Starting a small business is no easy feat. With so many moving parts that need to come together, it can be overwhelming to say the least. You’ll have lots to think about and the kind of small business software you’ll use is likely to be the last thing on your mind.
Let’s face it; it’s not exactly the most exciting part of running a business.
But while it might not be as fun as getting new customers, filling out your stock catalog, or creating an eye-catching logo, software can make all the moving parts much easier.
In fact, it can automate and help with all the necessary things you need to do while you focus on growing your business.
Where to start with small business software
Which small business software is most important and what can you leave out for now?
To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best software for small businesses that will help you get your business off the ground and start bringing in revenue.
Collect and Send Emails
Sendinblue has all the features you need to run powerful email campaigns, set up transactional sequences, and stay in touch with your growing list of customers.
Through automation tools and robust segmentation capabilities, it’s easy to send personalized emails that increase engagement and help build a loyal following.
If you’re the kind of person who loses hours formatting a document (we’ve all been there), don’t panic: a suite of professionally designed landing pages and signup forms attract and collect emails from potential buyers, giving you all the information you need to nurture more sales.
Best of all, Sendinblue makes it super simple for tech-averse business owners to create professional looking emails that are geared towards growth.
No code needed at all. No design skills necessary. Just a gateway for opening up conversations with your customers.
For those starting out, Sendinblue offers a free plan for sending up to 300 emails a day and store unlimited contacts.
Conversion optimization. Two words that either don’t make any sense to you at all or bring you out in a cold sweat.
But it’s a simple notion, really: it’s the action of improving your chances of getting people who visit your website to buy something.
Optinmonster has a catalog of tried and tested opt-in forms that have been specifically designed to grab attention, while nice add-ons like countdown timers and exit popups give shoppers an extra nudge in the right direction.
Dig deeper into the tool, and you’ll find features that let you send personalized follow-up campaigns triggered by visitor interaction and split messaging to create hyper-targeted email lists.
A basic Optinmonster account starts at $14 per month, but Sendinblue users get three months free on the Pro plan when they use this link.
Build a Website
In 2019, 36% of small businesses didn’t have a website. This percentage is crazy-high, especially when you consider how many offline shoppers have ventured online since the pandemic.
The truth is, without a website, you could be missing out on a huge chunk of customers.
Luckily, creating a website doesn’t have to be a headache. With WordPress, you can login to a simple dashboard that walks you through building a professional-looking site.
There are thousands of themes to choose from and customization tools let you make your site your own. On top of that, the ever-growing list of plugins means you can add extras, like WordPress newsletter signup forms, analytics, and SEO enhancements.
WordPress is free to get started on, you just need to pay for a domain name and a host.
Small businesses that sell products online need the help of a platform like Shopify.
It lets retail owners bring their stores online and reach a wider base of potential customers through premade shop templates, marketing tools, and ecommerce software. Customers can add products to their cart and checkout seamlessly with a range of payment options.
Shopify is one of the go-to platforms for budding businesses. In a matter of minutes, you can have an online store setup with your own branding and start selling straight away.
A basic Shopify account starts at $29 per month, but you can try it out for free for 14 days first.
Online payment processor Stripe makes it quick and easy for online vendors to accept payments, send payouts, and manage their business. Through your personal dashboard, you can send invoices, track revenue, and instantly accept payments.
Unlike a lot of other accounting software, customers are able to pay invoices immediately with their credit card details. You can also keep a close eye on open invoices to maintain a decent cash flow.
Using Stripe is free, but it does take a 1.4%-2.9% cut of any payments made depending on the customer’s location.
Wave Accounting helps small business owners and entrepreneurs manage their income and expenses.
If numbers get your head in a spin, this is the tool for you. It lets you track everything going in and out of your business, and makes it easy to run payroll, payments, and invoicing.
The best part is it’s all automated, which means you don’t have to manually do your accounts at the end of each month. For many small businesses, this is a huge time and cost outlay, which makes Wave Accounting a particularly handy tool to have on board.
Wave Accounting is free to use for businesses just starting out.
Like Wave Accounting and Stripe, Freshbooks makes managing accounts easy for small businesses. You can send branded invoices, track incomings and outgoings, and keep on top of your revenue.
Automated reminders help you chase overdue payments, while the automation capabilities mean you can spend less time drowning in numbers and more time focusing on your business.
Freshbooks packages start at £11 per month.
If you wake up every day surrounded by post-its overflowing with things you need to do, stop! Sure, there’s a lot to get your head around when starting a business and there always seems to be an endless list of things that need doing, but a management tool like Trello can really make a difference (like no longer needing to splash out on a new post-it pad every week).
The “board-based” project management tool lets you create focused lists, color code actions, and seamlessly move around cards to highlight prioritized tasks. You can also add notes to each activity, assign tasks to other people, and archive your lists to come back to at a later date.
Trello is completely free to use.
Like Trello, Asana is a drag-and-drop online to-do list. It specializes in helping small businesses manage remote teams and organize projects through move-able cards and lists. Users can set deadlines for tasks, assign activities to team members, and view the timeline for each specific project.
Even if you simply need a place to jot down everything you need to do (and that’s likely to be a lot if you’re running things solo), Asana is a great tool to have in your small business software stack.
There is a free plan for small businesses to use.
If you’ve ever struggled to keep track of who’s doing what and when, you’re not alone. In fact, running a small business is full of different projects run by different team members on different days. Staying on top of it is hard.
Monday.com makes it easier by providing a workspace where small businesses can track, plan, and deliver their tasks. It lets you create drag-and-drop to-do cards, populate your timeline with business-building activities, assign tasks to different people, and keep a close eye on all your spinning plates.
Monday.com’s basic package starts at £7 per month per user.
Avoid the endless scroll of email chains and get yourself a communication tool like Slack. This puts all business-related communication in one place and makes it easy to shoot notes to individual team members.
You can create “channels” for different topics to make sure important information doesn’t get lost, and set up a place where you can easily communicate with everyone who matters, whether it’s your head of marketing, your new designer, or your fulfillment team.
Slack is free to use.
12. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams probably came onto your radar earlier this year when it rose in popularity during the pandemic.
The free chat and video calling platform makes it easy to communicate with people wherever they are in the world. You can store important documents, share media files, and host meetings with your team to make sure everyone’s on track for success. Even if you simply use it to chat with potential vendors or your in-house team, it can be a great way to spread transparency throughout your business.
Microsoft Teams is free to use.
And then we come to Zoom, another video calling platform that has shot to fame in recent months. Host virtual meetings, send media files, and set up breakout rooms to keep communication strong throughout your business.
It’s the perfect small business software to host team meetings with your staff or to connect with vendors and potential sellers. The screenshare feature makes it easy to present information to possible buyers and you can record meetings and keep a log of them for future reference.
There is a free Zoom package that allows you to host meetings for up to 40 minutes.
Choose the Right Small Business Software
Choosing the right software for your small business shouldn’t be a headache. Start by figuring out what tasks could be automated or made easier and identify software that can help. Whether you want to build an email list, create an online store, or communicate with your team, there is a software out there for you.