How to Choose the Right Technology for Your Small Business or Startup

It can be easy to think of technology as a blanket solution to many of the challenges facing your business. The thing about technology, however, is that it comprises a wide variety of options and solutions and the key is finding the “right” solution for your needs. In the last few years, there have been rapid advances in business cloud services, artificial intelligence, data management, IT services, and more that can make an impact on your business. But while some of the solutions may appear to be a great fit, ultimately, they may not be the best option, depending on your specific needs.

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It’s important to separate which technology will help in the growth of your business from those that will ultimately wind up being just another toy in the toolbox. You want to make choices that let you focus on your core business, not on the technology that helps operate it.

So, how do you make the right decisions when there are so many options out there?

Focus on Your Pain Points

Fundamentally, technology is a tool that helps you do what you do better, faster, or more efficiently. The key to choosing the right technology for your business is to understand what you’re already doing well, and what you need to do better.

Figuring out your company’s biggest pain points is the key to knowing where you can improve, and that process starts with talking to your team. First and foremost, you want to know how they spend their time each day. A good place to start is to ask everyone to take a moment to estimate how much time they devote to various, but specific activities each week. Make sure that you’re clear that you’re looking for company-wide trends, not scrutinizing individual employees’ time management.

Once you have that data, you should look for information that might surprise you. Are people spending an inordinate amount of time just catching up on email? That might point to a need for a more efficient communication or collaboration solution for your team. Are slow Internet and Wi-fi speeds creating bottlenecks and slowing down your day-to-day operations? A scalable Internet solution that will grow with your business may be the answer.

Other Questions to Ask Your Team

Another way to approach the problem of identifying pain points is to be a lot more explicit about what you’re looking for. Technology is ultimately all about finding a way to maximize the ratio between output to input. It helps you get more results for your effort.

With that in mind, try asking your team specifically about their pain points: What are the most repetitive tasks they spend their time on? What will be the impact on this activity as your organization continues to grow? What is the most time-consuming part of their job? What systems do they already know, and what have they had to learn since working here? Do they ever find themselves waiting on something to be able to get work done?

Again, it’s important to frame this conversation the right way. You need to be clear that you’re trying to help get things done more efficiently, and that you want to put your team in the driver’s seat. You’re not going to get the answers you need if it seems like you might be looking into downsizing or restructuring, so be explicit about why you’re asking these questions and how honest answers will help your employees get the solutions they need.

Look Closely at Your Financial Model

Another important question to ask yourself is what is your underlying financial model. How do you plan to make money? Are you Target, or are you, Tesla? All businesses want to grow and find more customers, but there’s a big difference between a business that needs to win over a large audience to be profitable and one that is only after a more select number of clients.

When it comes down to it, you need to know what to prioritize in your technology decisions. You’ll find that some solutions are incredibly scalable, but will require additional resources that could put them out of reach. You’ll want to find something that is bulletproof, something that fits your budget and doesn’t improve one area of your business while disrupting another.

Understand What Skills You Have and What Skills You Need

Different people will have varying levels of familiarity with the various solutions you’ll be considering. When you’re deciding what technology to go with, it’s vital that you have a good understanding of the level of impact it will have on your team in adopting it. Make sure that you know what skills you already have, and what skills or support, you’ll need to find to implement a solution.

A piece of technology might be perfect for your needs but require a significant investment in training and adoption that you might not be willing to make.

The other option is to hire or partner with people with the skills you need to make a particular solution work. If you’re considering going this route to incorporate some promising technology for your business, you’ll need to decide if it is more cost-effective to add employees or look for a third-party solution. An example of this would be a Managed Service Provider (MSP), or Internet Service Provider (ISP) providing managed services that take on some of your company’s day-to-day IT responsibilities.

What You Can Do Right Now

Along with growing a small business or start-up, there can be a great deal of pressure to also be on the bleeding edge of technology. While new technology can help solve a lot of problems, it’s important to realize that ultimately any new bells and whistles are just tools that help you get the job done more efficiently. Choosing the right tools means having a clear understanding of your core objectives, the pain points that are getting in your way, and what the future looks like for your growing business.

  • Talk to employees to figure out what activities are eating up the most time in your organization.
  • Don’t be afraid to invite constructive criticism, but be clear about how you are going to use this feedback.
  • Think about what growth looks like for your business and how your technology can support that.
  • Understand that with the explosive growth of technology, there has also been significant growth in the options available to you to implement and manage it. While your organization may not have the resources internally, there are many third-party options available, often offering you a higher level of expertise.
  • Contact your Cox Business representative to learn more about our scalable business solutions for business Internet, telephone, managed services, security and more.
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