Handy apps to power your small business management

Apps to power your small business management

When you’re responsible for your small business management you can sometimes feel like the guy in the circus act who’s trying to keep a dozen plates spinning in the air at the same time.

For efficiency, consistency, and peace of mind, consider bringing some apps on board to provide you with a solid small business management infrastructure. I’m going to list some of the better – and more popular – apps that can be used in virtually any industry, but there are many industry-specific Software as a Service (SaaS) providers. They’ll cost you a bit more, but they could have the bells and whistles you need to do the best job managing your business.

General small business management apps

Zoho. I’ve written about Zoho before, but mostly in the context of sales and customer relationship management (CRM). However, today Zoho is an extensive suite of apps that cover almost every aspect of small business management: Sales and marketing, email and collaboration, business processes, finance (invoicing, expenses, even inventory), IT and help desk, and human resources. I might say that it does everything you need except for the fact that it doesn’t do payroll, or integrate with an online payroll provider. You can find ratings for all the Zoho modules over at GetApp.

Work[etc]. Although it doesn’t go quite as far as Zoho, Work[etc] does a good job providing a lot of the tools required for small business management: CRM, projects, billing, help desk, reporting, and collaboration. The advantage it has over Zoho is that you don’t have to pick and choose the apps you want – it’s one package.

As good as these two systems are, neither has your payroll covered. It’s taken a while for payroll companies to get web savvy and user friendly. I think the better ones have finally seen the light. Here are the ones small businesses consistently rate the highest.

Payroll SaaS

Gusto. This SaaS integrates with many of the standard accounting software packages. It does your payroll, automatically files state and federal taxes, and handles direct deposit, health benefits and workers compensation insurance.

Optimum HRIS. Optimum offers payroll as a stand-along SaaS, or has other combinations that may fit your small business management needs: payroll and HR, payroll and attendance, etc. Optimum will handle 401(k) tracking, direct deposits, check printing, benefits management, W-2 preparation, leave tracking, and more.

Patriot. Patriot offers both payroll and accounting software and its payroll system is definitely geared for small business management; it has a DIY option that starts at just $10 a month. However, the point of these apps is to not have to do it yourself, so you’ll probably want to step up to the plate and have Patriot kick in with its full service payroll, which starts at $25 a month for one employee.

Accounting and inventory

The discussion of payroll brings us to accounting, and I’ve covered that before on these pages. Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Sage are popular and solid choices. And while I’m calling them out for the accounting power they bring to your small business. Most of them have the ability to do much more, including payroll and inventory. And, now that I mentioned it, let’s touch on inventory control.

This isn’t a requirement for all small business management, and today, it may be a minority of businesses that need it. But let me mention two systems that will cover a variety of situations:

  • CashierLive. Lots of great features for local retailers.
  • SOS Inventory. Part of the Intuit (Quickbooks family) it handles inventor, manufacturing, and order management.

In all of the categories I’ve touched on here, there are other options for you. When you’re looking to apps and software to assist your small business management, the best thing you can do before buying is talk to others in your industry.

While it’s true that virtually every app and SaaS will offer a free trial period, you want to be pretty darn sure you’re picking the right one when you sign up for the trial period. Otherwise, you’ll end up having to enter a lot of information a second or third time before you hit the winner.

And having to do the same task over and over again certainly isn’t good small business management!