When starting a new business there are a great many things to do, and even more expenses. It can be difficult to know what should be the priority in terms of time and resources. Over-investing too early can be a big mistake, and can compromise your cash flow, put you under financial pressure and could even cause your business to fail.
However, there are certain key tools and technologies that are essential for businesses, and investing in these early in your business journey will not only pay off, but they are more are less essential for your business to succeed. Here are the top tools and technologies which you should invest in while setting up a new business or startup.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is one of the most important tools in the arsenal of any startup or new business, and undoubtedly worth the investment. You cannot build a business without customers, and you cannot build a customer base without managing those relationships. CRM software is the best way to manage customer relationships, helping you track your customers and interactions, as well as store and follow up on new leads and run analytics to allow you to refine your strategies.
There are a range of CRM software options around. SalesforceIQ is well-regarded and comes highly recommended, as well as being an affordable option that still has a good number of features. If you really can’t afford to invest in this tool at the beginning, a good free option is Hubspot CRM.
2. Credit Card Payment Platforms
One of the first things you need to have in place is a method for accepting credit and debit cards, no matter the type of business you have. From small businesses with a physical shop front to an online service-based enterprise, more and more clients are preferring to pay with plastic instead of cash or other methods. Figures show that 80% of consumers prefer to pay by either debit or credit card.
Making life easier for your customer and being able to provide their preferred payment method will obviously lower the barriers to their purchase, and therefore increase sales. Additionally, this means your business will be able to accept payments and deposits upfront, meaning greater cash flow, and limiting security risks associated with handling large amounts of cash, as well as the financial risks of dealing with invoicing and waiting for clients to pay.
Credit and debit card machines, also known as PDQ machines, are the more traditional way to accept card payments, and this still works well for bricks and mortar shops and businesses. However, the modern face of small businesses are changing, and so payment methods must reflect that. There are now a variety of ways that businesses can accept credit and debit cards to suit various business models, such as email payment links, online payment portals and phone payments, with the business using a virtual terminal to facilitate the payment.
3. SEO Tools
You already know you need a great website to promote your business, but do you know how to make that website work for you? Consumers are by far more likely to search for new goods and services online than through any other method, meaning there is a vast market of potential customers at your fingertips, if you know how to optimise your site for Google and other search engines.
To do this, you need to be on top of your SEO (search engine optimisation) game, and this is a highly competitive field these days. Your competitors are likely to have invested a lot of time and money in their own SEO, and so to be able to rise above them and rank your business on Google, you need to invest some too. The best way to do this in the early stages of your business is through SEO tools. A keyword research tool like Ahrefs, along with an analytics tool such as Google Analytics Premium will go a long way to making sure your SEO game is strong.
4. Social Media Scheduling Tools
When it comes to digital marketing, another critical area for new businesses and startups is social media presence. Social media, when used well, can be extremely powerful in building your brand, expanding your customer base, and strengthen relationships with your customers. However, an effective social media strategy in 2020 involves a strong, regular presence across multiple platforms which is virtually impossible to maintain manually.
This is where scheduling tools come in: social media managing platforms like Buffer and Sendible make these processes so much more efficient by allowing you to easily schedule posts weeks or months ahead across multiple platforms. These tools also help you to plan your campaigns for optimum impact, as well as providing metrics and assisting with lead generation.