Tech essentials for building a small business startup

Editorial Team

13 min read
Restaurant owner writing on clipboard by laptop

For those starting a small business, the right technology can help make operations more efficient, effective, and set you up for long-term success. Join us as we explore the hardware, software, cybersecurity platforms, and various digital tools entrepreneurs should consider utilizing ahead of launching their startup.

Essential hardware and software for startups

Before diving into digital tools for small business, a company first needs the right equipment. These common hardware and software tools can help you start your small business.


How much hardware an operation needs will depend on the type of products/services that are sold and how a business owner prefers employees work. Hardware considerations can include the following.

  • Computers and laptops: Depending on the workstations employees will have, they’ll need desktop computers and/or laptops for mobile and flexible work environments.
  • Smartphones and tablets: If employees will be required to use a smartphone for business (such as a social media manager, for example), those employees will need additional work devices. Tablets can be handy for handling orders, accessing supply chain information, and managing workflows in various areas.
  • Printers and scanners: For businesses that need to print materials and/or scan barcodes, they should plan to order these items.


Business software can help owners execute tasks more efficiently and safely store files in a space that’s accessible from any device. Software can help protect a business from threats such as natural disasters or theft that could put paper files at risk. Software can also make managing business operations easier and help support staff at work.

Operating systems and productivity suites

Operating systems (Windows, Mac) and productivity suites (Workfront, Jira) may include everything from client emails and digital calendars, to project management tools. When a team uses the same software, it’s easier to keep track of tasks and projects, communicate seamlessly, sync up schedules, and more.

Cloud storage and file management

Cloud storage (Google Drive, Dropbox) is a digital storage space where users can upload files such as Word documents, photography, video and audio files, and marketing assets. Anyone with permission can access the files they need, from any secure and approved device. With cloud storage software, users can see file uploads in real time to locate the newest and older versions while also tracking project progress.

Communication and collaboration tools

Small business startups may be interested in software that enables faster communication and more efficient collaboration among their team members online. Communication tools (Slack, Microsoft Teams) enable employees to chat or call each other to get information they need. Collaboration tools (Trello, Asana) help team members leave comments on projects, upload files, track timelines, and more.

Cybersecurity and data protection

If any business operations are online, it’s vital to have cybersecurity and data protection in place to help safeguard business and customer data. From outside threats to internal employees, anyone who gets access to business data could compromise the success of the business. A data breach can also greatly impact customer trust and sentiment for a company.

Importance of cybersecurity for startups

Cybersecurity protections ensure data can only be accessed by the right contacts and is backed up in case it’s compromised. For startups, there are several key tools that can help protect data.

Antivirus and malware protection

Antivirus and malware protection (McAfee, Norton) helps prevent data breaches by detecting and removing software viruses and malicious software, also known as malware. Once antivirus and malware protection are installed, it runs automatically in the background to help protect computer systems in real-time.

Data encryption and secure communication tools

Data encryption is the process of encoding confidential data so that the right users can access and read it, but other users can’t. Companies can use data encryption software (Tresorit, Virtru) to secure data and other communications to ensure only intended users have access to it.

Building your online presence

Even for brick-and-mortar businesses, it’s important to build a website and grow brand awareness online. According to research from GWI., the most popular method  people learn about new brands or products is through search engines, cited by 31% of consumers. More than a quarter (27%) also discover new brands and products via ads on social media.

Some of the top digital marketing tools to build a company’s online presence include the following.

Website and domain hosting

Businesses can promote a website in print marketing materials for lead generation and when talking to customers. A company can secure a domain name (or multiple domain names) through a service such as GoDaddy or Google Domain.

For building a website, small businesses have a few options. A business owner can work with a website developer to create a custom website. Or, sites like WordPress and Squarespace make it easy to create a custom website using their formatting tools. Then, it’s possible to link a website to the purchased domain.

Content management systems (CMS)

A content management system (CMS) is a tool that simplifies uploading new content into a website. A CMS may be the same as a website builder (WordPress, for example), or a website developer may set up a custom website with a CMS tool. CMS tools typically include features such as advanced post scheduling, the ability to integrate comments and provide responses, photo and GIF uploading, and other features.

eCommerce platforms

For businesses that plan to sell products or services online, it’s important to integrate an eCommerce platform into the website that sets up an online store and a payment gateway. Tools such as Clover point of sale (POS) will unify both in-store sales and online sales into one dashboard, making it easier to manage inventory with a single payment processor.

Branding and marketing tools for small business

Since people spend so much time online today (nearly 6.5 hours a day, according to Statista), digital marketing tools can help small businesses reach those leads and customers. The following tech-based digital small business marketing tools can help.

Social media management

It’s free to set up business profiles on sites such as Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. Businesses can use social media sites to:

  • Build relationships with customers
  • Announce a new business, product, or service
  • Promote discounts, special offers, and business updates
  • Answers questions, provide customer service, and offer tips for using products and services

Small business owners can also invest in social media management tools, such as Hootsuite or HubSpot, that make scheduling, posting, and responding to user comments easier. Social media marketing tools like these, as well as the actual social media sites themselves, also provide analytics that help businesses understand their company’s social media audiences. Business owners can analyze social media user demographics, post engagement, and other metrics to evolve their social media strategy.

Email marketing

According to research from Litmus, email marketing can provide an impressive return on investment of $36 for every $1 spent. Like social media, businesses can use email marketing to promote new products and services, give customers valuable information, offer coupons, and more.

An email marketing platform (Mailchimp, Constant Contact) enables businesses to curate targeted email lists, create drip marketing campaigns, test email messaging through A/B campaigns, create email marketing templates, and more. Business owners can manage subscribers, gain insights into open rates and customer journeys, and evaluate email performance by using the platform’s analytics capabilities.

Graphic design and content creation

Online tools enable anyone to create compelling graphics and content that can help attract customers and drive sales. There are free platforms that feature royalty-free photography, like Unsplash and Pexels. Free business tools for startups like Canva and VistaCreate enable users to build infographics, social media posts, online ads, and more.

Business owners can also use freelancer websites such as fiverr and Upwork to post content creation and search engine optimization (SEO) needs and get freelancer quotes for jobs. Some website builders and social media management platforms will also feature design templates right in the platform.

READ: 22 free small business tools and resources

Financial management tools

Human error can cause big problems for a company’s financial management, budgeting, and forecasting. Manual processes are also time-consuming and less efficient compared to using technology to manage business finances.

Accounting software

Managing payroll and expense tracking in one online tool provides greater visibility into business spending. Accounting software (QuickBooks, Xero) helps business owners understand how much employees, inventory, and other business expenses cost. Accounting tools can also uncover spending trends and improve financial management.

With the right POS system, it’s possible to integrate your accounting software, like QuickBooks, so that all sales, expenses, payments, and taxes are automatically added without you having to toggle between two or more systems.

Payment processing systems

Whether a business takes online payments, sells in stores, or a combination of the two, it needs reliable and user-friendly POS systems that work well for customers and for employees. Business owners should look for a payment processing solution that:

  • Enables customization of all sales items
  • Provides secure payment processing customers and the business can trust
  • Offers always-on payment processing, even when a wireless network goes down
  • Provides endless ways to take payments, including in person, by mail, over the phone, and by email

Shopping cart abandonment rates hover as high as 70%, and painful payment processing contributes to this. Business owners can make it easier for customers to pay for their purchases by optimizing the checkout flow.

For invoicing and billing clients, Clover POS enables merchants to send invoices via email, so businesses can get paid by both in-store and online customers, as well as other business clients and partners.

Budgeting and financial planning tools

As a small business owner, it’s important to know what current capabilities are and what they’re projected to be in the future, so it’s easier to plan for business expansion, hiring, and other growth. Budgeting and financial planning tools (PlanGuru, Float) can help new business owners:

  • Set budgets
  • Create financial goals
  • Assign accountability
  • Analyze financial performance
  • Determine long-term financial strategy

Financial management tools help business owners understand where business resources are allocated and how they’re performing so you can adjust them and grow your business in a cost-effective way.

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems

Business owners can serve customers better with a clear understanding of how they use a product or service and how they interact with the company. A customer relationship management system (CRM) organizes every lead and customer who’s interacted with a company all in one place.

Importance of CRM for startups

CRM tools can provide a business with valuable insights and features that help build stronger relationships and increase loyalty with customers. A business owner can organize all leads and customers within a single tool, with access to contact information, every interaction with a customer, notes about interactions, and other features.

CRM systems are essential tools for startups, especially for sales and marketing teams. They provide employees with insights that help them provide better service to customers to keep them engaged with the business.

CRM software features

CRM software helps businesses manage contacts, track leads and sales, and access customer communication history. Some of the benefits of CRM for startups include:

  • Gaining a deeper understanding of customers, including demographics, buying patterns, marketing preferences, and more
  • Staying updated on the latest communication with every customer
  • Uncovering business insights, including customer purchase data, customer journey patterns, and more

Tools such as Salesforce and Oracle CX help startups grow by providing better service to every contact the company has had. CRM tools can scale with a business as it grows, keeping track of all points of contact so it’s easier to re-engage customers who have dropped off and increase loyalty with new customers.

Task and project management tools

In a fast-moving small business startup, missing one important task could create a ripple effect that impacts the entire business. Task and project management software can improve organization and keep people accountable for what needs to get done.

Task tracking and collaboration tools

Task tracking and collaboration tools give the right team members visibility into projects they’re working on. Project management platforms such as Hive and enable a business to:

  • List projects and break them out into tasks
  • Assign team members to various duties
  • Set deadlines and track project completion
  • Express roadblocks and project needs
  • Organize version history of tasks and projects
  • Communicate in real-time on tasks

The advantage of software for project management is that it’s accessible from any connected device, as long as a user has access. This enables team members to work, collaborate, and answer questions even when they’re away from the office, which can increase productivity for the team.

Time management and productivity tools

Most project management software tools will include features that enable team members to input the time they’ve spent on various tasks and projects, so project managers at a business gain a better understanding of resources used. There are also various time management and productivity tools such as Teamwork and TimeCamp that can help a business anticipate hiring needs and utilize employees better.

Scaling up: tech tools for growth

For scaling a business quickly and effectively, technology helps automate manual processes and improves accuracy. From human resources to business intelligence, consider how digital tools can help small business owners make smarter decisions.

Human resources and recruitment software

Human resources and recruitment software such as JazzHR and Gusto can simplify and power up HR operations, even when there’s no dedicated in-house team. HR software can be used to:

  • Provide team guidelines
  • Coordinate payroll and direct deposit information
  • Offer benefits information, such as health insurance
  • Collect applications and move applicants through the hiring process
  • Give applicants and employees an easy way to communicate with HR specialists

Some HR platforms will also present hiring and employee data, so businesses can understand metrics such as employee retention, turnover, and engagement. Software helps organize a workforce and identify issues that could be affecting retention, so businesses can improve processes and retain the best performers.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems help organize business resources in a single system, including:

  • Supply chain operations
  • Project management
  • Manufacturing
  • Finance
  • Procurement
  • Services
  • Risk management and compliance

An ERP system can show all daily business activity data in one place, so business owners can visualize how they interact. An ERP system (SAP, Microsoft Dynamics 365) also helps eliminate data duplication and manual processes that result in costly errors.

Analytics and business intelligence tools

Analytics and business intelligence tools (Tableau, Microsoft Power BI) help business owners visualize business data analytics, which makes it easier to improve strategy and make data-informed business decisions. Business owners can use business intelligence tools to:

  • Identify business trends
  • Integrate different data sources in a single dashboard
  • Create customized dashboards for preferred data streams
  • Access predictive analytics to anticipate business outcomes

Business owners can also access free analytics tools connected to various digital platforms, such as linking Google Analytics to a business website and using Instagram insights to learn more about users on that social media site. By learning more about leads and customers and how they interact with a business, it’s easier to adapt business strategies, provide customers better service, and increase loyalty.

Technology can help grow your business

Using tools for sales and marketing, financial management, productivity, and cybersecurity can help improve business operations and the user experience. Look for hardware and software tools that can help set your small business up for success.

Whether you need an advanced employee management tool to schedule shifts, a retail POS system to handle in-store transactions, or a full restaurant POS system to streamline your establishment’s operations, Clover’s POS solutions can help you do it all with one sleek, user-friendly tool.

Why wait? Elevate your business, and get started with a Clover POS system today.

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