As a small business owner, you already know that success rides on choosing software and systems that provide the most bang for your buck. Just as you wear many hats throughout the day — from setting appointments to checking inventory — you need technology that is as dynamic and flexible as you are. You also need it to save you time and money.
Small business owners are used to coming up with creative solutions to complex problems. With that in mind, here are a few kinds of web-based products that can help you manage both the day-to-day and the big picture on any budget.
Appointment Management Systems
Meeting clients, sales pitches, interviewing vendors — small business owners meet with all kinds of people. An appointment management system can help your calendar stay clean and up-to-date so you don’t miss any important meetings. Look for one that integrates into a wide range of calendar systems; this way, you can make schedule adjustments and everyone’s calendars are updated. This is especially helpful if you have to manage productivity for employees, freelancers, or contractors. You can keep an eye on everyone’s availability, which takes the guessing game out of making appointments and creating deadlines.
Project Management Systems
Organizing your projects, along with tasks, milestones, and due dates, with a project management tool is essential for small business owners. There are many free, yet robust, online project management tools like Asana, Basecamp, or Trello that can help you manage all your work. You can upload files, edit documents, review project timelines, and upload due dates to your calendar. Good project management software helps you see where a project is and how to hold accountable for its progress. Project management tools can also help small business owners organize projects assigned to multiple contractors or freelancers, keeping everyone on the same page so outcomes don’t get too confusing or conflicting.
User-Friendly Web Design
Your website is the front door to your small business, regardless of your specialty or industry. You may think that a website is too complicated to create on your own, but you may want to think again! Building your website on a platform like Squaresoft, Wix, Weebly, or several others that make it simple, easy, and affordable to build a site that looks and feels professional. They will walk you step-by-step to set up contact forms and even online payment processing. If you have the budget, consider hiring a professional freelance web designer to create your site and set up your social media accounts. They can also train you on how to update your content and pictures so you can maintain the site on your own.
Email Marketing Software
Email is the number one way to communicate with clients and customers — both current and potential. There are numerous email marketing platforms out there that are free up to a certain amount of emails, which means it’s a good place for small businesses to start out. You can email alerts about new products or services, send special coupons, or provide people with useful, relevant, and, most importantly, free information. For example, if you are a financial consultant, send you email list tips for creating a household budget. For those selling household goods, you can email your customers some home organization tips.
Small business owners often have to be choosy when it comes to what kinds of technology they use. You need something that comes under your current budget right now, but where you can, add on more bells and whistles as your company grows. Sometimes, that kind of technology seems far too pricey, but you could actually both save money and make money in the long run.
About the Author
Chelsea Lamb has spent the last eight years honing her tech skills and is the resident tech specialist at Business Pop. Her goal is to demystify some of the technical aspects of business ownership.