Small businesses, as any owner, can tell you, take a lot of work.
There are a host of different aspects that need to be considered just to make it week by week. Everything from keeping accurate accounting, preparing for tax season, marketing new services, following through on customer orders, and even the important work of effective branding, can all keep a business owner running.
Luckily, there is plenty of software out there designed and created to make your job a little bit easier.
Of course, with small businesses booming (small businesses with fewer than 100 employees make up 98% of all businesses in the United States, according to statistics from 2016) the amount of software available has increased proportionately.
So how do you know which software program to turn to for help with your own small company?
The needs of each company are different, of course. But there are some basics that are pretty universal.
Let’s take a look at five different types of software that are almost indispensable for a small business. For each type, we’ll pick a front-runner for your consideration.
Most larger companies, even those who still fall under the “small business” category but have more than ten or fifteen employees, tend toward big-name software like QuickBooks.
But for a smaller company with ten or fewer employees or even a sole proprietorship, Zoho Books is definitely worth a look. It strips down the features that you might need if you had a larger business, opting to concentrate specifically on the needs of a small business owner.
Zoho Books is a subscription-based software. It has invoice creation features, corresponds with your business bank account, and offers tracking features for both expenditures and time.
Depending on your needs, you can opt for the Basic, Standard, or Professional version of Zoho — as you might expect, the Basic is the most stripped down version, while the Standard allows for two users and the Professional allows ten, along with an inventory tracker.
This is another option that is frequently found on the lists of “must haves” for small businesses. Dropbox allows for the transferral and sharing of files both large and small. It also functions as a backup in case of mishaps.
Like most on this list, there is both a free version and a paid version. The paid version, allowing up to 1,000 GB per month, is only 9.99.
MailChimp shows up on a lot of lists of vital sites and programs for running a small business. Almost ten years ago, when I had a small start-up press, I found it recommended everywhere. And it’s no different today.
When it comes to marketing, email is still an incredibly effective method. If you’re like me, you’ve got dozens of emails in your inbox from sites you’ve engaged with. And I try not to give my email address out unless I’m really interested in receiving follow-up from a site or service.
MailChimp streamlines the email marketing process, making it easy to send out information to pre-set mailing lists. The free version is awesome for a small business, accommodating up to two thousand addresses, and up to twelve thousand emails per month.
Continuing the theme of simian-based names for small business software, our next choice for graphic design software is PicMonkey.
Not everyone is great at creating visuals and graphics for their branding and marketing materials. But what if you like working with the creative side, and your business shows definite signs of needing a new logo design? There are plenty of sites and software to take up the slack. And if you’re really unsure, there are always professionals who are ready and willing to help!
Though it isn’t specifically a logo design software, PicMonkey does allow you to create images, retouch, resize, and edit using your new logo design.
I’m a fan of other graphic design software, such as Inkscape or Gravit, but they do take a little time and effort to master. PicMonkey, on the other hand, is pretty easy to navigate and to get it to do what you want it to do.
The service is free, though it is supported by ads. If the ads drive you crazy, you can pay a small fee for the premium, ad-free experience.
Last on our list of must-have programs for small businesses in 2019, Hootsuite () is by no means least.
Social media marketing and content updating are hugely important ways to grow your business. Statistics indicate that 90% of social media users have used social media platforms to communicate with a brand. So an active presence on social media is not only good marketing, it’s good customer service as well — and it’s expected by your customers.
But creating and scheduling content takes time. Hootsuite helps with that, allowing you to schedule updates and content in advance, across multiple platforms.
This allows you to cut down on the time you would normally take to post content, and focus instead on communicating with your customers once they’ve reached out to you.
And interacting with customers is what growing your small business is all about!
With these five programs, you’ve covered five vital aspects of running your small business and leading it to success.
Olivia Harris is a freelance writer who loves coffee, cats, and churros, not in any particular order. She travels to write, writes to travel. Connect with her here.