It has been said that small businesses are the engine of the economy and I truly believe this. Small businesses represent the purest form of commerce. They create two-thirds of new jobs each year, adding greatly to the economic growth.
They also make a difference in the community because they serve friends and neighbors and make meaningful connections.
So, it’s important to me to make sure that small businesses find the right tools they need to succeed, and mobile technology is one such tool that can help a small business grow and deliver quality products and services.
Mobile technology goes where the user goes. It’s the backbone of how businesses communicate with clients, partners and employees. It has eliminated physical borders, giving access to opportunities around the world.
Businesses can reach the global market online and interact with them in real-time, as well as collaborate with employees using productivity tools like Trello or Slack, or simply through email and other instant messaging programs. Conversely, mobile technology can be used to reach the local market by targeting location, interests, gender and other demographics.
Businesses can use different technologies to reach a broader customer base locally and abroad, such as social media, websites, Search Engine Optimization and mobile applications.
Data can be collected and used to more accurately see what customers like and get instant customer feedback that can help improve products.
Mobile is now another customer touchpoint. According to Pew Research Center, 37 percent of Americans now go online mostly using a smartphone.
The way customers interact with businesses online is changing as they turn to mobile technology for information about products and for making purchases. The concept of relying solely on foot traffic and traditional advertising is no longer a sustainable business model.
Research conducted by Google shows that customers use the internet to aid in decision-making and shipping: some 60 percent of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using the search results and the “click to call” option and 59 percent of shoppers use Google to research a purchase they plan to make online or in-store.
Small businesses can easily adapt to the way consumers use technology. A simple, yet effective technology to start with is social media. Customers now expect businesses to reply to direct messages, especially on Facebook. They expect the posted hours of operation and other information on the “About” section to be current. Businesses that do not take advantage of social media could lose out. Social media is free or much more affordable than traditional advertising.
More people are shopping online than ever, so having an online store can help businesses stay competitive.
Other than communicating with customers, clients and employees, mobile technology drives productivity and efficiency in businesses. In addition, mobile technology allows entrepreneurs to pursue multiple projects at once.
Mobile technology often provides a more affordable option to small businesses for operational software and equipment, such as mobile point-of-sale systems, mobile payments, accounting, time tracking and more.
Mobile broadband that uses a broadband router or mobile hotspot device to connect mobile devices to the internet is one such option that is provided locally. Traditional internet requires an installation team, while mobile broadband has an easier and quicker setup process.
Combined with cloud computing and managed data centers that make important documents, software, and more securely accessible from anywhere, this gives small businesses the ability to operate from anywhere, whether they are moving to a new location or simply do not have a permanent location. Any space can be an office space with mobile technology.
Mobile technology can be applied to meet the shifting demands of customers, such as helping small businesses adjust to the changes spawned by the pandemic. I predict that curbside pickup is a convenience that customers will continue to expect. Having menus online or a method of ordering online will be necessary to satisfy this new demand.
In the future, artificial intelligence could step in to improve efficiencies, like AI-powered accounting software that can log transactions in real-time or analyze data to identify patterns and make forecasts. AI could automate some activities, like payroll or sending invoices. All this would help business owners and employees devote time to higher-value work instead of spending time on routine tasks.
Whether your small business is a passion project or your main means of supporting your family, mobile technology can help it grow. Adopting new technology is necessary to stay relevant to existing customers and attract new ones, keep up with the competition and maintain productivity.
Small business owners must be open to learning about the new technologies available to improve operations so they can focus on growing the businesses or improving their products and services.
I’m rooting for the small business and looking forward to seeing those in our community succeed.
Jay R. Shedd is Chief Marketing Officer at IT&E, the largest wireless service and sales provider in Guam and the Marianas. He has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry.