Running Your Business

Tapping Digital Business Tools for Small Business Efficiency

  • One-third of small businesses expect to implement some kind of automation in the next year

  • Around 93 percent of people agree that video conferencing is effective at improving the connectedness of remote employees

  • Most digital business products offer a 30-day free trial, so you can evaluate if it's a good fit before buying

Posted by October 30, 2018

As digital business tools become increasingly cost-effective and available in the cloud, more small businesses can take advantage of the powerful resources to automate work processes.

In fact, the 2017 National Small Business Association Year-End Economic Report indicated that “one-third of small businesses expect to implement some kind of automation in the next year.” Cutting-edge products create sustainability for organizations that are growing—but at the same time, they need to establish standards for employee task management.

Given the range of options, it can be a bit confusing to know what digital business tools are right for a small business. If you’ve experienced this first-hand at your organization, fret not! Here are a few examples of how small businesses are creatively using digital products to manage work tasks while saving time and money.

Digital Business Tools Can Facilitate Recruitment, Administrative Tasks

One major challenge that many small businesses encounter is recruiting the best talent. Instead of casting a wider net, it’s possible to attract qualified candidates by offering alternative work arrangements, such as telecommuting and flexible schedules. According to CNBC, Chris Petrella, founder and CEO of Unlimited Power, recognized early on that he would need to embrace technology in order to attract and retain talent for his startup. He was able to compress employees’ work hours to 26 per week, but still pay them a salary equal to a typical 40-hour workweek—which proved to be very attractive to job seekers.

Daily administrative tasks also need constant attention, and this is where digital business tools offer the greatest support. Small Business Trends points out 20 free ways that a small business owner can automate tasks, using a variety of available tools. For example, document sharing, collaboration and storage have become much easier (and cost-effective) tasks thanks to products like Google Docs and Dropbox. Basic storage is free, but additional storage for larger files can be purchased for just a few dollars per month.

A Concentration on Efficient Communication

In a global world, maintaining strong communication channels with employees and clients is absolutely critical. Virtual meeting products, such as Google Hangouts, Zoom and Skype can allow you to host meetings from any connected computer or mobile device. This could help your organization boost productivity and foster a team mentality among employees in different regions.

According to the 2018 State of Video Conferencing report from Owl Labs, 93 percent of respondents “agree that video conferencing is effective at improving the connectedness of remote employees.” As more companies expand past their four walls, virtual meeting tools will likely become the norm.

Determining the Best Digital Business Products For You

Before selecting a product for your small business, it’s a good idea to take careful inventory of the structure of your business and where it’s headed in the future. You may have a small team currently, but there are probably tasks that require the use of simple digital products—like project management, communication and file sharing. It’s a good idea to survey your fellow employees to learn what their main tasks are, and then explore the products that may be best suited to each need.

Look for offerings that provide the most features your team needs to automate tasks. This will help streamline and simplify things (instead of using multiple products that may not integrate well). You can evaluate the quality and reliability of products by reviewing the support pages and reading online reviews left by other small business users. Make sure the product offers live telephone support—and always seek out options that provide a 30-day free trial so you can test a small section of your company before moving everyone to a new system.

Looking to learn other strategies for effectively educating and engaging your coworkers? Explore the offerings included in the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.

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