Nobody better than the entrepreneurs themselves to tell us which business software tools they are truly satisfied with in managing their businesses and when and why they have decided to take the leap at a certain time and look for paid products.
Here we offer you a shortlist with a small analysis of professionals to give you an idea of which ones can best fit the needs of your company.
In word processing, there is not much discussion: OpenOffice and Google Docs are the most used. Both have a word processor, spreadsheet and allow you to create PowerPoint-compatible presentations. But between the two, entrepreneurs are more inclined to Google Docs, combined with Google Sheets as well Google Slides.
OpenOffice only allows you to edit and does not allow multiple people to work at the same time. With Google Docs, on the other hand, and from the same Gmail account, you can create, edit and share any document. Even working several people at the same time online and from any device (PC, tablet, or mobile) because they are in the cloud.
Billing, ERP, and CRM
You can use three different business software tools separately or together (many CRMs already have invoicing and ERP functions incorporated).
For the company that does not work with clients or has to control stock, etc., an exclusively billing tool such as Direct Invoice would serve. A good free solution is Caja Square to manage the point of sale and generate digital receipts, keep an inventory, and design sales reports. And for more complex businesses, you have to think about more complete tools: as ERP, the most recommended is Openbravo, and as CRM, Zoho CRM.
They are very useful tools in their free version. In fact, the main limitation of Zoho CRM without payment is that it only allows access to three different users within the company, which for an SME is usually enough. In the case of Openbravo, being free software, the problem may come, as with any open-source solution, in that you have to have a certain technical knowledge to make them work. For this reason, even if Openbravo is free, if you don’t have technical knowledge, you should consider whether it is worth hiring someone to install and configure Openbravo to adjust it to the specific needs of the company.
When to pay for the business software?
As the company grows, new needs will arise for which the free version does not support. And there is no other option to pay. But today, there are very good alternatives with very low costs thanks to the SaaS format, which has democratized access to these tools. We are talking about that for $10- $60 per month. You already have access to solutions such as Pipedrive (a CRM that we use now), which greatly simplify workflows and help a lot on a day-to-day basis by optimizing time.
Together or separately?
Another reasonable doubt. If there are all-in-one tools, is it worth choosing a complete one, or do we look for them by specialties? It depends on the needs of the company. For many, integrated software that includes CRM and ERP functionality may be more than enough. Now, there are companies where some of these parts are very important, and they need specific software. For example, in retailers, ERP is essential to manage stock, purchasing needs, etc., properly.
They are tools that help us know how our website or online business is, in terms of SEO, competitors, keywords, rankings, and other parameters. In the market, you will find free and sufficient versions, such as Moz and Quicksprout. For me, the latter is the best for reports on your website and to compare you with the competition.
Moz is a plugin that is installed in your browser and, with a single click, allows you to know the strength of your website. Among the free important also Woorank, which helps you detect the mistakes you make in your positioning. It has a paid version, but it’s not worth it. Yes, it is convenient to scratch your pocket for other essential tools for SEO, such as Semrush and Ahrefs. Semrush and Ahrefs have free versions but very limited ones.
Another business software for conducting market research is by detecting trends on the Internet, with free tools such as Google Trends, which reflects what keywords people search for daily.
A task manager is something like a very sophisticated notepad for creating to-do lists and notes of all kinds and sharing them with others. Evernote stands out above all by far. And only a few recommend Google’s solution, Google Keep.
Evernote is the most complete for the collection, processing, and sharing part. Remember, the Milk is a perfect complement to Evernote for managing to-do lists and assigning times (alarms, automatic lists, due dates, etc.), although it can be dispensed with.
Both are multi-device and have a great connection with third-party tools and apps. Both are complete in their free versions. If you use it a lot, it is worth resorting to the paid version. I
They are tools to improve productivity. Among the free ones, the most recommended is Rescue Time, followed by Clippy and Teamviz. Rescue Time is one that gives me the most and best results. One personal analytics service that shows how you spend your time, from the moment you turn on your PC or laptop, provides you with tools to help you be more productive.
It is worth adding to these tools others that help us organize our mail better, such as Mailbox (an app for mobiles, tablets, and a beta for Mac computers) and Unroll.Me. The first, to better manage your inbox according to your preferences. Unroll.Me, to forget about spam.
They are great for efficient personal email management. Unrol.Me is simply so good. It is not an email manager like the others. It serves to see what you are subscribed to, easily unsubscribe from those that do not interest you, and group the others in the same email.
Synchronization and data storage
Google Drive and Dropbox will help you save all your data safely, for free, and in the cloud. In this way, you can access them from any device and anywhere. Of course, both have limitations. Google Drive, up to 15 GB free. Dropbox, up to 16GB. If you need more volume, you will have to pay some money.
Infographics, presentations, and diagrams
They are business software tools with different utilities. The best for presentations stored in the cloud and totally free is Google Slide and Prezi, especially the latter. It is very visual, with zoom effects, etc. It has evolved considerably to offer many more options than before.
Another thing is those that help us organize information visually, like DesignCap. Create amazing infographics and charts in minutes—a very useful tool when presenting data.
Canva is brutal. A tool with which those of us who are not designers can make very powerful designs of our own. Also, DesignEvo is great for creating your logos for free in minutes with more than 10,000 logo templates and millions of icons.
Google Hangout, Skype, and MashmeTV are the best options. Skype and Google Hangout are complete, free and, unless you want something super-specific, you don’t have to pay for this type of service to communicate between devices with voice or video. Skype also has very cheap mobile rates.
The most recommended are Avast and Avira. Especially the latter because Avast consumes a lot of memory. I always recommend an antivirus together with Spybot Search & Destroy or any other free security package against malware, better than alternatives like Malwarebytes.
I hope this article is helpful for boosting your business. Just share all my personal experiences with those tools. If you have any idea, just say out.