Amazing Small Business Tools: From A(ccounting) to Z
The latest small business tools can help your business grow: here are 6 technologies to help you stay on top of your game.
Time is money. It’s a cliché but it’s true, and never more applicable than when one is running their own small business. Savvy business owners know that any small business tools they can use to save time and boost productivity are worth their proverbial weight in gold.
Many of today’s modern small business tasks can be greatly expedited by technology or even automated entirely. That frees up precious time for entrepreneurs to spend running their business, as opposed to wiling away hours slogging through admin tasks.
What tools does your business need? There are tools for just about every aspect of running a business: accounting, finance, inventory management, data analytics, and more. Let’s run through some of the small business tools you might want to check out We included links to some free educational and professional development resources to help you stay on top of your game.
Tool #1: Small Business Accounting Software and Apps
Poor or incomplete record-keeping can be the death of any small business. Smart small business owners should make keeping detailed business and financial records a top priority, especially when it comes to accounting. Accounting software helps you keep track of the financial health of your company, make sure you’re paying your bills on time, and keeps you in line with your budget.
Of course, record keeping can be pretty dull. The good news is that you no longer have to do all that double-entry accounting and other record-keeping by hand. There are programs designed to help you create a budget, link to your business accounts, and track your cash inflow and outflow automatically. You can compare various highly-recommended options with the Best Small Business Accounting Software of the year.
Tool #2: Payroll Services
Like bookkeeping, preparing employee payroll by hand is inherently tedious. Plus, payroll can be surprisingly complicated and have serious legal consequences. Experts advise that all business owners, even small local shops, utilize a payroll service to help stay on top of this task. These services have the specialized software and expertise to handle your payroll with ease. They manage the recordkeeping, and send out the checks or make the direct deposits.
In addition, automated online payroll services can track your employees’ time and manage their work schedules. Payroll services can even calculate and process matches for 401(K) and other retirement savings. And of course, they calculate and automatically withhold the proper amount of local, state, and federal taxes from staff paychecks.
How do you find the right payroll service for your small business needs? There are options for every business and budget. Visit our article on choosing a payroll service for tips and suggestions on the best payroll services for your business.
Tool #3: Interactive Working Capital Calculator
Working capital means “the amount by which current assets exceed current liabilities.” In plain English, working capital is the necessary money each business needs to cover the cost of their daily business operations.
A small business needs to have enough working capital to cover costs, get approved for loans, pay bills, reduce debts, buy inventory, and make payroll. A business with enough working capital is financially healthy; likewise, a business without enough working capital is not financially viable over the long term.
The amount of working capital a small business needs to be healthy depends on the industry and business model of that particular company. So how do you figure out how much you need? There’s a tool for that! Check out this working capital needs calculator from The Hartford to find the working capital amount that’s right for your business.
Tool #4: Online Inventory Management Services
Small business owners that run online or brick-and-mortar shops know the crucial importance of proper inventory management. Business owners must have enough stock to sell, but not so much that you’re losing money on lost sales. Stock sitting on shelves, unsold, equals lost money for the business. It can be a challenge to find the proper balance for the amount of inventory you need to cover seasonal trends and holidays.
Inventory management tools can help your small business maintain, track, and log inventory, and even alert you to problems with theft. A good inventory management system can help you see the trends and clearly show what products are selling fast and which are sitting on the shelves. In other words, it’s good for your business plan as well as your shelf space.
Inventory management tools run the gamut from basic to all-the-bells-and-whistles, so it’s up to you to find the right fit for your business. For tips on how to select and work with an inventory management system, read more about trusted inventory management techniques.
Tool #5: Website and Social Media Data Analytics
Modern small business owners know that having a well-laid out, mobile accessible, professional website is a MUST for any competitive business. You want to make sure the public can find your business and that your online presence is drawing in customers. But your website can be a whole lot more useful than just letting people know you’re out there, or even selling your products or booking your services online. By tracking the way people get to your site and use it while they’re there, you can learn a lot about what they’re shopping for and how to adjust your business strategy to hit their sweet spot.
Online data analytic tools make tracking website data automatic; you just need to install the software and it does the work for you. These analytic tools can help you see how visitors came to your site, what keywords they used, the content they viewed, and how long they stayed there. In other words, you may find that you’re getting 80% of your website traffic through your Instagram page or from a search result for one particular product, and then you can use that information to focus your efforts. If you’re putting up original content on your website and social media platforms, that’s even better. You can tailor that content to really nail what your customers want.
These key data points can help you explore business trends, consider new markets, and study customer online behavior. Moreover, these key data points can help you curate engaging unique content for your website visitors and customers because when they come, you want them to stay.
Not sure where to start? There are hundreds of data analytic options to consider. Predictive Analytics Today’s comparison tool is a great resource to explore top-rated software options.
Tool #6: Free Educational and Professional Development Resources
All the tools in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to use them. Successful entrepreneurs know that the key to success is to always keep learning. But that doesn’t mean you have to move to Massachusetts and get an MBA from Harvard. It just means you should make a conscious effort to follow new developments in your industry and in the business world, and to learn new skills.
There are hundreds of free or low-cost professional development programs to help out small business entrepreneurs. Some of these programs are face-to-face and some are online, so they can be completed on your own time. That’s a boon to an entrepreneur, since running your own business doesn’t give you much free time!
To explore various business and professional development opportunities for aspiring or existing small business owners, check out the following links. Many of these programs offer free online business courses, educational workshops, volunteer mentoring, and real-world small business support.
- AOF Programs and Coaching
- US Women’s Chamber of Commerce
- Small Business Association (SBA) Online Courses and Entrepreneurial Learning Center
- SCORE Business Mentoring
Where There’s a Tool, There’s a Way
Running a business means you have a lot to do, and it often feels like there just aren’t enough hours in a day. That’s why these tools are so valuable. They can save you tons of time and can also magnify your efforts so you can get a lot more done with a lot less work. Let your accounting and payroll handle itself (with regular reviews, of course) and make your marketing bucks go a whole lot farther by using your digital data to hit just the right note.
And of course, never stop learning. Who knows what terrific tools you’ll find?