If you’re a startup founder or running an SMB, there’s a good chance you’re struggling with time management and missed KPIs. When resources are tight and you have to fight the big players for market share, these are the areas that’ll require your attention the most and tech hacks that can give you an edge in the market:
Common challenges SMBs face today
- Finances: Managing finances is often a top challenge for SMBs, as they often struggle with cash flow, budgeting, and forecasting. Unexpected costs can quickly derail even the best-laid plans.
- Time management: With limited resources, founders and employees struggle with multiple tasks and priorities, which can lead to burnout and inefficiency. Prioritizing tasks, delegating responsibilities, and strategizing plans are always going to be a challenge
- Marketing and sales: SMBs need to constantly attract new customers and retain existing ones, which requires a strong marketing and sales strategy. However, SMBs rarely have the budget or the expertise to engage their target audience.
- Talent management: Hiring and retaining skilled employees is another common challenge for SMBs since they cannot compete with enterprises.
How technology can bridge the gap for SMBs
With low-code/no-code tools, purpose-built SaaS, and AI applications gaining momentum, small businesses can catch up to bigger competitors and carve a niche market for themselves.
With tech, founders can save time and money, streamline processes, and improve efficiency. Here are some ways technology is democratizing entrepreneurship:
- Cloud-based tools: Tools such as Google Suite, Slack, ChatGPT, Zendesk, Airtable, Microsoft 365, and Dropbox help SMBs store, share, and collaborate on documents and files in real-time, without the need for expensive on-site servers or software. This way, SMBs can save time and maintenance costs by reducing asset dependency.
- Automation: Repeatable but time-consuming tasks such as invoicing, data entry, payroll processing, and inventory management can be automated with tools such as QuickBooks and Zapier. This can help SMBs speed up back office response and reduce errors, as well as improve efficiency.
- Social media and digital marketing: Instead of maintaining an inflated marketing budget, SMBs can leverage tools, such as Hootsuite, Buffer, HubSpot, and Mailchimp, to reach and engage with customers online. Unlike enterprises, SMBs can create and nurture online communities faster, which helps their churn KPIs.
- Remote work: Tech has made it easier for SMBs to enable remote work, which can save money on office space and reduce commute times for employees. On top of that, a global talent pool can help SMBs address skill gaps. Tools such as Zoom, Loom, LastPass, ClickUp, and Slack can enable employees to communicate and collaborate effectively from anywhere in the world, while still maintaining productivity and efficiency.
5 tech hacks that will speed up your business
Now that you know how you can integrate technology into your business, it’s time to look at specific use cases.
Here are 5 ways you can save time and money with technology:
- Project management software: SMBs can use project management SaaS such as Asana, Trello, and Monday.com to standardize their workflow and manage tasks more efficiently. These tools help remote teams collaborate on projects, assign tasks, and track progress, all in one centralized platform.
- Online invoicing and payment systems: For SMBs, paying hefty amounts for global payments is a challenge and with PayPal’s fees skyrocketing, it’s important to look for more efficient options. Companies like Stripe, Payoneer, Xero, Freshbooks, Zoho, and Paddle have quickly become popular among small businesses. They offer simpler invoicing and billing workflows, which can save time and reduce errors, as well as improve cash flow.
- AI chatbots: You can use AI-powered chatbots such as Zendesk, Drift, or Intercom to streamline customer journey maps and post-purchase services. Chatbots can handle routine customer inquiries, such as order status or return requests, freeing up human customer service representatives to focus on more complex issues.
- VoIP systems: SMBs that use virtual phone systems such as RingCentral, Nextiva, or Grasshopper see better close rates and improved customer feedback. These tools provide a centralized business communication system that saves time and prevents miscommunication.
- Cloud storage: SMBs use cloud storage services such as Google Workspace or Microsoft OneDrive to save costs on file management. Cloud enables businesses to store and share files in a centralized location, accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
If you’re not sure how you can make your business more efficient and productive, the above tech hacks will serve you well.