Once you’ve decided to launch your business, you want to get the ball rolling—and fast. But whether you’re a newbie or veteran entrepreneur, there are hurdles you’ll have to cross. Things will slow you down at any stage of business ownership. And in many cases, speed is out of your control.
One thing you can (and should!) speed up? Tedious business tasks.
Gone are the days of encyclopedia, snail-mail, and calculator dependence. Successful businesses know they can streamline manual, slow-moving processes, like payroll, with automation tools. And we’re here to discuss six of the must-have business tools to use.
6 Must-have tools in business
Owning a business can be time-consuming, stressful, and slow-moving (but oh-so-worth-it). You have enough on your plate without factoring in time for tedious, manual tasks. And with today’s technology, you don’t have to.
Business tools, like software, make it easy to streamline your least favorite responsibilities so you have more time for the “fun stuff” of running your business. Because let’s face it: who really wants to be up until midnight making manual journal entries, posting social media statuses one at a time, and sending individual emails to customers?
Of course, you have to pay to use these must-have business tools. So, what kind of return on investment (ROI) can you expect? Automation tools may result in:
- Time savings
- Increased revenue
- Decreased costly mistakes
Without further ado, here are six must-have systems you need to equip your business with for faster and easier day-to-day responsibilities.
1. Accounting software
Raise your hand if accounting tops the list of your favorite business responsibilities. For most business owners, accounting is something they need to do, but probably not something they want to do. If you’re the same way (or even if you love doing accounting), welcome to the marvelous world of accounting automation.
Accounting software is a tool you can use to simplify the way you record transactions, pay vendors, create invoices, and so much more. In fact, accounting software is so popular that business owners and accountants alike use it to put more time back into their day.
You can purchase desktop accounting software or online accounting software. If you opt for online accounting, you can access your books anytime, anywhere.
Examples of popular accounting software programs include Patriot Software, QuickBooks, and Xero.
Depending on the type of accounting software you sign up for, you can streamline the way you:
- Record transactions
- Pay vendors
- Create, track, and send customer invoices
- Create and print Forms 1099 and 1096
- Accept credit card payments
- Import bank and credit card transactions
- Reconcile accounts
- Create and send estimates
- Send out payment reminders
- Generate accounting reports
Not to mention, most accounting systems integrate with other types of software, like payroll software, which means you’ll automatically get payroll data in your accounting software.
With accounting software, you don’t have to worry about manually making journal entries, losing track of transactions, or creating key reports on your own.
2. Communication tools
Whether you go into the office or work remotely, communication tools are a must for busy business owners and employees.
Communication tools can streamline, well, communication. But with better and more efficient communication, you might also experience streamlined operations and project management (which we’ll get to later).
Examples of popular communication tools include Slack, Zoom, and Teams.
Communication tools include:
- Messaging software (e.g., Slack)
- Video conferencing software (e.g., Zoom)
Picture this: You have a quick question for one of your employees, and you’re remote. Instead of typing up an email and waiting for a response, you’ll probably get the answer faster if you use messaging software. And in some cases, a quick team meeting over video conferencing software can align your team more quickly than other communication methods.
3. Email marketing software
Do you send emails in your business? Of course, you do! More than likely, you send emails to anyone and everyone, particularly customers and leads. With so many emails and so little time, you may be wondering if there’s a way to put the pedal to the metal.
Email marketing software gives you a way to streamline your marketing efforts. You can schedule and automate email marketing campaigns, review your efforts, and cut down time.
Examples of email marketing software programs include HubSpot, Active Campaign, and Constant Contact.
With email marketing software, you can:
- Draft emails
- Schedule individual emails and email campaigns
- Generate email marketing reports
- Segment customers
- Send automatic reminder emails
Rather than typing up and sending emails one at a time, email marketing software makes it easy to automate time-consuming tasks.
But even through email automation, you can still keep personalization alive and well by segmenting campaigns. This lets you deliver relevant emails to the right people based on a set of criteria (e.g., purchase history). And get this: using segmented campaigns can drive up revenue by up to a whopping 760%.
4. Payroll software
Have employees? If so, you need to know all about your payroll responsibilities. Payroll is a time-consuming process if you choose to handle it manually. But if you want to speed things up and ensure accurate calculations, you might consider payroll software.
Payroll software is a system that automates the process of paying employees. The system automatically calculates gross wages, taxes, and net pay based on each employee’s specific information (e.g., hours worked, pay rate, withholdings, etc.). And if you opt for a full-service payroll system, the provider makes tax deposits and files returns on your behalf.
Examples of popular payroll software systems include Patriot Software, Gusto, and OnPay.
Payroll software features may include:
- Accurate calculations
- Integration with accounting and time tracking software
- Direct deposit
- Electronic or printable Forms W-2
- Payroll reports
- Tax filing and deposits
Using payroll software can save you from the time-consuming task of calculating everything yourself. And by ditching manual payroll calculations, you can also decrease the chance of making an expensive mistake, like miscalculating an employee’s tax withholding.
5. Social media management software
If you have social media accounts for your business, you know how quickly time adds up posting on them (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn … the list goes on and on). But with social media management software, you can streamline and organize the way you manage your business pages.
Examples of social media management software systems business owners use include Buffer, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite.
With social media management software, you can:
- Schedule and publish posts on all of your business pages
- Create a social media content calendar
- Collaborate with your team
- Monitor metrics and generate reports
- Engage with customers
- Streamline social listening
Pretty easy, eh? Through social media management software, you don’t have to log into each individual social media profile. You can manage each page through your software account.
6. Project management software
Last but not least (because we went alphabetically, after all!), business ownership is full of projects. If you and your employees struggle with project management, you might consider project management software.
Examples of popular project management software systems include Jira, Monday, and ClickUp.
Through project management software, you can:
- Plan projects
- Schedule projects
- Easily collaborate with team members
- Delegate tasks
- Keep projects on track
Project management software streamlines the way you and your team manage a project from start to finish.
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Ready to automate? Here’s how to get started
If you do decide to use some or all of the popular business tools, you might be wondering where to start.
To get started, you can:
- Consider your business needs
- Estimate your costs
- Compare products
- Speak with customer support teams
- Sign up for free trials
Once you determine which tools are a must-have for your business, you’re ready to start streamlining your way to success.