Overview of Technology and Software for Small Businesses
Technology plays a vital role in business administration and maintenance. An increasing number of businesses today are applying business softwares to ease business processes. Small businesses are no exception. Small business software forms an essential part of home-based projects or small companies.
Business software can be described as sets of programs and applications that can be used in businesses to help business activities and increase productivity. While large businesses can tailor-make business softwares to suit their needs, medium to small sized businesses bank largely on small business software.
Small business software is a booming industry, having captured a substantial part of the software market. Small business software can be divided into two broad categories:
- Standard small business software – This includes the MSOffice suite, which offers softwares like Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, etc, for everyday office use. While it provides excellent services, it can incur large expenses for a small business. A good alternative would be to use the OpenOffice suite, which is free and provides services similar to MSOffice. Small business softwares like the Lotus package can also be used.
- Custom business software – Developing or purchasing custom business software can be expensive. However, the advantages may be well worth the money. Custom business softwares not only customise the features and functions to meet specific business needs, but the efficiency and systematic operation maximises business control.
Buying Small Business Software
Choosing the right small business software for your business can be a painstaking process. Partly because, there are a large number of business softwares available, and partly because many business owners don’t know which software will benefit them, and how. In other words, most small business owners don’t know what they want.
There are many types of softwares available which, despite having a number of features, are not used to their full capacity. There are also softwares that come with individual modules, which you buy only if you need that particular feature.
Before you choose small business software for your business, take a moment to consider the following points:
- What do I have? Does it take care of all my present business needs?
- If I want an upgrade, can I afford one now?
- Is the small business software I want for immediate using, or is it something I might need in the future?
At the minimum, most small businesses need a word processor, a recordkeeping system, and an email program. Other software packages like spreadsheet and database programs, graphic and web design programs, management programs may also be used.
Research is vital to decide on the types of softwares that will benefit your business.
When buying small business software, avoid making these 3 mistakes:
- Not being prepared for future needs: As your company grows, so will your business needs. Your business software should be able to accommodate those needs. In other words, your small business software should be able to grow with your business. When you are investing in small business software, purchase softwares designed for small, as well as mid-sized businesses. If the software is designed to store data, make sure it can store unlimited data. If there are levels of licenses available, buy a license that will allow you to expand without breaking the bank.
- Buying small business software services with expensive or no support: Since your business software is going to hold time-sensitive data, be sure it can stand server breakdowns. The last thing you want is to lose all data. It is imperative you choose a business software with good phone support system. Be wary of services who charge you £120 or more per hour of calls. An annual fee of £70 to £120 is okay, with hourly rates running between £30 and £50.
- Not trying small business software before buying it: There is little excuse for business owners who buy softwares without trying them out. Nearly every software site will offer a free, demo download. If they don’t, there had better be a good reason for it. Even so, a trial is great for a number of reasons. Not only can you check compatibility with your other programs, but also test it on your operating system and network. Demos also allow you to check the software support services which, if they charge support fees or are unwilling to help, are not worth investing in.
Benefits of Small Business Software
Small business softwares benefit your business by automating your routine tasks. Your employee workload is considerably reduced, leaving them time to concentrate on professional skill enhancement, research, and other work. Small business softwares also increase your work efficiency and business productivity, causing your business to grow and progress. By taking care of all your business needs, from documentation and maintaining data to accounting and administration, small business softwares make your work a lot easier and faster.