What Small Business Software Do You Need In 2020?
If you run any sort of small business, it’s practically a given nowadays that you’ll need at least some small business software.
In fact, not having the right tools – and doing things the old way – means you’re wasting time and setting yourself up for a long slog through unnecessary busywork.
But when there’s so much software out there, and all of it vying for your attention, how do you know what will help and what will not?
Especially when much of today’s business is done online, there exists a need to easily send and receive contracts, proposals, payments, and more.
Below, we’ve broken down the most common business needs, and the software that many people have chosen as their ideal solution to their needs.
The Basics – What Every Small Business Needs
No matter what you do, there are some things that every small business needs.
It can be annoying having to deal with stuff like accounting, taxes, and all that other cheerless stuff nobody really likes.
But if chosen wisely, the right small business software can help streamline your processes and save you time so you can focus on what you really want to do.
QuickBooks is one software app that well deserves the praise it has gotten over the years. Not only is it astoundingly easy to use – it also has an incredible track record!
If you’re looking for an accounting app that gives you visual reporting and tracking, integration with your bank and credit accounts, and help making your taxes easier, then QuickBooks may be the software for you.
Also, if you want an easy way to combine your bookkeeping with a more all-in-one business management software tool, QuickBooks integrates seamlessly with HoneyBook (another fantastic business tool – see below!)
Hailed by many as the best accounting software available today, Freshbooks is a surprisingly powerful tool that makes it easy to organize and track your expenses.
Similar to QuickBooks in many ways, FreshBooks offers an advantage when it comes to small businesses with more diverse invoicing needs, by allowing multiple projects per client. It’s also generally considered to be slightly easier to use, having a simpler, more intuitive interface.
Xero is a hugely popular accounting and bookkeeping tool, particularly among freelancers. Known for its visual presentation of your cash flow, it allows you to see exactly what’s happening to your money and keep your finger on the pulse of your finances.
It really can’t be put better than in their own words: Xero is “simple, smart, and occasionally magical.”
When it comes to contracts and invoices, Bonsai is definitely some of the most widely used small business software out there. And it’s not really hard to see why…
Specifically made for freelancers and solopreneurs, the app is known for its simplified proposal-contract-invoice process that has been groundbreaking for so many freelancers. Bonsai can boil your whole client-onboarding process down to just a few quick steps, ensuring you save time and get paid faster!
Contracts with Bonsai, however, are fairly limited in their customization and editing capabilities. If you’re looking for more flexible contract creation, then HoneyBook is probably your best bet here…
If you’re looking for an all-in-one small business solution, HoneyBook may be your best choice. Handling everything from proposals and contracts to invoicing and online payments, for small businesses, there really isn’t much HoneyBook won’t do for you.
Similar to Bonsai, HoneyBook makes the entire proposal, invoice, payment process seamless, easy and fast – but HoneyBook takes it one step further than Bonsai does by reducing the entire process down to as few steps as possible. This makes life easier for both your client and you!
A HoneyBook Contract can be customized with your business language and preferred formatting, even allowing you to add empty fields that will auto-populate with information about the project or client it’s going to – saving you serious time, and making sure you don’t miss any details. Once it’s sent, your client can electronically sign from any device.
The invoice feature can also be built to fully reflect your business’s branding and billing practices. Pricing packages and individual items/services are easy to create, edit, and move around within the invoice as necessary. You can also create a payment schedule to suit your business – whether it’s a one-time payment, several payments over the course of the project, or payments on a recurring schedule. As with Contracts, your client will receive their invoice via email, and they can easily review and pay from their device of choice.
Additionally, HoneyBook’s workflow process automation features make it incredibly easy to “set your busywork on autopilot,” so be prepared for your productivity to skyrocket!
Although this small business software could also be lumped in with the accounting software, Wave stands out here for an entirely different reason – it’s free!
Wave allows you to easily send clean, professional invoices, and it’s particularly popular among freelancers. It can be an excellent choice if you are just starting out and don’t have a huge cash-flow yet.
TurboTax is one of the better-known names in tax software – they’ve been around for quite a while, and have definitely stood the test of time.
Unless you’re already a tax expert, your tax returns will probably be remarkably easier than you’re used to if you use TurboTax. And being made by Intuit, integration with QuickBooks is quite seamless – just one more way to simplify taxes!
A longtime rival to TurboTax, H&R Block offers many of the same features at a slightly lower price. One advantage of H&R Block is that you can file both your personal and business returns using the same software package.
TaxAct is more along the lines of what a freelancer might need most.
Of the tax software listed here, this is the least expensive of them all (at only $49.95), but you can only file one Federal return, as opposed to five in both TurboTax and H&R Block… So if you’re a freelancer who doesn’t have many returns to file, this can really be the ideal choice.
You’re Ready To Face The World!
And with that, you’ve got your basics covered! If you can manage your client relationships and get paid while balancing your books and filing taxes correctly, you’ll do alright.
With the help of some of these tools we’ve presented, you’ll do great!
If you’re interested, we’ve got more info you can check out here:
What is the Best Software for Small Business in 2020? (6 Worthy Comparisons)
Are You A Freelancer? We’ve Got You Covered There Too!
Whether you’re already a freelancer or are considering becoming one, it’s really not a bad career option in this day and age, especially as we enter the 2020s: according to nasdaq.com freelancing is projected to grow to 43 percent of the US workforce in 2020 alone!
But freelancing as a small business certainly isn’t easy, and it carries with it its own unique set of challenges.
Luckily for you, there are quite a few tools created with you specifically in mind… Let’s take a look!
Proposals in AND.CO are known for their sleek customizability, making them both professional and attractive to the eye.
With AND.CO’s free plan, you can use their pre-formatted templates and designs, and have a great-looking proposal ready to sign in just minutes!
One thing though: if you’re looking for a wider range of brand customization and styling options, HoneyBook might be a better fit for you, as it offers much more branding customizability than AND.CO does.
Answer: HoneyBook, folks – it doesn’t get any easier than this!
HoneyBook’s unique integration of invoice, agreement, and payment together turns your entire proposal process into a smooth, seamless experience for your clients, with none of the typical back-and-forth you may be used to. Instead of needing multiple documents or processes in multiple places, your HoneyBook proposal offers all the personalization options of the invoice and contract files – easily customizable pricing and payment schedules, dynamic contracts, beautiful branding – all in one document, allowing your client to review, sign, and pay in a single step.
When you combine this simplicity with the pre-made (but still highly customizable!) proposal templates which are both professional and beautiful, it’s simply never been easier to get a signature!
In addition to their dazzling layouts, a unique feature of Prospero’s proposal software is their option for “ready-made texts”, which smartly supply goal-specific text for your proposal, making your proposal writing much faster.
However, Prospero focuses only on the Proposal, so if you’re trying to combine or become more efficient with the number of tools you use, this won’t help.
Accurate down to the second, this app is particularly useful when you’re billing by the hour – to make sure you aren’t short-changing yourself!
Chrometa operates almost completely passively in the background, capturing your billable time automatically as you work – meaning you’ll end up working less at recording your time… and you’ll get paid more.
As the great management expert Peter Drucker said; “What gets measured gets managed.” If that’s true (and it seems to be!), then the better you are able to measure your time, the better you’ll be at managing it.
Clockify is an app that can help you obtain detailed reports on exactly how much time you are spending on your tasks. By tracking each individual task, Clockify gives you the ability to create dashboards with helpful graphs and metrics that allow you to see where your time has been spent.
If you’re trying to master your time management, Clockify can be a great first step.
Toggl is a simple, but incredibly useful time tracker that lets you do a lot of things, like auto-track by app, time of day/week, and more.
If you want fewer distractions (don’t we all?), you can set up tracking reminders so you don’t forget to start the timer – plus, over 100+ app integrations means less navigation.
This renowned note-taking app will make staying organized so much easier, whether working with a team, your clients, or just for personal use. With such features as web clipping, document scanning, handwriting recognition, and more, you can use Evernote to keep your head clear and your information organized. Great for brainstorming ideas and taking notes on-the-go.
This app makes your to-do list extremely easy and fun. Research has shown that when you get your ideas out of your head, you’ll be more productive, and Todoist definitely helps with that. Being able to see clearly exactly what you have to do allows you to “easily organize and prioritize tasks and projects so you’ll always know what to work on next.”
When it comes to email automation, it’s hard (and maybe impossible) to beat Boomerang for overall value. There’s so much that Boomerang offers, sometimes it almost seems too good to be true…
It has some amazing features such as:
- “Respondable,” which guides your emails and helps you maximize your response rate,
- “Inbox Pause” which allows you to temporarily turn off your inbox, so you don’t get distracted by incoming emails while you get your work done, and
- Scheduling for optimal sending times, ensuring even more optimal response rates.
There’s really no other way to put it: to reach your max productivity with email, Boomerang is practically indispensable.
Any.do is a delightful combination of notes, calendars, to-do lists, and a lot more tools that keep you focused and on track.
When it comes to to-do and organization software, Any.do really is the cream of the crop. Millions of people use this award-winning app to stay organized and get more done. By allowing you to easily collaborate with anyone and access it from any device, Any.do really puts ultimate control of your time and energy back in your hands.
Still Want To Freelance in the 2020s?
Have we scared you off yet? It can be scary, we’ll admit. Freelancing is an ever-changing business that requires you to always be learning new things – including software!
Check out this page for more in-depth info on what you’ll need as a freelancer in the upcoming decade:
Here’s the Freelance Software That Will Help You Make It In The 2020s
What About Project Management and Tracking?
As the well-known Pareto principle tells us – 80 percent of our results come from 20 percent of our efforts.
The question is: how can we best optimize that 20 percent in our business?
This is where small business management software comes into play. Let’s look at some tools that have been developed with this very idea in mind, designed to reduce or eliminate those tedious tasks and make your job easier.
By now, Trello is almost infamous for its Kanban-style project organization.
Trello makes it easy to see what’s happening at a mere glance, and when you select individual cards you see the finer detail.
The team aspect is also handy, allowing cards to be assigned to specific team members individually for efficient delegation.
If you’re managing a lot of people, Basecamp is an excellent all-in-one project management solution that helps turn your project from scattered to sorted; from out-of-control to organized.
Basecamp promises to consolidate all your un-integrated tools for you, allowing you to see all the moving parts of your business at once, from one place, including what your team is doing, so you can easily understand what needs to be done next.
Their free option is geared towards freelancers!
On HoneyBook, you can capture leads via your contact form in order to gather information about prospective clients that will let you easily determine if you want to work with them. If you use the customizable HoneyBook contact form, leads get auto-populated into HoneyBook along with all their information, which means no time wasted on data entry. (Bonus: insights about your leads, like average response time, is currently in BETA within HoneyBook)
Once a lead enters your HoneyBook account via the contact form or manual creation, you can easily create a project and take that project through whatever stages you outline within HoneyBook’s project tracking tool (pictured above). The project stages are editable, so it’s fairly easy to outline your business’ process and tweak it as you grow or change how you operate.
Within a project, HoneyBook offers a shared workspace with your clients. Conveniently, all of your files and documents related to that project are stored here and accessible to both you and your client (once you give them access). Whenever you send an invoice, proposal, contract or other document, HoneyBook notifies you when it’s been viewed, signed, and read, which keeps you in-the-know with the state of your business and on top of your to-do list – easily!
The biggest project tracking bonus? When you use HoneyBook to send contracts, invoices and proposals, the system can tell when key milestones occur — like when an invoice is paid or contract signed — and your project will automatically move to the relevant stage within your project tracking tool, without you having to remember to move it along yourself.
From inquiry to payment, HoneyBook lets you track your project like a pro and smoothly takes control and reminds you of all those details that you might otherwise overlook or let slip through the cracks.
Arguably the best marketing-oriented CRM out there today, the fact that it’s free makes it an almost unbelievably good value!
Though the CRM can certainly be used by itself as a powerful tool for keeping your leads organized throughout the stages of your pipeline, HubSpot also makes additional marketing tools that make it even more powerful. If you want a CRM that can help you grow your business through lead generation, automation, analytics, and conversion optimization, HubSpot is probably your best bet.
Undoubtedly the most widely used and most well-known of CRMs today, Salesforce’s reputation has been rightly-earned through its well-developed and easy-to-use pipeline, which provides a cloud-based set of tools for managing your sales funnel in a way that boosts conversions and optimizes deal potential. Let’s be clear though, some companies employ entire teams just to run and organize salesforce. It’s powerful, but complex. Our warning would be to steer clear if you’re an organization under 50 people.
HoneyBook is really the perfect CRM for a few specific types of business – namely solo entrepreneurs, freelancers, and creative small companies between 1-10 employees. In comparison, HubSpot and Salesforce are built for a more mid or enterprise-sized company, and their more expensive price tag reflects it. Sure, the additional features they charge for can be useful when you have a need for them, but if not, then why pay the extra?
HoneyBook is designed to make your entire sales pipeline easy to see and manage from one central app, and it’s simple, intuitive layout isn’t packed with dozens of features you’ll never end up using. From a client relationship perspective, it also takes the stress and scatter-brained effect out of client communication by providing a central location for messaging, documents, and invoices. You’re able to integrate with your gmail so messages come straight from you, and store important details about your clients and projects — a particular favorite being the private notes section that only you can see.
If your business is still pretty small – especially if you’re a solo business owner with clients – HoneyBook was built specifically with you in mind, and, most likely, it’s your best bet for a small business CRM.
This CRM is much more sales-focused than HubSpot or Salesforce. If your business involves a lot more sales-oriented processes, then this CRM could be a great fit.
Designed with salespeople in mind, Zendesk Sell aims to keeps your sales reps productive, make pipelines easy to understand at a glance, and turn sales interactions into data dashboards that help analyze and forecast your business.
There can be no doubt – Slack does a lot of things. From file and document sharing to creating your own tools and bots, to integration with over 1500 other apps, Slack’s possible uses are literally endless.
But where it shines the brightest is in its team communication aspect. Options for multiple chats, organized by “channels”, voice and video calls, and screen sharing make it a truly dynamic tool for effective and clear communication.
Over the past few years, Zoom has become an increasingly popular way to meet via video chat. Useful for meetings, conferences, and webinars, Zoom can be especially helpful when integrated with your calendar (e.g. HoneyBook Calendar, Calendly or Google Calendar, for example) to create an extra-smooth booking process.
Similar to Zoom in many ways, GoToMeeting is geared towards higher-quality interactions and is known for its clear audio, smooth screen sharing, and HD video. Unlike Zoom, there is no free option, so if you’re willing to pay a little more for better quality, then this may be the choice for you.
Particularly helpful if you do a lot of sales calls, Acuity is one app that takes a lot of pain out of schedule coordination. Whether by embedding your calendar directly into your website, or by sharing your personal link, Acuity allows you to smoothly book appointments without any hassle at all.
An added advantage is how it handles several commonly irritating details by providing auto-time zone adjustments, team calendars, and real-time availability.
Like a vending machine for your meetings, Calendly’s simple and elegant layout makes it easy for business owners and freelancers to automate the way they set appointments.
Calendly completely eliminates phone tag when dealing with appointment-setting. By sharing your link with your clients, they will be able to see when you are available and schedule an appointment with you immediately.
HoneyBook’s simple and effective scheduling tool makes it easy to set availability, send a session link to clients, and allow them to book you for a meeting or session (pictured in screen shot above) — without the back and forth. The real treat? HoneyBook’s meeting scheduler automatically syncs with your calendar in HoneyBook (which also syncs with Google Calendar), which means your schedule and your project and client management lives all in one place. Imagine, you can capture your lead in HoneyBook, book a meeting with their scheduling tool, follow up with a contract, proposal, or invoice, and accept payments online — within one project and one platform.
That’s what we call efficiency. Stop switching tools for every task and free yourself up to grow your business and get the important work done.
Ready to Manage Your Business Like A Pro?
Think you can manage your business better with this arsenal at your disposal? We think so!
And hey, if you’re going to try one of them… why not make that one HoneyBook?
Try all HoneyBook features free for 7 days!
HoneyBook offers a full suite of tools that includes everything you need to run your business. Whether its proposals, invoicing, and client onboarding, or project tracking and automation, it’s an all-in-one solution that’s sure to deliver what you need.
Created with small businesses and freelancers in mind, allows you to manage your time and energy more efficiently from one central app, so you can spend more time doing what you do best, and less time managing multiple apps and tools.
Looking for more small business tips? Check out how to Run Your Business Like A Pro Using These 15 Small Business Management Software Tools