Simple Small Business Solutions You Actually Need
The sheer volume of products, tools, and devices that are marketed toward small businesses in the US today is astonishing. One quick online shopping experience and any small business owner can easily become overwhelmed.
While some of these items are extremely helpful in fulfilling your business needs, others would simply be an unnecessary expense or headache.
We’ve compiled this list of small business solutions to help entrepreneurs decipher between the beneficial products and those that are a waste of precious time and money.
A lot of business solutions are IT solutions since technology is what drives our businesses. The convenience provided by the software available to small businesses is irreplaceable.
Even so, there are software that are essential to a small business and software that are a waste of time and money. This list only includes the former.
The global pandemic really put this virtual conferencing software on the map. There must be a very small percentage of the population that have yet to learn how to use Zoom.
This program is free for anyone to use as long as they keep their meetings 40 minutes or less.
Of course, most serious business owners won’t want to abide by those time confinements, but Zoom also has a very affordable unlimited paid account which allows you to hold meetings or webinars of any length.
Slack is a program that allows cross platform communication for your team.
Instead of checking your emails, texts, or social media messages, Slack will bring all communication under one roof. Now, no matter your team members’ choice of communication ー no one is left out of the loop.
Dropbox is an invaluable tool for small businesses to save and share large documents on the cloud.
There are limits to the size of files that you can send by email, so Dropbox is the best way to share those big projects. All accounts come with 1 GB of stored data free.
Better still, not just anyone can jump on and get your information. You can use secure sharing by sending an invite by email from a secure link.
For a small to medium business that requires their team to clock in and out from a remote location, this mobile app is perfect.
Connecteam allows team members to clock in and out from their phones. The GPS tracking feature will stamp a location of logged hours to discourage dishonest time tracking.
This app has many more features to improve employee management.
It allows for communication with individuals or the whole team through an in-app messaging option. The manager can assign shifts and manage the schedule and then share that schedule with the group.
Employees can create accident reports, add receipts, and request reimbursement for expenses.
You can also add digital versions of the employee handbook and training resources for easy access to all team members.
This handy software will take your customer service up a notch. It is a POS software that not only helps you to manage inventory and track analytics but also to create your own loyalty program for your customers.
Best of all, Loyverse is free.
Hubspot is a respected name in the online marketing world. Most of their programs are top of the line and used by thousands of online businesses.
One program that they offer that can help even the brick and mortar biz is their CRM. This free program provides a visual dashboard of your sales funnel.
With this program, you can track customer interaction, log sales, and even document detailed customer data all in one easy to navigate program. Your sales and marketing team will love it.
Trello is a project management tool that is very visual. The site itself resembles a virtual sticky note board.
To use Trello, all you do is create a board for each project and add tasks on kanban cards. These cards are then assigned to a team member.
All of the communication and notes for each task are kept on one card so that nothing is lost. Once a task is complete, it is marked so, and the next task can begin.
Trello can integrate with Dropbox, Google Drive, and many more programs.
Always on the go?
Pocket allows you to save online articles to read later.
This program helps you to continue working when you have no internet connection. Never lose an interesting article that you wanted to read but didn’t have the time.
Social media marketing and customer support are vital parts of any small business’s marketing plan. It can be hard to keep up with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tiktok.
Hootsuite allows you to manage multiple social media accounts from one spot. You can post, message, and track likes and replies all for free.
Even though it is advised that every business owner enlist the help of a professional accounting service, this comprehensive accounting software can be quite helpful.
In fact, many accounting firms ask that their clients use QuickBooks in addition to their services. Businesses that use the program make the accountant’s job much easier because all information is better organized.
You can also connect your business credit cards to keep records of your invoicing and billing.
Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing programs. It allows you to create and track any email marketing campaign.
Mailchimp has ready to use email templates and allows for personalization and analytics.
You can send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 people for free!
Not all business owners have their own attorney at their disposal. However, almost every small business will have the need for legal documents at one time or another.
Docracy is an online network of open source legal documents that you can use for free. This is a great source for contracts, employment agreements, etc.
It even allows for digital signatures to make the whole process easier and more time efficient.
This networking platform is a great place to connect with other experts in your field and to form new business relationships.
It is also a fantastic place to find your next employee. Each LinkedIn profile delivers the educational and professional background of the individual and a way to contact them directly.
Google My Business
Like a White Pages for the internet, Google My Business is nearly a requirement for a business to be found through the search bar.
Having your business listed on this online directory can even boost your site ranking. It helps your clients find you instantly and will provide them with your contact information as well as the ability to leave reviews.
Additionally, you can add information about your business — the more you can provide, the better.
This service is 100% free.
Google Analytics lets you track how well your online marketing plan is doing. You can learn where you get the most traffic and even get ideas for your next marketing campaign.
Again, this service is 100% free for the base version. Additional features are a paid service.
Gmail Business is the best email program to use for an organized inbox. With this program, you can prioritize emails from specific recipients and automate organization of emails by folders.
Available add-ons are helpful in organizing even further.
One such add-on is called Boomerang, which you can use to schedule an email for later or remind you to respond to an email if you haven’t done so.
Create, collaborate, and share documents all online and all for free with Google Drive.
You can access your saved documents from any computer as long as you have internet access. You can transfer documents from Microsoft Office as well.
Canva allows small business owners with little to no artistic talent to create professional looking graphics with their easy to use app.
This is a great marketing tool for publishing on social media, blogs, emails, etc., and yes, it’s free!
Do you want to create eye-catching infographics that make you look like an expert in your field?
Piktochart can make it possible with easy to use pre-made templates. Just fill in the blanks, and you are ready to go!
This is another useful marketing tool at no cost to you.
If you are looking to simplify the expense reporting process for your employees, Expensify is for you.
This program allows you and your employees to upload receipts, track expenses, and reimburse employees with one click.
There is a free version, but the paid membership is better. For pricing, check their website.
Go beyond a simple date book and use an online client scheduling program. YouCanBook.me lets you set the blocks of time that designate your availability.
Clients log on and grab up your open spots. If a client requests a meeting, you get a notification when a session is booked.
This program can be synced with your Google Calendar for an even easier way to stay on schedule and never miss another meeting.
This service is also 100% free.
An acronym for if this, then that, this program is a super time saver.
It will automate a task based on happenings that you have pointed out. For example, IFTTT can make your office lights come on when you put in the lock code.
There are many small business services available, but which are the most beneficial?
Here’s our shortlist:
Digital Marketing and SEO
Having a website and a social media account is not enough to succeed in the competitive business world. Traditional marketing is expensive but creating content for your website takes a lot of time.
Not only does it take time, but it can be hard to create high quality content that engages your customers that is also SEO friendly to help increase your visibility.
To meet these high standards, many small businesses enlist the help of a digital marketing agency. Those that do seek outside help see their profits and customer engagement increase.
If you are struggling to survive from one invoice to the next, forget about the worry of collecting on overdue invoices.
NOW accelerated invoice services can help you to improve your cash flow by paying your invoices upfront so that you can continue to operate your business.
Small business owners don’t wear one hat. They wear many, and these hats all require that they be in different places throughout the day.
You wouldn’t want to give out your personal cell number to customers or clients.
Grasshopper provides a toll free number that connects to your mobile device.
You’ll know when it’s a call from the toll free number, and you can set the hours of operation so that you won’t receive business calls when you aren’t working.
Tax season can be stressful, especially for small business owners. Turbotax makes filing taxes headache free.
This online tax filing service looks for deductions you might miss. It stays up to date on tax laws so that you don’t have to.
Aside from online programs and vital small business services, there are technological devices that should be on every beginning small business owner’s shopping list.
Here are three hardware options to consider:
Gone are the days when offices had bulky copy machines, loud fax machines, and a room sized copier and scanner.
You can now save so much office space and money by combining all these devices into one.
An all-in-one printer allows you to copy, scan, fax, and print from one device. Check out PC Mags best all-in-one printers for 2021 to find which is best for your office.
External Hard Drive
As great as technology is, it can fail us at times. Don’t let a glitch in your system cause you to lose precious data.
An external hard drive will allow you to backup important data while providing extra storage space for the whole team.
Network Attached Server
For sensitive documents, you don’t want to rely on your service provider. It may not be as secure as you would expect.
A network attached server can make it possible to share information across a network of connected computers without it ever leaving the building.
Every product on this list is a great investment for all small businesses. Most of the software is free or has a free trial, so you can decide over time whether the product is invaluable or you can do without.
The goal is to streamline your processes to give you more time to build a thriving business.
Learn more about the problems Now solves: