Advertising
Advertising

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

    Advertising

    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

        Advertising

        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

            Advertising

            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

                Advertising

                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

                      More by this author

                      Jane Hurst

                      Writer, editor

                      Stay Productive On The Go – The Top 20 Tools For Digital Nomads 10 Great Books to Help You Find the Meaning of Life 30 Makeup Hacks That Will Change Every Girl’s Life 15 Best Brainstorming And Mind-Mapping Tech Tools For Every Creative Mind 10 Apps You Probably Didn’t Know Can Earn You Extra Money

                      Trending in Money

                      1 How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them 2 25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education 3 10 Recession-Proof Debt Consolidation Tips 4 The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever) 5 25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

                      Read Next

                      Advertising
                      Advertising
                      Advertising

                      Last Updated on September 2, 2020

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

                      Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

                      In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

                      4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

                      Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

                      1. Be Clear About the Objectives

                      Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

                      It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

                      Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

                      2. Keep Goals Realistic

                      It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

                      It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

                      3. Account for Inflation

                      Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

                      Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

                      For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

                      Advertising

                      4. Short Term Vs Long Term

                      Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

                      As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

                      By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

                      How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

                      Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

                      • Ensuring healthy savings
                      • Making smart investments

                      You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

                      Ensuring Healthy Savings

                      Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

                      This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

                      1. Track Expenses

                      The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

                      Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

                      If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

                      2. Pay Yourself First

                      Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

                      Advertising

                      Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

                      The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

                      Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

                      3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

                      Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

                      Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

                      At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

                      Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

                      You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

                      4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

                      In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

                      Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

                      • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
                      • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
                      • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

                      The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

                      Advertising

                      5. Talk About It

                      Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

                      Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

                      6. Maintain a Journal

                      For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

                      If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

                      When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

                      Making Smart Investments

                      Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

                      1. Consult a Financial Advisor

                      Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

                      Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

                      2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

                      Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

                      Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

                      As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

                      Advertising

                      3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

                      Einstein once remarked about compounding:

                      “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

                      Use compound interest when setting financial goals

                        Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

                        Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

                        4. Measure, Measure, Measure

                        All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

                        If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

                        Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

                        The Bottom Line

                        Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

                        and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

                        More Tips on Financial Goals

                        Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

                        Reference

                        Read Next