By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars
Small businesses have a lot to keep track of, with fewer people to manage the many decisions that come up on a regular basis. As technology continues evolving and changing, small businesses have even more options and opportunities to choose from, and it can quickly start to feel overwhelming. Which technology innovations are passing trends, and which will have the best return on your investment of both financial resources and training time?
Few small businesses track analytics for their websites and social media presences, and even fewer know how to implement that data to improve and inform business decisions. More accessible analytics tools are available now, and they’re easier to buy, use and understand. Information is power, and it’s becoming easier to access and use that information. If a business doesn’t know who is viewing their website or following them on social media, critical marketing data is missing, and the business has a harder time knowing who is checking them out online and why. Without that knowledge, it’s harder to spend marketing dollars wisely. Just because your business is small doesn’t mean you can’t have access to — and understand — big data.
HELPING EMPLOYEES PAY OFF STUDENT LOANS
The job market is fierce for employers, who are feeling the pressure to add more perks to attract and keep top talent. Small and medium sized businesses often feel like they can’t compete with larger companies when it comes to bonuses and other benefits but helping repay student loans may be one of the biggest perks of all, and thanks to new programs, it’s now something even small businesses can help with.
Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category, with about 44.7 million borrowers in the U.S. who owe $1.56 trillion. With emerging technology services such as Goodly, it’s easier than ever to automate student loan payment benefits. These services work with individual companies to come up with a plan that fits their business, then connects with payroll providers to automate contributions while employees add their own information and manage their student loan accounts. These automated services reduce a lot of the overhead cost involved in offering to help employees pay off their student debt, giving small businesses an easy way to offer a big benefit that will attract and retain employees.
BETTER CYBER SECURITY
According to a report from McAfee cited in The Guardian, almost 90% of small and medium sized businesses in the U.S. don’t use data protection for company and customer information, and less than half protect email to prevent phishing scams. Many small business owners believe only big companies are targets for cybercrime, but according to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report cited in Forbes, 58% of cyber-attack victims were businesses with fewer than 250 employees. Larger companies such as Target make headlines when they're hacked and attacked, but unlike large businesses, small companies are less able to recover when they’re hit.
Here’s another angle that isn’t mentioned as often — the famous Target breach was only possible because information was hacked from a small third-party vendor, not direct from Target. Still think you can afford to ignore data security measures and protocols until next year? The choices of which measures to take and which vendors and software to use can seem daunting, but a good technology partner can help you sort out the ideal solutions for your exact business needs.
SHIFTING TO CLOUD COMPUTING
As small businesses are built, they often grow in increments, which means eventually some systems aren’t quite so seamless. Employees come and go, taking their knowledge base with them, and sometimes even a laptop or backup disc or two. Finding files and old messages becomes harder with every year that passes yet converting to a new system seems overwhelming and even expensive. The good news? Switching over to cloud computing doesn’t have to be a burden for your budget or your stress level. Cloud solutions are easy to customize for your particular business needs, making it easier to find and share documents and files, recover information, see who has been editing a document and locate what you need when you need it.
Buying servers is expensive, and you have to know what you need in advance; if you need less space, you overspent, but if you need more, you have to get yet another server. Switching to cloud computing opens up options for starting small and adding more space over time. Cloud computing also creates options for additional streamlining, since many services are now available to automate small business operations for a fraction of the cost, from human resources to marketing and accounting.
CONSIDER LMS SOFTWARE OR eLEARNING
Everyone dreads those group training sessions, entire teams sequestered in a conference room for hours or days. Though LMS (learning management system) software isn’t exactly new, it’s becoming more mainstream. The benefits are clear; instead of relying on in-house knowledge or hiring a facilitator, small businesses can access best-of-business practices and training direct from experts. Training becomes flexible, scalable and more affordable than finding space, time and an expert to handle in-person training.
The possibilities are broad, with training platforms available for compliance tracking, sales and customer service, procedures and business practices, company values and culture, product and services training, technology training, administration and soft skills development. Whatever your employees need training in, eLearning can speed up the process, reduce costs and allow for better flexibility.