Wondering how you should select the online business tools that will help you succeed in this highly competitive market?
Running an online business comes with many advantages, including reduced overhead costs, access to a global market and the ability to work from just about anywhere.
However, it also comes with its own set of challenges.
Fortunately, though, we live in an age where technology is advancing at breakneck speed, and tools to make life easier are being developed all the time. The only difficulty with having so many options is not knowing what to include in your ideal tool stack.
Here, we take a look at some of the best online business tools and what to consider before choosing them.
1) Initial considerations while selecting online business tools
It is important to bear in mind that the perfect tool stack for one business may be completely wrong for another. The key to choosing the right online business tools stack for your business is to identify your unique needs, and then match them to the best combination of tools.
Before looking at individual tools, think about the following questions:
How big is your business?
How many employees and customers do you currently have? Enterprise-grade tools will likely be overkill for a small business, offering unnecessary features at a higher cost.
What are your key business processes and pain points?
Identifying what your key business processes are, and any areas you may be struggling in will show where you need to invest and where you stand to add the most value implementing the right tools.
Start by speaking to your team about how they spend their time and any insights they may have into what could be improved upon. Look for trends across the company, rather than issues affecting individuals.
How will your new tools integrate with the systems you currently have?
The goal is to make improvements to the areas that need it, without disrupting the areas that are currently thriving. In addition, you should also check the compatibility of new tools with existing systems and applications; the aim being that they should integrate seamlessly.
When comparing tools that offer similar functionality or benefits, the cost can be an obvious deciding factor.
Take into account not only the cost of running the application, but also any cost of initially setting it up, training and support, and the potential future cost if your business grows and you need to scale up.
3) Which areas should the right tool stack cover?
Again, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this question, so use the answers from the previous section to guide you. The following areas will be relevant to most organizations:
Apps that record, exactly where you and your team spend their time, will allow you to manage your time effectively, refine business processes and ensure that you are billing at the optimum rate.
Check out: Toggl
A good project management tool will allow you to work more effectively with your own internal team, as well as with external clients, coordinating workflows and managing deadlines.
Check out: ProProfs Project
For an online business, finance spans a wide range of functions from online payment processing to the company’s internal accounting requirements, such as invoicing, managing expenses and processing payroll. There are also tools to help with specific processes, such as enterprise lease accounting software, for businesses that deal with this particular process in order to ensure that their documents comply with any relevant standards within the area so that, should someone ever need to look through a company’s finances, they would find everything in place as it should be.
Check out: Xero, Freshbooks, Expensify, Wave Accounting, and Square
Cloud storage and file sharing
The fact that running an online business means you have the ability to work from anywhere, but you also need to be able to store, access and share your files from anywhere. This means keeping them in the cloud.
Check out: Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive
Whether you’re staying in touch with your team or conversing with clients, an online business needs a strong communication system
Check out: Skype, Slack, and Google Hangouts
When you feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions and need to free up some time, or when you don’t have the expertise in your business for a particular task or project, outsourcing could be the answer.
Check out: Upwork and Fiverr
Happy customers are at the core of any good business. A good customer support system can make the process simpler and more efficient, allowing you to focus on providing a good service.
Check out: ProProfs Chat
Bringing everything together
Ultimately, the key to choosing the right online business tool stack is pairing the most effective combination of tools with the unique requirements of your online business.
Spend some time analyzing your business and identifying its pain points, or noting which areas are not as efficient as they could be. Take into account other aspects such as how many new tools will integrate with your existing systems, plus cost, then use this information to search for the right solution.
Approaching it in this way should produce an arsenal of tools that can put your business on the road to success.
Featured image source: Freepik