4 Tech Investments Your Small Business Should Make Now (And 4 That Can Wait)
We live in the golden age of tech and, to some extent, the golden age of entrepreneurship. Not only is it easier than ever to start a business, but there are countless SaaS (software-as-a-service) tools out there to help us in the process. However, when you’re beginning, it’s important to distinguish between the must-haves and the nice-to-haves. In this article, we will go over four tech investments from each category.
The Must Haves
Data Loss Prevention
Small companies are more vulnerable to data breaches and have more to lose if they happen. There are specialized services you can buy to protect yourself, but there are also standard business software packages that have data loss protection features embedded in them. For example, Office 365 allows you to set customized DLP rules and still have access to the Office Suite. Despite the data security offered by Office 365, you still need to remain consistent and vigilant against potential threats.
Reliable Website Hosting
Your website will often be the first impression a consumer has of your business. It has to look attractive, run well, and load quickly, which is why you need to invest in the best possible website hosting service. Online guides can help you choose, outlining the critical criteria like server reliability, upgrade options, e-commerce features, and even environmental friendliness.
Small businesses don’t tend to have the budget to pay for an accountant, and entrepreneurs rarely have the time to deal with the constant, small tasks necessary to proper bookkeeping. Because of this, is where accounting software comes in. It can automate repetitive tasks, save costs on invoicing, help you manage your margins, and make it easier for you to chase up payments.
Customer Relationship Management
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool collects all the data you have about your customers, prospects, and vendors in one place, helping you draw vital insights and tailor your marketing and sales efforts more effectively. While not strictly necessary to a small business, it does pay off - specifically, $8.71 for each dollar spent.
The Nice But Not Urgent
Modern Customer Service Solutions
In a trend that will surprise no one, we are seeing a rise in forms of customer service that skip human interaction. In a 2019 survey, 54% of respondents claimed they would always use a chatbot instead of talking to a human when given a choice.
While it may be that chatbots are the future, it isn’t necessary to invest in these right away. If you want to modernize your customer interactions, consider using social media like Twitter as your central platform - another big trend in customer service.
Workflow management software helps companies optimize how their teams work together and help projects run smoothly. It’s an attractive proposition, but it could be overkill for a small team working on simple projects. As your workflow becomes more involved, you can start looking at the available options, which cost between $9 and $13 per person, per month, at the mid-range level.
It’s easy to feel like everyone has an app, so you should have an app as well. However, small businesses need to ask themselves if they have anything to gain from a mobile app. According to Entrepreneur, you should start by asking yourself some key questions, like whether your competitors have apps or whether an app can solve a customer problem.
As remote working and freelancing are becoming more common, many managers feel like they need to maximize the efficiency of their staff. Employee monitoring can be a very effective way to achieve this, but there are definite downsides to consider. Your team may resent feeling watched, leading to high turnover and low morale. Preemptive monitoring can breed an atmosphere of distrust, so it usually makes sense to wait until you see issues arise.
Small businesses nowadays have access to so many tech resources that it can be hard to pinpoint which ones they need, especially when starting. While most tech can be helpful, only a few types of tech are necessary. Remember: You can always add more tech as the business grows, but you won’t get far if you overload your budget with additional investments.
This article was contributed by Gloria Martinez of WomenLed.org.