Software for Montgomery County Small Businesses Can Be More Affordable Than You Think
Owners of small businesses need to be careful about expenditure in all areas, including software and technology. This article from the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Montgomery County looks at four types of business software that can provide a return on investment better than break-even by reducing expenses, increasing sales, or both.
Project management software helps maximize profit by streamlining workflows, increasing your chances of staying on time and within budget.
Zoho Projects is a popular program supporting multiple task views, issue management, and collaboration tools like chat, forums, and update feeds. Monday.com is another cloud-based solution that can connect to external apps like MS Teams, Google Calendar, and Gmail.
The WordPress/WooCommerce platform powers just over a quarter of e-commerce, making it the leader in its class. Despite its popularity, it’s not an easy tool for small business owners lacking technical experience.
Platforms like Shopify and Wix have been designed so non-technical business owners can easily create their online presence. Both offer easy page builders with ready-made templates, apps to extend functionality, and affordable hosting. Shopify offers more configurability but is also more complex and expensive than Wix.
CRM and Email Marketing
Despite the considerable attention social media advertising receives, it still lags far behind email in marketing effectiveness. The average return on ad spend (ROAS) for social media is $2.87 per $1 spent, according to Mac Mischke of WhatConverts. Litmus quotes the average email equivalent (ROI or return on investment) as $36 per $1 outlay.
HubSpot’s product provides the best of all worlds, combining email, social media posts, blog publishing, and customer relationship management (CRM). Moosend is one of the most affordable options but doesn’t permit sending from Hotmail or Gmail addresses.
Invoicing and billing software contribute to the bottom line by reducing the cost of getting paid for goods and services. Often, it's integrated with other functions, such as accounting and inventory management, which can further reduce the manual effort required.
FreshBooks invoicing software offers customizable forms, recurring invoices, payment reminders, automatic late fee applications, and inventory tracking. QuickBooks is a popular alternative offering both desktop and cloud-based implementations. It also supports project management and payroll.
Free Software for Small Business Users
For each of the categories above, there are companies offering products free of charge, usually with reduced functionality or limited usage compared to a full version.
Zoho Invoice is free, with a range of templates and the ability to email invoices directly, print them, or download them as a PDF. Mailchimp provides CRM, a website builder, and forms and landing pages in its free version for up to 2,500 outgoing emails per month. For small business operators with less than 10 different products, Ecwid is a free alternative to Shopify. Trello and ClickUp both offer free forever plans in return for some reduced functionality compared to their paid project management offerings.
If you start getting more reports and forms as PDFs, it can be helpful to know that there are many free resources for editing, saving, and converting this file type. In fact, you can edit a PDF online easily and for free using an editing tool. With this tool you and your team can add comments, circle sections, highlight problem areas, and add virtual sticky notes to communicate questions and editing suggestions. And then your entire team has a digital backup of the draft and comments for future reference.
Be Frugal and Intentional
Starting a business is hard and it can be costly, so take advantage of reviews and free products when quality ones are available. And be sure to do your research before investing in paid software. Spend money where you need to, but leave simple things like PDF editing and invoices to the free options. Fortunately, there is a lot of free or inexpensive software that can make your life as a business owner easier and result in better productivity and increased sales.
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