Starting a small business takes so much time and commitment. As a startup entrepreneur, you wear many hats – CEO, manager, sales, customer service, even delivery person. And since this is the digital age, working with a small biz budget means you are also a one-man tech team.
Juggling so many roles is normal when you’re starting out. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make it easier for yourself to do them. Check out the 6 tech tips below and learn to leverage technology available today to help you and your small biz grow.
Optimize your online presence
No matter how small your business is, it’s imperative that you have an online presence. According to this study, the Philippines currently has 69% internet penetration. That means 69% of our 109 million people have internet access (that’s 75.21M people). Around 55.9 million are social media users, 44 million of which use Facebook.
You could be selling the best homemade suman in the country, but if you are not online, your only market is likely your neighborhood and friends of friends. By simply creating a business account on any of the big social media networks – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, etc. – you can expand your reach to these millions of people.
On the other hand, maintaining several accounts can really eat up your time. So instead of trying to keep up with all, choose one or two that you can keep on top of. It’s better to only have one account that’s updated daily than several that are idle. Keep in mind: searchability and response time is the key here.
Learn the importance of data, digitization, and back-ups
Not many like looking at numbers (unless it’s being credited to our account), but small businesses need to learn to embrace them. Data is essential in knowing your business – where it’s excelling, what can be improved, and what the customers are saying. It will also help you keep track of your inventory, payments, salaries, and other things.
That said, if you’re still solely relying on pen and paper for your inventory-taking and attendance log, it’s high time to digitize your system.
You don’t need state-of-the-art gadgets or expensive software to do this. Simply invest in a sturdy laptop that’s dedicated solely for your business. You can still use your trusty paper ledgers, but take time to input these onto a spreadsheet so that you have a digital backup of everything. At the same time, this makes your data ready for visualization into charts, helping you clearly see trends.
Of course, data entering is a rather tedious task. If you are too busy to enter data into spreadsheets and are not ready to hire someone to do that, you can get a scanner and scan log sheets weekly. You can also scan receipts and be prepared for customer claims and disputes (it’s also good for accounting purposes).
Take advantage of the Cloud
When you’ve digitized your data, it’s time to back them up. Besides keeping a copy in your desktop or laptop, have separate flash drives and external hard drives for archiving. To really make sure you do not lose your files, back them up on the cloud.
Cloud technology, or cloud computing, may sound too technical and complicated, but they’re not. This simply involves working with processes over the internet. For example, email. You don’t physically store email. It doesn’t take up space in your laptop or phone memory (unless you download something). Yet you can access emails anytime. Why? Because they’re stored in the cloud.
Physical storage devices like flash drives, memory cards, and hard drives have the risk of being corrupted or physically broken. To make sure you preserve important data, upload them to a cloud storage. You don’t have to buy this either – Google Drive, Dropbox, and Mega are only some of the free cloud storage services you can sign up for with just an email.
The cloud isn’t only for backups. As a startup entrepreneur, you likely lead a very on-the-go lifestyle. You need access to your files wherever you are, sometimes even when on vacation without your laptop. A service like Google Drive is essential to always having your important documents with you. It’s also a great place to store collaborative documents. You can have your team access everything they need from the same place.
Make your payment options mobile
One of the factors that make people buy or not buy from you is payment options. Out of the 75.21 million internet users here in the Philippines, around 41.3 million access the internet through mobile devices. While we’re still a very cash-heavy country, more mobile payment options are emerging and getting more sophisticated.
Locally, we have GCash. Customers need to physically load cash onto their accounts in selected payment centers, so it’s friendly even to the unbanked. As the business owner, you already have a bank account, and that’s all you need and a mobile phone to receive GCash payments.
If you have an online/FB/IG store and want to accept all kinds of online payments from cash, debit and credit cards, e-wallets and even PayPal, you can register with PesoPay or DragonPay.
Don’t be afraid to hire help
Richard Branson, a British entrepreneur, once said, “If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.” As a startup, you have a limited budget, that’s why you’re doing the roles of 10 people. However, this is also the recipe to a burnout.
Having your attention divided several ways means nothing is getting your 100%. This is especially problematic for roles that you aren’t strong in. If you want your business to grow, don’t be afraid to hire experts to do things you aren’t very good at.
This usually means getting help for the big things like accounting. But there are small things that take up a lot of your time – time you could be spending learning, planning, resting, etc. Things like creating posts and images for social media or data entry can be outsourced. You can go to freelance websites like Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr and hire someone to do these things for you.
Better yet, if you know students or someone in-between jobs who need a part-time job, you can hire them to curate your social media for you. Filipinos are naturally talented at making aesthetic posts, and you’d also be creating jobs for locals! Don’t be afraid to delegate the little things so you can focus on growing your business.
Keep updating your tech knowledge without breaking the bank
Among all the tech tips, this is the most important. Technology is ever-evolving, so what you knew from 3 years ago has likely gone through some changes by today. You don’t have to be an expert in everything, but you do need to know the basics. This will help you make better hiring and strategic decisions. Keeping up with trends is also important in growing your business.
Educating yourself doesn’t need to be expensive as well. There are loads of free online courses you can peruse. Udemy and Domestika are some websites that offer courses for small fees. You can also go to a DTI Negosyo Training near you!