19 Best apps & software to automate your small business

You don’t have to do every little thing on your own. Digital technology has solved many problems faced by small business owners. Let it solve yours.

As a small business owner, manager, or entrepreneur, one of your biggest challenges is to inspire people to give their best at work. There’s a delicate balance between getting things done and enjoying work. If you find this sweet spot, everyone in your team will be happy, productive, and efficient.

Making your teams more productive

Leading employees and making them more productive is an art. Of course, there’s no silver bullet that brands you as “The Best Manager Ever”, but there are many actionable things you can do to make sure that everyone on your team is sailing towards the right shore. Here are some of them:

Be genuine

Believe it or not, people can sense if you’re faking it. If you constantly wear a mask at work, we guarantee that you and your employees will not enjoy it. Not being yourself degrades trust. So, lead without compromising your beliefs and values. There is no replacement for authenticity.  

Be transparent and open for feedback

Managers are not really open to admitting their mistake. But if you want to create a company culture where everyone is honest and transparent, you must be willing to take the reins. This starts with the CEO. Don’t be consumed by the idea that you have to be always right. It takes a lot of courage to admit a mistake and your employees will appreciate you for it.  

Empower your employees with the best technology

Do more with less time. Employees often spend a lot of time doing trivial tasks that can be automated with technology. Not only it’s time-consuming, manually doing things are expensive in the long run. Not to mention the difficulties you’ll encounter when it’s time to scale up your business.  

Below are some software solutions you can use to improve your team’s productivity.

Top software solutions for distributed teams and SMEs

Managing a business can be daunting. It’s easy to get caught up with time-consuming tasks which do not significantly affect your company’s bottom line. Here are some software solutions to keep you right on track on what matters most.

1. Software solutions for team communication

Team communication is key to staying productive.  

  • Slack

    If you have not heard about Slack, you’re probably living under a rock. This is the tech industry’s favourite communication software. Thanks to its many features like real-time communication and collaboration. With Slack, team members can share files directly with each other. Not to mention the range of project management integrations that come with it!
  • Calendly

    Think of Calendly as your virtual secretary. With this app, you can easily asses all team member calendars to see who’s available when at a glance.  

2. Software solutions for enterprise management

Enterprise management software is an all-in-one solution for your management needs. And nothing beats Google’s GSuite in this category. With GSuite you can set up a customized email client (Gmail) using your own domain, manage files (Google Drive and Docs), share calendars, track website analytics, and launch ad campaigns.  

3. Software solutions for project management

One of the biggest pain points of small businesses and distributed teams is figuring out how your team can work together. This is especially true if you are working with remote teams. Here are some tools to help you manage projects more efficiently:

  • Asana

    This project management app makes it easy to create private tasks and manage projects using its beautiful user interface.
  • Trello

    This is another software solution for managing projects. It is highly customizable and user-friendly.
  • JIRA

    This project management software is built for software developers. It allows managers to plan, track, and release great software without missing a beat.
  • Basecamp

    This app is built for enterprises. It boasts client-facing tools and a built-in group chat among a host of other useful features.

4. Software solutions for human resources

Despite the critical role the human resources play, they’re usually overlooked. Here are some HR software designed to make the lives of your HR people better.

  • CakeHR

    This app helps HR professional streamline their processes — from onboarding new hires, keeping tabs of time-off requests, managing business expenses, scheduling shifts, and tracking over time.

    CakeHR also integrates with apps that you already use like  GSuite, Slack, and Zapier. You know what’s even better? CakeHR works in mobile! Transferring the simplicity and self-service of a great web application to your smartphone. Now, your employees can request time offs, schedule shifts, and manage expenses on the go.

    The CakeHR app also features powerful analytics to help you make informed decisions, draw insights and study trends. With the app, you can look at a glanceyou’re your employees grow in number over time as well as employee turnover data. You can also create custom reports based on your business’ needs.
  • GoodHire

    This is the app to go if you want to make background checks, employment verifications, and reference checks for your candidates. GoodHire also does pre-hire skill tests, education verifications, drug screenings, credit checks, and other complex processes in less than 24 hours. And once you’ve found the right hire, partner with CakeHR to automate your onboarding process.

5. Software solutions for customer relationship management (CRM)

What’s the point of having a streamlined business if you don’t know how to build and maintain meaningful relationships with your customers? Here are some apps that can help you do it right:

  • Zoho CRM

    One of the most popular customer relationship management software out there. Zoho CRM helps you engage with your customers on social media, emails, and other platforms.
  • Zendesk

    This app helps businesses manage and track inbound customer communications easily and produce streamline responses for a 5-star customer service. Zendesk easily integrates with your website as well.
  • Salesforce

    This highly customizable app helps your business build meaningful relationships with customers across various departments. They also provide power reporting tools so you can see how your business is doing at a glance.
  • Intercom

    This tool is built for web-based businesses. Intercom, as its name suggests, lets you set up live chat and tutorials for your customers — making it easy for you to communicate, interact, and engage with them.

6. Software solutions for managing finances

So, you finally got your processes right and your customers happy. Now it’s time to organize the books with these powerful apps:

  • Quickbooks

    One of the most popular finance management software out there, Quickbooks lets you track finances, pay employees, and invoice customers without missing a deadline.  
  • Freshbooks

    Aside from invoicing features, this app can also track hours spent on projects and offers your clients multiple ways to securely pay their dues.

7. Software solutions for social media management

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram — social media is a key part of businesses nowadays.  Building your brand in these channels is not a walk in the park. So, here are some apps to help you out:

  • Hootsuite

    This is probably the most popular social media management software in the market. Hootsuite allows you to manage all your social media accounts in one place and track the progress of each one.
  • SproutSocial

    This amazing app helps you build your brand from scratch. With SproutSocial, you can manage your social media accounts along with powerful analytics to see how well you are doing. They also help you identify topics that your customers love.
  • Buffer

    This app is designed to help you optimize your social media channels. It helps you save time generating content and engaging with potential customers.

8. Software solutions for business operations

Keeping tabs of day to day business operations is not easy. Here are two tools to help you keep everything together:

  • Geckoboard

    This app is built on the merits of transparency. Geckoboard allows you to share business data with employees to keep them within the loop. Studies show that employees are more engaged when managers are transparent about how the business is doing.
  • Blendo

    This software solution tracks every moving part of your business — from HR and product development to marketing and customer support. Blendo makes sure you are not slacking in any place. Its powerful analytics gives you a bird’s eye view on how your business is doing so you can make improvements right away.

Your turn

It’s hard to run a small business. As the owner or manager, you face countless hours handling seemingly endless tasks. Staying focused, productive, sane, and organized can be a challenge. Fortunately, we live in a digital age where the technology to simplify our lives is up for grabs.  

You don’t have to do every little thing on your own. Try these apps today and see the difference!

Norberts Erts is the co-founder of HR software company CakeHR, that streamlines attendance and performance management for customers worldwide. Keeping a sharp eye on HR, marketing, business, finance, science, technology and the connections between them. Connect with Norberts on Twitter or LinkedIn.