Software, Hardware, and Strategy Tips for Small Business Startups

September 17, 2013 8:00 am2 comments

strategy

Jumpstart Your Business Game With These Strategic Suggestions

In the race to financial independence and fulfilling the modern dream of leaving the 9-5 job, more and more of today’s generation is celebrating entrepreneurship than ever before. The idea of becoming one’s own boss has led to today’s myriad of startup companies.

However, the competition is fierce. Starting, maintaining, and leading a business to financial success is heavily demanding–more so than that 9-5 job you’re dreaming of forever leaving behind.

So how do you make things easier for succeeding in your small business plans?

1. Optimizing Software Options for Business Operations

Starting out, you will most likely either be doing all the work yourself, or dividing it amongst a small group of people. Whether you start out solo or start out with a small group, this is usually not enough to handle everything as efficiently as more established businesses can, as they have more funds to hire a bigger work force.

Fortunately, technology has a way of helping you get your tasks done more cost-effectively, boosting your small business’s operational competence. Among these cost-efficient task helpers are the various software solutions that you can utilize for your small business operations such as:

  • Google Docs 

Suppose you want to be able to create a calendar, task list, and/or documents list such as financial, inventory, or other information spreadsheets viewable by the people in your small team. Google offers a free filesharing, viewing, and editing service on the cloud, allowing you to coordinate schedules, messages, information and instructions with the members of your team with a certain amount of usable space free of charge. Files and pertinent calculations via spreadsheets can also be saved and shared in accessible folders via Google Drive. After uploading a document on your Google drive, a share option appears which then allows you to send a password or link via email to allow your chosen Gmail user to gain access of your file.

  • Comindware

If you have allocated operations software into your small business budget now and are looking for something more streamlined and comprehensive, Comindware offers reasonably-priced cloud-based software solutions geared specifically for startups. It functions like an extra work force for you, automating repetitive functions such as streamlining HR, contract approval, payables, helpdesk, and accounting functions, optimizing team collaboration, information-sharing, and the like. This then frees you and your team to focus on other critical tasks that do not involve mundane and repetitive work.

  • Apps marketplace

Utilizing the various apps available in your platform’s marketplace is a good source for you to find more software options for your business. Free apps such as the cloud-based small business software Wave for your accounting and invoicing purposes, Mavenlink for project management as well as team collaboration purposes, and AceRoute for scheduling and route optimization purposes, are worth checking out. You can also give Capsule CRM and Desk.com a try for your customer relationship management and helpdesk purposes.

2. Hardware for your new office

Let’s say your business has an office (which is always a good sign for startups). After getting your software needs down pat, you will be much better off by also utilizing these hardware add-ons:

  • Smart phones

Mobile phones are all the rage these days and utilizing one to the best of its capabilities allows small businesses access to a wider range of potential customers.
An increasing percentage of web browsers and ecommerce buyers and subscribers are now using mobile. What better way to make your team more available than by joining and interacting with this user base via their interface as well? Make it a point that every member of your small team is equipped with and makes full use of their mobile for business purposes.

  • Phone signal booster

With great power comes great traffic. And what does this immense traffic do? Sometimes it clogs up your signal reception. What good is a mobile phone if you end up missing that one important client call, or get stranded for hours at a time due to weakness in phone signal reception? Ensure your constant availability by having a mobile signal booster installed in your office. The devil is in the details and small things such as a crisp, always-available work force enhances your business’s reputation.

  • Custom-built PCs

Buying units that can adequately cover for your business needs can be among one of the most expensive hardware investments you can make. But don’t let this stop your startup from economizing. Setting up your own PC is a great way to save on all the other costs that come with buying a completely setup one fresh from the store. There may be parts and features that are not compatible with your needs, and some of these parts and features are part of the bill that you’ll be paying. By opting for custom-building your own desktop, you can personally note which parts and features for your PC you can afford to scrimp on and which you absolutely need to prioritize spending on. You’ll also be eliminating the need to pay for all the other fees that come with buying complete units out of a store. With all the tutorials you can access online, such as Lifehack’s PC-building tutorial, you won’t need a computer engineering degree to actively build yourself PCs customized not only according to your business needs but also to your budget.

3. Organic techniques for your team

  • Time your meetings

We all know how too many meetings for too long take up so much precious time. Instead of staying cooped up in that meeting room for stretches instead of manning those critical business and client relationship-building operations like you’re supposed to, optimize the use of your meetings by imposing a strict time limit on idea presentations.
Before starting a meeting, require each member to prepare their idea presentations beforehand and to make sure it stays within an allotted amount of time per idea. It doesn’t need to be limited per member, either. People can group themselves together if they have an idea brainstorm to present. Think of it as like organizing an event, like a play– the program has to be created beforehand and the organization and timeline of things have to be strictly followed. This way, you’re able to limit the risk of losing track of time by aimless talking and mind-wandering to topics that aren’t part of your meeting – as a startup, you can’t afford to lose much time on such things.

  • Answer your phones and emails as soon as possible

Attention to handling customer issues spell the difference between a company that customers feel they can always easily reach out to and trust to handle their concerns seriously and promptly, and an incompetent company with a work force too busy to tend to customer issues.

Starting a business is easy, but, as has been mentioned before and will be emphasized to all startup owners through time, maintaining one and leading it to success is much harder. Anyone can dream big and even take that first step – it’s the ensuing work load and continuously mounting responsibilities that you have to then worry more about. Armed with this three-pronged approach of software, hardware and organic business strategies, you can head out to those risky waters with a clearer and more realistic approach to your small business goals.

Image: iStockphoto

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