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Shopping for Small Business Technology: What Matters Most?





Whether a technology business, consultancy, manufacturing company, or creative business — whatever —  there is a lot of room for technology to help you operate your business more efficiently and effectively.

But as Mike Gorsage says in Scaling Your Business with Technology, to get the right technology you must be sure to  “ask the right questions.” The right questions can make the difference between a business-elevating purchase and financial waste.

tech questions

Below are a few questions to consider when you make your next technology buy.

COST: What is the immediate and long term cost?

MONTHLY FEES: A $10 a month item/service makes it easy to purchase that tool and start using it, but at the end of the year that was $120.00.  Is the low monthly fee and easy access worth the long term expense? Would a solid desktop tool and a remote backup be a better option?

FREE?: Can free tools grow with you? If they cannot, they may cost you more in a business crisis. Free tools can often mean no support. When you need more extensive solutions and live customer service, is there a paid option that you can grow into? I like Google email, but I love customer service. I use their business email options because now I can pay to upgrade to a plan with support (if I need to).

CUSTOMER SUPPORT:  How good are they when I have a problem?

Of course we prefer reliable tools that never “break.” In reality humans run this world and there is bound to be a forgotten scenario or an unavoidable situation at some point. In those situations we need help. Customer support matters.  The sales department is often extremely helpful prior to a purchase, but long term support is the key.  Yes, you are the favorite client before you’re a client, but you want to be special after pay.

CAPABLE SECURITY – What is the standard for security?

You no more want someone breaking into your website or network, than you want them breaking into your physical premises.  Look for a provider that is relentless about security improvement, especially when purchasing cloud computing. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

CHANGE – How much do I have to change my business flow in order to use this technology?

Sometimes as small business owners we’ll get excited about a new technology tool and the relief it could bring. But before we can successfully implement this relieve, we still have more questions:

  • What is the learning curve to implement this change?
  • Who on your team will spearhead this change?
  • What is the expected integration date into the regular flow of your business?
  • How long before the switch to the new technology is completed?
  • Is the effort to change worth it?
  • Given the circumstances (cost, need, support, team), is this the right tool for you?

Answer the right questions up front. Save time and money on the back end. Questions sparked our businesses—like what can you do? Who can you do it for? And quality questions help us improve our business.

Want to know what other small businesses think about technology?

SmallBizTechnology is exploring this topic as we speak, taking a survey.  Weigh in with what you consider important.  Take the technology buying survey now.

5 Comments ▼

Jamillah Warner


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

5 Reactions

  1. Jamillah

    This is a really great post with many things to contemplate. Excellent list.

    Phil

  2. Great post Ms J – especially with regards to the degree of change required. It is easy to sometimes drift back to old habits – the right technology should prevent this by being the path of least resistance.

  3. Thanks Phil. Thanks John.

    🙂

  4. Thanks Ms. J,

    This is a great list of questions that small businesses should ask before purchasing equipment. It is not uncommon for small businesses to buy prematurely without asking about the things that really matter. They may want something but may not necessarily need something and this list certainly helps businesses confront that decision head on and potentially save money.
    Thanks again for the great post,
    -Dustin

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