Running a small business is not easy. Growing your customer base, increasing revenue, managing your staff and balancing the books are just some of the challenges you need to deal with every day to keep your business successful.
Fortunately, in 2020 there are some great tools available that make many of these tasks easier and are invaluable to help you grow a successful business. Here are the top 7 tools and technologies you should start using this year if you’re not already.
- CRM Systems
CRM, or customer relationship management systems, allow businesses to store customer information, track interactions, run sales reports and manage their relationships with their customers. You may think your business is too small to need a CRM tool, but in reality a good CRM system is essential to being able to grow your business. There are a large number of CRM tools around, and the best ones for small businesses include Zoho and Hubspot.
- Accounts and Budget Tools
After your customers, probably the second most important part of your business is your accounts. If you don’t keep your books in good order, you will not be able to set and meet financial goals, and you will not be able to do your essential reporting to the Government authorities. Balancing the books used to mean juggling expense reports, receipt books and excel spread sheets. These days the process can be easily and accurately streamlined to the push of a button by using accounting software like Quickbooks or FreshBooks. Cloud based quickbooks is also a reliable option for accounting as it can be accessed remotely using tools such as Hosted Virtual Desktop.
- Online Payment Systems
Online payments are an indispensible tool not only for online-based businesses, but small businesses of all kinds. Even if you deal with your customers face to face, there are many situations when being able to take payments online can be handy. This could be when taking a deposit or a pre-order, or when you customer is placing an order for someone else, for example. Email payment links are also a great tool, making it very simple for you to request a payment from your customer, and even easier for them to pay you.
- Team Communication Systems
Keeping great communication between your team members is critical for small businesses. It has also never been more challenging, with emails, message threads and group messages all at risk of causing miscommunications and communication breakdowns. This is particularly true when you have remote team with some or all team members working in different locations. The ideal solution to this is online team communication systems which allow team members to easily and efficiently communicate with each other, with all communications trackable. The undisputable leader in this realm in Slack, which offers private and group chat channels, phone calls, file-sharing, and all messages are searchable.
- Project Management Tools
As mentioned, there are a multitude of tasks and projects to keep track of when running a small business. Trying to keep on top of everything without a project management tool is like working with both hands tied behind your back. Project management tools like Asana or Trello allow small businesses to track tasks, deadlines and completion, as well as assigning tasks and projects to different team members. Both of these tools are also free for the standard versions, and very easy to use with user-friendly interfaces.
- Online Meeting Tools
In our modern tech-based world, online meetings are a very common part of doing business. This allows you to be in the room with a client, colleague or supplier even if they are across the country or even across the world, and so are invaluable for great customer relations and efficient operations. These tools also offer eco-friendly alternatives to making costly trips for meetings while allowing you to stay connected. The original and perennially popular online calling tool Skype can be used here, as well as tools that are designed specifically for virtual meetings such as Zoom.
- Freelancer Platforms
We are living in a gig economy, and increasing numbers of small businesses are using freelancers for a variety of tasks and projects. Freelancers can be a great resource for businesses looking for specific expertise they don’t have on their team, or to fill short-term workforce gaps. This need has led to a range of platforms springing up where freelancers from all over the world can advertise their services, and where small businesses can post projects that they need completed for freelancers to bid on. Two of the most popular and best platforms are Upwork and Fiverr.