As a time-starved entrepreneur, you already face enough challenges with trying to stay focused. Whether you’re working to land your next big client, put out a customer service fire, or simply make payroll, there are endless distractions pulling you in a variety of directions.
There’s also a never-ending stream of technological tools and applications emerging every day, each promising to solve a specific business problem so that you can get more done.
We’ve all been told, “There’s an app for that.” While these apps and tools do great things, there’s also the possibility that having so many at our disposal can actually add to the distraction and complication.
Where Tech Distractions Lurk
Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and others are vying for your website-building dollars. For email marketing, you can use MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, or AWeber. You can have your payment processing handled by PayPal, Flint, or Due. So many options are great but that in itself leads to new problems.
I asked an entrepreneur friend how many tools he used, and by the time he was done adding them up, the total was 13. That means he’s juggling a baker’s dozen of tools with 13 distinct logins and 13 different time investments for setup, the learning curve, and ongoing management of that application.
For established companies, it can make sense to acquire specific tools for departments with specialized areas. However, for the entrepreneur trying to build a startup or maintain a small business, it’s difficult to rationalize adopting every shiny tool that crosses your path. Most small businesses in the U.S. start with just $10,000 with some scraping by on even less. At a minimum, those entrepreneurs feel their businesses need to make $30,000 in revenue each year to have a shot at long-term viability. Instead, it’s essential to focus on simple processes so you can minimize time spent on daily tasks and focus on critical challenges and growth opportunities.
Companies now invest more in marketing technology than they do in advertising itself. However, only a fifth of salespeople feel their CRM software integrates well with their marketing tools and other tech. That means businesses are pouring money into tools that aren’t even capable of doing what they promised, which means they aren’t simplifying much of anything.
Simplify to Devote Time to the More Important Things
While you don’t want to have too many platforms, taking the contrasting strategy of just seeking all-in-one platforms can introduce other issues. You may discover that these platforms leave out too many tools that are necessary. Therefore, the best approach is to find all-in-one platforms that are built to be solid jack-of-all-trades tools: great at many things rather than spectacular at one.
Recently, Ontraport, a company that’s made it its mission to develop an all-in-one business tool to help entrepreneurs automate their marketing and sales, popped up on my radar. Its tool reminds me of Tim Ferriss’ four-hour workweek mentality. If you’re able to become efficient and simplify things, then you’re able to devote more time to the things that matter most to you in business and life.
Lena Requist, President of Ontraport, noted that it’s easy to find value in having a lot of specialized tools. However, as Ontraport’s team members built the brand’s product, they were focused on making things easier for entrepreneurs, honing in on what should be automated so an entrepreneur can have their needs met in one place.
“Think about the things you buy that you have to build yourself,” she said. “When you open the packaging, you aren’t going to see 50 different tools to put it together. Rather, you’ll find a screwdriver or an Allen wrench, which are simple tools and are all you really need to get the job done well.”
Likewise, it’s important to keep your business processes as simplified as you can. Pick the tools with the functions that are most important to you. As your company becomes more advanced and grows to hundreds of employees, you can jump into more specialized tools to enhance your existing platform.
To determine how to approach it, ask yourself the following:
- Which functions take a lot of time?
- Which important processes could potentially be automated?
- Which tasks are important but can’t be handled internally?
Start gathering information, looking for the tools that encompass as many of these areas as possible. An appealing option may not include a minor detail on your wish list. In that case, reach out to the software company and say, “I wish your product did this.” Companies will listen and often add the functionality to make customers — and prospects — happy. You’re likely not the only one who would like that feature added. All it takes is a little nudge to bring your all-in-one solution to life.
Ask for demonstrations of the different features you think you might use and feel comfortable requesting trial access. Even a 30-day trial can give you enough time to determine whether a platform is as robust as you need.
While the average entrepreneur works 52-hour weeks, reducing those hours can help to avoid diminishing returns and focus on the most valuable aspects of your business. Choose tech tools carefully to simplify and speed up those tasks to make this happen.
Remember that while complexity may make you look impressive, simplicity makes your actual performance impressive.
Which tasks or processes have you managed well through an all-in-one platform?
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.