9 Essential Small Business Tools

There’s a common misperception that as a small business, you don’t have the resources to invest in the types of digital tools that large companies have at their disposal. But the truth is far from that — small business tools can help you save money and time, and allow you to focus on the important tasks of managing and growing your business. While some tools are financially out of reach or unnecessary for small operations, many can provide a solid return on investment for your business. We’ve pulled together here a list of must-have tools for your business.

1. Social Media Analytics

Popular platforms:  Sprout Social, Sprinklr, Hootsuite

These days a social media presence isn’t just a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have.According to eMarketer.com, 91 percent of businesses were using social media for marketing purposes in 2019. It makes sense — in today’s digital landscape, social media is one of the best ways for brands to connect with customers. So having a platform that helps you make sense of your social media analytics — demographics, behaviors, preferences and more — is key to helping you understand and engage your customers.

RELATED: 4 Keys to Building a Social Recruiting Strategy That *Actually* Gets Results

2. Accounting Software

Popular platforms: QuickBooks, NetSuite, Xero

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that accounting software is only for large businesses. Balancing the books by hand is costly and more likely to result in error. Fortunately, small business accounting software can save you time (and money!) by automating manual processes and performing automatic calculations. Accounting software also adds value by giving you ready-made insights about your company’s financial health, which you can’t always immediately glean from a spreadsheet. Come tax season, you’ll likely be glad you sprung for accounting software — with all of your business’s financial details in one place, it’s much easier to fill out your taxes or send them to a tax accountant to prepare.

3. Recruiting Software

Popular platforms: Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn

Four out of five candidates research company reviews before applying to jobs, and Glassdoor is a leading place to find them. Glassdoor’s products give you exposure to top talent, and allow you to advertise jobs in a way that fits your company’s needs. What’s more, Glassdoor candidates are truly quality candidates — 83 percent of our users are actively looking for jobs or open to new opportunities on the site (1), and once users apply, they do so thoughtfully — job seekers that apply through Glassdoor are twice as likely to get hired (2) and have a 30 percent higher retention rate than other sources (3).

RELATED: Hiring Informed Candidates On Glassdoor Boosts Retention & Can Save Thousands

4. Video Conferencing

Popular platforms: Zoom, Skype, Bluejeans

Audio-only conference calls are so 20th century. Today, more and more companies are turning to cloud-based video conferencing software to conduct meetings. A 2018 Forrester Study of IT decision makers and professionals found that 84 percent of companies use two or more cloud-based video conference solutions, and for good reason: according to a 2017 Forbes Insights study, 62 percent of executives agree that relative to audioconferencing, video conferencing significantly improves the quality of communication. And with improved communication comes increased collaboration and productivity.

5. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

Popular platforms: HubSpot, Zoho, Salesforce

There’s a reason that you can’t stop hearing about CRM platforms. CRMs can benefit your business in a number of ways, even when it’s at a small scale. For one, CRM platforms allow you to streamline your customer service so that no clients fall through the cracks. CRM platforms can generate automatic emails to customers and reminders to your sales team to check on customers as they move through the pipeline. In addition, CRM platforms also supply valuable information to your sales team. By keeping track of customer data and interactions, sales reps can get a quick refresher on customers’ backgrounds and needs before they jump on any call. CRM platforms also allow your business to analyze sales data and make improvements to your product or sales process based on data-driven insights.

6. Payroll Software

Popular platforms: BambooHR, Gusto, Zenefits

Invest in payroll software for your small business, and your employees will thank you. Payroll software makes it easier to pay your employees in a timely, convenient manner through direct deposits rather than handwritten checks. In addition, with payroll software, you can automatically calculate and include tax withholdings into your employees’ paychecks — no need to break out your calculator! The bottom line is, payroll software allows you to save time on bureaucratic tasks so that you can focus on the important things: managing and growing your business.

RELATED: How to Help Your Employees Embrace Self-Service HR

7. Project Management Software

Popular platforms: Asana, Airtable, Monday.com

Even at a small company, managing projects can quickly get out of hand if the only tools you’re using are word documents, spreadsheets or (gasp!) pen and paper. To keep things chugging along smoothly, employees need to know who is responsible for which tasks, what next steps need to be taken and when deadlines are. Today’s project management softwares can help an organization of any size keep track of these important project milestones, and make sure that everyone in an organization is held accountable for their part.

8. Email Marketing

Popular platforms: MailChimp, SendGrid, Constant Contact

While social media is an important source of new customers, a 2014 McKinskey study found that email was nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. Using email marketing can help you send targeted emails to your customers, generate leads, grow your audience, build your brand and many other benefits. Email marketing platforms also make it easy to send polished, professional-looking emails at scale. And finally, many email marketing platforms have analytics available that can give insights into customer engagement and behavior so you can continuously improve.

9. Chatbots

Popular platforms: Drift, Intercom, Bold360

Just ten years ago, a virtual chatbot might have sounded like something from a science fiction movie — but today, chatbots are a practical way to engage with customers and potential customers with little manpower needed on your end. By providing fast, automated answers to questions, you can save time and provide greater customer satisfaction, and free up your employees to focus on more important tasks. Chatbots can also be used to increase your customer base by engaging potential customers on your website and retaining current customers with quick customer service — talk about a win-win!

1: Glassdoor.com U.S. Site Survey, August 2018

2: Data analysis of 12M applications 7/1/16-12/31/17 from leading ATS provider Greenhouse comparing application-to-hire ratios for Glassdoor vs. other job sites

3: Glassdoor EMI Research, November 2017

Learn More:

The Scrappy Guide to Recruiting for Small Businesses