technology questions

The Paradox of Choice: 7 Questions to Ask Before You Buy

Posted by Stacey Papp

All the exciting new business-bettering technologies out there can make you feel like a kid in a candy store. But let’s be real: You probably feel like a kid in a candy store when your mom only gave you a dime and you have to choose between jelly beans, root beer barrels, gummy sharks or – if you’re a real rebel – the candy cigarettes. 

Many small businesses are interested in implementing new technologies, but aren’t quite sure where to start or where the best place to allocate their money is. A survey from Brother showed that 63 percent of respondents felt overwhelmed with the number of technologies available to help their business – something that’s called the paradox of choice: The more options you have, the harder it is to decide.

You can get out of this rut by being methodical and scientific in the way that you choose technologies. 

Here are 7 questions to ask before selecting a new technology to help enhance your current business model:

1. What are you hoping to accomplish by using it? This is just what it sounds like. What problem does it solve? Are you trying to improve communications, create more efficiency, have more visibility into the day-to-day goings-on, grow your business, create a better work-life balance for yourself or your employees, etc.? How does the product or service help fix your particular pain points?

2. Does this technology do more than one thing? While one-trick ponies occasionally have their places (a circus, for example), you’re probably working with a fairly tight budget, and you should make sure whatever you invest in is multifaceted – something that can help your business in more than one way, or has multiple abilities and tools bundled into it. 

3. What are the pros of investing in the technology? This is as simple as making a checklist of all the ways it could help your business.

4. Just as importantly, what are the cons? Don’t use this as a way to talk yourself out of something entirely, but it helps to be realistic about the situation. It can also put a timeline on exactly when you plan to invest in something – if your only con is the price, then it might behoove you to budget for that addition to the business and consider it a necessary expense. But also…   

5. Are you too focused on cost? Remember that these are called “business investments” for a reason – the idea is that you put in your money now and reap some serious rewards later: ROI. Any technology worth its salt will get you back your initial outlay and then some, by actually helping you control costs over time.

6. Will this help you better meet customer needs or improve customer services? Don’t forget that something doesn’t necessarily need to be customer-facing (i.e., something a customer directly sees as part of your business) for it to help boost your customer service or get more job orders filled. Think of the big picture when answering this one. But also…

7. Is there a benefit to advertising your investment to customers? A customer doesn’t necessarily need to know that you use Macs instead of PCs, or vice versa – and nor would they probably care, unless they’re the Mac Guy or PC Guy – but for some tech products or services, you can/should tell your customers that you use them and explain what benefit they, the customers, get out of it. It shows you’re committed to bettering your business and their experience, and makes them more likely to hand you their business instead of the competition. 

While we can’t help you choose between jelly beans or gummy sharks (hint: the answer is neither – go with chocolate), we hope that these seven questions help you in your quest to better your business through the use of new, exciting technologies. 

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