Today, digitalization for small businesses is a necessity. Yet, the 2020 Small Business Digital Maturity Study from IDC and Cisco reported that 56 percent of small businesses are just digital observers as opposed to pioneers.
Some of the root causes behind this statistic can be traced back to a long learning curve, high expenses, a sense of an inadequate skill set and a lack of time.
It’s okay if you, as a small business owner, find yourself questioning if you'll ever be able to learn these tools. You aren’t alone. So, how do you prepare for digitalization?
There are some concrete steps you can take to level up — digitally.
How You Can Adopt Tools Faster
Do Your Due Diligence: Technology’s learning curve can seem daunting, but doing your research will speed up your adoption rate. Read technical and small business blogs on sites like BizSugar, Small Biz Survival and Google Small Business. Google your competitors and be a sponge. You’ll be surprised by how easy some of the tools are.
Test Drive Products via Free Trials: Take advantage of any free trial periods or free versions. This way you will gain first-hand knowledge about its capabilities and can assess whether it’s really necessary.
Choose Your Tools Wisely: Technology can be exciting, but don’t jump into using all the tools at once. Start with one to two small business tools that are of utmost need. This phased approach will speed up your learning.
Top Tech Tools for Small Businesses
To make things even quicker for you, we have compiled a list of pocket-friendly small business technology tools that are easy to implement. Most of these tools have a free basic version and professional plans under $60.
With over 240 million Americans using social media, it’s likely your customers are there, too. ContentCal (Company plan at $59/monthly) is an ideal tool for individuals and small businesses seeking to streamline content planning, creating and posting. Buffer (Pro plan at $15/monthly) is another alternative that is currently used by over 160,000 small businesses. Buffer’s Instagram engagement guide will get you to stay on top of every post and comment.
3. Email Marketing
Your email marketing needs to be on point if you want to maximize your ROI. Use MailChimp (free for 2,000 contacts), Benchmark Email (free for 250 emails/monthly) or MailerLite (free for 1000 subscribers) to engage your users with aesthetically designed, personalized and responsive email campaigns. All three tools offer built-in templates and insightful email marketing metrics like email open-rate and unsubscribe rate.
4. Document Management
Google Drive (free for up to 15 GB) or Dropbox (2 GB free) are excellent document management platforms that ensure your employees or customers have shared access to required work documents, collaterals and guides. Both offer ample storage space that can be upgraded as required.
Canva (Pro at $9.99 per user) and Venngage (Premium at $19.99/annually) are tools that allow you to create eye-popping images, flyers, brochures, cards and even infographics. Canva has a detailed startup tutorial and promotes team collaboration.
Keeping track of payments, loans, taxes, etc., is crucial for your business's financial health, yet it can be cumbersome. Gusto ($6 per user), a payroll and benefits management tool used by over 100,000 small businesses in the U.S., can reduce time spent in calculating benefits, deductions and W-2s. Bill.com ($39 per user) is an invoicing platform that’ll help you secure payments faster. It also provides accounts payable and receivables history right at your fingertips.
7. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Free CRM tools like HubSpot or Agile can significantly improve your customers’ user experience by allowing you to store, track and manage from a centralized board. ConvergeHub ($9 per user), a cloud-based CRM, is a top choice for small businesses; their detailed guides will make you a CRM pro in no time. Nimble ($19.99 per user) enables you to merge contacts, email and social media into one channel; the CRM platform integrates with your web browser and predicts relevant contacts based on user interaction.
8. Project Management
Asana (free for up to 15 people), a project management tool renowned for its flexibility, allows you to create and schedule projects, streamline timelines and assign responsibilities. Asana’s step-by-step YouTube videos will have you master the program within minutes.
A popular choice within small businesses with less than 50 employees is Trello (free for up to 10 users). The platform provides a visual overview of your projects via kanban boards. If you prefer using spreadsheets, then Airtable (Plus package at $10/user/monthly) might be the tool for you. Airtable is a spreadsheet-style app that allows you to manage calendars, inventory and product development using templates.
Slack (Pro plan at $2.67/monthly) makes chatting with members, vendors, freelancers and customers more organized. The tool, accessible via laptop or phone, is easy to master and ensures everyone is on the same page without an endless email chain.
We know how essential it is for your business to stay ahead of technology’s learning curve. These small business tools can speed up the adaptation process and transform you into a digital pioneer.
Incfile can help you beat the learning curve with our free Business Resources Center. We provide a variety of guides and checklists to help you start and manage your business entity with ease.
Swara Ahluwalia is a freelance content writer with experience in the technical, B2B and SaaS domain. She also has curated content for various lifestyle brands. In her downtime, you will most likely find Swara training for her next marathon or spending time with her two daughters.