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Let’s Get Technical: Which Technologies to Integrate into Your Financial or Legal Consulting Business
Unlike the process of starting a small business—which can seem incredibly slow at times—technology is constantly leaping forward at a lightning pace. The iPhone and the first smartphones only came out just about ten years ago- who knows where we’ll be in five, or another ten?
This rapid development makes it difficult for everyone to keep up with changes. Now for your average bear, that’s no problem- if you download the latest app a bit later than everyone else, it’s no big deal. But if you are a small business owner- well, then that’s a horse of a different color. In the cutthroat, competitive world of small business, you can’t afford to be a bit behind the competitors. Being able to tell which technological paths to take—and which technological paths to avoid—is of key importance when running a business, especially when you’re starting off.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a guide to help you navigate the fast-moving rapids of technological innovation, adaptation, and change.
It’s All About the Money
So you may not be going into business because you only care about money. Hopefully you genuinely love the subject matter and you love working with people. But that said- at the end of the day, if you don’t have your finances straightened out, you aren’t going to be working with people much longer. The importance of having your finances clearly accessible to you at a moment’s notice should not be understated!
Take it from Ben Watson, a CPA and CFO with DollarSprout:
As a CPA, I highly recommend good accounting software. Having complete and accurate financial data can significantly help you navigate the ups and downs as you grow.
Right on the money (no pun intended). There are going to be times in which you need to quickly be able to get a complete picture of your funds, and your accountant might not always be available to help you paint a picture on short notice.
There is lots of different software out there that will be able to help you keep your finances in order, and lots of them specifically for small businesses. A while ago we put together another guide of the Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses– check it out!
Invest in a Good Computer
At first glance, you may think this one is obvious. After all, home computers have been a home staple since the late 1990s/early 2000s, and many are even starting to abandon the desktop—and even the laptop!—wholesale.
For what? The phone. After all, modern smartphones are said to have computers which are more powerful than the computers that took man to the moon- and they’re constantly getting better. One can’t be blamed if they think that they won’t need a computer for running their small business. After all, less is more, right?
Well, not really. As Ben Walker, CEO of Transcription Outsourcing, LLC, put it:
A computer is the single piece of technology I would recommend to any new business owner. It is your connection the world via email, social media, VoIP systems for phone, and can connect you to everything else you need to run a business.
The fact is, a phone is definitely useful, and day-to-day you can rely on it. But at the moment, computers are necessary. For ease of saving and creating documents (try typing up an entire report on a phone keyboard instead of a normal keyboard- you can, it’s just a lot more annoying).
Plus, most companies will be operating assuming that you use a computer at least somewhat. Even companies like MightyCall, one of the VoiP systems mentioned above by Ben, which have worked to create seamless mobile experiences, still usually require you to do some set-up work on a computer. Do yourself a favor: invest in a work computer.
As per our last point, phones are becoming more and more popular- but also as per our last point, computers are still king. This can make moving around documents and files incredibly important- and when running a small business dealing with finance and complex legal documents, you know that file size can sometimes be an issue.
Rob Stephens, the Founder of CFO Perspective, thinks he has a solution:
Dropbox is an essential tool in my business. Dropbox is a simple way to exchange sensitive information or large files with clients and vendors. Mail servers often block large files. Email gets lost in spam folders. Dropbox avoids those problems.
Dropbox also allows collaboration with the free online version of Microsoft and Google software. The folders in dropbox allow grouping of files for organization that’s familiar to your clients and vendors. I use dropbox to share files securely with clients. I exchange large image files via Dropbox with my graphic designer for my website and resources I provide to clients. I’ve been on company and agency boards that used dropbox to share the board materials.
He’s not wrong. Dropbox is an incredibly useful tool for moving around documents in an organized and clear way. Plus, it’s becoming very widely known- which makes it more likely that your clients will trust you using it to move their financial information around.
In a broader sense too, thinking about interconnectivity is key. Don’t just buy new technology because it seems fancy or makes your office seem up to date- we’ve all been in plenty of offices which look like they were a giant 1990s time capsule, and guess what? If they did what they said they’d do, no one cared if they looked like a giant time capsule from the 1990s.
Don’t get it wrong- obviously technology is important. That’s not really a question. But making it actually integrated so that it works for you—instead of you spending all day working on it—is key. And Dropbox is a tool which can help you with that.
Transition to VoIP
While reading this article, a few things have no doubt become clear to you: the importance of effectively integrating your various technologies, using technology your customers trust, and using your money efficiently.
One of the best ways you can do that is to transition to (or start with) a VoIP system. Mentioned by Ben above, VoIP systems are essentially internet-based phone systems, allowing you to purchase a telephone number (or more than one) to communicate with whoever you like (like you would with any other phone). For more on VoIP, check out our ultimate guide here.
A premier VoIP system is the aforementioned MightyCall, which is designed for small businesses. MightyCall comes packed with features designed to maximize usefulness for users (as well as the bang for the buck). One of our users, Rocky Rinker, Attorney at Law, P.A., had this to say about the benefits provided by MightyCall:
MightyCall provides crisp and clear calls which allows the user to communicate with clients and prospects without providing your personal cell number to strangers. Call flows that you create allow you to direct the caller to your cell phone, to any member of your team’s cell phone, to voice mail, even to an external number (like an answering service), which enforces a professional image in a cost effective manner.
Again- making sure you don’t have to play catch-up is one of the most important parts of running a small business in the 21st century. Consider looking into MightyCall- with them, you’ll be at the front of the pack.
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