Starting a business is tough, there’s no doubt about that. When first starting out, many new owners and entrepreneurs think they’ll be able to handle everything either by themselves or with a lean and often outsourced crew. And most of them quickly learn it’s just about impossible to juggle it all successfully. But starting your own business doesn’t have to be a constant stream of chaos and disorder.
Here are five great technologies that can help you keep it all together, organized, and ready to take on the new tasks ahead.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRM tools come in many different shapes and sizes. There’s one out there for every business, starting from tiny apps for the budget-deprived to robust, high-powered integration systems for those who can afford the bigger investment. A CRM tool does the following for businesses:
- Communicates with team members and clients in a separate, organized system (so you don’t get lost in the weeds of your everyday email inbox).
- Keeps records of conversations and issues that arise and how they get resolved
- Automates communications with clients to save your staff time and effort
Some examples of CRMs that small and medium businesses use are InfusionSoft and Salesforce. Communication is often where the bottlenecks of new businesses come in—getting set up from the beginning with an organized system is key.
The Google Suite of Apps
Depending on the size of your business, Google’s free apps maybe your best friends, especially if you’re a local business or your business thrives on e-commerce. Google’s products have drastically increased in range in recent years. Businesses do well when they take advantage of the following:
- Google MyBusiness, to solidify for Google exactly where and what your business is, and to increase visibility in searches.
- Google AdWords, to attract new customers in need of what you sell, right away and at a predictable budget.
- Google Tag Manager, to keep your website users and conversions tracked properly in Google Analytics, as well as for tracking conversions properly in Google Analytics, as well as Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and any other tool you may need pixel code for.
Getting new customers is key to any new business, and getting found online is the fastest and most efficient means for many businesses to acquire them. Google provides ample opportunity, and any new business owner would be wise to take them up on it.
Modern Digital Payment Methods
Accepting checks is fine, though problematic if the check bounces. A better way to accept payments these days is digital—with the help of online tools to process payments for you. PayPal is a very safe, very secure method of direct payments; you can use PayPal to accept payment in advance or send an invoice later.
There are also a number of secure and convenient credit card processors that are managed entirely online, such as Authorize.net and Payline Data. These can set up seamless recurring billing for subscription service-based businesses and can also generate invoices.
And if you still like the tactile connection of a customer handing you a physical credit card—even if you’re away from an office, or if you don’t have an office at all—you can process cards via smartphone or tablet with plug-in credit card reading accessories such as those provided by Square.
Digital payments remove the hassle of depositing checks and chasing down retries in the event of a bounce, and they also remove the worry of keeping cash secure until you can deposit it.
Digital Contracts with Digital Signatures
Fax machines are dinosaurs—but what about when you need a contract signed by someone outside your office? There are, of course, email and the camera on your smartphone. You can email a customer and ask them to print it out and sign it, and then have them send you back an image of their signature. But this method, aside from being legally questionable, is really not convenient at all, certainly not to the customer whose signature—and money—you want.
The Solution for Any New Business Is Digital Signatures
Tools like HelloSign take a contract, add fields they can type their information into, and then add a space for them to enter their signature in a chosen digital font. The contract is legally binding and takes only a few seconds for a customer to sign and send it back. This increases the speed and success rate of contracts that go out, and those contracts can mean the difference between success and failure to many businesses.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software
No matter how simple your business concept may be, the real world is a very, very complex place. No business worth pursuing is easy, but surely it doesn’t need to be messy and disorganized. Enterprise resource planning software is a system of integrated apps designed specifically to help glue a business together, usually by seamlessly combining communication with production, sales, accounting, human resources, and more. Invest in ERP software to accomplish your specific business goals while tracking everything in real-time for greater visibility and control.
With all these current technologies for businesses at your disposal, there’s no reason to sweat the small stuff, and there’s no reason not to keep your entire business streamlined and successful.