Essential Tools for Today’s Business
One of the most common challenges facing any business today is differentiating itself in the digital world. It is virtually impossible to compete today without a visible digital presence. This challenge applies to all businesses from start-ups to multi-national conglomerates alike. But unlike large companies that have the technical capacity to implement tools to market, support and secure their operations, smaller companies typically do not. This is especially true for small businesses who often do not have the resources or skills to build a solid technical foundation. The good news is that for most businesses large and small the foundation is basically the same. And regardless of your company's size, there are essential tools to build and grow your business today on a solid foundation.
Four Pillars for Any BusinessIn addition to any specific tools used to deliver services, there are four (4) essential or foundational tools for all digital businesses today. These tools are equally important and should work in concert to serve as the foundation of your business:
- Website AND Social Media ‐ the website and social media make up the "visible" marketing aspect of a business's digital presence. While often handled as separate tools, they should be working together to continually increase your visibility.
- Collaboration ‐ typically starting with Email, Collaboration tools should also include calendaring/scheduling, file sharing, real-time chat, and audio/video conferencing that allow your team to work together and with your customers.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) ‐ CRMs primary functions are to proivde a framework to manage Marketing, Sales and Customer Service activities enabling the management of potential business "cradle to grave" from leads to sales to support of your products and services.
- Cybersecurity ‐ including User Training, Endpoint Protection, Monitoring and Mitigation, Cybersecurity tools provide digital security for all other tools and protects your company's digital assests from denial of service attacks, hacking and theft.
While there are likely other tools your company will need as it grows, the tools above will serve as the ecosystem to support them. And the sooner you build that foundation, the sooner you can get to the business of growing your business.
Avoid the Common PitfallsThere are several pitfalls to avoid when selecting the tools that are the foundation of you businesses digital presence.
- Don't Use "Freemail". ‐ Anything offered for free usually has a catch. Freemail services such as GMail, Outlook.com, Yahoo and the like the tradeoff is privacy which is a big payout for little savings. And firstname.lastname@example.org does not enhance your digital presence.
- If you don't know, ask a professional. ‐ The old addage "Do what you do well and pay experts to do the rest&qout; especially applies to selecting your tools and making them work together. Get advice from people who know. Not all IT People have the same skills. Your nephew who is "really good on Social Media" maybe inexpensive, but is probably not qualified to build the foundation of your business.
- Don't view the tools as individual solutions. ‐ All of your tools should work together to serve as a solid foundation. Make sure the tools you chose integrate, and integrate everthing you can.
Selecting the right tools is critical for your business, and you should take care in the choices of what tools to use so you house isn't built on sand. All tools are not created equal.
Stay tuned for future installments where we will be discussing each of the Essential Tools in more depth.