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Small Biz Management 101: Choosing the Right Software

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 29/03/2016 Liesha Petrovich
COMPUTER © Yuri_Arcurs via Getty Images COMPUTER

Talking about management software isn't that exciting. It's considered one of those "chores" that small business owners don't get too excited over.
And who could blame them? It's management!
But hear me out - choosing the right software to manage your business can be a make or break decision. As small business owners, we have limited resources, time and money. And since our business is not "management", we still have real work to do every day.
Think of your management software as the framework that helps you to build a strong, efficient business. It's the system that allows you to focus on growing your business and not on the small, daily details.
Here's the few ideas to help you choose the best software for your unique business.

Know Exactly What You Need

No two businesses are alike. However, the vast majority of small and micro businesses need the same things:
  • A way to track expenses, finances and tax information
  • A billing/invoicing system
  • Customer management

Of course, there are other important considerations, like supply chain management for retail businesses. But these are the basic management tools we all need to run our businesses.
For example, some small businesses can get by using simple Google Sheets templates. Others want the wide-range of features of programs like QuickBooks or FreshBooks. While others benefit from something more complex, like Salesforce if you need substantial customer relationship management software. It's really about finding the right program to match your unique business style.
And because our budgets aren't unlimited, think about what you want versus what you need.

Generic or Industry Specific?

Software had come a long way since the early days. We now have a choice between generic but customizable programs, and industry specific programs. The difference between these programs differ wildly from industry to industry, so you'll have to do your homework on this one.
Here's a few examples:
Gyms and Fitness Schools
One of the biggest challenges for these types of businesses is managing clients. Once they're signed up as students or clients, these businesses need more than customer relationship software. Using programs like ZenPlanner, these businesses can manage students/clients, attendance and inventory all in one place.
Law Firms
There are many types of software that allows businesses to organize communications. But law firms are different, as accessing the right information can make or break a case. That's why law firms may benefit from software programs like FileVine to manage their caseloads, which organizes all conversations, notes, tasks, comments and discussions in one place.
Auto Repair Shops
Again, manpower is a consideration for all small businesses. Car repair shops have to handle an enormous amount of paperwork, including estimates and invoices. Programs like ShopBossPro have integrated VIN services that allow technicians to look up vehicle information quickly.
See what your industry has to offer. Industry specific software may be more expensive than generic software, but cost shouldn't be your first consideration. Some of these programs can dramatically increase your productivity. Always look at the ROI of the software when choosing the right system for your business.

Is It Mobile?

The way we do business is changing. We don't just work from our offices anymore. We can literally manage our business from any location that has wifi or cell service. In fact, 79% of business owners believe their smartphone is the most important tool they use to conduct business!
Think about where you work the most and if you need software that is mobile friendly. For example, if you need an eCommerce system that works anywhere, try something like Square. It has a credit card reader that works anywhere. That's incredibly important if you travel when selling your products or services.
If you know you're more likely to work directly from your smartphone, be sure to choose software options that have apps. The majority of software systems either have mobile capacities or are currently working on them.

Build a Strong Business Foundation

There are many, many software options out there. And since it's a huge decision for your business, try to find software programs that have a free-trial offer. That way you will know for sure if it's right for your business.
Your business software should help build your business, and not be overwhelming or challenging to use. It should be affordable, and contribute to your bottom line. It should free up time to focus on growing your business, not on management tasks.
And isn't that's where our focus should always be?

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