By Damian Hanson, Co-Founder & Director of CircleLoop
Running a startup is certainly not for the faint-hearted. As we reflect on another year of great change and unpredictability, we have seen organisations that thrived and those that did not. However, what was the common denominator for the startups that stayed afloat? I would say their ability to innovate, respond, and react in a timely manner.
As we continue to embrace a flourishing digital era, utilising the best technology to assist in the day-to-day running of a company has never been so important. Organisations must now be streamlined to modernise their infrastructure with the specialised tools and platforms that will grant them that competitive edge. A fully-fledged tech stack can make problem-solving easier and faster and is a crucial step in any startup journey.
Build a tech stack that works for your business
The importance of carefully selecting your tech stack as a new startup business cannot be understated. As a startup you have many factors to consider in the immediate term that will be crucial to the success of your business, and some decisions you will have to make quickly. However quick or rushed decisions on your tech stack may come back to bite in years to come!
One of the main considerations when choosing the platforms and software your company will use day-to-day is whether it aligns with your core business needs. For example; if your work requires flexibility in both working location and working hours, then cloud-based technology is likely to support you best. If you plan to grow your team quickly, then having the appropriate HR tech in place to help you to manage a growing team will be a great benefit when you reach this early growth stage.
By first establishing what your startup really needs from its tech stack in order to succeed, you can then begin to whittle down the choices available based on other important factors; cost, time, functionality and future-proofing.
Cost, time, functionality and future-proofing
Cloud-based or remote solutions are often more cost-effective than installing office-based hardware and require less time to set-up, meaning these tools can be useful to you almost immediately. But again it comes down to what works best for your startup. High-quality, office hardware may be a good investment for your business if the reliability of wired connections is more important than the flexibility and mobility of remote tech.
Keeping in mind the size, budget and needs of your business, it is also useful to build a tech stack that is easily adaptable. Startups are prone to significant changes as they grow and your stack should be able to accommodate this. First, to ensure that the technology you’re choosing is worth the time and money you’re spending, it’s important to consider how well it will integrate with other systems in your business.
Is it going to help streamline your day-to-day operations, or will it add another step in a process that needs to be more efficient? Choosing platforms and software that integrate with each other and share information greatly improves the functionality of the technology and its usefulness to your business.
The next consideration, and one that is often overlooked in the early stages of a startup is whether the technology you’re implementing is future-proof. In 3, 5 or perhaps even 10 years time, will this technology still be useful? Does it have the ability to grow and adapt with your business or are you investing time and money into technology that has a limited life-span? If so, perhaps consider investing in technology with a little more longevity.
A well implemented technology stack will act as a core pillar on which your startup builds and grows. With that in mind, I believe there are a few key business functions that should be addressed in your tech stack as a priority and technologies that I would recommend as essential to your startup tool kit.
Communication is key to any business and so having the right phone system will be important. As business, and society as a whole, becomes increasingly digital and less office-based, cloud-based technology is becoming the future of business and has become a popular option because of its long list of benefits. Flexibility, cost savings, increased productivity, speed, performance, and security capabilities are also pros to using this technology versus traditional phone systems.
If you are looking to upgrade on a traditional phone system or if this is the first time you are considering your business comms, then a cloud-based VoIP (voice over internet protocol) system should be a top consideration, particularly with the rise of 5G connections making this technology perform even better.
Another key area that I recommend addressing early in your tech stack is your finances. It’s a tough enough job as a startup to manage spending the right amount to make your business a success but not too much that making profit seems impossible. There are many tools and technologies out there now that can help make this task a little bit easier and I highly recommend finding one that suits your business at this early stage.
You can find all-in-one solutions that give you complete oversight of your expenses and even help with automated invoicing and receipts, mileage tracking if your work involves a lot of driving, they can help you manage company cards, the list goes on. The long and short of it is you will not regret this kind of support as a startup founder.
My final tech stack recommendation is on data storage. In the very early days of your business, you’ll likely be storing various important files on your laptop or PC or even in the first cloud drive you could find, just to get it saved somewhere. Increasingly small businesses need to be able to access their data on the go and as your business grows, again you’ll want to have a solution that is cost-effective but also functional and future-proof. Imagine trying to transfer all those files to another system in a year’s time because you’ve outgrown your storage system – a nightmare. Choose carefully.
You’ll no doubt be familiar with a few of the big names already; Dropbox, Google Drive etc. But when choosing your data storage solution, I would say this is where the consideration of integration really becomes essential. Make sure you choose a solution that is easy to access whenever you need to and one that integrates well with your email provider, Slack or Teams so that information finding and sharing is quick and efficient while you’re busy spinning 50 other plates!
Every business and industry has different strategies to achieve its business goals. However, you would be putting your startup at a disadvantage if you do not take the development of your tech stack seriously.
There are numerous tools and technologies designed to help elevate your business and make day-to-day operations smoother thanks to the cloud. Don’t get left behind and be sure that your tech stack aligns with your core business needs. Invest only in the right technology for your startup and you will find your business is more efficient, productive and most importantly, future-proof in an ever-changing digital era.