analytics software gives you insights into:
- Employee performance: so you know who needs a little extra training and who could be in line for a promotion.
- Sales performance: so you know which items are selling best, at which time of day and when most of your sales take place.
- Customer insights: to help you understand how many of your customers are new or returning and what they like to buy.
5. A killer website
In a recent survey that we conducted, 44% of respondents said a website was ‘very’ or ‘extremely important’ in their decision to try out a business. So whether you’re planning to sell your products online or want to have a general website to engage customers, you need one that puts customers first. This can be as simple as making sure your site is mobile-friendly.
Building a website doesn’t have to involve coding skills you may not have. With custom eCommerce solutions, you can build an online presence by simply dragging and dropping elements.
Don’t forget to choose a payment provider who will deposit funds from your online transactions as soon as the next business day. This ensures your online activity can quickly help fund the overheads of your physical store.
Technology might seem like one of the least pressing things to invest in, but in reality it can become the backbone of your entire business operation. Focus on a simple setup that you can scale over time and you’ll find that the investment is worthwhile.