The Impact Of Technology On Small Businesses

There is no doubt that new technologies have revolutionised the world of business as a whole. Despite the advances that technology has provided, small businesses – particularly those with five or less employees – might be left wondering whether they really need to implement the most up to date technologies. Here we look at the impact that technology has had on small businesses and why they should seriously consider keeping up to date with technological advances.
Anytime, anywhere
While at one time all employees working for a small business had to be located in the same place, the advent of technologies such as the internet, email, tele- and videoconferencing has allowed its workers to be located literally anywhere. This means that small businesses can source the best talent from around the globe, hiring those that can best meet its needs rather than those in a convenient location. On doing the maths it might work in the favour of a small business to operate from smaller premises – with less expensive ground rents and utilities amongst the benefits – so having fewer employees needing desk space is a bonus. The promotion of flexible working that this allows makes it attractive to employees looking to work from home and to fit their work around their other commitments.
Smoother working
A project very rarely involves the input of just one employee; usually it is a combined effort from a number of employees with additional input from outside agencies. Everyone therefore needs to be involved and kept up to date with the progress that it being made. Web-based project management systems allow just this, with the easy allocation of tasks, tracking of developments and sharing of completed assignments possible in this way.
Reaching out
E-mail, blogs and social networking all provide opportunities for advertising and networking, allowing small businesses to reach more customers than they would ever have been able to previously. Online stores for small businesses selling goods can also allow them to market their goods to a larger custom base, beyond those in their local vicinity.
Money saving
Despite the initial costs of providing computer workstations, telephones and other technological devices for employees, the use of technology can actually save money in the longer term. While small businesses previously had to pay to send out questionnaires to clients to gain feedback on their performance or call up their customers – often seen as obtrusive – technology now provides an instant connection between companies and their clients. Small businesses able to operate fully online also save on the cost of premises; particularly welcome for someone operating by themselves or with just a handful of employees.
Better use of time
When businesses have few staff, making the most of time during the working day is vital. Technology now allows some of the administrative duties that previously encroached on more productive areas to be taken care of. The ability to take part in online meetings also frees up time that would once have gone into travelling to and from a venue.
Easier accounting
One of the most daunting things about setting up your own business is dealing with the accounts. The alternative option would be to make use of the services of an accountant, but this brings with it attached costs. However, with accounting software and online finance tools that has small businesses in mind, the whole process becomes a lot simpler. The reports provided by these packages can also be informative for making financial decisions relating to the business.
Reluctance to move on
Small businesses that dwell too much on the start up costs and temporary inconvenience of initiating new technologies are missing out on the opportunity to expand and attract more clients. Reluctance amongst more experienced employees to update their skills can also stand in the way of success. While it will take time to train everyone in the required use of new technologies and initially implementation may initially dampen productivity; the benefits that can be gained are time well spent. Even if initially all that a small business can rely on is the personal computers of their employees and their mobile phones, this is a starting point; as business picks up, profits can be invested into technology.
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Julia writes finance and small business articles on behalf of one of the UK’s leading landlord advice portals.