Top Tools and Software that Start-ups and Small Businesses Need to Succeed
BY: VESELINA DZHINGAROVA ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 17, 2017
For small-medium businesses often working around the clock to get traction and successes in their marketplace, it can be a daunting goal to win against established and larger players in your industry.
Where do you even start when time and resources are stretched thin? Luckily for start-ups and SMEs today, technology and in particular the advent of cloud technology have come to the rescue and leveled out the playing field against bigger competitors. Let’s take a look at some of the best tools out there to help you reach your business goals.
Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses
First up, let’s tackle the all-important bottom line. Accounting software for SMEs delivers an accurate understanding of money coming in and going out of your business that gives you an immediate overview of your finances.
Deciding which is the best accounting software for your business, ‘must-haves' will include affordability, ease of use and integration with your other systems and applications. Automated features that can save you substantial time and frustration will be a high priority.
Cloud-based accounting solutions cover this wish-list of features, offering automation tools for accounts receivable and accounts payable including invoicing, bill payment, automated entries, and reconciliations; and performing more advanced tasks like data-syncing and bank account updates.
Intuit QuickBooks Online continues to be the market leader, offering a broad range of automated features that free up time for you and your staff. With pricing starting from $10 per month, it automates tedious manual tasks such as recurring invoices and bill payments. QuickBooks software handles everything from invoices and payments to syncing data across bank and credit card transactions and automatically reconciling expenses.
Choose from its multiple built-in report templates to generate your financial reports. Data is automatically backed up, so your books are safely up-to-date. A definite advantage is that most accountants are already familiar with QuickBooks and know the software well.
Get Paid on Time with Invoice Sherpa
With your accounting software in place, you may still find that your business is struggling with cash flow and late payments. Whether you’re a solo operator or small business in any industry sector, each day can see you and your people stretched in various directions.
Just keeping up with the workload can be overwhelming, let alone keeping a vigilant watch on cash flow, outstanding invoices and problem clients that you have to chase hard every time payments fall due is now a thing of the past.
Start getting paid on time with InvoiceSherpa, an integrated, automated and efficient debtor-management solution that puts your cash flow on automatic, automating your accounts receivable in a subtle but effective way.
It’s like having an extra accounting team member, but without the full-time salary costs. There isn’t anything to upgrade, just a quick synchronization with your QBO. It’s packed full of automated features to get you paid faster and is quickly set up and integrated with your existing accounting software.
InvoiceSherpa integrates easily with major accounting systems including QuickBooks, Freshbooks, Xero, Harvest, Wave, and others. With payments integrated into reminders, collection is simple via popular customer payment solutions including PayPal, QuickBooks Payments, Eway, CardAccess, Authorize.NET, Stripe, and Ezidebit. InvoiceSherpa also hosts their own payments platform which seems to be cheaper than the mentioned payment processors.
To meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, there are three pricing plans varying from $49 monthly for sole proprietors, $99 for small business and $199 for enterprise clients.
Marketing Like the Experts
Whatever size your business is, there is an ongoing balancing act between taking care of your existing customers and marketing yourself to attract new clients. For SMEs who are frequently lean on people, time and marketing funds, marketing can be an intimidating challenge.
Cloud-based marketing tools come to the rescue for many SME’s needing to plan and roll out a marketing approach that wins new business. Market-leader Hubspot is designed to support small businesses, consolidating and tracking various marketing activities via its centralized dashboard.
Get started at no cost with Hubspot’s free CRM tool and integrate your marketing and sales with your business systems and applications, or small businesses can start with the $200 per month Basic plan. Stepping up to its advanced all-in-one marketing automation tool integrates popular digital marketing initiatives like email, social media, and landing page development.
With all plans, you can closely track your marketing ROI across channels as you create and implement campaigns. Hubspot is also very well-known for going the extra distance to offer excellent training resources that include marketing courses and skills certifications for working with leading-edge digital marketing opportunities and tools.
Email Marketing is Here to Stay
Perhaps you only want to focus on email marketing? Email remains one of the strongest performers for marketers and is a fundamental component of business-building and communication. For both free and paid users, we recommend MailChimp as a popular email marketing solution offering a host of capabilities.
Its free and low-cost plans integrate with all major database software, third-party systems, and applications, with enough analytics functionality to let you track the success levels of your campaigns or newsletters. Set up easy-to-use, mobile-friendly templates and customize your email and newsletter mailings or automated messages.
If your email database grows over the 2,000 subscriber level, or you’re looking for more sophisticated analytics capabilities such as A/B testing, move up to MailChimp’s Growing Business plan starting from $10 monthly, or its Pro Marketer plan for high-volume mailings, at an additional $199 per month.
Social Media Marketing Shortcuts
After starting out with great intentions, SMEs soon find out that managing your social media accounts to reach and regularly interact with prospective and current customers is a time-consuming task.
Automation and centralization enable you to manage one or multiple social accounts on the major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. The HootSuite platform saves you time and confusion by letting you post and reply to all of your social profiles from its dashboard.
Post or tweet in real-time or schedule when you want your posts to go live and reach your followers for maximum reach and benefit. Track mentions of your brand and analyze how your social media traffic behaves, to continually improve your social media results and grow followers.
The basic service is free, but you'll only be able to schedule one post at a time, and you're limited to three social media profiles. For most startups, Hootsuite Pro is the best option. It's $9.99 per month, and you'll be able to link up to 50 profiles and schedule 350 posts.
Make Technology Work For You
Whatever stage your small business has already reached, leveraging advanced, measurable and scalable cloud-based solutions and apps can make you a more efficient and successful company. Maximize the expertise of available and affordable sophisticated tools and software to leapfrog your competition and boost your profits and growth.
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