Nobody said that running a small business would be easy, but the difficulty can catch many off guard. On top of managing staff, payroll, stock and premises you’ve now got the added pressures of maintaining and competing in an increasingly tough online marketplace.
Thankfully, with the increased complications of SME businesses in 2017 has come to a raft of fantastic, low-cost, high-utility software designed to take the pain out managing a small business.
Small business software is designed to help you run your business better, cut your costs, increase productivity and simplify bookings for your clients. So, what is the best small business software you should be investing in for your enterprise?
Here are our eight picks for accounting, communication, project management, analytics, office software, security software, file sharing and small business booking system:
If you haven’t heard of Xero before, let us give you a brief introduction: it’s the most comprehensive business accounting software available today, and yet it never feels complex or confusing. That’s some achievement, but Xero manages it with style thanks to a design that fits across smartphones, tablets and computers.
Their software allows for instant bank reconciliation, so you can import your banking, credit card and PayPal transactions with ease. That’s alongside inventory, payroll, invoicing, expenses, bill and purchases management tools. Oh, and that’s just the start of this incredible small business accounting software.
Starting from just £10 a month and with a free 30-day trial, it’s also a tremendous value.
Slack has quietly taken over the world of business communication, and for good reason too. This web and app based communication tool gives your employees the power to create specific “channels” where your team can converse on specific topics with selected team members. It might be a project, a topic, a team within your team or anything else. You can even set up private channels for invited team members only, for those sensitive conversations.
You’ll also enjoy the ability to drag and drop files for your team to download and the ability to make instant video calls to anyone on the team, helping you all stay connected. And that’s without going into the countless other integrations it boasts. Best of all? It’s free on the basic plan, so you can discover whether it’s for you before you take the plunge.
Managing bookings can be extremely time-consuming in a small business, especially if you’re reliant on telephone booking. That, in turn, costs you man hours and decreases productivity. That’s why booking software for small business is vital, and our choice of booking software provider is BookingLive.
BookingLive is our choice for the best small business booking system for a huge number of reasons, but none more so than its sheer flexibility. Easy to set up with live support all the way and designed for the modern internet with a 100% responsible design, you’ll love the range of integrations, top tier security and ease by which you can use BookingLive to automate your entire booking procedure.
Customers can book from your website or even social media, and with a rolling monthly contract starting from just £50, you’ll be amazed at what BookingLive can do, which is why it’s our pick to power your small business booking system.
As a small business, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be doing much of your business online. It’s a place where you’ll find you can establish your business and generate sales without having to invest in physical premises. That means having a website, and with any website, you’re going to need good analytics tools.
Google Analytics is a free analytics tool that’s perfect for all businesses, small to large. You can use their website to track visitors, looking at how long they stay, where they came from, what browser they’re using, what search terms brought them to you and even which parts of the page they clicked on. This will help you get a better understanding of how customers are getting to your website and what they are doing on it.
Designed to offer a highly visual project management platform for businesses of all types, Dapulse gives you the power to manage everything from a single board, where you can track everything your team is working on and the status of their individual tasks. It’s shockingly easy to add new tasks, projects, goals and to-dos, and you can simply assign staff to tasks.
It also acts as a communication platform between your staff, so they can easily chat about specific projects in context, rather than heading over to a product like Slack.
Those are just a handful of the fantastic features that make up Dapulse and make it an essential small business software choice. Pricing runs from £22 per month for their basic software with 5 users or less and can be scaled up from there, depending on your requirements.
Modern businesses – especially small ones – are no longer operated from a single location, but instead operated from multiple sites, and even on the go. That makes sharing databases of files and collaborating across large distances extremely difficult.
For those reasons, you need to invest in an online file storage solution, and there’s few better than DropBox. A veteran in the space, DropBox has spent years refining their product, and today it features automatic syncing, superb security, 120-day file recovery, advanced sharing permissions and much, much more. Their basic business plan costs just £10 per staff member a month and offers 2TB of storage space. Moving up to advanced is £15 per month, but that unlocks unlimited space and specialist business options.
It might seem like something of a controversial choice given the hegemony of Microsoft’s Office software (especially now it’s launched on smartphones and tablets), but Google Docs takes our crown as the best office software for small businesses. Why?
Well, between its three components (Docs, Sheets, Slides and more), you’ve got the full featured Office replacements. Docs offer all the benefits of Microsoft Word, Slides beings Google’s magic to the PowerPoint formula and Sheets is a terrific Excel clone. Put together, you’ve got the three most commonly used office applications.
Google Docs can open Office documents and even export them too, so you’ll enjoy full compatibility with Office users around the world. As far as small business software goes, it’s something of a no brainer, especially given the completely free cost – all you need is a Google account.
The value of digital security should never be underestimated, even in a small business. Of course, whilst you could equip every computer in your office with a free antivirus, they don’t offer centralised control and they require staff to be trained to use them effectively.
That’s why when it comes to the best small business software, you’re always better off with dedicated small business security software. To that end, we recommend Avast’s Endpoint Protection Advanced. It’s the most basic business software that Avast offer, but it’ll allow all your businesses PCs to remain secure in day to day operation and your IT manager to deal with the security of your PCs from a single location.
Barebones? Yes, but with up to 100 users/nodes and fantastic basic security, it’s a low-cost way to secure your business and avoid costly data leaks or IT failures, and is totally essential small business software.