For initial, up-front investment or a low-cost monthly subscription fee, there are great tech products and services that can save you money in the long run on common business expenses. Here are a few tips for small businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
Cut Travel Costs: A huge cost that can really eat into business capital is travel expense. Web meetings are great alternatives. With advancements in video streaming and powerful Web cameras embedded in notebooks, tablets, and smartphones; it’s easy to set up Web-based meetings. Some of the best software to conduct meetings includes Skype, Join.me and Cisco WebEx.
Stop Using E-mail for Collaboration: There are still small businesses using on-premise e-mail servers not only for communication but for collaborating. One file can get edited and sent as an attachment so many times until you are never sure you have the latest version. Local e-mail servers also have to be maintained. Google Apps is an alternative for teams that need to collaborate on documents and files. For $5 per user, per month (or $50 per user, per year) a small business gets a collaboration platform, storage with Google Drive; plus Google’s office apps including Docs, Spreadsheet, Slides, and Calendar.
Use the Affordable Version of Microsoft Office: For productivity purposes, Microsoft Office still reigns supreme. If your business is small enough (under 20 users), instead of purchasing pricier Office volume licenses for local installations of Office, try Microsoft’s online Office 365. Office 365 is offered in three subscription levels. The most affordable is $5.00 per user, per month and provides online access to the Office programs (Word, Excel, etc…); HD video conferencing; e-mail; and 1 TB of online storage.
Reign in Phone Costs: Does your business still have a phone system? Older business phone systems may require a technician to come in and repair or re-program them when changes are needed. Or perhaps employees are using their personal smartphones for work and expensing the costs. Reign in phone costs with a hosted VoIP (Voice-over-IP) solution. These hosted VoIP systems (which means they are cloud-based) are easy-to-set-up and there are no contracts or carriers to deal with. Some great VoIP companies for small business include Jive, RingCentral, and Nextiva.
Have One Storage Location for Company Data: A small business can generate tons of data. Do your team members save data wherever—with some using Dropbox and others saving to the local drive of a laptop or phone? If you don’t have one, localized place to save critical data, losing that data to a crashed hard drive or a lost phone can cost you in the long run. Consider Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices. These small, yet powerful boxes provide a centralized place to store data; and can do more such as stream video, backup data to the cloud, serve as video surveillance systems and even more. Some great NAS devices for small business are the Western Digital My Cloud, the Synology DS216+, and the QNAP TS-451+.