Whether you’re a small business owner or a solopreneur, there are basic tasks you’re accomplishing every day. Those tasks probably include accounting, marketing, and design. When I started running my own businesses full-time over six years ago, I was overwhelmed by the number of tools out there. Countless options that could help me run my day-to-day operations better and more efficiently. After trying dozens of different options, below is my list of the top 5 best software programs for small businesses!
Time tracking helps you gain a better insight into how you spend your time, so you can prioritize better. For example, if you’re trying to improve your productivity, you can track your typical workday and analyze how you’ve spent your time. After viewing a time tracking report of your day, you can:
- Prioritize better
- Create better schedules
- Gain motivation to be more productive
However you decide to track your time, it’s important that you do. A time tracker will help you understand what tasks take up the most of your day, and where you can best spend your valuable hours. It might also give you some insight into how much of your time is wasted on activities that don’t move the needle for your business.
One of my favorite time tracking apps is Harvest. By tracking your time in Harvest, you’re able to capture critical project data — allowing you to learn from the past, keep current projects on track, and better estimate future projects! They have free and paid plans available which is perfect for those just starting out as well as seasoned business owners.
Accounting softwares are a must for small business owners who want to keep their finances in order. Yes, you can easily use budget spreadsheet templates for Google Sheets or Excel, however using an official accounting software streamlines your entire accounting process. Not only will they help you automate your invoicing, expense tracking, and manage your budget — they can keep an eye on your cash flow.
One of my favorite accounting softwares is Freshbooks. FreshBooks is accounting software utilized primarily for small and medium-sized businesses. It is a web-based software as a service model, that can be accessed through a desktop AND mobile device. Their app is very user-friendly and you can easily set up invoices, estimates, and proposals on the go! Freshbooks offers free and paid plans.
Project Management is the process of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals. It’s a set of activities that help you organize your workflow in order to complete a task. That’s the detailed explanation — to simplify: project management tools keep you organized! Every business, whether large or small, has a never-ending list of projects. It’s key to have good project management software to keep you on task with skilled time management.
The great thing about projects, in general, is they all have a beginning and end date as well as defined goals. All projects need some sort of organization in order to be completed on time (and sometimes within specific budgets).
To manage my projects effectively, I couldn’t live without Click-Up. ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity tool built for solopreneurs as well as teams of all types across any industry. You can plan, track, and collaborate on any project, build the perfect workflow for you and your team, create marketing campaigns, manage development sprints, and more all in one platform! While it’s capabilities seem endless, you can use click-up for the basic of tasks — and there’s even an app to keep you organized on the go. Click-Up offers free and paid plans.
Marketing is the most important aspect of your small business! The way that you market your products or services determines whether browsers not only find your brand, but connect with your business. It’s crucial that you find marketing softwares that can help you manage this process (because it can be so daunting!).
My top 3 favorite marketing softwares are for social media, Pinterest, and email marketing:
- Social Media
- Smarterqueue — Smarterqueue is a social media management tool that helps influencers, entrepreneurs, marketers, and businesses manage monitoring, content posting, scheduling, customer engagement, and more across social media platforms. As a small business, you can create and handle multiple content categories using color codes and automate posting using scheduling functionality. You can also get detailed reporting to see what’s working best for your brand. They have a large variety of paid plans and offer a free trial period.
- Pinterest Re-Pinning
- Tailwind App — While Tailwind App can be used for social media management, I use it specifically for their Pinterest Re-Pin tool. By using their browser plugin, you’re able to schedule re-pins on Pinterest, keeping your account always active, thus consistently engaging your audience as well as the algorithm. Personally, I like to use Smarterqueue to schedule all of my original content and use Tailwind App to re-pin Pinterest content. Tailwind App offers free and paid plans.
- Email Marketing
- Sendinblue — While there are countless email marketing softwares you can use, Sendinblue is one of my favorite for small businesses just starting out (I know, you probably thought I’d be pushing Mailchimp but keep reading and you’ll see why!). Both Sendinblue and Mailchimp offer free plans. The difference? The majority of Sendinblue’s email marketing features are available for free while Mailchimp, in comparison, has less features on its free plan. So if you’re just starting out, I highly recommend Sendinblue for your email marketing software.
Design software is essential for any business, but it’s even more important for small businesses. Small business owners wear just about every hat while running their businesses, including that of graphic designer. For those who are design-savvy, there’s of course Adobe Creative Suite. You can use any of their advanced design softwares like Illustrator, In-Design, and AfterEffects for a thirty-day trial run! There are also great tutorials out there to show you how best to use these programs if you’re just starting out.
If you’re not very design-savvy or your design skills leave something to be desired, I cannot recommend Canva enough! Canva is the perfect tool for new and seasoned designers. Their templates give you great starting points to design social media campaigns, email marketing newsletters, promotional materials, and even logos! The other great thing about Canva is that it integrates with tons of external sites like Pinterest, Mailchimp, TikTok, Instagram, and more!
While I love (and utilize) my Adobe Creative Suites daily, I would be at a loss without Canva in my life! They offer free and paid plans.
Build a better business by using softwares that make your day-to-day easier!
And there you have it! My top 5 favorite software programs to help you not only run your small business:
- Time Tracking
- Project Management
All of these tools are available not only to work as your digital side-kick, but to scale and expand your brand’s reach. The right softwares can help you save time, make your life easier, market your business better, and efficiently organize your business.
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