Technology and AI Can Help Small Businesses Thrive
As a small business owner, you might often feel overwhelmed by all of the bill paying, invoice tracking and follow-up that is required of you on a daily basis. Wouldn’t it be great if technology could tell you when to pay your bills, keep track of your balances, remind you when taxes or loan payments are due or even tell you when it’s time to reorder office supplies? Well, that might not be so far into the future. According to a report published by Harvard Business Review, there is a great deal of potential for technology and artificial intelligence to assist entrepreneurs and improve the small businesses they run. There are already many technologies out there that help large corporations, so it stands to reason that they will eventually be designed to help small businesses too.
While there are sure to be some major advances in artificial intelligence for small businesses in the future, there are technologies available right now that can help business owners run things more efficiently and be smarter about things like cash flow.
Project management software exists in the marketplace to help keep everything related to project tasks, calendar management and timelines organized and centralized. Trello, Basecamp, Microsoft Project and SmartSheet are a few good programs that can help you get started. Teams can collaborate remotely on projects and share and upload documents, which is extremely beneficial to smaller companies.
Technology that helps you pay your bills and helps you get paid by your customers makes invoice management much easier than traditional methods. Having an effective system to track expenses and send invoices is critical. Invoicing tools like Freshbooks, enable you to create invoices (both one-time and recurring), request online payments and view payment status. If you have outstanding invoices, sites like Dwolla can help you collect.
Cash Flow Management
Most small businesses don’t have a good handle on cash flow. In fact, cash flow uncertainty is something that prevents small companies from competing against big ones. There are ways to use technology to manage and ultimately increase cash flow. Programs like Float integrate seamlessly with Quickbooks, Xero and FreeAgent to automatically give you an accurate starting point for your forecast, which will help project what your bank balance will be every week, month and year. PlanGuru integrates with accounting platforms to provide cash flow data and forecasting, as well as analytics to help small businesses understand complex financial data.
If the technology indicates that you have a cash flow deficit, you might want to consider financing. ExpoCredit provides accounts receivable and supply chain financing, which turn unpaid invoices into cash. These are great options because they alleviate the need to wait for customers and suppliers to pay you before getting an infusion of cash.
Credit Card Payments
Square is an app and portable credit card machine that allows small businesses to accept payment anywhere. It also provides analytics on customer spending habits so business owners can tailor to their customers’ needs. You can even set up an online store through Square. Marketplace or online shopping cart providers like Shopify, make selling your product a breeze.
Artificial intelligence is an invaluable tool for small businesses to get a more regimented approach to their numbers. In the future, it will also be able to help financial companies with lending decisions. The future is bright for small business technology and as time goes on, it will only get better.