Smart ways tech can help start-ups get one step ahead

There are several things worth bearing in mind as an entrepreneur. Firstly, office space is expensive, and, if you’re based in popular start-up area, square footage is hard to find. As a result, there’s a good chance that you and your team are working in a shared workplace using laptops. Even for more established businesses, if your brand is digital, rather than a physical shop requiring a warehouse, space is probably at a premium. Secondly hiring more staff might not fit in either with your budget or your space restrictions.

Using tech can help your business enormously, whether you’re looking to start or expand it. Tech can help in ways you might not have considered before, whether you’re using web-based finance applications, or just using a free online calendar instead of hiring a secretary.

Technology adoption is a great way of bettering the competition. Here are a few suggestions:

Funding

Although nothing can beat face to face networking, using crowdfunding apps like Kickstarter can be an efficient, streamlined way to grow your business without setting foot outside the office. A blend of using tech to gain revenue for your business and physical networking will save time, and should mean it’s an activity you can cross off your to-do list, at least for the time being.

Social media

It should go without saying that social media is the perfect way to expand your business, and can be done really easily without employing a social media strategist, at least while your company is still small. Use a platform like Hootsuite where you can schedule tweets across various company and personal twitter accounts. Buffer goes a step further - this app enables you to schedule posts across different social media sites. You can do social media for the week in one hours - yes, it’s not the way you’re supposed to do it, but when you’re starting out and trying to organise the rest of your business, tech comes in handy.

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Finance online

There are a myriad of ways to do your accounting online as a small business, without the cost of an accountant. Even if you still employ an accountant, using online tools can take the pressure out of keeping the books, freeing up your time to focus on the parts of the business you care about. Co-founder and Finance Director Jonny Plein says: "The flexibility of a web based finance tool has made running the books so simple. We use Xero to run our accounts and they let an SME like ours do everything that is required without over complicating it. Additionally If I need help I can just give my accountant our Logon details rather than having to set up a meeting and prepare accounts for him."

Marketing and PR

A hidden business cost that few SMEs consider when they start out is PR. Social media is all well and good, but what about actually promoting the business, and reaching out to new networks? Ben Corrigan, co-founder of Pouch, explains how platforms like ResponseSource and Twitter are useful when reaching out to journalists bloggers and copywriters: "We haven't had to pay for a PR agency because we can find the right people for the right stories. That’s a big saving!"

Target online communities

Blogs may sound like a way to pass the time, or brush up on some new business ideas, but they can be a crucial part of building a community. The people who frequent the blogs you read are potential customers. Join forums, comment on people’s articles, offer suggestions, and signpost just how knowledgeable you are on a certain topic. Commenting on blogs and forums will show others how relevant your knowledge is, and will hopefully help you build relationships without even leaving the house.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Image from gettyimages.

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