Most small businesses can’t afford to waste money on technology they don’t need. Yet, many businesses end up paying for more tools than they need. My goal today is to help small businesses identify what they need and what they can cut. Cost cutting isn’t optional during this recession. So let’s look at a chart to get started.
Every business needs to generate revenue. This requires four separate systems in most businesses. Sell systems help you tell people about your business like advertising. Contract systems let you send clients quotes and estimates. Payment systems get you paid. And delivery systems get your customer what they paid for. Essential systems fall into one of these four buckets. These essential systems require three support systems to work correctly.
These are: accounting, communication and productivity systems.Without communication tools like email it’d be impossible to work. You need all three systems for your business to run smoothly.
Core Revenue Generation Systems
You need tools to help sell your product or service. Without effective sales systems you won’t hit your revenue numbers. Sales systems are very simple and often get confused with CRM. A sales system is the daily routine you use to generate revenue. Don’t confuse a sales tool with a sales system.
Every business needs to get paid. This means technology that allows you to accept payments from customers is essential. Tools like Square and Paypal help businesses get paid and track expenses. You don’t have a business unless you get paid. This tech is mission critical because I don’t think you’re planning to work for free.
Clients need to understand what they’re buying. CPQ tools or Contract, Price and Quote tools enable your business to easily get clients quotes. Many businesses I’ve worked with in the past haven’t had effective CPQ systems in place. Generally, this leads to a slip-shod customer experience.
You need to deliver a product to clients once it’s sold. Delivery systems depend on your business. For example, a software developer needs a program to write and test code for his client. A market researcher needs SPSS to analyze research data. Any tool you need to get the client what they purchased is a delivery tool. These aren’t optional since you don’t have a business unless you deliver.
Business Support Systems
No matter the size of your business, you need to pay taxes and suppliers. This means you need to keep track of your books with accounting software. There’s no avoiding Uncle Sam which puts accounting software on our list of essential tools. The most common accounting software in the USA is Quickbooks.While other tools such as Freshbooks and Xero occupy niche parts of the market.
You need to be able to communicate with customers and suppliers. This means you need email and a phone number. The two major email providers used by most businesses are G Suite and Office 365 aka Outlook. Email and phones aren’t optional, how much you need to pay for these systems varies based on your business needs. There are a number of paid and free solutions available for your business.
We live in a digital world, websites aren’t optional in 2020. You can even use a Google site and save some money. There are a lot of tools on the market that let you build a website without writing a single line of code. The three most common tools are: WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix. These tools each offer different levels of features and customization. A website is an essential communication tool for most businesses.
You need productivity tools like a word processor and spreadsheets for your business. These systems aren’t optional for an online business. Productivity tools come in bundles with all the software your business needs. The most common products are Office 365, G Suite and Open Office.
Don’t get me wrong, I love tools like Salesforce but the reality is that it’s not an essential system for most small businesses. As much as it pains me to say this most small businesses can probably get by running their business out of a spreadsheet. They can’t get by without paying taxes.