Today’s post was written by Ramon Ray, entrepreneur, global speaker, and best-selling author.
In my work as a small-business evangelist, I see firsthand the hard work companies do to drive innovation, increase global competitiveness, improve lives, and create jobs. In fact, in the U.S. alone, small businesses provide more than half of America’s jobs, and create almost two-thirds of new jobs every year.
That’s something to celebrate. Which is why I love National Small Business Week. It’s a time for all of us to reflect on the outstanding contributions small businesses around the world make to our quality of life. I encourage you to take a moment and think about their role in your day-to-day experience, whether it’s the local coffee stand where you get your latte, the crew who retiled your bathroom, or the accountant who does your taxes. Small businesses bring heart to everything they do, and that makes all of us richer.
For business owners and entrepreneurs, this week is an excellent time to pause, look at how you do things today, and think how to do them better, especially when it comes to technology. Here’s what you may be missing, and a curated list of hardware upgrades that can help you fill in the gaps.
Put technology to work for you
Passion and commitment are your greatest allies, but you have only so much time in the day. Being more efficient can free you up to do what you do best—and put your focus on customers and employees. That’s where the right tools and tech come in.
For example, a lot of small-business owners are still using traditional software installed on their computer only. Not using internet-connected software—also known as cloud software—is a missed opportunity. With a cloud-based solution, such as Microsoft 365 Business, you’ve got an integrated suite of applications that work together with cloud services to help you scale your business and get productivity cooking. It’s faster and easier to use, and you can access your data and files from anywhere. And let’s not forget security. Protecting data in new ways in an increasingly threatening world is a big challenge. With information stored in the cloud, Microsoft helps keep your data safe with its built-in policies, controls, and systems. Check out this related post on data security for small businesses to learn more.
Put your best foot forward
Keeping your workplace up to date can also have a big impact on your employees and your ability to attract and retain the best talent. With low unemployment in many countries, you need to do anything you can to get that talent in the door and keep them.
People today want to be able to work flexible hours and spend time with their families, which means having the ability to work from places outside the office. Small businesses now have access to many remote work options that big enterprises have been leveraging for years.
With cloud-based tools, instant collaboration, and smart mobile devices, your workers can be productive anywhere. With Microsoft Teams, you can have video-based meetings that bring everyone together to share project content and collaborate just as you would when you’re in the office. Plus, when you have up-to-date technology, you’re projecting the right image to the world: This is a forward-thinking, highly professional organization.
Speaking of which, how do you go about getting the knowledge to use these tools effectively? First, I’m a big believer in finding a partner. If tech tools knowledge is not your core competency, let someone else figure it out for you. Microsoft has tens of thousands of partners to choose from, many of which specialize in small-business technology. They can help you make the most of your investment. Visit our solution provider to learn more.
Also, empower your people. Send them to conferences, trainings, meetups—whatever it takes. Encourage them to share what they learn with the rest of your team. You might be surprised at how much more value you can get out of the tech tools you’re already using.
Refresh your hardware
The devices you choose are at the heart of all these capabilities. Clinging to an outdated laptop will cost you priceless time and effort that you could put toward your business. The speed and functionality you can get out of today’s modern devices running Windows 10 are really incredible and well worth the investment. And don’t forget that support for Windows 7 ends in 2020, so now’s the time to get ahead of the game.
Here’s a list of some of the great Windows 10 PCs for small businesses today:
Acer Spin 1—Work or play on the go with Spin 1’s thin and light design and up to eight-hour battery. Four flexible modes suit any mobile professional’s situation, from streaming in tent mode to typing in traditional laptop mode. You’ll get features like Cortana for assistance on demand, even from across the room. This nimble, flexible device will keep you productive, no matter where the day takes you.
ASUS ZenBook 14—Creativity. Style. Innovation. These are the qualities that define the elegant new ZenBook 14. The ZenBook 14 is ruggedized to the toughest standards for reliability and durability no matter where you need it. Everything in this take-anywhere laptop is designed to give you the freedom to discover your creative power, including its breathtaking frameless NanoEdge display. Designed to give you the most screen area in the least physical space, the new frameless four-sided NanoEdge design of ZenBook 14 is simply breathtaking: it makes any visuals more immersive, with less distraction for your eyes. It also weighs in at just 2.6 pounds.
Dell Latitude 7200 2-in-1—The Latitude 7200 2-in-1 sports a thinner, lighter design with brushed anodized aluminum premium finish and backlit keyboard. This 12-inch, fully IT serviceable device is Dell’s most secure, manageable, and feature-rich detachable Latitude, as well as Dell’s smallest, for those who prioritize portability in tablet mode.
HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5—Building on the heritage of the HP Elite Portfolio, the new HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5 is an artfully crafted, 14-inch diagonal convertible in a 13-inch form factor with a unibody CNC aluminum chassis and an adonized finish, designed to pass rigorous military-standard testing—in addition to turning heads.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme—From multi-monitor support, to a rich VR/MR experience, to hardcore gaming, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme handles demanding computing tasks without a hitch. Built with extreme power, specs include 8th Gen H Series Intel Core processors, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics, and up to 64 GB memory. This ultralight powerhouse also boasts the option of a 15.6-inch 4K touchscreen display with Dolby Vision—and optional pen support.
Samsung Galaxy Book2 ACPC—Working on the go is easy when you’ve got the always-on, always-connected Samsung Galaxy Book2 by your side. At less than 2 pounds and just 7.5 mm thin, coupled with its multi-workday battery life of up to 20 hours and outstanding LTE connectivity, thanks to the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 850 processor, this mobile PC keeps your productivity going. Keyboard and S Pen included.
Surface Pro 6—The new Surface Pro 6 is a great device for small-business owners who want the performance of a laptop with the versatility of a tablet. Surface Pro 6 offers the ideal balance of performance, superior inking and touch, and all-day battery life, packaged in a thin and light form factor. Starting at a more affordable price point, Surface Pro 6 doubles down on the 2-in-1 category that Surface pioneered with a new 8th Gen Intel® Quad-Core™ processor. Business SKUs of Surface Pro 6 come with Windows 10 Pro out of the box, have a higher performing 8th Gen Intel Core™ processor, and include access to Microsoft Advanced Exchange—a new warranty service that offers expedited device replacement at no additional cost.
This National Small Business Week, I hope my thoughts will inspire you to discover new paths to success and new ways to delight your employees and customers. From one small-business person to another, I salute the work you do, this week and always. Visit the Microsoft Store to find the right devices that fit your small business needs and check out this podcast for even more information on small business trends and devices.
Ramon Ray is an entrepreneur, global speaker, and best-selling author. He also loves burned pancakes and bacon on the weekends. His latest book is The Celebrity CEO—How Entrepreneurs Can Thrive by Building Community and a Strong Personal Brand.