Small businesses and the need for CRM


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Starting a new business is an exciting time and there are so many things going on at the same time that is easy to lose your head. Setting up a new company, finding an office (unless you work from home), finding an accountant, opening bank accounts, paying insurance, and so on.

It can be all very distracting as ultimately only one thing contributes to the success or failure of your business. It’s such a basic thing but it’s surprising how many entrepreneurs get distracted and ultimately forget about it. So I’m going to spell it out…

It is all about the customers.
Those people who willingly part with their hard earn cash and give it to you, to make your business a success.
When you start up a business, your most immediate concerns is finding those potential customers, getting the word out, getting your product or service to those people.
Once found, you would better do a good job of convincing those people that your product or service is something they need and equally importantly, something they should pay money for.
Once you manage to convince them to part with their cash, the next problem is how do you retain them, cross-sell, upsell, keep them happy so they refer you to their friends.

Even if your social network is quite large, you know a lot of people and you’re an ace in networking, starting a business represents a moment when your network literally explodes. There are so many new people, leads, potential customers, suppliers, partners, resellers, sub-contractors, and so on, all entering into your social sphere at the same time, all wanting some of your attention, none of them being easy to sell to, all of these relationships needing nurturing.

Can your brain expand without exploding?

So generally you need some way of keeping track of all the parallel conversations and the various people that you work with or nurture towards various goals, the most important being selling.
Some entrepreneurs keep everything in their email inbox, one place and when they get a new email, they can search or filter to see only the emails from that person. Gmail and other emailing systems tend to be very good at that. Others like Outlook tend to choke when you have too much data, but even they are very good when your keep those gigabytes of information under control.
Other entrepreneurs use spreadsheets, documents, or a simple notebook and a simple pencil.
Not many want or are in the position to buy a fully fledged CRM solution or even a contact management application.

The inbox and the spreadsheets tend to work for a while, until the data is simply too much. With emails you can generally use tags to classify data, with spreadsheets you just add more columns or more sheets.
But the more data you have, the more difficult it becomes to manage. And you can forget about managing more complex relationships between your data, where you store, for example, sales opportunities for contacts, and the associated tasks and reminders for following up with your leads.
Running filters or reports over the data is also very difficult and your generally limited to tags and free text search.
If you have employees, sharing all this strategic data with them is almost impossible by email and spreadsheets are very difficult to be updated and kept in sync without ending up with too many versions of the same spreadsheet when multiple people update the same data.

The need for a simple CRM solution develops naturally as your business grows. Again, this is nothing new, not a revolutionary concept, instead, like everything in this article, it is a simple yet powerful and often ignored point. Revisiting these basic ideas from time to time can yield new insights by aligning and focusing our energies on what’s really important to grow our business and become more successful overall.


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