16 Smart Tips to Affordably Leverage Technology in Your Business

Investing in tech solutions to optimize business operations isn’t an endeavor that has to break the bank.

Building a business is an endeavor that takes time, effort and money. While hiring and maintaining a team of employees helps ensure that the organization is able to meet the needs of customers, leaders have to also ensure that the business is operating as effectively as possible—and technology is the perfect tool for the task.

However, determining what technology will work best for the business’s needs is difficult when it can be an ongoing and costly investment. Below, 16 members of Newsweek Expert Forum offer advice on how entrepreneurs can leverage technological solutions in their businesses without breaking the bank.

Don’t Follow Trends

Don’t jump at the hot new innovation of the moment. Focus first on identifying how the technology will meet a legitimate business need. Then, consider using an on-demand or consumption-based model. – Umang Modi, TIAG, Inc.

Find Solutions That Improve Inefficiencies

Look for technology that improves inefficiencies and speeds up collaboration and communication. For example, I use Loom extensively in my business. It is cost-effective and enables users to record personalized videos to send to prospects and employees alike. I also use it to narrate feedback on documents and to create repeatable documentation of standard operating procedures for training. – Matt Domo, FifthVantage

Recruit Experts for Collaboration

Enlisting experts, preventing duplication and avoiding overengineering are ways that an entrepreneur can affordably leverage technology within their business. Collaborating with experts to implement and/or optimize your tech stack will eliminate costly mistakes. Ensure that your tech tools each serve unique purposes. Lastly, keep the ecosystem simple. Complication does not equal sophistication. – Sabina Pons, Growth Molecules

Implement Cloud-Based Security Products

As more business operations migrate online, entrepreneurs would be wise to implement distributed cloud-based security products to safeguard company user metadata and the integrity of databases. By deploying public protocol or blockchain technology-stacked products, companies eliminate single points of failure in their cloud storage systems that historically have been subject to hacks and data breaches. – Anthem Blanchard,HeraSoft

Leverage Apps

Entrepreneurs now have access to apps that provide services at reduced costs to improve efficiency and overall workflow. Apps like Hootsuite can help an entrepreneur manage their social media presence in-house instead of hiring an outside agency. Entrepreneurs can find cheap help with almost any service necessary on Fiverr. Tech advancements make the entrepreneurial journey possible. – Cynthia Salarizadeh, House of Saka, Inc.

Understand Your Business Needs First

Understanding the business’s needs is key in defining how technology can be leveraged. In many organizations, technology is often driving the business agendas, resulting in inefficiencies and strategies that are misaligned. Technology is an enabler, not a driver, and if leveraged appropriately and integrated into the needs of the business, the ROI can be significant. – Nita Kohli, Kohli Advisors

Only Invest if It Will Benefit the Business

The right technology can be used to improve your processes and efficiency, but you really have to know what technology is the best for your business. Technology just adds to the noise if it doesn’t benefit your business. Look for tools that allow you to automate and streamline your workflow. – Elliott Smith, The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center

Make Changes When an Investment Isn’t Working

When we started our company, we invested heavily into technology to automate our business processes. We assumed that we were setting up the infrastructure for 100 people instead of five. We also took the approach of failing fast and choosing not to believe that we have to stick with a particular technology that did not work for us. –Kevin Carr, Edera L3C (operates the National Coordination Center)

Shop Around

I think it’s important to comparison shop for the technology you need now and in the foreseeable future. Do not overspend on functionality you don’t need, but also keep the near-term needs of the future in mind so that you don’t need to upgrade frequently. Consider software as a service offerings as flexible alternatives to purchasing. – Margie Kiesel, Avaneer Health

Conduct Research

The readers of the present are the leaders of the future. Search the web for forums, blogs and articles with technology-based breakthroughs in your field. Most entrepreneurs rarely practice this even though it can play a critical role in their growth. Many of your business-related questions or issues already have tech-savvy solutions online that can save you time, money and peace of mind. – David Castain, David Castain & Associates

Talk to Peers

Talk to a trusted peer and grab their opinion before you buy. Sometimes a peer can provide a cheaper alternative or can share information about the money you will save by making the investment in the technology in question. Advice can many times be a cost-saving measure you don’t want to forget. – Chris Tompkins, The Go! Agency

Implement Tech That Provides Business Insights

Introduce technology that provides in-depth insight into overall operations. Visibility is critical. With a better understanding of where your business is successful and where there are opportunities for growth, leaders can make informed decisions to optimize operations, maximize performance and improve outcomes. – Alistair Fulton, Semtech

Make Use of Available Data

Most companies are sitting on a mountain of data, and more and more employees have the skills to mine that data. Opening up access to your data with parameters to protect that data will allow employees across your company to discover valuable insights that others may have missed. You never know if someone knows just enough about data to uncover the next breakthrough for your business. – David Wright, Pattern

Look to Your Network for Advice

We started collaborating with other entrepreneurs in our area to form business relationships with companies in our niche that were more seasoned in technology. They taught us how to implement new ideas and how to create a solid plan of action. This was our saving grace without us having a lot of added expense in a new startup business. – Tammy Sons, Tn Nursery

Assess Long-Term Value

When any entrepreneur is evaluating investing in a new technology, they need to look at what it currently does and if it can grow with them. Consider what your short- and long-term objectives are. What are the KPIs to evaluate success? Also, don’t forget to train your staff to get the most out of your investment. This is an often skipped but essential step to optimize your technology investments. – Melissa Puls, Ivanti

Lean on Those Who Would Use the Tech

Increase your radial intelligence. Ask for the insights of those at all levels who would interact directly with the technology you’re considering. Listen to understand and listen for patterns. This wouldn’t be a survey and it’s not an online multiple-choice 360 assessment. Think of it as gardening. Before planting in a system, assess the work soil. Identify what the job of your technology is and needs to be. – Jay Steven Levin,WinThinking

Previously published on Newsweek.