A Tech Checklist to Organize your Growing Business
By: Catherine Conlan
Every new and growing business needs a solid tech foundation to thrive. Yet in the excitement of running your business, it’s easy to forget about setting up some the basics to help your small business run.
Every part of your enterprise — communications, sales, marketing, operations — will rely on technology to meet customer expectations and scale up. Here’s how to make sure you’ve got everything you need.
Get the Basics Down
There are several categories of technology to consider when establishing your business, says Jeff Kerr, founder of Casefleet software company. They include:
Communications. Email is the most common need, but you may also be interested in an informal messaging service, such as Slack. You may also need a phone system; its complexity will depend on your needs and number of locations.
Collaboration. Have a platform in place that employees can use to manage and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets. GoogleDocs is one readily available solution.
Project management. A good project management program makes it easy to assign tasks and see what’s been completed, Kerr says.
Web management. Find a platform to handle your business’ web presence. Kerr recommends having a vendor handle it.
Accounting. Finally, you’ll need a system to track sales, inventory and other bookkeeping tasks.
Keep It Mobile
Even if you have a bricks-and-mortar storefront, mobile options will keep your business flexible, both for yourself and your customers. Small business owners should always look for technology that has mobile capabilities, says Michael Bremmer, CEO of Telecomquotes.com technology advisers. Keeping information in the cloud will also help you build a nimble, mobile business.
Think About Leasing
“Hardware as a service,” or equipment leasing, can help control costs as your business gets off the ground. For example, you may need on-site computers.
Your technology budget should reflect the reality of replacing equipment about every two years, Bremmer says. “If the math makes sense, try to purchase the hardware as a service so you don't end up with outdated tech.”
Think Ahead About Scaling
Automating solutions can help prepare you to scale up when you start growing. Gary Waterfield, founder of WaterField Designs, uses software to automate operations and gain customer insight. Waterfield found that automating day-to-day processes saves time, minimizes errors and makes it easy to scale up without hiring.
Find a balance between using software that does the basics of what you need versus the latest shiniest upgrade.
Hiring for Tech
As your business gets off the ground, you’ll need to hire people who are willing to learn new technologies and adapt, Bremmer says. “The rate of technology change in our world isn't going to slow down anytime soon.”
Depending on your tech needs, you might be able to avoid hiring dedicated IT staff until your company grows. Waterfield says he looks for people who can help with other parts of the operations, such as customer service, who are also capable of acting as cloud-thinking professsionals who can navigate their way around the Internet.