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Small Businesses Have Enough Challenges Right Now; Technology Shouldn't Be One of Them

By Chris Wayne, Managing Director for Yahoo Small Business, Verizon

Entrepreneurs have faced many challenges and opportunities since the start of the pandemic. While businesses of all sizes felt the impact worldwide, microbusinesses- businesses with five or less employees-were particularly vulnerable to the shifts in consumer behavior that resulted from social restrictions. Those in communities severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic had an even tougher go of it, although these same businesses often benefitted from loyal community support during times of greatest need. The most resilient small businesses of all, however, were those who already had a digital presence, or quickly transitioned to one. They never lost touch with their customers and continued to deliver products and services online, often to a much wider audience.

The challenge of managing that digital presence alongside daily productivity, from bookkeeping to inventory, is hardest for these smallest businesses, and they increasingly rely on software to help them stay organized and meet their business goals. Whether they need to build a company website, develop and deploy a marketing plan, or add new shipping options to their e-commerce site, the right software can streamline the process and have a positive impact on their bottom lines.

With so many software applications to choose from, however, the process of researching off-the-shelf or customized systems can be overwhelming. For microbusiness owners, who in many cases are not technology experts, it can be excruciating. In fact, in a recent Yahoo Small Business report, we found that 63 percent of microbusiness owners surveyed said they have invested in technology that was not an ideal match for what they needed. Another 48 percent had experienced this more than once.

Many microbusiness owners also struggle to manage the increased number of software services at their disposal. Our survey also found that 85 percent of microbusiness owners use software platforms to support their business needs, but 30 percent are juggling 3 or more-adding unnecessary additional complexity to the very systems intended to make running their business easier.

But it doesn't need to be this way. Whether microbusinesses need a tool that will simplify daily workflows, minimize the number of different platforms, or scale as their company expands, it can be hard to know where to start. With these simple tips any business owner can demystify the IT process and find a suite of solutions that works perfectly for their needs.

Take the simple approach

For microbusinesses with limited staff, the idea of introducing a new application or platform can quickly go from disruptive to daunting. But when business owners choose software in a piecemeal fashion from different vendors in a marketplace, they are unwittingly adding another layer of complexity-and wasted time -to their daily routines. An all-in-one solution from a single vendor that manages each application under a common interface will not only save valuable time previously spent shifting from one platform to another, but it will also eliminate the time it takes to install and learn each new application.

Try before you buy

That said, software is never one-size-fits-all. Every business has unique needs and specific requirements. The most important thing you can do is to vet a solution properly before investing in it so that you understand exactly what it's meant to do and what it can do for your business.

Find a partner or advisor

Partnering with a company or experienced small business advisor at the start of your search or during the installation process can be the difference between an efficient and affordable upgrade and a costly one. These partners can even help you sort through options that can grow right along with your business, giving you more flexibility to expand at a moment's notice.

Backup in the cloud

Storing business data in the cloud not only frees up physical space; it also protects your business from record loss due to a natural disaster or fire. Many of the most common business software systems now rely on the cloud in some form and all of them have multiple layers of security that make the safety of your data a top priority.

At Yahoo Small Business, we've seen firsthand how technology can help even the smallest of businesses optimize their production, sales, marketing and more. Our research shows that despite many other challenges during the pandemic, more than one in three microbusinesses (36 percent) invested in software platforms to streamline some part of their daily workflows. Another third (29 percent) plan to do the same before the end of this year. We're proud to partner with these businesses and help take the confusion out of researching and buying software. When chosen wisely, the right technology will only make them more successful.



Chris Wayne 

Chris Wayne is the Managing Director for Yahoo Small Business, Verizon. Prior to this, he was the company's Chief Technology Officer. Chris holds a Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) degree from the University of Southern California and is a certified Data Center Management Professional (CDCMP). Before joining Yahoo Small Business, Chris was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division.

Published Thursday, September 30, 2021 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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