What tools will make my small business run smoothly?

What tools will make my small business run smoothly?


Surprisingly, one of the biggest challenges of owning your own business is staying on top of administrative tasks in addition to getting your actual core work completed.

It’s a reality that these admin tasks – from invoicing customers to collaborating on a document – are typically done by the business owners themselves, because there’s not always budget available for any support staff.

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Here are five tools that can help you manage your business more seamlessly, leaving you free to chase your entrepreneurial dream.

1. Online invoicing software

While creating invoices manually may work in the beginning, this task can quickly become time consuming and hard to control as your business grows.

Manual invoicing also means that things can slip through the net, so you forget to chase outstanding invoices that can in turn impact your cash flow.

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A cloud invoicing tool like Freshbooks lets you create invoices online and email them to clients from within the interface.

Besides an easy dashboard showing you how much you’re owed at any point in time, Freshbooks also lets you print reports to use for accounting purposes.

Best of all, your clients can login to their own portal and view invoices, timesheets and more.

2. Cloud file sharing software

Whether you’re on your own or working in a team of 20 people, at some point you’ll need to share documents with another party like a team member or supplier.

Rather than emailing large files back and forth that can quickly clog up your mailbox, cloud file sharing tools like Google Drive and Dropbox are an elegant solution.

These tools allow you to upload and store data (presentations, photos and more) on your cloud-based drive, and then share them easily with anyone you wish.

The best part? The basic versions of both of these tools are free, so it’s as easy as creating an account and you’re off.

3. Asana – project management

A large factor in a project’s success is how efficiently it’s managed internally, because this impacts whether you stick to deadline and how much the project costs in the end.

If you’re sick of sifting through emails relating to a particular project, or can’t keep track of who’s doing what, an online collaboration tool like Asana can help.

With Asana, you can create and assign tasks within a project to team members, and start group conversations that all members can see.

In essence, team members now know exactly what is due when, who’s working on what and whether there are any snags. This keeps work streamlined – and removes the dependence on email as a workflow management tool.

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4. Shared calendars

If you don’t need the full monty in terms of project management, a simple shared calendar can go a long way to keeping employees on the same page.

Using a collaborative cloud system such as Google Calendar that’s shared with everyone on your team means people can quickly find meeting times and holiday weeks that suit everyone else.

Google Calendar can also be synced across multiple devices like your phone and tablet, so you can always stay in touch with scheduling. 

5. Other Google Products 

Several products within the Google fold have already been mentioned above, but there are others that can help you run your small business more efficiently. If you run a business online, Google Analytics is Google’s free analytics software that tells you who came to your site from where, and what their interactions on the site were.

Finally, if you have a business with one or more physical locations, Google My Business allows you to get your business details (address, pictures, videos, opening hours) onto Google’s search results for free.

Catherine Black
Catherine is a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist, social media strategist and web copywriter with a Business Science degree from UCT at Black Mountain. With over 12 years’ experience in paid and organic search, she began working on the agency side (Quirk in Cape Town, Greenlight Digital in London and iProspect in San Francisco) before heading the internal SEO team at CBS Interactive in San Francisco. Back in South Africa, Catherine has provided SEO, social media and web copywriting services to clients since 2009. She’s the author of the book, “301 Ways to Use Social Media To Boost Your Marketing” (McGraw Hill, 2010), and has been a convener and course writer for GetSmarter, one of South Africa’s fastest growing online education companies.

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