The Top 10 Tech Skills Small Business Owners Need
The days of a small business owner being able to effectively manage operations with a phone and rudimentary computer skills are long gone. To successfully launch and sustain a growing business, you need to have an ever-increasing range of tech skills that help you sell, market, communicate, analyze, share, plan, and organize online.
The following 10 tech skills are relatively simple to learn, yet incredibly valuable for managing the day-to-day tasks of running a small business. By mastering them, you’ll save yourself time, reduce your reliance on outside help, and create new opportunities that generate more customers and sales.
The Top 10 Tech Skills for Small Business Owners
Excel is by no means a new technology. First launched in the early 1990s, this spreadsheet application remains a vital business tool for organizing and reviewing data. If you are only using it to create basic financial spreadsheets, you may want to invest some time into learning more about its other powerful functions. Excel can be used for everything from scheduling and tracking sales to creating invoices, receipts, labels, and time sheets.
There was a time, not that long ago, when you had to call a programmer every time you wanted to make a change to your website. Now, small business owners can log in to WordPress and make design or content changes in a matter of minutes.
Although first developed as a blogging platform, WordPress is now used to create sites for businesses of all sizes. It’s easy to update and it has tremendously useful SEO features that can help you substantially increase your site traffic. There are also countless templates that can be customized to create an incredible-looking site for a relatively low cost.
3. Basic HTML Coding
No, you don’t have to be a computer geek to learn HTML, and with a basic understanding of it, you can modify the appearance of texts, links, images, and nearly every part of your website or blog. Even if you are using a content management system like WordPress which has an HTML editor, knowing basic HTML code can help you make quick design fixes in seconds and eliminate the need to pay someone to help you. An HTML cheat sheet of common tags and attributes is all that you really need.
4. Google Analytics
If you’ve invested time and money in a website, content, and SEO, you will naturally want to monitor the results of your efforts. While there are lots of analytics tools on the market, Google Analytics remains one of the best tools for small business owners.
With Google Analytics, you’ll be able to check the number of site visitors you’re getting, as well as dig deeper into who these people are, what they are viewing on your site, and how long they are spending on each page. You’ll also be able to see how visitors got to your site and what social channels referred them to you. This is all valuable data that can help you determine what works, what doesn’t, and what you should be doing to increase website traffic.
5. Email Marketing
Nurturing relationships with warm leads and customers requires ongoing communications. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to send relevant content to them on a regular basis. From newsletters and eBooks to coupons and private sales promotions, a brand-driven email campaign can go a long way toward staying top of mind with those who are likely to buy from you.
Email marketing can also be used to introduce your business to new audiences. Mailing lists can be purchased or acquired through a variety of sources including trade groups, industry organizations, and mailing list brokers.
Email marketing solutions such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, and others are relatively inexpensive, intuitive, and easy-to-use. They offer great analytics that will help you determine the success of each mail campaign you launch.
6. Social Media Communication
Nearly every business owner thinks that they understand social media communication, yet most are not using it effectively. Far too often, businesses only use Facebook and Twitter channels to promote products and services. While social media can be used for promotional purposes, you cannot build and sustain an online community by simply pushing out content about what you sell. At some point, your followers will grow tired of it, and will look elsewhere for content that is more interesting and relevant to them.
Small business owners have a valuable opportunity to build quality relationships with followers by engaging in meaningful conversations with them. Social media is all about sharing and dialog. By treating social media as more than just free advertising, you’ll create loyal followers who will expose their own communities to your products and services.
Search engine optimization experts have a language all their own, and if you’re not privy to any of it, you’ll miss out on some valuable opportunities to grow your business online. Take the time to familiarize yourself with some of the most common terms of the trade such as backlinks, PageRank, anchor text, meta tags, search algorithm, SERP, and keyword density. Even better, take a quick seminar on SEO specifically for small business owners and entrepreneurs. In a matter of a few hours, you’ll gain some valuable skills that may dramatically improve your website’s success.
8. Mobile Payment Processing
If you take credit card payments from customers, there are many new mobile payment apps and solutions that are easy to use. From Google Wallet and PayPal to Square, GoPayment, and Venmo, the process of getting paid, sending funds, and even redeeming loyalty program points is now much simpler.
Compare several payment processing options before making a decision. All solutions offer specific benefits and features that may or may not be important to your business. If you are in need of working capital to help you purchase the equipment you need, there are several small business lenders who offer flexible funding for business owners.
9. Project Management Software
If you’re like most small business owners, you’re multi-tasking all the time. Without a way to organize the various projects you’re working on, you’re likely to forget one or more of the many to-do items you’re juggling.
Project management tools, such as Trello or Basecamp, can keep information updated for you, coworkers, clients, and other stakeholders. An online project management tool will also enable you to collaborate with others, track deadlines, and review projects once they have been completed.
10. Cloud-Based Phone Systems
The internet has dramatically changed telecommunications and has leveled the playing field for small business owners. Even a solo entrepreneur can now have an enterprise-quality phone system with an auto-attendant, multiple extensions, on-hold messages, prompts, and more.
Strategic business owners are leveraging the benefits of cloud-based phone systems such as RingCentral to sound professional, mobilize communication, and save money. Yes, configuring a small business phone system can seem a little confusing at first, but the benefits are substantial once you’re up and running.
With some new tech skills in your back pocket, you will only increase your chances of business success. Don’t get overwhelmed or intimidated by the unknown. Even those with little tech prowess can improve their ability to use today’s tools and solutions. Being a business owner means continuing to evolve, grow, and learn. Those who do this the best will ultimately achieve the greatest results.
What technology skill has helped your business reach new heights of success? Share it with us on social media!