Running a small business can be a difficult undertaking for anyone. Even if you’re incredibly passionate about your work, it can be hard to generate momentum, especially in the beginning. You might be tempted to back-burner tech investments as you work to find clients, close sales, and perfect workflow. But the right tech tools can help expedite a business launch while setting you up for long-term success. Read on to learn about four tech investments that can give your small business a jump-start.
1. CONTRACT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
Contracts are an essential part of every legitimate business. Licensing, employment, and procurement all go out the window without them. It’s surprising, then, that so many business’s contract management systems are painfully outdated or simply don’t exist at all.
Though your business is small now, it won’t always be that way. As you continue to grow, you’re going to need to manage an ever-increasing number of contracts. What’s more, the kinds of contracts you negotiate will likely increase in complexity. If your contracting processes can’t keep up, you risk unprofessional mistakes down the line.
By leveraging contract management software, you’ll save yourself huge headaches in the future. Such solutions will help you create contracts easily from pre-existing templates and customize them according to your needs; they’ll even flag problematic clauses. They allow your team to edit agreements collaboratively and conduct negotiations with counterparties all within the tool. When all parties have digitally signed a document, it can be stored in a centralized location and readily retrieved when needed. This software will increase your business’s efficiency and minimize its risks.
2. PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOLS
When your business first began, you may not have had too many deliverables to keep track of. However, as you expand, your team will likely need to juggle more projects at once. You may also find that individual projects increase in complexity. Customers may order custom items or services, and production timetables may overlap in ways that are challenging to track.
A project management tool will help put you and your team’s minds at ease. This sophisticated software provides visual workflow representations from start to finish. You’ll be able to prioritize action items, track their status, and automate task handoffs. In addition, you can customize the user interface of the software to your team members’ individual needs.
Using project management tools can not only greatly enhance your team’s productivity, it can also reduce workflow errors and increase company-wide accountability. Most project management tool vendors offer free trials so you can find which solution works best for you. Take advantage of these tools to increase your team’s efficiency and guide their decision-making.
3. E-COMMERCE PLATFORMS AND COMPANY WEBSITES
Whether you deal in products, services, or both, you can greatly expand your reach by selling online. E-commerce enables you to break geographic barriers and market to consumers beyond state and national lines. Furthermore, online stores are always open, so you can make sales in your sleep! Finally, e-commerce sites provide a much lower financial barrier to entry. You can sell through one even when you can’t afford a physical location.
And if you do have a brick-and-mortar location, online sales are a great supplement to in-store purchases. From inventory management to payment processing and analytics, e-commerce platforms can make online selling a much lighter lift. There are tons of different options to choose from depending on your requirements and preferences.
Whether or not you sell your product or service online, having a company website is essential for a modern business. It enables people to find you and learn about your offerings. Virtually every business looking to grow has some sort of online presence these days. Depriving yourself of one gives your competition an unfair advantage. So if you haven’t already, level the playing field by creating a website and filling it with search-optimized content to raise your visibility.
4. TOOLS TO ENABLE REMOTE WORK
Remote work has been around for a long time, but clearly the pandemic launched the trend into overdrive. Nowadays, there is a large subset of workers who want to work primarily, or even exclusively, online. Modifying your team’s workflow to accommodate this kind of employee can substantially increase your productivity.
Just like an e-commerce store, remote workers can help you expand past time zones and geographic barriers. It’s true that navigating various time zones can be difficult, especially when it comes to holding meetings. But the major upside is that you can have employees working around the clock, speeding up project delivery.
If you’re going to employ remote workers, you need the right tools for the job. In addition to project management software, you’ll want cloud-based file-sharing platforms and robust communication tools. Videoconferencing applications will enable face-to-face meetings, while digital whiteboards encourage brainstorming. Instant messaging platforms allow dispersed team members to get quick answers to questions that could languish sight unseen in an email. Given the strength of the remote work trend, the number of tools designed to facilitate it will only grow.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
There’s no doubt that tech tool adoption requires a significant investment of both time and money. Plus, your team will need time to adapt to new methods and systems. As with building a house, laying the groundwork is a big project in itself. But it’s that groundwork that enables you to move on to bigger, better, and more lucrative endeavors in the future.