Small businesses have more limited resources than large corporate operations. So it’s essential to be nimble and efficient, and make the most of what you have. Fortunately, there are technologies available to help you operate and grow your business so you’re not just getting by, but thriving.
It can be difficult to determine which tools are worth your time and investment, so here are a few that help you streamline and optimize your business.
Easy business analytics
When it comes to the status of your business, anecdotes are valuable, but analytics are paramount. Data can give you a true, hard-to-argue-with picture of how you’re doing, from best-selling products and customer buying behavior to top-performing employees and more.
An online POS feature like Square Analytics allows you to check data online or through your Dashboard app. These types of business analysis tools let you access real-time sales data and also enable you to generate automated daily reports. This means that you can focus more time on running and improving your business, not crunching numbers.
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Updated payment systems
Customers want transactions to be two things: fast and secure (with an emphasis on secure). So, if you accept credit cards, but only those with magnetic stripes, it’s time to upgrade to an EMV chip card reader. Not only is it better for your customers, but, since the liability shift went into effect in October 2015, it also protects your business in cases of fraudulent charges.
If accepting chip cards is catching up to where you need to be, accepting mobile payments is moving to where you want to be. Mobile NFC payments like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay are becoming more prevalent and popular, especially among younger, tech-savvy customers. Paying with your phone is not only quick and convenient but also highly secure.
Smart inventory management
Keeping track of your inventory is key, no matter the size of your business. It’s especially important if you have an e-commerce component to your site and sell on multiple channels. With inventory management software, you don’t have to keep checking on your stock levels. Instead, you can get daily email that lets you know which items are low, and you can create inventory reports at any time.
Better appointment scheduling
Booking appointments over the phone isn’t ideal for a variety of reasons. It’s time consuming and takes you away from your clients, it can require you to hire someone just to deal with scheduling, and it’s inconvenient for customers. Appointment-scheduling software, on the other hand, allows you to fill up your schedule without picking up the phone, and it enables you to send appointment reminders, thus reducing no-shows. You can also enforce a policy that charges a fee for missed appointments or late cancellations.
Whether your employees are scattered throughout the country or are all in the same space, it can be tedious and frustrating to keep track of the status of every project and document. Free services like Google Docs and Sheets allow you to create and share documents and spreadsheets so everyone is working on the same thing — you don’t have to worry that any outdated versions are floating around. And if you want to avoid long, confusing email chains, programs like Trello and Basecamp are designed to help groups work collaboratively and track the progress of projects.