Must-have tools for small businesses in 2017
Maximizing productivity using the resources available - that’s what running a small business is all about. And while the digital age has accelerated working culture, it’s also given us the resources to handle this increase in pace.
There are a terrific range of tools out there that have been designed specifically for departments most small businesses have - accounting, human resources, marketing and social media. Here, we look at the most essential tools for running a company that will make a significant impact in an efficient, simple way.
Human resources (HR) departments are responsible for recruitment, training, payroll, benefits, discipline and company culture, ensuring good morale and productive attitudes are prevalent. For a small business to succeed, the HR department needs to know employees inside out. It’s important HR staff understand what each person brings to the team, and ensure workers are content and performing as expected.
BambooHR is perhaps the leading HR tool, providing small businesses with an excellent recruitment module. With this tool, HR can post job listings to both job websites and social media accounts with one click, with the open application programming interface (API) enabling other parties to connect to the system. It also features a benefits/deductions calculator, easy integration with payroll platforms, and the ability to run HR reports.
Cezanne is an HR tool that covers all the bases, allowing staff to organize personnel files and directories in up to ten languages. The platform can also be customized with regards to currencies, rendering it particularly useful for businesses that have customers overseas.
It is also worth looking at Zenefits, which has a benefits calculator, direct payment options for contractors, electronic signature software, and stock handling features.
Accounting software is crucial to the finances of any business. While a standard spreadsheet or database can suffice in the early stages of a small business, a more comprehensive solution will be necessary as the business grows so that financial data can be managed safely and effectively.
You may have encountered Sage at some point during your career; it’s one of the leading names in accountancy software, offering small businesses a way to manage their finances through desktop and/or cloud-based solutions without the number of transactions being limited, and featuring an automatic tax calculator that readies sums to be sent to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
If your accounting department uses Macs, Xero is one of the best options for your business. Fully compatible with Macs without any features being removed or diminished, Xero can be easily integrated with a wide variety of other apps and round-the-clock customer support is available at no extra cost.
Xero is one of the most popular accounting tools for small businesses thanks to both its compatibility and ease of use, with invoices, inventories and payments all simple to create and update. You can access Xero from your smartphone using the Xero app.
Another accounting tool with a great app and high-quality customer service is FreshBooks, which is a cloud-based system capable of handling online invoicing, expense management and time tracking.
The marketing department is usually the most creative department in any business, responsible for
attracting customers through content, emails and search engine visibility.
ActiveCampaign, Litmus and MailChimp are all worthy considerations when it comes to selecting software to power an effective email marketing campaign.
ActiveCampaign is cited by many as the best of the bunch, with its own customer relationship management (CRM) system and all-in-one platform enabling you to easily manage and organize leads.
Litmus isn’t far behind, however; it comes with an array of excellent features including analytics, checklists, email builders, feedback and spam testing.
MailChimp is particularly popular with not-for-profit companies given that many of its features can be accessed for free. It’s also popular with startups that are learning about email marketing as they go, as how-to videos and tutorials are built into the software. It’s extremely comprehensive in terms of functionality, and is compatible with Magento, Shopify and WordPress.
For search engine optimization and content marketing, BuzzSumo can help you ascertain which demographics are connecting with particular keywords, while Google Analytics lets you see how website visitors are behaving in terms of their search habits. SEM Rush is also popular tool in this field as it enables you to gather insight on customer tastes and behavior.
Social media is increasingly important as a marketing channel and customer service channel, and any new business will need an individual, team or department dedicated to managing multiple accounts sooner rather than later. Tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite and TweetDeck enables social media departments to keep their channels organized and up to date, and provide analytics, engagement information and management dashboards.
Social media departments often juggle multiple projects, and need to be aware of what’s going on and what’s coming up, so project management software, such as Asana, Freedcamp and Trello, and time management tools, such as Focus Booster, Mind42 and Rescue Time, can be beneficial. In fact, anydepartment can utilize these types of tools to improve performance, as all areas of a small business need effective project and time management.
Successful small business owners are never afraid to ask for help. These tools can help you streamline your processes and increase output. While it can feel unsettling to step out of your comfort zone, the digital age demands adaptability. These tools are what you need to grow your business in 2017, helping you to take it to new heights.