Starting a business is definitely a stressful and overwhelming activity. This is especially true for small businesses as they don’t have the manpower or resources unlike big corporations. Thankfully, there are now various tools available that can take care of tedious tasks and make life easier for business owners.
From creating your logo to keeping track of your inventory, the right tools can help budding entrepreneurs manage their workload, streamline their processes, promote their products, and maximize their profits.
Keep in mind that the tool that you need will vary depending on the nature and size of your business. However, there are ten tools that just about any small business should have in their arsenal. Curious what they are? Read on!
What are the 10 tools every small business needs?
Branding is the foundation of your business. Just like how people have distinct personalities, branding is what gives your business a unique identity that your audience will remember you by and will set you apart from others.
Think of Nike, Apple, or Coca-Cola. Each of them has an overall vibe that just makes them recognizable, from their marketing visuals to the way they write their ads. Even if you catch just the end of their commercial or see a small poster of them, you’ll instantly know it’s from them, right? That’s the power of branding.
Aside from making you recognizable, your branding will also dictate your marketing strategy and your visual direction. It’s best to establish all of this right from the start to save yourself time and headaches in the future.
Your branding should consist of a logo that conveys your brand identity and appeals to your target audience. Next is a brand name that is catchy and easy to remember. Lastly, you should have a set color palette and typography that you will use consistently in all your marketing materials (a great example is the iconic Tiffany blue and Coca-Cola font!).
Luckily, there are many free or low-cost tools that you can use. Check out customizable logo templates, business name generators, color palette generators, brand kit creators, and the likes.
Your website is essentially your office in the digital world. It’s where your audience will go if they want to get more information about you or check out your products.
You may think that your business is too small to warrant a website. But did you know that 99% of customers use the internet to discover local businesses? And that 81% of people will research a business online first before making a purchase? If you’re not discoverable online, your chances of getting sales and making your business grow will get drastically lower.
Credibility is another important reason. Most people expect legitimate businesses to have a website. If you don’t have one, you’ll risk looking unprofessional or worse, a scam.
Make sure your site is optimized to support fast loading so you don’t have to worry about users leaving and your customers complaining that they are losing business. – advises Piotr Wojciechowski, UX Designer at iRonin.IT.
So yes, having a website is indeed a priority. But don’t worry as you don’t have to be an experienced developer to have a website. You can check out Wix, SquareSpace, Wordpress, Weebly, or other no-code website builders to get you started.
Chat and Communication
As the saying goes, no man is an island. Even the best entrepreneurs need a team to get things done. But sometimes, texts or emails can make the conversation longer or can be an avenue for miscommunication. This is more true if you are working remotely or working with freelancers from all over the world.
Instant messaging tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Chanty can help make communication with your team a lot easier. You can also use video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet if you want a more face-to-face type of interaction or if you’ll need to screen-share.
As a small business owner, you probably have a million things to do every day. Staying on top of things can prove to be a challenge especially as you grow your business or you get a larger team.
Which is why project management tools are so important. These tools can help you stay organized, assign tasks, meet deadlines, keep track of your to-dos, and easily collaborate with your team. Some popular tools that small to midsize teams are using are Trello, Asana software, Monday.com, and ClickUp. But if you have a very small team and don’t have many projects to keep track of yet, you can try using Calendy or Evernote.
Design and Editing
According to studies, visual content is 40x more likely to be shared on social media. Visual content is also found to be 43% more persuasive than text alone. Creating eye-catching visuals is definitely important if you want to make your small business thrive.
Tools like Adobe Express, Canva, and Visme can help by providing customizable templates for various marketing materials such as Facebook covers, flyers, or infographics. As the templates are already provided, you don’t have to start creating your materials from scratch. These are great if you don’t have extensive graphic design knowledge or if you are pressed for time.
AI design tools can also make editing so much faster and easier. Remini and VanceAI can automatically enhance the quality of your photos by brightening, denoising, or sharpening them. There are also background remover tools where an object can instantly be cut from the background so that you can easily edit it.
Social Media Management
Establishing a strong social media presence is a necessity in this digital-first era. Your social media pages are not only needed for increasing awareness of your small business but also for building credibility and promoting your products.
Social media also plays a huge role in building a loyal customer base. Use your social media to create content that your audience will love, keep them up to date with news about your products, and quickly respond to their questions or concerns.
Managing various social media pages can be difficult, which is why you should rely on tools to help you schedule posts, track engagement, and monitor comments. Some tools you can use are SocialBee, Hootsuite and Buffer.
Did you know that 20.8% of retail purchases are expected to take place online in 2023? While brick-and-mortar shops still have a place in our hearts, the power of online selling is undeniable. If you want to maximize your profits and cater to your customers who prefer online shopping, a reliable e-commerce platform is crucial.
You can turn to platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, or BigCommerce to help you get started on building your store. These tools come with drag-and-drop options, which are perfect for entrepreneurs who have no coding background.
Additionally, each of these platforms features a user-friendly drag and drop website builder, simplifying the process of customizing your online store to fit your unique brand and style.
What if you already have an existing website and you just want to add an option to sell on it? That’s also possible. You can install e-commerce plug-ins to your site or add a Shopify Buy Button. You can also integrate payment gateways such as PayPal or Sage. All of these tools should make it possible for your customers to buy from your existing website.
If you need to keep track of all your product stock, you can use tools like Odoo, Sortly, and Zoho Inventory.
Protecting your business and customer data is non-negotiable. And no, you don’t need to be a big brand or a mega-corporation to be worried about this. Small businesses are in fact the most vulnerable to cyber threats.
According to studies, small businesses account for 43% of cyberattacks annually. It was also found that they lost an average of $25,000 due to the attacks.
You may not have the funds or resources to have a comprehensive cybersecurity program. But even the most basic security measures can help. Make sure to invest in antivirus and antimalware software, firewalls, and virtual private networks (VPN) to fortify your business. Always have a backup of all your essential files as well.
Maintain basic security practices as well, such as not using public Wi-Fi when conducting online payments or training your team to avoid phishing scams. Additionally, integrating HR software into your cybersecurity strategy can further enhance protection by managing employee access, tracking HR-related data securely, and ensuring compliance with regulations.
Proper and organized management of finances is crucial for your business. Tools like FreshBooks or QuickBooks can help with your accounting by keeping track of your finances, providing invoices, and running accounting reports.
File and Document Management
An efficient file-sharing system is essential for collaborating with your team. Some of the most popular tools to use are Google Drive and Dropbox. These cloud-based solutions can make files easily accessible and editable to your team no matter where they are. You can also use these tools to keep a backup of all your important files and documents.
The tools listed above can help small businesses manage everyday tasks and conquer tedious work that usually requires tons of time and effort. These can be from handling your taxes, to doing real-time collaboration with your team, to editing a video that you want to post for your Instagram page. Make sure to keep these tools in mind so that you can be more efficient and productive, and ultimately take your small business to the next level.