Perform these tech checks to assure your small business success in 2016!

small business year-end technology check list

This post is sponsored by Samsung. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As one year comes to a close and we start looking forward to the New Year, many of us take a little time to reflect on where we’re at in our personal lives and the smart small business owner will also take a good look at the status of the business.

And today, when technology and the business of technology are changing so quickly, it’s especially important to do a year-end tech check. Here are some important areas you need to examine.

Review Internet connection options

Between cable providers, telephone providers, Google Fiber and others, your options for lightning fast Internet connections are constantly improving. Take stock of what you currently have and compare it to what’s new in your location, or even what’s planned in the near future.

Get the best financial deal and fastest connection possible for your situation.

Review cellphones and data plans

The IRS has made it easier for small businesses to provide cellphones for employees. They have eliminated the reporting hassles for small business owners. For a variety of reasons – including app control, data security, and phone number ownership issues – it may be time for you to provide smart phones (such as the popular, versatile and powerful Galaxy lineup of phones) for your team.

Further, in the same way that high speed Internet connections are becoming more competitively priced, cell phone provider data usage plans are in a state of flux – to the benefit of consumers. If you employ any road warriors who use a lot of data, contact providers and see if you can get a sweeter deal.

Upgrade to Windows 10

If you’re running Windows 8 or older systems in your small business, you should move to Windows 10. It’s one of the better updates to the Windows operating system and it’s proving popular with small business owners.

Your team will find that its interface is fast and familiar, it should boost productivity and increase security. If you’re upgrading from Windows 7 or 8, Microsoft has made the process easy and free.

Windows 10 running on one of the fast, long-battery-life Samsung laptops will improve the productivity of your team, enhance company loyalty and make your employees generally all-around happy campers.

Review cloud services

For a wide range of reasons, the future of any small business that wants to stay competitive is in cloud computing. Review your commitment to moving data and services to the cloud.

This starts as simply as leveraging the tools provided by Google for Work, to signing on with all kinds of Software as a Service (SaaS) providers. Carefully compare SaaS providers for services such as payroll, marketing, accounting, data storage and backup, and other critical small business operations.

One of the benefits of going with a proven SaaS leader is that you can feel more confident about data security procedures. The top services will keep up with best cybersecurity practices. That will lighten a major burden from your in-house IT department.

Website review

When is the last time you’ve taken a good hard look at your website? If it still looks like it was designed in 2009, you have major problems. Frankly, you might not be the best person to judge whether or not your website cuts it on today’s Internet. Ask others to take a look and navigate it.

A top-to-bottom redesign might be in order.

Take your mobile pulse

Closely related to your website review is an evaluation of your mobile website and mobile marketing efforts. 2015 was a watershed year in terms of the importance of mobile computing to small business and it will go further in 2016.

Even if you have a website that is supposed to be “mobile friendly,” be sure that it actually works for your customers and prospects. For example, the gorgeous detailed graphics that are stunning on a desktop or laptop computer can be a hindrance on a mobile device. Give mobile users the critical links and information they need on the first page they see of your small business mobile website. Don’t make them go on a scavenger hunt trying to find the information they need when they’re on their smartphones or tablets. They’ll just give up.

2016 may be the year to implement your own mobile app. There can be big benefits, especially in light of the ad blocking software that’s now available for the Apple iOS. There are a number of easy and low-cost ways to develop a mobile app today, including some DIY systems.

Consider a phone system upgrade

You can do magical things with the latest software, cloud-based small business phone systems. You can use them to make your business appear much bigger than it really is and even program them to evenly distribute incoming calls to members of virtual teams, so no one employee ends up being overburdened.

If you’re planning for significant 2016 growth – and you should be! – look over your phone system upgrade options, especially if you’re stuck with an inflexible legacy system.

Implement a mobile payment system

The more quickly and more conveniently you can capture a sale, the more money you’ll make in 2016. It’s time to fully implement mobile point of sale technology. Among the best systems on the market now are the ones built around the Galaxy tablets.

And not only will a mobile POS system increase sales, it will greatly impress your customers and improve brand loyalty. It also quickens up the pace of throughput and gives your team a much-appreciated tool to do their jobs better.

As I said at the top, the technology available to small business owners today is evolving very quickly. Frankly, winners and losers are going to be decided by who is able to make the best, most efficient, use of these developments. When they are properly implemented they save money, increase sales and even have the power to turn average customers into brand evangelists.

What could be more critical in 2016?

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