Technology offers opportunities to improve efficiency and differentiate your small business from the competition. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that technology is no panacea. You can’t indiscriminately choose one solution and hope it will be effective. Rather, you must find technologies that support your business’s mission, vision, and goals.
To help you do that, this article covers seven common pitfalls small-business owners face when purchasing technology for their companies. Recommendations follow each mistake so that you can buy your new tech with confidence.
1. Impulsive buying behaviors
Some small-business owners suffer from “shiny object syndrome” and are tempted to buy every new technology they discover. It’s natural to be intrigued by technologies that could provide a competitive edge, but impulsive buyers don’t stop to consider what these technologies actually accomplish or how they will help them grow their business.
Recommendation: To curb those impulsive behaviors, consider your organization’s current needs, workplace culture, and long-term goals—then look for technologies that facilitate those needs.
Shelley Iocona, founder and product strategist at ON ITS AXIS, suggests small-business owners evaluate technology investments as they would any large purchase: “Make sure the selected technology is the right fit by running through your own use cases as well as evaluating competitors.”
2. Lack of healthy skepticism
Thousands of products and applications promise to solve all the day-to-day challenges of running a business, says Alexandra Suchman, founder of AIS Collaborations, and many small-business owners base their purchase decisions on those impressive claims. But getting distracted by the bells and whistles and claims of life-changing business results will often lead to technologies of little use to you and your company.
Recommendation: Business owners that lack skepticism need to conduct a feasibility assessment—examining the needs of their business and their employees—before they start looking at tech options, according to Suchman.
Evaluate existing technology and your employees’ openness to new technologies to avoid falling for pointless sales pitches or ones that are too good to be true.
3. Hesitance to invest in needed upgrades
Adopting new technology can be expensive, and many small-business owners balk at the idea of spending substantial amounts of money on new technology. This attitude may help the bottom line, but it often sacrifices employees’ output and well-being.
Recommendation: While the desire to save money is a laudable goal, savvy business owners know that saving money sometimes requires spending money.
If you’re concerned about the cost of adopting new technology, speak with your employees about technologies and tools that could enhance their productivity and job satisfaction. Something as simple as investing in quality business internet service can go a long way toward improving your team’s communication and efficiency.
4. Commitment to long-term contracts
Long-term contracts can offer added protections or cost savings, but they can also keep you stuck with outdated technology and tools. If you find yourself tempted by a long-term contract that limits your future options, remember that the promise of cost savings can quickly result in obsolete tech.
Recommendation: Kevin Tash, president and CEO of Tack Media, advises small-business owners against signing long-term contracts. Instead, you should partner with technology vendors that offer flexible subscription-based services. These services tend to adapt to your company’s changing needs, allowing it to scale and grow.
5. Decision fatigue
While it’s exciting that there are thousands of products and apps that could potentially meet your needs, it can also be overwhelming. Many small-business owners fear that committing to one technology means missing out on another. The complexity of choice can be too much, preventing you from making a final purchasing decision.
Recommendation: Small-business owners afraid of making the wrong choice should take three steps to come to a decision: First, establish your business needs. Second, review and rank the available technologies. Third, build a proof of concept.
According to Ben Sears, co-founder of ServiceBot, a proof of concept “will give you a better idea of what the tech can do, as well as allow you to formulate how the end state of the integration with your business will look.”
6. Inconsistent rollout and adoption messaging
Once you identify the right technology for your particular pain point, it can be tempting to immediately integrate it into your business, expecting your employees to find the tool as helpful and amazing as you did. But they often don’t—and often even refuse to use it in favor of the tech they are used to.
Recommendation: You must communicate about the new technology before, during, and after implementation and offer training and educational resources to help get your team on board.
Jim Robertson, president and CEO of the Alternative Board Woodlands, advises that “as the leader of your company, it’s up to you to adequately explain the advantage of the new technology and inspire employees to adopt it.” The more information and instruction you share, the more empowered to change your employees will be.
7. Lack of measurement after implementation
The successful implementation of new tech doesn’t end at the point of sale. Many small-business owners will apply logic to their purchasing decisions, employing research and pilots before committing to a technology investment, but then forget to remain logical once the bill has been paid. Don’t rely on instincts to assess whether business objectives are met by your new tech.
Recommendation: Data, not feelings, should drive your analysis of success. Small-business owners should apply logic and analysis throughout their technology implementation.
Katie McKenna and Ian Barrett, content and analytics strategists at Portent, recommend using tools like Google Analytics to help you determine the effectiveness of your tech. It’s important that data informs your decisions, they say, otherwise you risk implementing technology or tactics that don’t meet your company’s or your customers’ needs.
Technology can help your business grow. But to see that growth, you need to avoid mistakes like the seven shared here. If you define your needs, perform market research, and measure your results, you can find the best technology designed for your business and its goals.