Thanks to the Internet and several types of small business tools available online, you can now launch a new startup in a couple of hours. Gone are the days when opening an ordinary store required significant financial investments.
Initially, as long as your clients remain friends and family, you can handle everything on your own. However, as your business grows, you will need to think bigger.
You can either hire more staff to do all the tasks, or use technology. The latter usually does the job for a fraction of the cost and requires fewer sick days. If you want to ease the burden on your small business, consider these four types of small business tools.
1. Order software to make a good first impression
Whether you’re a wedding photographer, baker, or florist, your business can look amazing on social media. However, the client’s first impression of working with you occurs when you send him a contract.
Some businesses use simple one-page upfront payments, while others have longer contracts outlining the scope of work.
When you start working with multiple clients, deadlines and details, it’s impossible to remember all the steps. Documentation can sometimes be tedious and time consuming.
However, it is very important to make sure that everything is done correctly. You must include all of your terms and conditions. And you need to protect yourself if something goes wrong.
That’s where it’s effective contract management software can save you time and money—and your sanity. New software solutions are not limited to electronic signature and other basic tasks. They can be customized for your industry.
A good system will allow you to work seamlessly with hundreds of clients, influencers, or vendors.
2. Graphic design software that captures the attention of customers
Today, the best way for people to find out about your business is online.
Even if they hear about you through word of mouth, they will find you by searching your website or social media. When they do, you’ll want to surprise them with fantastic graphic designs.
Your brand marketing should not only be attractive and memorable, it should also be coherent. The brand’s color palette, font choice, and message should be consistent.
After all, branding should be easy to associate with your company. Customers will recognize that this is your package by the color and silhouette of the logo, even if the brand name is not indicated.
To get started building your brand, you can use one of several handy online graphic design tools. You could design your own logo from scratch or just modify an existing one. Pre-built templates allow you to choose the style you like and drag and drop custom information into the design.
Once you’re happy with the result, you can replicate it on business cards, posters, Instagram posts, and so on.
3. Email Services for Lead Development and Loyal Customer Retention
People believe that social media is the best way to spread the word about your business.
While this is definitely a good approach, you don’t own social media platforms. The Facebook or Pinterest algorithm determines how many people actually see your posts. Sometimes you can only increase your reach by spending money on promoted posts.
On the contrary, you own your email list. Even if people don’t buy from you at markets and conventions, encourage them to sign up for your newsletter.
Email marketing may seem old fashioned, but with ROI 36 bucks for every dollar you spend, it brings in.
To send newsletters and promotional emails, you can use one of several free mailing services. Some only start charging if your list grows exponentially, at which point the cost is worth it.
With email marketing, you know that your email has made it to your client’s inbox. Your theme and content will determine if they open it, but at least it’s there. On social media, sometimes even 10% of your followers won’t see your post.
4. Accounting software to keep track of your finances
You may love what you do in your small business, but if it’s not profitable, it’s just a hobby.
To potentially qualify for a small business loan that will allow you to scale, your ledgers need to be in order. Notes and receipts in a shoebox won’t go far. The right accounting software will allow you to accurately track income and expenses so that your business stays on a sustainable footing.
In some accounting software, you can upload a photo of the receipt and it will automatically put it in the correct expense category. It’s such a time saver when you’re at a business lunch with a potential client or stopping by to buy more printer ink. You won’t forget to make entries in your ledger, which means you’re less likely to make a mistake.
Accounting software is also very helpful when it comes to filing a tax return or budgeting for the next year.
You can download accounting software on your computer or use a cloud solution. The latter option allows you to access your expenses and income even if you don’t have your laptop with you.
Technology to ease your workload
As a small business owner, you know the joy of pursuing your passion. But as your business grows, you will likely find that you need help with some tasks.
Easy-to-use tools for contracts, graphics, accounting, and marketing are just the start.
True, there may be a slight learning curve at first with different types of small business tools. However, you don’t have to use all the features at once. Even basic features can save you from having to do many routine tasks yourself. That’s when you can focus on what you love most about your business.