In a 2018 study conducted by the Chamber Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC), the impact of digital technology on small business growth and success was examined. Of the 1,000 small businesses studied, approximately 84 percent relayed information to their customers using at least one digital platform. In contrast, 80 percent used digital platforms to present products and services to their consumers. About 75 percent of small businesses were using digital platforms to sell their products and services during the time of the study.
Moreover, Deloitte found that small businesses were likely to earn more per employee, create new jobs, and experience revenue and employment growth if they utilized digital technology — especially e-commerce software and data analytics tools. However, Deloitte also found that about 80 percent of small businesses in America weren’t using the tools and technology they should be.
With these findings in mind, there are three types of tech that all small business owners should invest in: E-commerce software, security applications, and customer relationship management software (CRM). Not only will these tech investments help business owners to grow their businesses and earn more money as a company, but the upfront costs of purchasing them will quickly pay for themselves over time. However, free tools are also available, so there’s no reason to skimp on tech if your small business can’t afford to invest in paid services at this time.
To learn more about these three essential tech and software investments for small business owners and for some tips on funding them, review the sections below.
1. E-Commerce Software
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, e-commerce software had become more critical than ever before — especially for nonessential small businesses that had to close their physical locations to the public. Even as the economy slowly reopens throughout the U.S., online shopping is expected to grow in popularity.
Low-Cost E-Commerce Solutions with the Greatest ROI
To meet rapidly changing consumer demands, you’ll need to invest in a budget-friendly e-commerce solution if you haven’t already done so. Several affordable options for small businesses include Volusion, Shopify, Big Commerce, 3DCart, and Fortune3. Volusion’s basic plan allows you to showcase up to 100 products at just $14 per month, while Shopify’s cheapest plan starts at $29 monthly and will enable you to present an unlimited number of products.
If you don’t have a marketing team, e-commerce tools like Kissmetrics, Canva, and Hootsuite will also be essential to the success of your small business. Plus, Canva and Hootsuite offer free plans, while Kissmetris pricing starts at just $299 per month.
2. Security Applications
In addition to e-commerce software, security applications are essential to any small business. Cybersecurity attacks can easily bankrupt small to midsize businesses, but things like antivirus software, data-encryption tools, and firewalls can help to protect businesses from these types of threats.
Budget-Friendly Security Applications for Your Business Needs
Security applications may be one of the last things you’d like to invest in as a small business owner. Still, affordable solutions are available to protect your business from various types of cyber threats and attacks. Several budget-friendly security solutions for small businesses include the following:
- Random.org’s password generator
3. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRM software is another type of technology that all small business owners should invest in, even if they don’t have a whole lot of money to spend on tech. If small business owners don’t maintain a relationship with their most loyal customers and take the time to follow up with new leads, they’ll miss out on business opportunities and fail to grow as a company. However, that’s where affordable CRM software solutions come in.
Affordable CRM Solutions for Your Small Business
Whatever your budget, many low-cost CRM solutions are available to small business owners. HubSpot, for instance, offers free CRM software for small business owners — as well as other plans that range between $40 and $3,200 per month. Other budget-friendly CRM software solutions include: Less Annoying CRM ($10 monthly); Zoho ($7 to $45 monthly); Salesforce ($25 to $1,250 per month); and Keap ($79 to $199 monthly).
4- Funding Your Investments
While these three tech and software investments will help you to grow your small business and save money over time, new technology isn’t always in the budget for small businesses. However, there are some things your small business can do to keep tech costs down — and we’ll discuss them in the sections below.
Loans and Grants
Whether your small business is struggling due to coronavirus-related complications or you simply cannot afford to invest in new technology at this time, several loans and grants are available to help. These include:
Government funding. Through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), coronavirus relief options are available to qualifying businesses. These funding options include the EIDL Loan Advance, Express Bridge Loan, and SBA Debt Relief program. Local assistance and SBA grants are also available to certain qualifying small businesses.
Grants for female entrepreneurs. Financing options for women-owned small businesses include the Girlboss Foundation Grant, Amber Grant, and Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant.
Private grants. Qualifying small businesses can receive a $1,000 grant from ZenBusiness, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), and FedEx.
Coupons and Promo Codes
In addition to applying for a small business loan or grant, coupons and promo codes can help you to save on many of your business-related expenses. For instance, you can keep some tech and software costs down when you shop online at retailers like Staples and use Staples coupons and promo codes. Staples offers everything from office supplies and electronics to virus protection and data backup and transfer services.
Depending on the technology you’re purchasing for your small business, you may be able to take advantage of free trials before deciding whether a certain type of tech is right for you. Shopify, for instance, offers a free 14-day trial, while CRM solutions like Zoho offer 15-day trial periods.
Invest in Tech to Grow Your Small Business
While business technology isn’t always cheap, the right tech for your small business will help to create new growth opportunities, manage your day-to-day responsibilities, enhance the customer experience, and save you time and money in the long term. Plus, many free tools are available for small business owners to take advantage of, so you won’t need to skimp on technology, even if your business can’t afford to invest in new tech solutions at this time.