Choosing technology solutions is one of the toughest and most important decisions every entrepreneur will ever make. The challenge isn't just deciding which technologies to adopt, but also finding the right vendor to fulfill your small business's unique needs. Oddly enough, the process of finding the perfect match looks an awful lot like online dating. Here's why.
1. You have a list of options right at your fingertips.
With online dating, you know your options right from the start. Whether you're browsing an endless stream of profiles or your list of matches, you'll get a pretty good idea of what's out there for you.
The same goes for IT vendors. For just about any problem, there are a slew of vendors offering all types of solutions. Just do a simple Web search or browse review sites, and you can create a list of potential matches to compare in no time. [Tech Solutions for Small Businesses]
2. You have to know what you want.
Online dating is all about finding your perfect match. For instance, websites like Match.com and eHarmony let you find potential soul mates using compatibility metrics, while mobile app Tinder is based solely on physical appearance. These features make it possible to connect with the type of person you're seeking.
When searching for IT vendors, the same discretion applies. But instead of filtering potentials based on personal characteristics, you'll be looking at what vendors have to offer and their costs. You have to know which features you can and can't live without, as well as how much you're willing to pay for them. For instance, if a vendor only sells bundled packages, but you only require one or two of those services, walk away to avoid the extra costs. Explore other options to find the perfect match that fits your business's needs and budget.
3. You have to be careful.
There's no denying that online dating can be dangerous. You could be meeting a complete psychopath, for all you know. As a precaution, this is when Internet stalking is completely OK and not creepy.
The same goes for finding an IT vendor. A little bit of research can go a long way in helping to avoid trouble. Look into things like customer reviews, press write-ups, industry reputation and social media activity, to see how the vendor interacts with customers. If you see any red flags, run away — fast.
4. You have to know how to deal with disappointments.
Online dating isn't easy for anyone. People can grossly misrepresent themselves, while others may create their own image of a match that's nowhere close to real life. Potential dates can look and sound incredible online, but you could be disappointed when you meet them in person. But that's one of the perils of meeting people online.
Similarly, you can never be sure about a vendor's products and services until you've put them to the test. Everything could look great on paper or work smoothly during a demo, but it could also cause massive headaches once implemented in real life. As a small business, all you can do is hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
5. And you have to be willing to take a chance.
OK, so you probably won't find the love of your life the first time around. But when it comes to love, finding happiness is all about taking chances. Your online matches could turn out to be terrible, but it could also be the start of something wonderful.
New things are scary, and that includes technology. For small businesses, implementing new tech solutions often requires a significant investment of time and money. And technology changes so quickly that it can seem like once you start using one thing, something new comes along. Nevertheless, don't be afraid to take a chance. Whether you need a completely new system or want to replace an antiquated one, all you need is to find the right vendor with a solution that fits your unique needs. Once you find that perfect match, you can focus on serving your customers and growing your small business.
Originally published on Business News Daily.