Each year, business growth is one of the most popular topics online. Almost every business owner wants to see his or her company grow and succeed, but many owners feel as though they are making things up as they go. That stress can be compounded by the day-to-day demands of running a business. To some extent, this is probably unavoidable. Businesses growth is often organic and circumstantial, meaning there will probably always be times when you are furiously laying down the tracks as the train chugs along. On the other hand, there is a checklist of specific items that every growing small business needs to get right. Luckily for you, there are plenty of excellent business planning tools available to help your company on its way.
1) A Real Business Plan
The first one is simple, probably obvious, and yet can be very challenging to do well. Each small business should have a written, detailed business plan that describes what the owner wants to do and how to get there. This is an intentionally strategic document that creates a figurative road map with which to guide the business.
If you are interested, there is a bevy of useful business planning software to help create a polished, professional business plan. Popular programs include EquityNet, LivePlan, and PlanGuru. These are valuable programs because they allow you to quickly use real numbers and create moving targets. Ideally, your business planning software can integrate seamlessly with QuickBooks or your own personal accounting data. You may be surprised how much time and energy you’ll save not worrying about entering in all of the numbers from scratch.
2) Accounting Tools
Accounting is something every business has to get right for practical and legal reasons. If you don’t calculate and pay your taxes correctly, your business can’t grow. If you don’t budget appropriately and control costs, your business is unlikely to grow. If you do both of those things correctly but spend too much time on them, the rest of your business is probably going to suffer.
Whether you are just starting a business or looking to grow your established business, you need to partner with the right accounting software. The cutting edge of accounting software exists online, or what is referred to as “cloud accounting.” This is a wonderful option for business owners who like control on the go.
3) Marketing Tools
Modern marketing involves a lot of different platforms. These include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, your company website or blog, email marketing, networking, and ad buys. Some excellent tools to consider include:
- Google Analytics
- bit.ly, a web-based platform that shortens URLs
4) Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management can be a bit of a minefield. There are tons of CRM platforms, and a lot of them boast attractive features. Unfortunately, too many are time-killers or budget-killers. There are some good low-cost options, such as Zoho and Insightly, the latter of which integrates nicely with QuickBooks Online.