One of the most popular uses for additional business funding is investing in new technology. While examples of advanced technology might be easier to conceive for certain industries (healthcare, E-commerce), examples for other industries aren’t exactly clear. And yet you hear about countless companies taking out small business loans to acquire some sort of tool that helps them increase productivity or connect with customers. A new business owner might wonder what those tools actually are and why investing in them is so important. How could something that isn’t even tangible be worth so much money?
For many businesses, up-to-date technological tools are essential for staying competitive. It’s up to companies like United Capital Source to make sure these businesses don’t get left behind simply because their current cash flow doesn’t align with their needs for the future. Here are three different types of technology to consider investing in for your small business:
1. Financial Management
Technology is often blessing for business leaders who aren’t naturally good with numbers. In the past, being bad at math almost automatically made you bad at managing money. Today, there are numerous tools available to assist with financial management tasks like paying bills, bookkeeping, payroll and sending invoices. Though plenty of businesses use them solely to stay organized, financial management tools can also save you valuable time and money while taking care of everyday financial responsibilities.
Financial management tools are usually referred to as “accounting software.” Most of them offer free trials along with numerous payment plans based on the size of your business or client list. Let’s say your company employs 20 people and/or has about 50 clients. In this case, basic accounting software like FreshBooks would likely cost you no more than $300 a year. But if you need software that does more than track and send invoices, you might end up paying closer to $1,200. For that kind of money, you’d get software with a host of functions like projecting cash flow or managing customer relationships.
2. Document Sharing
When people talk about “project management” tools, they are typically referring to apps and software designed for sharing data and/or documents. This is because the tasks and resources required for projects are typed into documents. With document sharing tools, you can post documents into pages to be viewed by co-workers or clients. Many of them also sync to your computer’s hard drive, mobile devices and the cloud. Virtually any document that you have saved can be accessed and posted to the page. A great deal of businesses rely on document sharing tools to organize documents by different intervals (monthly, weekly, etc) and communicate suggestions or changes that have been made.
Though each tool has its own pricing systems, most monthly or annual prices are determined by the amount of people who use the tool and the amount of functions offered by each version. Evernote’s “Business” version, for example, costs $14.99 per user. More expensive versions of other tools might cost a little less than twice that price.
3. Payroll Services
Keeping track of payroll is obviously important, so it’s hard to imagine a responsible business owner neglecting a payroll-related task. But before the development of myriad online payroll services, business owners made errors all the time and wound up costing themselves much more money than if they had just paid the employee(s) properly. Payroll services allow you to create and automatically distribute paychecks with deductions like taxes and health insurance into employees’ bank accounts. Employees can access information like W-2s and pay stubs online. Once a payroll service is in place, the business owner doesn’t have to even think about payroll unless a change (i.e. a raise, new benefit) is made.
While Intuit Payroll can cost as little as $24 per month (regardless of how many employees you have), other tools that feature more services can be significantly more expensive. One example is Gusto, which offers a series of plans. The most popular plans charge $12 per person per month, on top of a $39 monthly base fee.
Covering New Monthly Payments
You may have heard about more companies seeking small business loans to cover monthly business expenses during rough patches. This is partially because the average small businesses has more monthly expenses than generations’ past. Among the newer additions are the three tools listed above. You have to pay for them every month, even though a particularly hazardous slow season can turn a loss of an extra $1,000 into a crushing blow.
Companies like United Capital Source can solve this dilemma with short-term working capital loans. Unlike banks, we have no issue approving smaller amounts, and short terms don’t have to be accompanied by absurdly high interest rates. We believe that managing debt is a key skill for small business success, one that should be acquired as early as possible. So, rather than waiting for a massive investment to take your first crack at debt financing, we recommend you start small. By the time you need a lot more money or a considerable business term loan, you won’t have any concern about payments obstructing cash flow or day-to-day operations.
Investing in crucial technological tools ultimately gives business owners more time in the day to do what they do best. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to understand them, and it’s not difficult to choose the right version of the right service. Just look at what your similarly-sized competitors are using and see if you can get an even better deal.