Compiling an executive summary, detailing information about employees and operations, developing a strategy for marketing, and describing your company’s strengths and mission are all important aspects of creating a business plan. However, it’s not enough. You must also think about the technology that you will be investing in to run your business.
Every small business today is highly dependent on the robust quality of its tools. All those business processes you’ve described in your business plan will fail to go anywhere if you don’t select the best quality of hardware and software you can afford.
Here is a quick description of some of the small business tools you should be thinking about.
- Telephone: how will you organize your communications technology? Instead of a traditional telephone system, you may want to look into the cost-efficacy and agility of a hosted PBX solution. In addition, you will want to equip your key executives and sales team with smartphones. Regardless of whether you decide on Android or iPhones, you also need to ensure that you get cases to protect these phones. So, if you decide to go with iPhone 7S phones, be sure to also invest in iPhone 7S Cases.
- Office equipment and supplies: when it comes to office equipment avoid being tempted by deals offered by emerging technology companies or by used equipment. Instead rely on established brand name companies for your desktops, laptops, notebooks, routers, etc. There are two reasons: one, long established companies will be offering the latest models; two, you will get a higher quality of customer service should you have any technical problems. If you need to save money, do it on office supplies, but when it comes to sensitive, electronic equipment, you need to pay a little more for higher value.
When buying software, it’s well worth taking the time to read software reviews and talk to vendors. Sometimes, you might benefit from getting suites, where a number of diverse functions are all packaged together; at other times, it might be advantageous to get software that offers a singular function because it manages a complex operation and needs a lot of system resources. If you have an on-premise computer system infrastructure, you will have to get boxed or downloadable versions, but if you’re using cloud computing, these are available for rent under the Software As A Service (SaaS) model.
Here are 4 categories of software to consider:
- Software for managing your money: You will need easy to use accounting and finance software for online invoicing, time tracking, and business expenses. You will also need to manage payroll and keep track of receipts.
- Software for supporting your customers: Customer support software will help you streamline response time and engage with customers through a customer service interface and support boards. Besides interacting with your users, the right community platform will allow you to provide fast technical support and get customer feedback on your services. You may also want to consider setting up free surveys to understand more about your customer’s needs, wants, and desires.
- Software for administering your business: You will benefit from using human resource and legal software. Human resource software will help you find talent with job board posting and help you make hiring decisions based on resume screening, point-based score charts, run background checks and research criminal records. It will also help you set up perks programs to reward employees. Legal software will allow you to get legally secure eSignatures and to check registered names, logos, and slogans to avoid any trademark infringements. There are excellent companies who can help you achieve all these things, and a great example is https://www.payroll-solutions.co.uk/.
- Software for managing your revenue generation: The right marketing and sales software will make a huge difference in how you manage your marketing campaigns and close on your sales efforts. Marketing software will facilitate email marketing, improving your SEM and SEO campaigns, and improve your overall inbound marketing strategies. Sales software will make it easier to manage a database of leads, customers, and contacts. It will help you keep notes on email conversations and task lists. And it will track your sales performance to give you a clearer idea about how to improve your sales.
Naturally, this is by no means a comprehensive list, nor is it a prioritized list of the top small business tools you should be considering. Instead, use this list as an idea-starter to think about how you want to setup your business technology.