Small businesses get to solutions by hitting a problem repeatedly. This is true for many types of businesses, but the big businesses are supposed to have well paid visionaries and leaders, strategists who are supposed to design solutions well ahead of time, pre-empting a lot of the problems.
Small businesses simply don’t have this luxury and it’s because when you’re a small business you tend to wear many hats and generally do too much – as many small business owners delay hiring more employees to conserve cash. It’s being prudent, both with your own money, your own business, but also with your potential employees future – you don’t want to hire people just to have to let them go in a few months time.
All of the above simply mean that many times small business owners get so deep into the operations aspect of the business, that they don’t have time to think about the future, about the roadmap ahead. Many cannot see the forest because of the trees. In that state of play, it’s difficult to think of imaginary problems and their solutions as owners generally grapple with very real problems.
But after banging your head against the same problem over and over, small business owners inevitably get to a point where they have to do something about the problem, as it’s causing too many issues and blocking growth. Naturally they get to a point where a problem becomes the number 1 priority on their to-do list. At that point they’re looking for solutions.
One of the common problems for sales, marketing and customer support teams in small businesses is managing customer data and potential customer data (their leads). In the beginning, spreadsheets, google docs, emails are sufficient, but over time, as the team grows and the customer data grows (both number of customers and data associated with each customer), a better solution is needed. Enter a contact management system.
At this point the business owners will ask around, google it, read reviews to find what other people are using, what others recommend and what’s good for them. Their time is limited, so ideally they’d would like to start implementing a contact management system yesterday. Which is why so many times you see questions like “What’s the best contact management or CRM system?”.
It turns out there isn’t just one, it really depends on what your requirements are and many times the more features a system have, the more complex and difficult to use the system is. Once implemented, many of these systems don’t get used, because they’re too complex. So while starting with a swiss army knife CRM might sounds like a good idea, the truth is, many times, “less is more”. Simple and intuitive systems that people understand and like to use are many times preferable and increase productivity of sales/marketing/customer support teams, simply because they come with less hurdles, require less training and users can hit the ground running.
So, if you think your small business needs a full fledged CRM that comes with all the possible features in the world, think again. Think how Google managed to establish themselves as market leaders with a simple search engine, without fancy bells and whistles but which does what it says on the tin. Sometimes, less is indeed more.