There was an article that first appeared in the February 2006 issue of Entrepreneur that is about finding focus and fine-tuning your business. We all get lost in the details and day-in-day-out stresses of management. This will be the first in a series of 4 blog posts shared by the DFW B2B team that will outline ways to add clarity and streamline your business. The first aspect we will tackle is technology:
Streamlining your business technology can make life less of a headache for everyone. Entrepreneurs often “don’t realize they can make things easier,” says Kevin McElligott, founder of iTech Developers, a Nevada City, California, technology consulting firm and hosting provider. Here are a few ideas to get your technology in tip-top shape:
- Serve it up.A server can act as a digital filing cabinet for your growing piles of documentation. Compared to daisy chaining several PCs, “Servers give you a lot more reliability and improve your business,” says Mike Beltrano, supervisor of product management for servers at CDW Corp., a Vernon Hills, Illinois, server company. Another bonus: By keeping important documents on a central server, it’s easier to back up all your important documents daily.
- Phone it in.Are you wasting time running between voice mail on your cell and office phones? VoIP systems offer a great deal of personalization and features for a rock-bottom price. In fact, VoIP can be up to 40 percent cheaper than a traditional small-office phone system, and it offers useful features for any small business. Voice mails, for example, can be handled just like attachments–clicked, dragged, dropped and passed along. “Voice mail is becoming e-mail that can be forwarded where you want it,” says Henry Kaestner, CEO ofBandwidth.com, a Cary, North Carolina, firm that provides VoIP services to companies. These systems are fairly new, but they’re getting more popular and more reliable every day.
- Take it online.If you’ve taken the leap of setting up an accounting package to handle your bills, take the extra step of automating the process. See if your accounting software can automatically generate invoices as well as e-mail reminders for late payments. “The system will literally tell me when it’s time to call,” says McElligott, whose automated billing process alerts him after each late notice has been e-mailed to a customer, and it automatically suspends the client’s hosting services as of the third notice. Likewise, your accounting software (and your bank) can handle electronic transfers so you never have to worry about a late electric bill.
- Hit the web.Your website is a potential client’s main access point to your business. Don’t worry as much about fancy graphics as making sure visitors can get the information they need. An online FAQ list can cut down on the time clients spend calling with basic questions and prevent a frustrated client from going elsewhere. You don’t have to be a techno-whiz to set up a good website. Many web hosting companies can provide reliable websites for relatively little money, and many provide tools to help even technophobes set up online purchasing and billing.
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