Whether you’re at the beginning stages of starting your own company or want to grow your decades-old family business by double digits this year, one thing is for sure — you can’t get very far without the right tech infrastructure to support you.
From faster Internet speeds to mobile work solutions to comprehensive apps that help you manage it all, the right technology is essential to keeping up with your competition — and keeping your customers happy.
Here are some of today's most in-demand tech solutions that are vital to any growing business.
1. Fast and reliable Internet and WiFi service
You've heard it before: communication is key to any kind of relationship, including the connection you have with your customers, prospects, vendors, and employees. In today’s high-tech world, that means the ability to communicate instantly.
So, you’re likely wondering: How fast is my internet? Will it meet the needs of my employees and partners? Securing a telecom service with fast and reliable Internet service is a critical first step in making sure effective communication is at the core of your business. If your business has multiple employees who manage and send large files, or rely heavily on Internet-based meetings, you may need to upgrade your Internet speeds to work for you. Test your current Internet speed here to find out if you need an upgrade.
Perhaps more importantly, you’ll need to consider the reliability of your service. After all, you likely can’t do business at all if your systems are down. Put yourself in the customers’ shoes: Would you be a repeat customer with a business that has difficulty following through on communications or transaction? Choose a telecom service that offers around-the-clock assistance if something goes awry. If you can't rely on your business Internet service to keep you online, your customers won't be able to rely on you. With a service like Comcast Business Connection Pro, your business automatically switches over to the 4G LTE wireless network during an outage, and your customers will never know the difference.
Speaking of WiFi, studies show that customers and clients tend to hang around for longer and spend more money if a business offers free WiFi at its customer-facing locations. Consider adding this feature to build customer loyalty. For your brick-and-mortar storefront, you can set up and manage your employee and guest WiFi in just a few clicks with a service like Comcast Business WiFi Pro. Offering this service is a win-win for both you and your patrons. It allows you to gather crucial data from your customers, like email addresses and shopping preferences, while giving them a better in-store experience.
2. Mobile connections
One of the fastest growing (and probably most exciting) small business trends is the move toward mobility. With today’s mobile technology, you can stay connected anytime, from anywhere. But as a business owner, you need more. Whether you're traveling to meet with clients, attending a conference, or just running errands around town, you've got a professional image to maintain and a business that needs to be managed.
The great thing is that you can stay in touch with your employees, customers, and vendors all while using your personal cell phone for work. With services like Comcast Business VoiceEdge Mobility, you can receive business calls anywhere on any device and place calls from any device using your business number ID. Customers will have a seamless experience contacting you in the office or on the road.
You may also need to remotely access files from your office desktop while you're away. By setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can securely access your office computer from wherever you are — and also allow access to specific customers or employees.
For an even more comprehensive solution to collaboration-on-the-go, you can use remote access software to run meetings and presentations. Online conferencing tools like WebEx, Join.Me or TeamViewer allow you to share screens and conduct video meetings with remote employees or customers.
And when you're selling your products from the road, whether it's from a pop-up store, food truck, or festival booth, you can use a mobile payment app like Square or Paypal in combination with the accompanying portable card reader that attaches to your mobile device. There are virtually no limitations to staying mobile while staying in business.
3. Automation software
The power of automation can feel like magic if you're an overworked business owner. Besides cutting down on expenses and saving you countless hours of work, automation software collects and manages large amounts of data and completes routine but complex tasks, while you stay focused on what's at hand — growing your company’s bottom line.
One of the most popular examples of automation software is CRM, or customer relationship management software. Many small business owners have adopted CRM systems to gain deeper insight into their customers and prospects. Understanding your customers is key to forming a relationship with them, bringing in repeat business, and generating referrals. CRM platforms like Salesforce or SAP help you manage customer contact information, keep track of all interactions with customers as well as potential leads, and schedule future communications.
But as any good business owner knows, the customer relationship is one that needs constant nurturing. Posting consistently and engagingly on social media networks is a never-ending effort, but it's a marketing strategy you can't do without these days. A social media management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer takes over much of the increasingly time-consuming task of updating your social media profiles, monitoring social media stats, and scheduling posts for each platform. Just set it and forget it!
4. Management apps
As a small business owner, you've got plenty of things on your plate — and there's always something more that needs to be done. Whatever you don't have time for or want to do faster, there's definitely an app for that. The best part? Most of the basic versions are free.
Project management apps like Trello or Avaza help you tackle those clunky projects gracefully across a team (whether in-house or remote), while accounting apps like Wave or ZipBooks remove the hassle from your invoicing process, tracking expenses and income and those dreaded tax calculations. Communication tools like Slack or Fuze give you the ability to instantly and effectively connect with your team and share files anytime.
Perhaps most valuable is a tech management app, which is like a really easy-to-use remote control for all your business Internet and phone accounts. (See the value of mobile above!) Being able to check in on and manage the flow of communication in your business is critical to making it work for you, your customers, and your employees. If you have a Comcast Business subscription, you can use the mobile app to troubleshoot Internet problems, manage your Internet and phone accounts, get voice services, and even pay your telecom bills right from your cell phone.
It's important to point out that most of these apps are cloud-based solutions, which leads us to the last, but certainly not the least valuable, tech feature you should have on your radar.
5. Cloud storage
If there's one particular technology for business growth that’s a game-changer, it's the cloud. Storing your data in the cloud will save you big bucks on expensive hardware, and it provides a secure and reliable backup of your information in case anything happens to your devices. It also makes everything more instantly accessible.
But beyond basic cloud storage, working in the cloud is an increasingly popular option that offers real-time collaboration between you and your employees, which can boost productivity and efficiency — and that's always good news for your bottom line. Cloud computing brings a flexibility and scalability that wasn't possible before, especially for small businesses. As the world of work continues to move away from the office desk, you and your employees will need the ability to get stuff done from anywhere, anytime.
Keep up with the competition and consider moving your data and documents to the cloud as your next big step. You can select from the Comcast Business suite of cloud-based solutions to match your business needs.
Incorporating more tech features into your small business plan isn’t just a good idea — it's a necessity for SEO with these tech features, so you can focus more on perfecting your product and connecting with customers — wherever in the world they may be. Find an Internet or phone plan that will help you grow your business today.