We’re always looking for business tools, tips and tricks that are worthy of a high-5 for SMEs. We chatted with a few entrepreneurs who shared some of their favourite online tools that have impacted how they run their businesses. As an SME owner, you often wear many hats and handle more than one aspect of your business at a time. Improve five areas of your business with these affordable online tools.
If you’re a relatively small operation and are just looking for some basic financial tools Wave is a platform you could check out. The accounting software and receipts scanning capability are free, and there are add-on paid-for features like the ability to process online payments. But Xero is a clear SME favourite with the ability to service larger companies as well. We use it too! At only $20 per month, you get automated features, helpful dashboards and real-time reporting. It allows you to create and send invoices, as well as set up online payments and invoice reminders for fast processing.
For social media
Business owners are busy people, so being able to schedule content and manage your social media feeds from one place can come in handy. Hootsuite lets you do just that and offers a range of different plans to suit the size of your team. If there’s only one person who needs access, the cost is about R290 per month.
If you’re at the stage in your business where you’re looking to do some paid advertising on Facebook, then you’ll want to start getting comfortable with Facebook for business. This is essentially the place where you will manage all of your ads and decide on the specific audiences you want to serve them to. If you’re ready to take this step in your business, the most important aspect to consider is tracking. Being able to track how much you’re spending on ads, and which ones are translating to actual sales or income for your business will make sure you’re not spending money unnecessarily or wasting your budget on the wrong audiences. Tracking properly means setting up a pixel in your Facebook for a business account.
The ability to have an ongoing conversation with your customers is key to adding value to their overall experience with your brand and earning their loyalty. As you grow your business and your customer base, you’ll need a platform that allows you to send professional, personalised emails. MailChimp is used by a lot of SMEs as even the free plan which is suitable for smaller businesses allows you to make use of templates and use customer behaviour to better target your communication for your audience (up to 2000 contacts). A variety of plans means you can pick the features you really need, as you grow.
Having a blog that offers your audience helpful information that they’re looking for, updates on your products and services or even insights into your company culture can go a long way in growing your business. This can become a great source of lead generation. If people find what you’re writing interesting, they’ll come back for more and may even sign up to hear from you regularly which gives you an opportunity to nurture a relationship with them and convert them into customers. Good quality content also helps drive visitors to your site and ups your overall SEO, allowing your website to organically (without paying for a position) appear higher up in a Google search.
Some tools that could help you create and host great content are:
Canva is an online and free design platform which has templates that you can edit and use to create anything from blog headers, social media posts, and banners for digital advertising; to event posters and business cards.
Pexels is a place for you to access good quality free stock photos and images.
Wix is a user-friendly blog or website builder where you can host the content you create.
When you are looking to bring on new staff members, find the best talent or manage job applications, Breezy can be a great resource. This hiring tool allows you to optimise the recruitment process, from advertising new jobs in your business to scheduling interviews and appointments. There’s a free version which gives you the basics for unlimited candidates, and then a few priced plans with more advanced functionality.