When starting a small business, your focus is typically on growing your customer base and satisfying your existing customers in order to stay afloat. It may not be obvious how and why software might play a key role in growing your business—after all, it requires a significant investment of funds that could be better used elsewhere (hiring more staff members, remodeling/construction, etc.). It also takes a significant amount of time to research and learn how to use software (not to mention the additional hours it will take to onboard your staff). However, it’s important to prevent these temporary costs from blinding you to the potential rewards of investing in the right software.
Below, we will highlight a few considerations for how software can benefit the key stakeholders in your small business.
As a business owner, your primary focus is on growing your business, and ensuring that it’s running as efficiently as possible. Software is one of the best ways to accomplish these goals, is one of the best investments you can make in your business.
One of the most important ways that software can help you run your business is by delivering powerful reporting and analytics capabilities. Reports help you gain important insight into your business’s financial performance, so you can make more informed, data-driven decisions that steer your business in the right direction. Software helps you collect valuable data about your business operations and customers more efficiently and accurately than manual data entry, which can be difficult to track, and error-prone.
Software doesn’t just help you analyze and understand your business’s current performance--it can also help you execute necessary marketing efforts to attract future business. Instead of hiring a marketing consultant or paying for expensive advertising that may not even work, you can invest in multipurpose software that not only helps run and organize your business, but also market it. For example, marketing capabilities can help you identify previous clients who have since dropped off, so you can attempt to regain their patronage by reaching out to them with enticing promotions. Some software providers will also help you execute marketing campaigns and understand the financial performance of each campaign.
Software also unlocks a lot of flexibility when it comes to running your business. Cloud-based software makes it possible for you to access information on the go--basically, anywhere you have an internet connection. After overcoming the initial time investment of researching the right software and learning how to use it, software will eventually start to save you time by enabling you to complete tasks more quickly and efficiently, wherever and whenever is most convenient for you.
At first glance, software may seem like an intimidating and mysterious tool for less tech-savvy business owners. The good news is that many of the best solutions are designed to help you run and market your business using the power of technology—without requiring you to know much about technology. Software can help you build an attractive website and optimize it for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so that you can rank higher in search results delivered by sites like Google. Increasing your web presence will make it easier for potential customers to discover your business, which ultimately helps drive increased sales and foster a stronger reputation in the industry.
Staff / Employees
During peak business hours, front desk staff members often face the challenge of simultaneously fielding phone calls and interacting with customers face to face. Juggling these responsibilities is no easy task, even for the most skillful, experienced employees. Software can help increase the likelihood that staff members are able to answer customers’ questions quickly, efficiently, and accurately. When employees are able to feel more confident about their responses, they will leave a more positive impression on customers.
One of the most compelling reasons to go paperless is the potential to avoid physically misplacing or trashing important documents. Manual data entry takes a long time to complete, and increases the likelihood of introducing errors, which is particularly problematic for important documents like patient records and insurance claims. Software helps increase efficiency and accuracy, which in turn helps staff members feel more productive and satisfied with their jobs.
Software also makes businesses feel more accessible to employees by providing them with a convenient way to check their schedules and take care of simple tasks outside of the office. This ultimately helps the business run more smoothly, and increases employee satisfaction.
In an age of two-day shipping and streaming movies, customers are accustomed to interacting with businesses online and benefiting from an immediate payoff. Many customers will expect to be able to interact with businesses without ever stepping foot in the door, whether that means booking appointments online, or paying bills with a mobile app. Businesses can invest in software to quickly offer their customers these convenient features without having to hire someone to build a product from scratch. When prospective users and existing customers see that a small business has software that works smoothly and helps save them time, it leaves a positive impression on them.
In competitive markets, customers typically have several worthy options to choose from. The right software can help businesses distinguish themselves from the competition in a meaningful way. In particular, software that directly enables a customer to complete time-saving tasks can greatly improve that customer’s perception of the business, and make them more likely to remain a loyal customer for years to come.
What are you waiting for?
You’ve seen the many ways that software can benefit everyone involved in small businesses, from you (the business owner), to your employees and customers. The right software can increase your staff’s productivity and job satisfaction, improve customer retention, and help you make smarter, data-driven decisions. Investing in the right software for your small business is a big decision, but it has the potential to pay off handsomely in the long run.