Monday, July 24, 2017

The Correct Way to Effectively Use Technology in Your Startup

One of the problems that many startups face is a limited budget. Unless you’re rich or you have some wealthy investors backing your business idea, then you’ve likely got an extremely limited budget that will quickly run out unless you make a string of good value decisions. This itself can be incredibly difficult and requires a bit of luck in addition to your ability to run and manage a business. 

One of the most important money sinks that we invest in as startup owners is technology. Everything from computers to smartphones and subscription services need to be purchased in order to have a chance at running a business. After all, the world is going all digital now and if you’re trying to sell products without at least having an online storefront or even presence, then you’re probably not going to get any exposure at all. 

The internet and technology go hand-in-hand. They both offer us unique opportunities that allow us to reach a wider audience and gain more success in the world of business. Sadly, it’s not uncommon to see startup owners investing a little too much money into their technology and, as a result, wasting money. In order to counteract this, they need to be smarter about the decisions they make and use technology effectively in order to save money and increase their chances of breaking out of their startup shell. 


Use technology to extend your workflow, not replace it

The first major hurdle to overcome is the way you use technology to improve your workflow. In the past, businesses didn’t use technology like computers and smartphones because they didn’t exist. However, those businesses are still around today and they’ve managed to tame the use of technology in order to grow their brand. How was this achieved? By using technology as a way to make their workflow more efficient, not replace it. 

Let’s use work scheduling as an example. If you have a dozen part-time employees that need to have their work split and assigned over the course of a week, then you need to understand what their commitments are outside of work and how they determine whether they can or can’t work on a certain day. By using this information and mixing it with communication, you can get a good idea of what the schedule will look like and you could write it down with pen and paper—there’s no need to use software. However, you might find this time-consuming and it might be effort writing out everything each week you re-do the schedule, so that’s when a work schedule app can come in handy. However, you should only be investing in one once you have a good idea about your staff and their working hours, not immediately. If you don’t communicate with your staff and don’t understand when they can or can’t work, then no amount of technology is going to help you. 

There are always cheaper options than what is considered the standard 

When you look at large companies such as Google and Microsoft, then you’ve probably dreamed of using the same technology and working on the same computers as they do. However, keep in mind that while some of their equipment is considered industry standard, that doesn’t mean you can afford or should use whatever they have as well. 

The idea is that no matter what level of business you are currently at, you need to ensure that you’re using tools that are suited for your business. Let’s use a very typical software example. Microsoft’s Office 365 package costs businesses a monthly fee to use. It offers your standard office productivity tools and a new license must be purchased for each computer. As you can imagine, this will amount to extreme running costs that scale depending on how many computers you are using in your office. 

Compare this to using a free service like Google Docs and you could save yourself hundreds per month. There are, of course, some differences between Google Docs and Office 365 that could be deal breakers, but if you’re a startup that just needs to write up some documents, then you can use free software to cut down on costs instead of going for “industry standard” choices that make no sense for a small company. 

Summary 

In short, make sure you're not overusing technology in your business. There’s a time and place for expensive equipment and software, but as a startup, the goal is to reduce your running costs as much as possible and save money wherever possible. For many companies, it’s the technology costs that can be reduced.

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