If you want your small business to grow and stay competitive, it's necessary to continually make adjustments and upgrades – not only to the products and/or services that you provide but to the tools you use to run your business. As technology continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, businesses that keep up with the changing times are able to maintain a competitive advantage. Another year is almost over and it's time to start thinking about what you're going to do differently next year. To help you make 2018 a success, here are the top 5 tools your business needs most.
File Sharing Services
If your business isn't using a cloud-based file sharing service such as Google Docs or Dropbox, you're probably not operating as efficiently as you could (should) be. These types of services let you post, share, and edit all kinds of documents, making it easy for team members, partners, and clients to collaborate and share files from any device or location. Depending on your needs, you may be able to get by using the free version of Dropbox or Google Docs. If you need more space, the upgraded versions are still a good deal. This is more efficient than sending files via email and helps everyone stay current with all of your projects.
Another area where it's essential to maximize accuracy and productivity is with your books. Software such as QuickBooks or FreshBooks can save you both time and money. A quality accounting program is often the difference between having to hire a bookkeeper or accountant. Of course, you may still need such services for certain purposes. Even so, however, it's still nice to have accurate and user-friendly financial software so you know the state of your finances. This also makes tasks such as billing clients faster and more accurate. If your business hasn't yet upgraded to a professional accounting program, doing so in 2018 will help you manage your money better and help you keep an accurate, real-time pulse on your bottom line.
Time Management Apps
Time management is an essential concern for every business. Very often, people aren't aware of how productive they really are. For example, do you track how much time you spend every day checking your email and social media pages? What about your employees? Time management and productivity apps let you track the amount of time spent on each task. Some apps, such as My Minutes, let you set goals to help you focus and remove distractions. Apps such as Freedom and SelfControl are specifically geared towards blocking distractions such as Facebook while you're working.
One way to make your business more efficient is to outsource tasks to free up your time. Many small business owners waste countless hours doing things that could easily be outsourced to virtual assistants or freelancers. There are quite a few sites where freelancers list their services. Fiverr and Upworthy are just a couple of examples of sites that list basically any type of service you could think of. There are also sites for more specific tasks. Blogmutt, for example, has tiered content writers and offers flexible plans to fit any budget depending on the length/quantity of posts you need. WP Curve is good for finding IT specialists. There are also companies that connect you with virtual assistants in countries such as the Philippines. Outsourcing frees up your time to focus on more productive areas such as product creation, marketing, and engaging with your customer acquisition.
A Flexible CRM
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is helpful for improving efficiency, delivering better customer service, gaining access to more accurate analytics and more. With a CRM like Act!, you can automate many of your business's everyday tasks by integrating hundreds of popular business optimization tools via Act! Connect. This type of software enhances communication between individuals and teams and helps every user engage more effectively with your customers. It can also help you connect various activities under a single dashboard. For example, if your email, communications, accounting, and social media activities are more integrated it's easier to keep track of everything. If you're not using a CRM or the system you currently have doesn't meet your needs, it's more than worth it to consider a new one.
How Can Act! Help?
With a CRM like Act!, you can automate many of your business's everyday tasks by integrating hundreds of popular business optimization tools via Act! Connect. Having all your most used tools and programs makes managing you day and your customers much more efficient. For example, if your email, communications, accounting, and social media activities are more integrated, it's easier to keep track of and access the performance of your latest marketing efforts and determine their return on investment.