Evaluating software and figuring out which one is right for your growing business is a task that I wish could always be delegated to some faceless guy with glasses, a protractor, and suspenders. I have a love hate relationship with software. I LOVE when it is working for me. Software for small business can do so much for us in business! And it can be confusing, and pricey, and well… boring, if you are not into that sort of thing.
So here are my do’s and don’ts for finding the right software for your small business.
- Get really clear on what you need and want software to do for you. If you go into a demo without knowing your needs, it’s very easy to be impressed by everything you see and think you need things you don’t really need.
- Analyze the cost of having a lower pay scale team member do a task versus having software do a task. This has saved us in the past. We found a software that was doing something a team member of ours was spending time on every week and we thought, “Yay software!” But sometimes when we have analyzed the cost of paying the hourly rate, the software was actually more expensive. Better to know the numbers!
- Have one main software that manages multiple tasks. It’s easier to manage one robust system than it is to try to duct tape together and manage 5 or more simple programs. Sure the cost of the robust program is higher, but the time savings are worth it! I personally love Infusionsoft!
- Make sure all programs you use communicate with each other. Integrations are huge. You want things to run as seamlessly as possible. If you have a program that doesn’t integrate with your main platform, try using Zapier to get it to connect.
- Pay your team members to research software options for you and bring you a list of all programs that look like a fit for your need to cut down on your search time.
- Sign up for free trials you don’t think you actually want to use. Trust me on this one, that is a fast way to be getting small regular charges that you don’t realize for several months.
- Shop based on price alone. Your software should accelerate the rate at which you make money by increasing your efficiency. My first year in business, I went for cheap options that ultimately didn’t do what I needed them to do. So while they were less than the program I wanted, it was still a waste of money.
- Manage the program yourself. I am not a software person! The time and energy it takes me to learn a new program is ridiculous. So I have trained individuals with software certifications on my team to manage our systems.
- Try to build your business without software. Let’s be honest, there is just only so much you can store in your brain before you start forgetting things! The goal with software is to get processes out of your brain and into an automated system.
- Accounting Software: You have to keep your books in order. Mismanaging money will put you out of business just as surely as not making money.
Amy’s Favorite: Quickbooks
- CRM: The CRM or Customer Relationship Management Tool keeps track of your clients and how they move through your system. Mine is the spinal cord of my business. The CRM allows me to keep track of all conversations, see what my clients are engaging with, keep track of their order history, runs my email marketing and conversion campaigns, links to my website, runs my ecommerce, affiliate programs, and probably 10 things I’m forgetting to mention. A GREAT CRM is essential in your business.
Amy’s Favorite: Infusionsoft
- Scheduling: Scheduling software makes it easier to get your clients booked, sends reminders and cuts out some of the need for a personal assistant to manage your calendar. All you have to do is send someone a link and they plug in to any open spots you have
Amy’s Favorites: Schedulicity and Calendly
- Project Management: This allows your team to break down tasks within a project, assign out different aspects, manage the progress and collaborate. It will keep the progress visible and in the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Amy’s Favorite: I’m currently looking for one that makes me want to do happy dances. What do you love?