Scale Your Startup With These 4 Technologies Smart apps and machine learning can streamline crucial processes to efficiently grow your output.
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It's normal for bootstrapped startups to use "solutions" that have been cobbled together as cheaply as possible. These efforts can get companies through the earliest stages of growth, but they're not designed to scale. Scaling is about efficiency and sustainability -- both of which increasingly will hinge on certain crucial technologies.
Companies that employ tech tools get even more work done in less time. Used properly, these tools yield better profit margins, highly effective employees and more-satisfied customers.
Modern business owners can choose from a huge array of technologies. Deciding which to implement depends largely on the company. The right tools can revolutionize outdated processes in a number of different ways. If you're in doubt, these areas provide a few excellent places to start.
Related: How to Get Your Company to Adapt to New Technologies
1. Automate processes and day-to-day tasks with machine learning.
Construction and engineering company Black & Veatch (B&V) already was using a robust process framework for each new project it undertook -- but all projects began as a blank slate. B&V collaborated with Pariveda to implement a machine-learning solution. The Amazon SageMaker platform trains on historical performance data, automating key design decisions based on project parameters. It enabled the 100-year-old construction giant to significantly cut project-design costs by eliminating repeated work.
Machine learning also can help organizations reduce the need for employees to perform repetitive tasks such as manufacturing assembly or purchasing and billing functions. Software now can handle many of these duties. Automation can accomplish this work more quickly and accurately, freeing up employees to do jobs that demand creativity and critical thinking.
Related: How Technology Is Rapidly Changing the Way Things Get Done Across Industries
2. Let technology streamline onboarding.
If your company is growing quickly, your human-resources team will embrace tech solutions that create a smoother onboarding process. Apps allow new team members to complete paperwork and make introductions even before they arrive for their first day of work.
Onboarding apps also can give new hires a more detailed dive into the company's culture, serve up their first-day agenda and even help them set goals for their first 90 days. What's more, many apps are capable of interacting with other HR and communications software.
One such app from Rippling automatically adds employees to Gmail lists, Slack channels and numerous other apps while integrating with HR systems. It's all geared around getting an employee ready for his or her first day.
Related: Sustaining Company Culture is Crucial for the Long-Term Success of Your Business
3. Foster strong client relationships through tech touches.
Scaling does no good if satisfaction plummets because you're growing too quickly to take care of customers. A client-relationship management (CRM) tool can help you avoid taking on a slew of one-and-done jobs. CRM platforms keep a record of conversations and business-development activities to make sure you and your clients stay on the same page.
Close, consistent communication helps prevent confusion. It also aligns goals and expectations between parties, nurturing real relationships. A CRM can improve internal communication, strengthening connections and accountability among team team members. HubSpot offers a free CRM to help manage client communications in one place. Team members can see all interactions with a client, regardless of the point of contact within the organization.
Related: 4 CRM Hacks Every Entrepreneur Should Be Using
4. Use chatbots to improve customer-service response time.
If 50 customer-service agents can handle a customer base of 10,000, what happens when a business explodes overnight and reaches 1 million customers? It doesn't take a business genius to know that rapidly hiring 4,950 additional customer-service reps isn't the right call. Even if it weren't unsustainably expensive, that move requires time to adequately train all those new employees.
Fortunately, chatbots efficiently can answer a large percentage of your customer inquiries. The tools perform a bit of triage, too, directing to customer-service reps only the queries that require human intervention. Chatbots also can help engage customers. Sephora's bot prompts users to view or write product reviews and encourages them to view makeup tutorials.
Related: Why 'Cognitive Computing' Is the Next Big Thing for Business Growth
The same business practices that get a company from zero to 100 customers can't carry it from 100 to 1,000. Growth alone isn't the answer. Doubling the output requires doubling the input, and today's tech tools are key to efficiently source that input.