The advent of the “software as a service” model of software delivery around twenty years ago put enterprise-grade software solutions in the hands of small businesses for the first time. Yet few small business owners are taking full advantage of the resulting benefits.
Software as a Service (SaaS) changed things because, by paying for the software on a monthly basis, organisations avoid the high upfront set-up costs, licencing issues, installation effort and hardware purchasing that used to accompany the rollout of a new software programme.
The SaaS model also offers another significant advantage: agility. The rollout of a new piece of software is now achievable in just a few clicks – rather than the months it might have taken previously.
There are many essential tools now available for a low monthly cost or even for free that can benefit the small business owner. Some of the best apps include:
Most of these tools offer free starter periods or are free to use under a certain usage rate – giving small business owners a chance to test out the tools’ usefulness and ease of use before committing to any kind of investment.
This is a huge benefit for small businesses; something that simply wasn’t possible in the days when purchasing software meant long-term investment decisions and upfront capital investment.
However, this benefit is often overlooked by small business owners who “have enough on their plate” without trying out new things.
This is short-termism in the extreme. Many of the tools available (including those listed above) will save inordinate amounts of time for the average small business owner and enable them to achieve new ways of working that can boost business growth.
This makes it beneficial, as a small business owner, to set aside a few hours each week – or, perhaps, one morning or afternoon a month – where you commit to trying out new free tools that can advance your business.
Start with the examples we’ve included above or ask fellow small business owners for their suggestions. You could even start a discussion on LinkedIn or an industry noticeboard asking for other suggestions for tools that your peers recommend or that could aid your business.
As well as setting time aside to explore the tools that can help you run your business, it’s also worth setting time aside each day or week to leverage the power of technology to promote your business.
Read our profile of social media entrepreneur Marcus Sheridan to see how he rescued his small business from the edge of bankruptcy by setting aside a couple of hours each night to develop his blog and promote that blog content on social media.