In this article, we are going to speak only of the outlay costs that you, as a Canadian small business owner should budget for subscriptions to the core tools you require to stay competitive in todays' changed business environment. Be cautioned though, that, as outlined in our article, Big Data, the biggest costs you could be seeing are the value of lost opportunities or, worse yet, lost market share from NOT using these tools.
A small business owner's toolbox must contain software that assists him/her in connecting with and reporting on interactions that their business has with prospective and current customers. This needs to start well before those prospects even know about the business until long after they become customers.
Therefore, at a minimum this needs to include tools that enable optimization of Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Accounting. They need to accomodate robust processing, management and reporting capabilities.
The Cost of a 10 Solution System
We've identified 10 such solutions which make up the core system, each one of them now available in the Cloud. The charts below provide the investment that a serious small business owner needs to make to give their business any hope of growing and avoiding a drop in business through competition.
The basic system costs are outlined to the left, estimating the up-front costs and the annual ongoing costs.
As some of the software's costs (Office and Salesforce) are user-based, we've used the minimum user base allowed for illustrative purposes.
You'll see that initial outlays are quite small, $5,000.00, but please be aware this presumes basic website upgrades and customization of reporting. It also only allows for no more than 500 contacts in the marketing database.
The more robust system requires a higher investment up front in order to customize reporting, and to obtain enhanced training and enable more features. We also presume that there would be a higher minimum number of users to allow for the systems to be effective for the organization. This results in increased annual costs as well.
So for a heftier up-front commitment, which provides for a website ready to rock, the tools to do it with, hands-on training for internal use, and custom reporting of your key business results, then an annual cost of less than $1,000 per month, an SMB owner can be confident that they have the tools they require to outpace their competition.
The next step is to ensure that you have personnel who have the proper training and expeirnece tp be able to use these tools effectively and to interpret the results. Current staff can be trained to do the former, and as we've noted in prior articles, engaging a business oriented CFO can deliver that which is necessary in the most important "results interpretation" area. You should budget at least $750 per month for basic level, and up to $2,500 per month for enhanced level service from an experienced, tech-savvy financial professional. They will help you experience better results faster.
While you are in the midst of updating your systems, it would be a good idea to give your business a full financial overview. To see what that entails: