Carol Hangout.jpgTechnology has really been democratized over the past few years, allowing small businesses to access many of the same tools previously only available or affordable to big businesses.  So, how can your business best capitalize on all of these technological developments?  Moreover, how do you know where to begin or where to focus?

I recently moderated a Google Hangout presented by Bank of America, with Bank of America’s David Solis, Small Business Expert and USA Today Columnist Steve Strauss and’s Chief Operating Officer, Jason Teichman, and we generated fantastic insights around finding the best technology for your small business.

You can watch the full event here, but some of the key takeaways included:

Simple Changes Can Make a Big Impact – If you aren’t focused on technology in your business, you can embrace a few simple technologies that can have a big impact on your business.  First, you must have a website, to engender credibility, regardless of the type of business that you have.  Then, picking a couple of social channels to focus on deeply and consistently can be a great way to communicate with and learn from your customers.  Finally, try out some apps that help with everything from productivity to marketing.  You can “date” before you make the commitment of using them in the long term by trying out several to see which align best with your business.

Emerging Technology Gets Your Small Business to the Next Level – Embracing emerging technologies can really help to generate substantial growth in your business.  Most customers access the web through mobile devices and being mobile broadens your own ability to reach customers, vendors and employees worldwide.  You can further the mobile experience by using tablet-based payment systems, like Clover from Bank of America (who sponsored this Hangout panel), to move your business beyond the traditional four walls.  Plus, using cloud-based solutions in your business can increase your capabilities across your business at a fraction of the cost of previous generations of software and hardware. 

Take a Small Perspective on Big Data – Analytics and data trends are very hot in business, but for your small business, look at the analytics most relevant to you.  These include financial metrics and website data.  Right-sizing your approach to data means that you will get the most relevant information to help you to guide your business strategy. 

Help is Not a Four-Letter Word – An IT staff can be expensive, but a small business can leverage the expertise of others by partnering with technology companies and consultants that have core technology competencies that allow you to focus on running your business.  You may even want to use a variety of providers, such as partnering with a company like for your online marketing solutions and a company like Microsoft for your suite productivity applications.

Evaluate ROI – The most important technologies for your business are the ones that will directly impact your small business’s bottom line.  Think about what can change in your business – and what that means in terms of more sales, greater productivity and lower costs – in order to make your final decisions on which technologies to test out. Moreover, if you are too close to your business, consider bringing on a consultant who can seek out areas where you can improve your business and generate a substantial return with new technology solutions. 

You can get more details on these tips and some additional tactics to help you gain even more momentum in your own business by watching the 30-minute video of the event.  Make sure to take the time to do this and pursue other strategic endeavors where you can work on your business, not just in it. It’s worth investing a half hour of your time to take your business to the next level!