You’re probably reading this from home, aren’t you?
With about 70% of white-collar workers still working remotely, the work-from-home setup looks like it’s here to stay. In the past year, living rooms have been turned into office spaces, while kitchens now double as office pantries.
Working from home has a lot of perks (downsides notwithstanding), but with the vaccine rollout still at under half of the U.S. population, it looks like many of us are still going to work remotely for the time being.
“But what about business owners like me?” you may ask.
It shouldn’t be any different for you. Even with a limited (or zero) staff, you can run your business from home by making the most out of technology and services available today. So whether you’re just looking to set up shop or continue running your business, there’s no reason why you can’t do all that from home.
“Hi! How can A.I. help you?”
A good business is all about customer service. Sure, your product has to be great. People should either want it or need it, but if dealing with your business is such a hassle, then you’re not going to be worth people’s time.
If you’re short-staffed, or if you’re running your business all on your own, how can you provide your customers with undivided attention while still maintaining the other aspects of your business?
Well, you can get yourself a robot.
Okay, so maybe not a robot exactly but an AI chatbot to be precise. You’ve probably encountered these chatbots yourself as a consumer. They basically serve as the automated concierge of your business. They take care of answering basic questions and concerns from your customers, leaving you with more time and attention for things that are more difficult to automate.
If you’re finding the words “chatbot” and “AI” intimidating, then I have some good news for you. You no longer need to be some big tech company or a rocket scientist to use artificial intelligence. There is software for AI chatbots that you can use to engage with your customers, and you don’t even need any coding skills to deploy them.
You’re David. The app is Patrick.
Schitt’s Creek fans know what I’m talking about. You have the creative savvy but none of the technical know-how of running a business. So what do you do?
Find yourself a Patrick.
Sure, your Patrick might not be a sweet, guitar-playing business partner, but when it comes to managing your inventory, it’s just as good (or even better). There are loads of inventory apps out there, some are free while some are available for a fee. They make monitoring your stock simpler and more organized, which is so important for one-person shows like many small businesses are.
But maybe you’re looking for something halfway between automated and manual? Maybe you’re a creative who actually likes Excel sheets. There’s nothing like learning from peers, right? An Etsy shop owner has kindly shared their inventory spreadsheet with a tutorial on how they work it. It’s a system that might work for you, too!
Because you deliver
If you sell digital goods or services that are purely online, then you’re likely all set. But what about those businesses that actually need to physically send their items to their customers?
Not everyone can deploy an army of self-driving cars to deliver their goods. For most of us, it’s the good ol’ delivery person who’s going get your stuff from your storage room to your customers.
There are many logistics providers out there. Many of them cater to small businesses like yours, but you might be overlooking this as one service that has been around for decades. Literally “around” since they have a blue mailbox in practically every corner of the country.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) isn’t just there to mail “Wish you were here” postcards. They also provide solutions and services specifically for small business owners.
Apart from the basic shipment and delivery services, the USPS can also help you reach more people and expand your market through direct mail advertising and other marketing services. They even have a loyalty rewards program which frequent senders like you can surely benefit from.
Home for business
From using an AI chatbot to long-established government service, there are many tools that small business owners can use to help them sell their goods from their living rooms. In an unprecedented era where many home addresses have also become business addresses, entrepreneurs like you won’t just survive. You can also thrive.