Buying Small Business Software? Avoid These 4 Mistakes

Posted March 04, 2016

By Larry Alton

Buying small business software requires a significant investment of both your time and your money. As such, it's imperative that you thoroughly research your options and home in on the right software products for your small business.

Unfortunately, many small business owners don't understand the process of researching and purchasing small business software, and they make mistakes they can ill afford. We look at four common mistakes so that you won't fall prey to these same blunders.

4 Small Business Software Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

1. Relying on Biased Information

As a business person, you have to understand that marketing plays a huge role in the software industry. With so many different software providers selling similar products to the same target markets, most of them will do whatever it takes to close a sale. Sometimes these marketing tactics are honest and sometimes they aren't – but regardless, you need to understand that they're always biased.

Any time you see a piece of content that reviews a particular business software solution, check to see who created and published that content. In many cases, you'll notice that the company selling the product also produced the content, often while trying to make it appear as though it's from a third-party source. There are obviously issues with this tactic.

You often see this problem arise in those charts that compare different competing software solutions. A company will list all the features of the different options, and then put its product in first place without any rhyme or reason.

"The problem with a list like this posted by a company (as opposed to an impartial third-party) is that they're always skewed," says content marketer and author Steff Green in a blog post. "It's a marketing tactic, rather than any kind of honest attempt to evaluate and compare products on the market. The parameters are carefully chosen to highlight the company's main benefits, and the wording is overly vague and doesn't provide any real answers."

how to buy small business software

2. Ignoring Scalability

Because searching for the right small business software is incredibly time consuming and challenging, it's not something you want to do every year. Yet, so many businesses repeat this process over and over. Why? They don't prioritize scalability during the initial search.

While it's important to consider where your company currently stands, you also need to think about where your company will be in three, five, and 10 years. Where do you see your business going? How quickly do you anticipate growth? Will a particular solution be able to grow with you?

Scalability is a big deal in the software world. Your business needs can change from month-to-month, and you don't want to be restricted by the software you select. Ensure that the your small business software you choose can evolve along with your company.

3. Not Thinking About Hidden Fees and Costs

Cost is a consideration for every business, but few small business owners do a good job of anticipating the true cost of small business software. Don't just think about the upfront cost. Are there installation fees? Will subscription fees increase as you grow? Who pays for troubleshooting and updates? Do cancellation fees apply?

If you don’t get answers to these questions, you're in for a few surprises down the road. They might be small surprises that don't end up being a big deal, or they may be major issues that limit your options.

4. Prioritizing Features Over Functions

The variety of small business software available today means that no matter the category—accounting, CRM, collaboration to name but a few—each product has its own unique selling points. If you aren't aware of what you actually need, you'll end up paying for features that serve no functional purpose.

"With so many options available, it is easy to focus on a products features instead of the functionality it can offer your business," says business writer Adrian Mott in a blog post. "The shiny bells and whistles are great if they help address your business's needs. If these features only make the program look pretty but don't actually help you achieve your goals, you should consider a different program."

Be a Smart Small Business Software Buyer

Buying small business software isn't as straightforward as it may seem. However, it's also not as challenging as many make it out to be. By avoiding these four common mistakes, you can ensure the process is both smooth and beneficial. It may take additional time to conduct research and compare your options, but you'll enjoy much better benefits as a result. Take your time and be a smart small business software buyer.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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