01/10/2018

Comments from Mark Bembridge, CEO and founder, Smartology

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Key advice

“Don’t invest in technology too quickly and keep it simple – let it work for you, not drown you!”

“Technology should be there to add value and help small businesses save time. In the early days, tying up limited staff in complex tech is not helpful.”

“When we started, we used a cork board for our agile planning and management. This was cheap and effective. Only after we started to scale did we move to the basic Jira 10 user licence.”

“For your online presence, look to the cloud. It will increase your velocity, allow you to experiment and provide a cost effective means of building your business. We have been using Amazon Web Services (AWS) since we started and it has supported us well in managing costs, pivoting our business and with scaling. We also use Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and take the approach of using the service that works best for our application.”

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Comms

“Reward your team with the best equipment you can afford as they’re spending a lot of time at work.”

“Having a landline makes businesses appear more established. Providing you have a suitable internet connection, go for a VOIP solution for your office as there are many low cost business packages available.”

“Depending on your needs, internet provision could be as simple as a decent 4G connection, but as your team grows, you will need to upgrade to a suitable fibre broadband solution. However, don’t underestimate the challenges or costs of getting fibre to your office, if the building isn’t already provided, even in central London.”

“For your mobile phone needs, shop around for deals and consider buying a phone and getting a sim only package as this can be more cost effective.”

“Slack is a great messaging tool for small businesses to stay in touch and we also use ‘Gmail for business’ which we have found to be by far the best email.”

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Finances & Sales

“You can happily start your business with a spreadsheet software package for managing your finances. We have been using Xero for some time and can recommend, but there are other alternatives such as Kashflow.”

“Initially Excel and PowerPoint should suffice for finance and sales, but open source solutions such as LibreOffice offer good interoperability with Office with no licensing costs attached. Or consider cloud based solutions like Google GSuite which provides email and productivity tools like Docs, Hangouts and Cloud storage.”

“As our sales function has grown, we have adopted Salesforce as our CRM tool to track sales, but there are many cheaper alternatives in the market these days including Pipedrive, Nutshell or Capsule. And CRM tools unless used properly can become expensive address books.”

“LinkedIn continues to be a key sales and recruitment tool which we have always relied on.”

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Marketing

“From a marketing perspective we use MailChimp for newsletters and host our website on WordPress both of which work well for us. Clearly Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are key marketing channels for SME’s and we also use Google AdWords to focus on key areas.”

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https://www.smartology.net/blog/category/press/

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