Web-based tools

This is a good time to be in business. You could very well be working like the big Fortune 500 companies and but still be small and nimble (and that’s the best way to be).

You could look, sound, feel, and work sophisticated and yet not have much in terms of expenses to show for it. You can make quite an impression but be completely bootstrapped.

Tools for startups, medium-sized businesses, and large companies have made all this possible, and no one is complaining. Yet, not everything is all good and rosy with many web-tools we know about and write on.

Remember that almost each of these web-tools are startups and they have their own problems to deal with. On top of that, every business is unique and so that’d mean a long play of trial-and-error before you arrive at the best possible tools for your startup (or business of any size).

As you go looking for web-based tools, SaaS applications, and business apps, I believe you should take the final call when it comes to picking a tool to work with.

Here are a few pointers to help you along the way:

Web-based tools:Fit or Unfit?

As I wrote earlier, each business is different. I remember a client who was looking for a CRM solution and despite the presence of a large number of great CRM tools for small businesses, the client had a critical need for an even simpler CRM with a few features that he couldn’t find in any other CRM. End of the day, he had to pick OnePage CRM and stick with that one.

A large part of your decision-making process when it comes web-based tools or technology solutions will centre around trial and error.

Even quite successful companies go through it. See how Dave Nevogt of HubStaff made the decision to move from MailChimp

Or see how Pablo Hoffman of ScrapingHub tried various tools for team chat and finally settled on Slack for team communication.

Sometimes, you’d have to consider local business regulations, features of web tools that cater to your specific requirements, currency, Geographic constraints, local requirements, and more. You’d also have to take ease of use, your teams’ acceptance, and costs.

Every business goes through this. So, just stick with that since it’s worth it in the end.

Working Single Or With a Team?

Most businesses are completely one-person companies with a single entrepreneur at the helm. A few small businesses have teams working at the helm. Picking your web-based tools — and the recurring price you pay for them — has a lot to do with thinking about the size of your business, whether or not you’d need your team to work with you on these tools everyday, and more.

Most B2B web-based tools, for instance, you pay per seat or based on team-size. This decision single-handedly influences your decision.

Can you justify the expense, or the hype?

Take SalesForce for example. It’s a Hot Stock in the United States and as far as investors as concerned, no one is sure if SalesForce’s numbers make any sense to justify the expensive stock that SalesForce is, as Brett Arends points out in his piece at Wall Street Journal.

From a pure investment standpoint, SalesForce is expensive for what it does. I do like SalesForce. It’s just that not everyone can afford it or justify the expense as David Chism writes

Don’t Invest For Ego

If you aren’t careful and self-validating with web-based tools, you could be billing numerous subscriptions on your card that make you look terrible when it’s time to do your accounts. I know of an entrepreneur who subscribed to $399 per month plans for marketing automation simply because someone called up from the United states and asked questions like:

“How many clients do you serve?”

“Is your monthly email requirement (or monthly send volume) more than 10,000 up to 25,000?”

Now, what will a small guy with just about 34 exact monthly email send volume tell the sales rep? So, he bites in and protects his ego by claiming numbers way higher than his actual needs. He ends up subscribing for a $399 plan and finds that he doesn’t use the marketing automation software as much as he should.

Moral of the story: It’s alright to be small and nimble. Don’t let ego drive your decisions.

Justify ROI, or Time Saving, Or Whatever

When you invest in a tool, it should make you money. Or save you time (which is money).

For instance, use tools to:

Get all the branding paraphernalia you ever need, in a few clicks

Build a website, quick and easy 

Whip up quick, functional WordPress Forms

Manage your customers better

Engage your website visitors

Manage social media better or Monitor social accounts

Help save on your PPC costs due to fraud clicks 

See what users do on your website and get the kind of data that gives you super human powers 

You can do way lot more. Just don’t invest in tools when you can’t justify the ROI.