Going out on your own means not just focusing on the skill or craft you’re selling, it also means being a master of admin, communication and organisation – no matter if you’re a tradie or a tour guide, a creative or a consultant.
From smartphone apps to augmented reality, there’s a growing range of technology, tools and applications that can help you juggle jobs, manage tasks and connect with consumers and customers in new and exciting ways. Here’s our review of what might work for you.
From keeping in contact to keeping track of stock or finances, there’s an app to help with almost every element of driving a small to medium enterprise to grow.
Good planning is half the battle when it comes to building your own business. Project management is a job in itself, but planning projects, ticking off to-do lists and keeping files in order can be helped by job tracking tools like Basecamp, Trello and Asana.
There are apps to suit specific skill sets. Tradify is an app designed to let tradies quote, schedule, track, and invoice jobs on the go. Designers can barely function without Adobe Creative Cloud. Sublime Text lets software engineers write and edit code with ease. Hemingway is a distraction-free tool for writers, editors, journalists and bloggers.
A quick app-store search will likely turn up a tool made specifically for your industry.
A small business can’t grow without being paid and to help you there’s a range of products designed to keep track of what you’re owed by clients or customers.
Xero and Quickbooks are subscription-based services that allow you to send and track invoices, and manage your money. Expensify is an app that allows to you or your team to scan and store receipts, and report on your spendings.
Are you thinking about finance for your business? See how RedZed can help, and find out if a RedZed loan is right for you.
If you’re keeping a growing team together, or if you need to stay in touch with remote collaborators or clients, there’s a host of clever communication tools that make keeping in contact easy.
The biggest players in tech have spent the past few years feeding resources into the design and marketing of artificially-intelligent virtual assistants like Amazon Echo and Alexa, Apple Siri and HomePod, Google Home and Microsoft Cortana.
Originally built into smartphone architecture, these assistants have grown into devices of their own, programmed to respond to voice commands, take notes, search for info, make purchases, connect conference calls and answer questions.
Sure, there are plenty of benefits to you being the user of one of these devices, but as a business owner, what impact does it have when your customers are turning on to this fast-growing sector of tech?
It means your goods or services are being found in new ways, with more and more searches being done not only on mobile devices, but via voice. And it looks like orders made using voice commands are set to be the next big step in online shopping too.
When it’s an artificial intelligence that’s making decisions about who or what to recommend to customers, it means your details need to be accurate and up to date.
Google Assistant technology is now at the point that it doesn’t just find a restaurant or a hairdresser for a customer, but can use it’s own virtual voice to make a booking just like a human would.
If you’re the kind of person that prefers their virtual assistant to be 100% human, there are a range of service providers around the world who act as remote-access admin assistants.
From answering calls to organising your schedule, and from replying emails to managing your social media, human virtual assistants can take care of the admin you might not have time or energy to complete on top of your other daily jobs.
Brave new worlds
Augmented and virtual reality are proving to be useful for more than entertainment. While they might seem like little more than hype to some – the same way 3D printing was a few years ago – these two technologies can blur the line between the tangible and the theoretical.
Both are proving extremely valuable in the worlds of product design, architecture, property, engineering and manufacturing – in fact, they have applications in any industry in which consumers need to try before they buy, or workers need to train in simulated environments.
The digital landscape is always changing. Navigating your way to using the best technology and tools for you offers up many options and obstacles. Just remember that tech is here to save you time, effort and money, and the enterprises that embrace it are the ones that stay ahead of the curve.
When you’re keen to cut down on the tasks that are keeping you from spending time on the aspects of your business that you love, stay focused on the fact that there are plenty of tools that might help.
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