Let’s face it, these days you cannot coast in business without having a digital presence or using technology in some way, especially if you are running a service-based business that relies on your time input.
I tell all of our clients that using technology strategically is a smart business decision especially if you want to grow and scale. So let’s dive into what is required to set up a smoother-than-spandex digital backend for your online service-based business.
What is a tech stack?
First up, we need to have a look at your tech stack. These are the tools and technologies a business uses to build and run its systems and processes so that it can do business online.
Think about all the tech tools you use in your business to make it run and function in an optimal way. A few examples are the platform your website is built on; the esp (email service provider) you use to send emails, your project management tool, etc
When considering your tech stack there are some important questions you should be asking yourself:
- How long have I been in business? The tech stack for someone who is just getting started will be vastly different from the tech stack of someone who is scaling their business
- Who is going to manage my tech? Will the person who uses and maintains my tech (whether that’s you or someone on your team) have enough experience with my tech stack to manage it effectively? If not, what training can I provide or who can I hire?
- What are my goals as it relates to choosing your tech?
- Which tools in my tech stack need to talk to each other?
- Is the tool I am choosing making continuous improvement? Are they listening to customer feedback? Are they innovative?
- What does my business actually need? This will not be the same for every business.
- Is it easy to integrate with my existing tools?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all-in-one tools. I know that all-in-one tools can be a very attractive option, but be careful. It may cost you in the long run. If you want to read more about my thoughts on all-in-one tools, I wrote THIS article about why I don’t like them.
Categories of tools
So now that I have you all on the edge of your seats with that riveting tech stack breakdown, wait what? you’re not on the edge of your seat? it’s just me? and I’ve fallen off of my chair? day drinking and typing should definitely be illegal, I clearly can’t do both, starting tomorrow I’m giving up typing. I digress, where were we? oh yes, let’s have a look at the various tools that belong to each business department. As a solopreneur service provider, you may think that you don’t have all these departments in your business, but in fact, you do, the only difference is that you yourself are probably wearing all the hats.
- Data management: Airtable or Google Drive
- Content delivery system for your course or membership – MemberVault
- Business email address: Google workspace (NOT free Gmail!!)
- Scheduling – Acuity
- Project Management – ClickUp
- Team Communication: Slack
Marketing & sales
- Website – WordPress
- Domain – NameCheap or Google Domains
- Hosting – Siteground or WP Engine or Flywheel
- Theme/Builder – Elementor
- Email Service Provider: Mailerlite or Activecampaign – this is for sending automated and targeted emails to your subscriber list
- Bookkeeping – Wave
- Cart: Thrivecart or Studio Cart
- Taking payments: Paypal or Stripe
- Password security – Lastpass
- This is the tool you will use to make all of your other tools talk to each other – Zapier, Make
Let’s talk about all-in-one-tools
It may be a really attractive prospect to see an all-in-one tool and think that this is the way to go.
There are several problems with this theory:
- All-in-one tools are usually expensive
- In order to be everything to everyone their focus is too broad to do all the things that they promise to do, well.
- If you put your whole business into one of these tools and something breaks or there is a piece of it that doesn’t work for you or you don’t like, you’re stuck with it.
- All-in-one tools are not motivated to integrate with other tools so you are forced to accept their shortcomings because you have your whole business invested in them.
Which tools should I use at which phase of my business?
Starting out – as few as possible until you have validated your offer. We recommend a Google Doc and PayPal link. Make sure to document all your processes so that when you are ready to invest in tools you will be in a better position to evaluate them with your processes in mind. Read more about the 5 phases to creating systems in your online business HERE.
Been in business a few years – look at the categories above and assess which tools (or people) you need to make your job easier. Make sure to look at the tools that can grow with you as your business grows.
Scaling – Look at upgrading the tools you already have and how to automate more of your systems and processes. (Read more about the 4 questions to ask when you’re thinking of upgrading your tech HERE)
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