Top Tech Tools for Small Businesses

There has been no other time in history when technology has given small businesses the advantage that is has in the 21st century. Small, local businesses can do business on a global scale and look just as professional as their larger counterparts with the use of just a few tech tools. The best thing about these tools? Most are free to use, with an option to “go pro” with a nominal fee for more features, and they’re designed to make the small business owner’s workflow easier.

Cloud storage is a must today. While traditional storage is certainly inexpensive, not to mention ultra-portable with the proliferation of tiny USB drives on keychains, cloud storage helps you collaborate with people around the country. One of the best cloud storage options is Dropbox. Install Dropbox on your main computer, and you have a Dropbox folder in your Documents. Anything that you want to upload to your cloud account, you drag and drop or copy to that folder, and the Dropbox software does the rest. Add the app to your phone or tablet (or both) and you now have access to all of your documents wherever you go, on whatever device you are carrying. There is a free personal account available that offers 2 GB of space; for $9.99 per month you can upgrade that to 1 TB. If you have multiple employees that need access to your cloud, there is Dropbox for Business, which offers 5 TB for 5 users for $79 per month.

Every business needs to be social media savvy; while Hootsuite won’t teach your people how to use social media, it will make it easier to manage your company’s social media presence. Hootsuite is a social media dashboard; it allows you to monitor up to 100 different social networks in Hootsuite Pro (unlimited in Hootsuite Enterprise, which is meant for companies with over 500 employees). The personal option only monitors three social networks (Twitter, Facebook, and Google+), but is free; the Pro plan offers a 30-day free trial, after which it’s $9.99 per month.

Personal and professional organization is a key to the small business owner, and that is what Evernote offers. Microsoft’s OneNote is a very similar platform, and both have their evangelists (and detractors). Simply set up a notebook for different topics, and start filling them with notes, pictures, recordings, etc. Create one notebook for business receipts, one for budget spreadsheets, and another for pictures of displays or ideas for future marketing plans. Share individual notebooks with different employees, and collaboration is a snap. Evernote’s Basic plan is free, Pro is $24.99 per year, and Premium is $49.99 per year. Just like Dropbox, Evernote will sync your notes across devices if you install the app and the desktop program (there is a specific Evernote version for touchscreen PCs like the Microsoft Surface). Evernote Business allows you to set up a different Evernote account for each employee, at $12 per month per employee.

If your employees are collaborating on multiple documents, and you’ve got people spread out over a large area, you can’t go wrong with Google Drive. More than just a cloud storage solution, Drive offers a powerful word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software package that many say rivals Microsoft 360 (especially when paired with Evernote as a OneNote substitute). You can oversee documents as they are edited, add comments for those working on them, and even track who made which changes. There is even Synergise, which is a Google Chrome plugin that gives you in-browser training on every aspect of Drive, so you don’t have to spend training money getting your employees up to speed.

Customer Relationship Management is vital to the success of any business, small or large. Salesforce allows small business to manage leads and accounts in one place, and will integrate with Evernote Business if you choose that solution. Salesforce is not free; basic is $25 per user per month, and gives small business a pretty powerful CRM solution. According to Salesforce, it’s most popular package is the Enterprise solution, priced at $125 per user per month. Enterprise offers ome great data collection options and some workforce automation and approval features as well, and may be a great option for small businesses that are rapidly growing and need more features right away. The great thing about Salesforce is that it will grow with your business, so you’ll never really have to migrate your data to another solution.

These are just a few tech options for small business that will keep them from looking like small businesses. In today’s market, they give you the edge you need to compete.

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SMBReviews is committed to providing small and mid-sized business owners with the information and resources they need to select the best service or product for their company.

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