Are you searching for solutions to help manage your business more efficiently? Or are you working with a virtual team and need a way to make collaboration seamless among team members? You’re not alone.
“Americans who telecommute for work are doing so for increased amounts of time. According to a Gallup survey, the number of workers who work one day or less from home shrank from 34 percent to 25 percent between 2012 and 2016. In the same time period, the number of people working remotely four or five days a week rose from 24 percent to 31 percent. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 43 percent of Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely last year, up from 39 percent in 2012.” Source: Remote.co
Thanks to the tech industry, there are many solutions available to solve your problems. The trick is actually choosing which one to use. It’s easy to get lost when you begin looking for the right solutions for your business.
UpCounsel’s recently published report, Tech Industry Trends: New Products and Services in 2017 is the place to start your research. They studied Google search rankings and Wikipedia page views for some of the most popular cloud-based software solutions from July 2015 to April 2017. This is a look at some of the most popular solutions for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Let’s start with some terminology you may see that you aren’t necessarily familiar with. As a small business, you will want cloud-based programs for ease of access across multiple devices. For example, your laptop, notebook, phone and smart watch. These types of programs are called “Software as a Service (SaaS)” programs. They are quickly overcoming sales of on-premise Business Intlelligence (BI) software.
“We found most Wikipedia page views for SaaS were higher than standard business intelligence between July 2015 and April 2017. At some points, like March 2017, SaaS page views were nearly double that of business intelligence.” ~ Upconsul
SaaS software will also allow you to collaborate with virtual team members who are based around the world. No need to send edited documents back and forth via email or file sharing.
The Upcounsel study covers a lot of ground and I encourage you to study it yourself. For our purposes, I have chosen some of the systems entrepreneurs and small business owners would be most interested in. Here’s a look at some of the most popular solutions.
Google’s apps which include Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drive dominate this category. Many businesses are turning to these apps for accessing their files across devices as well as collaboration between team members.
One reason they are so popular is they appear and function like many of your favorite desk top apps. The result is a very small learning curve for new users.
If you’re an entrepreneur who travels frequently and works from your laptop at home but a smaller, more compact notebook on the road, all your documents can be accessed at any location by all your devices. At a conference in Europe and need to complete that contract for a new client? No problem, access it with Google Docs, complete it and you won’t miss signing that new client because you’re half way around the world!
Don’t overlook the other applications mentioned in the study. For team collaboration, I have found Asana and Basecamp invaluable. You may frequently have multiple team members working on the same project. They need to be aware of what other team members are doing as well as the milestones to meet along the way to project completion. Either of these project management solutions could be just what you need. Even if you are a solopreneur, you could use Asana (which is free) to help you manage your own time.
SaaS Marketing and Automation Tools
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Automating as many business tasks as feasible should be one of your primary goals. Look at your core reason for starting your business and where your strengths lie. Anything outside that scope you should seek to automate or outsource to a qualified professional.
As you can see from the graphs, SalesForce rules the SaaS Marketing and Automation Tools category. If you haven’t heard the buzz about this program, it is a cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management).
Because I have only used SalesForce in a limited way, I was curious to see if this stat held true in other “Top CRM Software” lists. A quick Google search turned up these three articles rating SalesForce #1.
As with any software solution, make sure you choose one that’s best for your business. This is an area where one size fits all is a falsehood.
This is an area I have found where entrepreneurs tend to drop the ball. They know money is flowing in and out but can only guess if they are actually making a profit. Why? They aren’t looking at their numbers. There are a number of programs that will keep your accounting on track.
The accounting programs included in the Upconsul study are Quickbooks (1), Freshbooks (2), and Wave (3). Quickbooks is the most popular and best-known system. Originally a stand-alone system, it struggled somewhat to make the switch to a cloud-based solution. In my experience, their market of traditional accounting professionals was slow to come to terms with a system that was not tangible. (No nasty notes from CPA’s please!)
Quickbooks is an excellent solution for entrepreneurs who are competent enough to complete their routine bookkeeping entries themselves or have a bookkeeper on their team. It’s a seamless process to share with your accountant for audits and tax preparation. Although it is user-friendly, if you are not consistent or just not a numbers person, you should outsource your bookkeeping needs.
Freshbooks is a popular solution for entrepreneurs on a tight budget. It enables you to send invoices, track expenses, time and projects. The interface is clean and user-friendly.
Wave is a free accounting solution. I was pleasantly surprised to see it made the study. I use it for myself and a client who is an insurance representative. It’s a good basic system that enables you to track your income and expenses.
Once again check out the full report, Tech Industry Trends: New Products and Services in 2017, for complete results. I have only covered the systems that I have found entrepreneurs need most. Always remember, that not one solution is right for every business. Do your research and know what you need for your business.