Building a company from scratch is a daunting and complicated endeavour, but putting the right technologies and protocols in place from the get-go can provide important productivity gains moving forward. In fact, 80 per cent of small businesses recently surveyed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses believe that embracing new technology can improve their operations and help them better serve their customers.
While it’s easy for important tools and tasks to fall off the startup entrepreneur’s lengthy to-do list, the success of the venture they build in the future may depend on implementing the right technology from day one. Here are a few suggestions for how to start on the right foot.
Build a Solid Foundation With the Right Hardware and Software
Initial investments in hardware – like computers, phones, and tablets – as well as software like online security, collaboration, and accounting applications can be expensive for companies that have yet to earn their first dollar, but technology is among the most important upfront investments entrepreneurs need to make. In fact, 67 per cent of small business owners surveyed by the CFIB said that such investments help them save time and money in the long run. And technology lifecycles are getting increasingly shorter, meaning that lower-end equipment can prove to be more expensive in the long run – so try not to settle for what’s “good enough” today, when it may have to be replaced tomorrow. Dynamic startups can’t afford to be slowed down by insufficient technology, making that initial investment a vital one.
Monitor and Improve as You Go
The best way for an entrepreneur to improve their company’s technology infrastructure is to regularly take stock of what they already have in place. Fast-growing startups are especially susceptible to falling behind, as their needs will change on a rapid basis. Small business owners should ask their team about the strength of their Internet connectivity, and the capabilities needed from their smartphones and mobile plans, at least every six months. This will help guard against a bottleneck effect, where technology needs pile up to an insurmountable expense. And one way to manage mobile usage costs as your team grows is to put your team on a share plan, so everyone can share one pool of data.
Use Technology to Its Fullest Potential
Business owners who understand how to get the most out of the technology that’s available to them can increase efficiency and significantly improve their odds of success. For example, investing in hardware like tablets provides a useful tool as a sales and presentation device, and allows employees to leave the bulky laptop at home when they’re on the move. Software products like Office 365 can also provide a number of benefits to a business beyond its primary function as a suite of productivity apps, as it allows businesses to move much of their work to the cloud and enables a more mobile workforce.
Put It On the Cloud
Speaking of the cloud, once all that hardware is up and running on a fast and reliable network, small businesses can become more nimble, secure and productive by taking advantage of cloud-based applications. The aforementioned Office 365 suite opens up new, flexible ways for your staff to work and collaborate with one another, and businesses can keep their data safe through cloud backup applications like Data Protect. Such applications allow businesses to access information safely and securely from nearly anywhere, at any time.
Don’t Forget About Security
One important element that we’ve touched upon earlier – but bears reinforcing because it’s too often overlooked by early-stage companies – is the security of their information. Like car insurance, digital security is something you hope to never have to use, but will certainly help you rest easier knowing it’s in place. We’ve already covered the importance of investing in online security and applications to back up your data, but employee devices also need to remain safe and secure as they access and store potentially sensitive company data. Small business owners can safeguard their information through applications like Samsung KNOX, which protects devices against malware and helps secure company data by keeping work and personal data separate.
While new technologies can sometimes be perceived as expensive, small businesses today simply can’t afford to operate with slow Internet connections, inadequate hardware or without the software solutions that enable them to be more secure and more productive. Especially for startups, investing in the right technology isn’t just an option; it’s a necessary cost of entry to operate in a highly competitive environment.
This article is presented by small business solutions from Bell Canada.