Computer consultants are good for two things: helping your small business become more efficient through intelligent use of computer technology and charging you for it (which is understandable, given they are businesses, too).
Certainly there’s plenty of canned software that can solve many common business tasks. Things get dicey, however, when you have a business problem to solve that’s specific to your business.
There is a better way, and it leverages the small businesspersons’ ability to be a jack of all trades. After all, you’re probably handling some or all of your own marketing, sales, accounting, hiring, taxes, and more. Guess what? You’re also fully capable of handling your own database design. In fact, nobody is better qualified, because nobody understands your business better than you do.
If you use a database specifically designed for small businesses, the work can be easy, even enjoyable. Such databases make it possible for practically anyone to visually design professional looking Web forms that automatically collect and store information in a central database. It’s not much harder than designing a flyer in Microsoft Word, or a form in Microsoft Excel.
The difference: You can put these database forms on the Web, and automate your businesses processes one by one. Better still, the data you capture becomes searchable and reportable, and your business becomes more organized.
Richard Rabins Co-Chairman Alpha Software Burlington, Mass.