So...maybe you don't love technology. (It's OK, we can totally still be friends.) And then there's this modern day technological arms race going on with new software being released all the time and existing services constantly upgrading to keep themselves competitive. Seriously, Jeff and I work in the technology field, and we are ALWAYS finding about new software and services and having to learn new things. There's simply no way to know it all in the tech/software industry. So as a perhaps technophobic business owner, how do you deal with it all and not get overwhelmed?
Take a deep breath, and then please allow me to present a solutions-based approach to selecting software.
Check your pain points.
Unless you have your business humming along like a perfectly tuned-up, well-oiled machine every single day and you are completely omniscient about all future business trends, too, you probably have some areas where you might experience "business discomfort." Maybe there's something that's just plain not working for your business and you need a new way to manage it. Maybe something is not working as well as you would like. Maybe other people in your industry are doing something really cool that you'd like to do, too. In any case, spending some time figuring out what could use some improvement in your business is the first step.
Consult the Great Google (or other favorite research method).
Now that you know what you'd like to improve, it's time to do some research. What are some keywords that describe one of your pain points (like "invoicing," "email newsletter," "client management," etc.)? What are some keywords that describe your business (size of business, type of business)? Put those keyword together and see what you get. Then you can visit the sites of software that comes up through your search results and read reviews from other sites. (Just make sure to keep an eye open for biases with reviews.) It's also a great idea to ask around. Social media groups for business owners like yourself are great places to find out what kinds of software other people are using and what they like and dislike about them.
Now that you have options, it's time to evaluate them according to important criteria like price, number of users allowed, integrations with other software/services you use or may want to use in the future, etc. A few options will probably look like a better fit for your particular situation and needs than others.
Try before you buy/commit.
These days many software services allow some kind of free trial period, so once you have a short list of candidates, you can get trial accounts and actually get on the inside of the software to see what it's like. You may find that one is easier for you to understand or produces an end result that you like better. But you won't know until you get in there and try it out. Also, most software services allow month-to-month pricing in addition to a reduced annual rate. It may be in your best interest to do a few months at the higher fee. That way you can continue to try the service out for a little while without a large commitment. And if you decide that you love the service, then you can always go to a yearly fee after you've reached that conclusion.
Get help if you need it.
So what happens if you get into the research process and you discover one of the following:
"Whoa! I really don't understand any of this!"
"Wow! This takes way more time than I have to devote to it!"
"Ack! I really don't enjoy doing this!"
Have you failed in your software quest? Of course not! Instead, I congratulate you for discovering an area of your business that you need to outsource. There's someone out there who is good at that thing that you don't understand, takes too much time, or don't like doing and would love to get paid to do it for you. So you, my friend, can just budget for that need and have the work get done like magic for you.
And there you have it: a simple, solutions-based approach to finding the software your business needs. And as for the rest of the vast sea of software options...(imagine a really good New York accent)...forget about it!