25 Essential Apps and Tools Your Small Business Needs
Once you’ve found and secured your business’s domain and website hosting, it’s time to build the perfect website for your business. However, even after you’ve built your ideal business website, your work is far from over if you want it to be effective.
Luckily, as a small business owner in 2018, there are a multitude of applications and tools you can rely on to help run your business without breaking the bank. Here’s an extensive list of 25 applications and tools (with popular examples for each) you’ll want to consider relying on if you want your business’s website and operations to be effective and profitable.
1. File Management and Storage
You’ll want to keep all your business files in one secure cloud-based location that’s accessible on mobile devices. You can organize files by project, by business function, by file type, and more. And you’ll be able to easily edit and share files with others both internal and external to your business. You can also scan documents and sign contracts electronically with certain file management applications.
2. Project Management
If your business handles multiple projects with different tasks executed by different individuals with different calendars and timelines, then you’ll want to invest in a project management tool. Be sure that users can access their own accounts, calendars, and to-do lists, and that it’s easy to view and update on mobile devices.
3. Content Management
Typically, a content management software (CMS) is used to add webpages to a website and manage them. And the best CMSs offer very user-friendly dashboards and interfaces. If you publish blog posts and other digital content on your website, you’ll want a CMS that you can easily use. You’ll also want to ensure that it has mobile-optimized features, templates, and plugins. Many web hosting companies offer a website builder for managing your content; but depending on your needs, you should consider additional options:
4. Inventory Management
If your business sells products online or in a store, you’ll want an application that manages your inventory. You’ll be able to automatically reorder products and supplies, so you never run out of stock. And, you’ll be able to better manage your inventory across multiple locations.
5. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Connect your backend office functions such as your technology platforms and systems, IT services, and human resources platforms with an ERP system. ERPs were once only beneficial for larger businesses to use, but now small businesses can use ERPs to better streamline processes, uncover better analytics, and make data-driven decisions.
6. Contract Management
If you have a lot of vendors, stakeholders, projects, and contractors for your business, consider investing in a contract management tool. Select one that handles all phases of a contract, including approvals, workflows, licenses, and regulatory compliance. And make sure you can customize all contracts according to your own business’s needs and requirements.
7. Website SEO Tools and Analytics
A great website builder and CMS will also typically have a few SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plugins and integrations that will help you boost your search engine rankings across the web. In addition to such plugins and integrations, you’ll also want analytics tools that tell you more about your site’s speed and performance, as well as your users’ behavior.
8. Data Visualization
Business data doesn’t mean much if you or your employees and stakeholders can’t make sense of it or use it to improve your business operations and overall profitability. Use data visualization software to instantly understand your data so that you can make data-driven decisions.
Keep all your customers, employee, databases, business information and data secure and safe with robust security tools.
Payments and Revenue
10. Credit Card Processing
Your customers and vendors will expect to be able to pay with credit and debit cards on your website and in your store. Use a credit card processing tool that has a mobile application to make processing payments a secure and seamless process for everyone.
Make purchasing products directly from your website easier with an e-commerce tool that allows customers to add items to their carts, process payments, and get purchased items shipped directly to their front doors. All e-commerce tools and apps should be optimized for mobile devices, provide secure transactions, and easily integrate with your desired payment processing tool.
If you have a brick and mortar store or sell goods and services in-person, you’ll want a point-of-sale app that completes transactions and provides your customers with a receipt, directly from a mobile device.
13. Accounting Tools
Track your income, invoices, bills, and expenses all in one place with a robust accounting tool for your business. An accounting tool that allows you to run real-time reports and upload images of receipts directly from your mobile device will make it even easier to keep track expenditures throughout the year. And, make sure it can organize your income and expenses by clients, products, services, and other categories that are applicable to your specific business.
Employees and Human Resources
14. Timesheet Tracking
If you, your employees, or contractors bill by the hour for projects and or services, then you’ll want a reliable time-tracking app. You’ll also find these types of apps useful if you’re interested in increasing your business’s overall productivity levels.
15. Employee Management Tools
After you’ve hired the right employees, you’ll want to track their progress while they’re with your business. You’ll also want to use workforce and employee management tools to assign work schedules and tasks to your teams.
16. Payroll and Benefits Tools
Make sure your employees receive their payments and benefits on time with automated payroll tracking tools.
17. Helpdesk and Customer Support
Keep your customers satisfied with helpdesk tools that will respond to their inquiries and field their concerns. Customers will be able to file a support ticket with your business that you can keep track of and respond to more efficiently.
18. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Track your prospective and existing customers’ information and experiences with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that allows you to add a personalized touch to communications. You’ll be able to know which phase of the sales cycle each of your customers are in at all times, so you can increase your conversions and sales.
Communications and Marketing
19. Virtual Meeting and Conferencing Tools
Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone in the same place at the same time for a meeting. Use a virtual conferencing app for your virtual meetings. They’ll allow you to share your screens and collaborate with multiple participants from all over the world, directly from your mobile device or desktop.
20. Messaging Tools
Emails get lost in inboxes all the time. Keep your employees and stakeholders chatting in one place at the right times with the appropriate communications tools and applications.
21. Automated Email
Automate your email marketing messages so that they reach the right prospect or customer at the right time. Make sure you select a tool that allows you to customize email templates, so you can collect information, payments, and more. It’s also great when your automated email tools integrate well with your existing CRM tools.
22. Scheduling Tools
Instead of sending multiple emails back and forth to set dates on a calendar that work for everyone, use scheduling tools that link to everyone’s calendar. You’ll save time and be more likely to secure a meeting date as soon as possible. You can also embed most of these tools on your website for customers who need to book appointments and dates on your business calendar.
23. Marketing Automation Tools
Automate your marketing tasks with tools that will do them for you. You’ll spend less time on repetitive marketing tasks that take a lot of time and you’ll gain more targeted leads and rank better in search engines. Make sure these tools integrate with your CRM and automated email marketing applications and platforms.
24. Social Media Management
Manage all your social media posts and accounts from one dashboard. With the right social media management tool, you can monitor what posts receive the most likes and shares and can schedule posts to be published at later times and dates.
25. Apps to Connect your Apps
Sometimes you’ll need to integrate apps and tools that don’t already offer the integrations you need. So, you’ll have to rely on other tools that will work to integrate your everyday apps and tools for you.
Don’t rely on manual processes anymore. Use one or more of the 25 apps and tools listed above to improve your business’s operational workflows and overall profitability today.
Feature image: Pixabay