There are many personal qualities typically associated with successful business people. Drive. Commitment. Confidence. Passion.
But in our frenetic digital age, even the best of us need a little help running our companies. And with so many helpful, effective, data-driven business tools and solutions at our disposal, why would we shoulder the burden of doing it all ourselves?
In this blog post, I’m going to talk about the 5 types of business tools that are rightly considered essential for most modern businesses. When used properly, they’ll free you up to pursue your passion and channel it into productive areas of business, saving you man-hours, money and unneeded stress in the process.
Project and Task Management Software
Unless you’re a Luddite keen to manage projects and tasks armed only with a notepad and biro, you probably already use some form of project and task managing tool – and that’s a good thing.
These kinds of organizational business tools help processes run much more smoothly, letting you keep all your prospect and customer details in one place.
Project planning and monitoring, resource allocation, real-time budget management. These are all areas that can benefit from dedicated software, providing insights, potentially saving you money and ensuring tasks are completed on time and within budget.
Clever project management business tools help you see the bigger picture and quantify the success of a project, taking the guesswork out of the equation. Finding a project management solution that caters to your business, and can genuinely help you add value, should be a top priority moving forward. And if your current software isn’t working, think about a replacement.
The website Software Advice have put together a long list of task management programs you might want to check out, complete with star ratings, a cost comparison, and compatible networks. Some are available on the cloud while others are network-based.
One of the best free business tools out there is Trello. It allows you to collaborate with your teams around the globe and helps you organize your tasks as well. You can use its boards to create tasks and assign them to your team members.
The platform also has loads of integrations called “Power-Ups.” To use more integrations, you need to sign up for one of their paid plans.
Communication has been at the heart of business since time immemorial. And whether you’re conversing with employees, customers or other external parties (suppliers, contractors), you should be able to get your message across in the most hassle-free manner possible.
Internal and external communications are made easier with VoIP (voice over IP) technology. Which allows you to have your phone line on an Internet Protocol network.
The benefits of using this form of communication are extensive, but features include an ability to make calls to (and from) anywhere in the world at the same exact cost, the functionality to set up whole-team conferences, inexpensive hardware, and software (sound card, microphone, etc.), flexible infrastructure and mid-call data transfer.
Switching to a more fault-tolerant, cost-effective communication platform like VoIP is a no-brainer.
Use GetVOIP to obtain a personalized quote from a VoIP provider. As is the case with mobile networks and car insurers, there are countless providers vying for your business so it pays to shop around.
Another business tool you might want to consider – this time, particularly for internal communication – is Slack. This streamlined, easy-to-use messaging platform lets you track projects and share files with internal and external parties.
It’s got loads of integrations such as time trackers and project management tools. These can help you manage your team and streamline operations.
Slack also has a mobile app through which you can communicate on the move. It’s also free for small businesses and startups that wish to use it for their communication.
You can also use Skype for Business to collaborate and communicate with your team from anywhere.
If there’s one business tool that’s a little more essential than the others on this list, it concerns accounting. After all, if your figures aren’t right, you won’t have a business for much longer. What could be more important than ensuring the numbers add up?
From Sage Accounting to FreshBooks, digital accounting software solutions help businesses large and small track expenditure, sort out tax, run reports, handle payroll, invoice customers and put check marks next to all key financial management processes. That way, most of your accounting will be simplified.
They also provide insights into your businesses’ financials, cash flow forecasting, etc. Many of them offer integrations with other major CRM and customer service apps to give you a better functionality.
There is no shortage of such business tools. And in many cases, you can use bookkeeping software on a selection of devices – computers, iPads, and even smartphones. The net result is quicker data entry, time saved thanks to report automation (profit and loss, forecasting, etc.), and a reduction in human error.
Handily, many account management software can be integrated with other systems such as online banking and e-filing.
If you’re determinedly crunching numbers without the use of accounting software, you are missing out on valuable insights and cost savings. Just be sure to choose your package carefully to ensure it’s got the features you need.
Recruiting staff can be a costly process, particularly for small businesses. Think about the expenditure of time and money initiating background, reference and credit checks, not to mention degree verifications. Using a recruitment consultancy takes much of the legwork away, but it’s expensive in its own right and turnover of staff can be high.
Thankfully, there are special business tools to help you streamline your recruitment processes. GoodHire is one of them.
Used by over 75,000 employers, it’s known for its user-centric, mobile-optimized workflows and ease of use, helping you hire better and faster than ever before – with no paperwork. The company’s enterprise platform automates background checks to improve speed, assure accuracy and build scalability into complex business processes.
It also specializes in resume verifications, credit checks, drug screening, international checks, and personal background checks.
However, there are numerous options to choose from; it’s important to do your homework and use software solutions that meet your needs and fit your budget. Some business tools are built specifically for recruitment agencies themselves, while others have been created exclusively for business owners.
Zoho Recruit is yet another helpful hiring platform for businesses. It helps you find, track, and hire candidates from numerous sources directly from the dashboard.
Additionally, you can create and publish job alerts to premium job boards directly from the platform.
It’s also possible to design pre-screening assessments to help you automate your process and workflow as well.
The best part about this platform is that you can get detailed analytics and reports about your recruitment. This can help you figure out what you need to do differently to close more candidates.
Email Marketing Tools
Email marketing remains a great way of reaching your customers. In 2017, global email users totaled 3.7 billion, with the figure set to hit 4.3 billion by 2022.
Sure, email marketing can be hit or miss but properly executing your strategy will inspire brand loyalty and deliver a strong ROI.
A range of email marketing solutions are available, and these promise to help you keep in touch with subscribers, dispatch newsletters and offers, set up autoresponders, capture leads and use statistics (e.g. open/unsubscribe rates) to improve retention and increase brand recognition.
Though we all complain about receiving spam emails, customers actually like to hear from their favourite brands: indeed, 49% of consumers said they liked to receive promotional emails from their preferred brands on a weekly basis (Statista, 2017).
Whether you use MailChimp, Constant Contact or some other email marketing service, it’s important to start building up your contact list and getting your name out there. These business tools are simple to use, cost-effective and crucial elements of modern marketing campaigns.
The best part about these platforms is that they can help automate your email marketing processes.
They offer pre-built templates, 1-click automation, and even ready-made segments. As a result, you can easily build your email marketing campaigns and send out newsletters to your email list quickly.
Start using the business tools at your disposal and your results are sure to improve. These five are just the tip of the iceberg; if you aren’t already, you should look into apps and platforms for social media management, appointment scheduling, content marketing, graphic design, file sharing and customer relationship management (CRM).
Upping your game in business has never been easier.