Essential management tools for small businesses
Managing multiple startups, I can tell you it’s so easy to lose yourself in those time intensive tasks that are a necessity but don’t push the business forward. All too often a business owner will find that he only has enough time to keep the company above water, whether he working on the management of the accounts, staff or marketing.
That’s why we have put together some time saving tools that will free up any small business owner to do the stuff that really counts. Take a look:
Accounting – Xero
In everything that we do as new business owners, I’d say the most boring and time consuming is organising our finances. At Devwiz, we use Xero to manage everything coming in and out. It has an array of features that will make your life easier, these are our favourites:
this means you’ll never have to important another CSV statement or go into your online banking to check if a payment has been made;
not only is this more convenient than writing/designing an invoice, it suggests matches when customers pay into your bank account, meaning you don’t even have to go looking for the payment;
Integration with other apps
we work with a lot of contractors so we use Harvest to track the time and can issue invoices that are automatically added to Xero;
you could probably ask for a few more features but being able to invoice on the go and upload receipts for any expenses will make your lives much better.
File Organisation – Google Drive
Although as a cloud storage system alone I’d probably say Dropbox is better, the fact that you can create a doc within Google Drive and as a team work on it together, online, in real time, Drive has to take the gold for being the complete package. There is also one minor feature that warrants a mention: It also allows you to share individual folders, meaning you can organise your secure filing system however you like without having to share the complete root folder with your collaborators.
Project and Staff Management – Trello
This versatile little program can pretty much be used to do anything from writing a shopping list to managing complex software development projects. Its well known in the tech scene meaning there are APIs with such other programs like Slack (which we will talk about another time) but its also simple enough that I taught my 74 year father to use it. Just create a wall for your high level project, create a few lists and then start adding cards (i.e. tasks). Managing your staff along with your business schedule will honestly become vastly easier with this tool.
Just in case you’re not convinced, here’s a few of my highlights:
drag and drop the task relevant files into each card
add a whole department to a wall but then specify individual staff for each task
general or talk directly to a colleague, its easy to see whats going on with each project
link it to your calendar and stay on top of every deadline
Websites – Wix
If you’re on a budget and want a tool that will enable you to become a web developer in a day, Wix is the tool for you. Within a day you could have a fully fledged website up and running. They’re not basic either: add contact forms, galleries and even emailing systems. you won’t be required to have a tech background and may well find yourself finding excuses to make more web pages.
As a note, for something a bit more complex, you may have to go with a typical CMS. We like WordPress and are in fact using it for this blog. You still don’t need to be a web developer, just use one of the free themes or go to somewhere like Themeforest and see what’s already out on the market. My bet is you’ll find something close to what you need for much cheaper than hiring a web developer. It will however take a little bit more technical know how than Wix.
Analytics – Crazy Egg
If we’re gonna talk websites, then you’ll need to know how to keep on top of tracking page views and general analytics. The obvious choice for this is of course Google Analytics but we’ve found that you can get a bit snowed under with all of the information and functionality it offers. Thats why instead we’re pushing for Crazy Egg. Its much more visual in nature, giving you heat maps that allow you to see where your audience is clicking and scrolling. In the early stages of a business, it will provide all the information you need to make sure your marketing is working and if not insight on how to fix it.
Emails – Google
Get yourself a customised domain and then we’d suggest looking into Google Apps for Work. Now it does cost ($5 per month) and you can get access to Gmail, Calendar and the aforementioned Drive for free using personal accounts but if you love Google products like we do, you enjoying going all out and managing all your staff through these apps. It’s worth mentioning that they have recently bought out new mobile apps for the calendar and Inbox (gmail alternative) and they both look and feel amazing.
Email Marketing – MailChimp
Now MailChimp is great, partly because its free but also because you can do a wealth of different things with it. One of the best features are its embeddable subscriber forms. Put these straight onto your website and all your subscriber will go straight into MailChimp ready to receive your newsletters or special offers. You can also design beautiful emails from within the application or just add your own customised piece of HTML, either way your subscribers will be impressed.
Social Media – Hootsuite
No business would be complete without Facebook, Twitter and maybe even LinkedIn. These channels are great for driving new leads to your site and for general brand recognition but when you’re just starting up, they can be so time intensive. Enter Hootsuite! They really understood this issue and came up with two fantastic features (among others) that will massively reduce time spent on social media.
Cross channel posting
you can now schedule your posts to go across all your social media accounts. That means you can organise your whole week’s worth of posting in about an hour (or less) on Monday morning.
if you’re reading an article you think would go down well on your social media, just click the extension and you’re instantly ready to post it now or later. It’s literally as easy as that.
These should give you a leg up and save you some valuable time. In our next post we’ll talk about tools specially designed for managing software development projects.
For some further reading on time management, we highly recommend this article by Time Doctor.
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