So you have a great product, a formal legal structure, and a sound business plan. You might think that's all a company needs to be successful in the information age, but even the leanest startup can't function without the right infrastructure and preparation for the future. Here are five essential tools and strategies that new entrepreneurs should consider using.
From digital marketing to e-commerce solutions, businesses are going online at a rapid pace. This trend extends to their modes of communication. High-speed broadband networks allow real-time virtual meetings to take place between workforces operating remotely. Cloud computing is also enabling a vast array of new networking tools, such as file-sharing and smartphone-based team building apps. From classic Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telecom products such as Skype and Whatsapp to fully-integrated office software platforms like Workiva, shop around and see what networking solutions could help keep your business connected.
Digital tools powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are taking over many fundamental business processes, and that can sometimes be a very good thing. One of the most popular forms of this technology has been analytical software. Business analytics is all about crunching data to make accurate predictions, and analytical algorithms are getting better at this task all the time as they increase in complexity. Another popular application for automation is the use of chatbots for customer service. Granted, their results have been decidedly mixed, but they're less expensive and quicker to respond to customer queries. Automation is all about maximizing productivity while minimizing the outlay of resources, so consider using that efficiency to cut costs.
Great businesses have great employees. Finding and keeping them, however, is easier said than done. In fact, employee turnover is a stealth threat to businesses, costing an average of one-half to two times the lost employee's annual salary. Research consistently shows that the solution to employee retention is a combination of consistent training and making certain that the goals and views of the prospective employee align with the company vision.
Those goals and needs can change over time, so management needs to communicate regularly with staff regarding where they see themselves and what could be done from their perspective to improve the company. The bigger someone's personal stake is in the company's success, the more engaged they'll become. This implies that versatility and critical thinking are the real standout qualities in potential hires, so consider looking specifically for soft skills like empathy, honesty and creativity before and during onboarding.
Entrepreneurs can never reach an audience they don't understand. Market research takes two basic forms: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research comes from examining the opinions and impressions of customers, often via feedback on your social media posts and statements made in focus groups. Quantitative research dives into hard numbers, as gleaned from the results of targeted surveys and demographic research. Remember to keep a pulse on the general mood of the public. Trends and cultures can change quickly, as can the demands and expectations of those emerging niche markets. The most successful companies find ways to leverage those changes.
In 2021, cybercrime hit an all-time high, with an estimated global cost of $6 trillion. The risks of a data breach are especially high for startups since the cost of a breach per compromised record hovers around $150. The first step in protecting your data is to employ comprehensive endpoint security. This strategy takes a holistic approach to network protection, incorporating upgraded protective software like antivirus and firewall systems and standardizing those defenses across all devices that share the company's network. The second and most important part of staying safe is awareness. Learn about new digital threats and criminal tactics as they evolve, and then insist upon a similar degree of computer literacy from everyone who has access to company devices. Starting a business is all about setting yourself up for success. That means having both the right talent and the right tools for the job. Keep these tips in mind when starting out on your business journey.
Publish Date: January 20, 2022 11:58 AM