The Ultimate Software Guide for Small Businesses
VP of Integro Software
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The Ultimate Software Guide for Small Businesses
Welcome to your business's ultimate guide for software. As a small business, there are thousands of different types of software available. Overwhelming? We get it. Thanks to the plethora of options, it can take hundreds of hours (if not more!) to find the right software fit for your company.
That's why we’ve compiled a list of the top used software for small businesses. So you can save time, money, and frustration and ultimately have the smooth-running business you’ve been wanting!
Let’s first clarify: what is software? It’s simply a set of instructions or data operating your hardware.
So, why does your business need software?
Software is your silent business partner. Using software allows your processes to run smoothly, increasing your productivity and accuracy. Simply put, software reduces your workload, eliminates human errors, and increases consistency.
Software helps you organize your systems, allowing you to need fewer employees while increasing your profits and cutting down on costs.
What used to take many manual hours can now be automated and save you both time and money! Instead of continually needing to manually enter hours by both you and your employees, have automated systems that streamline your process and simplify time tracking. Your employees will thank you for it.
In today’s world of information, computers, technology, and the internet are now essential for many everyday tasks. To compete with other businesses, it’s important to the operation of your business that you have the right software.
But how do you know if you need new software? How will you be able to tell if it’s worth the time and money? We’ve helped you out by compiling a list describing those who most definitely need to take the plunge, up their game, and get new software
Signs your business needs software:
- Things are falling behind
- You frequently miss opportunities to make money
- Processes are clunky and don’t run smoothly
- You’re unable to keep up with business growth
- You struggle to keep track of transactions
- Your team is unable to meet the requirements
How Software Can Help
Below are notable benefits attributed to utilizing the right software.
- Automate tasks so you can cut your costs
- Improve efficiency
- Replace paper processes
- Streamline operations
- Increase productivity
Once you get started, it’s truly astonishing the positive impact excellent software will have on your company.
Where to Start?
Discerning where to begin when in the process of finding software can be completely overwhelming. We’ve consolidated all the info you need into one article, so you can have clear, actionable steps to take.
When choosing your software, you must keep in mind your objectives. Begin by sitting down and laying out what your business needs most desperately. Discuss with your employees and different people involved in your company to discern what your business needs most. It never hurts to get multiple perspectives!
After you clarify your objectives, it’s time to talk about relevant software options.
Do you struggle to communicate with your employees? Feeling as though you’re constantly trying to keep everyone on the same page? And continually backtracking because of your lack of communication.
We get it. As a business owner, one of the critical aspects of your role is communication and making sure everyone is on the same page.
If you don’t have the right software for your company you’ll continue running around in circles trying to keep everyone on the same page and wearing yourself down.
Where to start? Communication software will help you streamline your communication, increase productivity, and increase employee performance.
All that being said, the workplace is changing. We all know it. Most people prefer to work from home and the usual 9-5 office hours are far less common than they used to be. What does this mean for communication? Daytime communication is being replaced by messages being sent all hours of the day and night.
Instead of scheduling phone calls and needing to pop into various offices, team members can now get answers much quicker through online communication platforms.
Communicating only during business hours is being swapped with being able to send quick answers while on the go and “on your own time.”
To protect your time, most messaging apps have a “Do Not Disturb” option in which you can set specific hours to receive notifications. So if you have team members working in different time zones, communication can continue to run smoothly without having to make sure a particular team member is available.
So while communication platforms are morphing to meet the ever-changing workplace, not every communication app is equal. To facilitate fast and easy communication throughout your team, make sure you choose the right platform. And by the right platform, you only want one platform.
When your communication systems are over multiple channels/apps, it can be an absolute nightmare trying to stay on top of it all. So instead, look to streamline your communication all on one app so team members know exactly where to go for good communication.
Now that you understand the importance of a good communication platform, let’s look at where to start.
Which communication software is the best fit for you? Which ones are the most reliable? And what software have other businesses found to be either helpful and/or harmful?
Launched in 2013, Slack has been the solution for many frustrated business owners.
Slack’s communication is organized into multiple channels and allows you to create specific channels for teams, projects, office locations, etc. This enables everyone to be on the same page and feel included.
After creating a channel, you can select if that channel is public, private, shared, or multi-workspace. Another great feature is the security level. You can share data within the platform knowing you’re protected and things are tightly secure. Plus, you can download it both for mobile apps and desktops!
To date, Slack is being used by Target, Intuit, Kiva, and DevaCurl, to name a few.
A simple three-step process makes it easier than ever to get Slack set up.
- Sign up
- Invite your coworkers
- Try it out
With the positives also come a few cons. Here’s what you should probably be aware of before installing Slack.
Like every form of communication, Slack can easily become a distraction and you can get sucked into multiple discussions if you’re not careful.
There’s minimum file storage, meaning it can be frustrating when your files get deleted over time. You can, however, choose to pay for more storage, depending on your company's needs.
Overall, Slack is a fantastic tool to communicate and streamline all your team's communication!
Skype is another tool that can be highly impactful for your business. Why? Because when you have remote workers and people who aren’t able to meet in person, Skype allows you to have business meetings and conduct phone calls, etc with those people in real-time.
Skype also allows screen sharing, making it easy to share presentations, meeting minutes, or anything else you want the whole team to be able to access. Not to mention, it’s so much easier to facilitate meetings and convey information simply.
Skype is incredibly easy to install either on your desktop or through an app. Taking only minutes, you’ll have Skype set up and ready to go. It's a reliable service that offers 24/7 contacts.
If you find the free version isn’t enough, the paid subscriptions are quite cheap! Paid versions start as low as $2.99 a month.
All in all, Skype ensures a secure calling experience and consistently has good quality. There can be some awkward conversations from time to time due to video lag. But most times, we all look back with laughter when remembering these conversations.
Unfortunately, Skype can easily be intercepted, meaning there are risks to sharing certain data and information. Background noises also are often picked up quite easily. If you don’t have a large budget for this type of software, Skype offers its services for free, which can sometimes elevate the negative side effects.
Project Management Software
Once you have a communication platform figured out, it’s time to look into good project management software. Working on multiple projects and being unable to stay on top of them is frustrating. So yea, meet your new secret weapon: project management tools! They’ll help you keep track of multiple projects and deadlines so you can make sure everything is done on time and in order.
The result? Your life can suddenly feel a whole lot easier. Instead of always needing to manually keep track of every individual project, you only need to update your progress in a project management solution. You’ll be able to better manage all your tasks in an orderly way, plus save valuable time and money. Not to mention, when you find the right project management tools, it can take your productivity to the next level while allowing you to focus on what matters.
Before we go too far, let’s first look at project management.
Simply put, it’s a space where you can centralize all your information, files, assets, etc. into a single location.
What will project management do for your business? It’ll simplify assigning and scheduling tasks within a team. It’ll provide critical metrics and reports showing how long it’ll take to finish a job. Not to mention, it’ll provide process control to minimize errors and discrepancies, and it’ll remind you when a deadline is close at hand. It’ll help you avoid disorganization and it will provide team accountability.
Ultimately? It’ll save you time and help you and your team work faster and more efficiently.
With that said, let’s look at leading project management tools in today’s marketplace.
Trello is a web-based project management software solution that helps you consolidate all your complicated projects by dividing them into smaller tasks. Specifically, It helps you keep track of each project's progress while also tracking time.
Trello is best for small businesses and teams. It’s incredibly easy to use and is simple for beginners and new users.
You can create new boards with one simple click, name and add content, and move content to different categories and/or lists, making your project management easier than ever before!
With just a few clicks, you can easily include images and file attachments, add deadlines, and track relevant data. You’ll have space to store notes and can include team members when tracking various tasks.
In appearance, Trello looks similar to a board with sticky notes, providing columns to organize your tasks while indicating who the project owner is as well as relevant status and workflow.
Trello is known for its easy usability, making it possible for new users to quickly learn how to use it. Training new team members will take you only minutes!
Perhaps best of all, Trello allows you to upgrade as your business grows! You can start with a free version, then move to business class priced at $9.99 a month. When you outgrow that, you can upgrade to Enterprise at just $17.50 per month.
When you choose a project management system that can grow with your business, you save valuable time and money in the long run.
Not satisfied with Trello? No worries. There are more options available! One such platform is Teamwork. Used by over 20,000 companies including Paypal, Spotify, Disney, Netflix, and HP, you can rest assured it’s proven itself on the playing field.
Teamwork gives you the space and tools needed to keep track of projects, task management, file storage, time tracking, schedule, and reporting. It provides a wonderful platform to visualize everything. Plus, project managers prioritize tasks and watch tasks move from start to finish successfully.
With Teamwork, you can manage both individual and team tasks, gain full visibility over your list of to-dos, keep track of progress and receive immediate status updates. You’ll be able to quickly access reports showing where each task is in the process and use integrations to manage your files such as DropBox, Google, Jira, and Box.
Pricing starts at $10/per user per month. Not ready to commit? You can test out the software via a 30-day free trial before becoming a committed user.
Accounting & Bookkeeping Software
Are you spending hours trying to keep on top of your accounting and bookkeeping for your small business? Do you feel stressed just thinking about it? You no longer need to! You can now get software for your accounting that can save you and your bookkeeper hundreds of hours in manual labor. It’ll make things more efficient, organized, and accurate than ever before.
So why should you invest in good accounting software? Small businesses can save you hours on payroll, minimize frustrations with bookkeeping, and let you feel at peace knowing your books are kept under control. Plus, when you choose to invest in accounting software, it’ll provide you with advanced reports to measure your financial success.
But let’s face it: finding the right software solution is hard. So we’ve organized all the information for the top bookkeeping tool used among business owners.
Without further ado, here it is.
Meet Quickbooks, one of the most popular business accounting software out there!
Thanks to Quickbooks, you can manage your income, expenses, and financial health all in one place. You can also use Quickbooks for invoicing customers, paying bills, generating reports, and preparing taxes. This software provides multiple solutions to support you whether you are a freelancer or a midsized business.
Not to mention, you don’t have to make any commitment before trying their 30-day free trial!
Below are eight things small businesses use QuickBooks for:
Record Bills and Expenses
Frustrated with the lack of a process for streamlining your bills and expenses? Continually missing bills, making mistakes, and feeling stressed? Quickbooks connects your bank and credit card to make your workload easier! You’ll enjoy the simplicity of paying bills via Quickbooks with your banking connected. Enjoy the convenience and knowing everything is being processed on time!
Are you finding it difficult to track your finances? Find yourself at times making an educated guess, but still a guess with different decisions. Quickbooks creates a space you can easily access to print financial statements that’ll provide you with all the information you need to evaluate how well your business is doing financially.
Track employee time and expenses
Tired of employees continually complaining about tracking time and expenses? Continually finding mistakes and tired of all the stress it adds to your leadership role? QuickBooks allows you to track employee time and expenses in a simple, quick form from your computer! You’ll have a simpler system and your employees will thank you for it!
Are you wasting hours entering your payroll manually? Are you struggling to find the time and constantly feeling pressured to get it done? Maybe you’re afraid of making mistakes due to entering everything manually?
Quickbooks equips you to pay your employee through either check or direct deposit. It also calculates federal and state payroll taxes provides payroll tax forms already filled in for you, and E-pays your payroll taxes directly from QuickBooks.
Say goodbye to the extra stress of manual payroll and enjoy peace of mind knowing QuickBooks has your back!
Overwhelmed at the thought of the neverending tracking of inventory? We get it. With QuickBooks, you’ll be able to easily keep track of all your quantity and cost of inventory. Quickbooks supplies a portion of your inventory to the cost of goods sold all automatically. Plus, QuickBooks will not only do all the above but will also give you reminders to order when your inventory quantities are running low.
Do you feel the annual stress every time tax season comes around? Feeling the weight of filing taxes is never fun. With QuickBooks, you’ll ease your stress and simplify your taxes like never before. With QuickBooks Online specifically, you can invite your tax preparer to receive access to your accounts directly so they can see, review the numbers, and print all the information they need. Sound amazing? We agree.
Store on the Cloud
Have you thought before about what would happen if your computer crashed, was stolen, or suddenly decided not to work? What would happen with all of your records and data? When you get QuickBooks, all your data is stored on the cloud allowing you to access all your information from anywhere with any device.
Do you struggle to document mileage tracking? Does it feel easier to just pay the small amount rather than keep track? It may feel as though you’re not spending much, but small amounts add up fast and give you a generous tax deduction as well. QuickBooks Online makes mileage tracking easier than ever! The mobile app will automatically sense every time you’re in a moving vehicle and keep track of your mileage for you!
Choosing your software
Now that you know what your software options are, it’s time to take action.. Below are five simple steps to choosing the right software for your business.
Prioritize your needs
You won’t know what software is right for you if you don’t first prioritize your needs. So first, specify your needs. It can be helpful to write out a list dividing things into essential, conditional, and nice to have. That way, when looking at your budget, you can better know what software is your priority.
Next, make a budget. And remember that sometimes spending more money upfront will save you hundreds of hours in the long run. It’s also important to keep in mind whether this will help your productivity levels, and if so, how much?
Trials are your best friend! They enable you to try out software and see if it works well with your business before committing. When you find software that increases productivity, streamlines your processes, and eases your stress, you can rest assured it’s probably a go!
Keep in mind the big picture. Remember, spending a little more money in the short term can be worth it to increase your productivity, efficiency, accuracy, and dependability in the long term. Also remember, your business will (most likely!) grow, so find software that’s able to grow with you into the future.
So to sum it all up!
Congratulations! You’ve now found your silent business partners. Using these software solutions will take your business to the next level, impacting sales and growth and allowing for a smoother on-ramp to increase your business’s size.
Still not sure where to start? If you’re looking for custom, construction, or off-the-shelf software for your business, contact us today. We’ll walk alongside you to help you find the perfect fit for your company.
Learn about our packages here and get yourself on the road to success.
New software can be the missing piece for you and your business. Taking the time to research and invest money now can be the key to taking your productivity to the next level while selling like never before.
Here’s to running a productive and efficient company.