Running a small business isn’t easy. Entrepreneurs at this early stage are often forced to wear many hats and handle most business operations, such as finance, HR, logistics, legal and project management, among others.
They have to do this until the business grows and can generate enough revenue to allow them to hire specialists for the different roles.
However, juggling tasks manually isn’t ideal and leaves the business at risk of possible errors and missed opportunities that can stifle growth.
Reliable small business management software can offer any business owner the much-needed helping hand when navigating through these uncertain times.
This article will explain what small business management entails and recommend the best software for entrepreneurs.
What’s small business management?
In the United States, 81.7% of small businesses have no employees. This shows that most business owners have to run the show alone, up until the business grows to a certain point.
At this stage, owners have to oversee and coordinate various activities and resources of the business to ensure objectives are met, summed up as small business management.
Some key roles a business owner has to play include:
- Founder – set the overall direction and vision for the business.
- Operations manager – oversee the day-to-day processes of the company.
- Sales and business development – find and identify sales opportunities and explore new ways to generate revenue
- Marketing and communications – promote the business and create marketing campaigns that build the brand.
- Finance and accounting – budget, plan for finances, manage cashflow and ensure tax compliance.
- Human resources – manage the workforce and employee-related issues.
- Inventory management and logistics – ensure timely delivery of product and services.
- Customer relationship management – build and maintain good relationships with customers.
- Legal and compliance – ensure the business runs within the legal and regulatory frameworks.
From the roles, it’s clear that expecting a single small business management software to handle everything is unrealistic. Additionally, some of these roles might not be required until the business grows— for instance, HR services will be required when you hire employees.
A business owner should decide which software to get based on their business needs at that particular stage.
Some top tips for selecting a reliable small business management software are:
- Scalability options
- Ease of use
- Compatibility and integration options
- Customization abilities
- Support and training
- Future updates and development
An example of a small e-commerce tech stack would have the following:
- Ecommerce platform – provide the foundation for setting up and managing an ecommerce store.
- Payment processing – allows customers to securely transact online using various payment methods.
- Content management system – facilitates content creation, blog management to enhance SEO efforts.
- CRM – helps manage customer interactions and nurture relationships to drive future sales.
- Inventory management – tracks and manages stock levels, and monitors status of fulfillment processes.
- Shipping and logistics – automate order fulfillment and ensure accurate delivery.
Best small business management software
Some of the top small business management software for the various business areas are as follows.
1. Best for project management
Motion isn’t your typical project management software, and while it measures up to other apps in this category, it offers a lot more.
What sets it apart is the AI functionality that allows it to take up all your project information and use it to build a custom schedule. Additionally, the technology can automatically prioritize tasks and even reshuffle your calendar if you’re not able to complete certain tasks.
Note that for the AI to work effectively, you’ll need to input all your tasks and their individual details, such as priority levels and deadlines.
Motion will notify you when you’re supposed to start a new task and even reschedule if you can’t do it at that point.
It has two main sections: Calendar and Projects & Tasks, that can be further broken down to view specific details around certain projects.
The Projects and Tasks section has both traditional and kanban views with filters that organize projects by priority, workspace or custom labels. These are key to avoid mixing up work from different clients.
Additional features include the focus time mode, which blocks out everything and lets you focus on tasks. It also syncs seamlessly with Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook to import all your schedules.
Motion costs $19 for an individual plan, per month billed annually or $34 if billed monthly. The team plan costs $12 per user per month billed annually or $20 if billed monthly.
However, Motion has a 7-day free trial period that lets you get a feel of the platform before you commit to the monthly plan.
2. Best for accounting and finance
QuickBooks is acclaimed as the gold standard for small business accounting. It is a solid choice for many small businesses, especially those that work with accountants.
Its user interface is friendly, but requires you to understand accounting principles.
Once you’ve set up an account, you’ll get access to the main dashboard which gives an overview of your accounts. Use the banking tab to connect your bank and credit accounts so that Quickbooks can import transactions and categorize them for you.
Key features include:
- Has a robust set of features for reporting, invoicing, inventory management and record keeping, among others
- Gives you access to a marketplace of over 750 apps that improve the functionality of this tool
- There’s an extensive set of resources that’ll help any small business owner learn and understand how to use the tool.
- Has four plans that accommodate different businesses with varying needs; however there’s a limit to the user count.
- All plans get access to round-the-clock live chat support, while phone support is available during working hours Monday through Friday.
Pricing starts at $30 per month for the simple start plan, all the way to the advanced one at $200 per month. Note that Quickbooks has other products suited for different experts, for instance, the Quickbooks Self-Employed starting at $15 per month.
Additionally, you can get a 30-day free trial period with the simple start plan to experience the tool and see whether it meets your needs before you pay.
3. Best for CRM
Hubspot is a CRM powerhouse with a free version that works pretty well for most small businesses. When upgrading to the paid plans, you can customize them depending on the services you need most to avoid overpaying.
The tool is easy to use, and built for scalability, judging by their motto,” there’s no better way to grow.”
Hubspot has a dashboard that shows the entire sales funnel in real time. Using this, business owners can check customer interactions through email, social media, calls of live chat. Additionally, the tool offers lead generation and email marketing automation to help businesses check and see how their different initiatives are working.
Hubspot is a very popular tool and there are lots of resources online if you need any assistance. While the free version has no client support, you can learn a lot from the resources created by Hubspot and other people on how to use the software.
Key features include:
- Strong CRM database to store customer information in one place. Can take up to 1 million contacts with no expiration date.
- Customized dashboard to allow small business owners to view the entire sales pipeline in one go.
- Task functionality allows you to sort and create deals effectively and organize them.
- Seamless integrations to popular apps like Gmail and Outlook.
The Hubspot paid plans start at $18/month for the Starter package, and $800/month for the Professional package, both billed annually. However, the pricing is very complicated since there are multiple ad-ons available and you should chat with a sales agent to have one curated for your business.
4. Best for productivity
Google workspace is a robust set of productivity tools available to business owners, despite having no desktop apps. Everything is available online.
It’s available to anyone with a Gmail account, and with the free version, users have access to extensive capabilities. Some top apps under the Google workspace set include;
- Google Docs – online word processing application
- Google Drive – online file storage
- Google Sheets – online sheet management similar to Microsoft Excel
- Google Slides – online presentation maker
- Google Calendar – online schedule management tool
- Google Meet – online video conferencing tool
- Google Chat – messaging app for your workplace
Over and above these free apps, the paid version costs $6 per user per month, which comes with video meetings for up to 100 participants and 30GB of storage space per user.
Key features include:
- Offers a set of useful tools all available in the cloud, making it easy to access files and work on the go.
- The set takes care of multiple aspects such as file storage, data analysis, collaboration and communication, among others.
- Easy to collaborate in real time with anyone you grant access to files using the integrated chat capabilities.
- Most tools can work without an internet connection through offline mode, albeit with limited capabilities.
5. Best for customer service
Hiver is a customer service tool tailored for people using the Google workspace. The value proposition is that you can set up a full helpdesk entirely within Gmail.
All this makes it very easy to setup and no learning curve, since it rides on Gmail. You also don’t need to install any additional software, as long as you trust all your data to sit within the Google ecosystem.
When you set it up, your team runs customer service tasks using a shared inbox. This way, all the emails coming in are turned into actionable tasks. Users can even label them depending on your categories or tag others users to collaborate on specific issues.
Besides, the tool has dedicated mobile apps to allow agents to stay on top of their tasks even if they are away from their computers.
The user interface isn’t all that different from your typical Gmail inbox, and just think of it as an enhanced inbox. They cleverly introduce all these features required to run customer service in the inbox.
Key features include:
- Great ticket creation and response experience
- A fairly robust set of productivity tools such as notes, workflows, tagging system and communication channels
- Dedicated help center has multiple resources on key topics like setting up on gmail and other common questions.
- All users enjoy onboarding support when you pick a plan.
Plans cost $15, $39, and $59 per user per month for the Lite, Pro and Elite plans respectively when billed annually. Buying the monthly plans will cost you 20% more and all of them come with a 7-day free trial.
6. Best for human resources
Deel is the best HR management tool for entities with less than 200 employees. It simplifies all HR operations and handles everything related to managing employees and their terms of engagement with any employer.
It provides contractor management, global payroll and immigration support services. It’s available in more than 100 nations thanks to its focus on being compliant to all regulations.
It has an extensive feature set that handles all processes from onboarding to offboarding of employees while still giving a big picture of how your business looks like from an HR perspective.
- Offers multiple plans and add-ons that allow business owners to customize the service to meet their needs
- Has a robust feature set that handles key HR components such as employee benefits, global payroll, taxes, legal risk and compliance.
- Fresh and modern user interface makes it easy to use and navigate through.
- Round-the-clock support available to all users via live chat and phone.
Usually, you’ll require to contact a sales rep to get an accurate price for your Deel plan. However, the typical EOR plan starts at $599 a month; the contractor plan at $49 a month and the global payroll plan only available as a custom option.