How To Choose The Right Digital Platform For Your New Business
With technology booming and opportunity more abundant than ever, starting a business online has become easier than ever. There are plenty of resources at your fingertips, ready-made solutions for you to choose from, and infinite scalability for you to leverage.
With technology booming and opportunity more abundant than ever, starting a business online has become easier than ever.
There are plenty of resources at your fingertips, ready-made solutions for you to choose from, and infinite scalability for you to leverage.
But there is one caveat. With all this choice, it has become difficult to sift through everything available and reach a decision that you can stick to.
For example, there are platforms for:
Selling products or services
Accounting / bookkeeping tasks
Shipping & handling
Customer relationship management
And many more…
The Importance Of Choosing The Right Platform
Like any business decision, choosing the right online platform for your business should be made carefully and after considering the different strengths of various options.
However, some platforms can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars to get started with. If you’re a startup, this can be difficult to pay. According to the startup lenders Max Funding, a loan can be a viable option, noting that “many operations including lead generation and other sales processes require tailored enterprise level solutions. Without these, it is hard to maintain revenue and providing your services becomes extremely inefficient”.
By choosing the right platform, you gain an edge over the competition.
If you’re not sure about whether or not a platform is right for you, look at whether the platform offers a free trial and any initial training or support to help you get set up. This can be a great way to decide whether the platform works for you and your customers.
Niche vs. All-In-One
In most situations, choosing a niche product will be the better choice.
For example, choose a service that solely focuses on accounting, invoicing, shipping, managing, or another specific functionality.
Since these companies strongly focus on one area, they are likely to provide great support for these platforms. They may even have special consultants that are trained to help your business succeed with all aspects of that one particular task.
Consider Your Audience
When choosing your online platform, first and foremost you should think about the needs of your customers, clients or members. With that said, clunky ‘all in one’ platforms are not necessarily the most effective, just because they streamline your processes.
Which technologies and devices are your audiences using?
There’s no point having a mobile-only presence for a business aimed at engaging people in older demographics who are less familiar with technology. At the same time, if your target audience (such as busy parents) finds it easier to do things on their phones than on desktop, having a smartphone app or mobile-optimised version of your website is essential.
“Make sure your small business website interface leaves a positive impression that drives results,” is the advice from the experts at Metro Bookkeeping who rely on digital platforms to stay competitive. “Research your target audience to see what they want from your site and make it easy for them to accomplish it.”
Use any data you have around how your audience likes to connect with you, such as Google Analytics reports or even simple surveys sent to your customers.
Consider Ongoing Maintenance
If your work already keeps you busy from the moment you wake up, you probably don’t want to be giving yourself more demands on your time. Choosing a digital platform that will save you time, and make the time you do spend working on it more efficient, is essential.
According to the team at MT Medical who use digital platforms to collect and share patient data between specialists, you should also “consider what risks there are to trying to do everything yourself. Building a website from the ground up means that there’s nobody to turn to for help if something goes wrong. On the other hand, going with an established platform or management service means you have backup and support for troubleshooting any issues.”
Also think about things like:
How much will the platform/service cost?
How long will it take to get my business presence on the platform up and running?
How will any information stored on the platform be secured?
On the last point, digital privacy is a huge issue in our society at the moment, especially when it comes to businesses that hold the private or personal information of others, especially children. All businesses are under greater pressure to consider how they will protect the privacy of their customers. At the same time, digital platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are coming under fire for allowing huge data breaches to occur, and at times lying about whether they happened.
Think about whether the platform you are choosing is trustworthy, and whether your audience will feel safe accessing and uploading information through the platform.
Consider How Your Business Will Grow
When choosing an online platform, don’t just think about your needs for today. Think about how you want to grow, expand and improve your business in the coming years. This reemphasises the need to build on a strong foundation: the choices you make now will impact how you can grow into the future.
For example, if you’re looking for a platform to send proposals to win new clients, you need to consider the pricing structure. How much extra will you need to pay per user? Will this remain a cost-effective solution as you grow your number of employees? Is it easy to train new employees to use this software?
Overall, digital platforms are powerful tools to assist (or build) your business upon. Choosing the right one for your specific needs is essential. There is no ‘best’ platform but only one that best suits your requirements.