Small Business Software: Deciding what works for your own situation

Otherwise known as dropping the should.

Sometimes I forget to follow my  own advice. As I have been designing my business, I’ve begun to look into which small business software I need, and which are just overkill right now. I’m torn–in a lot of ways, I love the idea of having my Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) (ideally with invoicing software) talking to Social Media Marketing tool (SMM) or with my Email management tool. Yet, I’m not sure the reality of this is something I need yet. Look. There’s a lot of shoulds going on in my head right now–I should be using some of this software because I work with the technology.. I should have a hyper-organized-connect-efficient invoicing tool/CRM right now. I should be the epitome of connected. Right??

So when I approach my design from a “should”  position, my diagram is all about the tools, not what I’m trying to do with them. Notice the red circle around my list of  tools I should use.


As I started to draw out the connections, I realized that I was getting bogged down in thinking about the tools–not about my goals

As I diagrammed my thinking, I decided to rethink my approach. I started with my administrative goal in the center:


I realized that I needed to think about what I wanted my administrative systems to do.

I’m not sure you can read that, but the words I used to describe my goals were:  simplified, structure, easy, connected, inexpensive.  After I came up with that goal, I wanted to make sure I added my business goals on the same page. I then noted the systems I was already using. Very quickly it dawned on me what I didn’t want to do which was to take time away from clients to support an administrative system. And in the red circle, you’ll see that I was able to come up with a checklist that will help me make better decisions in the future.

administrative and business goals2

By reframing my thinking, I was able to make some decisions about how I would approach business software now and in the future.

Notice that my thinking shouldn’t be yours. Each business is unique, and starting with your own goals, it’s much easier to breath a sigh of relief when faced with new technology choices and realize that you don’t have to do everything–you just need to decide what’s important to you.

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