Working with online tools is one of the best ways for small business owners to remain involved in the daily workflow and also able to view their company’s overall health. The key, of course, is finding the right tools to get the job done.
Online tools for accounting, sales, marketing and inventory control planning are nothing new, but finding the right mix of each sometimes feels akin to alchemy. So how can a small business owner find the best online tools to keep them productive and in the know? We have a few simple tricks to help guide your search.
Know What You want (At Least at First)
Before you begin your search, it’s a good idea to have some idea of what you want to know. Do you like looking at the finer details as well as big picture assessments and aggregates? How much detail do you think you’ll want to see? If you’re more into reports that pull data from different areas, consider online tools that create reports and infographics.
No matter which you prefer — details or reports — be sure you have enough flexibility to get both. The real difference is often in report outputs and the ability to zoom in on the finer details. While some tools focus better on one or the other, a truly valuable tool will offer you a bit of both.
Check Out Free Trials With Your Team
Most online tools and software programs offer a free trial of their software before you have to make any sort of big commitment. As you discover options that appeal to you evaluate them with members from your different teams. This will give you insight into potential problems such as software compatibility. It will also ensure that the tools can be used across the board, bringing your company together instead of further compartmentalizing it.
Look for Tools That Work Together
The best way to find tools that increase productivity is to find tools that work together. Your online inventory management system, for example, should have no problem working with accounting for sales or marketing metrics. That way you’ll be able to see how each piece of data affects the rest, giving you an accurate image of your company as it is and an idea of where it may go in the future.