As a small business owner and professional bargain shopper, I often shriek every time I hear about a new piece of technology, be it a device, software, hardware, malware or any other “wares” that I do not have and that my husband or The Huffington post says that I need.
With every option of a new and sometimes incredibly tempting device, I find that I ask myself some specific questions to help determine if I need this item now, later or really don’t need it at all. Answering these questions will also help me respond back to my Chief Technology Officer, a.k.a. my husband.
Question #1: Is it going to save you time?
For a small business owner, time is money and for most people, it is not in abundance. What is your time worth or the time of your staff? If you don’t know ask yourself what would you pay someone for a task or chore that takes an hour vs. you doing it yourself? This is what your time is worth. Will this device save you enough time that it pays for itself short term?
Some of the popular products that small businesses owners use to save time:
- Accounting software – Most people are not as financially minded. Keeping track of all the finances from business licenses to travel expenditures. Most companies use Quickbooks but there are other software services out there that interact with your banking institution and have mobile apps to reduce time as well.
- Planning software – Some use Microsoft products but Bitrix is an app that works the same, allowing multiple people to create and assign tasks as needed for each project.
- Calendar – Find a great integrated calendar to keep track of your business meetings, orders and other tasks. I like to use Google calendar to manage my personal and business meetings on one calendar and I can also see the meetings my family has to keep our calendar in sync.
Question #2: Is it going to save you money?
I know that saving you time is also saving you money but what about technology that prevents you from having to spend money or puts money back in your pocket?
Here are a few of the items that we use:
- Smart thermostat or energy audits – Investing in one or both of these will save you money in utilities. Our Smart thermostat can be controlled on our phones and can save us up to 20% on our bill, plus it is better for the environment and provides a better customer experience. Energy audits are offered by some energy companies or municipalities and can be free to no cost but can find ways to save you long term on your energy bills.
- Tax software – This is not for everyone and when done wrong, it could actually be costly. I find that for very small businesses, this can save you $40-$150 per year in tax preparation costs and can also save time by taking everything from the accounting software you bought to save you time.
- Backup and security – Whether it be malware for your eCommerce site or a security system in your store, these items can prevent your spending a large amount of money should you have to deal with a theft. Insurance can and will only cover so much and so having these extra levels of protection can prevent something bad from happening but it some cases, you can also get a discount on your insurance. Check with your provider to see what discounts you can get.
Question #3 Is it going to bring you business?
How do you take your business to the next level, whether it be opening up your sales times, increasing speed of services or expanding into new business areas. Sometimes, it takes a new technology to help get your small business into the new age.
- Mobile technologies – Getting a website, aps or other aspects of your business mobile can be a significant opportunity. The majority of website searches are now on mobile devices and spending the money so that anyone can have additional access to your business where ever they are can only put dollars in your pocket.
- Integrated marketing/automated marketing – These tools allow you make one blog post or one social media post and it schedules the send dates to make the same post go out on different channels and on different dates (we also have these options so check with Type 3 to help set you up). This will not only save you time, but will draw in more people by keeping your name “out in front” and helping you stay front of mind for your customer.
- Website – Last but not least, a website can do all of the above, save time, money and bring you business. Type 3 Web design can help you maximize your dollars and determine the return on your investment, getting your moneys worth and then some.
Tell us about some of your favorite tech investments.