There are more than 30 million small businesses in the U.S. alone – and it’s safe to say, we all have problems.
Every single one of us – and I speak as someone who has been part of a small business – has a pain point or two (possibly more) we need help solving. Whether it’s getting more customers or finding affordable insurance or sourcing great talent, the local businesses that have helped create nearly two million new jobs and support our economy can’t do it alone.
Small businesses can – and do – benefit from technology designed specifically for us.
If you’re reading this as a local business owner, you already know what you do is challenging and rewarding. You probably also know that software can be really useful in your daily work life – but how do you assess it? What do you look for? As the founder of a company that’s creating software to solve fundamental business challenges – customer communication and responsiveness chief among them – here’s what I’d ask when evaluating a solution.
Will you use it?
And will your people? Let’s be honest: If you have doubts, if it doesn’t feel simple, if you know you won’t invest the time into learning it, or it’s too complicated for your team, it’s time to consider your other options. What would you actually use? Most software fails because people buy it and then just can’t get over a learning curve that’s too much for them. Don’t waste your money with something that will just sit on your shelf.
Is it critical – and is software really the right answer?
Maybe it’s weird to say this in a tech outlet, but technology is not always the right answer. Hey, everyone likes the latest and greatest, but technology for technology’s sake is rarely, if ever, the way to go. What are you trying to solve for? Software can help when there’s a task or problem that’s repeatable, can be automated, etc. But don’t discount the human touch. There are things we simply do better ourselves, unencumbered with technology – whether it’s calling an irate customer back to resolve a complaint about a repair or reassuring a pet owner their dog will be fine at the kennel.
If it touches your customers, will it meet their standards?
You know what modern consumers want – you’re probably one yourself. We’re tied to our mobile devices and always looking for what we need, when we need it. If your customers will experience this software themselves, you need to consider it from their perspective. A crappy user experience ups the odds that a customer will get frustrated, decide not to buy, or not to return. Don’t take that risk. Businesses compete – and win – based on user experience. Make sure your software makes it incredibly easy for your customer, whether it’s finding you, communicating with you, or paying you.
If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, then it’s probably a good bet. But remember – and you knew a caveat was coming – think about cost. If it touches your customer and helps you get paid, it’s probably worth more. Don’t cheap out where you shouldn’t (but don’t invest $10K in something that’ll give you $500 in value to your business either).
Published in partnership with Broadly.
Josh Melick, CEO and Co-founder, Broadly