While there are always technology solutions that are business specific, there are certain ones that all small to mid-sized businesses (SMB's) must have today. At InHouseCFO we see these must-haves falling into 4 main categories:
- Sales and Marketing:
The boundaries around these two business disciplines have become much more blurred, so much so, while still different in their goals and outcomes, from a tools and systems perspective, we see these as intermingled. We’ve adopted the term that one of the leading marketing tool providers HubSpot has adopted - Smarketing. Smarketing tools need to cover the following 5 stages:
- Get Found:
- Traditionally; and
- Report; and
- Get Found:
- Business Processing;
- Financial Management and Reporting; and
We discuss each category below, including those tools that we at InHouseCFO, after extensive diligence, and real-time testing, have determined as meeting the requirements set by us for, in turn, meeting the needs of small to mid-sized businesses.
Sales & Marketing:
The way business needs to be done as a result of changed purchaser behaviours, requires all businesses to move to the Cloud, to avail themselves of critical tools to achieve success in their Schmarketing efforts. While this landscape is continually changing and will do so for some time, there are core solutions that we believe are required, and here to stay.
All businesses must have tools for their Smarketing activities. These are comprised of:
- Inbound Marketing tools:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Landing pages;
- Social media management systems;
- Dynamic Website;
- Email and Newsletters;
- Campaign management; and
- Workflow tools
- Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”):
- Note the word "Relationship" in the above phrase. Earlier systems, many of which still in use today, were referred (and appropriately so) as management systems. They were built just to do that. In today's ultra-competitive high standard business world, those systems won't cut it. All businesses must step up the bar here, or the cost doing the work will be lost as opportunities will not close, and customers will not return, or refer.
- A business must have an appropriate form of CRM system that is able to assist in it’s relationship with every customer from the moment they become a business opportunity and lasting forever, as, "once a sales prospect always a sales prospect".
The tools we’ve identified in some form of configuration as meeting a business’ Smarketing needs are:
The tools required here need to assist a business in dealing with the following needs:
- Payroll and HR;
- Transaction processing (deposits or bill payments);
- Appointment scheduling;
The tools we’ve identified in some form of configuration as meeting the Business Processing needs are:
Financial Management and Reporting
Today’s business environment demands up-to-date financial results that are reportable in real-time in relevant formats and to individuals capable of analyzing and deciding courses of action.
The tools we’ve identified in some form of configuration as meeting the Financial Management and Reporting needs are:
More and more of today’s business activities are being dealt with digitally, causing businesses to adjust their administrative processes and solutions. The cloud itself, and tools that have been developed enable a business to store its documents for ease of accessibility and in many cases connected to the other tools used by the business for the other activities discussed above.
The tools we’ve identified in some form of configuration as meeting the Administrative needs of a business are:
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(Don Cameron is the Managing Director of InHouseCFO Inc., a consulting business dedicated to ensuring that growing business' and their Founders succeed by focussing on their business processes and disciplines, results measurement and management, and the appropriate investment of their hard earned wealth. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)