The engine of innovation in any economy is its small businesses. Their size makes them much more flexible and tolerant to change than their larger counterparts, and applying new technologies successfully can give them a major competitive advantage. Let’s take a look at some of the big breakthroughs that are still making big waves among small businesses all over the world.

Connecting customers - Huge tech breakthroughs that make small businesses more efficient

The engine of innovation in any economy is its small businesses. Their size makes them much more flexible and tolerant to change than their larger counterparts, and applying new technologies successfully can give them a major competitive advantage. Let’s take a look at some of the big breakthroughs that are still making big waves among small businesses all over the world.

Mobile payment systems

In the last few years, mobile payment systems have become increasingly popular among consumers. Instead of carrying cash or fumbling with a stack of relatively insecure credit cards, mobile wallets allow users to pay with any of their credit cards or accounts at a single touch.  Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and any of a variety of similar services allow businesses to accept payments instantly at no additional cost.

Not only is mobile payment convenient for customers, it’s faster and more efficient than traditional payment methods. Faster checkout speeds means your business can handle more transactions in less time, so you and your business can spend more effort on what matters: serving your customers.

Improved money transfers

A major obstacle that prevented small and medium sized businesses from competing with larger competitors in the past, was the prohibitive cost of transferring funds overseas. Traditional banks often charge fees of up to 5%, which can quickly eat through much or all of the profits that would have been made through the transaction. Recognising this, transfer and exchange services like HiFX, Transferwise and others, transfer and exchange money for very low or no fees.

Traditional banks don’t just charge fees for the sake of making a profit, they need to offset the risk that they take by using the foreign exchange market. If the value of the currency they accepted from the customer drops before they can exchange it to the currency that the recipient will receive, they’ll lose money. These specialist exchange services, on the other hand, make a profit by carefully making up-to-the-second exchanges when rates are favourable. This way the business can earn an income without the customers paying any fees.

By using an exchange service like this, businesses can build international relationships that wouldn’t have been possible before, allowing them to work with the best suppliers and clients for them, regardless of their location.

Cloud integration

Cloud integration was originally something reserved for larger businesses attempting to keep data flexible and accessible across multiple locations and a large number of workers without sacrificing that data’s security. Since then, a number of different cloud services have been developed, from major SaaS providers for big businesses, to easily accessible storage and processing solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive.

Though these have now existed for some time, proper integration and application of these tools is still ongoing. Google drive users can program spreadsheets to draw data from other spreadsheets, allowing users to build enormously complex pivot tables to aggregate data from different users for various purposes.

In learning to apply these technologies in new and innovative ways, many SMEs eliminate the need for the huge amount of unreliable emails that workers have to write to each other and read on a daily basis to update coworkers and superiors with new information and the latest versions of different data files.

Even better, when combined with zero-fee money transfer services, it’s now much easier to seamlessly integrate remote contract workers into businesses that wouldn’t otherwise have access to labour outside their area. Since they can access, manipulate, and communicate data from anywhere in real time, it doesn’t matter if your programmer is in Finland, or if your copy-editor is in Canada. They’ll be able to work with people in your office just the same as if they were sitting a few cubicles away.

Crowdfunding

One of the most important issues that prevents smaller businesses from overtaking more established competitors is difficulty in acquiring the necessary investment. Established businesses have existing relationships with investors, as well as well developed credit and banking relationships that they can apply as needed. Smaller businesses often rely on angel investors or small business loans. Both of those are great, but they aren’t always easy to access, especially for startups.

The advent of major crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and many others was a transformative event for these small businesses. Instead of being forced to innovate specifically in ways that would impress potential investors or banks, businesses could now market an idea directly to the end consumer. Since the investment comes directly from the end-consumer, businesses can more easily focus on a wider range of ideas than they were able to traditionally.

Businesses everywhere are constantly evolving and adapting to become more efficient, and better able to serve their customers. Staying abreast of these innovations and learning to apply them creatively is a vital part in maintaining your competitive edge to take on bigger and more established opponents in your industry. Although it may take some time to find the innovation that works the best for you, it is worth the time to invest – you, your employees, and your customers deserve it.

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