Starting a new business venture can be a daunting experience, heavy with risks and potential for missed opportunities. To establish your enterprise, you need to take advantage of every chance that comes along to help your business progress and grow, and your organisation will have to stand out in a competitive market. One-time customers and clients will need to be persuaded to keep favouring your company, to remain loyal in spite of what other similar businesses may be offering.

Without an individual approach, customers and clients will come to feel that you're not paying enough attention to their needs, and will soon look elsewhere for satisfaction. In the end, it won't be enough just to provide a high quality product or service if the treatment of customers and clients is lacking.

This can be easily dealt with by a large company. Established stores can rely on brand identity to bring people through the door, and offer tailored deals to ensure that they see a benefit in returning. They can employ a large department to look after this specific issue, providing direct customer services and targeted advertising to any number of customers.

But for a startup, this isn't possible. Whatever can be done to promote brand loyalty will have to be done by a small team, or perhaps by you yourself acting alone. Chances are, you won't have anyone with the IT expertise needed to construct a bespoke database for maintaining the necessary information just how you need it. How, then, can you do it all yourself?

Microsoft Access is designed with those who aren't IT technicians in mind. Just the database that you require can be created simply and quickly, with intuitive and accessible tools for every job. Plus, of course, being able to manage your data without the assistance of an IT department saves a great deal of money. Being able to solve problems and grow your business whilst spending as little money as possible is vital in enabling a startup business to rise above established rivals, to survive and prosper in the market.

Access has many features specifically aimed at easier and swifter use. Prebuilt solutions can help small businesses with their information, providing a number of ready-to-use databases, adapted to serve a range of different purposes - such as contacts, events, assets, clients or tasks. In many cases, there'll be a prebuilt solution that fits the information needing to be stored, or which will fit with just a small adjustment (all prebuilt solutions can be modified as little or as much as the user likes). The database can be set up with just a couple of clicks. Alternatively, if you're looking for a solution that's created specifically for your data, it's so easy to build your own databases in Access.

Entering information into Access couldn't be more straightforward. Just as with Microsoft Excel, it's as simple as entering data into a cell . Every time you enter a new value, Access automatically detects the data type - such as currency, text, dates, etc - and adds a new field in your database. All the complexities of assembling a database are done by the software, behind the scenes.

If you've already got some data saved as an Excel table, you can simply paste it into your Access database, and it will be changed into Access data automatically. Similarly, a database of contacts can be formed from contact records you might have saved in Microsoft Outlook - again, by pasting the data from one to the other. What's more, if anyone else in your organisation is collating information as well, Access can work with Outlook to send a form to colleagues, which will collect the relevant information and put it into your database automatically.

Once you've entered or pasted all the information you need, and Access has created your database, it's easy to use the data to your advantage. Filtering and sorting data - so you can find just the information you need, even on the largest database - takes just a couple of clicks. The same can be true of reports; you can query any aspects of your information, and Access can create a simple report on the relationship between the required data and categories with just a click on the Report Tool button.

Alternatively, the Report Wizard allows you greater control, creating a more thorough and customised report using a WYSIWYG interface, so you can see exactly how the report will come together as you're constructing it.

Sharing your results is also simple; Access works with Windows SharePoint to allow collaboration on Access files with anyone you choose, wherever they may be, whilst the reports you create can be instantly emailed from Access to whoever you need to share them with.

Microsoft Access can help even the most computer-illiterate entrepreneur to make the most of the opportunities that the market presents them with. With a short training course, you can go even further in ensuring that your startup business has the best chance to survive and prosper. Taking control of Microsoft Access can be an important step on the road to taking control of your future.