1. Accounting and invoicing
This type of software can simplify your accounting processes, helping to monitor your money and reduce human error. Some popular accounting software for small businesses include: QuickBooks, FreshBooks and Sage. Most good accounting tools have built-in, sophisticated invoicing functions that have the capability to generate, send out and track invoices as well as manage overdue accounts. Other examples of small business tools for generating professional invoices are Due, Zoho, Invoicera and Harvest.
2. Project management
No matter the size or nature of your business, at some point you will face project management responsibilities. Efficient project management means meeting deadlines and keeping to budgets. The best software should ideally incorporate a task assignment system, collaboration capabilities, and a time tracking function. Cloud-based project management platforms include Basecamp, Asana, Trello, Insightly, and Azendoo.
3. Customer relationship management (CRM)
CRM tools help you track and organise sales and customer information, including contracts, past customer service interactions and buying history. Having centralised data can help generate deep customer insights and sales forecasts. Popular platforms include Salesforce, Insightly and Zoho CRM, a free solution. When selecting a CRM tool, look out for solutions that can be easily customised, with the potential to scale with your company.
4. Human resources
Even a small business can easily outgrow Excel spreadsheets as a tool for managing employee information. At some point you will need an easier system to keep track of payroll, leave, benefits, performance, and other employee records. Most affordable small business solutions are cloud-based, which saves on cost and the need for IT infrastructure. Sage One Payroll and Cezanne are some that are popular with smaller businesses.
5. Point of sale (POS)
This type of software basically manages sales and updates your inventory records – calculating the purchase total, sales tax, change owed to customers, and also prints receipts. Keep it simple by opting for a solution that you can run on your tablet. Examples of popular POS platforms include Shopify POS (offers online and offline capabilities), Vend (ideal for scalable businesses) and TabletPOS (only runs on Apple devices). Also consider how you can utilise mobile payment solutions such as Orange Money (available in a number of African countries), SnapScan (South Africa) and Paga (Nigeria).
6. Time and expense tracking
Tools that track time and expenses are quite useful, especially if you travel for business or have freelancers and teams working offsite. Some business software have these functions included, so ensure you are not duplicating. Examples of time and expense trackers are TripLog, Timesheet, Toggl and Xpenditure.
7. Organising tools
For organising, Evernote, an excellent free app that runs on most operating systems, helps to keep to-do-lists, notes, web pages, photos, voice memos and handwritten notes in one place. Other popular organising platforms are Microsoft OneNote, Wunderlist and Google Calendar.