We fully admit that here at Hyper Modern Media, we make a lot of money off the fact that many business tools are difficult to use and don’t offer the in-depth resources a business owner needs to use them effectively.

But we’d prefer that not to be the case. If every piece of software was simple to use, require only the most basic built-in prompts to entirely automate everything you have to deal with as a business owner, we’d throw a party. It probably wouldn’t put us out of business, but even if it did, we wouldn’t worry about it. After all, it would be that much easier for us to start a new business.

Ease of Use is Crucial…

From the point of view of any business owner, time is one of the most precious commodities we have. The more time we have to sink into trying to get a tool to do exactly what we want it to do, the less time we have to build our businesses, work with clients, create new products and so on.

In theory, software and other business tools are supposed to be time savers. Certainly that’s one of the selling points many companies base their marketing materials on. I’ll admit that even some of the most complicated accounting software packages (Quickbooks, I’m looking at you) save time over the alternative of keeping a ledger by hand. It’s still difficult to do exactly what you want, though not nearly impossible. But the technology is out there to do even better and with a growing number of slick web apps, ease of use is going to become required by any savvy business owner.

That’s progress: we use tools today that make our businesses a million times easier to operate than those of our grandparents. But we can reasonably expect that down the line, our tools should save us even more time. We’re already seeing a few steps in that direction with the development of web apps by teams that include user experience specialists at some point.

…And It’s Good Business

Personally, I’ve done stints reviewing all sorts of things. I’ve done business web apps, kitchen appliances and all sorts of other things at various points in the past. I learned early on that I needed to be able to spend only a little time on testing new products if I wanted to be able to get all my work done. That means that positive reviews are far more likely to go to products that are easy to use, no matter whether they actually perform the required function well.

In general, software developers are going to find a lot more users if they bring in experts on user experience design at the beginning of the development process. Those users will stick with their tools for much longer, too, improving the value of an individual user. It simply makes sense from a business standpoint, even if the initial development costs will be higher.

Image by Flickr user Ming Xia


As an entrepreneur, you know that you need your business to grow. For that, you have to put time and money into it. Money can be absolutely unskilled, but just sinking in hours may not actually be enough of an investment — you have to be able to provide the right hours. That means that you need to educate yourself in the skills your business needs.

But it’s not just enough to start buying every business resource that Amazon offers. You need the right education. You need to be able to point to your bottom line and say that the investment was absolutely worth it. Even if you have piles of money sitting around, invested in the business you’re building, your education should provide a return on investment.

A Question of Cost

It’s rarely easy to point to your bottom line and say that a certain amount is directly due to a book you’ve read. Heck, it can be tough to say that a certain amount is the result of marketing research or anything else.

But you can compare the cost of educational materials to the costs your business would face if you couldn’t handle a particular task yourself. For instance, if you read a bunch of tutorials that teach you how to keep your company’s books in a specific software package, you can compare the cost of those tutorials to the price of hiring a bookkeeper. You also need to include the cost of your time — both in completing the necessary work and in learning how to do it. If the numbers add to less than contracting the work out, you’ve certainly come out ahead. You’ve also got the difference between those numbers that you can effectively consider a return on your investment.

Of course, you can run the numbers much more precisely, provided you have the time. But it’s our experience that for most entrepreneurs, as long as the math generally works out, getting the work done is far more important.

Close Enough for Management

It’s also worth noting that even if you have someone else (either inside your organization or a contractor outside of it) handling certain projects, you still need to know something of the skills required for the project. Say you’re having an SEO specialist work on your company website. Even though you’re not doing the work yourself, you need to have enough of an idea of what works in getting a site to rank well in search results to be able to tell if your specialist is really doing a good job. It’s a fast enough changing field that even a well-intentioned professional can wind up providing you with final work that won’t help you at all.

It’s harder to calculate the ROI on this type of knowledge, even though investing in it is still very good for your ability to manage a business.

Image by Flickr user Johanna Hardell

Sharing Your Purchases with Others: What We Ask

March 8, 2012

Occasionally, we get emails asking if a couple of people can go in together on one of our products and share it. For the record, we love this sort of question! In general, we’re absolutely comfortable with you splitting the cost of something we offer and sharing the benefits. From our point of view, it’s [...]

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