Starting your own business is both an exhilarating and terrifying experience. Everyone dreams of being able to work for themselves and build something from the ground up.
However, not many people know how to make this happen. Research can only teach you so much.
Once you’re actually doing it, you can run into a whole assortment of problems you didn’t foresee. Entrepreneurs can also get ahead of themselves in all the excitement and make choices they’ll regret later on. One area that seems to trip up business owners the most is technology.
Ads bombard people on a daily basis with all the new apps and gadgets they need to make their startups thrive. With enough tools and software to spend your entire budget on, how can you make sense of all the noise to buy what you actually need?
Although all startups are unique in their technological needs, there are some must-haves no matter which industry you’re in. Here are some dos and don'ts to consider for your own business.
There are a lot of tools that will make business as usual run even more smoothly. By being selective with the tech you purchase, you decrease your chances of experiencing buyer’s remorse later on. To aid in your endeavors, here are some tools to get you started:
Completing projects becomes very difficult if you can’t communicate with your team members. Emails work in a pinch, but isn’t very practical when you need more immediate answers. That’s why it’s important to invest in communication tools such as Slack or Workplace by Facebook. Employees are instantly alerted when they receive a message, prompting them to reply in a timely manner. These chatrooms can also help improve company morale and build positive relationships between workers. You’ll just have to keep an eye that work still gets done and that these communication tools don’t become a distraction.
Documents are shared and passed around for feedback all the time when starting a business. Can you imagine how time consuming it would be if you had to email each file to a person, wait for their response, and repeat that cycle for everyone that’s involved? Thankfully, there’s a better and faster way to collaborate. There are many online tools and apps that make sharing digital documents much easier. Programs such as Google Docs and Dropbox give a person the capability to share files with multiple people who can comment, edit, and review other people’s suggestions all at the same time. This is especially useful with remote workers who can’t give their input in person. Easy access on multiple devices also makes these tools attractive options for startup businesses.
If any business wishes to be successful, they need to get their name out there. That means having a strong online presence that people can find. One way to do this is by growing your social media following. However, keeping on top of all the social media networks out there is a full time job in itself. To make sure you post consistently while still being able to work on your startup, look into social media management systems such as Hootsuite and Buffer. These services will do the posting for you and help you decipher which social media marketing strategies are working.
When multiple people are working on the same project, it’s nice to see what’s been completed and what still needs to be done. It also helps to have an easily accessible location where due dates and goals can clearly be seen to reduce any confusion and complete tasks on time. This is where project management tools come in. Applications such as Asana and Trello keep important information together in organized spots so employees can easily find the data they need no matter where they are.
Accounting software is non-negotiable when it comes to any business. Invoicing, payroll processing, and tax filing can be a nightmare if done alone. Plus, if you don’t have prior experience with accounting, you could run into the chance of doing something incorrectly. The mishandling of your money can hurt you just as much as a lack of sales. However, software from companies such as Intuit and QuickBooks helps organize your startup’s finances in a way that makes sense to you. Some features are even offered for free, like paycheck calculators to give you a hand when payday comes around.
There’s a lot of tech on the market for startup businesses, but not all of them are worth the expense. How can you tell the difference from the tech you need and the tech you don’t, though? Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which purchases are necessities and luxuries. To make things easier, here’s some tech you won’t need the first time around:
The biggest myth many companies buy into is the need for new equipment. People like to think technology fresh off the shelves will increase productivity and efficiency, but that idea is simply wrong. Sure, older tech may not be as convenient as the newer models, but how convenient will it be when you spend most of your budget on electronics you don’t need? Although you should keep on top of new software updates, that’s the only “new” thing you really require. Use the technology you already have and save your money for purchases your startup can’t do without. Even look into buying used equipment if you believe it will truly lend to the success of your business. Just remember that no matter how flashy or impressive a startup looks, good aesthetics won’t guarantee sales.
Although having a business website is crucial to your startup’s online presence, you don’t have to spend a good portion of your budget on it. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of investing too much money on a designer for a one of a kind website. A site’s uniqueness may be pleasing to the eye, but it’s not ultimately what customers are looking for. Design plays an important role in user experience, but so does ease of navigation and the placement of web elements. That’s something companies that offer website templates can deliver without wiping out your bank account.
Customer Relation Management
Customer relation management (CRM) is actually very important, but the software? Not so much. When you’re first starting out, you won’t have enough customers to really justify the cost. This is the time to experiment and figure out what works for your startup and what doesn’t. You won’t need expensive software for that. A simple piece of paper and pencil will do. You may need to invest in CRM software in the future, but while your startup is still in its infant stage, learn more about where your company fits in the industry and who your target audience should be.
Creating and growing your own email list takes time and effort. This has led many entrepreneurs to buy a pre-existing list rather than cultivate their own. However, this is a costly mistake. The quality of purchased email lists is usually very low and you may even face legality issues as well. Plus, nobody likes getting unsolicited messages. That means your emails will end up in the trash more often than not and your startup’s reputation will suffer from it too. When it comes to email lists, it’s best to do them the old fashion way and do it yourself.
Building a startup is an exciting time in an entrepreneur’s life. You want to do everything you possibly can to ensure the protection of your income and your company’s success, but sometimes that drive leads to unwise purchases. This is especially true when acquiring technology.
Although there is tech your startup must have, it can be hard to decipher which equipment and software you actually need. However, by exploring the list above and performing your own research, your startup will be wired for success in no time.
Author: Amethyst Tagney is a freelance writer and illustrator. She spends her time writing on a variety of topics and is an avid learner. When Amethyst’s not drawing, she loves to share what she discovers. You can find her on Twitter @AmTagWrites.