For most small startup companies, finding ways to compensate for limited capital is an essential success strategy. According to the National Venture Capital Association, 82 percent of startups are self-funded and another 24 percent are funded by family and friends.
But if you don’t have deep pockets, your startup is forced to find smarter ways to leverage resources to stay competitive. One way to gain an edge on the competition is to make better use of technology. Here are four ways your startup can use technology to level the playing field.
Use Your Mobile Device as a Virtual Office
Office space is a significant budget item for your startup. Depending on where you live, the average annual cost to rent office space for one employee ranges anywhere from just over $4,000 in cities such as Atlanta to nearly $15,000 in New York City, according to The Square Foot.
You can trim this expense by using your mobile device as a virtual office. A high-quality mobile device such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge empowers you to manage your essential office software functions from the cloud and coordinate remote staff members for a fraction of the cost you’d pay for office space and traditional computer equipment.
Provide Self-Service Website Features
Delivering superior customer service is the key to beating the competition. Nearly nine out of ten companies surveyed by Gartner agree that customer service is the biggest key to gaining a competitive advantage in 2016. One simple but important step you can take to improve your customer service is to provide self-service features on your website. Nearly three-quarters of consumers say they want the ability to solve most customer service issues on their own, according to an Aspect survey. Help desk software enables you to add self-service capability to your website, giving you the ability to provide a knowledge base with answers to frequently-asked questions.
Some customers still need help after checking your knowledge base, so let them submit an online ticket or open a live chat session with a service representative. An increasing number of customers prefer live chat to speaking to a service representative over the phone. While you can train your staff to handle live chat support, it’s generally more efficient and less expensive to hire freelancers or to use a live chat outsourcing service such as HelpDesk247.
Leverage Big Data Analytics
One of the most powerful competitive tools now accessible to your startup is business intelligence software powered by big data analytics. Tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI let you research historic data and project trends that are relevant to key business functions such as finance, operations and sales. Power BI can pull data in from sources such as spreadsheets, CRM software and email marketing campaigns to provide you with vital information that gives you a competitive edge.