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10 Terrific Tools for Small Businesses

10 Terrific Tools for Small Businesses

When you are running your own business, you can use all of the help you can get. Sometimes, this help comes in the form of amazing tools that you can find online, many of which are quite inexpensive to use (and even free in some cases). Here are our top 10 picks.

1. Wave

wave

    Here you will find all kinds of applications for financing for small businesses that have nine employees or fewer. Many services, including accounting, invoicing, and receipts, are free, and payroll application fees start at $9 per month.

    2. Cabertel

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    cabertel

      This is one of the better cloud service providers, and you can get a great package for a relatively low rate. This is the ideal provider for startups, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs who are operating small businesses. You can lower your business phone bills by as much as 60 percent, and you will have Smartphone app solutions as well as fully managed US support.

      3. SupplierComplete

      supplier

        It can be difficult to find the best cloud services for your small business, because there are too many great deals out there, and so many different providers. Get the information you need to make the best decision at Supplier Complete, where you can compare prices, read reviews and articles, and a whole lot more.

        4. Slack

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        slack

          This internal messaging app offers real-time messaging, file sharing, and more. You can get a free account for up to five integrations and 10K message searchable archive. There are also paid plans that start at $6.67 per user, per month.

          5. Sococo

          sococo

            This tool gives you the advantages of having an actual office, without needing to pay for an office and the rest of the overhead that goes with it. You will be able to see who is working, as well as text, audio, and video chat with colleagues, and make conference calls from anywhere. There is a free starter plan, and then you can check out the various subscription rates from there.

            6. Insightly

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            insightly

              This is a customer relationship management system that is perfect for small businesses. With it, you can manage organizations, contacts, vendors, suppliers, partners, etc. You can see all of the information on your contacts, and use project management features such as creating tasks and automated reminders. Insightly is free for up to three users, and costs $7 per month for more users.

              7. Desk.com

              desk

                This tool provides you with all of the customer support your small business needs. You will have the tools you need to help your customers as quickly as possible, make it easy for them to troubleshoot problems with their own cases, and more. Plans start at just $30 per month.

                8. Enloop

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                enloop

                  Creating a business plan is not the easiest thing in the world to do, and this tool can help you with that. You will be able to create a business plan that looks professional, and even includes a three-year financial forecast report. You will get a free business plan score that will help you tweak your plan to make it the best it can possibly be. The first business plan is free, and then subscription rates for extra business plans and more features are quite affordable.

                  9. Pablo

                  pablo

                    You need to create marketing items, but not everyone is great at graphic design. This tool can really help you with that. You will be able to have amazing images for your social media campaigns that are created from your text. It only takes 30 seconds to get these images, and it is so easy that even an adult can do it (children seem to have more computer skills these days).

                    10. Expensify

                    expensify

                      Here is a tool that will help make creating expense reports a whole lot easier. You can simply the process via smart scanning of receipts, track expenses, and enjoy one-click reimbursement options. There is a free basic plan, and a 30-day free trial of the team and corporate plans.

                      Featured photo credit: markus spiske via flickr.com

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                      Jane Hurst

                      Writer, editor

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                      Published on October 8, 2018

                      13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

                      13 Incredibly Useful Tactics to Help You to Stick to Your Family Budget

                      Are you having trouble sticking to a family budget? You aren’t alone.

                      Budgeting is difficult. Creating one is hard enough, but actually sticking to it is a whole other issue. Things come up. Desires and cravings happen. And the next thing you know, budgets break.

                      So how can you stick to a family budget? Here are 13 tips to make it easier.

                      1. Choose a major category each month to attack

                      As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” With that in mind, one approach to help you get into the habit of sticking to a budget is simply starting slow.

                      Spend too much on Starbucks runs, eat out too often, and have an out-of-this-world grocery bill? Choose one bad habit and attack.

                      By choosing one behavior to focus on, you’ll prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. You’ll also experience small victories, which help you gain positive momentum. This momentum can then carry over into your overall budget.

                      2. Only make major purchases in the morning

                      If you’re making large purchases in the evening, there’s a good chance you’re doing so after a long day and you’re probably tired.

                      Why does this matter? Because our judgement tends to be off when tired – our willpower is compromised.

                      Instead, only make major purchasing decisions in the morning when you’re energized and refreshed. Your brain will be firing on all cylinders and your resolve will be high. You’re less likely to give in and settle at this point.

                      3. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry

                      Have trouble with impulse buys at the grocery store? If so, there’s a good chance you’re going grocery shopping while hungry.

                      The problem here is that when you’re hungry, everything looks good. So you’re more likely to make split decisions on things that aren’t on your grocery list.

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                      Instead, make sure you eat prior to your grocery store trip. Then take your list, along with your full stomach, and go shopping. Notice how food doesn’t look quite so good when you’re not fighting cravings.

                      4. Read one-star reviews for products

                      Is there a product you just have to have (but maybe not really)? Check out the one-star reviews.

                      By reading all the horrible reviews, you may be able to basically trick yourself into deciding that the product isn’t worth your time and money.

                      Next thing you know, you didn’t make the purchase, you saved the money, and you feel good about the decision.

                      5. Never buy anything you put in an online shopping cart until the next day

                      If you are making a purchase online, it’s typically a two-step process. First, you click “Add to Cart” and then you go in to review your cart and pay.

                      The problem is that there not typically much reviewing during step two. It’s generally click pay and there you go. However, this is the perfect point to stop for reflection.

                      Once you add to your cart, your best bet is to step away until the next day. Let the item sit there and grow cold, so to speak.

                      This gives you a night to “sleep on it” and decide if you really want and need to spend that money. If you wake up the next day and still find the purchase viable, then perhaps it’s time to go for it.

                      6. Don’t save your credit card info on any site you shop on

                      One of the other pitfalls of shopping online is that fact that most sites ask you to save your credit card information.

                      While the sites will frame it as a method of convenience, the truth is they know you’ll spend more money in the long run if your credit card information is saved.

                      The “convenience” takes away one last decision-making point in the purchasing process. True, it’s a pain to get out your credit card and enter the information every time. But guess what? That’s the point. If that inconvenience helps you stay on budget, then it’s worth it. Which leads into the next tip.

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                      7. Tape an “impulse buy” reminder to your credit card

                      Credit cards make spending much easier than cash. When you spend cash, you can literally see your wallet emptying. A credit card comes out, then goes back in. No harm, no foul.

                      That’s why it’s a good idea to tape a reminder to your credit card. Customize a message that is something along the lines of “do you really need this?” or “does it fit the budget?”

                      That way when you pull out the card, you get one last reminder to help you question your decision and stick to your budget.

                      8. Only use gift cards to shop on Amazon

                      Amazon is probably the easiest place online to blow money. It’s just so easy to click and buy. However, one way you can slow the process down is buy only using gift cards. Here’s how it works.

                      If you plan on making a purchase on Amazon, go to the grocery store and purchase a pre-loaded Amazon gift card of the proper amount. There’s no convenience fee, so you literally pay for the money you’ll spend.

                      Now take that gift card home and load it to your Amazon account. There’s your money to spend.

                      Why does this help? It makes you have to purposely go to the score and purchase the card in order to purchase the item. That’s a pretty deliberate thing that takes some time, commitment, and thought.

                      This process will effectively kill the impulse buy.

                      9. Budget using cash and envelopes

                      As mentioned earlier, it’s a lot harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card. You can take this even farther by using only cash, and separating that cash by budget category.

                      Create an envelope for each category and stick the cash in there at the beginning of each month. When the envelope is empty, no more spending on that category, unless you borrow from another (be careful of that approach).

                      This can be pretty helpful for people that have a hard time following transactions in their checking account, or keeping a budgeting spreadsheet.

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                      The envelopes simplify the tracking process, leaving no room for error. Nothing hides from you because it’s tangible in the envelopes in front of you.

                      10. Join a like-minded group

                      Making the decision to stick to something like budgeting is difficult. It takes long-term commitment.

                      You’re going to feel weak sometimes. And sometimes you may fail. That said, support from others can help strengthen resolve.

                      Support can come from a spouse or a friend, but they won’t always have the exact same goal in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to join a support group that’s likeminded.

                      No need to pay here, as there are tons of free communities that fit the bill online.

                      For example, reddit has multiple subreddits that deal with budgeting and frugal living. You can follow, subscribe, and get active in those communities.

                      This will open your eyes to new tips and strategies, keep your goal fresh on your mind, and help you realize there are others dealing with the same struggles and being successful.

                      11. Reward Yourself

                      When you set a budget, it’s usually with a large goal in mind. Maybe you want to be debt free, or perhaps you want to see $10,000 in your savings account.

                      Whatever the case, the end goal is great, but the end is often far away, making it hard to see the end of the tunnel.

                      With that in mind, it’s a good idea to set mini-goals along the way. This helps you still look at the big picture but have something that’s attainable in the short-term to help with momentum.

                      But don’t stop there – set rewards for yourself when you reach that small goal. Maybe it’s an extra meal out. Or a new pair of shoes.

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                      Whatever the case, this gives you something in the near future to look forward to, which can help with the fatigue that can result in pursuing long-term goals.

                      12. Take the Buddhist approach

                      You don’t have to be a Buddhist to recognize some of the wisdom in the teachings. One of the tenets of the philosophy involves accepting that we can’t have everything we want. And that’s okay.

                      Sometimes you won’t feel good. Sometimes you’ll have cravings. You can’t deny them. But you can recognize them, accept them, and let them pass by. Then you move on.

                      Apply this to the times you want to do things that will break your budget. You’re going to have the desire to eat out when you shouldn’t. You might want to stay out and spend too much at happy hour with your work friends.

                      The feelings will come. Recognize them, accept them, but let them go.

                      13. Set up automatic drafts to savings

                      If you wait until you’ve spent all your budgeted money to deposit money into savings, guess what? You probably aren’t going to put any money into savings.

                      It’s too easy to see that as extra money and end up using it to treat yourself.

                      Instead, set up automatic savings withdrawals. That way, the money is marked and gone before you can even think about it. It becomes a non-issue. It’s no longer “extra.” It’s just savings.

                      Conclusion

                      Sticking to a budget can be difficult. No one is denying that.

                      However, if you can do a few things to set yourself up for success, and put some practices in place to curb impulse buys, then you can (and will!) be successful sticking to your family budget.

                      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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