Small Business Talk
The Podcast to Grow your Business Faster
What Tech Do I Need in My Business?
What Tech Do I Need in My Business?
Years ago, many many years ago, I bought my first modem. The old dialup one are for those of you old enough to remember.
It was the top of the range at the time.
Not only was it a modem – the connection to the internet but you could run the phone and answering machine through it. Plus, you could connect the fax – yep, like I said, it was a long time ago. It was much more expensive than the standard model but it did everything. When you get a fax, you will be all set, I was told. Yes, I didn’t even have a fax machine at the time and it would be many year after that before I didn’t have that modem anymore.
Tech has change a lot since those days when it was all hard ware and very expensive. Today, tech is mainly software and ranges from free to some expensive options.
What Tech Do I need in my Business?
All businesses are different and the tech you need will depend on what you do and what you are trying to achieve. Often, we try to overcomplicate our business with tech and it leads to us feeling very overwhelmed.
Accounting software would be something that most businesses would need. Turning up to your accountant with a shoe box full of receipts is as old as “my modem” and definitely not the best way to do business these days.
Accounting software can help you plan too. How are your expenses tracking against your income? Can you afford that new shining tech that everyone is talking about and do you really need it?
Tech often comes on subscription basis and you are automatically charged so looking at your accounting software and setting reminders is a good way to keep on top of tech that you bought and may not be using anymore. Now, you can cancel it.
The next tech I would say every business needs is scheduling/calendar software. There are many systems from free Google Calendars to industry specific total management systems with all the bells and whistle.
Start with what you need grow into it. Some software systems start with free options and get to have a play and see if it works for you. Don’t jump in boots an all and buy the top of the range until you have tested it first.
Often you will you don’t need everything that is on offer. For some businesses 2 or 3 different systems that are integrated together might be the way to go. For others, you will need 1 bigger system that does everything. If you are going with several systems make sure they all work together and it might be worth spending the money to get someone to set it up properly if you are not the techy type.
Once you are happy with your system, it is often worth upgrading to the paid option to get the full functionality. You will need to make that call at the time and free can often work well however, don’t stick with free if paying a small amount per month will make your life so much easier. Remember, when you have a team, you don’t want to be making their life more difficult just to save a few bucks.
In our busy noisy lives, you need to be top of mind with your customers especially if there are large time periods in your buying cycle. Email software can be a great tool to help you keep in touch with your audience and then be able to get date on open rates, who is looking and who is not.
It is no point spending time writing email copy and continually blasting your audience if they don’t care or like your material. Automating your emails can help provide consistency too. Start small and build up as you have time and capacity.
Social Media is another good place to use tech especially if you are spending way too many hours drifting off down rabbit holes. Facebook has its own free scheduling tool. Now, I want to give you instructions on how to use it because Facebook will have moved it or changed it and you will just get confused. Google Facebook scheduling tool and I am sure you will get all the instructions. Basically, it allows you to set up multiple posts ahead of time. You can batch your time and do a whole week or more posts in 1 go. Now, it’s not 100% fail proof so do the check from time to time and if sometimes, the sensitive double check. Also, be aware on things that may need to be adjusted if current events change. Don’t want your welcome to Monday, Happy Thursday post going out if there has been a huge big world effecting disaster.
At the time of recording this podcast, Facebook had just introduced Facebook Creator Studio that allowed you to schedule into Instagram too.
There are lots of 3rd party social media scheduling tools that allow you to do multiple platforms at once or one after another.
Be careful when doing multiple posting on different platforms that you are still speaking in a voice that suits that platform.
Instagram loves hash tags and multiple hash tags in an IG post is quite acceptable and will help with your reach to your potential audience. However, the same post filled with hash tags is frowned upon by Facebook. Yes, one or 2 hashtags in Facebook if time but not 20 or more. Lots of hash tags in a Facebook post will reduce you reach.
Use each platform in the way it was intended and 3rd party tools can save you lots of time.
Word of warning, do your homework before buying 3rd party tools. Some will say they can post into all social platform only for you to find out once you have bought that yes they can but only when they are integrated with another paid software. Multiple $10, $20 a month subscriptions can start to add up quickly so make sure that you need them and have the revenue to sustain all these tools or are they just toys.
Outsourcing your Tech
Should you be buying in the tech or is it better to outsource it? Depending on your skill level, budget, time available and passion it may be better to outsource your tech. Your website is a great example.
Yes, there are very low cost website software platforms and you can do it yourself but stop and think about the pros and cons.
- Do you have time to commit to the build then the maintenance?
- How are you going to attract Google and potential customers to your website
- Do you have the passion and creative flair to make your website look good and customer friendly
The biggest problem with the free or low cost website platform is they either have lots of add on costs. Need to use your domain name – extra
Want to add a form – extra
Want to embed a video – extra
And so on.
Or they are limited on growth.
Often, they are san alone platforms so when you need to grow you will find yourself having to make to larger, more robust platform and having to start completing from scratch all over again.
For website, I always recommend WordPress and self-hosted WordPress.
The way you still have the option to start by doing it yourself if you don’t have the budget to pay someone and as your business grows, you can then grow into the platform and engage someone to build and maintain your website for you.
Websites are tech that I would suggest you outsource. Yes, in my day job, I am a web designer so I would say that, however, think about it for a moment.
We have all heard the story of when the plumber comes to fix a plumbing problem and it takes 10 minutes and you are charged $100. It wasn’t the 10 minutes you are paying for, it’s the 20+ years of experience of the plumber knowing where to look that you are paying for and websites that are no different.
Also, think about, is it worth your time spending days/week or even months “playing” with your website when you could be spending that time providing value to your customers and making money in your business?
If you would like to know more about my day job, go to CATCO Enterprises and start with my blog and free resources.
What Other Tech Does my Business Need?
Probably not a lot. When thinking of buying tech, remember your reasons for doing it? Do you have time to spend learning it an implementing it or will it be another money pit that sits in some forgotten folder on your computer?
Tech needs to make your life easier, save you time or money however, it can’t do that unless you or one of your staff learn it.
With Tech, start slow, buy it when you need it and re assess often especially if it is a subscription basis offering.
And my final word on tech is when you do buy something new and need to move from 1 system to another, do it one client or process at a time. Yes, its slower but it will save you a lot of headaches in the long term as you can test and iron out any bugs before committing everything. Sometimes, it is worth spending the money to get someone with the correct know – how to set it up specifically for your business. Accounting software is a great example of this.
Good luck. Buy what you need know with some room for growth and not just because it is the latest new shiny object that everyone says you should have.
Listen to Small Business Talk Episode 046 for the full episode.
Next week on Small Business Talk podcast, we talk about How to Grow Your Business Without Burning Out, look forward to bringing you our special guest then.
Follow us online
The Podcast to Grow your Business Faster