Ivan has written a number of great articles on the challenges that small businesses face. I would like to emphasize one of his points – small businesses often struggle with time management. In case you missed his post “How to Ensure Your Business is Effective at Time Management”, here is an excerpt.
“Good time management within a business comes from the top. If you run a start-up, small company or big business, then you’ll want to review and improve the time management of it. As well as improving your company’s process it should also save you money in the long run. Here are a few ways to ensure your business has strong time management.”
Many entrepreneurs spend too much time on unnecessary tasks. They also struggle to keep track of everything they need to get done, which can cause them to miss deadlines, pay unnecessary regulatory fines and deal with disgruntled customers.
Automation is one solution they should be focusing on. Fortunately, there are a number of great tools that can help you save a lot of time. Here are four of the best that every small business owner needs.
A Customer relationship management (CRM) solution is a Great investment. According to a study from Nucleus Research, CRM generates an average of $8.71 for every dollar invested in it. Another Nucleus Research report found that marketing professionals that invested in COM software also noticed a 26% increase in productivity.
Close.io is a CRM solution for small and medium size businesses. The basic plan allows you to manage unlimited leads and contacts. It also comes with two way email integration.
You can invest in a higher-tier plan for bulk email sending, automatic call tracking, voicemail dropping and other features. You will need to pay $110 a month to access these features, but they are worth the price if you are trying to scale your CRM strategy.
Communication is one of the most complicated aspects of running a business. You need to keep track of comments, hold people accountable and make sure all tasks are properly assigned. However, the most difficult part of project management is ensuring team members have a platform where they can easily communicate with each other.
Slack is a very effective project management tool. Here are some of its core features:
- You can manage multiple channels for different purposes. You can create a channel for any given project or a channel to communicate with the entire team.
- You can send private messages to one or more team members.
- You can easily share PDFs, Word documents, spreadsheets, images and any other important files.
- You can archive messages and files from all of your channels.
Slack is a very dependable communication tool. You can use it for free, but will need to pay up to $12 a month to access some of its more advanced features, such as a 20 GB storage capacity, user provisioning and deprovisioning and 99.99% guaranteed uptime.
Trello seems simple, yet powerful. At a glance, it looks quite similar to the other to-do-list apps. But once you learn more about its feature, you’ll soon learn that Trello is so much more than just a to-do-list app. It let’s you collaborate with your team members, and communicate with them about a project or virtually about anything, really.
Tim Maurer of Forbes has stated that Trello is one of the best project management tools on the market. Here is what he has to say:
“Trello is a highly visual (free) online collaborative project management tool (with access online and on iOS and Android devices), but Carson re-engineered it to become his go-to personal task management system. I’ve been using it for five months now without fail, synthesizing everything from Covey and Allen that stuck, along with Carson and Babauta’s wisdom, to create the only task management system that’s ever really worked for me.”
A virtual basic network is another great tool many businesses need. Many people believe that they are only useful for watching ESPN from another country, but they are actually very useful for small businesses. Here are some of the benefits to be aware of:
- You can create a secure connection between workers. This is a good idea if you have people working in different regions.
- You protect your anonymity, which is particularly important if you are managing a small, online business from your home.
- You can transmit data very quickly.
- You minimize the risks of spyware and other forms of malware.
The demand for VPNs is increasing rapidly. According to Equinix Forum, one of the world’s largest VPN providers currently serves 9.6 million businesses across the world.