Small businesses have had a tough couple of years, without a doubt. The Covid-19 pandemic swept the world at the start of 2020 in a manner that could not have been predicted.
Many smaller businesses found forced to send team members to work remotely from home. This led to a need for fast and effective restructuring of working processes.
People who usually enjoyed working amongst other colleagues in productive teams had to adapt to the changes with as little loss of productivity as possible.
If there is one positive that has come out of the pandemic, it’s that we soon discovered that running a small business in this way was, in fact, an efficient way of doing so – if, of course, the right tools are in place.
Many people found that they preferred the home office option. After all, it removes the annoyance of the twice-daily commute and saves money by car or by public transport.
Furthermore, many small business owners found themselves asking this question: why am I spending money renting a town center premises when just about all jobs can be done remotely?
Of course, some businesses need physical premises, but others simply do not in an age of digital communication. We’re talking about lawyers and accountants, for example, or tutors who can easily run online courses.
Plus, personal service providers include life coaches, personal trainers, yoga teachers, and more.
If you are thinking of transferring your business online, the following five tips apply to you. They also apply to those who run any small business, as each can help save time and money. Let’s get started!
Booking and Scheduling Software
In the last two years, it became imperative that businesses working remotely and with personnel spread across a distance had a booking and scheduling solution at their service that kept everyone on the same page, like a WordPress reservation plugin or a service scheduling software.
There are many out there that can, for example, allow a client to book a yoga appointment online easily and in no time at all.
Usually, these systems are cloud-based, so they do not take up any storage space. The idea is the yoga teacher creates a calendar featuring open slots. These can be for group sessions or one-to-one classes.
The teacher is informed about the client who books a convenient slot, and that slot is closed, so it cannot be double-booked. Simple, efficient, and convenient for both teacher and client, this is a must-have system for any small business that takes appointments, whether online or bricks and mortar.
Video Conferencing Tools
One market sector that was massively boosted by the remote working necessity was that of video conferencing tools. Zoom, for example, could not have enjoyed a greater growth of sales in 2020 anywhere else.
This type of software package or tool is vital in conjunction with the above. An online teaching session needs a working and effective video tool that permits both parties to communicate visually and audibly in real-time.
Some scheduling tools, as mentioned above, come with a video tool incorporated, and these are certainly worth checking out. Video can also allow students access to pre-recorded tutorials, giving them the option to choose when they take the session.
Such additional convenience is vital to cost-saving and income growth in small businesses. When used alongside other tools on this list, the video tool becomes one of the most important.
Go Paperless with Cloud Storage
Among the many digital office tools, we recommend to small businesses are those that help you remove your reliance on data and records stored on paper. It is still the traditional method to have many files of invoices, purchase orders, transactions, and more, but it is no longer necessary.
Many packages and tools allow you to integrate all of your systems into one, which will remove the need for time-consuming searches for invoices, for example, as you can access the data with a few clicks of the keyboard.
Many such packages are also cloud-based, so they do not take up space on your physical system, and some are equipped with customizable report creation that allows you to publish data in easy-to-read and understand ways for those who need it.
Depending on your company’s needs and goals, you can integrate cloud computing solutions that boost productivity and increase security for your data solutions. For small business owners, public clouds can be an excellent solution as they let businesses rent and use one storage and share it with others. However, the private cloud enables companies to have customized cloud and adopt the cloud to businesses’ specific demands.
Going paperless is also environmentally friendly and is a feature you can use to good effect in your marketing campaigns.
Automated Invoicing and Payments
Think back to our yoga teacher example of earlier. Let’s say they have 20 sessions in a week with different clients, and perhaps a few where some clients want more than one session a week.
At the end of the week – whatever the agreed billing period is – the yoga teacher has to sit down and work out how much each client needs to be billed for. But we’re talking yoga teacher here, not an accountant!
Some systems react automatically when a session ends by adding that payment to the client’s account, and at the end of the billing period, it will automatically invoice the client.
The client can then pay by return or maybe be reminded if payment is not received in a given time. No chance of forgotten invoices; it’s all done for you!
Outsource IT Maintenance
Our final choice may not be an actual tool, but you should consider it. Whether you are just a two-person business or a smaller outfit with a couple of dozen employees, we strongly recommend outsourcing your IT maintenance.
It’s all very well asking ‘Dave from Accounts’ to take on the regular backups and updates, but Dave has his job to do, and that’s what you pay him for!
Check your local area for IT maintenance businesses offering services for small outfits such as yours; give them a call, and they’ll be happy to put together a package at a price you will appreciate.
We hope these five tips help, so enjoy trying them out.
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