Technology helps businesses work faster and smarter while providing a more seamless customer experience. So, when you’re starting a business, choosing the right technology should be a top priority. Where do you start?
Ramon Ray, a small business technology expert and founder of Smart Hustle, says every new business has certain functional needs. Here are five types of tech tools almost every new business owner needs:
1. Accounting software
“Managing cash flow is critical for new businesses,” Ray says. Accounting software makes understanding your finances so much easier. Key features can include invoicing, expense tracking, connecting with bank accounts, creating financial reports, tax preparation, and integration with other software. Ray recommends looking at QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xero or Wave (which is free). The best choice will depend on what features your business will use, how user-friendly the platform is and the types of integrations it offers—so it makes sense to explore them before choosing one.
2. Customer relationship management
Having access to all of your customer and prospect information in one place is essential for your company’s growth and success. Beyond that, a good customer relationship management (CRM) platform will set up customer-related alerts (such as notifying you when it’s time to follow up with them), glean customer insights and data and provide other helpful customer communication features.
Think CRM software is too expensive for your new business? Think again. Today, many CRM tools are affordable for small businesses—with some starting at less than $15 a month per user. Thryv, for example, offers a CRM designed for small businesses, along with features such as social media scheduling, online appointment scheduling, payment processing and more. Salesforce Essentials and Zoho are two others to consider.
Having access to all of your customer and prospect information in one place is essential for your company’s growth and success.
3. Online web design and marketing
Online marketing will probably be critical to getting your new business off the ground. “As prospects search online more than ever, every business needs a website,” Ray says. Popular website platforms include Wix, Squarespace and WordPress. You can often create and get a website for free by using those platforms’ domain names, but Ray recommends buying your own domain name and paying the small monthly fee—so you have a domain name that’s personalized and easy to remember. Consider also hiring a professional to help you write the copy and create a visually appealing site.
Another important online marketing tool is one that helps with social media management, which can save you time and money. You can use the free version of tools like Buffer to manage and schedule your posts, or get a free trial of Agorapulse or Hootsuite.
4. Communication tools
If you have a team of people working with you, you’ll want to think about internal communications, such as instant messaging tools and project management software. “We have used Slack as our company-wide communication tool since day one,” says Justin Rule, owner of Sparrow Websites. “It’s a great, versatile messaging app that allows team members to send messages, files, images and videos.”
You also will need to communicate with clients. A business phone plan will give you the features to provide a great caller experience, but you will also want to consider video conferencing for both internal and external communications. Zoom and Google Meet both offer free limited versions, as well as paid versions with more robust features, such as the ability to record meetings, have more attendees and include breakout sessions.
5. Security software
Cybercriminals often target small companies because they see them as less protected and more vulnerable. So it’s critical to have software that can stop them in their tracks. Look for reputable antivirus software that offers protection for today’s most common threats, such as malware and ransomware. Another very helpful tool is password-generation and management software such as LastPass, which offers a basic free option.
As you consider your technology needs, you’ll also want to choose a business internet plan with the bandwidth and speed that can easily support those tools without causing slowdowns. Technology will be critical to your new business, so you’ll want to make sure you’re ready from Day 1.
Spectrum Business Internet offers plans designed for businesses’ needs that can be scaled as your business grows. It also comes with an award-winning security suite called F-Secure that provides up to 25 free licenses for your business. To learn more, contact us at 855-299-9353.Print this article