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The Most Essential Software Tools to Start a Business

Julia RichardsDecember 2020
The Most Essential Software Tools to Start a Business

Everywhere you look, there seems to be a piece of software to do something you thought could only be done manually.

There is such a thing as “too much software”. Just as there is such a thing as “too little”.

In running a business, it’s vital to establish what software is absolutely necessary and which is just nice to have.

When starting a business, you want to be as lean as possible, investing in just the right software for your business to help you turn a profit while keeping your budget as low as possible.

Here is our selection of absolutely essential software tools for startups and small businesses.

 

Accounting software tools

All of your bookkeeping can be done online these days. And all the major accounting software providers also come with phone apps so that you can manage your accounting on the go.

Bookkeeping can take so much valuable time away from your day that it’s essential to invest in a tool that provides even the most basic functionality to keep your books in order.

Tools such as FreeAgent, Quickbooks, Xero and others allow you to create and send invoices, reconcile your bank accounts, prepare end-of-year accounts as well as scan in your receipts, so you never miss a deductible expense.

All of them also run payroll and take care of the dozens of different actions which must be taken to stay in compliance with HMRC’s monthly PAYE and other requirements.

Good and affordable accounting software is absolutely indispensable for any business and will save you plenty of money in the long run.

 

Project management toolsWork for Hire

You need something to be able to keep track of ongoing projects. The tool needs to be accessible via your phone, your browser and should give you a quick overview of where your different projects stand and how to get them unstuck if they are stuck.

There are several excellent project management tools out there, such as Monday.com, Trello, ClickUp and Wrike.

Although not technically a project management solution, AirTable can also be used successfully as one.

 

CRM — Customer Relationship Management

When you’re small, it’s possible to keep track of all your clients and leads in spreadsheets and maybe even on scraps of paper.

This isn’t the case when you start to grow even a little bit.

Keeping track of leads and the sales pipeline is crucial and can suck up a lot of time; not to mention that failing to keep tabs on this aspect of your business can lead to missed sales and opportunities!

HubSpot offers a free CRM which covers most basic needs to manage your customer and leads database until you are large enough to afford one of their higher-tiered packages. Salesforce is another popular cloud-based CRM.

 

Team suites

Team suites will typically contain some or other project management tool as part of their offering. But, still, some companies prefer to go with a separate choice for project management because the standalone products are often so much better.

As for the team suite itself — secure team chat, video telephony, email, document collaboration — the two main players are undoubtedly Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Each has its pros and cons, and the choice between the two often comes down to personal preference.

 

Telephone software (VOIP)

It just makes sense to use VOIP for your business, and there are several solutions on the market for this. Using VOIP is particularly important for companies that handle a lot of international business.

VOIP can also integrate deeply with analytics tools and computer software to provide additional features not customarily available on a normal phone.

Video-conferencing tools

Video-conferencing tools

Video-conferencing is here to stay. And, whereas we’ll all probably return to the office again eventually, there are numerous benefits to video conferencing compared to in-person meetings.

Video conferencing saves time and makes it easier to arrange meetings on short notice. The ability to record video calls also obviates the need for extensive note-taking or additional software for recording.

 

Basic marketing tools

This covers a wide range of tools, spanning from actual design tools such as Canva and Adobe Creative Cloud to social media marketing tools such as Hootsuite which allows for scheduling of social media posts.

In this category would be included basic video editing tools as well.

There’s only so far a DIY marketing approach will get you. Not only is it a skill that takes years to hone, but design-work also takes up a tremendous amount of time which is not good if you’re trying to get your startup off the ground.

Eventually, you would probably want to hire professionals to take care of your business marketing.

 

Online storage

Storing your files online is the easiest way to keep them backed up when you’re busy. There are too many horror stories of professionals who lost a ton of data because they didn’t have a backup for it.

Also, online storage makes it easier to work on the go, from any device.

Popular online storage providers are Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox.

About author
Julia Richards
Julia Richards

Our head of content, Julia has spent the past 20 years assisting entrepreneurs with all aspects of business launch and growth strategies in various industries around the globe.

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