Business has changed and it is still in a constant state of flux. The explosion of incredible new technology available for personal and commercial use in the masses means that your how-to book on starting and running a business from 2 or 3 years ago is already out dated. Digital presence has increasingly more important in this new age of online culture and to some this may seem daunting, but in reality it’s easy for anyone to do and has a lot of advantages for growing your business.
First and foremost, websites. Even if your product or service can’t be sold on a website, even if you think you’re doing fine without one the amount of customers you might lose when they can’t find you easily through Google is just not worth it! Every start-up should begin with a website. This also allows you to clearly define your business, who you are and what it is that you offer. The clearer this is in your mind and illustrated on your website, the more confident customers will be in your business. Domain hosting is so cheap now, you can buy a .com name for a couple pounds a month. A lot of domain hosting sites also come with easy-to-use layouts and templates, you don’t need to know a thing about coding or HTML to get a professional-looking website that adds value to your brand.
Social media is the next must. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram - use a combination of these to connect to people that are interested in your business. Work out what kinds of social media works best for what you’re offering, for example a café or restaurant should have a minimum of Twitter and Facebook. However a salon or boutique would benefit more from Instagram and Pinterest as they are a hub for creative outlets. If you’re unsure what kinds of things you should be sharing through your social media sites check out your competitors, see what they’re sharing, what’s getting them the most likes or most retweets? Also, keeping your followers up-to-date with what your company is doing or any latest developments reminds your customers that you’re out there and you’re doing new and exciting things.
If you’re ready to take your business one step further to make connecting with clients easier, then your next stop should be a mobile app. Smartphones are everywhere now and apps are a way of making sure your client has your brand in their pocket, ready to use, whenever and wherever they are. And you don’t need to know anything about coding or programming to do it. Most people aren’t readily aware of how easy it is to create a mobile app these days, there are loads of free and simple app-making sites that can pull content from your website or social media sites and create a slick app with a few clicks. Customise templates and designs and even include contact forms, in-app purchases, booking services and many other useful tools that can be easily added into your app.
I think I’ve said enough about how useful the internet is for marketing, but what about the actual working cogs of your business? Since the advent of Cloud Computing it is now becoming the norm for businesses to trade static, single-drive storage for the abundance, ease and flexibility of the cloud. One of the main benefits is the streamlining effect it has on IT operations. A hosted desktop enables ‘hot-desking’ or BYOD to work effectively as users can log onto their desktop, accessing all their regular programs and files, from any device. Also, opting for a managed server will save you a lot of money and irregular maintenance costs that traditional servers need to keep ticking. Reducing your on-site hardware also reduces the amount of energy you’re using and minimises the repetitive and timely tasks of IT staff to keep the network flowing. Other ways of benefiting from the cloud include using online cloud applications such as hosted mail or file sharing programs, such as Office 365 and OneDrive. For free, impartial information about Cloud usage and how it’s position in businesses has changed and grown over the past 3 years the Cloud Industry Forum offers official reports and white papers detailing independent surveys and studies.
The final internet service I’ll mention today is the recent spread of VoIP packages, which is simply a way of making telephone calls over the internet. Why would you want to do that? Well it has a lot of nifty tricks up its sleeve. For one, it’s much easier and simpler to install - traditional PBX phone systems require long and complicated configuration, and you’ll need a call-out technician to add or remove extensions. VoIP packages, such as the 3CX package we offer, is an easily installed application that integrates into your IT network. Turn one phone line into unlimited extensions easily, at no extra cost, with simply a few clicks. Call contacts by clicking their contact details and easily see a call history or recent emails sent and received. Even better, if you’re not in the office often, you need your clients to be able to reach you wherever you are but you don’t exactly want to give out your mobile number, VoIP services solves this problem by allowing you to automatically direct calls to remote devices. For example, your customer calls your office in London and you pick it up on the train to Paris.
Technology has been designed to make our lives easier and you’ll be surprised how many redundant tasks can be simplified, automated or completely removed! If you’d like any more information or advice on any of these services mentioned then let us know, we’d love to hear from you.