6 Helpful Tools to Manage Your Small Business

By Qiana Chavaia on 17 December 2015 0 comments

It takes great discipline and organization to successfully manage a small business. But if you're able to do so, being your own boss is only one of the perks. A lot of things can get in your way, though: procrastination, learning how to cope with isolation (if you do most of your business alone), accumulating a steady workflow, and learning how to manage finances. And there's also the challenge of maximizing time and being your most productive self.

You will burn yourself out trying to please clients and meet a bunch of deadlines without the proper tools in your arsenal. Try these tools and strategies in order to automate your workflow and increase productivity.

1. Find the Right CRM and Project Management Tools

You need customer relationship management (CRM) and project management software (PMS) systems to successfully manage your freelance jobs. Zoho, Trello, and Asana offer a free solution that comes with a suite of business apps to help you automate your workflow. The apps integrate directly into the product dashboards, making tracking projects and customer satisfaction even easier.

2. If You Sell Products, add an E-Commerce Solution

In today's business environment, doing business without an e-commerce solution is almost impossible, and downright bad for business. Always-connected consumers expect the convenience of being able to make online purchases and mobile payments. Make sure you get a responsive website that adapts across devices with an integrated e-commerce solution.

If your sales volume is low or you don't want the hassle of complicated software, use a readymade solution for professional services and online storefronts, like 3dcart, Shopify, Bigcommerce, and Magento and sync it to your Stripe, Square, or PayPal payment gateway.

3. Offer Customer Support

According to Gartner, a marketing research firm, customers expect real-time 24/7 customer support. Of course it sounds ridiculous to provide around-the-clock customer support when you have a million other things on your plate each day, but unfortunately, that is not something clients should have to recognize if they are to do business with you. Your correspondence must be timely.

Partner with a call center and/or web chat provider and add contact and support ticket forms to your website. ZenDesk is a full customer service solutions provider, including 24/7 customer support, email management, and support tickets. LivePerson offers affordable web chat solutions, as well.

4. Utilize Social Media and Email Marketing

Hootsuite and SproutSocial are two popular SMM systems for automating social media marketing campaigns. They each enable its users the ability to schedule posts and publish across multiple social media platforms. And now, a new feature; social customer service, deepens the automation rabbit hole even further by providing real-time customer support across social pages. The dashboard includes powerful analytics tools for measuring social reach and engagement. Get these same great automation features for your email marketing campaigns with well-known email marketing providers like: Constant Contact, MailChimp, and Campaign Monitor.

5. Take Advantage of Cloud Storage and File Sharing

Small businesses can use file sharing and storage solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive to secure e-signatures on contracts and agreements using the HelloSign (Google Drive) and RightSignature (Dropbox) add-ons. The many app integration options add lots of dynamic features. For instance, Merge by MailChimp is an app that lets you send Google docs as email campaigns and Pixsta by SweetLabs is a discoverable app that loads Instagram content directly onto your device.

6. Master Financial Management

One of the most important processes of running a business is managing finances. Cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping software solutions make it easy. Xero and QuickBooks Online help you streamline invoicing, reporting, and bank reconciliations. You can eliminate the grueling tasks of having to export and email spreadsheets to your accountant by inviting them to have limited access to your account.

These tools should help you feel more confident about increasing your workflow by taking on more projects. The more discipline and control you have, the more successful you (and your company) will be.

Are you a small business owner? What tools do you use? Share with us in the comments below!

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Guest's picture
Craig

For e-commerce credit card processing... Stripe, Square and PayPal are great, I've used each of them and have set clients up with them. BUT once you hit about $3,000 a month you'll save money in processing fees with a merchant account and payment gateway. You need to do due diligence in choosing a merchant account processor. Look for a processor that offers Interchange + pricing, that's the most transparent pricing structure. You'll also want to make sure they don't have a cancellation fee if you cancel the contract.