How can a small business use open source software to stay ahead of their competition?
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Customize It to Your Needs
Proprietary software can be restrictive in evolving industries. Open source software gives small businesses access to affordable software that can grow with their company and can be customized to their specific needs. Because the money made off of open source software is support driven, the programmers are unbiased, less expensive, and easier to work with.
2. Get Products on the Market Faster
Cloud infrastructure and open source software give businesses a head start, allowing them to prototype, test, and get products to market faster and with less expense. Of course, their competitors have access to the same tools, so it’s the quality of the ideas and their execution that really matters — cloud and open source facilitate the journey from idea to product.
3. Give Developers Specific Feedback
If you embrace the culture of “make it work while you work,” which is essentially what makes open source so beneficial, providing developers with feedback and suggestions allows you to almost design the software specifically for your business. It means that with a few tweaks, an unpopular piece of software can become the next Google Docs.
4. Enhance Deliverables to Clients
One of the best uses of open source software when it comes to enhancing client deliverables is Google Charts. Providing robust visuals, like graphs and bar charts, will not only maximize the value of your services but will also help you stay ahead of the competition. Whenever possible, you should use open source software to take your product or service to the next level of quality.
5. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
We’re focused on delivering a great product, and open source software lets us focus on solving the problems that matter to us rather than reinventing the wheel in every aspect of our software. Using open source software also allows us to tap into a huge community of developers that are advancing the software we use every day, which ensures we stay on top of the curve.
6. Leverage Existing APIs
There are some incredible open source platforms out there that developers can customize to speed up development time and tailor existing workflows. Don’t just rely on open source software; build on it using the APIs of other apps or tools that you use. There’s no limit to what you can create to automate workflows and improve processes by leveraging and streamlining what’s already available.
7. Build Customized Solutions on the Cheap
Open source software means a lot of things, and one of these things is a mass amount of freelance services. Instead of going directly to expensive providers, coders and designers, there is always going to be a better and cheaper option. A perfect example of this is WordPress. Take the time to explore your options when using open source solutions and put your money to its best use.
8. Leverage It as a Marketing Tool
Many companies release some of their in-house code to the community. Becoming an active open source contributor can be a powerful promotional tool. It helps promote the company among technical users, shows a willingness to contribute to the community, and showcases the company’s technical prowess. You can think of it as a form of content marketing that uses code rather than text or video.
9. Empower Your Users
Not everyone understands the beauty of open source software. Instead, our SaaS business gets a lot of feature requests, integration questions and frustrated “Why can’t your software do this?” questions. Empower your users to create what they need and they’ll feel like partners in your product.