Small Business Tools
To help you as you start your own business there are many small business tools, in other words software, forms, templates, questionnaires, checklists and guides to help make your role as a business person easier. Many of these tools are free.
So what small business tools are available?
Before you rush in and spend your valuable time reinventing the wheel search out what is already tried and tested and available. The following are some examples:
Software and online applications
You will find that to manage your business effectively you will have to manage your contacts, sales leads, orders, marketing plans, human resources, finances and shipment of your products etc. There are now a number of software and online applications to help you manage these functions more efficiently saving you valuable time.
Tips for choosing the right software tools
Since there are small business tools around, you have a wide choice however it is all too easy to spend money only to find it doesn’t meet you needs or you have overspent on facilities you just don’t need.
- Be really clear on what you really need.
Think about the current issues you have in your business, how you use your time and what activities tend to steal your time leaving you fire-fighting rather than allowing you to be proactive. Write down your must-haves to you don’t lose sight of what you are trying to achieve.
- Do your research
You will get many software manufacturers claiming they have a unique product but there are many out there providing similar solutions. Whilst it is important to have an open mind as to how your business may be streamlined find the one that meets your needs not just what has the most features.
Seek the advice of software developers and other business users who may be able to give their feedback on systems they have used.
- Look at free options first
OK free solutions might not always meet your needs, on the other hand they might, so why spend when you don’t need to? You can always upgrade once you have experienced a system and are clearer on what you want.
- Test for usability
Take advantage of free trials to test the usability of the product – it is important that you or your employees find them easy to use.
- After sales support and backup
Find out what after sales support and training is there to help you use the products to the full.
- One-off purchase or on-going cost?
Whilst some small business tools are bought as a one off payment many others involve a monthly or annual cost which includes updates to the system. Think about your own budget, what are the benefits of updates and assess which you would prefer.
- Hosted systems
Some applications are bought as software which you download on to your own computer systems, whilst others are accessible via the internet. Advantages of the latter are that there is no software to upload or updates to maintain, data is backed up and stored away from your PC so should be backed up automatically, and it also means it doesn’t take up precious memory space on your PC. You do need to be conscious though of the security of your data – what would happen if the software manufacturer went out of business?
- Bespoke systems
If you have a complex business you might need a bespoke solution that really will help you run your business in the most effective way. Speak with a number of experienced software developers who will be able to advise you.
Other small business tools
Perhaps you need to put together a business plan for your new venture, draw up a contract of employment, carry out an employee satisfaction survey or learn more about the steps you should take when taking out a lease on a property.
Whatever the scenario, you can bet that more than a few people have been there before you and so there are many readily available checklists, guides, forms, questionnaires, templates etc, for you to use. So why spend valuable time trying to reinvent the wheel? Even if it doesn’t meet your requirements exactly you can always use it as a starting point for your own bespoke solution.
Organisations such as enterprise agencies and business advisers should have a wide variety of tools however there are many now available on the internet often free of charge. Just do a Google search on ‘small business tools’ or more specifically whatever item or information you are looking for and it is likely you will find something to help you.
Of course do your research and don’t be tempted to select the first you come across – know your own needs and select accordingly.
Starting Your Own Business
Tips For Starting Your Own Business
Small Business Networking
Small Business Advice
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