A small business has to be every bit as streamlined and diverse as a big business if it hopes to succeed these days. That often means that a single person has to wear many hats or that departments need to cross-pollinate ideas and resources. Small businesses certainly aren't the siloed, specialized machines that many big companies can afford to be, so they need all the help they can get.
Luckily, in the age of automation and business software, there are solutions for small businesses to remain as competitive and streamlined as their larger counterparts. From accounting to sales, from communication to project management, and everything in between, there are tried and tested software solutions available to small business owners.
In this post, let's look at six such software solutions, each applying to a separate department or business concern, and each top of the line in terms of performance.
There's a reason businesses both big and small have flocked to Slack over the past half-decade. The communication software, developed initially with small businesses in mind, is notable because of its channel-focused approach to intercompany communication. Channel communication allows your company to operate in a more compartmentalized fashion, siloing separate departments, teams, projects, etc. Its intuitive design and easy-to-use interface are another selling point — it doesn't require any specialized training, just a beginner's grasp of technology.
Developed by Intuit back in the '80s and honed over decades, QuickBooks now enjoys its hard-earned status as perhaps the best accounting software on the market. It allows accountants (or is in charge of money) to monitor cash flow, send and accept invoices, track accounts receivable/accounts payable, and prep the company for tax season. QuickBooks is a one-stop shop that — relative to other accounting platforms, which pretty much preclude non-professionals on the basis of how tricky they are to understand — is pretty straightforward and easy to use.
Sales Engagement: VanillaSoft
It used to be that sales departments would rely on their sales development reps (SDRs) to manually choose leads from the CRM, and then manually call them, manually set up a time to follow up, and manually log all the info. It wasn't just an ineffective use of an SDR's time, but it resulted in quality leads slipping through the cracks. Thankfully, VanillaSoft put out a simple and effective lead management software that addresses those issues. The software organizes the SDRs' list of leads in real-time, constantly shuffling the best leads to the top, so SDRs are always working the best possible leads. It then auto-dials the leads and auto-schedules the follow-ups. Sales engagement has never been simpler.
Meeting Management: Fuze
There are countless communication and meeting management platforms out there, often with overlapping capabilities, but Fuze has to be among the best. You can use Slack for the majority of your intercompany communication, but when it comes to more serious meeting management, go with Fuze. While Skype (the leading competitor in the field) is probably easier to use, Fuze is more business-minded, with flexible video conferencing and real-time content sharing. It's perfect if you have remote employees or clients that you meet with regularly.
Project Management: Trello
Trello is a simple tool, but an effective one. It may not have the wide range of functionality others on this list boast, but its minimalist "board" system for task management is simple to use and simple to track. Trello allows you to create boards for different projects, within which you can list separate cards corresponding to tasks or notes. It's not expensive nor is it particularly earth-shattering, but as a small business project management tool, it's on the money.
Without the aid of software, the hiring process can be both protracted and costly. It's a good ROI therefore to get a hiring management tool. Workable, one of the best hiring/HR tools out there (Workday and BambooHR are strong competitors) helps you with job posting, organizing candidates, communicating among the hiring team, approving candidates, and a lot more. Best of all, it lets you detail a hiring plan, complete with a budget, so that you can monitor spending. Some small businesses unwittingly sink up to $10k into hiring an entry-level position, which is far too much. Know your budget, know what kind of candidate you're after, and let the software do the heavy lifting.
With these six software solutions in your small business tool belt, you'll be able to save money, maximize efficiency, and grow your company without losing control of operations.