Successful small business owners consider technology and the value of innovation for their business. In today’s climate, customers expect businesses that they work with to make keeping pace with advancements in technology an ongoing process. Here are some of the latest trends small business owners are using to keep customers happy and grow their business.
ADVANCES IN BUSINESS LENDING
Advances in technology not only improve interaction with customers but also in how they manage growth and management of their business. One recent trend in finance is peer-to-peer business lending available through services such as LendingClub which operate almost exclusively online.
The traditional way of obtaining capital to grow or fund a business has been to go to apply for a loan at a bank. With peer-to-peer business lending, a business owner applies with an intermediary, who will find several funding sources and utilize the one with the best terms for both them and the small business owner. Peer-to-peer lenders typically work with small businesses with good credit
Much of the press on cryptocurrency has revolved around the value of Bitcoin. Wild fluctuations in price have resulted in widespread attention being paid to Bitcoin, the first of the major cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are digital and have limits on the number of units that can be produced.
These currencies are traded electronically using high-level encryption on the accounts storing them. For business owners, acceptance and knowledge of cryptocurrencies demonstrate an understanding and acceptance of advanced technology and a willingness to work with customers who prefer to use several methods of payment for goods and services.
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
The Gartner Group predicts that by 2020 there will be over 20 billion devices that make up The Internet of Things. This term is used to describe all of the devices connected to the Internet. In addition to those things you may operate on a daily basis (PC, phone, tablet), there are billions of other devices that operate on the Internet. These include GPS transmitters in your car, Smart Home devices that operate your lights and appliances, military drones, and tens of thousands of security cameras.
There is a great deal of potential in IoT for small business owners to market and deliver services in areas that, in the past, may not have been cost-effective.
UTILIZING THE CLOUD
‘The cloud’ is the generic term for applications and services hosted over the internet. There are public, private and hybrid clouds, used for everything from video game sharing to national defense. Small businesses can benefit by looking at the services offered and making a determination of which ones can be enhanced by utilizing a cloud service.
For example, does your business require you or your employees to spend a considerable amount of time going over orders or billing with customers? Placing that information in the cloud allows both employees and customers the ability to view data from anywhere in real time. This will result in happy customers and more productive employees.
The best way to determine what technology can do for your business is to review your processes and list those where innovation can help. You may be surprised at how many of these will save you money. Also, and most importantly, listen to your customers. They may be in the same position as you. Sharing ideas and reacting to the demand for innovative solutions will help your business grow.