Tools every small business in India should be using
Some sections of India’s business community may be reeling under the impact of the economic slowdown, but small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are swimming successfully against the tide.
The SME sector has over the years registered faster growth than the gross domestic product (GDP). While GDP grew 6.7 % in 2008/09 and eight per cent in 2009/10, the SME sector clocked 11.4 % and 11.6% growth, respectively. “We expect eight percent growth in 2011 despite tough macroeconomic conditions,” says H.P. Kumar, Chairman, National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC).
The good news is that despite the odds, SMEs are not throwing in the towel. Last November, after six years of deliberation, the government pushed through a policy that makes it mandatory for government bodies and PSUs to increase procurement from micro and small enterprises to 20% of their requirements within three years. NSIC estimates this will directly impact 20,000 units, and open up business opportunities worth Rs 50,000 crore within three years.
If you are small entrepreneur, the market is not going to take you kindly; until you start thinking out of the box, throw yourself to the winds and telling people why they should use your product or service? For me communication, communication and more communication works. Small industries need to announce their arrival and explain their product. The following are some vital tools that every small business must employ to grow, from a tiny sapling in your palms to a full flourished evergreen tree that will finally bear the fruits of your hard-work and give shelter to many.
# 1. Internet:
The irrefutable need of the hour is definitely use of Internet ! It is likely to grow more and more in the coming times due to its seamless structure. For small enterprises it works best as it is affordable and has a vast reach-out capacity. Emails, company website, blogs, SEO, web-ads and of course the indispensable social media sites such LinkedIn , Facebook pages, Twitter etc. etc.believe you me the list is endless. But do remember it will always enhance reachability and most of them are free of cost and easy to install.Even more so India has the world’s third-largest Internet user-base.If you a commodity selling business than you could even sell online. According to the Internet And Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the Internet user base in the country stood at 190 million at the end of June, 2013. In fact it is must-have there are no two thoughts of incorporating use of internet, however I do suggest to adapt some methodology on your own and the rest would need professional help whichever suits your requirement.
# 2. Telephonic communications:
The research, conducted by global management consulting firm BCG for the Microsoft report, revealed that about 90% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India have no access to the Internet. India’s telecommunication network is the second largest in the world based on the total number of telephone users (both fixed and mobile phone).
We must not forget the base customers of small business is ones with a personal touch. A telephone is a must-have gadget with a phone you can do many things like sending and receiving emails, calls and text messages among others. Small businesses in particular must not right of this tool of effective communication. Telephone tariffs are quite affordable in India. You could opt for a data plan or even better employ an IVR system.
Additionally, the telephone has made it possible for businesses to be located anywhere in the world. Employees may work locally or they may telecommute from home.
Customers view calls as a pivotal activity. As an emerging best practice businesses are ensuring fewer abandoned calls due to busy signals, and the customers are getting the information they need in fewer transfers and in less time by using reliable call management systems like MyOperator designed for small businesses. The more calls from more customers are getting through and therefore more orders are placed or more service is rendered. Research has shown that 70% of customers will buy products or services from companies with excellent customer service reputations.
# 3. Saas based solutions:
Small businesses can use cost-effective Saas based tools. The study noted that Indian SMBs (companies having less than 1000 employees) are increasingly realizing the need to take faster decisions based on real-time analysis from a large volume of data. As a result, they are turning to BI( business intelligence) solutions for greater efficiency. The AMI study noted that the availability of multiple SaaS-based BI solutions will provide a considerable impetus to the adoption of BI tools in this burgeoning segment. The trend is also towards mobile BI solutions owing to the increased use of smartphones and tablets in the SMB space. Time tracking tools are forecasted to remain one of the fastest-growing software solutions.
# 4. Online collaboration tools:
SMEApps is a set of business applications for small and medium enterprises. SMEApps provides a complete collaboration suite at affordable costs. This unique solution is to allow SMEs to have domain name, Company Web site, attendance and time tracking software, Business lead capture tool, Customer feedback tool, Purchase order generation tools, On-line purchase order repository, and business e-mails to all employees as part of a packaged solution. As per restrictions of the prices, the App companies are offering it at price of website costs.
Here you could opt for complete call management too! CCM is the integration of real-time communication services such as instant messaging, live chat, presence information, telephony, video conferencing, data sharing, all control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax. CCM is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent user-experience across multiple devices and media-types.
# 5. Corporate Social/sustainable responsibility:
CSR is the need of the hour. CSR made the leap in 2013 from being a “do good” corporate responsibility to a best practice for growing. A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment gets it the trust of its consumers along with sense of achievement socially and ecologically. You could further use it for marketing and awareness drives that will only address to your arrival in the market positively.
As I write this my son enters the room with a relatively lesser-known ketchup brand that has a little pack of tomato seeds. Promotions like these get a win-win proposition for the company, customer and the environment.
India is a very unique market perhaps the only one so diverse in every way; be it ethnic, economic or social. Therefore copy and pasting a successful model from another country or even another region does not work.
Therefore make your own processes however I do suggest that the aforementioned are several communication tools, are tried and tested and those that work for small enterprises will need to employ to remain for keeps in the highly competitive era.
This article is contributed by Aakaanksha Singh. She is a professional Blogger, columnist, and author.