If you are starting a small business you’ll want to take a look at these tech essentials to get your business up and running:
  1. Domain and Website – You’ll want some real estate on the web to show off your products and brag about your services.  Domains can be purchased from popular sellers like http://Bluehost.com
  2. Email – You’ll need email addresses specific to your business like sales@<yourbusiness.com>, support@<yourbusiness.com>, billing and individual email addresses for each Employee.   Domain providers can sell email services that give you an interface online with those specific addresses.   Also popular services like Google’s Gmail also offer familiar solutions for business for a monthly cost per address.
  3. Blog – You can tie in a popular service like Blogger, Blogspot, or Tumblr or use the blog features of your website.   This is a way to share your knowledge with the world to prove to potential clients that you are experts in your field.  This builds a relationship of trust over time and will eventually help people more easily convert to using your products or services when they are in the market.
  4. CRM – Customer Relationship Management.  If you are selling products or services you need a way to keep track of leads, potentials, clients, follow-ups, projects etc.  There are popular SaaS (software as a service) tools that are paid for per month per license and are inexpensive for basic features as you start out.  You can always add on more costly features as your revenue increases.    We use http://zoho.com just as an example but there are many other products on the market that could potentially service this need.
  5. Financial Software  – If you have employees and customers you’ll need to handle things like payroll, managing expenses, and creating customer receipts and statements.  Intuit’s QuickBooks for small business is a popular and affordable option for managing these items on your own without needing to hire someone full time to do finances.  We still recommend a consultant tax professional at tax time or at various times throughout the year to audit and make sure things are on track, but existing software solutions have made financial aspects of your business far more manageable
These are just a handful of technology items to consider as your are starting out.  Look for a second installment of the Small Business Technology Toolkit as we delve deeper into topics like e-commerce and video conferencing, and VOIP phone systems.