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Seven Ways Technology Makes Your Small Business Grow Faster

Seven Ways Technology Makes Your Small Business Grow Faster

When properly harnessed technology has the ability to change lives for the better – the world over. As a point of illustration, you need only compare the technological progress made over the last 50 years with the prior 500 years of advances to appreciate its impact on society. However, modern technology’s reach doesn’t end with the general public.

In fact, its impact extends far into the business arena — to the extent that technology has the potential to make or break most businesses; this is especially true for small businesses.

Does this mean that technology can negate the effects of bad business fundamentals, poor management, or inept leadership? Absolutely not! However, it does mean that small businesses who at least score average in most areas can benefit immensely from the tech sector. Namely, it can help them grow and become more effective.

Here are a few ways that businesses can scale technology for growth.

1. Store Data on Cloud

Storage is in the cloud is a practice that has completely upended the old ways of storing data. Ten years ago companies who managed large quantities of data had to FTP large files when they wanted to send them. Likewise, businesses could not manage data without investing in numerous high capacity storage devices.

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In contrast, today it’s as easy as hosting the data via an online storage account and sending an invite link to share it with peers. Indeed, the implications of being able to store data in the cloud are staggering.

For example, cloud storage makes it possible for users to:

  • access their data from anywhere in the world
  • perform backups automatically
  • store unlimited amounts of data
  • collaborate on a single document in real time

If you’re a small business owner, you can use the benefits above to give you the speed to compete with larger businesses.

2. Social Media

Social media allows small businesses to do several things that were nearly impossible to accomplish as an SME only 25 years ago. Namely, it allows you to observe nearly every aspect of your audience’s behavior; this gives you a wealth of insight into what your customer’s motivations are. In turn, you can use this knowledge to become a better seller. Additionally, social media gives you a platform to build your authority. Social networking platforms have made it easier than ever to do both.

What this means to you as a small to mid-sized business is that you can wield just as much marketing firepower as more established brands at a fraction of the cost.

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3. Productivity Apps

While it would be nice to have an army of project managers at your beck and call, the reality is that it would cost a small fortune to do so. But the good news to small business owners is that thanks to digital innovation, you don’t need hundreds of productivity experts to stay productive. As a matter of fact, all you really need is a mobile device armed with the right productivity apps.

A few of the most popular ones include:

  • Slack
  • Trello
  • Asana
  • Podio
  • Basecamp

What’s more is that many of these apps can be synced with their desktop versions and are completely free or offer a free level of service.

The nice thing about using and mastering these applications is that doing so automatically enters you into the small percentage of businesses that are highly effective at getting the right things done.

4. Analytical Tools

There are numerous analytical tools that you can use to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your business. Thanks to the Internet many of these tools can be deployed within a matter of seconds. For instance, you can gauge the percentage of visitors to your website that browses your site on their mobile browsers – or – you can assess your page load speeds. When it comes to measuring your company’s key performance indicators, they sky’s the limit. Digital technology puts all of this at your fingertips.

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If you’ve ever heard the adage, ‘knowledge is power’, then applied knowledge is even more powerful; this is exactly what analytical tools afford you. Namely, the ability to make wiser decisions in a shorter amount of time.

5. Better Marketing Campaigns

Digital marketing campaigns have the potential to offer highly specific targeting, immediate results, easy testing environments, and two-way conversations. More importantly, they tend to offer higher returns on marketing spend than some traditional forms of advertising. These characteristics make digital marketing much more accessible to small businesses than other types of marketing.

One of the reasons online marketing appeals to smaller businesses is that unlike print, radio, or TV advertising, you don’t have to wait until the campaign is over to review campaign results.

6. Technology Yields Ease of Communication

Recent technological advances have done made communication effortless. Not only is it ridiculously easy to communicate in this day and age but communicating with your peers is both lightning fast and incredibly affordable; this applies both to domestic and international communication.

As business owners, modern communication has removed the barriers that used to make doing business overseas nearly impossible. As such, today collaborating with someone who lives abroad is as simple as Skyping that individual.

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7.  Web-Based Payment Systems

Web-based payment systems make it easy to send or receive payments. And they do so while offering a host of payment options. Many of these platforms even offer seamless integration into the popular accounting programs.

As a result of this newfound payment flexibility, small businesses can gain access to entirely new customer segments. Ultimately, this means more clients that you can offer your products and services to just by virtue of accepting another method of payment.

You’ve just seen seven ways that technology can help build your business. The common thread is that most, if not all of these advances allow business to do more with less. I hope that you found the article useful and can use at least one of these technology applications to your benefit.

Featured photo credit: imujer.com via static.imujer.com

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Published on June 5, 2018

Is It Time for a Career Change? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps

Is It Time for a Career Change? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance . Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to make it happen for a more fulfilling life.

Signs that you need a career change

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Why a career change is good for you

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

Common mistakes of people making a career change

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. What is your situation?

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  • Desire for an increase of salary: The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time. At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.
  • Overnight decision: Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.
  • Rejected for a promotion: I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.
  • Bored at work: Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization. Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Now that you had a chance to review your work situation and none of these recommendations can help, it is time to take the next step.

How to make the change for a successful career (Step-by-step)

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a career plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh your options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job, in the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be real about the pros and cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that are impacting the current situation.

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A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

4. Find a mentor

A mentor that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

  • What is required to be successful in the role?
  • What certification or educational development is needed?
  • What are the challenges of the role?
  • Is there potential for career advancement?

A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: A Good Mentor Is Hard to Find: What to Look for in a Mentor

5. Research salary

Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

6. Be realistic

If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

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Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

7. Volunteer first

A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

8. Prepare your career tools

I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

  • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
  • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
  • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.

Final thoughts

It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will discover the role that is the best fit with your skillsets.

Master these action steps and changing careers will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

[1]Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
[2]MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan

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