When I launched my first startup way back in 2004, my technology solutions and IT investments were limited to MS Excel Licenses. I would use that to keep track of everything, from to-do lists, to invoices, to costs and revenues, and contact details of my vendors and clients.
Today, I have grown from the rudimentary spreadsheets to better solutions that help me automate my business, and streamline my tasks. If you ask my co-founder, she will tell you, that I am a stickler for organizing things in their right order. I am also a compulsive note taker. We both have a different idea of organizing our data, while I am textual, she is visual. And thus, finding the right blend and mix of technologies to help us automate our business is key to our success.
Today, I have, after working for more than eleven years with several businesses, come to realize, that there are some key technology solutions for small businesses, that do not require a lot of heavy duty investment!
Maintaining your Customer Data:
Today’s CRMs have come a long way from the basic contact managers that were created in the early 90’s. From online, cloud based options, to robust and heavy duty CRMs, there are numerous options you can go for.
Zoho CRM and Bitrix24 CRM: These two are one of the top free/small fee CRMs that you can use, with features jampacked of a heavy duty CRM. From leads management, to conversation between teams, and from social media conversation tracking to service contract management, there are a lot of free features that can be utilized. Best feature, it syncs with Google For Business/ G Suite (or you can utilize similar features fromZoho!).
Another option if you’re interested in investing, is SalesForce. Not only do you get a robust CRM, jampacked with features, you also get the option of third party integrations with numerous apps from several vendors, through its AppExchange Portal. No need to heavily customize your CRM for features that you need!
Social Media Management:
Social media management does not require you to be online 24/7; but it does require managing a large number of social media channels; which is difficult if you use standalone applications, one for each channel. For that, I can easily vouch for some of the tools and hacks that I use:
Tweetdeck and HootSuite are two of my top suggestions for managing your social media channels. Though, the first only allows for Twitter profiles, it is key in managing your Twitter based social communication, with multiple profiles signed in on your Tweetdeck dashboard. Hootsuite on the other hand, allows for a large number of channels to be connected, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even WordPress. With that, you can create a dashboard to allow monitoring, as well as communication.
To Do Lists:
While people like me are very compulsive about note-taking, there are people who are very visual and like their to do lists to be available across various channels and devices. For such people, and one that I vouch for myself, include:
Wunderlist and Google Keep are my key favorites. They offer multi device management as well as reminders, emails, multi user management (in case of Wunderlist), and managing to dos easily with different lists (one for home, one for work, etc.).
Each small business has key projects that they are working on. Recently, I have had a new office that we built, a book that I have been writing, some content campaigns that we have had to run, amongst various other things we were working on. I can easily recommend the following two options that I have personally used:
Trello and Basecamp are my top options for Project Management; where I can create multiple project streams, task lists, and share these tasks with different teams. Tracking, reminders, color coding, and team conversations, all are possible with these two project management tools!
While I work as a Co-founder/Director for Mushawar Consulting, I work with several small businesses as well as organizations to provide IT solutions that cover all of such areas above. We also work with small businesses to help design processes and procedures, along with designing IT based business automation solutions. You can contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org, www.mushawar.com/appsupport or call me on +92-332-242-8181.