No matter what business you are in, all businesses have five main segments:
Products and Services
The value you create for your customers
How you attract the attention of your audience to build demand for the value you’ve created
Taking leads generated by your marketing efforts and turning them into paying customers
Keeping promises made in your marketing and sales efforts when you deliver the value to your customers
Ensuring that you not only bring in enough money to run your business, but that you also make it profitable
Only when you really understand about all these different segments of your business can you start to think about what type of software you need to run your business. For example do you need to choose a lighter or heavier version of a software product such as Photoshop Elements over Photoshop Professional. Can you use cloud based software or must you use locally installed software products.
What is your end product and what does it take you to make it? If you’re an expert in your area, you should be able to write down a list of the software you need just to create your product or perform your service. What parts will you do yourself, and what parts will you outsource? Does this change what software you need?
Marketing (Online and Offline)
How do you plan to get the word out about your product or service online? How do you plan to collect leads? Do you plan to do it yourself or do you plan to outsource? Write down the software you will need to have access to in order to do your part of the online marketing. For instance, if you plan to outsource graphic design, it’s not likely you need to purchase expensive software to create graphics.
How will you collect the leads and move them through the sales process? Will you be doing it yourself or outsourcing? If you plan to deliver digital goods, you’re going to need some sort of digital shopping cart, probably an affiliate program and so forth. If you are outsourcing, you want to ask the professional you’re outsourcing to for the best software to purchase.
How will you deliver the goods or services? As mentioned above you may need shopping cart software, but do you need to purchase a comprehensive service or can a PayPal button suffice? It will depend on your skill level, if you’re outsourcing or not, how many products you have and so much more.
You realize you’ll need a bookkeeping software suite, but how do you know whether you need Quicken or QuickBooks? Then, should you use the Pro or Premier version of QuickBooks, and should you use an online version or an offline version? Some of the answer will depend on your skills, whether you’ll use a professional or not, and your budget. If you use a professional, the best way to determine what you should get is to ask them.
Before buying any type of software, it’s important to take a look at what you already have. Consider whether or not what you have works for your needs or not. Write down a list of what you have, then write another list of what you need.
If you have a lot of tech skills your choices will be simpler, but if you are not a techie you may need to ask professionals for help. The best thing to do (for any of the five parts of your business) if you plan to outsource that area, is to find the professional and then pick the software based on their recommendations.
There is no point in purchasing more software than you need. If you have a super small business for instance, with no employees, no office, and a sole proprietorship, you can likely get by with the least expensive financial applications such as using a spreadsheet or something super simple.
Like with most things related to your business, you will have to create a budget for every aspect, and that includes software. That’s why it’s so important to find solutions that can both grow and shrink as needed. Online, cloud-based solutions are typically the best way to go if you want to run lean and mean and stick to your budget.
Choosing software for your business is a very important part of ensuring that your business runs smoothly and choosing which type of software you use will depend on whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a professional to assist. Always rely on the experts when in doubt and do seek the opinions of people you know that might use the software you are interested in.