Plan Your Apps from the Beginning
Starting your own business is an exciting time indeed. Structuring the business, finding premises, staff, and of course raising finance is a business in itself. Managing the day to day business takes up time you should be working to develop the business.
One of the most important and first things you’ll need to do to get your millennial business up and running is to quickly build your business website. If you are a retail business you might set up a shop front on it to sell your products. Other business types will invite visitors to contact them with business inquiries. You will still need apps and widgets running in the background to enable the basic business functions of accounting, stock management, payroll and so-on depending on the specific needs of your business.
It is easy to look at the apps required as foreground and background apps. Simply put, foreground apps are those that the visitor sees, and the background apps those that manage the business. There will be some overlap of course, but that definition will do as a point of departure.
The first strategic decision is to consider whether to go for standalone apps, apps bundled together as a business suite or a combination of both. If you foresee a definite need for integrated systems sharing common data sometime in the future, then a business suite is the better choice. A significant problem with disconnected apps is making sure that the data stays in sync.
Assume, and it is a fairly safe assumption that most business suites provide adequate basic accounting ledgers and payroll. The only thing to check here is that it handles and reports on local taxation properly, that the provider supplies annual payroll updates to reflect the annual tax changes. If you are to use multi-currency, also check that that is supported.
The next step, given that book keeping is satisfactorily covered will depend more on your business area. Manufacturing – you may need manufacturing, inventory and distribution. Retail, this may already be covered by your shop-front app, but if not you will need stock management and on-line point of sale. Consulting will need timesheet management and client billing.
The web-based front end of the business will need several apps over and above the website itself. If you run a business suite, they may already be included, but you might need:
- A retail app shows the customer what is available to purchase and its price. It also supports a shopping trolley and check-out.
- A credit card handling app invoices the customer and takes the money. There are several fully functional gateways to credit, debit and charge card processing sites that will manage your cash collection for you.
- A customer handling app records all your sales and retains customer information for later mailshots and mass marketing.
- A Customer Relationship Management/Help Desk app allows you to interact with your customers.
A golden rule is as little duplication of data as possible. You will need to integrate the website apps with the business suite to share data. Make sure that this is feasible and easy when selecting your apps.
Complexity is your enemy. Keep it simple. You don’t need every app that you see. Try to condense your needs into as few apps as possible.
Looking for more great reads? Check out these related articles: