Technology has always helped to make us more productive. As we transitioned from nomadic hunter-gatherers to societies based on farming, we began to use primitive technology powered by animals, such as horses and oxen, to make us more productive than the toil from human beings. The industrial revolution brought new powered and automated machinery to improve the output of humans and allowed them to produce more and updated product. That created the concept of disposable income or money to spend on things other than mere survival and led to the creation of the entertainment industries, including early theme parks, theaters, cinemas and poker rooms.
Computers advanced humans again, allowing the undertaking of complex mathematical calculations almost instantly and the creation of productivity programs such as word processors and spreadsheets. Communication also improved, allowing the transmittal of messages and documents across the world in seconds, not days. It also extended to the entertainment industries, with music and video-streaming services and gaming such as online poker.
Then came the advent of mobile devices such as smartphones, which has allowed people to do pretty much everything possible on a computer from almost anywhere in the world. Smartphones and tablets are capable of letting you stream a movie, read a book, conduct banking transactions, play a game of Omaha Hi-Lo and take photos. Therefore, it is no surprise that they are also powerful devices for helping you to run your business more effectively and efficiently.
So, what tools can you use to make your business more productive?
No matter what your business, whether you are a chicken farmer, a freelancer, an e-commerce store owner or a blogger dedicated to even niche topics like vegan food recipes, Texas Hold ‘em strategy or restoring narrow boats, you must keep accounts. In previous decades, this required the completing of paper books, leading to the term “bookkeeping,” but computers created spreadsheets, and later dedicated accounts packages sped up the laborious but vital job of tracking your business’ finances.
Dominant players such as Sage have recently been challenged by new companies like FreshBooks and Xero that offer packages aimed at smaller businesses. Even if you’re on a tight budget, businesses can take advantage of the benefits of online accounts packages with Wave, a free accounting service that clothing entrepreneur Alex Franklin says is integral to his business A.M. Custom Clothing, allowing customers to make quick and easy card payments and automating the reconciliation of bank statements.
File Sharing and Productivity Software
As businesses began to use computers in their day-to-day operations, they often shared files as attachments to emails. The key problem with sharing files this way is that conflicting versions of files can end up creating as multiple people make changes to files independently. Modern file-sharing software such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive help to overcome this by allowing online collaboration.
With cloud-based file-sharing systems, businesses can store files online and access them from any internet-connected device, whether it be a computer, tablet or mobile phone. Such allows business owners to work from anywhere and still have access to their files, enabling remote working from a coffee shop between meetings, instead of having to waste time traveling back to the office. Cloud systems also allow multiple people to work on the same file (at the same time), seeing the changes made by others in real time without the risk of creating conflicting files. You can then share the files with clients or suppliers securely and revoke access later if necessary.
Other productivity tools include Trello and Wunderlist, which allow for collaboration of tasks and to-do lists, letting users tick off work they have completed as well as leave comments and notes with instant updates provided to co-collaborators. You can also access these services on the go thanks to mobile apps.
It seems that almost everyone uses social media these days, whether it is to stay in touch with friends, find the latest news from across the globe or see what your favorite athlete, movie star or professional poker player has on or does. Businesses, however, can use social media for several different purposes.
Firstly, social media can be a way to communicate with your customers and potential ones, providing information about promotions and the launch of products or services, commonly done through sites like Facebook and Twitter. However, do it in moderation though, as people generally don’t take too kindly to a bombardmentof boasts and sales pitches.
Secondly, social media can turn communication into a dialogue, instead of one-way sales pitches. Such can allow business owners to provide customer service in a way that is more personal and faster. For instance, using services like Twitter and Facebook, businesses can publicly and privately respond to messages from customers. Conversely, to what may be the instinct of many, businesses can turn negative comments and complaints left on social media sites into positives if it is able to respond quickly, fairly and resolve the problem. The U.K. mobile network O2 received a lot of praise for its handling of a countrywide, day-long network outage by responding to each customer and regularly providing status updates through its Twitter account. Similarly, online poker company 888 uses its Twitter account to provide service status information and directs any affected customers to where they can get help.
Businesses can also use social media to run competitions, find new employees, communicate brand values and even share a “personal side” such as when Nando’s restaurants used social media to announce its stores would stay open 5 minutes longer in Manchester for “Fergie Time,” a joke about Manchester United’s former manager who had resigned that day. That got a lot of press attention and positive comments from social media users and was widely regarded as a clever PR tactic and use of social media.
Whatever your business, technology can make work less time-consuming, easier and flexible. Whether you’re an e-commerce store owner, a blogger, professional poker player or a project manager, technology can make you more productive.