Q. Dear Zenagos,
I’m starting my first business, and I know I need some technology. What technology do I need when I’m first starting out?
Every dollar is precious when your business is young, so make sure you know exactly why you need each technology and what you will do with it before you spend your valuable time and money on it.
Start with Cloud-Based Apps
There are many excellent apps for small businesses that can help you save time and money. As a first principle, start with cloud-based apps. You can access a cloud-based (or “SaaS” app) easily from any browser, so you and any team members can access the same data from any device at any time. (The opposite of a cloud-based app is a “client” application, where the software and its data are saved locally on your computer or laptop, so only the person with access to that machine can see it.) Cloud-based apps are typically saved and backed up by the provider, so your information is safer than if it were saved locally on your computer.
Document Your Requirements
Before you start comparing apps, write down exactly what you need the app to do (your “requirements”) with the more important requirement at the top. Make sure to consider what reports you need and how often you will use them. Once you know what you need from the app, you can consider and try a few options. Always go back to your list of requirements when you make your decision. It is easy to get reeled in by some impressive bells and whistles and forget what it is that you actually need the app to do.
Make Sure that Each App Makes Sense to You
It doesn’t matter which app is most popular (though that may be a good hint for which ones to try). What matters is which app is easiest (or most “intuitive”) for you. Make sure that one of your requirements is that the app makes sense to you. You don’t want your technology to use up your time instead of giving it back to you.
Project Management Apps Can Keep You on Track
When you launch your own business, you wear all of the hats. You are the product manager, director of marketing, head of sales, bookkeeper, and head of maintenance. It is easy to lose track of something important. So, choose a project management app to help you set deadlines and track progress. Project management apps that work well for small business include Smartsheet, Monday.com, Hubspot, and Asana, Trello, and Basecamp.
Social Media Automation Can Save Time
If you are new to creating and posting content, you will be surprised how much time it takes. Social media automation apps are becoming more and more popular for small business marketing. These apps can help you make a consistent presence, engaging your audience regularly. Apps with good social media features for new ventures include Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Zoho Social, and Sendible.
Accounting Apps Can Provide Insight
When you’re first starting out, you may not be able to afford a bookkeeper. Take advantage of an accounting software that has a free option that you can upgrade later when your business grows. There are many good accounting apps for small businesses, including Wave, Zoho, Quickbooks, Xero, and Freshbooks.
When you file for a business license or a corporation, you will bombarded with options for software and every imaginable business service. However, many of these companies will charge you for things that you could do yourself free of charge. So, before you add any software subscription to your monthly costs, make sure that you have determined why and how you will use it. See if you can go without it for a few months. You can always add it later.
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