This year is poised to be a year of controlled growth for small businesses. As the economy continues to recover and consumer sentiment rises, small business owners regain the confidence to start taking educated risks and begin investing once again in the people and technology to grow their business .
Here are our top picks for 5 small business technology trends in 2011:
Mobile Friendly: We’ve had cell phones for years, but with the proliferation of the iPad, iTouch, tablet computers and smartphones, this is the year to make sure your small business is taking advantage of the mobile market. Is your website mobile friendly? A mobile-friendly website can give you a leg up on the local competitor, so make sure your website is easily accessible to all mobile users and presents well across all browsers!
Focused Social Media: The popularity of social media continues to grow and the figures are compelling; more than 250 million people use Facebook on a monthly basis and Twitter has over 200 million account users (40 million increase since April, 2010). Undoubtedly, social media has become the place where the action is at and even small business owners are beginning to recognize the value in having a social media presence. If you are not in the Social Media arena yet, we strongly recommend that 2011 is the time to “dip your toes in the water”. We believe social media should be an important aspect of your marketing strategy and business owners should start with developing the social media essentials; define the appropriate sources, set key metrics, build-out a content calendar and monitor the results.
Increased Adoption of Cloud Computing: 2011 is going to be the year that many business owners will live and work from web-based and mobile apps, relying less on software installed on our desktops. Google Apps and Google Docs make hosting and collaborating on spreadsheets, presentations and forms easier. YouSendit, Box.net and Dropbox have also made online file sharing and collaboration much easier. Additionally, 37signals provides business tools for project management, CRM, and internal communications. We recommend you take full advantage of the web based tools that will keep your business efficient and overhead costs affordable.
Group Buying Sites: Yes, we’re talking about Groupon, Living Social and the host of other local, social shopping sites that have literally sprung up overnight! We love the idea of group buying sites for many small businesses – it’s a great way to gain a broader exposure in your local area, and a chance to secure a flood of new clients. The key to successful group buying power is to ensure these new clients continue to come back to your business well beyond the discounted experience. How can you make this happen? Step-up the quality of your customer service to ensure their first experience won’t be their last AND solidify a tight contact management system to capture their information and stay in touch.
Increased Website Quality: Small businesses are predicted to increase their online marketing spending in 2011, with websites taking the front seat. Today, approximately 50% of small businesses currently have websites. Unfortunately, many of those websites contain nothing more than general information. The importance of having a credible website that provides value to the end user is becoming imperative for small businesses and smart entrepreneurs are taking notice. Don’t miss this opportunity to make a small investment on your business that will likely have a long-lasting impact on your business!