The small business owner’s life has never been easy, but without a doubt, it looks different today compared to 30 years ago. Technology is on our side, giving us tons of tools for tracking data, managing business processes, and generally helping us keep our chaos together.
We’re faced with another problem, though: there are too many choices! Everywhere you look, there’s some new software solution that promises to make life easier while you pile up stacks of cash. Not all of them are the miracles they pretend to be, so how do you find out which ones are worth their costs?
Truthfully, there’s no singular magic bullet. Different tools are better for different aspects of your business, so you need a toolbox rather than an all-in-one business management solution. These are the top types of software every company needs.
Financial management is one of the toughest parts of running a business, especially if you’re trying to cobble together a plan with basic spreadsheets. Accounting tools like Quickbooks and Xero are your best bet.
These programs offer the basic functions you need: expense tracking, invoice tracking, various financial reports, payment tracking, and more. Make sure your chosen tool will store receipts along with tracking your expenses. This way, there’s less paperwork to manage when tax time arrives.
Task Management Software
Part of running your business is keeping track of all the jobs on your plate, from completing client projects and deliverables to tackling business development strategies. A task tracker lets you plan all your to-dos for each day, keep an eye on all deadlines, and arrange daily schedules to make sure you get everything done. It lets you manage projects with numerous steps or stages too, breaking them until into individual tasks so you can sparse them out in a doable way.
Performance Metric Tracking Tools
For any company to be successful, it needs a watchful eye on all the essential performance data. We’re talking profits, revenue, web traffic, expenses, the whole nine yards. All that data analysis is called business intelligence.
Some of this can come from your accounting software, especially financial data. However, Google Analytics is a top tool as well. It shows the nitty-gritty details of your company’s site, including conversion rates, monthly visitors, search engine data, and more. It’s a terrific way to see where you’re missing opportunities for converting web visitors into paying customers.
Document Management System
Sometimes the worst downfalls for a company are the tasks that seem simplest, like efficient organization. To manage your business well, you need easy access to many documents and files: client work, contracts, notes, human resources documentation, invoices, the list goes on. That’s why you need a document management system like a cloud based storage drive.
This drive makes it easy to organize everything in appropriately-labeled folders. Everything’s in one place where you can reach it no matter where you are because it’s in the cloud. Plus, this makes it easy to share files with contributors, employees, clients, contractors, or even accountants and lawyers securely. You’ll see their updates in real-time so say good-bye to long email chains with ten versions of one file.
Email Marketing Software
Email marketing is among the most cost-effective methods for growing a business. Managing it from your basic email inbox is a mess, though, so opt for email marketing software like Mailchimp or iContact instead.
These platforms give you design options you don’t have in your inbox, along with easy contact list management including list segments. They seamlessly track critical performance data for your emails too so you can enhance your e-blasts over time. Many of these platforms have their own mobile app too, letting you manage email marketing from anywhere.
Time Tracking Software
For companies that use time-based billing, a time tracker is one of the most critical tools you need. This tool lets you clock your time for each project down to the minute, creating clear records of that time.
That gives clients more confidence in your billing. The time is recorded by accurate, impartial software so they aren’t relying on your own reporting. It also saves you time. Rather than writing downtimes for every task, a simple button click will stop or start your timer.
You can also use a time tracker to manage your business tasks. Use it to see how much time is spent on various administrative tasks like billing, data analysis, customer service, and so on. From there, you can see which tasks take the most time and find ways to automate or accelerate them.
Choosing the Best Software for Your Business
Software shopping might not be as fun as shopping to expand your wardrobe, but it can save time and money in the long run. When it comes down to it, there’s no singular business management software that solves every struggle you have. It’s about building a collection of business management tools like the suggestions above to keep your company thriving and growing without giving yourself daily migraines.