Being smart about your business technology can help you save time, money and aggravation.

Can you imagine yourself in one of these tricky scenarios?

Sarah runs her organic baby food company with the help of a small production team. In between filling orders, testing out new products and squeezing in the lunchtime school run, she barely has time to deal with building her brand online.

Sarah needs a way to manage the social media aspect better, so she has more time to spend with her kids in the evenings.

Todd’s small eco-construction firm is building a good reputation, one project at a time. But his latest client is based an hour away and expects to have bi-weekly meeting updates. The commute back and forth is eating into Todd’s time to physically manage the job on site. Never mind the journey costs, he’s worried it’s going to affect their ability to stay on schedule.

What Todd and Sarah need are solutions that will help them work smarter, so that they can get on with the day-to-day of running their small businesses.

Here are three easy ways smart technology helps your business to work better:

Disclaimer – I’m in no way affiliated with any of the makers of the software products I’m about to suggest. But I have personally used these products and found them to be effective tools to help me and my small business work better :)

1. Meetings:

You don’t need to spend time battling in traffic to have a meaningful conversation or a ‘face-to-face’ meeting with your clients. There are countless software solutions (free and paid) for messaging, video calls and screen sharing presentations. Two popular options are Skype and Google Hangouts. If you need something that’s a heavy hitter, try GoToMeeting.

Digital meetings save time (the commute), money (the fuel) and the earth (one less car on the road). They also open up your world to a larger audience. A plane ticket to the other side of the world to explore a new business opportunity might not be in your budget. But being able to connect with a potential customer from a far flung place – on your computer, in real time – makes a world market more readily accessible.

2. Marketing:

Are you juggling your online marketing in-house, on top of a whole host of other non-marketing tasks? Writing useful stories for your blog. Matching the right photos. Creating tweets and Facebook posts to tell the world. Finding other people’s stories to share. Figuring out the best way to promote and advertise online, and then actually finding the time to do it!

Let’s face it, it’s a LOT, and it can be super-overwhelming for small businesses. The key is to have a simple strategy, which takes advantage of some of the online applications out there to support these tasks.

Social media scheduling and curation tools like Buffer and Hootsuite save you time, by helping you plan your posts and find the right content to share. Design applications such as Canva and PicMonkey, make it easy to repurpose images for your different platforms.  The choice is varied, and many include a free option, so they can save you money too.

3. Task & Team Management:

Then there’s all the paperwork associated with your latest project. How do you share it with your team and your client, and make sure both have access to the most up-to-date versions, in one place? Dropbox or Evernote are simple tools that sync across your devices, so they work for you ‘on the go’ too.

If you need something specifically to keep your ducks in a row, then Asana or Basecamp are user-friendly project management tools. You can assign and schedule work, review work in progress, evaluate what’s left to do and touch base with your team, all without using email.

In what areas of your business do you wish you could work smarter? Or what are you already doing that has raised the IQ?

I’ll be covering a few nifty ways you can use these products in upcoming posts, so stay tuned. 

[Image Source: RGB Stock ‘Working Man’ JMJ Vicente]