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The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
To say that we live in a “digital age” may feel a bit clichéd, but there's no denying that the internet and social media have revolutionized the way we interact. Poll data from the Pew Research Center shows that 81 percent of Americans use the Internet every day. 28 percent state that they are online “almost constantly”.
This reliance on digital tools also affects the business world. The pandemic has accelerated online shopping trends and countless businesses are relying on SaaS and PaaS tools to keep them running smoothly.
For entrepreneurs, this dependence on technology creates new opportunities, but it also requires startups to use the right technical tools and technologies themselves. Think of this as a starter kit.
1. Cloud native technology
"Cloud-native technology is no longer a 'good' – it is absolutely necessary," Karan Nangru, founder of the cloud-native consulting and solutions company StatusNeo, told me recently during a recent email exchange. "Cloud native tech offers speed, scalability, and elasticity that businesses of all sizes can take advantage of. The ability to create and run innovative solutions hosted in public, private, or hybrid cloud environments, and containers, microservices, and immutable." Using infrastructure, APIs and serverless computing are now mainstream. "
Both companies and entrepreneurs share a common focus: business transformation. In most cases, technology enables this transformation, while cloud-native platform services accelerate it.
Related Topics: It's time to prepare for a multi-cloud future
The digital age has introduced a host of new marketing techniques, and successful entrepreneurs must use each of these tools to reach their customers. Social media, email campaigns, SEO, and PPC are a major source of traffic and customers for brands.
Of course, many startups do not have the financial means to hire an advertising agency. The good news is that marketing tools make any task easier and cheaper to manage. For example, with HootSuite, startups can schedule social media posts weeks in advance, while Mailchimp helps entrepreneurs create and manage email campaigns.
Modern marketing tools take a comprehensive approach and offer campaign analysis and integration with other cloud platforms. Many even offer tutorials and guides to help your team implement best practices that will get better ROI for your campaigns.
3. Machine-operated data monitoring
One of the greatest advantages of modern technical tools is their ability to collect data. By learning more about your customers or the efficiency of your processes, you can make important changes to your business to improve your profitability.
Getting data is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Because of this, many startups are turning to machine learning tools that automatically monitor data trends and provide insights to show what the numbers actually mean.
In an email conversation Victor Zhang, co-founder of analytics monitoring company Orbiter, stated, “Machine learning software enables the analysis of normal behavior for metrics in your system. Machine learning modeling can also use this baseline to determine whether changes are abnormal. These anomalies trigger proactive alerts so that you become aware of important trends affecting your company's ecosystem. By turning numbers and data into meaningful information, entrepreneurs can quickly take action to improve their business. "
Since customers are so important, it should come as no surprise that an entire segment of engineering tools is dedicated to them. With CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, companies can better deal with these important relationships.
CRMs collect a variety of information that can help your sales team convert leads into sales or improve customer retention metrics. For example, by tracking customer touchpoints with your brand, sales reps can identify which potential customers are most likely to convert so they can prioritize customer approach accordingly.
When used effectively, CRM tools can make a huge difference to your bottom line. A survey by Capterra found that 47 percent of CRM users said the software had significantly improved customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Related: The Best CRM Software for 2020
There are only 24 hours in a day, but entrepreneurs often feel like they need an extra hour or three to manage everything that is on their plate. This is especially true for solo preneurs who have the task of running an entire company themselves.
While there are many tasks that are essential for a startup, many of them are mundane, red activities that won't do that much to grow your business. This is why automation tools or the use of a virtual assistant are essential for overworked entrepreneurs.
Automation tools can help with anything from tracking costs to sending reminders of appointments to creating contracts or managing customer loyalty. In fact, the WorkMarket 2020 report In (Sight) found that 78 percent of executives felt automation could help them save three hours a day – or roughly 360 hours over the course of the year.
With strategic automation, you can spend a lot of time on tasks that make a bigger contribution to your bottom line.
Use the right tools to get the right results
No matter what industry you're looking to make a name for yourself in, the right technology tools make all the difference for your startup. With software that enables collaboration, helps you get better insights into the state of your business, or simply automates basic tasks, you have the resources you need to grow meaningfully.