As a small business owner, you probably feel like you never have enough time or money. And when you’re overstressed and budgets are tight, the last thing you want to deal with is the expensive and time-consuming process of upgrading your technology. New hardware or software may seem prohibitively expensive, and just doing the research on what products will work best for your needs may seem like it’s going to take more time than you have.
But every business periodically gets to a moment when the cost of waiting to upgrade your technology outweighs the cost of actually making the upgrade. Maybe the time you’d save with a new system will make it worth it, or maybe your business’s needs have changed enough that you can’t keep going with your old system. Whatever the reason for the upgrade, it doesn’t have to be an expensive time-suck–these days, there are plenty of affordable, user-friendly options out there that will provide the solutions you need in a way that will work for you.
Here are 5 questions to ask before you upgrade your technology:
1. How much time could you save?
Do you still have to update your inventory or balance your books manually? You probably already know that there are technological solutions that could save you all that time. But these days there are software solutions for a host of other business problems—for example, the Schedule app in the Clover App Market can automate the process of alerting your employees to schedule changes, managing shift trades and time-off requests, and even reminding your staff to come in shortly before their shifts start. The Commerce Sync app automatically adds your sales to QuickBooks or Xero every day.
If your current system is plagued by bugs, crashes, or slow loading times, an upgrade could also save you valuable time. Think about not only the time you spend dealing with technological glitches, but the time your staff spends—that’s time you’re paying for.
2. Are you compliant with current rules?
As of 2015, merchants have to be able to accept EMV chip-card technology, or they’re liable for fraudulent transactions. If your current POS system can’t accept EMV cards, it’s definitely time for an upgrade (Clover’s POS terminals all accept EMV cards). But the larger point is that changes like this come along all the time. It’s crucial that you stay informed about the current state of the art in security, and make sure that your technology not only complies with regulations, but meets the requirements of credit card companies and the expectations of customers.
With data breaches and hacks on the rise, it’s more important than ever to make sure that the way you’re safeguarding your business’s—and your customers’—information is as secure as possible. If you’re considering an upgrade for security reasons, look for a system that meets today’s standards and regularly updates its security protocols to keep you and your customers protected.
3. Is your business growing?
The most obvious use-case for new technology is the addition of a whole new aspect to your business. For example, if you’ve launched a food truck or started selling products regularly at local street fairs or other events, you’ll need portable POS terminals that your staff can use on the go. The Clover Flex, Mobile, or Go all offer state-of-the-art security and reliability in convenient, handheld devices. If you’re just starting to sell products online, you’ll need a software solution that makes that process secure, such as Clover Online.
You don’t necessarily need a new line of business to make a technology upgrade worthwhile. Simple growth in your core business could make an upgrade necessary. If you’re hiring more staff, for example, scheduling software could reduce headaches for you and your employees. If you’re making more sales, you might want software that can better track your inventory, or gives you better analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t.
4. Did MacGyver build your current system?
This is a common problem for small businesses. You’ve built up your technology systems piece by piece, starting with whatever software was free when you were running this business in your spare time. This kind of jury-rigged system may work fine for a while, but eventually you may find that the different elements don’t work together. When incompatibility starts to create problems for you and your staff, it may be time for an upgrade to a system that fits together seamlessly.
Even if your piece-by-piece system isn’t creating obvious incompatibilities, it may be confusing when you’re training new staff. If your employees have to learn six different software programs just to do their jobs, it may be time to streamline.
5. What will the ROI be on this investment?
If you’re having trouble with your hardware, do some research to determine the cost of repairing your equipment versus replacing it. In some cases, particularly with older computers or terminals, buying a new model may be cheaper than repairing the old one.
If you’re considering some new software, think about its potential benefits. Will it save you time? Factor the hours saved for you or your staff into your analysis of the return you’ll get on this investment. Will this new software improve the service you’re able to offer to customers? Take that into account when considering the up-front cost of an upgrade.
There are plenty of situations that could make a technology upgrade worth the money. The investment could well be worth it–provided you think through the pros and cons ahead of time.[image: Windows Phone by Marco Verch on flickr]
Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, Sun Trust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including Ignite Payments, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at clover.com.