One of the hardest things for a small business to do is scale up its operations efficiently. This is only natural. Unless you were lucky and got massive investments early, you probably had to add tools and hired services one at a time. It’s all your budget allowed for. But now that you’ve grown, it’s time to look at management software for small business customers that can actually do it all.
However, the options can be overwhelming. There are so many software platforms out there promising to do everything your business needs and then some. So, how can you determine which tools are best for your business? Instead of listing tons of features that you may or may not need, it’s best to think about it in terms of general goals. What should you be trying to accomplish with your software?
How to Choose the Best Small Business Management Software
Look to Automate It All
One major roadblock that stands in the way of scaling up is the fact that you can only do so much as a manager. With only so many hours a day to get things done, you can’t expect to double the size of your company and still handle everything in the same way you used to. You need tools that help you automate as many tasks as possible.
Without automation, your ability to scale is limited. If it takes 2-3 administrative personnel to manage 10 employees, you’re now looking at over 20 admins for a business with 100 employees. Sure, you’ve scaled up and increased your revenue, but your margins remain flat and your potential for growth is limited.
So, what can you automate to make your workflow more efficient going forward? Choose software that can handle these tasks, at a minimum.
Emails don’t have to be handcrafted masterpieces. Many go unread, and the ones that do get read are the ones that appeal most to the reader. Automation can help you target your messages to the right consumers every time. Instead of grouping customers by hand to send them a targeted email, your software should be able to look at their previous interactions with your company and bundle them together for a targeted message.
Whether you send that via email or text message is up to you. All you need to do is build a few boilerplates and let the software do the rest of the work.
Social Media Automation
While some aspects of social media marketing can’t be automated easily yet, you can use software to handle simple posts or share links to your social media accounts. You can create templates that make it easier to post quality content consistently.
Sticking to a steady schedule is vital for social media marketing. Your audience will learn to check back in at set intervals when you adhere to a schedule. Instead of having to put Post-Its on your desk to remind you not to forget your post, schedule it in your software and watch it go to work for you.
Task Scheduling and Calendar Management
Speaking of schedules, one of the most frustrating tasks for small businesses is creating work schedules that balance all of your employees’ needs. This is especially problematic for businesses that frequently meet with customers or need to visit locations to do their work. Scheduling by hand is cumbersome and is difficult to scale. You need automation.
A good platform will let you input a worker’s availability and automatically fill out their schedule. If you need customers to book appointments, that functionality can integrate right into your company calendar so everyone stays productive. Even if all you need is a seamless task management system for internal operations, look for a platform that can easily allow you to duplicate tasks or create bundles of tasks for repeated workflows.
Choose a Platform That Improves Customer Relationships
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is by far the best strategy for your business. It’s much easier to retain a customer than it is to hook a new one. Besides, returning customers tend to spend more than new ones since they already trust your company.
Management software for small business owners often focuses more on internal processes than external relations. But your customers have to come first. CRM tools let you keep track of your customers and their interactions with your company so that you can find ways to satisfy them better. Everything from your emails and customer support tickets to your previous sales is visible.
With that information, you can get creative and keep people coming back. Maybe you send out one-of-a-kind discounts that only apply to that customer to make them feel special. Or perhaps you host a secret webinar for a select few VIPs. CRM software opens up a world of possibilities that would be extremely difficult to do otherwise.
Get All the Tools You Need Under One Roof
How many different pieces of software do you use in your day-to-day operations? Don’t just focus on your own tasks, consider your whole business. Most small businesses have a patchwork quilt of tools, with some using over a dozen different applications. Again, this is common in the small business scene. But all it does is create mayhem.
You might not see it that way. After all, you grew your business and gradually learned how to use each tool. But picture it from the perspective of a new hire. They’re excited to start their work, only to have the illusion broken when they have to learn how to use a bunch of tools right away. This is yet another obstacle to scaling up your company. But you can overcome it.
The best management software for small businesses puts everything you need in one package. Make a list of all the programs or tools you currently use. When you’ve settled on your top three software choices, run down that list and check off every function you need to see which suite can do it all and which fall short.
Empower Your People
What are the most important tasks that your employees do? Or, to phrase it more accurately, what tasks generate the most value for your company? Ideally, your employees would spend all of their time performing their most valuable labor to create more value for your business.
Funny enough, this is exactly what your employees want to do! Workers know what they do best, and they take pride in doing good work. They want to feel that they’ve had an impact. But if they’re bogged down with bureaucracy or are being micromanaged, performance suffers.
Look for platforms that make it easy for your employees to sit down and get right to work. Queue up tasks and monitor work from a distance instead of breathing down your employees’ necks.
Simplify Tedious Tasks
A great way to accomplish that goal is to reduce the number of tedious tasks your employees have to do. Of course, every business has a bit of “busy work” that has to get done. But you can seriously slash that workload with the right software.
For instance, instead of having to fill out monthly reports, your platform can automatically make those based on your employees’ activity. All your staff has to do is give it a quick check and sign off, and you’re set! The same goes for your billing. When all of your customer activity is tracked, invoices can be generated instantly and all you have to do is send them off.
When you spend less time on busy work and more time doing the things that generate value for your business, you’ll see your margins improve and your ability to scale will follow.
Derive Insights From Your Activity
One feature you should not overlook when shopping around is the ability to analyze your business data. As your business grows, so will your data. The more you can capture, the better you can understand how your business is performing and what you can improve.
This is another advantage of using a unified platform. If all of your data passes through the same system, you can analyze it all more easily. In contrast, if you’re working with multiple tools, compiling data for analysis will be very difficult, if not impossible.
The best marketing software for small businesses should collect data on all activity that happens through the platform and present it to you in an easy-to-understand way. Dashboards with charts and graphs make sense of the numbers so you don’t have to. With that information, you can fine-tune your business practices and optimize your operations.
One Platform, Many Possibilities
There are many software solutions out there. However, few of them focus on small business customers. Many are enterprise-grade solutions that enamor small business owners with lengthy lists of features, but fail to address business owners’ actual needs. That’s why we made Anthem. If you’d like to see what our software can do for your company, contact Anthem Software today and schedule a virtual tour of our small business solution.