When you start a small business, you are constantly torn between wanting to save money and wanting to work efficiently. You know you don’t have the resources to invest in every business-boosting piece of tech on the market, but you also soon realize that you are wasting precious start-up hours on inefficient workflows. The solution, of course, is knowing which solutions are actually worth your money. The following six are safe bets.

Web Development 

While anyone can build a website with relative ease these days, it pays to invest in web development. Specifically, a web developer can build a site that looks great for the consumer and is easy to use. Look for someone whose experience aligns itself specifically with the needs of your website, and look for good reviews and testimonials. Qualified web developers should also have plenty of experience with back-end frameworks (e.g., Node.js, Ruby on Rails) and a thorough understanding of web fundamentals like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript.

Unlimited Data Plans

An unlimited cell phone plan for your business phone is a great investment since it keeps your cell expenses consistent while keeping you from constantly worrying about how much data you have left. Verizon, for example, offers a variety of great unlimited plans, including a Business Unlimited plan starting with five lines; however, do your research to find what works best for you.

Automation Software

Every small business uses dozens of platforms every day, from your content management systems to your social media pages or communication platform. As such, solid automation software can smooth out the interactions between these platforms, saving you precious time and boosting efficiency. Zapier is an industry favorite for platform management, allowing you to integrate and automate all your apps for a better workflow.

Another area in which automation shines is marketing. With the right software, you can find new leads, tailor your campaigns to the right audiences, and generate traffic. Some of the best marketing automation tools for SMEs include Constant Contact for emails, Drip for e-commerce, and HubSpot Marketing for a great all-round solution.

 Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence, or the use of Big Data to inform business decisions, is something most people associate with huge, multinational corporations. While it’s true that many BI solutions are not appropriate for SMEs with limited budgets, this is changing. There are more and more affordable options that can help small businesses start visualizing, managing, and leveraging their data from day one; some, like Sisense, even have special free programs for start-ups.

 Remote Working Tools

Remote working has exploded in the past few years, growing an incredible 159 percent between 2005 and 2017. Small businesses should be paying close attention to this trend: with no overhead office costs for new employees, you can grow your team faster and at a lesser cost. However, in order for a remote team to work, you will need the right tools, like Slack for day-to-day communication or Zoom for video conferencing.

 Data Security

Finally, in order for your small business to be efficient, it needs to be protected. SMEs are the biggest target for cybercrime, specifically because hackers know they tend to lack the resources to invest in data security. However, because of this, you can’t actually afford not to.

Security essentials you need include (to name but a few) a firewall, password manager, antivirus software, and a back-up plan. Building a solid security solution can get confusing, especially if you’re new to these things, which is where the FCC Cyberplanner comes in handy: input some information on your business and they will generate a personalized security plan.

Of course, every business requires a different approach. So, it’s important to do your research on what is available, and determine how much of your budget you can realistically allocate to these solutions. Remember to keep an eye out for free trials or even entirely free services that provide a simpler version of a more complex software — you will often find that, as a small business, these are more than enough to cover your needs.

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