Technology is constantly evolving to drastically change the way we work, especially if you are self-employed. You can now work from home and still be able to easily communicate with your customers and collaborators, while also being able to access an incredible amount of information with only a touch of a screen.
Because technology is increasingly important in the self-employed world, it’s crucial that you know how to use it to your advantage if you want to succeed now and in the future. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself whether you think you are making the most of technology?
The number of self-employed workers in the UK has been consistently rising from 3.3 million in 2001 (12.0% of the labour force) to 4.8 million in 2017 (15.1% of the labour force) according to the Office for National Statistics.
Self-employment has thrived partly due to the rise of technology, from Wi-Fi and cloud-sharing services to video call apps and mobile technology. The Policy Development Manager at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, Jordan Marshal, believes that ‘technology has made this all so much easier, whether finding work through online platforms or even being a “digital nomad” – travelling the world while doing remote freelance work.’
When you become self-employed, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll want to rent office space. Everything and everyone is now so connected through the Internet that you don’t have to travel to a specific location to do your job or to deliver important documents. You can interact with anyone, no matter where you (or they) are in the country or the world.
Using video conferencing technology, such as Skype or Google Hangouts, has become crucial in today’s workplace. It helps you to communicate more efficiently with clients, vendors and suppliers. Email is ubiquitous and when it’s mixed with file sharing services such as WeTransfer, it allows you to communicate really effectively at very low cost.
This all unlocks flexible working that will save you rent and commuting money and allow you to work in an environment where you and your projects can flourish.
Emerging technology can help you communicate with your supply chain, optimise business processes, reduce operating costs and improve control over inventory. Many supply chain technologies offer real-time data that is accurate and easy to access from anywhere, allowing you to make business decisions swiftly and decisively. Utilising technology instead of relying on pen-and-paper methods also ensures error-free shipping, accurate inventory and timely deliveries. This will not only improve your business’s reputation but will help you to expand it.
Streamline Your Business’s Operations
Technology makes being self-employed a lot easier and helps to streamline your operations. For instance, getting paid is so much easier and quicker when you rely on technology; applications such as PayPal or Stripe mean you can send and receive money swiftly. These types of technologies tend to be fast, reliable and safe, since both your personal and bank information are encrypted.
Furthermore, some business operations can be time-consuming and performed on a regular basis. You can consolidate these tasks into a single system and benefit from an automated – and much more efficient way of working. This can range from workflows that automate processes to automatic billing email reminders to your customers.
Cloud based solutions now enable you to go paperless and increase the security of your documents. From disaster recovery to encryption, cloud storage offers great data security powered by up-to-the-minute technology that doesn’t typically become obsolete. They can also help you keep track of documents through filing systems and version control.
Your online presence will be creating a huge amount of data and it’s really important that you are set up to capture it and make good data driven decisions about future marketing investments or product opportunities. You’re probably already marketing your business via your website and social media channels and will probably be marketing yourself via LinkedIn. All from your home office.
Importantly, you can now handle your accounts online in partnership with your accountant. Using solutions like Quickbooks Online and Xero can allow you to automate accounting processes and keep track of all transactions as they happen. Link to your bank account via a feed and you will have a seamless flow of financial information. This makes life easier for you (and us, as accountants) meaning we have more time to look at business performance. Cloud based accounting software can be used on most devices and offers the opportunity to link to all sorts of useful apps that can help you keep track of mileage, receipts etc.
As a practice we also have a full online document management system that makes sure that your information is secure and accessible whenever you need it.
If you would like any advice about any aspect of using emerging technologies in your business, just give us a call.