5 business software every small business should consider having

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Hustle24 Nigeria looks at 5 business software that small businesses should consider to boost daily management operations. Software has become so important in this fast-pace economy where delivery to client is expected to be quick and error-free. Some of the software come with templates for various aspects of client relations, documentation, and transfer. A larger part of this article was clipped from a November 2019 report written by Beverly Bird for The Balance Small Business, a magazine aimed at improving how SMEs operate:

  1. QuickBooks Pro 2017 (Invoicing, Proposal, Time Tracking etc.)

QuickBooks is offered by Intuit, a giant in the personal finance industry. It’s widened its scope to address small business needs as well, and it’s an extremely popular choice.

QuickBooks offers literally hundreds of templates for almost any report you could conceivably need.  Invoicing? You got it. Accounts payable? Not a problem. Inventory? Check. Time tracking? Yes. QuickBooks will manage your contacts and handle tax issues, forms and returns. It will create a budget for you and do your payroll — although the payroll feature is an add-on that costs a little extra. QuickBooks does pretty much everything except drive you to work.

One downside and a common complaint from users is that its numerous features make it a complicated program to master. This wouldn’t be so bad if it offered solid customer support, but that’s not the case here. Phone support is available, but it’s not free.

You can buy the QuickBooks disc for a “one-time” cost or download the super-duper version for some more dough, but you’ll probably end up footing the bill for upgrades in future years (and the upgrades cost almost as much as the original software). And some of the software’s features and reports just aren’t necessary for small businesses, so you might end up with a lot you can’t use. QuickBooks Pro accommodates up to three users, but the second two will cost you extra, too. It’s only compatible with Windows.

2. InfusionSoft Complete (Marketing Assistant)

Infusionsoft is the brainchild of author/entrepreneur Clate Mask and it excels in its marketing tools.

Infusionsoft Complete can track up to 10,000 contacts for you, but Infusionsoft also offers less complex programs that accommodate less if you don’t need this capacity. You can live-record interactions with clients or customers and incorporate comments or details regarding how “hot” they are, as well as their preferences or quirks. You or an employee can call up the file before meeting with someone and get a quick rundown of what you can expect.

Infusionsoft Complete manages email campaigns with a “Custom Campaign Builder” feature that can target recipients based on your contacts list. It will monitor your website, recording number of visitors, sales, and how long each visitor lingered—an invaluable wealth of information if your business is Internet-based. And if you’re not yet Internet-based but want to be, the software can help you design a landing page.

The software’s only real drawback is its complexity, Infusionsoft requires that you enroll in a training program when you purchase the software, and this is an added charge. And if you’re looking for a lot of bookkeeping features, you won’t find them here, although the software will create and send invoices for you.

3. Zoho Books (Accounting)

This one is particularly helpful for sole proprietors, freelancers and microbusinesses. If you just don’t need all those mega-features that a lot of other software offers, why pay for them? But you don’t want dummied-down features, either.

Zoho Books is a subscription-based accounting software with enough features to meet all your small business needs without the hefty price tag. It can sync with your bank accounts and help you create and send invoices. The time- and expense-tracking features are top-notch. The Basic plan will track your billable hours and accommodates up to 50 contacts. The Standard plan supports two users and accommodates up to 500 contacts. You can track inventory if you upgrade to the Professional plan. The Professional plan supports up to 10 users and holds unlimited contacts.

4. Fresh Books (Accounting)

Running some small businesses means you’re tied to a desk or anchored to a cash register. Other businesses require that you’re constantly on the road and on the go. This is where FreshBooks can help, and it’s been rated among the most user-friendly software available.

FreshBooks is also cloud-based and it integrates very well with iOS and Android phones and tablets. You still get all its key features when you’re not at your desk, including the ability to track your time by project, invoice customers or clients and manage expenses. Invoices are custom-designed and FreshBooks will even let you accept credit card payments online. Customer support is said to be top-notch.

You can try FreshBooks free for the first 30 days, then the cost varies depending on how many active clients you have. Very small businesses with only five or fewer clients pay only $15. The Plus plan accommodates up to 50 clients for $25 a month. The Premium plan accommodates up to 500 clients.

5. Microsoft Office 2019 (Document Sharing)

Microsoft is another you-can’t-go-wrong-with-it name in software. Office 2019 is an upgrade from Office 2016, offering a few more administrative features, but the interface is largely similar, so there’s no steep learning curve if you’ve already been using Office 2016.

Many of the Office 2019 features are the same as those offered by other software, but Microsoft stands head and shoulders above the rest in one area: document sharing. If you also sign up for Microsoft’s Office 365, a subscription service, you can store documents in the cloud and invite others to access them. They can view them, add to them or edit them in real time, as long as they’re equipped with Office 2010 or a later version. You can literally have a business meeting with people located all over the globe.

The Microsoft Office Home and Business version has Outlook, Word and the indispensable Excel. Its version of Excel offers a “Tell Me What to Do” link that you can click on for help when you’re unsure how to proceed with a certain task. One drawback: “Tell me” won’t tell you how you can find the recommended applicable command.

Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka writes with simplicity and insight. He aims to enrich the Nigerian small business landscape. Through Hustle24 he connects entrepreneurs with information about new policies, enterprise solutions and opportunities that will aid their 'hustle'. He has written extensively for CobraReview, a product review portal, and served as a lead project manager for MarketingMix where he consulted as PR consultant for MTN Project Fame and Business Next Titan etc.

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