There are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States, making up 99.9% of all businesses.
Most of those small businesses don’t have the resources and funding to build a huge infrastructure, at least not when they first launch. If you’re thinking of throwing your hat in the ring and starting your own business, there are a few tools you should have to get started.
Let’s look at 6 business software solutions for entrepreneurs.
1. Team Communication Tools
Having efficient ways to communicate with your team is important for a small business, whether it’s your employees, virtual assistants, suppliers, or anyone else. And with so many people working remotely, it’s even more important to stay in touch.
Team communication tools can replace separate communication systems like email, voice, and video conferencing apps. You can instant message other members of your team, set up group chats, and hold virtual meetings over the internet with these tools.
The most popular options in this category include:
- Microsoft Teams
They offer a lot of the same features but if you work with other people who are already on one of the platforms, you’ll likely need to use the same tool.
2. Time Tracking and Billing Apps
If your business needs to invoice your customers, whether that’s for products or services, you’ll need a way to create and send those invoices. And once you send them, a good billing tool will provide notifications for payment (or lack thereof).
If you bill your customers based on the time you spend working on their account, you’ll also need a time tracking tool so you know exactly how much time you spend with them.
Time tracking apps are available for all major platforms but web services let you track time from any device. One of the best tools for tracking time is Toggl Track. It lets you categorize everything by client and project to make reporting easy.
Freshbooks is another option that has built-in time tracking as well as a full accounting and invoicing system. It can track payment due dates and send reminders if a client is late to pay.
3. Web and QA Analytics Tools
Most small businesses rely on their websites for lead generation and staying in contact with existing customers. To get the best results, you need to track your visitors and various other factors.
Google Analytics is one of the most popular web analytics tools, in part because it’s free to use. It tracks the visitors landing on your website and provides information such as:
- Traffic sources
- Bounce rate
- Most popular pages
- Visitor demographics
- Ad tracking
Google also provides the Google Search Console that provides more detailed information about how the pages on your site rank and other under-the-hood details about your website’s performance.
If you’re in the software development business, a QA and software testing tool like Qualitylogic.com is critical for avoiding costly errors.
4. Search Engine Optimization Tools
Before you can track visitors coming to your website, they need to find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for getting ranked in Google to drive that traffic.
You can manage your SEO without any special tools but several resources will boost your results.
SEMrush and Ahrefs are website analysis tools that can point out ways to improve your site for better rankings. They’ll also let you analyze your competitors’ websites to figure out why the top-ranked sites are successful.
Once you have that information, you can use the same strategies on your own site, making improvements where possible. If you duplicate what they’re doing but do it a little bit better, you can outrank those sites and “steal” their prospects.
5. Email Marketing Systems
Email is one of the oldest internet technologies still in use but there’s a reason for that — it’s effective. Email marketing is still one of the most powerful ways to stay in touch with your existing clients and move prospects through your sales funnel to become customers.
An email service provider (ESP) like Mailchimp lets you collect leads on your website and stay in contact with them by email. You can queue up autoresponder messages that go out on a pre-set schedule, without having to do any manual work.
For your company’s internal email service, Google’s G-Suite package is hard to beat. You get the power of Gmail for your company’s email system along with Google Docs and better support than the free version.
6. Business Software for Project Management
Project management is critical for staying on top of all the things you’re working on, especially if you work with other people. Being able to collaborate on the tasks that need to get done and track the progress of everyone’s work helps give you a better “big picture” view of your business.
For team collaboration, Basecamp is a good option. It lets you add team members, assign tasks, and track progress on every project from one place. Basecamp also includes some of the tools we’ve covered above.
Notion is another great platform for project management but it’s a little more open-ended than Basecamp. If you want to design your own project management system, Notion is a good choice but expect to spend more time getting things set up.
If you prefer to work with a kanban project management system, take a look at Trello. Some other tools, like Notion, support kanban boards but Trello was designed to work this way from the start.
Choose the Right Tools for Your Needs
Each of these business software categories has plenty of options to choose from. We’ve touched on the most widely-used tools in this article but they all have their advantages and disadvantages.
Make sure you consider each of them from the perspective of what’s best for your business. It a lot easier to start with the right solution than to switch down the road.
Check out the Business section of our site for more helpful articles about entrepreneurship and starting a small business.