A few weeks ago I did a presentation for small business on how to prepare your business for the future.
During the presentation we looked at the big trends that will affect business over the next decade with a focus on some of the demographic, economic and technological changes that are happening today.
While it’s risky, if not impossible, to forecast the future we can be sure business and employment will change and evolve around technological advances. A good example of this is looking back to how the economy was a hundred years ago.
In the first decades of the Twentieth Century the economy was still predominantly agricultural; in Australia, around a quarter of the workforce were on the farm; in the US, 27% of the population were farmers. In both countries today it’s below 3%.
All of those displaced found jobs, although the transition costs were great as John Steinbeck documented in the Grapes of Wrath.
Free your mind and the rest will follow
So the key to future proofing your business lies in not being one of Steinbeck’s Okies and that requires a mental shift, we need to be data literate and deploy the tools that mean our companies are more responsive to changing markets.
Part of adapting to the changing economy is using the latest business tools, particularly those based on the cloud. Below are some of the small business tools I mentioned in the presentation broken up into business activities.
We only touched on a small number of ways that the world is changing, for instance the image illustrating this post is Microsoft’s HoloLens and we haven’t mentioned virtual reality at all. The key is to keep an open and flexible mind.
One of the biggest costs for business is the software for writing letters and working on spreadsheet. There’s free and paid-for services that you can use on the cloud that cut your costs and increase your office productivity.
There’s plenty of free, or cheap, tools to get your name out on the web.
Don’t forget to register your business name’s domain though.
In a crowded world, good design matters. Canva is a good, quick way to get a good-looking logo and graphics for your business.
One of the greatest challenges for small business is doing their books and accounting software is a must-have for every commercial operation. Online services reduce costs and increase flexibility for businesses of all sizes.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM software helps you monitor and understand who your customers are and what you’re doing for them.
Backing up is critical for your business. Having an online automated backup helps you ensure essential data is safe.
Sharing files with others helps your business be more efficient as teams can get work done without using the same computer.
Voice over IP, or VoIP, is a massive cost saver and most of them are cloud services.
Running and managing projects is a complex task made much easier with a good project management program to keep track of tasks and time.
Cloud computing and online services are making outsourcing possible for small businesses. With a browser and a credit card, you too can be in the outsourcing business.