One of the biggest decisions a small business has to make is investing in the right software solutions. Technology is a key asset for any-sized business; day-to-day operations are dependent on it. In today’s competitive business landscape, it has become essential for small businesses to leverage technology – software solutions in particular – to maximize productivity and keep operational expenses low. Before start-ups can leverage technology, they must first purchase or acquire the right software solutions to meet the demands of their business. This task is not doubt an intensive one requiring time and effort. But it doesn’t have to drive you up the wall.
Fix your budget
As a small business, it’s natural that budget would be your first concern. You will need to decide what part of your total budget can be committed towards purchase of software. Will you be able to afford a large up-front payment or do you prefer to make monthly payments? Once you set your budget, you can explore sources of funding as well as payment arrangements.
Determine your needs
The solution to any business problem starts with identifying needs. What value will the certain software solution deliver to your business? What software is good-to-have but not entirely necessary for your line of work? These are some decisions you need to make. The software needs of a small freight trucking business may be different from that of a content marketing start-up. By understanding your priorities and examining the processes you currently have in place and expect to include in the future, you can chalk out a list of key requirements. As part of this process, you will also be identifying the key areas within your business where software solutions can be deployed.
Here is a look at some of the common areas of business where the use of software for daily operations becomes necessary:
Accounting: Accounting and book-keeping are rather mundane tasks that you’d rather have a software product to help you with! On a serious note, it is imperative that your small business tracks finances efficiently and without any errors. If you need a centralized accounting and bookkeeping system from which you can pull tax or expenses data quickly, a well-rated accounting software is the way to go.
Desktop accounting software for small businesses
1. AccountEdge Pro 2012
Pros: Fully-featured, easy to use, a good choice for multi-user support
Cons: Importing data from other programs is not easy
2. Intuit QuickBooks 2012
Pros: A good choice for accounting newbies, easy set-up, a convenient calendar view, allows sharing of custom report templates
Cons: A lack of inventory features, limited user support
Some online and SaaS (software as a service) accounting options
Pros: Helps in document and project management, offers several add-ons
Cons: Little online help, can get expensive for multiple users (starts out free and goes up to $149 per month)
Pros: Available for free, easy interface
Cons: Does not support electronic tax payments or state tax tracking
Pros: Available free (allows a maximum of 20 transactions a month), excellent interface
Cons: Does not offer item-tracking or US payroll
Inventory management: If timely and efficient order fulfillment is the difference between gaining and losing customers, you will need assistance from a top-notch inventory management software. It will help you track and control inventory and handle orders, sales, purchases and deliveries.
Free inventory management software:
1. Pos Maid
Pros: Simple to build inventory database, automatic stock report generation, good customer service
Cons: none as far as small businesses go
2. inFlow Inventory
Pros: Easy to use, excellent linking of inventory with sales and purchase
Cons: Creation of custom documents is not as easy as it can be
Ecommerce software: If you are a B2B or B2C ecommerce business, you may want to invest in software applications that allow you to sell your offerings and conduct business online. The simplest shopping cart software, for instance, will serve as a real-world order form that allows convenient sale-purchase over the internet. There are different kinds of shopping cart software you can choose from, so you may want to consider the pros and cons of each before zeroing in on one. You have the option to buy or lease software; you can also choose open-source applications that have a strong developer community.