Business and technology are no longer separate in the real world. Companies, whether big or small, already use technologies to facilitate almost all of their operations. Statista says global technology market spending reached $3,360 billion in 2019.
Spiceworks sees more upward acceleration, with 44% of businesses planning to grow their IT budgets in 2020 and more businesses seeking DevOPS consulting. Technology has simply changed how businesses operate in the 21st century..
Consider these numbers. Forbes says a record 184 technology companies got a spot in its 2019 Global 2000, a list of the world’s largest public companies. That’s an increase of 40%, despite slowing smartphone sales. And that figure only represents the largest companies.
If you count the smaller and medium-sized brands out there, you end up with too many tech companies to even fathom.
If you further count the devices and services each company churns out into the market, you have millions of technological tools available to you. So back to our original question. How exactly do you choose?
To help you, we’ve compiled a list of tools that you should invest in and ensure your business succeeds. The list is based on years of personal experience of entrepreneurs who have vouched for their usefulness.
1. Mobile Marketing Tools
Nowadays, technological advancements allow you to reach potential customers even if they do not physically go to the stores. In fact, because of increased connectivity, it’s never been easier to reach consumers.
According to Blue Corona, the average person now spends more than five hours a day on their phone.
In 2013, mobile phones made up 16.2% of web traffic worldwide. In 2018, this increased to 52.2%.
Source: Broadband Search
In short, the best way to reach your potential customers’ is through mobile marketing.
This means you need special mobile marketing tools. These enable you to send messages to potential buyers in three ways:
• Push notifications
• Or in-app messages.
The benefit of SMS is that all phones already have text messaging on board. That means users don’t have to download your app. However, texts are often considered more intrusive and more obnoxious than other mobile channels.
It’s also harder for your audience to opt-out of SMS marketing. They may then feel stuck receiving your messages.
On the other hand, push notifications are less intrusive since potential customers are given a chance to opt-out in they’re phone settings. With push notifications, your potential customers can get your marketing messages without even accessing the app.
In-app messages guide your users within the app. They can, however, also be seen as obnoxious advertisements if they are overused not used properly. The key is to use them in such a way that you don’t disturb your users’ experience.
2. Email Software
We’ve been hearing that email is dead for years, but in reality, that’s simply not true. Oberlo says that in 2019, global email users amounted to 3.9 billion people.
In 2023, the figure will reach 4.3 billion. That is half of the world’s population, which includes your potential customers.
Given these statistics then, it makes sense to market your products via email to potential customers. For this, you can use email software like Moosend. The best email tools offer functions to take the leg-work out of making sales.
These include automation tools to ensure you have the best possible subject lines. You can also A/B test variations of your marketing emails to fully optimize them for maximum conversions.
With email marketing tools, you can send content to your audience to lure them back to your store, guide them towards a purchase or build client relationships. In ecommerce, this is typically done with special offers or recommended items, like so:
3. Content Management System
With the rise of online shopping and the decline of brick-and-mortar retail, your business can’t survive without a web presence. According to Blue Corona, 30% of consumers will not consider a company without a website.
97% of consumers go online and research local businesses before going to a physical location.
H&M, a clothing retailer, recognizes these facts. Its physical stores all over the world are supplemented by its websites. This comes in different versions, depending on where the person accessing the site is from.
Source: H and M
Of course, you can hire your own designer to create your site, but that doesn’t come cheap. You might also end up with a backend system, which makes it hard to update your content without using direct uploads.
If you’re just starting out, it’s best to take advantage of budget-friendly CMS tools that allow you to create your site and regularly update it. These can help you create a presentable business website, with its pre-designed themes and plug-ins.
These typically employ a drag and drop interface, making it simple to customize your site or add new pages without any coding skills. More advanced CMS platforms also help with SEO optimization and translation into other languages.
4. Social Media Management Tool
But having an online presence doesn’t only mean having a website. You also need a strong social media presence. Consider these facts. According to one study by Hootsuite and We Are Social, there are 3.725 billion active social media users in the world as of October 2019.
This is a 9.6% increase from the 328 million recorded in October of 2018, and the numbers will keep going up.
This means that if you want to run a successful business, social networks are a powerful platform to connect with customers. But it’s not enough to simply make a Facebook page and hope for the best. Really, you want to be active on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, any other platform you can think of.
After all, your potential customers are literally everywhere, and your job is to try to reach out to them as much as you can.
The problem with having too many social media accounts is that it can become very overwhelming to manage them. It can take hours to access one platform, maintain it, and then access another to do the same.
If you do these separately, you might also lose your brand consistency in the process, or let some platforms slide.
Thankfully, there are tools that allow you to manage your social media accounts. These will enable you to aggregate and schedule posts for every platform from a single tool. Since you can see all your accounts in just one platform, you can be sure there will be brand consistency across all your accounts.
The best Social Media tools also help you to optimize your posts for different platforms, both in terms of post length and tone. You’ll also platforms to manage your Google Ads, Facebook ads, and other retargeting to boost the effectiveness of your social media efforts.
5. Hiring Software
When you’re starting a business, you have to hire people to take on specific tasks. Before you hire them, though, you would have to conduct the necessary background checks to ensure that they will not be a liability to the company.
Sure, you can hire a recruitment consultancy firm to do the legwork for you, but that can be very expensive. Luckily, there are now cloud-based technologies that can help you streamline your recruitment process. Your best options have user-centric, mobile-optimized workflows that help you hire better and faster with no paperwork.
You can also automate background checks to improve speed and assure accuracy. This includes things like resume verifications, credit checks, drug screening, international checks, among others.
Source: Good Hire
6. Timesheet App
Time is literally gold in any business. If you’re a day late delivering your products to your customers, you lose money. If you don’t give that contract to a potential partner on the agreed-on date, you can lose that partnership, and also money.
This is why it’s so important to monitor those responsible for your business operations, your employees. The key is to see to it that they are working at the time they’re supposed to be working, and in the place they’re supposed to be working.
But how can you do this if you can’t be at the office 24/7? Simple. Use a timesheet app.
Timesheet apps allow you to monitor whether or not your employee has clocked in at the right time. You won’t have to worry about them clocking in from home either. Timesheet apps typically use GPS to track where your employees are at a given time.
This improves accountability and saves management hours of time that can be put to better use.
7. Accounting Software
Businesses are all about profit. To track this effectively, you need to monitor your outgoing costs, in addition to your gross profits. These can include employees’ pay, store rent, and electricity bills, among other things.
Sure, this can be done by one person. The downside, however, is they will be prone to mistakes. After all, we’re all human. Also, it will take a lot of time, since the accountant will have to make calculations on their own.
Remember, accountants are highly trained professionals, so their time is expensive.
This is where accounting software comes in handy. Instead of doing manual computations, you can just let the software do the sums for you.
You don’t even have to worry about the space it will occupy on your computer or laptop. Most accounting software nowadays is cloud-based, which means all you need to do is register online and pay if it’s not free.
Since all you need is the Internet and a device, you can access your financials anywhere and anytime.
8. Task Management Software
If your business is just starting, and you’re doing all the tasks yourself, it might be fairly easy to remember who’s doing what. But when your business expands and you have people working for you, you need a tool that allows you to determine which task was assigned to whom.
Sure, in this situation, you can follow up on whether the tasks have been completed from time to time, but that can take a lot of time, and it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks.
This is where task management software can help you. With these tools, you can also see the progress of the tasks assigned to your employees in real-time. No more spending precious time making calls just to ask whether or not a task has been completed.
9. Team Chat App
When you run a business, you naturally need to communicate with your employees.
This is because there are times you obviously need to follow up if certain tasks have been completed or ask questions to know specific information. Has an article been finished? Has the contract been drawn up? How many sales did the company make in the first quarter?
Sure, you can ask these when your employee is at the office, but what happens if you need to know the answer right then and there? Keep in mind, many people these days work remotely. This is where a team chat app becomes essential.
With team chat apps, you don’t need to go through the hassle of looking for your employee’s phone number in your phone book. If they’re part of your group chat, you can easily reach them and throw over those crucial questions.
10. File-sharing Tools
Running a successful business means ensuring your staff have the resources they need. There will be times you will need to share relevant files with your employees. If you are in the office, it’s fairly easy to do this: Just go to your employee’s cubicle and give them the document.
It is, however, a different ball game if you are already both at home, or one of you is telecommuting from a cafe. You can try to go to your employee’s house, sure, but that will surely take too much time, and it isn’t really appropriate anyway.
Add to that the hassle of going to the house at a time you’re supposed to be resting.
So what’s the solution? Use file-sharing tools. You can use emails, but emails sometimes take a long time to get to the recipient’s inbox. Your files might also be too big or too sensitive to email.
Then there’s the danger of the email being lost in the cloud, or it not reaching the recipient, especially if their inbox is already full.
With file-sharing tools, you can have easier collaboration with your employees.
The Tools Every Business needs to Succeed
In this article, we saw that there is no longer a dichotomy between business and technology. Businesses no longer shun technology. They now recognize they need technology in order to succeed.
In the second half of the article, we looked at ten tools every successful business needs. These range from mobile marketing tools to ensure you reach your customers, to time management tools that will allow you to monitor your employees.
The point is this. If you’re a budding entrepreneur, don’t be afraid to experiment and look for ways technology can make your life easier for you. If you do this and follow tips to take your business to the next level, there’s no reason you can’t have a successful business that thrives in the 21st century and beyond.