Emma Bailey is a freelance writer and blogger who covers current topics in business, finance, home technology and issues pertaining to the environment. She lives and works in Chicago, IL.
Life as an entrepreneur can be richly rewarding, but it's rarely easy. Launching and growing a business requires a tremendous amount of work, and it often means juggling a litany of responsibilities. Wearing so many hats at once can make for a chaotic and taxing work environment, but fortunately, modern technology is here to disrupt all of that. Here are five essential technologies that promise to streamline your efforts and help you spend your time more efficiently and effectively.
The Internet of Things
It's been the subject of endless hype in recent years, but the Internet of Things really can change the way you do business. By outfitting all manner of everyday objects with smart sensors and wireless connectivity, the IoT has the power to revolutionize the way you do business. Smart sensors are capable of collecting an extraordinary volume of data, generating insights on everything from product supply chains to end consumer usage patterns.
Gathering contextual data through the IoT is also tremendously valuable when it comes to sophisticated audience segmentation, allowing you to deliver highly personalized and precisely targeted marketing to get your products or services in front of the right people with just the right messaging.
AI-powered digital assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home have already proven to be a hit with home users of smart home systems, but they're highly useful in the world of business as well. Digital assistants, like their human counterparts, are very useful for managing busy schedules, taking quick notes, handling communications and much more, all with simple, hands-free voice commands.
Need to order some supplies for your business? Alexa or Google Assistant can order them in just a few seconds.
Want to host a conference call to make sure your team is on the same page? The Echo's Conference Manager skill can have you up and connected in moments. Time is a precious resource for entrepreneurs, and digital assistants provide a number of ways to free up more of it in your daily schedule.
Cash may still be king, but the simple reality is that it's not very convenient to use. The most successful entrepreneurs have a knack for boosting efficiency and removing friction points for both themselves and their customers, and going cashless is a great way to do just that. It's no secret that easier payments for consumers lead to greater conversion rates, and that's especially true in the digital space, where more and more purchases are made from mobile and smart devices. The further you can progress toward frictionless transactions, the more you and your business will benefit.
Hybrid Wireless Technologies
Everywhere you look, wires are disappearing. It seems that everything in the modern world now operates wirelessly, but this comes with a problem: a proliferation of wireless standards now exist, and they don't necessarily play well together. Hybrid wireless technologies seek to empower communication between these disparate wireless standards, including Wi-Fi, 4G cellular, Li-Fi and more. By taking advantage of these hybrid technologies, you can connect with, gain insights into and meet the needs of your customers more quickly, more efficiently and in all new ways. If you have a mobile workforce, you can also empower them to perform better with a stronger and more versatile wireless infrastructure.
Creativity is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship, but the repetitive and monotonous tasks involved in day-to-day business operations has a way of stifling that spirit quickly. To alleviate that monotony, you can use the power of technology to automate many of your business' routine tasks. IFTTT, which is shorthand for “if this then that,” is the gold standard for automation, allowing you to create an almost endless variety of recipes that trigger specific actions according to pre-set rules. IFTTT can be used to control everything from social media accounts to office software, so the only limit is your creativity.
Additional software solutions, including tools such as HubSpot, Slack, Needls and others, make it possible to automate many of the repetitive tasks involved in marketing, scheduling, sales and communications.
The ability to properly leverage technology has always been a key to success as an entrepreneur, and with the massive potential of modern technology to disrupt traditional business models and practices, that's truer now than ever before. By understanding and taking advantage of the five technologies detailed above, you can improve your efficiency, reduce your stress levels and deliver better performance.