Posted: Tue 21st Mar 2017
Technology has always been incredibly important for businesses of all shapes and sizes. But staying on top of the latest trends can be difficult. Jazz Gakhal, director of business insurer Direct Line for Business, shares her thoughts on some of the trends that you need to know about.
Keeping up to date with the latest technology trends can be difficult to say the least.
Just when you think you've wrapped your head around one, another pops up to take its place.
But despite this difficulty, making the most of the latest tech could help to give your business a serious boost, from increasing productivity to helping you reach a wider audience.
Here are just some of the emerging technology trends that could help change your business.
E-commerce has been a crucial platform for a number of small businesses for some time now, driven largely by the success of sites like eBay and Etsy.
This trend looks set to continue over the next few years, with e-commerce sales projected to reach $4 trillion by 2020. So making sure that your customers are able to buy your products online has never been more important.
Fortunately, it's relatively easy to get yourself set up to sell online. In many cases, simply taking out a profile on Etsy is all it takes to be able to make the most of e-commerce. The slight downside of this approach being that these sites usually take some sort of transaction or commission fee.
But there are also a range of platforms available that allow you to sell your products directly from your own website, including Shopify and Big Cartel. While this will come with a bit more work to do on your end, it will also mean that you keep all of the money that you make from a sale.
Although by no means a new trend, remote working is becoming increasingly important for many small businesses.
While the rise of the internet has meant that the actual location of workers has become less and less important to business productivity, the technology available to businesses hasn't really allowed them to make the most of working remotely.
But that's all changed over the past year or so as technology has developed to allow small businesses to boost their efficiency considerably.
Cloud-based storage services mean that you can easily access all of your paperwork wherever you are, while instant messaging apps like Slack and Skype allow workers to stay in constant contact, regardless of where they're physically working from.
You can even set up a virtual receptionist service to handle any phone calls that you get, so you can stay focused on your work.
All of this adds up to remote working becoming a much more viable option for small businesses as technology continues to make it easier to do so effectively. So taking a bit of time to find the right apps and services for your needs could help you to get more done.
The internet has been a vital resource for virtually every small business for many years now. But the way that consumers are engaging with it is changing rapidly with smartphones taking over from desktop computers as the most popular way to get online back in 2015. This means that having a mobile friendly site is now crucial. So make sure that your site is easy to navigate on smartphones of all shapes and sizes, as well as tablets.
While many website providers such as WordPress have taken some steps to ensure that the sites that they host are mobile-friendly, there may be some additional development that needs to be done to your site to make sure it looks good to users on tablets and smartphones.
If funding or resource to redevelop your website is an issue, focusing your efforts on developing your social media channels could be a more cost effective way to make sure that your businesses is visible and engaging to mobile users.
Like remote working, collaboration with others is nothing new to entrepreneurs and small businesses alike.
But the way that businesses can go about finding the knowledge and information that they need to grow their business from those with the right has changed dramatically in recent years, with websites such as Quora and StackExchange continuing to grow in popularity.
On top of this, freelancer marketplaces like PeoplePerHour and Upwork have made it easier for business owners to source the talent that they need to do the work that they might not have the greatest knowledge about. At the same time, these services also allow freelancers to more easily market their services to prospective clients.
So making the most of open-source communities and freelancer marketplaces can be a great way to broaden and develop your business.
Although none of the trends that we've talked about here will be completely new to informed entrepreneurs, it's important to highlight the way that technology has changed these once familiar processes.
While for some adopting the latest technology can seem a bit daunting, there are big rewards to be gained from adopting some of the new technology available.
Even making a relatively small change like getting an online shop set up or revamping your social media channels could help to boost your business's sales.
So it can be well worth putting a bit of time aside each week to get to grips with what's available for small businesses, and any new trends that emerge.
Special offer for Enterprise Nation members: Direct Line for Business guarantee to beat any quote for the same cover on professional indemnity, public liability and business from home insurance (new customers only, qualifying criteria apply). To find out more, log in to your Enterprise Nation account and go to our member offers page.