When you start a new business, you might not think of technology investments right off the bat. The exception might be a tech startup founder, who needs a lot of digital resources to get the ball rolling. But for the Mom-and-Pop gift store or coffee shop, technology may not be on the first page of a business plan.
That’s a mistake, as the right tech investments can make any new company’s launch and operations go smoother.
Nearly every business today relies on technology, from hardware that boots up in a flash to software that manages back-end processes. Below are four tech solutions that new business owners should consider as worthwhile investments.
1. Project Management Solutions
Businesses contain many moving parts, including projects and products that need oversight.
New companies, especially, may go through an initial burst of activity that can quickly lead to chaos. That is, unless you have good coordination and a way to keep an eye on how various action items are progressing.
Since new businesses usually start small, it’s tempting to try to organize workflows and projects with emails and spreadsheets. While these tools can work for a team of two, they’re often insufficient for larger groups.
As your company adds team members, you need something more sophisticated. A project management solution will do the trick, since teams can use it to centralize communications, strategic roadmaps, and deliverables.
Project management apps also have the capability of syncing tasks between cross-functional teams. A product manager can collaborate with developers, marketing creatives, and billing personnel through one tool.
Clarity about who’s responsible for what increases, and all employees can realize their stake in making product launches successful. Project management software is a scalable asset a company can continue to find useful as growth ensues.
2. Cybersecurity Applications
Once your business is online, it’s a potential target for cybercriminals.
Anyone who has access to your network and any connected devices is a potential source of an attack or breach. This includes vendors that service everything from HVAC equipment to servers and point-of-sale systems.
The need for cybersecurity technology investments isn’t something a startup or new company can ignore. Data breaches and network intrusions happen to small companies at an alarming rate. Sixty-seven percent of smaller businesses have been the target of an attack, and 58% have experienced a data breach.
Cybercriminals usually want to get their hands on sensitive data or use ransomware as a means of extortion. They might also use your network to access a larger partner’s connected systems.
Installing cybersecurity solutions from the get-go helps protect a startup’s sensitive information, including intellectual property and customer data. Cybersecurity software works to prevent attacks, isolate malicious programs, and sends alerts about suspicious network activities.
Many of these solutions extend to every connected device, strengthening a company’s protection against all sorts of attack vectors. These include employees’ personal devices and vendors’ equipment.
3. Payment Processing Platforms
Depending on what your company sells and how it operates, customers may pay you upfront or after the fact. Clients might also send payments in installments.
But the payment methods customers choose can vary, and having flexible options can make a difference to prospects. For instance, a store that only accepts cash will be off-putting to people who prefer credit or debit cards.
Not having a way to accept various payment methods can inhibit sales. Customers might go to a competitor if they’re inconvenienced or suspect their payment won’t be secure.
If you’re running an online store, security concerns are one of the main reasons people won’t check out. Close to 20% of shoppers will leave their carts behind if they can’t trust the site with their payment information.
Payment processing platforms help businesses offer more secure solutions to customers. Instead of just accepting credit cards, other options like digital wallets or peer-to-peer payments are possible.
For new companies that offer services, payment processing platforms send invoices to clients via an email address. Customers can view statements and click a secure link to submit payments. They can also choose their preferred method and receive an automated confirmation.
4. Customer Relationship Management Software
Customer relationship management software is one of the most critical technology investments for multiple reasons.
Virtually every business interacts with prospects before they become customers. But if sales reps aren’t tracking what brought those leads in, they will experience challenges converting them.
CRM applications help keep tabs on which prospects are sales or marketing qualified. The team can also document communications and how leads respond to them.
Once you’ve got customers in the database, CRM solutions give you options for segmenting or classifying them. It’s possible to separate customers according to account type, purchased product or service, location, and so on. This can be useful if you want to send a marketing message to clients in a specific area.
Beyond that, CRM software comes with communication and outreach tools. These include email templates, automation capabilities, and integration options with survey software.
Built-in analytics will also reveal which customers or leads are best engaged with emails or other communications. Sales and marketing teams can use this data to further home in on customers’ needs and target disengaged email list subscribers.
Technology for New Businesses
Decisions about technology investments might seem overwhelming to new business owners. Other things may be on your mind, such as hiring the right people and ensuring sufficient cash flow.
Yet technology is often instrumental to a company’s operations since it facilitates everything from customer service to finances. Selecting core tech tools, such as project management and CRM apps, will help support your business objectives for years to come.