Entrepreneurs wear many hats, especially during the early growth phases. As a result, many new business owners quickly realize that they need to learn entirely new skills to operate a successful and profitable business.
Fortunately, thanks to the seemingly endless sea of SaaS tools, there’s never been a better time to start a business. You can find tools and services covering nearly every aspect of running a business.
What does that mean for you? More time to focus on your core competencies and less time worrying about the intricacies of tangential skills like bookkeeping and writing grant proposals.
Today, we’re going to dive into the wide world of tech tools that save time and unlock new capabilities. These tools can help businesses of all sizes, especially small businesses still finding their footing.
Tools to Help You Maximize Your Time and Resources
Every tool we’re about to cover was selected because it helps streamline specific aspects of your business. Many of these tools will have a price tag, but it’s essential to consider the opportunity cost savings of each tool. For example, would you rather spend two hours per day on bookkeeping or spend those two hours focused on managing and growing your business? Read on to see how each tool can be a powerful ally for managing – and growing – your business.
Calendars are vital for managing tasks and appointments. Some services you might already be using have integrated calendars, making them worth considering, but you should still consider alternatives.
Calendly: A popular alternative to the tech giant’s calendars is Calendly. This tool is ideal for businesses that have frequent meetings with outside parties as it allows them to see your availability and book a meeting immediately. And it can be integrated with both Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar, plus a variety of other integrations such as Zoom and Slack.
Google Calendar: You’ll find Google Calendar in use throughout the business world. Google Calendar is commonly used to manage appointments with outside parties and internal meetings. Google Calendar is well-integrated with the rest of its product suite, especially Gmail.
Microsoft Outlook Calendar: Much like Google, Microsoft offers Outlook Calendar that’s thoroughly integrated with Outlook. In addition, Microsoft 365 includes access to both services and the document creation and editing apps you know and maybe love.
File Storage & Sharing
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in; you’ll generate an onslaught of paperwork. Thankfully, most of your paperwork will likely be digital or can be digitized. Therefore, you need a tool that allows for document creation, secure storage, and sharing.
Google Workspace: Google dominates the storage and sharing landscape with Google Drive and its document creation and sharing applications suite. Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) is designed for businesses and offers even more capabilities, such as Gmail for your business email accounts.
Sync: If you’d like to get away from the tech giants, Sync is a perfectly viable alternative that has the same capabilities and more, such as custom-branded files. It even boldly offers unlimited storage with some plans.
Dropbox: Dropbox may be known for storage, but the company has updated the app to integrate with both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Dropbox might be an excellent addition for long-term storage, and its second-tier plan enables eSignatures to manage contracts and agreements.
Project management tools are crucial for company-wide collaboration. They allow managers to create tasks and milestones, while employees can view the status of each project and understand what they should be doing next.
Trello: One of the most popular tools is Trello, a barebones card-based way to keep everyone on the same page. The tool is known for its board view that allows teams to collaborate in real-time. It also offers plenty of integrations for developers with its API.
Monday Work OS: Monday Work OS boldly calls itself an operating system for project management and offers more features than Trello. It even encompasses Trello’s signature board feature. Additional apps and integrations allow you to add or remove features as needed.
ClickUp: With even more features than Monday Work OS and robust customization, ClickUp is ideal for businesses with complex projects or large teams. It even offers its integrated chat app and document services. In addition, ClickUp offers a whiteboard view that allows for flow chart style management if boards and lists aren’t cutting it.
Payroll, Accounting, Invoicing, & Payment Processing
Money is why you started a business, so you need to have the right tools to manage expenses, invoices, bookkeeping, and payroll. You may need to use a few of the tools we’re about to discuss, and many of them offer integrations with each other.
QuickBooks: Countless new businesses flock to QuickBooks since it offers a 360 view of your entire business’ finances at an affordable price. Depending on the plan you pick, it can handle bookkeeping, expenses, payroll, and invoicing. The popular service also offers integrated services from CPAs to handle the nitty-gritty accounting services that most business owners aren’t equipped to handle.
FreshBooks: With similar features as QuickBooks, FreshBooks offers streamlined plans focused on your business type. Of course, a freelancer won’t need the same services as a business with dozens of employees, so FreshBooks has unique plans for both. It even goes further by offering integrations with other financial apps, like Stripe, and non-financial apps, such as Gmail and Slack.
PayPal: PayPal is an excellent way to send invoices and accept payments domestically and internationally. However, its currency conversion rates are below average when compared to other options on the market. Still, it’s a quick way to get up and running your first few invoices. Other apps on this list integrate with PayPal, serving as a payment processor.
Wise: Wise focuses on offering the best exchange rates for international payments. It offers real bank account numbers and routing numbers for international currencies. You can hold foreign currencies until you want to convert them into your own, rather than immediately converting payments like other services. Fully-featured financial apps often integrate with Wise.
Stripe: Businesses that operate an online storefront and a brick-and-mortar location should strongly consider Stripe as a payment processor. It includes a robust fraud detection system and plenty of integrations with financial apps. Stripe even offers a fully-documented API for custom integrations.
Payment Evolution: You need to pay your employees, but how? Payment Evolution is a dedicated payroll solution that offers robust software for you and your employees. While other options will let you process payroll, Payment Evolution provides an employee dashboard that helps them understand their paychecks. You can even use Payment Evolution to handle health benefits.
EntreFlow: Software is great, but financial management is sometimes best left to professionals. EntreFlow is a boutique firm with services ranging from payroll to corporate taxes. A dedicated financial expert will work with you to set up bookkeeping and payroll software. In addition, EntreFlow can help manage HR.
Float Business Credit Card: Business credit cards typically require a personal guarantee, meaning they check your personal credit to determine eligibility and credit limits. However, Toronto-based Float (be sure to use referral code brandonc1712 to receive a $500 sign up bonus) believes that’s a problem, so the company offers business credit cards that don’t involve your credit. It includes a robust dashboard that allows you to manage physical cards and create virtual cards when needed. In addition, as a business card, its platform fully integrates with bookkeeping software to aid in year-end tax reporting.
You may be eligible for grants depending on your industry. Take advantage of non-dilutive financing to acquire funds without giving up any equity. Research applicable grant programs; you may be surprised by what you discover. Some notable grant programs include:
- Digital Skills for Youth (tech roles)
- TechNation (co-op grants)
Applying for grants is a skill in itself. Each program has unique requirements, and most will require a well-written proposal. You can certainly try to do it yourself, but Canadian-based Granted is a grant consulting firm that leverages its expertise and connections to help you obtain grant funding.
It’s wise to protect your business with a robust insurance plan. You may even be required to carry insurance, but if not, a policy can still protect you from a sudden massive expense. Explore different brokers, and don’t be afraid to shop around for the best rate and coverage. The goal is to keep your operating expenses as low as possible while securing the right plan for your needs. Apollo is a Canadian insurance provider that offers a wide range of plans to suit different industries, ranging from construction to yoga teachers. They even offer a 100% online enrollment process.
How will you nurture leads and convert them to customers? How are you going to nurture existing customers to keep them coming back? Email marketing, and lots of it. You may be focused on lead generation, or perhaps you go straight for the sale. Either way, email marketing is an invaluable tool for growing your business.
MailChimp: Email marketing can do wonders for nurturing leads and existing customers. MailChimp is a prevalent option that offers a free plan until your business needs a higher tier. Paid plans open up powerful tools like A/B testing and custom branding. It’s an excellent option for most businesses to take care of email marketing needs at a reasonable price.
Klaviyo: Klaviyo offers both email marketing and SMS marketing with hyper segmented lists. Generally speaking, the more segmented your marketing efforts, the more likely your efforts are to convert a curious lead into a customer or encourage existing customers to return. You can get started with a free plan and then upgrade based on how many contacts and messages you need.
Social Media Management
One of the primary ways consumers learn about new companies is through social media. Yet, you probably don’t want to make Instagram posts a daily task. The right tools can help you stay in front of potential customers without making it your day job.
Buffer: As a time-honored scheduling app, Buffer allows you to schedule posts on popular social media platforms, freeing you from doing it manually every day. Additionally, the app provides statistics that go beyond what individual platforms will give you, plus they’re centralized in one app. Buffer even lets you manage three social media channels on its free plan.
Sprout Social: Companies heavily focused on social media might benefit from the enhanced features available on Sprout Social. It offers deeper analytics than Buffer, a comprehensive scheduling calendar, and paid promotion tools for some platforms. In addition, the second-tier and third-tier plans include trend analysis, competition reports, and a custom workflow to allow managers to approve posts. However, these features come at a significantly higher cost than alternatives.
Hootsuite: As another long-running social media management tool, Hootsuite is a compromise between the two above tools. The lowest-tier plan allows you to manage ten social accounts for all common platforms and allows for unlimited posts. You can also manage inboxes for every platform within its dashboard.
Content Marketing & SEO Research
What should you be posting about on your social media accounts? If you plan on having a blog, what should you write about? Fortunately, some tools grant data-driven insights that allow you to choose topics rather than relying on hunches.
SEMrush: It began as a search engine marketing (SEM) tool, but SEMRush has grown to encapsulate overall market research, paid advertising, content marketing, social media, and SEO. They have three tiers of plans that allow you to pay only for what you need, but even the lowest-tier plan will cost a pretty penny. Yet, if it helps bring in more money than it costs, it’s worth it.
Uber Suggest: Uber Suggest is a tool focused on SEO research designed by SEO legend Neil Patel. The platform allows you to research keywords, scout out the competition, and find backlink opportunities.
Why Does Investing in Tech Tools for Your Small Business Make Sense?
These are a few of the tools we use at SaaS to better manage our clients. We then can focus on our core business rather than laboring over manual and administrative tasks like reconciling expense reports or manually sending invoices.
Instead, we invest our time talking to clients, building relationships with prospects or potential partners, improving our products and services while strategically growing your business. In other words, each tool allows you to take off a hat until only the business owner’s hat remains so you can work on your business rather than be stuck working in your business.