Essential Software for Your Online Business

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Starting an online business is easier than ever. However, running it is another ball game altogether. With emerging technology, a lot of the operations can be done more efficiently and effectively, minimizing the number of errors and time that it would have taken with a brick-and-mortar business.

Whether you’re a solopreneur or work with a team, you will need to handle some of the same basic business operations. Thankfully, you now have a lot of software options to help you with that. Let’s cover a few of the most important categories.

Billing / Invoicing

The saying goes that any business without a profit is a hobby. So, if you’re running a legitimate business, you need to get paid. We quickly covered some of the best payment gateways in a previous article. But just before getting that money, you need to send your clients an invoice with the details of the job and the amount they owe you. It’s not only more professional to do so, but it also helps with recordkeeping and any potential legal problems.

Some of the best and most popular FREE software to help you with this include:

  • PayPal
  • Wave
  • Stripe
  • Zoho

These differ just slightly in their features and capabilities. For example, some may suit small businesses more than large enterprises. Also, some have payment gateways built in while others will need to integrate with yours. So make sure you review them well before deciding on one.

Electronic Signatures

Whether you need to finalize an NDA (nondisclosure agreement) or a project-based contract, you’ll likely have a lot of signing happening. This is probably one of the most challenging parts of running an online business, as e-signatures tend to be less reliable or less convenient than in-person ones. 

However, some software companies have thought about all the issues involved in this part of your operations and have come up with tools, not only with fancy-looking signatures, but also with reliable ones that are easy to collect. Here are some of the tools that offer the electronic signature feature: 

  • Smallpdf
  • DocuSign
  • HoneyBook
  • HelloSign
  • SignRequest

Most of these will allow you to also edit documents, share them, and a lot more. Depending on your business, you may decide to incorporate more than one into your routine. I personally use Dubsado, but I would not recommend it for someone who is not tech savvy unless you plan to invest some time into it or plan to outsource the setup.

Accounting

Expenses, revenue, profit, taxes… we’ll admit that this is probably our least favorite part of running a business. But it’s such an important one though! You’ll need to master this part if you want to maximize your profits and budget properly, as well as if you want to be on solid legal ground. If your company has a high and diverse number of operations, you might need more complex (and therefore pricey) options. But if you are just looking for basic support, some of the following software can be of help:

  • QuickBooks
  • FreshBooks
  • Xero
  • Sage
  • Kashoo

If accounting isn’t your forte, though, we strongly recommend outsourcing this one to the experts. But, if you’re a quick learner, do give these options a shot first. Their tutorials are fairly easy to follow even for newbies.

Planner / Organizer / Scheduler

Don’t underestimate the importance of this tool. Staying organized will help you not only stay sane, but also use your time better. This is not solely about making appointments or to-do lists; this helps you plan out your days and weeks at a time, so that you can increase your productivity. Some of the best productivity tips include managing your time, tasks and priorities. Fortunately, we put together a list of the best tools to help you out with that:

  • Trello
  • ClickUp
  • Todoist
  • Toggl Plan
  • TickTick

These options will help you keep track of tasks, get reminders, repeat tasks, add subitems and much more. Don’t forget to add some time for a break in your busy schedule. Rest helps you be more productive and keep healthy.

Content Marketing

In today’s online-driven world, banners, posters, or flyers do not have the same power as they did only a few years ago. When it comes to marketing, your best bet today is to connect with your audience and offer them value through the free (and paid) content you put out. We talk a lot about social marketing throughout our blog, detailing how to do it and why it’s important. In this article, we want to bring your attention to some of the software that can help you schedule your social media and blog posts:

  • Later
  • Hubspot
  • Buffer
  • Hootsuite
  • Tailwind
  • Planoly
  • CoSchedule
  • AgoraPulse
  • Loomly
  • Sprout Social

You can see the list is long with this one and choosing the best app for you will depend on your main social platforms, tech-savviness, and budget. But just like with the accounting software, their tutorials and marketing blogs make it worth the learning curve.

Figuring out the best software for each part of your online business may take some time at first. However, the time you will save afterward will be well worth it. Keep in mind that you might need to integrate these tools for a smoother workflow. Some of them already talk to each other. For the rest, you can use tools like Zappier to help you out. Also, if you have a team, you might want to look into team management, project management, communication, and payroll software, as well. Asana and Monday are some of the best for the first two categories. Gusto is a great option for payroll.Some other digital tools to keep in mind while you plan your operations are automation tools. While some of the ones above could fall in this category, there is a lot more to learn about here and it’s a good idea to read our full article on this. But if all this tech talk is already giving you headaches, then just reach out to me and let me help you with it, or take it off your plate completely. My mission is to assist entrepreneurs with their online technology needs. So if that is where you are stuck, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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