Have you turned your business into a software company?

Here, Michael Wood presents his viewpoint that all small enterprises should aim to be software companies.

Every company has benefitted from software: from desktop products such as Word and Excel to internet services such as online banking and Google. However, 99 per cent of UK businesses are under-investing in software and missing out as a result. Your business can do more with software.

There is a maxim that accurately describes the world around us: ‘Software is eating the world’. It describes why Yellow Pages couldn’t compete against Google, why Borders fell to Amazon, why black cabs are struggling against Uber and why the Apple Watch will be a success.

The maxim is based upon two facts: (1) that some tasks can be done faster, cheaper and more quickly by software; (2) once a task can be done by software it is inevitable that software will become the default method of performing the task.

Examples of this include writing documents and classified advertising. In the 80s and 90s, cost-effective word processing software emerged; now, most documents are written on software. Over the past 10-15 years, sites were created that enabled online classified ads (eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist, etc). These were cheaper and more effective than traditional classified ads and so now the majority of this type of advertising now happens online via software.

But what does this mean for your business? It means that part, or all, of the work you do in your company can be done faster, and for less money, by software. You can ignore this (in the knowledge that your competitors won’t) or you can grab the opportunity to make your company better.

I believe that every company, no matter the size, should aim to be a software company and if you are not on your way to becoming one you are heading for trouble.

While for most people, the term ‘software company’ brings to mind organisations like Microsoft, Google or Salesforce, it clearly can mean something different for your company. You don’t need to be a developer or build apps to be a software company. Any company that actively buys or builds software to improve its processes is a software company, and this can be as true for a one-man band as it can for a Fortune 500 corporation.


The most successful businesses I know regularly ask: what tasks do we perform more than once in the business? And then they automate them. Doing so may be much easier, and more affordable than you think. For example, there are accountancy packages that automatically extract your bank statement data, there is mobile CRM software that automatically relates the contacts in your phone to your customers. There is point-of-sale software that gives you live sales data. Such solutions used to be only available to big business, they are now available to all.

Be mindful then of the processes that you find yourself repeating more than once and take 5 minutes to find out if you can automate it. You lose nothing if it can’t be done, and there’s an excellent chance that it’s entirely possible – and affordable.

I’m extremely proud of my company’s proprietary technology; it has enabled us to enjoy quick growth. But that growth would not be possible if we were not also huge adopters of great software made by other companies. Solutions like Trello, Slack, Stripe, WordPress, Google Analytics and many, many others.

Enquiring minds want to know

I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs, and the ones that thrive are the ones that identify their organisation’s limitations and ask the right questions to fix them. What are other companies doing? How are they doing it? Can software fix this problem? Would software give me a competitive advantage here? How, ultimately, can we get better?

You won’t always get it right: like many other things in life, it’s a case of trial and error, and software isn’t the solution to every problem that might plague a young business. But simply being inquisitive and trying to use software can be enough to get your business ahead.

Michael Wood is the co-founder of Receipt Bank.

Further reading on technology in business


Michael Wood

Michael Wood is the co-founder of SaaS company Receipt Bank (Dext).

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