Small Business Advice |The importance of technology for SME’s

Yesterday’s news that David Cameron is putting his full support behind Martha Lane Fox’s Race Online 2012 campaign to get all of Britain’s working population using the internet, can only mean good things for the UK’s SMEs. Backing of such a level as Government signifies the increasing awareness of how important innovative technology and the internet is, particularly to small businesses and budding entrepreneurs. For any businesses, the internet is invariably recognised as relatively risk-free route to growth. These days, more and more businesses are focusing on developing their online presence and many start up’s begin with an online shop front.

It seems to me that there’s no denying that internet access and all the great opportunities and tools that come with it are a vital part of today’s small business . Here’s a few reasons why:

Websites

Having a website is now one of the most important platforms from which SME’s can market themselves by  crossing geographical boundaries and being incredibly cost effective in comparison to the traditional marketing routes. Not only that, creating an online component to your business can greatly extend your market reach and lead to new and healthy revenue streams. A good website should reflect the businesses personality, offering customers an experience similar to visiting a store, office or showroom as well as offering another line of communication.

Social Media

The new era of social media, in a similar vein to possessing a business website, provides SME’s with another marketing platform. However this platform is consultative and engaging, allowing businesses of all sizes to converse with their customers and clients rather than talk at them. In short, what social media provides is a channel through which market research and a more informal engagement with the outside world can take place on.

Video Conferencing

Video conferencing is no longer the preserve of the large enterprise. As the relative price and access gap between large enterprise and smaller business narrows, the value of video communication is beginning to register on the SME radar. Services such as WebEx or Skype are a great alternative to face-to-face meetings. Not only do they free up employees time that would have otherwise been spent travelling, it’s also an appealing option  for businesses trying to cut travel costs as well as their carbon footprint. Furthermore as 60% of communication is non-verbal, those important business calls once made via telephone can now be done face to face, regardless of location.

Flexible Working

Not only is business  getting faster but the business world is becoming increasingly globalised. This means the way we work and where we work from has moved on from the traditional 9-5.  Whether you’re on the move or working from home or a coffee shop, your customers need to get hold of you no matter where you are. Keeping your workers connected, allows them to work from practically anywhere.  Creating a ‘virtual’ office space that can be accessed from a laptop or handheld device means time out of the office can be just as productive as that spent in the office.

Are some (or most) of these tools an essential part of your business? If not, which ones would you suggest?

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