The world is changing. We are slowly but surely moving into an all-digital realm, and the best thing you can do as a small business is stay ahead of the game.
We all know how grueling it is to start your own business, especially if you’re starting from scratch. And being a jack-of-all-trades can sometimes be overwhelming.
So, to make things a little easier for you, we decided to let you in on some awesome business tools that are guaranteed to boost your efficiency, save you time and make your I'm-trying-to-build-a-company-from-scratch life easier in general.
Online business tools are a surefire way to get your business up and running and to make sure that it stays afloat, but with less of the agonising labour that you're used to and more optimisation of your time.
By using the appropriate tools, like the ones that we’re going to be talking more about, you can grow your business exponentially. Using time-savers will increase the relevance of your hard work and will decrease the amount of time you waste on admin-intensive tasks in general.
Still confused? Let's break it down a little more. Take a look at the tools we suggest to optimise the different areas of your business:
1) Accounting and Legal
The first thing that you need to sort out as a small business owner is your finances. This is the driving force behind your business and you literally cannot operate without it, so make sure that your own financial literacy is a priority.
To make life easier, we recommend using Xero, QuickBooks or Sage.
These budgeting software tools are all super easy to use. They are equipped with some cool features that allow you to track your income, expenses, debt, and more with an attractive & intuitive interface.
You can track customer sales history and supplier purchases, you can upload bank statements to help you manage your banking and cash flow, or process quotes and send them directly to customers.
Their pricing structures differ, but most have a free or trial option.
Legal matters need a more hands-on approach because it is a delicately specific subject and it needs proper know-how in order to do it right. We recommend trying out Legal Legends as an affordable legal services site that has been specifically tailored to suit the needs of small business entrepreneurs.
The fact that they are a small company themselves allows them to rapidly respond to new market demands, listen to customers, and adapt to changes in legislative requirements. They also offer a free legal health check so you can determine which services are gonna work for what you need beforehand, almost like fitting the right size jeans before you make the commitment.
2) Calendar Management
Schedule Once is a free, integrated, online appointment scheduling tool. How it works is that it syncs with your Google Calendar and you can then block off certain times each week as available for meetings, work schedules, or whatever you fancy.
You can opt to buy a premium subscription, which has features that start at $5 per month depending on your preferred plan and includes multiple calendar options and meeting reminder emails.
These scheduling and chatbot solutions are here to increase your sales, delight your customers, and save you time.
CoSchedule is a great scheduling tool for keeping track of your marketing plans using a master calendar and it can also collaborate with your team members.
This software can also be an amazing place to market your blog posts and create schedules for posting your tweets and Instagram posts. It also lets your team collaborate efficiently and you can also make use of the calendar-maker feature that allows you and your team to collaborate on individual and group working schedules for upcoming projects and day-to-day operations.
3) File Sharing and Storage
Google Drive is Google’s cloud-based file storage system that integrates seamlessly with the file-sharing and collaboration tools.
It allows users to store files in the cloud, synchronise files across devices, and share files. Google Drive is free for up to 15 GB of storage, which is quite a good deal when you’re still starting out.
Dropbox is a modern workspace designed to reduce busywork so you can focus on the things that matter.
It’s a safe collaborative space that allows teammates to manage tasks, track file updates and stay in sync while managing different client files. The best part is the storage, and you can get up to 5TB of space depending on which business plan works for you.
That seems like a pretty awesome deal considering you might retire before you use up all that space!
4) Payment Methods
Snapscan is a hugely popular South African mobile payment system. It’s an app that is powered by Standard Bank and is free to download and use.
Snapscan can be used with any MasterCard and VISA credit or cheque card, as well as selected debit cards, issued by any bank in South Africa. It allows your customers to pay for your goods and services via their mobile phones by simply taking a photo of your Snapscan QR code or punching in the amount they need to pay.
Stripe is known for helping entrepreneurs that are involved in selling digital products online such as online courses and brings together everything that’s required to accept payments and send payouts globally.
Stripe powers payments for online and in-person retailers, subscriptions businesses, software platforms and marketplaces, and everything in between. It also helps companies beat fraud, send invoices, issue virtual and physical cards, get financing, manage business spend, and much more.
Trello is one of the most popular business tools when it comes to organising your projects. You can display those projects as boards so that they are accessible in one glance. This way, you can prioritise and organise your business projects in a flexible manner.
Trello allows team members to collaborate, manage projects, and reach new productivity peaks all in the same space. It allows you as a business owner to check in on the progress of ongoing projects and the productivity levels of day-to-day operations.
Evernote is your ideal choice for keeping your notes safe and always with you on mobile and desktop devices. You can also link your notes and add audio recordings, tables, checklists, etc.
Evernote makes it easier to keep important info handy by syncing your notes to all your devices and adding text, images, audio, scans, pdfs, and documents to your notes. It also allows you to express yourself with formatting tools that help you write how you think and get what you need when you need it. The added search engine gives you results for your favourite or urgent notes as you type, so you never have to worry about having too many notes!
Typeform is a great choice to create contact forms, quizzes, and surveys as part of your marketing plans for your target audience.
It’s an easy, cost-effective, and convenient way to create forms and surveys that people enjoy answering.
Creative type forms keep your audience engaged with your company services and you get more thoughtful responses and higher completion rates.
Buffer is a great platform to schedule your social media posts for publishing on your accounts. The tool allows you to customise your content as per the different needs of each social channel. You can also assess how your content is performing on social platforms.
Buffer is basically your go-to when you want to tell your brand’s story in a voice that resonates, and grow your audience with publishing, analytics, and engagement platforms that you can trust.
The great thing about Skype is almost everyone has it! It’s perfect for free long-distance Skype to Skype calls, group video calls, instant messaging, cell phone numbers, and screen sharing.
It also works on any device, so we can stop the iPhone vs Android debate now guys, thank you!
Google Workspace is another great tool for staying in touch with others. It’s a super-platform that allows you to message contacts, start free video or voice calls and hop on a conversation with one person or a group. You can also sync your chats from device to device and keep the conversation going wherever you are.
At Fizzin, we're a Google Products fan and use Google Workspace for everything, from internal comms over Google Chat, to external comms with clients over Google Drives.
It goes without saying that neglecting these digital knowledge bombs is no longer an option. It is a necessity to stay relevant in today’s business marketplace and ultimately, choosing to use business intelligence tools is a surefire way to stay competitive, increase your company’s revenue, and keep customers loyal and engaged.
SO DO IT ALREADY! ;)