It’s Time to Move Your Customers Out of That Three-Ring Binder
Welcome to day nine of Leeward Business Advisors’ 12 Days of Starting a Business. We’re going through all the aspects leading up to starting a business! Follow along here on Medium and watch our Twitter for updates!
It’s now 2017. It was hard to make a case against technology in business last year, and it is just going to keep getting harder. Everyone uses technology — even your mom gets e-mail on her phone. Startups are at an advantage over some well-established businesses, because they can take full advantage of the latest technologies.
There are so many businesses still avoiding tech — investments in systems are unknown, new skillsets for employees are needed, and it’s not like the old way of doing things isn’t working. For some reason or another, they don’t use any sort of online financial software, all their customers are in a binder, and you can’t even find them on Facebook!
Why Should You Care
Planning to launch a business in 2017 presents new questions that entrepreneurs weren’t asked in 2010 or even 2016. Where can technology add the largest value for your young business?
Buying a new computer is usually a refreshing experience; getting a clean machine that will run as fast as it ever may run. Unfortunately, building a new network local network or deploying a file management system is not as simple, nor rewarding.
If your employees are spending most of their days waiting for a computer to catch up to their typing or waiting for an internet browser to load, they aren’t getting much work done and are constantly being interrupted. Luckily, with smaller file archives, and typically new machines, your startup should benefit from using new technology tools.
Software, hardware, and your internet/company’s network can all impact your system’s speed. Making sure these are all up to date can help keep your systems speedy, and employees’ tools efficient as possible. Once you have them set up, protect your investment with the proper maintenance and security tools.
Unsupported Systems Bring Risks
Unsupported systems are at a heightened security risk, and are sometimes considered due to lower operating cost. An unsupported system is one where the original developers of the platform are no longer updating its code against vulnerabilities, and other overall improvements. Outdated software’s vulnerabilities are likely to be targeted by malware and other malicious groups looking to exploit its code. This needs to be taken into consideration when planning budgets, and technology strategy.
Organization and Access
A growing business will need a way to keep customers, vendors, contractors, service providers, partners, and internal departments organized, which includes all the digital documents that belong to each. For a team of two people, using and email spreadsheets to stay organizing isn’t a terrible solution. As your team grows, will you need to collaborate with more resources.
CRM is a great way to do this. CRM systems allow multiple people to add tasks and log interactions with a customer. In addition to organizing all documents related to a customer, it helps you keep an active timeline so you don’t drop the ball on any tasks, even if someone leaves your team.
Decision Making Abilities
Another advantage for organizing your information into databases and platforms is the benefit of reporting and data analysis.
Learn how to view your business through KPIs and CSIs. Without these indicators, it’s almost impossible to determine success. Having your team decide what success looks like for a customer creates a guideline to judge against.
The organization of your data allows you to analyze it and understand your success rates. This can help you make decisions about where to apply additional effort to meet your KPIs and CSIs.
Compliance and Investor Attraction
Another layer of protection is compliance — for both you and your customer. Compliance is tedious at times, but is in place to ensure responsible habits with important information. Technology is a simple solution to complex problems at times. Vendors can burden some of these liabilities by purchasing all in one solutions for payment gateways, or other Human Resource solutions.
Investors will also look for businesses to demonstrate some level of operational maturity. The best way to show this is an outsider is by leveraging a software platform to easily show any employee, or outsider to the business exactly how much inventory you have, sales you have made, future projections on pipelines, and more.
Moral of the Story
As a startup, your business has the advantage to do some pretty complex stuff, simplistically. This gives your business a competitive advantage for the back office, and logistics of your business. Depending on your business’s industry, compliance and other known areas of risk can be solved utilizing technology solutions. For the leaders and decision makers of your business, technology allows your business to be represented in unique ways, which get to the heart of how your team is preforming. Don’t shy away from investment, but do so in an intelligent way that protects your investment, and ensures your return.
About Leeward Business Advisors
Leeward Business Advisors is a Wisconsin-based corporation that provides business strategy planning, business improvement implementation, and full IT operational support. They offer world class Cloud Computing services, Cloud brokerage, Managed IT services, and a full US based Support Service Desk (called Quick Answers). Michael Polzin, CEO has 20+ years of enterprise business and technology experience gained while working at Allstate Insurance and Microsoft Corporation. Jason Klein, CTO has 15+ years delivering effective and efficient technology to Midwest companies.