One of the things many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t realize (but which is well-known to larger enterprises) is that there are tremendous advantages in having all your customer data in one place.

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs end up with all sorts of online tools to run things: a website or landing page builder, an email marketing system, a contact management system, a payment processing system, and on and on.

While it may seem sensible to start with a bunch of inexpensive single-point solutions instead of a complete business platform that will grow with you over time, the problems show up pretty quickly.

The biggest problem is that your data is all over the place. You’ve got website traffic stats in one system, customer data in another, email open and click data in a third system, purchase histories in another, and so on.

Why does this matter?

It matters because your ability to understand and respond to what’s happening in your business is mission-critical. Without clear data at your fingertips and the ability to act on that data quickly, you’re at a serious disadvantage. One of the reasons more than three-quarters of Ontraport’s new clients are migrating away from using multiple single-point solutions is that as they gain experience, grow their businesses and collect more tools, the costs really start to add up in ways they didn’t expect.

Here’s what typically happens:

You start out and think you just need a website or a couple of landing pages, and maybe you spend $30/month on a system (or hosting) to take care of that for you. That looks cheap compared to a serious “all-in-one” platform (Ontraport starts at $79/month). You figure you’ll start out with an inexpensive single-point solution and save the money. You’ll move up to a more serious toolset later.

Then you realize you need to capture email addresses to follow up with prospects, so you pick another tool that starts around $20/month. That fee grows as your list grows, and pretty soon you’re paying $70/month for those two tools alone.

Then you decide it’s time to take payments online, or launch a membership site, or get organized and add a CRM tool to keep track of things — and pretty soon you’re paying a whole lot more. Plus maybe you’re paying for Zapier (or something similar) to string all the parts together. Then you’ve got that lightbox tool someone recommended at a conference. And that thing that does that other bit …

Suddenly, the monthly fees are adding up and the collection of tools you’ve created isn’t looking like such a bargain.

But what really sends costs over the top is when you factor in your time. The painful process that all entrepreneurs seem to have to put themselves through always includes days or weeks (or months or years) of researching, selecting, buying, learning and launching a bunch of different apps — and then tearing out half of them to replace them with something else, again and again. We hear this same experience from entrepreneurs all over the world literally every day.

It’s heartbreaking because this all takes time that should be spent actually growing your business: talking to customers, creating new products and services, growing your team, improving your marketing, or ANYTHING except screwing around with technology for days on end.

The cost to your business — in both money and time — is an important part of choosing which software you’ll use to power your business. Our guide to selecting software will help you do complete research and think through all the details to make sure you make a decision you’ll be happy with for years to come. Check it out, and let us know what you think.

About Landon Ray
Ontraport Founder and CEO Landon Ray is a serial entrepreneur whose personal mission is to educate, motivate, and enable others to realize their goals of starting and growing their own business. At the age of 25, Ray transformed himself from a street-corner flower vendor into one of the nation’s top securities day traders in only twelve months. After beating the odds on Wall Street and again during the great recession, Ray has taken his research and personal experience and created Ontraport, a small business automation platform and related family of services, which reflect his passion for educating and supporting entrepreneurs.