Stop the overwhelm — how to simplify your business with the cloud

If shopping for new cloud tools overwhelms you — check out these simple tips for finding the right software.

Does shopping for cloud software make you feel like this??

Take a deep breath and reframe

If you’re sitting there, staring at an infinite number of tabs open on your browser, trying to compare 30 different SaaS tools and thinking,

Why are there SO MANY OPTIONS out there and they do ALL THE THINGS? How am I supposed to know which one to use? Why does it take so much to get started?

You aren’t alone — probably 90% of business owners feel like this at some point (that’s a totally made-up statistic, but still probably true).

The truth is that there ARE tons of options. There are probably at least 10 different software subscriptions that you can buy that will fix any given problem. They’ll all do it in slightly different ways, but it’ll get the job done.

So… let’s reframe how you’re thinking about your situation.

You have a problem. Something about your business is just totally overwhelming you. Maybe it’s the whole bookkeeping, client invoicing, dealing with tracking down payments thing. Maybe it’s struggling to communicate with your completely virtual team. Maybe you’re so freaking sick of trying to manage payroll and benefits and 1099s for your contractors.

Whatever it is that you’re trying to fix…there’s an app for that.

Just take a few seconds to appreciate the fact — let it sink in.

That the perfect solution for you exists, just sitting out there in the ether of the internet, waiting for you to find it.

There IS a magic wand that you can wave to fix your problem.

When you get the right cloud tool into your workflow, you’ll feel like …

Make your shopping list

Now that you know that your solution is out there… your job is to find it.

But, instead of starting with looking at all the things, start by writing a list of all the things that will help you choose which tool is right for you.

First, what is the problem you’re trying to solve?

Just say what you need to fix. For example:

  • My bookkeeping takes me forever and I hate doing it
  • No one in my remote team knows what other people are doing (or what they are supposed to do)
  • I keep taking on too many projects and end up overbooked and overwhelmed because I don’t have a way to schedule my work

Once you know what the problem is, it’s much easier to get really specific about how to fix it.

Second, write down any make-or-break features you need to have

This can be anything — but if you already know that you have something that would deter you from picking a particular piece of software, write it down.

Things like:

  • It has to integrate with Xero because I love Xero and I’m not switching
  • I HAVE to have Gantt charts because that’s the way I like planning projects
  • It’s really important for me to have the ability to schedule the work for each team member

Third, write down your budget

How much do you have available to spend on this solution — or at least, what’s the number that you absolutely can’t go over for subscription fees? Put that on your list too.

It’s so easy to get pulled into the “this tool will solve all my problems, so it’s worth it” cycle and end up spending way more than you intended. That might end up being the best call (if it’s going to save you 10 hours per week, then it might be worth the extra money), but having a number in mind, before you start shopping, can help you reign in that impulse.

Go Shopping

Now you know what your magic wand needs to do — it’s time to go find it.

My top two places to look when I’m checking out a new app are:

They are just what they sound like — marketplaces for cloud apps — you can go shop for tools. They both have filters that allow you to filter the list by the type of tool you’re looking for (bookkeeping or project management, etc.)

I start here because in my shopping list, my top two must-haves are always — must connect to Xero (because I love it and I’m not switching) and must connect to Zapier (because it’ll make my life easier if all my tools connect).

If you’re still hanging on to Quickbooks, they have one too.

Starting in one of these places is a way to drastically reduce the amount of choices you have, and also know that whatever you pick will play nice with the rest of your system.

Once you’ve got the list filter to just a few choices, it’s time to check them out. Use your shopping list to help you eliminate options.

Check out each tool’s list of features (they all have them) against your shopping list. Eliminate any choices that don’t have the features you wrote down. Don’t check out the rest of the software, don’t collect $200. If it doesn’t do what you need it to do (or it’s way out of your budget), it’s out.

Testing, testing

Once you get down to two or three options, sign up for trial accounts or demos. If there’s an option for a trial account — go with that. You’ll get a better feel for whether or not the software works for you, versus a demo where someone is going to show you the ideal.

When you’re testing, really try it out. If you were going to run your business on it TODAY, what would that be like, feel like.

Then — does it work for you (and your team)? Does it feel like a natural extension of your business operations? Or does it feel like you have to fight the system to get what you want out of it? Is it really solving your issue?

You’ll probably naturally gravitate towards one software over the others — and that one’s your magic wand.

Spend time on your setup

Once you’ve picked your wand, make sure it stays a magic.

Take the time to set the system up properly. Schedule time in your calendar to configure all your settings, set up the integrations to your other software tools, test any automations you’ve set up.

Spending the time setting the system up at the beginning will save you TONS of headaches down the road.

Read through all of that and still thinking, “bleck — I just don’t want to deal with it and I want someone to tell me what to do”?

Check out our Unwind the Grind service — we’ll help you design the perfect cloud technology ecosystem to automate and simplify your business.

Susan Boles is on a mission to help small businesses run simpler operations, so they can grow faster, with fewer headaches. Founder/Principal at ScaleSpark