WRITTEN BY JESSICA SANDERS, RESOURCE NATION
If you’re starting a small business, chances are you’re going to need software. Email clients, word processing programs, POS systems and a variety of other types of software help your business stay organized, keep track of finances, and maintain communication.
No matter what kind of software you need, you’ll have a variety of options to choose from. And, the software you choose should be useful to your business now, but also be able to evolve with you as your business grows. It’s not only expensive, but frustrating as well, to have to overhaul your business software every year or two as your business outgrows it.
Plan for the Future
How big is your business now? How big would you like it to be in a year – or five years? Many kinds of software can become limiting once your business reaches a certain size. Examine your current business plan to estimate your business’ trajectory, and be sure to purchase software that can handle your estimated growth.
- Changes to your business size, structure, and productivity levels are inevitable. Your software needs to help you grow, not hold you back. If you currently have 40 employees and your payroll software is limited to managing 50 employees, you’re not leaving yourself much room to grow.
- Anticipating growth means you may need to purchase more expensive software up front, but doing so can save you time and money in the long run. That $300 software may seem like a good deal right now, but it’s a waste of money if you have to replace it with a more expensive model six months down the road.
You use a number of different programs in your business that share overlapping functions. Connecting or integrating your software creates links between different programs to share data. Your business may use GPS tracking software that needs to connect to your accounting software, or you may have time and attendance software that shares with your payroll software. Choose software that has integration functions, such as add-ons or plugins, to save time and reduce duplicate data.
- The more your programs communicate and share data, the less time and effort you have to put into maintaining them. When you update an employee’s contact information in one program, the entire system is updated.
- Sharing data across programs makes it so that you only have to enter the information once. The less you replicate your date, the less likely you are to make an error. Integration can keep everything updated at the same time and enable you to access all the information your business needs.
Consider the Cloud
Cloud-based software is hosted on an independent server, rather than on your business’s computers or local server. This software is accessible anywhere there’s an internet connection. Mobile and off-site software accessibility will be great for your business as it you begin to hire outside of your office or become more mobile on work days.
- Web-based software is usually paid for on a monthly basis, rather than purchased in a lump sum. When you’re a new or emerging business, you may not have enough cash to purchase software up-front, so spreading out the cost over the course of a year makes a lot more sense, anyway.
- Cloud software often comes with varying levels of functionality depending on how much you want to pay. You can buy the basic software now at a low price, and then easily upgrade it as your company grows and requires more functionality.
Business software can help your company be more productive and efficient. But, you want your business to grow over time, so be sure to choose software that can grow with you.