All Systems Go: Launching a Small Business (and the Tools You'll Need)

Description :

Starting a business requires an ample selection of tools to make operations manageable. Without them, you'd spend more time with its administration than selling and customer interaction.

Where's the fun in that? Almost 1 million businesses are launched each year with most being small operations. This is an interesting trend because it shows the viable nature of starting a business where before launching was heavily determined by access to finances and resources.

All Systems Go: Launching a Small Business (and the Tools You'll Need)

Perhaps the tools make the difference? I think so. I haven't launched a brick & mortar operation but I have started several successful, online businesses. Many tools I use are same (or similar) to those found in many, other small businesses. I can reaffirm this based on my networking and business with owners.

What common ground did I find with business tools?

1. Payment Processing

All businesses need a form of payment gateway services to complete transactions. Brick and mortar stores will likely use Point-of-Sale systems whereas online businesses rely on shopping cart software.

2. Accounting

The first year in business comes as a shock when it's time to pay taxes. Business taxes depend on its organization, profits, and expenses. Average business tax rates are usually 19.8%.

Accounting software is a must to keep income and expenses in order. Both TurboTax and Quickbooks make great options for small business owners.

3. Legal or business document(s)

All businesses should have a business plan to keep efforts aligned and to improve their chances to secure funding through loans and investments. Other important documents may include a bill of lading, trademarks, seller's permits, and more.

Legal and business documents are costly if they're created by professionals. Like taxes, a small business owner may use tools to create these items in-house. 

Tools include DocuSign and Formswift.

4. Computer and mobile hardware

What's a business to do if team members don't have access to computers, mobile devices, and the Web? These two sets of tools, alone, present many opportunities -- including:

 Access to website building tools
 Mobile CRM and networking tools
 Social media marketing and always-on monitoring
 Warehouse management and logistics
 Payroll and time management software

These tools become vital for its launch as Web efforts will generally lead to high engagement, low-cost marketing campaigns to build awareness and sales.

Also, businesses may choose to bring advertising and marketing creative design in-house by making flyers, posters, brochures, and business cards for a fraction of the costs if done by a designer. 

Tools all small businesses will want to explore include Salesforce, Hootsuite, Wix, and ADP.

5. Business Intelligence

BI tools give small business owners insights into the business operations and organization. Data is uploaded to these tools to compile information and records to produce actionable reports.

Microsoft Power BI offers a free version of their tool many small business owners may want to explore if they feel it provides a benefit.

6. Helpdesk

Gathering customer (and employee) feedback is tedious if these items are stored and organized through traditional filing systems.

Helpdesk software sits on your workplace hardware. Or, it's cloud-based. These tools create a gateway for feedback and handling issues. Other benefits include:

 A central hub for FAQ's
 User roles and hierarchy for management
 Community forums to crowdsource help

There's a Tool for Everything

No matter the task or problem... there's a tool to provide a solution. Yes, each tool you introduce will produce a learning curve and time investment. But, they will greatly reduce the tedious tasks.

This frees more of your time to work on the enjoyable activities like interacting with customers, exploring new ventures, and nurturing team cohesion.

I've found most businesses all use one or all types of these tools. Though, ask your fellow entrepreneurs for extra pointers and suggestions.

*by andreascy*