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Smart Tech: The Future of Starting Your Business

Problem: Tracking Analytical Data

  • Some small businesses make the mistake of not tracking enough data or worse not tracking anything. If your website has a drop in traffic you will need find out when and where it started however, you don't always have the time to download an entire report just to do a quick check-in.

Solution: Amazon Echo

  • One of the Echo's abilities is to provide data, news and logistics for your site. Alexa is capable of drawing real-time data from Google Analytics for you, give updates on your website's traffic and visitor numbers and more.
  • Amazon Echo: £34.99 - £49.9

Problem: Time Tracking

  • Ensuring time is used in a productive way can be critical, especially for small businesses with smaller teams of staff. In order to refine certain processes you must first know how much time is spent on them. Not knowing where more time could be spent can and will slow progress.

Solution: Toggl,Tick

  • Another feature of Tick is budget management. This software will automatically update users of budget changes with each time card. On the other hand Toggl, let's the users logs their offline time and sync their data. Also Toggl backs up every 24 hours to several locations.
  • Toggl: £0 - £49
    Tick: £0 - £107

Problem: Transaction Methods

  • Although there are multiple ways to accept customer transactions, some businesses may not have the best options for processing payments when starting off. It's important to give thought as to which is best for both your business and your customers, not having the right payment method could mean that customers won't complete transactions.

Solution: PayPal, Shopify, Magneto, Toast, Contactless

  • There are multiple transactions methods, some of which are free. Some platforms are ready for you to set up payment methods such as Magneto or Shopify. Other solutions like Toast, allow your customers to pay via iPad or iPhone like other POS systems it also generates receipts and keeps track of inventory.
  • Free - £2,000

Problem: Managing Cash Flow

  • The major concerns among small businesses when it comes to money management are; clients stalling payments, unexpected outgoings or outstanding bills. Which is why it vital that you monitor where your money is coming from and where it is going.

Solution: Pulse, Float

  • These are both cash management tools for small business. Float provides you with a forecast tool, showing your future bank balance without the need of spreadsheets. Pulse, simply monitors the heartbeat of your small business, it generates reports and tracks your income and expenses.
  • Float: Free - £199
    Pulse: Free - £199

Problem: Unexpected Energy Bills

  • The biggest expense that can catch small businesses unexpectedly would be energy bills. The average energy bill for a business varies from business to business; at times this can result in unexpectedly large bills.

Solution: Smart Plugs/Lighting, Thermostats

  • Tech like smart lighting and plugs let you monitor the output and control the flow of energy to your devices. A smart thermostat let's you monitor the temperature of your office allowing you to activate heating or AC without leaving your seat or even be in the office.
  • Thermostats: £50 - 200
    Smart lights: £12 - £40
    Smart Plugs: £3 - £40

Problem: Customer Service

  • Providing outstanding customer service is an expense small businesses can't afford to miss, but one that can be hard to stay on top of in the early days for businesses with less staff.

Solution: Chatbot, 24/hr automated customer direct system

  • Bad customer service chain could cause you to lose business, which is why an accessible customer service is so important. Using platforms like Chatbot or a customer direct system, which is an automated system to direct customers to the department they need, can save many complaints.
  • Free - £8 per month

Problem: Storing Data

  • The problems that are commonly faced with storing data boils down to accessibility. Limiting yourself to one could mean that you would be incapable of working without it, however having too many could cause problems like misplacement of data or duplications. So how can you prevent this from occurring?

Solution: Cloud storage, NAS system

  • Using platforms like cloud storage assures that you have access to all your information anywhere. Whereas, a NAS system which is a portable data storage unit that can hold large amounts of information. Will provide you with extra security being disconnected from the Internet.
  • NAS : £90 - £1000
    Cloud Storage : Free - £20 per month

Problem: Security

  • Physical security is just as important as virtual security. Nothing can be worse that having things like laptops or confidential files stolen or lost. This is a problem on its own but with it stems others like; paying for replacements, recovering lost data and updating passwords. This can cause business to come to a halt.

Solution: Smart Locks

  • Smart locks can assure that your items stay safe, by only giving you and those you authorise exclusive access to areas. For some smart locks all you require is a Bluetooth connection from your phone and all you have to do is touch your lock to unlock it. Others may require a FOB or keyless contact from your smartphone.

Problem: Communication

  • It’s often said that communication is key, but in a small business it can be hard to stay on top of internal and client communications. Utilising online communication apps and platforms can help simplify your business and ensure projects run smoothly.

Solution: Slack, Trello, Skype

  • Methods like Slack, Trello or Skype will help you monitor what is happening in your team. Allowing you to rest assured that everything is running smoothly in your office.

Problem: Task Management

  • For some small businesses or freelancers you would be required to manage multiple tasks everyday. Juggling many tasks for yourself or others can be very overwhelming, poor planning will not only slow productivity but lead to incomplete work.

Solution: Amazon Echo, Wunderlist

  • The Amazon Echo has a reminder system within it but there is also a task manager function, this skill syncs directly to the Wunderlist task management app. Through the Echo you can access your Wunderlist task lists, find out what is due, and add tasks.

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