As a small business or a startup, you are always looking to improve your products and service while keeping the operating costs low. All companies nowadays use software to do and facilitate so many of their business processes, such as payroll, accounting, task management, project management, time management, etc.
These could be a lot of solutions, which could translate into you paying a lot of cash for them!
In the olden days, you would hear the phrase “you get what you pay for,” and even though this is still true in most areas of life today, it’s not the same as it has been in the software department.
All thanks to the global community of coders and engineers who are continually building and improving digital solutions and tools that can be used at no cost whatsoever.
Today, we are going to look at why this Open Source Software is good for business, and why you – as an entrepreneur, business owner, or manager – should embrace this technology and use it to improve and grow your business.
Now, before we go to the ‘why’, let’s start with the ‘what’.
What is “Open Source Software”?
Open Source Software is computer software distributed along with its source code under a license that allows anyone to study, change, and improve the software. Open Source Solutions are mostly created collaboratively as shared intellectual property in the public domain and are available free of charge.
It’s a software that you can download its source code and use it for free; you can also modify it to adjust it to your specific needs.
Today, there is an extensive collection of open-source software available around the world, and some have completely changed the game in their respective categories and become industry leaders, such as WordPress, Linux OS, and Mozilla Firefox.
As for business solutions, there are plenty of open source solutions for accounting, Payroll, Time Management, and more. For example, you can find the Top Free and Open Source Time Clock Software here.
Now, let’s have a chat about why you should embrace the use of open-source software.
Benefits of Open Source Software for Small Business
1- Save Money
Most Commercial Software tools require a monthly subscription. These fees can indeed range from a couple of dollars to a couple of thousands of dollars, but they are still money. Even if it’s only $10 a month, you spend a $10 on this tool and then another $10 on that tool, followed by maybe a $20 on another tool. Suddenly you are paying a considerable amount of money on your software, which is not ideal for small businesses running on a tight budget.
There are also commercial solutions that offer freemium plans, but these often have restrictions and limitations that could be very annoying or crippling to some businesses.
With Open Source Software, you will find that plenty of the solutions are offered entirely free of charge, and those few that require a fee or a subscription often offer much more bang for the buck when compared with their commercial counterparts.
So, you’ve downloaded, installed, and started using commercial software. After some time, you find out that this is not the best option for you! Maybe your needs have changed, or maybe your business has grown, or perhaps you didn’t know everything about the software before making the purchase.
Tough luck! In most cases, you are stuck with what you got. You already paid for the software, and maybe you also have a contract that you can’t get into without paying a fee.
That will never become a problem when using Open Source Software. Don’t you like the software? There are always alternatives, and you can find the option that suits your exact needs, and you need not worry about a contract or a fee of any sort!
Let’s assume you are using a commercial solution, and you do like it, but you would like it even more if it had a particular option, theme, or integration. Well, you can contact the vendor and suggest your idea, they will most probably be nice and tell you that they will think about it and consider it for future updates.
However, this future update with the feature you want may never come.
That’s not the case with Open Source Software. Do you want a specific feature or integration? Great! The Source Code is right there, and you can modify it yourself if you have the coding experience, or you can hire a coder to do it for a certain fee.
You can also get it by merely suggesting it to the community of the software, which is most likely an active community that can work on this feature right away, and you can get it much faster than you expect!
You might be thinking: “Security? Isn’t the source code available for anyone, including hackers?”
The answer is yes, and yes. Yes, Open Source Software is secure, and more often than not, they are more reliable than their commercial counterparts, and yes, the source code is available for everyone, including hackers.
But in the case of commercial software, when it’s attacked or hacked, there is a small team of developers and coders who, alone, must find the problem, identify it, and solve it as fast as they could.
In the case of open-source software, things are often better, as you will find a whole community of specialists and coders who can see the problem and solve it much more quickly. These people might not be paid to do that, but they do it because they are, themselves, users of the software, and know that any such problems will not only affect the thousands, if not millions of people, who trusted them and their software, but they will also be harmed.
Time is money, and this saying has never been more real than it is in the modern-day and age. It seems like everything is moving so fast these days. You get a new phone, and before you know it, your phone is a few generations behind. You miss one meeting, and it seems like you’ve been on vacation for years.
Time seems to be moving too quickly, and so, we must do the same, and the same goes for our software.
This advantage comes as a courtesy of having the software open for the whole world to develop. An entire community that supports the software can keep it always up-to-date and on the verge of technological advancements. So, you will get the newest features faster, and any issues will be tackled very quickly.
Reliability comes from thousands of users testing the solution and every new feature together, handling problems as soon as they pop up. This continuous and vigorous testing means that the solution will have the reliability just as much as the commercial solutions, if not more so!
Many vendors can’t and don’t go the extra mile to ensure their software runs smoothly for years after purchase because they can’t afford the overhead expenses of doing so, or they don’t want to, but this isn’t a problem with open-source software.
When you’re using an open-source solution, you can rest assured that your solution will always get the updates it needs and that the product you are using will only get better with time thanks to the support of the community, which develops and uses the software.
Improving the software continually means you can be confident that the open-source solution will run smoothly for years to come, and this is the kind of peace of mind that you need while struggling to make all the pieces of managing your business fit together like a complex puzzle.
Let’s assume you want a unique feature, and you have the technical knowledge and coding power (or hired someone who has those beautiful things) to do so. You can easily make the solution your own. Add the features you want, and change whatever you wish to personalize your solution.
This means that the solution, with all the tools and features that you created in it, are yours, and yours only. You can choose to share them with the world – and you probably should – or you can keep your work in-house. You can keep your work private, and you have created something new out of it. You no longer need to wait for some large corporation to give you the features or options you want, you make what you want. It’s that simple!
9- Make the World A Better Place!
When you use open source software and provide feedback and improvements, you are giving back to the community who has helped you in the first place.
You start off as a small business, you use open source software, and with any hiccups along the way, you go to the community asking for help. They will help you, and you will become better, and your business will grow, thanks in part to this solution. But just as you are using the software and growing your business, you are helping improve the solution itself, which is used by thousands of other small businesses around the world, all struggling to grow their business, just like you. So, you are all helping each other get better and making the world a better place in the process, which is, in itself, a beautiful thing, don’t you think?
I hope you are now on board and ready to try your first open-source software.
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