Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, all you needed to run a small business was a:
- Diary or Calendar
- Client or Appointment Cards to file in a Tickler File System
- Invoice, Receipt and Statement book (with carbon copy paper so you could easily provide duplicate or triplicate copies)
- Ledger Book
- Filing System or Filing cabinet for all paperwork
I’m old enough to know because I ran my first small business this way. 25 to 30 years ago, virtually all business record keeping was done by hand (in writing).
Invitations, Invoices and Statements were sent by post. If you wanted to contact your customer for their feedback, you would either visit them in person or send them a survey by mail (snail mail).
These days, you can run an entire business on your laptop, iPad or Smartphone and use cloud software to toggle between all 3.
Everything is typed up and filed away in documents and sent by email. Or saved to the cloud. Even our Tax returns can be e-filed. Software Solutions have become incredibly sophisticated in these past few decades.
So let’s take a look at some of the Software that replaces the original systems we had in place.
I’m currently running Windows 10 and Office 365. Apple is about to launch MacOS 10.15 Catalina.
Looking for an alternative to Windows or MacOS? Try OpenSource Software like Linux. Find a list of 10 OpenSource Alternatives here.
Gmail and Outlook are the most popular email software programs for day-to-day emailing but for running email campaigns, you’ll need to look into Email Marketing Software.
The most popular names in this field are AWeber, MailChimp, GetResponse, Constant Contact, Mailerlite and ConvertKit.
Cloud Storage Software
As we accumulate more and data, we need to find more spaces to store it all. I currently use a combination of OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive and MultCloud to transfer across Clouds. Apple fans use iCloud.
Appointment Scheduling Software
The most common software to use nowadays to schedule appointments is simply to use the calendar you have loaded on your laptop or Smartphone.
I find it easiest to use Google Calendar, though I was just as comfortable using Outlook Calendar when I used Outlook at work.
If you need more sophisticated software to schedule appointments, you could try Acuity Scheduling, Appointlet or Setmore.
HubSpot has a great list here and the Hubspot Meetings Tool sounds brilliant, complete with inbuilt CRM and it’s FREE.
If you’re scheduling team appointments, I’ve heard great things about Trello and Pipefy.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
If you’re looking into CRM Software, start with this post, Why CRM is an Entrepreneurs Best Friend.
Some of the best names in CRM include Hubspot, Zoho, Insightly, Base and Pipedrive.
Master Data Management (MDM)
If you’ve accumulated so much data that you need an MDM system, great companies to look into are Profisee, Ataccama, Microsoft SQL Server or SAP.
For more information on MDM, have a read of this post, Master Data Management Simplified.
I can’t claim to be using any Accounting Software, other than Excel Spreadsheets, but I understand that the best names in the Industry are Quickbooks, Freshbooks, NetSuite ERP or Zoho Books. If you’re using a Mac, Xero seems to own the market.
Customer Survey Software
For Customer Surveys, the names I know are Google Forms, Survey Monkey or Zoho Survey.
If you want to get more sophisticated in managing your customer surveys, look into NPS Net Promoter Score® Survey Software.
Did I miss anything? Which Software packages do you find essential to run your small business? Are you an Apple fan or Windows fan? Or is OpenSource Software your passion? I’d love to hear your comments below.