Modern technology allows small businesses to operate in ways that were impossible only a generation ago. Technology allows staff members to communicate better, enables business owners to manage costs more efficiently and sell products and services in new and different ways. Small businesses benefit from simplified and less expensive manufacturing processes and can grow without affecting the quality service they offer their customers. Regardless of the size or nature of a small business, technology has opened new and exciting doors to success.
Never before has it been easier for employees to communicate among themselves or with clients. Email has become the communications vehicle of choice within most organizations, enabling collaboration between staff members, regardless of where they are geographically located. Mobile phones allow field staff to remain in contact with their office support network at all times, and wireless laptop modems permit data to be accessed, transferred and shared from anywhere. Technology enables every small business to communicate in any ways they wish.
It used to be that business owners spent hours entering bookkeeping information, tallying journal entries and manually creating business reports. Today, accounting systems automate most of the processes, reducing the time spent on keeping accounts current. While simplifying the bookkeeping process is important, the real power of computerized accounting systems is their ability to pull ad-hoc reports instantly. Business owners can immediately see how they are performing compared to previous years, discover who their most profitable customers are and identify problems before they become insurmountable.
For manufacturers, technology greatly simplifies the procurement of materials and the delivery of those materials to the factory on an as-needed basis. Once a product is developed, technology manages inventory, automatically reordering items as stock is depleted. Companies can sell their products anywhere in the world using the Internet, placing global markets within reach of any organization. When an item is sold, technology completes the process by assisting in the delivery of the item to the consumer, tracking it while in transit.
Preparing a product for manufacture used to require teams of professionals to create bespoke manufacturing tools used to create a factory assembly line. The expense of setting up an order required that huge quantities of each item be manufactured to achieve economies of scale. Today, advanced manufacturing tools permit engineers to control machinery using computers. The expense to manufacture an item is greatly reduced, and even low quantities can be manufactured in an affordable manner. The result is that even a small company can manufacture their product efficiently and inexpensively.
As companies grow, the way they treat their customers evolves. Historically, larger companies faced difficulty offering the same type personal service you could expect from a smaller organization. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems change that dynamic. CRM systems track every customer interaction, creating a database of information that can be used by the company to provide improved service. If a customer calls with a question, the CRM system will already know what products they own and when they were acquired, so the customer service representative can immediately provide better service and ask fewer questions. If the issue requires more than one contact, the CRM system ensures that a follow-up is made and that a resolution is found. Similarly, the system can suggest appropriate upgrades and options that can add value to the customer and drive revenue for the company.