web design

Three basic, but important online technologies for any small business owner to understand.

Website CMS, back end software and Google Docs are basic pieces of tech for any website, ignore them at your peril though.

Over the past few years, small business has become increasingly competitive especially if you happen to function online.  Part of the competition has emerged because technology has made it possible for small businesses to be opened more easily and efficiently than ever before.  Here’s a few technology upgrades to keep you competitive. While these might be the absolute basics, as I’ve found, if you don’t have the basics covered then you’re going to be in a world of trouble long term.

Google Docs:

Google DocsA lot of people know plenty about Gmail, but don’t realize that Google in their ever apparent attempt to continually eat away at Microsoft’s market share, has created their own set of documents and files that you can create and share completely online.

For my business which was started largely with only two people working, Google Docs allowed us to share spreadsheets and other data without ever having to worry if we were looking at the most updated version of a profit and loss statement, or a customer billing summary.

Website Back End Software:

For most small business, there is a definite need to keep current customer data (either to rebill, or simply to create customized offers at a later date) which becomes difficult using only spreadsheets.  Finding customized back end software can help you more efficiently communicate with customers and prospects than doing everything by hand.  As a specific example, I run a subscription wine club business that exists with the intent of charging people as time goes by.  The real problem for us comes when someone’s credit card goes bad and can no longer be charged for wine.  When we first opened, we spent an inordinate amount of time calling and emailing these folks on a daily basis, until we heard back from them, or we didn’t!  Our current software has a 10 day cycle of emails prepared that we’ve customized to get the attention of our customers and help us to reconvert their expired, or lost credit cards into something that we can actually deal with.  It’s a great time saver and a money maker at the same time. A good back end when combined with a basic checkout procedure will allow you to keep plenty of business long term as well.

Website Front End Software:

WordPress LogoIt is said that close to 20% of all websites in existence run on WordPress currently.  That’s not only amazing, but really shows how a lack of other available options has forced more and more people to use WordPress to create their websites.  Having a viable front end software (or in other terms a content management software of CMS), either from a free version like WP, or something more complicated is incredibly important.  Do you want to make a change to your website without learning to write code yourself? A CMS makes that easy.  One underappreciated aspect of a good front end CMS is that you can easily run A/B tests and find easy ways to improve your conversion rate.

Author BIO:

Mark Aselstine is the owner of Uncorked Ventures, an online wine club and luxury gift basket business based out of San Francisco.  Starting an online business in the home of the tech world has been an interesting and insightful experience.