Arguably, running a business today is more challenging than in the past because, with ever-evolving technology, the stakes are always changing. There is also more free advice, and more opportunities for small business owners to find tools they need to run their business. Everything is just a quick Google search away, and so many more software products are now specifically designed for small business owners.
But it can also be confusing and time-consuming to find the right software and then learn how to use it. In the end, software will save you time and your business money through more accurate record keeping or better marketing.
CUE Marketplace surveyed small business owners to understand what software they are currently using to run their business. The data from our survey indicates:
- Where small business owners should get started
- What software can make the most impact
- How to begin searching
Pick the Best Accounting Software
It is no surprise that the first type of software many small businesses purchase is accounting. Keeping track of income, expenses, assets, and more is a necessity in running a successful business. For 32% of those surveyed, accounting was the first software they purchased, and a further 24% have subsequently acquired accounting software to run their business. However, similar to other studies, CUE Marketplace’s findings indicate that many small businesses are not taking advantage of software that could save them time, money and future stress.
How to choose accounting software
If you are starting a business, make sure you pick the right accounting software for your needs. Focus on comparing the critical features other business owners use such as balance sheets, expense tracking, invoices, and profit/loss statements. Doing a thorough comparison upfront can save you time down the line. Picking the best accounting software for your business size and stage can speed up this comparison process.
Use Free or Cheap Online Marketing Tools
When asked ‘what is your biggest challenge’ many of our customers cited finding new customers and marketing to them as the thing that keeps them up at night. What’s more, businesses are often marketing on a tight budget.
“My biggest challenge is finding new customers.”
However, Website Builders and Online Presence, for example, websites and social media ranked highest, behind accounting, for the type of software that business owners are actively using. 37% are currently maintaining an online presence, and 31% have email marketing. However, this is incredibly low given how crucial a website is in the digital age. With an online presence, people are more likely to trust the legitimacy of a business.
How to find and market to new customers
Take advantage of the tools that are out there! Now could not be a better time to design your own website and market yourself on a shoestring budget as there are so many tools out there designed for the layman.
- Get a domain and website up and running even if it is simple and contains only a few pages
- Try email marketing. If you collect any emails for your business, email marketing is a good way to stay in touch with potential customers. Companies like Constant Contact run free trials and many others have free or reduced plans low-volume plans designed for small businesses.
- Social Media is free advertising and a great way to find new customers! In 2018, there are 2.95 billion people that have a social media account, so your business should as well. If tackling the whole social media category feels overwhelming, pick one or two profiles. Social Media presence is a must for any small business.
Use reviews and scores to pick your software products
Small business owners like to rely on advice from others in their same position when picking software. 44% say they look at reviews before buying. Given that business owners are also learning these tools on their own, 39% feel that support is a critical part of their choice.
How to utilize the software review information
Find a site like CUE Marketplace that has intuitive comparison charts. Read product reviews and scores to make sure the product you purchase has your preferred support option. Many products also offer free trials so new users can decide before purchasing.
The Bottom Line of our 2018 Software Survey
Business owners still aren’t taking advantage of the software tools on the market that could help them start, or efficiently grow a business.
Most businesses usually begin by purchasing accounting software and a website, as well as any industry specific software they need. Make sure you are taking advantage of the current software market to optimize your admin and leave you more time for the things you love.
A Note on Demographics: We surveyed 52 small business owners, ages 18–60+ across a range of industries and US locations. Use CUE Marketplace to research, purchase and manage software solutions. We only recommends products we believe will add value to our readers. For some links in this post, CUE may receive an affiliate commission.