Monday, October 18, 2010

How to Find Small-Business Software

If you are starting a small business, finding the right software can be a daunting task. There is so much small-business software on the market and yet often times none of it seems to do exactly what you want! Finding the right software will help in your small-business management. Today I wanted to dive into a few things you should consider when looking for software for your small business.

First of all, consider how many employees you have today and how many you think you will have in a year or two. Having software that can grow with your business is extremely important since you don’t want to waste all of your time learning how to use new software or migrating your data when you can be focusing on your core competency. Also, if your business is only you or less than 5 people, your small-business software needs are going to be entirely different than if your company has 50 to 100+ employees.

Now, consider which of your business processes could be improved by using software. If you’re like most small-business managers, accounting software will be the first thing you need once you get past basic word processing needs. Many small businesses use QuickBooks for their accounting needs, primarily because of its low cost and easy-to-use interface. What some people don’t understand is that Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks, actually offer multiple versions of QuickBooks, e.g. QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise, and QuickBooks Online. Again, depending on the size and projected size of your small business, you may want to consider one of these packages. QuickBooks Pro goes for about $100 and you can buy used copies for even less. (FYI, QuickBooks 2011 was just released in September.) If you watch carefully, you may be able to get QuickBooks Pro for free, like I did. I bought QuickBooks Pro 2009 when Office Max offered it free with a mail in rebate. QuickBooks is a great small-business software solution for many small businesses’ accounting needs.

Another small-business software program that you should consider is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management). A CRM is basically software that lets you store your customer data such as billing history, customer support history, addresses, vendors, etc. If you manage a really small business, you may be able to track this data in an excel spreadsheet or small SQL database, although having a properly maintained CRM will probably serve you better if you can afford it. (FYI, I have yet to see a CRM database without errors. If you have one, I would love to see it.)

Other small-business software you may consider for your business depends on your industry and customers. For example, if you run a warehouse or ship products, you may need an inventory or order management program. Also, if you sell products online, you may need email software that lets you send newsletters or mass emails. I will write additional small-business articles about software when I have more time. If you found this small-business resource helpful, please send it along to your friends and colleagues using one of the social media or email buttons below!

See a follow-up blog post on the Top 10 Small-Business Software Applications.

(Image: Some rights reserved,  Michael Surran.)

No comments:

Post a Comment