11 Tools That Will Make Your Small Business Run Smoothly

When it comes to the success of your small business, planning, being organised and having simple repeatable systems and processes in place will make your life so much easier.

Not only will systems save you a lot of time, but will save you money because you’ll be able to be more focused on actually doing the work your business is built for instead of running around like a headless chicken trying to take care of everything manually.

Below we’ve listed our favourite 11 tools that will make your business run smoothly – although this may seem like a lot of tools, your business won’t need all of them, and once you’ve spent a little time setting them up, they’ll help your business run behind the scenes.

Internal messaging tool:

Ensuring good communication is something that’s vital for the success of your small business, whether this is with your clients, suppliers, or your own team. Having a way to keep everyone on the same page is really important.

Although email is still used for many areas of business and certainly isn’t going anywhere, when it comes to communicating back and forth with team members and clients, then it can get quite chaotic and time consuming if you’re using email as the way of keeping everyone updated on things.

Nowadays, more and more business owners are opting instead for internal messaging tools and apps.

Project management tool:

How you run and manage your projects will really depend on your own preferences. Some people prefer the traditional pen and paper approach, whilst others wouldn’t dream of using anything other than a digital calendar.

With this, there’s simply no right or wrong way to do things, it’s just a matter of what you find easiest to manage.

There are truly no shortage of project management and tools on the market to choose from, so having a look around and even testing out a few to find the right fit for you will give you an idea of what features you find useful.

Project management tools are great to have because they help you get a clear overview of what projects you’re currently working on, who’s assigned what tasks, and what the current status is. It keeps you organised and in the loop at all times, so nothing will be overlooked and there’s no need to chase up via email for status updates.

Accounting tool:

As a business owner, you need to be staying on top of your accounts – and the sooner you get into this habit, the better.

Whether you have an accountant at the moment or aren’t quite ready to outsource this area of your business yet doesn’t really matter, but having an accounting tool to help you get a clear picture of what’s happening will ensure you’re prepared and not hit with any unexpected tax bills or scrambling looking for receipts that you’ve scribbled down on pieces of paper.

Accounting tools are very popular with small businesses because they’re typically very low cost and allow you to keep everything in one place and will even automate things like invoices and calculate your taxes for you, so when it comes time to submit your tax return all you have to do is either send your invoices off to your accountant, let them have access to your accounting tool, or do your submission yourself – all the information will be there right in front of you, so nothing will be overlooked.

CRM tool:

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and is crucial in the smooth running of any small business. These tools help you stay up to date with where exactly your customers are in their journey of working with you.

Many have features such as automatic emails that are triggered after a customer takes a specific action, such as going from a lead to a paying customer, or when they purchase another product from you.

Even if you don’t use this for sales, it’s just a good way of tracking who your customers are and what their activity is with your company.

Social media automation tool:

Whilst social media is pretty much a must for any business these days, it’s something that has to be approached very carefully and strategically. If you don’t have tools in place to help you manage your social media, you can often find yourself spending hours per day posting content and engaging with your audience whilst seeing very little financial ROI.

Being able to automate your social media means that you’re still able to create the same levels of engagement with your audience, but that you don’t need to physically be present and posting every 10 minutes to do it.

The best way to use social media from an automation perspective is to batch-create your content for a certain amount of time. This can be weekly or monthly depending on your preference, and then upload your posts to go out at certain days and times over that period.

Simply allow yourself or your social media team a certain amount of time per day to go in and manually reply to comments and engage with your audience. This is a far more effective and efficient use of your time when it comes to social media.

Email marketing tool:

Any small business with an online presence should have some kind of email marketing tool to use. Firstly because it’s against the law to email people who haven’t specifically given you permission to email them, so you need an email marketing tool that allows people to give you this consent.

Secondly, if you want to sell products and services or even just keep your customers and potential customers in the loop about what’s going on with your business, then manually emailing them through a normal service like Gmail or Hotmail simply isn’t sustainable, and will also get you flagged for spam and potentially blacklisted.

Customer support tool:

Happy customers are at the very foundation of your business, so ensuring that you have a way to deal with any issues that arise – or even before they arise will really go a long way in setting you apart from other businesses in your industry.

How you choose to implement and manage your customer support is up to you, but many tools now offer email support, and even live chat or Messenger chat as a way to let customers get in touch with you at all stages of their buying journey.

Appointment scheduling tool:

Gone are the days of missed appointments or hours of back and forth emails when trying to arrange a time for a meeting, interview or general appointment.

Appointment scheduling tools are a huge time-saver and give you complete control over your time.

You simply choose the times you’re available for appointments, link the tool to your calendar so that when someone wishes to book an appointment with you, they simply choose the time that works for them and this is automatically booked in your calendar.

The great thing about some scheduling tools is that you can still use a business card for in-person meetings in conjunction with your scheduling tool simply by scanning a code on your card, so you don’t have to worry about handing over a business card that later gets forgotten about among a sea of many.

Go here for info on the different ways you can use business and plastic cards creatively to get the attention of potential customers.

Meeting tool:

Thanks to the internet and improvements in technology, online meeting tools are more popular than ever. Having a meeting tool allows your business to have more reach because now you can meet with someone over your phone or computer and see each other face to face without ever leaving your house or office.

Not only does this give you more opportunities to grow, but means that you’re not out any extra expenses on traveling to meet with potential customers.

Content collation tool:

If your business relies heavily on online marketing strategies, such as blogging and social media, then as much as you want to create your own unique content, it’s also good practice to share other people’s valuable content with your audience. Using tools for collating content, even if it’s just for your own research and inspiration is recommended because you’ll want to keep it organised in one place for when you need it.

Most tools like this are cloud based, which is good because then you’re not using up space on your computer.

Payment tool:

If you’re not getting paid, then you don’t have a business. Having tools in place to help you get paid is not only a good idea when ensuring that you’re actually getting paid without any issues, but they’re a great time-saver because you can set up things like subscription payments and generate invoices to go out on a recurring basis and generate reminder emails when a client hasn’t paid when they’re supposed to.

Hopefully this list will help you identify which tools you could be using within your business to ensure it runs more smoothly.

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