7 essential tech tools to support your small business

intro 840x420 - 7 essential tech tools to support your small business

If you’re a small business and offer services such as commercial cleaning in Glasgow then  you’re likely to be quickly realising that you need all the help you can get when it comes to making your business a success, espcially online.

That might mean taking on staff members, contractors or even unpaid help – but then again, sometimes just a few extra hours in the day would be the most desirable options.

There are no time machines on this list – but if you want to maximise the time you do have, we can recommend some great time and sanity saving tools!

  1. A website designer

Mention web design and you could be forgiven for thinking of complex lines of code and years of training.

In actual fact, there are quicker ways to get an online presence.

Take a look at a tool like Wix or Squarespace. They’re both ‘drag and drop’ style site designers and can see you with anything from a holding page to an online store in literally a matter of hours.

You don’t need to have the eye of a designer either, with a series of great looking templates you’ll find that dropping in your own logos and products makes a site uniquely yours with a fraction of the project management effort needed to get a traditionally coded site in place.

In the long term you might decide to look at something more flexible – but to get you out of the gates, especially when money is tight, these tools can be invaluable.

  1. A project management tool

If you’re putting a team together, whether that’s with permanent or freelance staff, having a central place to coordinate your efforts is worth its weight in gold.

Rather than hoping that everyone’s going to take great notes or read and reply to emails as diligently as you do, you might want to think about a tool like Basecamp, Trello or a similar alternative.

With tools like these you have a central ‘board’ or virtual office space to work from. You can do virtually anything you would in a real office, from having discussion areas, post to-do lists, allocate tasks, share files, invite guests to collaborate and much more.

If keeping everything in one place is becoming difficult, opt for a free trial and see what a project management tool does to your productivity.

  1. Book keeping software

It’s easy to let money management matters go to the back of your head when there are more pressing jobs at hand – but when there are some exceptionally quick and easy tools to use, you really don’t have to – especially when putting that stuff off causes headaches at tax return time (or a telling off from your accountant…)

Take a look at tools like Xero and Quickbooks, they’re modern book keeping tools that, dare I say it, actually make keeping tabs on your finances quite good fun. Both have nice looking and very usable apps with quick functions that allow you to categorise your transactions with a sweep of your finger.

You can link them with your bank accounts and online payment gateways – as well as being able to quickly scan and categorise expense receipts. You can even generate or pay invoices on the fly. It’s incredible how one app can revolutionise your business financial dealings.

  1. Collaboration tools

Although tools like Basecamp and Trello have some collaboration tools built in, you’ll find that true collaboration comes with a tool like Google’s G-Suite or Microsoft’s Office 365.

With these options you can almost entirely abandon your office space and set up online!

Setting up folders that you can share with your team means there’s no doubt where that proposal, brief or invoice is to be found – and when it comes to collaboration there’s no longer a need for emailing versions of files to one another. Instead, you can access a document, spreadsheet, presentation or much more and work on it virtually at the same time.

Then, no need for emailing attachments – just share the file and it’s with someone else in the blink of an eye. What’s more, you can message, call or video call from within the service too, meaning you don’t even have to move your chair to work next to someone else.

  1. Email marketing tools

Despite social media’s rise to the top of most people’s marketing hitlist there’s still an enormous amount that can be done with a good mailing list.

Equally, with the right tools in place you’re going to struggle with the sheer magnitude of putting a mailer out – especially with new data protection laws looming.

This is where tools like MailChimp and Get Response come in. Starting with a list of emails and a drag and drop mail composer you’ll quickly find yourself putting together something beautiful that ticks all the necessary compliance boxes. You’ll find dozens of great templates to work with if you don’t have an eye for design and a few clicks later you’ll have your mailer either sent – or scheduled to go at a time that suits you and your customers.

  1. A central social media desk

If conquering social media is on your list of things to do you’ll quickly realise there’s a lot of logistics involved – not least remembering a massive number of passwords so you can cut, paste and post across them all.

Using a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer takes a LOT of the effort out of your social media activity. Connect your accounts, then send your communication from the one central desk – choosing which of your feeds it’s posted to. You can even handle replies to direct customer interaction too, making it a great way to keep all your social communication in one quick and easy to use place.

  1. An online calendar

Our final suggestion is one that’s easy to use – but also easily overlooked!

Having an online calendar is essential if running a tight schedule is important to your business. Microsoft’s Outlook or Google’s Calendar provide simple interfaces and sync with your mailbox and other apps, meaning missed appointments, double booking and needing to get back to people when you’ve checked your diary is going to be a thing of the past.

The 10 best apps for small business owners in the UK

968 - The 10 best apps for small business owners in the UK

If your smartphone barely breaks out of the cycle of checking social media, the news and your email – then you’re not alone, usage statistics show that this is more common than you might expect.

However, if you’re a small business owner, manager or decision maker, you could be missing out.

We’ll run you through 10 of the best smartphone apps for small business available in the UK right now – and tell you a bit about how they might change your smartphone world…

  • Evernote

Although well established, Evernote has never lost it’s place as an absolute must for anyone who’s taking it more than their brain can reasonably remember!

The app allows you to make notes, photos, to-dos and much more – then save it quickly to your phone or device – with it instantly available across all your other synced devices – as well as anywhere you can access a connected web browser.

Evernote also has some really smart tools that make going back to your info simple too – with a great categorisation system that means you’ll never be left wondering where a note is again. The clipping tool that saves websites as images is a huge time saver too – snipping notes down to just the essentials – cutting out any adverts or other distractions.

  • Paypal

The PayPal system is really popular with small businesses and freelancer contractors – especially given how quickly and easily funds can be requested and sent.

When combined with your small business website, the app gives you a chance to glance real time information about how your e-commerce site is performing – and lets you quickly juggle money between accounts.

  • QuickBooks

If you want a full view of your finances, QuickBooks is the answer.

The app allows you to do a huge number of financial tasks for your small business – and depending on your level of requirement – you can go from self-employed tasks, all the way through to small business level, allowing you to manage payroll and much more.

Quickbooks is also great at logging expenses – with a camera function that allows you to snap your receipts and add them to your calculations quickly. You’re also able to connect your bank and online payment accounts too, meaning every penny that goes through your business is quickly and easily allocated and catagorised – with reports that your accountant will love.

  • Pages Manager

Lets say you have a business page on Facebook where you promote the latest range of Atlas Ceramics range of grouts then Pages Manager will take away a lot of the frustration that business users often attribute to the standard Facebook app.

Pages Manager allows you to access numerous business pages if you have them, switching quickly between them. When you’re in, you can look at all the activity taking place on the page, from advertisement management – to the responses you send to messages and comments made on your page.

Facebook is quickly developing toward being a CRM style piece of software that sits behind your page and lets you manage your business with the maximum effect. Pages managers let you – and others, take full advantage of this functionality – meaning your social followers are never left wanting.

  • Basecamp

If you’ve ever had a headache that relates to how your team communicates then Basecamp could be the painkiller you’re looking for!

The latest incarnation of the tool, Basecamp 3, is a dream to use – and allows an online space where you can create project, allocate roles within those projects, share ideas, have discussions, set tasks, collaborate selectively with guests – and much more.

A paid subscription runs a little more expensive than most of the other apps on this list – but the time, effort and frustrated communication that it saves would probably leave you happy to pay double!

  • Dropbox

Dropbox is a superb and extremely simple to use application that lets you share files quickly and easily wherever you are.

While file sharing might not be anything new, Dropbox does it so seamlessly you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s not just a native part of your device or operating system’s function. Access your files anywhere you have an internet connection – and quickly share files and folders with anyone in just a couple of clicks. An amazing time saver.

  • Headspace

Although Headspace isn’t about business directly, it’s a sure-fire way to improve your personal business performance.

Some of the most successful managers, CEOs and business owners say that their habit of reflective thinking, mindfulness or meditation is one of the most key parts of their on-going ability to perform – and Headspace is at the top of the game.

With guided breathing exercises that take just 10 minutes a day to do, you’ll be amazed at how your motivation, mood, productivity and general business performance improves if you’re willing to give your busy brain a few minutes too cool off each day.

  • Trello

Although similar to Basecamp, Trello is arguably a more simple concept – working as a note-board of sorts, with digital sticky notes divided up in a sections or projects. Click on each and it opens up, allowing you to keep tasks, to-dos, notes, files and much more on each one.

Trello’s most basic functions are excellent – and free to use. Ideal for collaborating with your team or others!

  • Skype for Business

When asked, most business executives say they’re just as happy (if not happier – based on some city’s traffic levels!) to meet via video call – rather than in person.

Skype is the original video messaging service – with stable connections and almost unlimited call participants – no matter where you are in the world. If you’d prefer to have your meeting from the comfort of your own desk (or home!) – then Skype is well worth giving a go.

  • Hootsuite

Whether you’re managing your company or personal brand, it’s really useful to have a tool that posts information across all your social media pages from one control panel.

Hootsuite does exactly this – and more.

Whether you’re using it from your app or on a desktop – you can integrate all your social media accounts and post to them all at the same time. What’s more, you can go well ahead into the future and schedule huge chunks of social media activity. Your business partners might think you’re sitting at your desk doing nothing but social media work – but the truth is, Hootsuite takes all the effort out of the job!