The approach of the new year is always a great time to revisit all the awesome things your SMB has achieved and pat yourself in the back about how great things are running.
However, if you take too much time to congratulate yourself on a job well done, odds are good that you’ll fall behind on preparing for 2020. Do that, and you’ll have to watch your peers at rival SMBs laughing at you all the way to the bank.
Setting yourself apart in a crowded market as an SMB is a game of inches, not miles. Especially when you’re using the same tech and apps as your competitors, the way to set yourself apart is not by having the shiniest setup but knowing how to use the right tools and policies to optimize your work.
Even when it seems like you’re getting the most out of your teams, you can still hack your team’s productivity with these six excellent tools.
1. Reason Antivirus for Cybersecurity Efficiency
There are few things in the tech world that will leave your company with a bigger black eye than having to admit to the world that your network has been breached, or even worse, that you’ve “misplaced” your users’ data. Considering almost half of all cyber-attacks are now aimed at SMBs, it would make sense to put a little more thought into your security plan than “hope for the best.”
Fortunately, Reason Antivirus’s business solution can help address most of your concerns and do so without requiring you to raise a new round of funding. The suite includes a painless installation – which saves you money on expensive consulting and setup fees – and can be managed directly by you or another team member, without needing a full IT staff.
Image source: https://www.reasonsecurity.com/
Reason’s tools allow you to implement automated and real-time protection, which can even secure your peripheral devices like microphones and webcams, helping your team maintain online privacy.
Most importantly, with an easy to use interface and automated tools, you can gain enterprise-level security without having to invest too much time managing it.
2. Google My Business for Reputation Management and Local SEO
Most SMBs today have mission statements that aim at becoming the most popular brands in the universe, but really, you should start with a slightly smaller scope to get more out of your marketing, branding and SEO efforts. You can waste hundreds and thousands of dollars adding followers everywhere from Bangladesh to Managua, but if you don’t follow up with a strong, positive online presence in your closest markets, you’re likely just throwing money away.
Google My Business puts your SMB on the map – quite literally – and helps you gain exposure on Google search when people seek out merchants and service providers in your area. For one, having a completed and verified profile on GMB significantly boosts your SEO efforts and helps improve your web visibility.
One study recently found that nearly twice as many people read business reviews on GMB as Facebook and Amazon, making it your highest-value platform as a reputation management hub.
Additionally, you can set up a booking service directly through GMB, which has been shown to significantly increase transactions for your business, helping you create a more engaging top-of-funnel presence to draw in consumers. With 95 million people participating in GMB’s local guides program, and over three billion connections between users and sellers monthly (per Google), you’d be silly not to take advantage of a quick and powerful tool to improve your local – and most immediate – branding.
3. ContractZen for Contract and Meeting Management
Acquiring new customers is obviously a key aspect of any company’s success, but as you scale up, things tend to become harder. Going from three clients to 50 means that the three-ring binder you’ve been using to store all their paperwork should probably go the way of the dodo. Not having a digital contract and document management tool today is downright negligent, and it can significantly slow your company down, allowing important deadlines to lapse and even potentially squandering opportunities to close deals.
ContractZen is designed to be your digital contract babysitter, with a full set of features that make managing your documents, meetings and important agreements a breeze. As you start to deal with a higher volume of customers, vendors, partners and other stakeholders, you’ll need to be more meticulous about contracts signed, important upcoming dates (extensions, expirations, payments), and even keep a clearer score of meetings and what’s been discussed.
Image source: https://www.contractzen.com/en/
The ContractZen suite offers contract management tools that use a smart meta-tagging system to store and sort your important agreements and documentation, use electronic signatures, plan meetings and even send confidential meeting materials, and more.
The app’s virtual data rooms let you securely share quickly curated collections of files without endangering your entire network. For a small business, easy management of your important documentation is key to not falling behind.
4. SendFox for Email-Based Content Promotion
In an ecosystem where texting, WhatsApping, Facebook Messaging, Telegramming, and virtually countless additional communication and social media channels reign supreme, it would be easy to think that poor old email has been left by the wayside of time. You’d be justified in your belief, but you would also be surprisingly and astonishingly wrong.
Some 93% of B2B marketers still use email to distribute their content, and even the vaunted millennial generation, with their general disdain for “old-school” tech, still prefer to receive communications from businesses via email.
Image source: https://appsumo.com/sendfox/
All of this is to say, you should definitely look into improving your email marketing, even if you don’t think you have the resources to do so. Using SendFox, the new email tool from Noah “OKDork” Kagan’s Sumo Group, can significantly reduce the amount of time you have to spend delivering your content to consumers by automating much of the process.
You can quickly create unlimited customized email forms to send, as well as build the ancillary tools – landing pages, web forms, segmented lists, triggered drips – that get you the most value from every audience member. You also reduce the time it takes for your content to reach a critical mass of users by shifting from passive to active view acquisitions.
Additionally, schedule posts while integrating other tracking and content apps to get the most out of your web content and reach more consumers than you could have imagined.
5. accessiBe for Automated Web Accessibility Compliance
It’s taken far too long for the conversation around web design to focus on how to make them more accessible to everyone. This is a wonderful concept, but in practice it creates some hurdles for small businesses which likely need to overhaul their content to comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations and avoid potential lawsuits over websites that are deemed unusable by people with disabilities.
This is doubly challenging because your content is hardly static – ideally, you’re always adding, modifying, tweaking, and replacing content and assets, which could impact accessibility settings. Even worse, it’s expensive (to the point of being prohibitive) to have someone constantly monitoring accessibility, especially if you’re relying on a small team that wears all the hats in the business.
Image source: https://www.avon.com/#showacsb/
accessiBe, then, is your website’s new accessibility best friend. The application uses AI to scan your site, page by page, to uncover areas that are non-compliant with regulations such as ADA, WCAG 21 and Section 508, ensuring that you’re able to meet any regulatory test within 48 hours of installation. Even better, since your website is always changing, accessiBe is always working, re-processing your compliance checks every 24 hours with an impressive 96% automatic success rate. Disabled users visiting your site can open the accessibility interface at the click of a button, which has everything needed to access and experience your site.
6. Papaya Global for Easy Overseas Payroll Management
One of the things you can easily forget about scaling your business is that more work usually requires more people to accomplish. In the endless quest to grow, it can be easy to agree to more than you can handle and find yourself struggling to either keep up with the work with the staff you have or find new employees to handle the work without impacting your bottom line. This dynamic has made outsourcing a popular alternative, and it can be a major game-changer – that is, provided you hire someone reliable who can deliver the quality you need at the proper price point.
For SMBs, this last part is where it gets tricky, and it’s exactly where Papaya Global shines. The platform offers global payroll solutions for companies that have multiple locations, but you can also use it as a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), reducing the number of bureaucratic steps you need to take. This means that you don’t have to set up any local entities to handle payroll – both expensive and time-consuming – and have monthly payments handled automatically, as well as all the paperwork associated with it.
In addition to being your proxy “employer of record” (EoR), Papaya also offers onboarding services that quickly help your new staff integrate, and can even provide HR solutions and immigration solutions (obtaining work permits, residence permits, and more) to help you establish an international foothold even on an SMB budget.
Get to Hacking
Finding new advantages for your SMB goes far beyond hoping no one else will notice what you’re doing and wishing for a lucky break. You can actively take steps to help improve your team’s productivity, reduce obstacles in their way, and generally be the best version of your team they can be.
Disclosure: The author does not have any vested interest in the projects mentioned.