To grow your small business and get ahead of the competition, you need the right tools in your arsenal.
Small businesses can be extremely versatile and agile. Many have great products and fantastic teams.
But to ensure that business workflows are as smooth as possible, and to max out your team’s productivity, investing in the right platforms is essential. There’s some amazing software out there that’s custom-tailored to help you level up each area of your business, from customer communication to accounting.
Here’s a run down of the best tools to grow your small business in 2022.
1. A Business Website and Content Management System
To start with, it’s more important than ever for a business to have a solid online presence.
In 2022, your website is your calling card. It’s where you centralize all the essential information about your business – your products, prices, team, and contact information.
The reason this is so crucial is because customers expect it, even if you don’t run an online business. In fact, 76% of people check out a business’ online presence before going to a physical location.
Nonetheless, a recent survey revealed that 23% of small businesses still don’t have a website.
You can remedy this by setting up a website using one of the great content management systems (CMS) out there.
First and foremost among them is WordPress. This CMS currently powers over 455 million websites. And for good reason.
WordPress makes it easy to set up your own small business website, without having to deep-dive into web design.
More importantly, it also makes it a breeze to manage the content on your site.
That means you can easily change product details, add news, or run a blog that provides great information to your customers.
2. Cloud-Based Customer Communication
Next up, you should invest in cloud-based customer communication.
Communication is key to customer satisfaction and, consequently, to business success.
Cloud-based communication platforms allow customers to reach out to you flexibly and through whichever channel they choose – from live chat to voice and video calls.
One huge advantage to cloud-based communication emerged during the pandemic. You can access it to stay in touch with customers no matter where you are.
Take business phone services as an example. Many customers calling small businesses during lockdowns caused a desk phone in an empty office to ring but were left without a response. In contrast, a cloud-based business phone system allows you to take calls anywhere and at any time.
This is also a huge advantage if your team is partly or entirely remote.
3. An All-in-one Office Suite
Next up, there’s the eternal classic – a solid all-in-one office suite.
Writing reports, drawing up presentations, juggling spreadsheets. These are some inevitable activities, no matter what type of business you run.
That’s why it’s essential to put a solid set of software solutions at the hands of your team members, and make sure that they use them.
For a long time, Microsoft Office has been the go-to solution in this arena, but lately a few contenders emerged – especially G Suite, but also iWork, LibreOffice, and FreeOffice.
Some among them, like Google’s G Suite, are cloud-based, which makes sharing documents and collaborative work much easier.
4. A Customer Relationship Management System
Another helpful tool for small businesses are customer relationship management systems (CRMs).
When you launch your small business, you and your team know your customers personally. You know their history and any past support they needed.
As you scale your business and add team members, this will no longer be possible.
CRMs are software solutions that help you store customer information: their past engagement with your content, purchase history, queries, email exchanges within helpdesk software or other apps, even call transcripts.
That way, any team member can interact efficiently with your customers for maximum satisfaction.
In addition, CRM analytics can help you get some fantastic insights into your customer base to help you drive conversions.
5. A Social Media Management Platform
Another tool that can be a great boon to many small businesses are social media management platforms.
Especially if you run an online business, maintaining a presence on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube is crucial.
However, social media can swallow up massive amounts of time.
Social media management tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite can help you schedule posts in advance, keep up with replies, and offer some great analytics insights into which type of content does best.
6. Advanced Accounting Solutions
No matter what type of business you run, keeping on top of accounting can be a challenge.
Accounting solutions like FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and Xero can help you overcome this hurdle, smoothen workflows, and increase your scalability.
These platforms offer a straightforward way to track accounts payable and receivable, as well as analyze their profitability. Plus, they help you brace yourself for tax season.
7. A SEO Tool
As mentioned above, it’s essential to maintain a solid online presence for your small business through your website.
But creating that website is only part of the work you have to do on that front. You also need to make sure that people can find it in search engines.
That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in. This is a set of practices to optimize your content and make sure it can be found by Google.
SEO is absolutely crucial if your small business is web-based or if you also sell products online.
But even if you run your small business at a physical location, you need to tick a few local SEO boxes to make sure that potential customers can find you.
Fortunately, there are a few great SEO tools out there to help you.
One of the best all-round solutions is SEMrush. It can help you research the right keywords to target, audits your website for SEO blunders, and monitors your performance in search engines.
If your website runs on WordPress, you can install an SEO plugin like Yoast to help you optimize your content in real-time.
8. A Project Management Tool
Another type of tool that your small business needs, no matter which niche you’re in, is a project management solution.
As soon as your team starts growing in earnest, you need to find a formal way to assign and track tasks, organize deliverables, and monitor productivity.
Project management platforms are the perfect way of doing so.
They let you create roles for each team member, set deadlines, automate workflows, share relevant files, and distribute tasks. That way, each of your team members knows exactly what they ought to be doing and when.
In addition, you can easily visualize their productivity through flow diagrams and Gantt charts. This can help you identify friction points and workflows that need to be improved.
Growing your small business is no easy feat, even with great products and a fantastic team. The tools listed above can help you achieve your business goals.
They’ll allow you to boost your visibility in the online sphere, communicate with customers, level up your internal organization, and optimize admin workflows.
Reviewing and comparing tools to see which best fit your needs (and your budget) will take time and effort. But it’s worth it in the long run.