When you invest in new developments helps you keep pace with competitors and customers in a world where tech is changing at lightning speed. As a small business owner, you’re likely to have a limited budget, but by making technology a priority in your financial planning, you can stay current without breaking the bank.
Set Priorities for Your Business
Every six months, compare your most pressing business objectives to your investment options, and then decide which piece of software or hardware is most useful in achieving your goals. For example, if you’re planning to expand the company’s YouTube channel, video equipment would be a more useful choice than a customer service chat bot. By focusing on ROI, you can avoid wasting money on non-essential tools.
Find Less-Expensive Options
Once you identify a technology need, you can seek out cheaper alternatives that include features similar to those in the more expensive versions. Take graphics software, for instance. You could invest in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, two of the industry’s premium products — or you could download GIMP for free and achieve a similar result. Another option is to find freemium versions that offer access to basic features for free, adding features as you realize you need them.
Keep in mind that with new technology, it often takes time for lower-priced competitors to appear. Before you decide to wait, consider how doing so might impact your business. Is your current solution harming productivity or client relationships? If not, it’s probably safe to hold off on investing.
Decide When to Go Big
Cheaper alternatives are not always the more responsible choice — sometimes, it makes sense to bite the bullet and pay more. As you evaluate a piece of technology, consider the risk of not investing. Maybe the product will keep you legally compliant, or perhaps it can help you avoid security or PR disasters. It might even boost your productivity and profits.
Consider as well the issue of data security. If your business handles sensitive information, a security breach exposes confidential details and can do lasting damage to your business. In this case, it makes more sense to choose an expensive, high-quality security solution over a cheap, DIY option. The risk is simply not worth the initial cost savings.
For small businesses, investing in new technology often requires sacrifice. Some sacrifices are small. For instance, you might have to put off redecorating to afford an office computer upgrade. Larger sacrifices may require you to rethink your existing business model completely. Usually, this happens when a new development has the potential to transform your industry. Consider Netflix and Blockbuster. When streaming video hit the market, Netflix sacrificed its core business model — DVD rentals — and invested heavily in technology to became an entertainment powerhouse. Blockbuster stuck with its outdated strategy and quickly collapsed.
The key to making wise technology investments is to stay informed about developments and trends, both in and out of your industry. That, combined with a willingness to make changes, can help you stay competitive in a rapidly changing technological landscape.