One of the most exciting products I've come across is Bizantra, a business management software system which has been developed specifically with small businesses in mind. When I explored why Bizantra succeeds where so many established brands are struggling it became obvious that the strength of the product comes in part from the fact that it has been developed by an entrepreneur with the specific goal of simplifying business management with software and thus reduce cost.
"All the tools you need to help manage and grow your business more efficiently"
In a time of increasing competition for market position, it's a products relevance to its target audience that is critical. In the case of Bizantra this has been achieved through its founder, serial entrepreneur Bradley Starr's understanding of UK and global start-ups. Starr's 20 years experience of small businesses and powering marketing databases for blue-chip multi-nationals, led him to the belief that starting a business should be made easier, more efficient and more cost effective.
Consolidation is Part of the Evolution
Meeting Bradley his passion for business is immediately obvious but so is his commitment to making doing business simpler and smarter. He quickly points out that many technologies started life as a specialist product and over time eventually became integrated or consolidated. Gone are the days of buying a word processor or asking for a mobile phone that only makes phone calls. Likewise the concept and attraction of 'build it yourself' 'kit' cars remains a mystery to me, however until Henry Ford revolutionised the motor industry the earliest automobiles came as separate pieces requiring assembly.
It seems natural then that the future of management software lies through deploying essential software systems in a single programme as opposed to the current norm where the vast majority of businesses have to piece together many different pieces of software, such as document sharing, remote access, contact management, employee record keeping, sales and purchase order recording, finance and secure messaging just to get their basic management organised and done.
The fact of the matter is that integration and consolidation powered by the latest technology and supported with volume sales enables both added functionality and drives down cost.
Bizantra provides a complete management suite specially made for start-ups and small businesses. One easy set up, giving you everything you need to organise your business for success, so you can manage efficiently and work securely with your team anywhere, anytime.
Invest in Managing Your Key Assets
It's tough building a successful business so if you want to grow your start-up or small business into the company of your dreams then you have to start by getting the mindset right.
You start a business with two key assets – time and money, then hope to add that third magical ingredient, customers. Managing your limited time, limited money and growing your customers is the key to your business being successful and tools, like Bizantra, that enable you to do this quicker and smarter are invaluable.
Time is your biggest free asset but not managing it properly will cost you. Time efficiency is essential so keep your business information organised and at your fingertips for customer service and management decisions. It's amazing how much precious time is wasted finding information that should be instantly available.
Money is critical for a start-up but most are constrained by the lack thereof. This makes the need for simple and effective finance software critical, tools that ensure you know what you've sold, what you've bought, and who owes you what. Many companies have gone bust just because they haven't been collecting money from customers as quickly as possible. You have to keep your finger on the money pulse of the business to run it properly. It's not difficult and pays big benefits.
There are two ways of building your business – get more customers and increase the volume of business you do with existing ones. Regular communication with customers and prospects is key and these days it's a no or low cost strategy and can be optimised with simple contact management / crm software. Phone and call on them as appropriate. Experience says over and over again that the more you talk to customers and prospects the more business you do.
Continuity is Critical
Understanding the needs of small business is one thing, delivering a tool that empowers those businesses to reduce costs, increase productivity and grow is the hard part and it's where entrepreneurs, like Bradley Starr have a crucial insight.
Whilst cloud computing is revolutionising the concept of the 'digital office', it is limited by connectivity- lose the internet connection and in most cases you lose access to your office which has obvious consequences for start-ups.
Genuine enabling tools like Bizantra navigate these risks by remaining operational on local PCs and automatically synchronise when you next go online. This means that you can carry all your information with you, including document libraries as well as customer, financial and employee information for use whenever you are with the assurance that your data is encrypted and backed up to protect the business if your PC is stolen or crashes.
If your business slows or stops you're losing money. Local PCs are capable of running your business critical applications, so why has everything gone web only? The simple answer is that it's easier for developers.
But technology has now caught up. Hybrid technology that synchronises company information on your PC instead of leaving it in the cloud is now available. If your internet connection goes down you can carry on working. And because it's still synchronising with secure cloud servers all the benefits of easy file sharing and web access when you need it are still available.
The cloud was just the beginning. The hybrid online/offline app is now here, delivering all the benefits of cloud plus giving you the ability to do business wherever you are. The price of technology has come down enough to bring this business essential technology to small business and start-up business.
Cost is No Longer a Barrier
Data security and cost are the two most obvious barriers for start-ups. The cost saving argument is always compelling, as although some popular software is either low cost or free, comparisons show that considerable savings can be made through purchasing a single programme as opposed to multiple suppliers and licenses, even if a portion of these are free.
The Bizantra system was built to be low cost. The importance for start-ups is that a monthly subscription includes 10 full business users and 100 lite users to share information with business partners with a full subscription only £59/49 per month (monthly/annual)- .roughly the cost of a basic business mobile phone bill, or tank of petrol
Bizantra Powering Entrepreneur Country and Small Businesses
Having run an initial pilot on the Bizantra system, Entrepreneur Country has recently moved its entire team across and is making use of the contact management platforms to manage its complicated network of citizens and affiliates.
Commenting on the success of the trial, Entrepreneur Country Director, Bryan Verster passionately endorsed both the usability of the product and its suitability for small businesses "sometimes the most obvious tools for small businesses are the ones most easily missed. What Bradley and Bizantra are building is an enabling tool for start-ups. One that can only help small businesses grow, whilst at the same time driving down costs. It takes someone with Bradley's understanding of the sector to develop a tool with such relevance."
Confident of not only the power of the Bizantra system but also acknowledging the critical role start-ups are playing in building the UK economy, Bradley Starr has today unveiled an exciting new offer:
"We are offering the Bizantra software and service completely free of charge for 12 months to help you get going and build your business.
We're hoping that after 12 months you will see the value that using Bizantra delivers to your business and will want to continue at our great value subscription rate.
The offer will be for bona fide start-ups – companies that have set up in the last 3 years"