If you’re a small business owner or manager, you may have observed the many advantages larger companies have in the marketplace. Access to powerful data analytics, enterprise solutions, and expensive consultants might give them an edge as they compete. However, small businesses have their own advantages, such as being more agile and able to pivot easily in response to market demands. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed this truth as smaller businesses reacted more quickly and easily to work from home requirements.
Additionally, the more business technology advances, the more it benefits smaller operations. For example, companies of all sizes can now take advantage of powerful analytics, useful marketing insights, and strong customer management programs. These tools enable businesses to respond to market trends, make strategic decisions, and create products timed just right to meet their growth goals.
The first step in taking advantage of these offerings is being aware of them. Here we present some of the best tools available to help propel your small business to the next level.
Strong project management plus robust project management software is the foundation of many business endeavors. For small businesses, a simple tool like Trello can be highly useful for keeping teams on track. Using a card system, it shows very clearly the status of each project, which tasks are required, who is assigned to each task, and which ones have been completed.
Asana is another helpful tool for small business owners and managers as you plan, implement, and track your work. With a simple interface, it shows task information such as what needs to be done, who is responsible for doing it, and the timeline. Helpful dashboards enable you to see the big picture or the important details.
Customers are at the heart of every business, big or small, and business operators need a way to manage them. It should be easy to add and track customers, see their activity, and be alerted when you need to take action. HubSpot gives you insight into how customers are engaging with you and sends messages when it’s time for you to reach out to them.
Keeping customers is critical for small business success, and the right customer service is key for managing those important relationships. A customer service platform like Zendesk helps streamline the process and support customer care specialists with features like answering bots, messaging, chat, ticketing, and voice interaction.
The following video emphasizes the importance of creating a high-level customer care plan before you decide which tools will best help in the implementation phase.
Website analytics tools like Google Analytics can help you understand who is visiting your site, what they’re looking for, and how easily they’re finding it. These insights can help you improve your site to make it more accessible and usable and to bring in more visitors, which can translate to more sales.
Email marketing is still a great way to engage customers and prospects. A tool like Mailchimp can help you design emails, manage email lists, and analyze engagement. Advanced features like recipient segmentation and personalization can help you make your emails more targeted and effective.
A social media dashboard like Hootsuite can help you manage all your social channels from one platform. The ability to schedule posts enables you to plan your posts in advance so you can be more efficient with your time. Reporting tools enable you to see how social media campaigns are working and track mentions of your brand.
No business can be successful without accurately tracking finances. One helpful tool for doing so is QuickBooks, which enables you to track income and expenses, invoices, and expense requests. It’s also useful for generating reports, especially those required by accountants to prepare tax returns.
Like QuickBooks, Sage Cloud Accounting provides your business with all the tools it needs to effectively manage finances, such as cash flow, invoicing, payments, and banking, as well as advanced features like inventory, stock management, and debtor management.
If you’re like many companies, you consider talent your biggest asset. But managing employees can be complicated. HR software like TalentSoft can help simplify the process. Modules offer tools to support recruiting, employee engagement, onboarding, and more. Features include an applicant tracking system, salary reviews, and learning content.
PayFit enables you to automate payroll processes with an employee portal, and payroll experts standing by to assist. The platform can be integrated with HR software, for high-level employee benefits management that’s easy for both administrators and employees to use.
Collaboration and Communication
Whether employees work remotely, onsite, or a combination, communication and collaboration are key for achieving company goals. Microsoft Teams is a popular platform that enables teams to share files, hold video meetings and presentations, and message, with presence information so you know who is available.
Zoom gained popularity in the early days of the pandemic when teams went remote and needed ways to interact from afar. It provides robust tools for regular meetings and can also be used for holding video conferences, presentations, seminars, and other educational sessions.
Compete With the Big Guys
The key to using such tools effectively is making sure they address the problems your company is trying to solve. Many of these platforms are free or feature a try-before-you-buy period that you can take advantage of to make sure they will work well for the needs of your operation.
For small businesses that want to grow, the benefit of these tools can hardly be overstated. In using them, states a recent Forbes Technology Council post, “owners can gain better insight and control over every part of their business, from marketing and customer service to financial performance.” Additionally, these apps are “providing small businesses with access to the same quality of data as bigger corporations,” enabling them to make better decisions that drive the efficiency and productivity needed to compete with the big guys.