Working more efficiently during the holidays and beyond

Author: A.J. O'Connell

Every year in the North Pole, Santa and his team pull off an impressive logistical feat—just imagine what their behind-the-scenes operation must look like.

For many small businesses, the holiday season is almost as busy, but they can't depend on the help of elves, reindeer, Mrs. Claus and a host of other magic.

Fortunately, there is something almost as good: technology.

By making the most of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) and investing in tools to help your staff better collaborate, you can be a smooth operator like Kris Kringle himself.

So, sit back and prepare to sleigh this holiday season with the following tips.

The holidays are the perfect time to bring your employees together (wherever they are)

Many small businesses are seeing the benefits of hybrid working arrangements—it broadens the pool of potential employees (even as far as the North Pole), of which many are willing to earn less for the chance to work remotely, on average 18% according to Robert Half. But the lack of face time can be a drawback. A 2022 Pew Research survey found 60% of remote workers feel less connected to their co-workers when they work from home.

Virtual tools can help spread the festive cheer and allow your team to communicate and work together more effectively. For example, Google Workspace allows team members to connect through email, chat and video conferencing. And because all documents are stored on the cloud, multiple people can work on the same document at the same time making sharing and collaborating easier (as it should be during the holidays).

New year, new you—say goodbye to manual, repetitive tasks

We've all made New Year's resolutions. Some stick, some don't. One way to help you find success in your goal of working smarter is to use automation and digitization tools. Small business owners around the U.S. say digital tools can increase efficiency, save time and make it easier to manage cash flow, according to Bank of America's 2023 Small Business Owner Report.1

Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • GoCanvas replaces expensive and time-consuming paper forms with customizable mobile forms and apps for smartphones and tablets—all with no programming or IT experience required.
  • The doForms® platform can simplify your data collection and management whether you are reading barcodes, processing payments, tracking vehicles with GPS or dispatching jobs.

Get the low-down on what your customers want

It can be hard knowing what to get your loved ones this time of year. We can't help you there, but AI and analytics can help you better understand what your customers want by sifting through vast amounts of data to identify trends and patterns and predict the outcome of your actions. Some of your small business colleagues (and competitors) may already use AI to guide their decision-making.

One example to consider is fleet management. We're not sure how Santa works out the route for his reindeer, but GPS software can analyze your operations to identify ways to reduce costs, boost productivity, minimize maintenance and promote safety.

Beware the Grinches

Holidays are a big deal for many people, including, unfortunately, cyberattackers. The holiday season is seen as an attractive time for an attack, according to a 2022 U.S. government cybersecurity advisory. It's crucial to remember threats can come not only via the internet but also mobile devices, including employees' personal phones.

Small business cybersecurity solutions can combine a range of security tools, such as antivirus software with internet security and 24/7 security tech support. Also worth considering as a stocking filler is a bundle of easy-to-use mobile device security tools for small businesses.

Use secure credit card checkout readers

I know what you are thinking: "No cyberattacks for me, thanks. I only do business in person." Sadly, you may not be safe from an attack even if you're strictly brick and mortar. Why? Anyone who accepts credit and debit cards is at risk.

Traditional point-of-sale (POS) devices are vulnerable to card skimmers, and the POS world is changing with the advent of new security standards published in November 2022 and alternative methods of paying (Tap to Pay and mobile wallets). By using a mobile POS solution, you can streamline customer interactions, accept payments without being tied to one location and help keep your customers' payment data safe.

Give yourself the gift of more time

The end of the year is the perfect time to evaluate how your business is operating—if only you had the time to do so. It makes sense. You are focused on your mission, growing your business and perfecting your product. However, digital solutions can help make your business run more smoothly. They save time, automate tedious tasks, and connect you with your customers and team members. At the end of the year, those are gifts you are probably most interested in receiving.

The holiday season is a time for spreading joy, which is why next week's article on internet connectivity will be so interesting.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.

Bank of America, 2023 Small Business Owner Report, page 12.

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