Small business owners rank their computer as their second most valuable business asset, just behind their time, according to an eVoice survey. But while computers can be invaluable business assets, they also present some challenges. For example, 30 percent of respondents say that keeping up with technology changes is their biggest IT challenge.
As a startup, you face the additional challenge of selecting which technology to invest in. Although some technology is industry-specific, here are a few categories of office automation technology you need to get started.
Office Productivity Suites
An office productivity suite is a central software tool because it handles your word processing and spreadsheets. Microsoft Office is the leading productivity suite and includes email, address book management, calendar scheduling and task management.
Digital Trends reviews some of the leading premium and freeware alternatives to Office, which include OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Google Docs, Zoho and FreeOffice.
To get your startup off the ground, you need to attract customers. This can be done by using some basic marketing tools. NerdWallet co-founder Jake Gibson, writing for Entrepreneur, recommends traffic acquisition tools, such as SEMrush and MOZ, to help you identify keywords for search engine optimization and analyze your SEO competition. Analytics tools such as Google Analytics and KISSmetrics help you interpret what your website visitors are doing when they visit your site and take steps to convert them into customers.
Customer Relationship Management Tools
Your customer contact list is one of your most valuable business assets, and managing it effectively is the purpose of customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM tools are designed to help you perform tasks, such as capturing prospect contact information, tracking sales contacts and tracking customer service contacts. Business News Daily provides an overview of some leading CRM solutions, which range from free options like Zoho to integrated full-featured tools like Salesforce.
Effectively managing your finances is key to business success, and accounting software is essential for performing this task. Sage One accounting software provides small businesses with an all-in-one online solution you can use from anywhere to manage your cash flow. In addition to an accounting interface that is simpler to use than a spreadsheet, Sage One assists with tasks, including invoicing customers online, processing online payments, preparing financial reports and statements, helping with financial planning and doing tax preparation.
Word processing files, spreadsheets, customer databases and financial reports are vital data that need to be protected. The best way to do this is to use a good backup tool to save copies of your business data. An effective tool needs to perform backups automatically and synchronize data from all devices you and your employees use. Tom’s Guide reviews some of the leading backup tools on the market today, which include CrashPlan, Backblaze, iDrive, Acronis and Carbonite.
In addition to these tools, you may need other technology and software that are specific to your industry, market and workflow. But in general, the software categories mentioned above will help you get started on the right foot.