Over the course of the past year and a half or so, increasing numbers of people have started running their own businesses. This is something that few of us could have predicted prior to the pandemic. However, as coronavirus and Covid-19 rapidly spread around the world, governments had to implement stay at home orders and lockdowns, as well social distancing rules and guidelines, to slow the spread of the virus across populations. This meant that our entire approach to life changed, including our approach to work. Businesses that were able to shift to remote operations and that had good demand from customers still managed to survive. However, businesses that weren’t able to adapt to the changes experienced hardship, with many collapsing (causing joblessness) and having to make staff redundant (resulting in further joblessness). On top of this, furlough schemes gave people time to stay at home and review their career paths. Many found that their roles were something that they’d simply ended up in and that they didn’t actually enjoy their work. This resulted in many people reassessing what they want to do to generate an income. A significant number of unemployed individuals and individuals considering new work came to settle on starting their own businesses. This is ideal. There are plenty of perks that come hand in hand with being your own boss and running your own company. But at the same time, it’s an extremely difficult and demanding venture and many people didn’t realise what they were getting themselves into from a work, effort and investment perspective. If you’re in this situation, and you want your business to succeed, you’re going to have to learn a lot about countless areas of running a business. For now, let’s focus on an area that often gets neglected – software.
What is Software?
Let’s start out by understanding what software actually is. It tends to be one of those phrases that we hear a lot, may even use ourselves, but don’t genuinely understand properly. Put simply, software is a set of instructions, data or programmes used to operate computers and complete specific tasks. It is the opposite of hardware, which is any physical aspect of a computer or device that you’re using. You can touch hardware, while software is the technology that makes your computer run. In day to day life, we tend to call things like apps and computer programmes “software”. There are two main categories of software, which are “application software” and “system software”. Applications (or “apps”) are a form of software that fulfills a specific need or performs tasks. System software on the other hand, has the main role of providing a platform for apps to run on and connecting applications to your device’s hardware.
Why is Software Important for Business?
So, why is software so important in regards to your business’ success? Well, we’re living in a digital age. Chances are, a significant proportion of the work that you and your staff will undertake will take place on a computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone or a similar device. We use software to complete tasks from sending emails to creating our websites, writing copy and editing product photography, planning and designing products, order fulfilment, communicating with customers and providing customer service and way more. Whatever task your business undertakes, chances are, software is involved at some stage of the process. Choosing the right software for your business can impact everything from productivity to how your business’ data is stored to how streamlined your working process is. The better the software you invest in, the better your company can perform.
Choosing the Right Software
So, how do you choose the right software? The key is to browse the different options available to you, pricing it up to see what’s suitable for your budget, usin trial periods to see whether it works for you or not (if this option is available), giving the software a go and then regularly reviewing its performance. There are generally two types of software to choose from when buying – off the shelf software and custom software.
- Off the Shelf Software
This is a form of software that already exists. It’s been built with a target demographic in mind, but not a particular company. For example, Artificial is a form of software that helps insurers to draw up quotes quickly and easily. The developers would have considered insurers’ needs and done their best to tick the majority’s boxes. However, it hasn’t been designed with a particular insurer and their processes in mind.
- Custom Software
Custom software is software that a developer will make for your company specifically. It will meet your exact needs, but will prove a lot more expensive, so you need to weigh up whether specific features you want will be worth the extra money, or whether off the shelf alternatives will be suitable.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing software for your business. Take your time, do your research and you should be able to benefit!