It is an exciting to be a growing business. Gone are the days where only big corporations can afford top of line software and custom development. No longer do small businesses have to wait a year or two for the cost of software to come down in price in order to implement it in their business.
Today, small businesses are more agile than ever, choosing to work with remote employees, freelancers, and in some cases ditch the office altogether to create an office less environment. Not only does a business owner save on personnel cost, but many workers already own the same software on their personal computers once only available for major corporations. In this case the business no longer has to spend thousands of dollars to provide employees with computer software.
Here are four recommendations for using technology in your business to help reduce cost and increase productivity.
Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access
It is well known that Microsoft controls the office productivity suite with its line of Microsoft Office Products, including the three most popular Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Business owners for some time have had an alternative to Microsoft’s expensive suite with the widely available and well known open office. Open Office provides the same functionality of the Microsoft Office Suite without the exorbitant cost. In fact open office has always been and for the foreseeable future will always be free. So it you do not need all of the bells and whistles that Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint provide, Open Office is a free and stable product worth looking into.
In case you absolutely cannot live without Microsoft, there is some good news.
As of 2012, Microsoft rolled out their office suite in the cloud, for a subscription fee of just 4.00/month. This gives business owners access to the full suite of office solutions without breaking the bank. At those prices, it makes sense to use the full power of the Microsoft Office Suite for your business
What is this excitement I hear about the cloud? Although Cloud computing has been around for well over a decade, the cost have come down considerably in recent years, allowing small business owners to lower their overall technology cost. You can now store files and applications over the Internet and a safe and secure environment. You no longer have to be concerned with backups, security issues, and which computer you keep your files on. The benefit of storing your information on the cloud is that you can access it at any time, on your phone, mac, pc, or any other mobile device.
Business owners can increase their productivity as they no longer have to stop by the office to retrieve the documents they need.
If ever there was a company to resist cloud computing and making their software more affordable to the average business owner, it was Adobe. While the suite of Adobe products are quite incredible if you are in the creative industries (photography, design, fashion etc.), they were for the most part cost prohibitive. Simply taking a look at the pricing for the past couple of years, each product would set you back approximately $300, with the entire suite costing well over $1000/per computer. Ouch!
Adobe, like Microsoft has realized that the cloud solution is the only way to keep customers who have been flocking to free or cheaper alternatives. Adobe currently offers there full line of productivity suite products for $588 or 49 month, definitely worth the consideration for anyone in the design industry.
Legal Contracts &Technology
At Smart Money Entrepreneurs, we dealt with quite a few contracts and legal documents on daily basis. Any business in real estate or other document heavy industries can become frustrated by the complexity and time consumption of such process.
Docusign, the leader in signature documentation and security makes it completely easy and affordable to process your complex documents in a single, easy to use cloud based solution. All documents are fully secured and accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, making your life as a business owner that much simpler. You can sign up with Docusign for $15/year with an annual subscription or $24/month.
Office less Environment
As small business owners continue to use technology to help grow their company, the above tools should be used as a starting point to reduce expenses and increase productivity. One tool that helps us better manage our work flow and operations is a cloud project management solution called Basecamp, We use Basecamp to keep track of our internal projects, share files and track time. While there is a free version available, the monthly fee varies depending on how many projects and the amount of storage needed. For our ever growing team, the service is invaluable and allows our associates who are in various states to stay in constant communication.
Technology As A Tool
The one thing all business owners should keep in mind is that technology is a tool that should be used as a supplement for running your business, not a replacement. Implementing the right technology however can quickly allow you to grow your business at an incredible pace and ultimately allow you to work on your business rather than in it.