Every growing business needs support from a comprehensive suite of mostly digital services. These services streamline mundane, non-core processes and free up scarce resources for higher-value efforts, like product development.
Early-stage businesses face myriad threats to growth. Some prove temporary. Others are systemic bottlenecks that erode startups’ competitive positions and cripple long-term promise.
Some of these threats trace back to founders’ understandable but misguided efforts to control overhead costs. They were wise to try and conserve capital for growth-oriented initiatives. However, such choices can lead to a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach that may prove counterproductive down the road.
Why? Because overhead isn’t just about keeping the lights on and the Internet connected.
No matter what your company does, these five essential digital services should probably be on its list.
1. Accounting Software
You’re not still keeping books by hand, are you?
You don’t need to pay an offsite accountant (or internal accounting employee, assuming you’re still relatively small) to do it for you, either. All you need is a robust cloud-based accounting software suite that empowers you or a subordinate to keep accurate financial and tax records. Heck, if you (or said subordinate) have the time, you might be able to do your taxes yourself and save a few hundred bucks every April.
2. Secure Cloud Storage
Tired of juggling dozens of external storage media or hopping from laptop to laptop in search of that one elusive file? You need secure cloud storage that keeps your mission-critical files in one place without leaving them exposed for all the world to see. It’s way cheaper than you think, and a whole lot less time-consuming than dealing with your current bring-your-own-media mess.
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3. Turnkey Legal Services
Basic legal maneuvers, such as filing articles of incorporation or generating employee contracts, doesn’t require a full-time lawyer on staff. In fact, your company probably doesn’t need a single human point of contact for its legal needs at all. Cloud-based legal service providers such as LegalZoom make it easy and cheap to execute background tasks that keep your firm right with the law. If you need more help, you can tap these services’ behind-the-scenes human lawyers. (Yes, they exist.)
4. Digital Marketing Automation
No matter what business you’re in, the benefits of digital marketing should be obvious. The trick is indulging in them without monopolizing your team’s scarce time.
That’s where digital marketing automation tools come in. However your marketing plan looks on the ground, it’s likely to benefit from straightforward solutions like automated email marketing, CRM suites, and social media scheduling software. It’s not rocket science, but it will save you a boatload of time and money.
5. Malware Protection
Is your company network vulnerable to compromise?
Here’s a hint: the answer is yes, always. While there’s no way to completely zero out the threat, you can take meaningful steps to keep your most sensitive data out of the hands of those who would do you harm. The first step, if you haven’t taken it already, is to invest in a robust, comprehensive malware protection suite that regularly updates to address constantly evolving cyber-threats. While you’re at it, invest in a virtual private network that automatically encrypts outbound data traffic.
What Digital Services Is Your Business Missing?
If your business isn’t yet using one or more of the services on this list, don’t panic. You’re not yet doomed to fail.
But you probably should take a closer look at what your business is missing and what you can do to address it. Maybe you’ll determine that you don’t actually need some of these services. Or maybe you’ll identify others to add. Only you can answer these questions, and there’s no time like the present to get started.