Multi-tasking is second nature to Small Business owners . From being the sales lead, to the HR manager, even the custodian taking out the trash, Small Business owners where many hats.
To maximise the success of your business, there is a minimum amount of knowledge you should possess – but, that does not mean you need to become an IT expert.
However, a do-it-yourself approach may not be an efficient use of your time. How much technical know-how you need depends on your business. However, if you are a small business, here we provide some core skills we beleive invaluable for SMEs:
Ensuring your website is kept up to date
Having a website is critical for any small business. Your website is the first place potential and existing customers look to find our more about you, or the products and services your business offers.
Unless you are a web developer, we suggest you get a professional to help you design and build your website for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, professionals will be aware of the latest technologies and have good advice about which which technologies can help you reach your audience effectively.
Secondly, professionals can customise your website to suit your specific business goals and requirements. Typically, professional can offer a wide range of advice for small businesses of your size in your market and sector.
The advice a professional can offer is often invaluable and may include something advantageous which you didn’t consider. A professional web developer can also recommend a hosting provider – a service provider with the server space to make your website available on the Internet – and even take care of uploading the files for you.
These days, most websites are built with a content management system (CMS) embedded – an interface and database that lets you log in and make changes easily. Once your website is live, you’ll want to keep it up to date, and provided you have the time, this is something you can do yourself.
Since keeping your website current will assist in returning visitors, you don’t want to have to rely on a third party to make every little change for you. Learning how to use your site’s CMS will let you update text, change images and even add pages easily.
As with any software, the CMS needs to be kept updated with plug-ins and security patches and this is where your web developer partner will be invaluable and ensure your website continues to deliver the best performance for your business.
The universal use of mobile devices today means most businesses need Wi-Fi – either for their employees or for their customers. If you have a single office and a small number of employees, in most cases, you can set up your Wi-Fi yourself.
However, in the event that you need to share that connectivity with customers, you may need expert help to ensure your network is secure.
If you have multiple locations, lots of employees or a large space that requires extensive coverage with multiple Wi-Fi access points, professional expertise will be required sot that not only does your network remain secure but also provides the optimum bandwidth and signal strength.
Leaveraging the benefits of social media
Many Small Businesses have successufly leveraged social media as an effective marketing channel. Depending on your audience and marketing goals, will determine which platform to choose.
Facebook, for example, is popular with all age groups, whilst Pinterest is popular with women. For business-to-business marketing (B2B), LinkedIn is a popular choice, whereas attracting people under 35, then Instagram social marketing is worthwhile.
Most Small Business owners dedicate at least an hour a day to social media – to interact to posts, questions and comments from others. This is definitely something you can keep in-house and if you have an internal social media manager, you might be able to do social media well from inside your business.
Developing apps for customer engagement
In a recent survery, 72% cent of respondents stated they use their smartphone to access the Internet – and 51% of those aged 18-34 using their phone more than any other device to do so – mobile apps let customers access information, make purchases and interact with your business from their smartphones or tablets.
What this means is that it makes good sense to have an app that saves users the trouble of even having to go online. Customers find Apps particularly useful to place orders, pay bills, engage in social media or make appointments, but their uses vary as business itself.
Whilst building your own apps is possible, you need to be realistic about whether or not you have the internal resources or technical skills to produce something that looks good, does what it’s supposed to, presents a professional image and can be kept updated over time.
Remember for any of these technologies the key to the hands-on, DIY approach is ensuring you and your employees have the right training and knowledge to do it correctly and reflect well on your business image.