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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Top 10 Small-Business Software Applications

In a previous blog post, I shared some insight on how to find small business software. Today, I want to expand on that and share with you the top 10 must-have small-business software applications. Depending on your business and industry, you may not need all of these software applications; however, I think each is important to consider. 

Accounting Software – One of the first software packages any small business will purchase is the accounting software. The #1 rated accounting software for small businesses is Intuit’s QuickBooks. There are various different types of QuickBooks depending on your needs and budget. QuickBooks is one small-business software application that can grow with your business. If you are looking for your first real accounting software, I recommend QuickBooks Pro 2011, you can purchase it directly from Intuit on their website or from one of their many resellers. QuickBooks Online is also available for those of you wanting to avoid hosting your own data and wanting the ability to access everything in the cloud.

Customer Relationship Management Software – A CRM, as they are known in the business world, helps you keep track of your prospects, leads, customers, vendors and other relationships. A CRM is a great tool for helping your employees track their interactions with customers for support, sales, marketing or management. Many small businesses elect to build their own CRM and while this can work, I would advise against it unless you really have a unique business. You should stay focused on your core competency and let other businesses do theirs. If you want the best CRM in the industry, SalesForce.com is your answer; however, you will pay for it. If you are looking for a cheaper solution, you may want to go with SugarCRM, which is an open source software application. However, you may need to pay to get it set up and to train your employees on how to use it.

Point of Sale Software – If you have a retail element in your small business, you will need a Point of Sale small-business software application. If you are already using QuickBooks for your accounting, I suggest looking into QuickBooks Point of Sale. This will allow you to scan items at the point of sale and make direct updates to QuickBooks. But remember, you will need a merchant service provider to accept credit cards. Also, you may get a Point of Sale Software application included with your ERP or inventory management software.

Web Analytics Software- You may not think of web analytics as being a small-business software application, but it is something you should consider. If you are running a website, a web analytics software application is a must. Most small businesses should stick with Google Analytics as it’s free and has more features than most users will ever need. However, if your business grows to the point that Google Analytics is no longer enough, Omniture, recently acquired by Adobe, is the leader in large-business web analytics software.

Content Management System – A CMS is used to host a website in order to make it very simple for anyone to quickly update content. This can be useful if you continually need to update your website but don’t want to involve your development or IT department. Drupal is an open source application that is widely used and recommended.

Word Processing Software – We all know that we need basic word processing software when it comes to running our business.  Things like Word, Excel and PowerPoint seem commonplace now a day.  So, when you are considering your small-business software applications, don’t forget the Microsoft Office Suite.

Enterprise Resource Planning and Inventory Management Software – In big business, many companies turn to Microsoft Dynamics for their ERP solutions. However, this can be expensive and oftentimes overkill for many small and mid-sized companies. If your business carries inventory, manufactures items or needs to create and fulfill orders, I suggest looking into an inventory management software application. If you are using QuickBooks for accounting, I suggest using Fishbowl Inventory for your inventory management software. It integrates with QuickBooks and lets you track inventory across multiple locations.

Remote Access and Web Conferencing Software – If you need a small-business software application to remotely view customer or prospect computer screens, consider a remote access or web conferencing application. You can use industry-known software such as Go To Meeting or Log Me In Rescue to remotely help customers solve issues or show prospective clients how your business can help them.

Email Software – If you want to stay in contact with your customers, a great way to do that is via email blasts and promotions.  Constant Contact is a small-business software application that lets you easily create professional email campaigns without the technical knowhow. Also, if you have employees that travel, you may want to consider SMTP Server software.  SMTP2Go is an SMTP Mail service that lets your employees send emails from anywhere worldwide. This is valuable for traveling salespeople and other employees as ISPs often prevent emails from sending if you are not connect to the Internet via their connection.

Graphic Design Software – If you have a need to create and edit graphics, whether for your website or other marketing purposes, you should consider some graphic design software. While these software applications can seem overbearing at first, with a little time watching instructional videos on YouTube and a little practice, you can get what you need done. The most widely known graphic design software application is Adobe Photoshop. But, depending on your needs, you may want to consider Adobe InDesign as well. Also, if you are looking for the low-budget option, Gimp is a free small-business software application that will satisfy most of your graphic design needs.

I hope this list of small-business software applications is helpful to you. If it is, please leave a comment and let me know. Also, if you think I missed a good application or have additional ideas, let me know that too! And as always, please forward this along to your friends using one of the social media or email links below.

(Image: Some rights reserved,  David Morris.)   

11 comments:

  1. To improve productivity of a company and reduce costs, an effective management software should be used. Management Software is a long term solution to leverage existing investment in Microsoft technology.

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  2. Accounting software is greatly streamlined and fitted to the needs of small business through online accounting software. It is a web-based application that helps business owners track easily their daily sales.

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  3. Business software is really a must for every business since it can help preserve a business in the long run. And an accounting software must grow with your business. Otherwise, it'll be a big problem later on.

    Verna Derosier

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  4. Hi all,

    This blog is really very helpful. There are several software applications for small businesses available in the market. Any small business must learn to use these software applications for the success of the business. Software applications can perform a variety of tasks for your business and are very helpful for the smooth operations of any business. Thanks for this wonderful post and hoping to post more of this.

    Small Business Ecommerce

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  5. The emergence of different kinds of business software is really good news to the business industry. With an array of services these can provide, efficient and accurate business reports and services can be achieved in just a few clicks. Of course, this can lead to better business performance, improved productivity, and increased profits.

    -Carlene Schnitzer

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  6. Who would have thought that running a business can be a few clicks away? Today, most businesses have integrated business software in their system because of numerous benefits that they are able to avail of. If you’re thinking of purchasing one, it would help if you first determine your business’ size and needs. Knowing this will help you choose which one will best serve your company. Think carefully and choose wisely!

    -Jamie Shellman

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  7. Great post Ryan! I'm so happy I came across your blog while I was reading up on business continuity software. Thank you for sharing this list with us, I'm definitely going to show your post to some of my friends and co workers.

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  8. Accounting software is very helpful to maximize work efficiency and improve productivity for individual, small businesses and corporations. Accounting software is very useful for every organizations because it handle all the management work very well.
    Online Accounting Software

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  9. Keeping everything simple is the main thing after all. Whatever software a company may choose for operations should be user-friendly, to maximize the potential of the employees and the business itself. Simple but efficient software can promote a stress free environment and fast production.

    Phyllis Stoffel

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  10. With the use of health management software all data of patients can be recorded easily. Patient name, address, visit, diseases, medicine records, payments history etc. This information can be checked easily in future.

    business management software

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  11. Using CRM will help you track every move your customers makes. This will help you develop better client relations and improve your customer service. This will also help you find leads who have the same criteria as your current customers.


    David@crmsoftwaresmallbusiness

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