Investing in modern technology is essential for any business wanting to survive in the 21st Century. There’s also a lot of technology out there that can save costs such as video-communication cutting out the need to travel to meetings or accounting software replacing the need to hire an accountant.
That said, it’s possible to overspend on technology and waste more money than you save. The most expensive tech isn’t always the best for your individual business – you could be wasting your money on gimmicks and overly complex tech.
For those that are worried they may be spending too much on gadgetry, here are a few ways to trim your tech costs whilst still embracing the digital age.
Cancel software subscriptions that you don’t regularly use
Many companies have software downloaded on their PCs that rarely ever gets used. You may be paying subscription fees for these programmes without getting any use out of them, and whilst it may only be a couple dollars each month, this could be adding up in the long run.
Get rid of this software if you don’t think that you’re getting the use out of it that you deserve. Cancelling the subscription may involve ringing up the company if the software is particularly niche (such companies may be more eager to keep all their customers and may try to dissuade you from cancelling, but don’t them talk you back around). Make sure that you don’t simply uninstall the software as this may not necessarily cancel your subscription.
Take advantage of free software
There’s a lot of free business software out there that can help you with everything from accounting to project management. In a lot of cases, this software is pretty basic, but it may be all you need if you’ve only got a small business. Read reviews and comparison guides such as this one at Tech Radar to help find trustworthy and reliable free software – certain free software could be a scam so it’s always good to do your research.
Meanwhile, if you feel you need to invest in something more complex that requires a subscription fee, consider downloading free trials first before purchasing a piece of software. By downloading several free trials you can compare different software and find the one that’s best suited to you. Many of these free trials last about 30 days – some may only have access to certain features, so bear in mind the fact that you’re not getting the full package.
Consider building your own website
A lot of companies invest money in professional web design when a DIY website could be just as effective. If you’re a small business, you could get away with a WordPress-based site – this platform allows you to create your own custom website for free with no coding knowledge. The only thing you’ll need to pay for is a domain name (using the ‘wordpress.org/wordpress.com’ address, could make your website look unprofessional). Whilst much of WordPress is fairly easy to use, there are many tutorials on the web on sites like Youtube if you do get stuck.
Of course, if you have programming knowledge you may be able to code your own website from scratch for free and possibly create something more advanced. Only ever pay a web development company to produce your website if you don’t have the coding knowledge and need something more elaborate than a WordPress-based site.
Create focused digital marketing campaigns
Make sure that you’re not throwing money at digital marketing without any strategy. If you decide to launch an AdWords campaign or promote your page on social media, do a bit of research first into keywords and parameters so that you can create a marketing campaign that has the best reach possible. Various marketing companies can help you to launch much more focused campaigns when it comes to the likes of social media and PPC ads, however you’ll spend a lot more for their services. If you feel you have the time and patience, you could be better off doing your own homework and launching a campaign yourself. That said, you may want to pay a professional for certain services such as SEO, video advertising and graphic design as these may require more niche talents and resources.
Source printer supplies online
If you’re looking for printing supplies, don’t just settle for the ink and paper at your local shop. The web is likely to have a greater selection – if you’re looking for something specific like HP Envy 4524 Ink, you’re much more likely to find it online. On top of this, it’s likely to be a lot cheaper than in the store. Yes, you may have to pay a little extra for postage, but if you buy supplies in bulk, you could still save a lot of money.
…or go paperless
Some companies by their very nature may still need to print off certain documents, however there are a lot of businesses out there that are unnecessarily printing off things that could be just easily shared online. For example, rather than printing off reports for all your employees to read, why not email everyone a copy or better still store the folder on the cloud for everyone to view from their machines. By sharing more information online and consuming less paper, you’ll save money on paper and ink. You may even be able to sell your printer entirely if you have no use for paper at all.
Invest in energy-efficient machinery
Machinery consumes a lot of power and many companies can rack up huge energy bills because of this. However, you may be able to save money and keep all the machinery you need simply by opting for energy-efficient machines. You can peruse sites like Energy Star to find computer models that are energy efficient – these PCs could be just as powerful whilst wasting less energy. Similarly, you can buy printers and scanners that are energy efficient.
On top of buying greener tech, it’s worth adopting a few green habits when it comes to using this machinery. For example, make sure that these machines are turned off when not in use and that they’re either unplugged from the wall or switched off at the socket.
Of course, the biggest way to reduce the energy bills caused by machinery could be to switch to a sustainable power source such as solar power, however this is a big investment that many small companies may not be able to stretch to. Larger established companies should however consider the possibility of switching to solar power as it could be worthwhile.
Learn a new digital skill
Learning a new digital skill could also save you a lot of money on tech-related costs by preventing the need to outsource help. For example, programming know-how could allow you to build your own website or even create your own software/app if you’re feeling particularly ambitious rather than having to pay potentially thousands to a developer. Coding can be a difficult skill to learn – more easy-to-learn digital skills worth learning could include photo-editing, video-editing and basic analytics. You could invest in a course or you could try simply learning from tutorials and blog guides posted on the internet.
Alternatively, when hiring new employees, you could advertise for applicants who have certain digital skills whilst possessing the core skills needed for the job, further preventing the need to outsource these skills.
Don’t go cheap on digital security
Whilst you can go cheap in many areas of technology and still get professional results, it’s probably not a wise idea to skimp on digital security. Having weak digital security could open you up to a data breach, which could be extremely costly both to your finances and your reputation.
Many modern companies are now investing in secure cloud storage – this involves storing all your files on a remote cloud server in exchange for a monthly fee. Such cloud servers are guarded with the highest security available making it a much more secure method than storing files locally. That said, you may still want to invest in some security software for your personal devices.
If the cloud server does get breached (which is very unlikely) you may find that the owner of the cloud server is responsible for any reparation costs give that they are the one who is supposed to be guarding all your data.
Alternatively, you could consider taking out cyber-insurance. This could help to pay any legal costs that arise if customer/employee data is stolen from your company. You may be able to get cyber-insurance as part of a package that could include company property insurance, employee liability insurance and customer liability insurance too.
Contributed by Joshua Halloway
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