In 2000, in search of a new market, Microsoft began to invest in small business software. They invested billions within the first five years, and then continued to invest heavily as the venture proved profitable. Historically, small business had been a segment largely ignored by the software publisher, especially giants like Microsoft, but the times were changing fast. Computer hardware and software were more affordable and accessible than ever, and the demands placed on small businesses by the market were considerably greater due to increased globalization.
A common mistake that start-ups make is that they fail to see beyond their own backyard soon enough. A UK start-up company, for instance, may experience its success because of clients in the US or Brazil or some other group of clients outside the UK, and the company has to be prepared to seize the opportunity. Therefore, a primary reason why investing in small business software makes so much sense for the modern small business is that the software makes possible effective business communication and shipping/receiving with clients all across the globe.
Another common mistake is underestimating the value and cost of the tools used, or not used, to manage daily operations. Even without a single client, every small business has a wide array of duties to accomplish on a daily basis, and without the right tools and the proper approach, these menial yet vital obligations can consume far too much manpower. In this current economic environment, even established, highly successful businesses cannot afford to waste man-hours. The start-up company must conserve in every conceivable aspect of their business.
When we think of a big business, we tend to think of departments: accounting, administration, human resources, information technology, logistics, marketing and sales, operations, procurement, research and development, and perhaps more. What we often fail to recognize is that the smallest business, one comprising a single person in a single-room home office, comprises all, or at least most, of these departments. In order to be effective and efficient, the start-up must streamline each department and give it its due in terms of resources, including time.
Many start-ups view small business software simply as an expense, but that’s the wrong way to look at it. Business software is an investment, and it provides immediate dividends: It gives the start-up the tools needed to manage its departments; it provides a multifaceted perspective on the business that fosters efficiency; it puts the business in a position to seize success no matter what direction that success comes from. Business software isn’t all about complexity, though. It also gives us a powerful, accessible entry point into the business at any time.
There’s an old adage popular in business that’s more true now than ever: time is money. It comes as little surprise then that time management functionality is at the core of all the most popular small business suites. Time management is the single most important thing a business does, and it is the aspect that will make or a break a start-up company. Investing in small business software does not ensure success, but it does put you in the best position to succeed by giving you the tools needed to streamline effort and maximize your time budget.