Four Essential Tech Upgrades for Small Businesses

By Gloria Martinez

One of the great things about running a small business in today’s economy is that new technologies are emerging all the time that can help your company succeed. Unfortunately, some of the latest tech trends can feel like they’re out of reach to all but well-established — and well-funded — industry leaders; they’re often just too expensive to fit small business owners’ budgets. The silver lining is that there are plenty of affordable options that can help you grow your business as well.

Having trouble telling the difference between overpriced fads and good investments? Read on to learn about four essential tech upgrades you can’t afford not to invest in.

Updated Software

It’s tempting to assume that if a software program works, there’s no reason to update it. However, updating your business software, from word processing and spreadsheet software to accounting programs, can improve the efficiency of your business.

If it’s been a few years since you’ve purchased new software, you may not know how much of a difference switching to programs that feature cloud computing can make. Word processors and spreadsheet managers like those included in Office 365 use cloud computing, such as accounting programs like Sage and Xero. This allows business owners to access their data from anywhere on just about any WiFi-enabled device, as well as collaborate with employees using centralized online services.

Updated Hardware

Not sure if that dinosaur of a desktop computer will be able to handle software upgrades? If your PC is slow or unresponsive, it might be time to consider buying new office equipment. If the technology is outdated and the computers can’t keep up with workers’ demands, business owners will find that the increases in efficiency provided by new computers will provide a good return on their investments.

Additionally, as a modern business owner, you need to access company data while you’re on the go. That’s why you should also consider updating your smartphone and data plan. Choose a plan that offers unlimited data and multiple lines or one that’s geared specifically toward business owners to avoid overage charges.

Updated Point-of-Sale Systems

Point-of-sale systems allow retail store owners to manage all of their inventory, sales, and returns from one centralized location. If your business doesn’t have an integrated POS system, there’s no questioning the need to invest in this essential technology. It will help you streamline your sales and improve your management practices, making it easier to stay competitive even in challenging markets.

POS systems are the modern equivalent of cash registers. They require both specialized hardware, such as credit card swipe bars and barcode scanners, and software to keep track of customer transactions. One of the best things about modern POS systems is that they can be integrated into other software systems, making it easier for you to analyze data, keep track of employee productivity, and more. They can also be integrated with e-commerce stores, allowing brick-and-mortar businesses to expand their customer bases and begin selling their wares online.

Data Loss Prevention

When most small business owners hear the term “data loss,” they immediately assume that the speaker is talking about cybercrime or employee theft. In reality, however, 38 percent of data loss is caused by hard drive failures. Other factors, such as human error, can also cause costly information losses.

So, don’t wait until something goes wrong. You should have a backup plan for storing data in a safe, separate location from the beginning. Some business owners choose to back up their data offsite to ensure that they won’t lose all that essential information should a burglar or even a natural disaster strike. Others use cloud-based storage solutions such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive or Carbonite to protect their businesses so that they can get up and running as quickly as they can connect to their account, not to mention the added bonus of file synchronization. Of course, the best prevention strategies incorporate both these solutions.

Not every small business owner can afford to invest in the latest and greatest hardware and office equipment, but most can afford to upgrade their software programs and other essentials along the way. In fact, small businesses that want to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced markets can’t afford not to.