(This post is the first part of a series of posts on this subject and comes from a lesson in my Web Tech Genius program.)
If you’re just starting out with the process of creating the tech system for an online business, the first two things you’ll probably start wondering about are which software you should use, and how much it will all cost.
The answer to both of those questions is “It depends.”
There are so many variables between what kinds of things you’ll be selling online, what kind of functionality you’ll need in your system, and which software options you choose to accomplish the feature requirements you have, that it makes it impossible to say “It’s going to cost this much up front, and this much per month ongoing.”
The best I can do is give you some examples of the kinds of features that people typically need to sell certain things online, and then I can show you a few options for accomplishing them.
Two Major Paths
In the Tech Genius program, I teach people how to use software that can be categorized into two different major paths of creating a web tech system for your business.
One major path will involve software that is inexpensive (or free), or much less expensive than other options, while the other major path involves using more expensive all-in-one web apps that combine a lot of features and functionality, which would normally require many different apps to accomplish, into one or two apps that are tightly tied together.
The less expensive, “many apps” path
There are pros and cons of each major path. The less expensive path will require you to use many different and completely separate web apps that can be hooked together in some ways to create the kind of functionality that you need.
This path, while less expensive up front, can end up being more expensive down the road because you may have to spend more time trying to sort out problems when they arise.
When you’ve got 5 or 6 or 7 different web apps working together to create your system, it opens up more opportunities for things to go wrong, because there are more points of contact between separate systems of software.
When things do go wrong, which is likely to happen (it still happens to me too), it can sometimes take longer to figure out where in your collection of apps things are going wrong.
You’ll also be spending more time writing emails or making phone calls to multiple different tech support teams…one for each app…as you try to solve issues.
So, just keep in mind that while you can get a nicely functioning tech system set up for your business using the less expensive path of tying together many different apps for your online business needs, you may have to spend more time down the road as you try to get everything working well together, or fixing problems when they arise.
The second downside of taking this less expensive path is that you may not be able to get everything in your system as tightly integrated as you’d like.
For example, people might buy an online program you’re selling and after they do so, you may not be able to have certain things automatically happen that you’d like to have happen, like having them added to multiple different email lists for future email marketing that you’d like to send out automatically as a series of targeted autoresponder emails.
If you’re not sure what autoresponder emails are, they’re simply emails that get sent out automatically on a set schedule that you create. The schedule is triggered for each individual based on some action they take, like buying something or signing up for something free on your website.
Setting up your system to add people to multiple different lists and start an autoresponder series after they buy something is relatively simple in an all-in-one platform like Infusionsoft or Office Autopilot, but can be hard (or not possible) to do with certain combinations of separate web apps for ecommerce and email marketing.
When you don’t have the kind of tight integration you’d like, or need, it can lead to more manual work, and thus more time, to get things done for your business and customers.
So, to recap, the first downside of the less expensive path is that when things break, it can take longer to fix them. The second downside is that you may not be able to get certain things or processes as tightly integrated as you’d like, which can lead to more time and effort that you’ll need to spend to get things done in your business.
The big upside of this less expensive path, however, is that it can be much, much cheaper to get a tech system set up so you can do things like start building your email list, sell coaching or consulting services, sell a digital product like an ebook, or sell online programs like a home study program.
The more expensive all-in-one app path
With all-in-one web apps, the only major downside is the cost. That’s not to say that all-in-one apps don’t have their limitations or downsides, but I’m talking about the big downsides here.
They tend to be quite a bit more expensive to use, but in my opinion, they are worth the extra cost.
Why? Because the benefits of them outweigh the cost in my opinion.
Things still break with all-in-one web apps, but when they do, you’ll be dealing with just one or two or sometimes three support teams for the different apps you’re using, because the all-in-one app has the functionality of several separate apps all built into one platform. (There aren’t any truly “all-in-one” apps, where everything you could possibly need for a tech system is all in one app. But the all-in-one apps I’m referring to do combine a ton of features into one application.)
That can make fixing problems a lot faster because in many cases, one tech support person will be able to help you solve a problem that involves several different parts of your all-in-one system, like your ecommerce, affiliate tracking, and email marketing.
With all-in-one systems, you’ll also be able to get many parts and processes tightly integrated, which, as I mentioned above, can sometimes be hard to do when you’re using the less expensive path of using many different web apps that are somewhat tied together.
Having deeper integration allows you to have more automation around processes that happen in your online business, like a person signing up for an online program you’re offering.
The more integration and automation you have, the more time you’ll be able to free up to attend to other aspects of your business. This makes your business more efficient, which allows you to make more money and work less.
Which path to take?
So, your first major decision, beyond creating your website, is which of these paths to take: the less expensive “many apps” path, or the more expensive “less apps” path.
Personally, I’m a fan of the more expensive less apps path that uses an all-in-one platform to accomplish most of the important functionality requirements for my business.
I’d rather spend more money for a solid system that allows me more power in terms of automation and integration, and that can also help cut down on the amount of time I spend troubleshooting with tech support teams.
It’s definitely more of a financial risk to take this path when you’re starting out, but it can pay off in the future.
Depending on where you’re at with your business and the funds you have available to start it, that path may not be an option, and that’s okay too. You can still create a functioning tech system for your business that you can transition away from in the future if you want to move to a more expensive, more feature rich combination of software at some point.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll take a look at some examples of software features that people need in order to sell certain things in online business, as well as some options and costs to accomplish those things.
See you in the next post!