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Entrepreneur's Complete Guide to Software

Paralyzed by all the software choices out there? You're not alone. How to choose the software your business really needs.

What? You don't have time to track all the latest developments in software? For an entrepreneur, researching changes in information technology often takes a remote back seat to the day-to-day tasks of running a business. And that's probably the way it should be. But believe us-it pays to take a hard look at the software your company is using.

In this year's "Entrepreneur's Complete Guide to Software," we've examined software products in 16 different categories. Some of these products won't change the way you do business. If antivirus and utilities software programs are doing their jobs, for example, you shouldn't even notice they're there. However, a number of these categories include software that has the potential to improve client relationships, streamline finances, replace expensive hardware or revamp your data-handling. In short, these products are designed either to give a nice push to your company's productivity or just to save you money; in some cases, you'll get the best of both worlds.

Small companies have to make the most of their resources, and sometimes that means people have to focus on areas in which they have little knowledge. From accounting to Web site design, software packages can eliminate the need for training or experience. The right software could be your company's best friend.

Exciting, isn't it? But before you rush off to buy a bundle of software, keep in mind that you have several factors to consider other than just the capabilities and costs of the software. Your selections should be based on your company's size, industry, internal organization, computing environment, technical expertise, and, of course, the ever-important user interface. Even a great product can end up being a nuisance if it's not intuitive to you as a user.

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This article was originally published in the November 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: <i>Entrepreneur</i>'s Complete Guide to Software.

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