Information Technology is not an option in small business; it is a must.
I can say that one of the best things that have happened in this generation is the advent of Information Technology. Information Technology has made a lot of things easy for us. Some things which ordinarily would have taken years to accomplish can now be done within few hours. If you are in business, Information Technology is not an option; it has to be embraced. Nowadays, I don’t think of any business that can survive without the use of Information Technology but the degree of usage may differ. Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other., said Bill Gates
Below are the some basic areas where you can use Information Technology to grow your business.
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Computer has become an essential business tool for storing and processing information. Computer has the capacity to store large information which could have taken a lot of space if stored manually. The use of computer does not only save time, it saves costs. Different software are available which can handle almost all aspects of human endeavours. All operations in various sectors are being processed with the use of software that are assigned for executing the specific task. With the use of computer with relevant applications, almost all business activities can be automated. But before you start buying applications, you may need to approach IT firms who deal in such applications so that they can advise you properly. The reason is that it may be hard to figure out what systems or applications you should purchase and how to successfully use them.
In this 21st century, it does not matter whether your business is brick and mortal or online-based; having a web presence is very crucial. The entire world has become a global village. Operating a business without a website is like still living in the dark age. Website allows businesses to break the boundaries of location and language. Take, for example, a retail store. If the store sticks to merely doing physical transactions from its brick and mortar store, it limits the possible clientele to the people within its location. But by using the internet, the store can be part of a national—and even global marketplace. This is the basic concept that makes websites a success. The entire world has become your market and you are not limited to the usually eight to five business hours. Your business is open twenty four hours per day and this can help you generate more sales.
It is important that your website is very rich in content and contain enough information about your business. Having a company website can be a powerful tool for clients to know more about your company and what your products or services are. If you don’t have a website or have an ugly one, the buying public will not take you seriously. It is best to have a simple yet effective website to help you compete in the niche market you are in. Website helps your small-scale business appear bigger in the eyes of the consuming public.
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Blog stands for ’web log’ and they are effectively online diaries. It can be an effective strategy to promote your brand online. If you can create high-quality content or write engaging blog posts, you can reach a larger audience. If you already have a company website, you can also create a blog within it. Search engines love blogs that are rich in high-quality content. If you have a blog that is rich and regularly updated, search engines like Google will direct people that are searching for information relating to what you published to your blog. As a blogger, you can build your online reputation or your business reputation. Through the blog posts you will publish, you can manage your online reputation and control what will appear on search engines and social media.
Some can still remember times in the past when it took weeks for mails posted from one part of the country to get to its destination. The situation was worse when you were sending your mails overseas as it could take more than one month before your mails would arrive their destinations. But now, everything is going on online real time. With email account, you can get your mail sent to any part of the world and within seconds or minutes, the mail is already delivered. Can you imagine how a prospective customer will feel if he asks you to send a quotation across and you are telling him that you will post it to him? I believe that before your quotation will get to him, he must have made his decision or even bought the item from another supplier.
When you have a website, it gives you the opportunity to have email address using your business own domain name. This will project your business in a more professional way than using a public domain name. With email accounts, you can send respond to enquiries with speed.
Apart from your business website, there are other social websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Google Plus, LinkedIn and others where you can interact with your customers.
Facebook is the most crowded and busiest social networking site in the world. That is why if you want to find a big crowd to promote your business online, you should not miss the opportunity to tap this social media giant.
Twitter is another social website where you can also promote your small business by creating an account and getting followers who will always read your tweets or updates about your business or products. Twitter has more than half a billion users from around the world. To gain more followers on Twitter and increase social influence, you should be able to tweet information that add value to the followers and you should tweet on a regular basis.
YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the world. With creative and interesting videos that can become viral, you can attract thousands or even millions of viewers.
You can actually use these social websites as part of your marketing strategies. For example, with Facebook, you can upload brochure and videos about your product or service for your customers to view. They are a good platform for informing your customers about your new products. But it is important to mention that these social websites to a certain degree provide different services. Ability to identify your audience will help you determine how they can be actively engaged. For instance, LinkedIn is more of a professional social network designed to provide general forum for professionals to connect. While LinkedIn may be suitable for professionals, Facebook may be a good option for people who are into trading.
Telephone is a necessity for anyone doing business to have. It can be used to support sales, marketing and customer service. A large amount of transactions are being concluded on telephone nowadays. The same way you can call a supplier and make enquiries that can help you make a buying decision, so also customers can contact you through phone. Telephone can also be used to provide quick answers to issues that need immediate response from other employees within the company. For example, a sales representative may want immediate response from his office on whether to grant volume discount to a particular customer. Responding promptly to such an issue can help the company boost revenue as the customer may later become one of your major customers. With telephone, people now save a lot of costs which they would have incurred on transportation and a lot of time which could have been wasted could be saved.
Bulk small message service is another way by which you can easily reach your customers via their telephone numbers with the same information at the same time. Some individuals provide this service as low as One Naira per message. It is very cheap and quick in delivery. The main issue is that you need to be sure that the telephone numbers you are sending the message are correct. Also, the numbers, at times, have to be in a particular format.
Benefits of Information Technology
Although Information Technology requires some investments, the benefits far outweigh the costs, most especially when you invest in the right technology that is suitable for the type of business you do. The benefits of using the right type of information technology in running your business are numerous but let just mention few of them here.
- Information Technology in business opens up opportunities for low cost business operations.
- It allows easy storing and retrieval of information.
- It makes both internal and external communication easier.
- It breaks geographical boundaries.
- It boosts sales.