13 Types of Essential Software that Your Small Business Needs

How can you make your small business run better? You can be sure that out of the 30 million businesses in the U.S., the vast majority of business owners ask themselves this question every single day.

It’s no longer enough to provide an amazing product or a good service. You have to do it faster and keep up with incredibly high customer expectations. You also have to be a step ahead of the competition.


businessman typing on keyboard

How can you always stay a step ahead? There are essential software solutions that every small business must invest in.

These tools help you keep things organized and do more with fewer resources. Would you like to find out which tools can help your business grow?

Keep reading to discover the top small business software that your business can’t live without.

1. Customer Relationship Management

How well do you keep track of your customers? Do you know when they scheduled a consultation and whether or not they made a purchase?

It’s incredibly difficult to keep all of that information in your head. It’s easy when you’re a solopreneur and you have a handful of customers.

If you want to grow and manage many leads and customers, you need a bit more than your memory. You need a customer relationship management tool. This is a tool that will help you manage your leads, schedule appointments, follow up calls, and enter detailed notes of contacts and conversations.

Most CRM software has an app that you can use to have that information anywhere. You can also see what your close rate is and where prospects are in the sales cycle. That will help you make sales projections and see where you can focus your time to get more sales.

There are great tools from HubSpot, Salesforce, and Zoho that will help your small business.

2. Payroll

If you have employees, you have a lot more responsibility on your shoulders. You have to pay payroll taxes and make sure that you keep outstanding records.

This is necessary to protect your business in case you’re ever audited by a labor board or tax agency.

You’ll want to use a paystub maker to make sure that you have neat, printable copies of all paystubs that your employees can use and you can keep for your records.

3. Cloud Storage

Businesses of all sizes are under attack from cybercriminals. They want to steal sensitive data or hold your entire network hostage until you pay a ransom. These cyberattacks can cost up to $200,000.

One way you can protect your business is to make sure you have a back up of all of your documents online. This can be done with various cloud storage solutions from Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox.

One other advantage to investing in cloud storage is that you and your employees can access and update documents from anywhere.

4. Accounting

You can’t properly manage your business if you don’t manage your cash flow. An accounting solution is necessary to help you manage your business finances.

If you rely on spreadsheets and handwritten statements, you need to upgrade your bookkeeping. The reason why it’s important is that you can see where your money is being spent in the business. You can also see upcoming invoices and how much cash you have on hand.

QuickBooks is the standard for accounting software. Wave also has an accounting solution that’s free (yes, free) for small business owners.

5. Online Meetings

The great thing about being a business owner today is that you can have customers based anywhere in the world. You no longer have to travel to meet with important customers all of the time, you can meet with them through video chats.

There are a number of outstanding tools from Skype, Zoom, and GoToMeeting.

6. Analytics

There’s a common saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” In other words, you can’t make good decisions or improve things that you don’t measure.

You can guess at how good your sales team is, but unless you measure their effectiveness, you really don’t know. You can’t make improvements, either.

The best essential software tools will have some reporting component so you can measure that aspect of your business.

One measurement tool that you absolutely need is website analytics. You depend on your website to get customers online, and you need to see how many people go to your site and how they find you.

Fortunately, it’s easy enough with a tool like Google Analytics. It’s a free tool that you can use to track your website’s performance.

While you’re at it, you’ll also want to install Search Console so you can see how your site performs in Google searches

7. Social Media Management

If there’s one thing that small business owners dislike about social media marketing, it’s the amount of time that it takes.

Yes, it takes time to write and create quality content. However, you don’t have to always be on social media networks to post content, either.

There are scheduling tools that you can use. That gives you the ability to schedule your content far in advance, and check in periodically to engage with users.

There are tools that you can use from Hootsuite, Buffer, and Tailwind.

9. Time Tracking

Does your business have billable hours? You need to make sure that the time spends on client work is properly tracked.

Most invoicing and accounting tools have some kind of time tracking solution. One essential tool that stands out is Chrometa.

That’s because it takes a passive approach to timekeeping. Most software requires you to log in and make adjustments in the tool every time you stop to take a break or change projects.

Inevitably, you forget to do that. Chrometa senses when you’re changing projects or when you step away for a while. That makes sure that your time is accurate.

10. Online Scheduling & Payments

Do you allow your customers to schedule appointments or make payments online? You should because it could be a great thing for your business.

Payment solutions like Square, Stripe, and PayPal offer secure ways to make purchases online.

There are online scheduling tools like Calendly that are simple for solopreneurs and small businesses.

11. Customer Service

Customers expect more from your business. They expect outstanding, consistent service. Why is this important to your business? People are willing to pay more for products and services if they can trust that they’re going to get outstanding service.

Customers want to have multiple ways to contact a business. They want to have chats, emails, and calls at their convenience.

Groove, ZenDesk, and Desk.com are tools that can help you provide better service. Each tool has its own advantages and fits a number of business needs.

Groove is a good tool to use if you want to manage social media messages along with other forms of communication.

12. Focus Tools

There are so many distractions today that it’s almost impossible to get anything done. Sometimes, you just need to tune the world out for a few minutes so you can work on the necessary tasks.

There is a link between certain types of music and productivity. You can take advantage of this by putting on your headphones and getting to work.

A couple of services that offer music to help you improve your focus are Focus At Will and Spotify’s Focus Playlist.

13. Growth and Development Tools

The only way for a business to grow is for you to grow. You grow by getting out of your comfort zone and exposing yourself to new things.

Investing in yourself is a wonderful way to learn and grow. There are hundreds of courses that you can take to learn a new skill and to be a better leader.

The best part is that many of these tools are free or cost very little. EdX is a site that has courses from the best universities in the world. Udemy offers a broad range of classes that can help you with anything from social media marketing to be a better public speaker.

How to Pick the Software Tools You Need

There are countless software solutions on the market. That can make the process of finding the right tools for your small business daunting. How can you make sure you get what your business needs without researching every single tool on the market?

Here are the steps you can follow to make sure you get what you need right out of the gate.

What Do You Need?

Since there are software solutions that can fill just about any need, you really have to sit and figure out what your business needs are. Try to match your software with your needs. For example, if you want to automate your contract management, look for a contract management software for small businesses. Getting a tool that’s too expensive and comprehensive for your operations would just be a waste of your money.

Start by evaluating the tools that your business is currently using. What are those solutions missing? Are there features that you need to have?

You also want to get input from your employees. They’re the ones who are going to be using the software solutions. They’ll have valuable insights as to what they need to be more efficient and productive.

As you’re evaluating your needs, you also want to take into account the number of users for each solution and who will need access to the tools. Pricing is often done on a per-user basis, and this will help you come up with your budget.

You and your employees should make a list of the features and integrations that are must-haves in your job. For example, having a payment solution that integrates with your accounting software would make your finance team very happy.

What’s Your Budget?

Next, you need to figure out your budget. There is a broad range of essential software tools at different price points.

Many business tools offer a free version that’s limited and then you pay a monthly fee that is based on the number of users.

As you’re developing your budget, you should expand your thinking beyond just the cost. The cost of the software is one thing, but many don’t look at the savings and benefits of having some of these software tools.

A customer service tool may seem like a big expense, but when you realize that you’re keeping customers and they purchase more in the following purchases, the price of the software is well worth it.

Tryout Different Solutions

The vast majority of software vendors offer a free trial or they charge a small amount of money to try the software out.

This is your opportunity to get hands-on experience with different software providers and

Select Vendors

The last step is to make a decision. Which were the tools that checked all of the boxes on your list and were easy to use?

Get your team together and evaluate the different products you all tried out. The final decision is up to you as the owner, but you need to make sure you get input from your team. This is necessary in order to get their buy-in to use the software.

Run Your Business Better with These Essential Software Tools

When you’re in business, you are always under intense pressure from your customers, competitors, and employees. You have to make the most out of the tools and resources available.

Fortunately, there are a lot of small business tools that can take your small business from average to world-class. Every day is a chance to be more efficient and provide a higher level of service.

Which tools are the essential software tools for your business? It largely depends on your business and your needs. Every business needs a great accounting and payroll solution, but not all need a collaboration tool.

You want to take your time when choosing software. Make sure you choose the software that has the features you need and fits within your budget.

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