The Ultimate Business Toolkit: 7 Essential Tools for Growing Businesses
Businesses can derive a lot of value from different tools and solutions depending on the ones they use and how they use them. They can pick ones that make it easier to manage their employees or that make handling their finances easier, for example. While they are helpful, choosing too many or the wrong ones can waste your time and money while not providing the value you thought they would. In this article, we explore some tools that provide the most value to growing businesses.
Online Financial Systems and Solutions
Managing finances is a critical part of successfully running a business, with reports showing that doing it wrong is one of the main reasons businesses fail within the first five years. There is no shortage of financial tools, starting with online payment processors.
Options like Stripe make it easier for businesses to process and manage payments, including subscriptions and one-time payments. PayPal also stands out for its invoicing features, although it is becoming less popular as better options with better features emerge.
Businesses also need a snapshot of their finances and cash flow. Financial management software that aggregates all financial data can help with this, helping them know their financial standing at a glance. They can also use the same tools for forecasting, especially if they have access to historical financial data.
Email Marketing Systems
Although options like social media marketing and paid ads can produce amazing results for businesses, email remains one of the most powerful marketing channels for small businesses. It allows them to reach potential and existing customers directly, ensuring they see relevant messaging, deals, promotions, and information to persuade them to take action or complete a purchase.
While it does produce excellent results, email only does so when managed properly. This means ensuring customer details are accurate, sending emails at the right time, pruning inactive subscribers, and automating email sequences. All of this is possible with the help of the right email system or platform.
These solutions also provide additional features, such as helping businesses build landing pages and forms for collecting customer details. They also automate sending lead magnets and establishing initial contact with subscribers so they can have a better experience from the first time they interact with the business.
Customer Relationship Management Solutions
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solutions typically work alongside email marketing tools, but they perform a slightly different function. They help businesses manage relationships with their customers, measuring performance across marketing channels and everywhere else customers interact with the business.
For example, businesses can use their CRM to see who is visiting their website and then check their email solution to see if they received and opened an email. If they are not a subscriber, businesses can retarget them using targeted ads across the internet.
They can also integrate CRM solutions into other systems to share customer data across them all. Importing potential customer data into a VoIP system for cold calling, for example, is common in B2B marketing and a typical use of such integrations.
Project Management Platforms
Any business with enough employees to categorise them into departments or teams should use project management software or platforms. These solutions provide a record of employees and work so businesses and team leaders always know who is working on what. They also give an overview of all projects different teams are working on, their deadlines, budgets, estimated costs, resource requirements and more.
Businesses can also use these tools for niche campaigns. For example, they may use project management software to run a marketing campaign. When used this way, the platform shows an overview of all campaigns and the teams working on them.
Because marketing often entails repetitive tasks such as creating content for different platforms, businesses can also use these tools to automate the assignment of these tasks. The system always knows who is working on what and what their workload looks like, so it is possible to see who has an opening soon so they can handle any tasks that require attention.
Whether developing lead magnets or sending the latest reports to stakeholders, businesses use PDFs in different ways and all the time. If yours is like most other businesses, you need PDF tools to make working with this file format easier.
You can choose from different tools, but we will look at their categories so you can decide which ones would work best for your business. Perhaps the broadest category is PDF editing tools. As their name implies, these tools help businesses edit PDF files. That could be filling in forms or adding additional information to a received file.
The second category is annotation tools. These let you provide additional information by adding comments and notes to PDF files, which is typically done during the editing stage or if you are seeking feedback on a specific file.
The other is PDF conversion tools. These allow you to convert these files to different formats. For example, you might want to convert a file from PDF to Word to extract information or make editing easier. A recommended tool like SmallPDF makes doing so much easier, and the best thing is that it does not upload your file or its data to its servers. This way, you are assured that any information contained in your PDF file remains safe at all times.
Ensuring everyone in the business can communicate effectively is crucial whether it hires in-house employees, has a remote workforce, or operates a hybrid model. Like other tools built for businesses of all sizes, there is no shortage of communication tools for your business.
Email is perhaps the most obvious option, but it is not always the fastest option and people can miss emails if they are busy. Real-time communication options like Slack solve this issue by pinging the relevant employee whenever they receive a message or if something needs their attention urgently.
Although they boost productivity, communication and collaboration, these tools can be distracting if employees receive too many messages that take them out of their work. Team leaders should, therefore, instruct members to do so only when necessary.
These can be placed under communication tools, but they are distinct enough to warrant a separate classification. They help teams work together on the same projects and files and remove friction that often leads to delays, missed deadlines, or bloated budgets.
Businesses can purchase or build custom solutions, but small businesses are fine operating using tools like Google Workspaces and Dropbox. In addition to storing files and allowing different people to work on and off them simultaneously, these tools also provide version control so team leaders can know who worked on what. Their version control feature allows businesses to roll back changes if they loved a previous file version better.
While it is possible, growing a business without the help of available free and paid tools is not always the best option. These tools streamline the process, help with automations that save time and money, and help enhance customer experiences. With numerous tools in different categories to choose from, pick ones that align with what you need help with at first and slowly integrate other tools as required.