The business world is always changing, but the rapid development of new technologies and changes taking place in the workplace in recent years might leave some business owners, especially if they’ve owned a business for quite a while, baffled. But before you dismiss these developments as unnecessary, know that they are gaining traction for a reason, and so it’s in your best interest to consider implementing some of the following suggestions to bring your business into the 21st century.
1. A Social Media Presence
Don’t try and have a presence on every social media site—pick and choose. Generally Facebook and Twitter are generic, popular and necessary, but you could also expand to other sites like Instagram or YouTube or even MySpace (it’s popular with musicians) to better reach your target audience and market your products or services. For example, if your company is primarily in the B2B business, LinkedIn is now number one in lead generation. Do some research based on your industry to find out what social media sites would be most beneficial for your business to have a presence on.
2. Design (or Redesign) Your Website
You’ve probably been encouraged at some point to create a website for your business, and in the digital age, having one is imperative so customers searching online can find you. What’s “in” for website designs changes with relative frequency, though as long as it looks professional, you don’t have to update the overall design of your site more than every several years or even longer. What you don’t want is for your website to look like it was from last decade (or older). Custom web design, through either a tech-savvy contact or by hiring a professional, is generally your best course of action. Template sites run the risk of making your site appear similar to other sites, and doesn’t offer your business much flexibility in trying to show off its unique brand.
3. Computing in the Cloud
Most major software developers, such as Microsoft, Google and Adobe, now offer (or exclusively offer) cloud computing options. Cloud computing is often more convenient and can even be cheaper than buying software to install on individual machines or as a means of backing up your data. For example, using Google Docs for a collaborative project means that everyone working on the project can access it at any time. Cloud storage can be a much better option for backing up your data than an on-site server as well, as your data is backed up in numerous locations and you wouldn’t lose everything if there was a fire at your place of business or some similar scenario.
4. Accommodate Cashless Payments
Cashless payments are on the rise, and nearly every business should have the ability to process credit and debit cards. Square Readers are particularly popular with small businesses and vendors for processing credit card transactions simply and cheaply, and both Apple Pay and Google Wallet make mobile payments a cinch. More ways to pay and convenient transactions accommodate customers and ultimately make you more sales, and the fees you pay per transaction are generally very reasonable, so there’s very little reason not to take these payment methods.
5. Implement Flexible Working
While every company is different and this is not a one-size-fits-all development, in general flexible working and remote work are highly beneficial to businesses. With modern technology, the ability to work from home is significantly easier than it used to be, and most employees prefer more flexibility in their job schedules. These programs benefit businesses as well, because you save money on heating, cooling and lighting costs when people are not in the building and you end up with happier, more productive employees, which helps your bottom line.
It may seem daunting to change some fundamental things you have been doing for years, but it’s really not. Good customer service, solid marketing, a good business plan and valuing your employees are all just as important as they ever were. But thanks to changes in the 21st century, mostly technological, a lot of these things have been made considerably easier to do.