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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 September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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