Which software do I need for my new business?

Finance

Choosing software for a new business can be both exciting and daunting. You’re starting with a blank slate, on one hand, with the freedom to pick out the tools and processes that will help you turn your bright idea into a reality.

That puts you at an advantage compared to the many businesses that have had to take their existing processes and find a way to digitise them over the past year, as remote communication has become essential.

On the other hand, there’s such a huge range of software available that it can be hard to work out what you really need – especially now every software company is clamouring for your attention.

Ultimately, it’s about finding a system that works for you. Your software should save you time and money in the long-term, not cost extra, so think about what would make your life easier and go from there.

Accounting software

This is, of course, our area of expertise, and we think it’s something every business can benefit from.

Good accounting software will make it easy for you to keep vital records and comply with your tax obligations. It will also take care of alot of the time-consuming processes you’d have to deal with if you used spreadsheets or paper records.

Cloud accounting, in particular, is often a more efficient choice than desktop software. This stores your information on remote servers and can pull through information in real-time – so you’re seeing your financial position as it is right now, instead of being limited to last month’s figures.

There are a lot of different cloud accounting options around, but our software of choice is Xero. It’s got an impressive range of features but its slick, user-friendly interface makes it simple and enjoyable to work with.

Plus, it’s easily scalable with three different packages and a lot of integration options, allowing you to link it up with all of your other business software. That way, as your business grows, Xero can grow with you.

CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are used to collect and manage data about the interactions you have with your customers. That could be their contact details, records of interactions you’ve had with them, and information about their communications preferences.

These are particularly useful for your sales and marketing processes, allowing you to organise information on your customers and manage your relationships effectively.

But they can also give you a good idea of how customers are experiencing your service, and whether there’s anything you could improve – and that’s vital information to have in the early stages of a startup.

There are a lot of CRM options on the market, with a few notable names including Salesforce, Hubspot, Zoho and Insightly, but the right option will depend on your business’s needs. Think about how you’ll be using the CRM and how it will connect with your other business processes, as well as whether it integrates with your other software.

Team communication

If you’re taking on employees from the start, or if you plan to do so in the future, a good remote communication system is a must-have for working under the constraints of social distancing.

Apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams can help to keep your employees connected, with separate channels for different teams and projects, as well as the option to break conversations down into separate threads.

Google Chat is another useful tool, especially if you’re already using Gmail and other G Suite apps like Google Drive, Docs or Meet.

Some businesses have also found Discord helpful for team communications. This was originally developed as a ‘voice over IP’ (VoIP)service for online gaming, but its easy-to-use audio channels could work just as well for collaborating with a team.

Project management

Similarly, project management software is a worth while investment if you’re managing a team. It can also help you to organise your own projects and processes, even if you’re working on your own.

The best choice of software for you will largely depend on the kind of work your business does, and how complex you need the features to be.

Trello, for example, lets you visualise your projects using a kanban board – a system inspired by ‘lean manufacturing’ methods, where tasks are moved through the stages of a project on individual cards.

Jira, meanwhile, is well-known for its use in software development projects, and is particularly helpful for tracking bugs and prioritising development work.

Other tools like Basecamp, Monday and Asana give you options for collaborations, resource management, budget tracking and more.

People management

Finally, an effective HR system can help you to get the most out of your team.

HR software generally includes tools for organising employee data, managing the hiring and onboarding process, scheduling working hours, tracking absence, and giving performance feedback.

Gusto, BambooHR, and People all offer a fairly broad range of HR features, but depending on your specific requirements you might want to look for something more niche.

For example, some HR software packages offer payroll features – but this might already be covered by your accounting software. Think about your existing systems, and look for a solution that fills in the gaps or integrates with your other software.

For help starting and growing your new business, talk to us.

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