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Small Business

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Advances in technology can help build better businesses

Every company is a tech company these days, no matter what business you're in, says Noah Wintroub, Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Chase. And every company is affected by tech innovations.

As founder of JPMorgan's internet and digital media business, Wintroub is in a position to know— he's also been behind the IPOs of major U.S. tech companies. He's seen up close how the rapid-fire evolution of the web, mobile tech and social media affects how you start, build and run a company.

Wintroub cited the following examples to entrepreneurs at a recent Chase for Business conference in New York:

  • File-sharing, messaging and project management software are making employees more productive and responsive.
  • Point-of-sale systems, website analytics and other data sources now offer up rich information about your customers' habits and preferences.
  • Mobile phones let you market to your customers in new ways.

"There's never been a better time to start a small business," Wintroub says. Startups can build their companies around new technologies, disrupting established companies and sometimes even industries. At the same time, long-time businesses can find new ways to compete if they're willing to adapt.

These tips from Wintroub can help you use technology to your business' advantage.

1. Polish your online presence

Get a leg up by continually improving your digital presence. Use your website and social media platforms to showcase your business and your brand.

In this on-demand world, would-be customers expect to find your offerings and do business with you at any time. The impression you make online may make or break your chance to earn their business.

2. Open up customer interactions

The free flow of information online means "your customer is evolving, and who you're talking to is changing," Wintroub says. You can really expand your pool of potential customers by showcasing products on your website and selling them online.

Social media also gives you a way to get your message to more prospects through storytelling and direct promotion. Just be sure you're using it to listen to your customers and prospects, and that you understand who they are and what they want.

3. Rethink your workspace

You can run your business from anywhere using mobile tools, cloud services and a bevy of workspace options. So, find the space and setup that work best for you and your business.

For example, co-working spaces can let you slash overhead expenses—and maybe even create a built-in community of peer entrepreneurs. Use communications technologies to enable employees to work from home while lowering your real estate costs.

4. Dig into your data

The data you harness from website analytics, customer relationship management software and other tools can help you make smarter business decisions, Wintroub says.

Use this technology to learn more about your customers, sharpen your sales forecasts and gain other insights that give you an edge on your competitors. Along with the analytics features included in commonly used software and services, explore the free and low-cost tools that are currently available.

While using technology to help you grow and improve your business, stay attuned to changes within your industry that could require quick adjustments to your offerings or operations. "Innovation has to be a persistent state," Wintroub says. "If you don't disrupt, someone will do it for you."

Learn more about how technology is helping to shape small businesses here.

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