Going without needed software could cost you more down the road.
How many times does your business interact with a customer before they purchase? Which activity is costing you the most? Which customers need to be let go because of their ROI? Few entrepreneurs and small business owners know the answer to these questions, and they should. Or, at least, be able to find the answer fairly quickly.
As a husband, a soon-to-be father, a soon-to-be business graduate, entrepreneur and Project Manager at Fluid, I understand the reason why many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know the critical details of their business: Time, or specifically, the lack of it.
When starting a business, you quickly learn that hundreds of tasks need to be done that you didn’t even consider when starting the journey. But like most successful entrepreneurs, you dig in and try to do it all. Soon, you’re wearing every hat in the company. Then growth diminishes. It seems that despite your efforts, you’ve reached the dissatisfying stunted pinnacle.
So what’s holding you back from the growth you projected? Some think the answer is to work harder and longer and get more customers. It works in the short run, but it’s sure to cause burn-out and unfinished tasks – and time is limited. Looking internally to see what makes your margins so small is sensible. It seems counter-productive, though, when compared to your list of responsibilities.
Technology has exponentially increased efficiency. Software, artificial intelligence, mobile devices and cloud storage has made business data easier to collect, store, access and analyze. But since the switch from software as a product to software as a service, the monthly cost to have multiple business softwares has given small business owners to justify going without.
So what types of software is crucial for a business owner to analyze their business and be empowered to make informed decisions? I believe that there are many, but will focus on just two types of software I’ve often seen small businesses lack that could have helped them considerably.
CRM- Customer Retention Management
There are few people who can remember every time their business interacted with a specific customer. But a simple Customer Retention Management system stores contacts, is easy to input notes and interactions, and track the frequency of contact. When paired with customer’s’ transactions, you’ll be able to see which way is the most profitable to interact with customers. To make it even easier to try out, there are free CRMs in the market, such as Insightly and SugarCRM.
Time Tracking Software
It’s one thing to track total hours of employees; it’s another to track how they spend those hours. If an employee is spending more time than expected on a task, does that mean they are slow or that your expectation was unrealistic? Time tracking software can help you see which activities are taking up most of your time. It can give you insights into how long a typical task takes, like a repair for a customer. This, in turn, would help you set a realistic expectation with the customer when scheduling services. Some free examples include Tick, Toggl and Ronin.
Technology has drastically changed how businesses are managed. With many tools readily available to help you, it has never been easier to truly know the state of your company.