One can’t help but feel for people who dream of launching and growing their own businesses by working smarter, not harder but soon find themselves overwhelmed by mundane and time-consuming tasks and dealing with daily headaches.
For proof that it happens more often than not, look no further than a study that found the average entrepreneur spends 68% of their time working ‘in’ their business (e.g. tackling day-to-day jobs) and only 32% ‘on’ the business (e.g: long-term goals, strategic planning)1. Coupled with the fact 63% of business owners are working more than 50 hours a week when the average entrepreneur wants to work less than 42 hours and it is clear that running a successful SME can be a challenge.
Fortunately, an increasing number of technologies are helping ease the pressure and there is no better time to find a better way of doing business.
With 2023 shaping up to be another period of economic uncertainty, it is crucial that owners of small and medium enterprises are spending more time on the bigger picture and leaving the minutiae of daily business life to staff and, increasingly, the tools and solutions designed to improve efficiencies and cut costs.
The most useful business tools of 2023
The days of overseeing a task or project with pen and paper are long gone but many SME owners are still searching for the ideal project management tool to add to their arsenal. Small business and start-up projects require owners and managers to juggle multiple roles and these solutions allow them to easily collate details, track issues and assign duties regardless of how geographically disparate their teams are. They are all about ensuring projects are completed on time and within budget, hence why research has found 75% of project professionals believe the usage of collaboration tools for teams will increase in the future2. Here are three project management tools to get you started:
- Trello – “bring all your tasks, teammates and tools together”
- Monday.com – “a platform built for a new way of working”
- Wrike – “remove barriers, find clarity, exceed goals”.
A study found 71% of growing SMEs believe their businesses survived the COVID-19 pandemic because of digitisation3 and communication tools would be at the top of the list that helped them do so. While early adopters had already embraced platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, they are now an integral part of any forward-thinking operation and improving their functionalities all the time. Whether connecting from one’s home office or across the world, it has never been more important – or simple – to converse with colleagues, customers and other key stakeholders.
- Microsoft Teams – “make amazing things happen together at home, work and school”
- Slack – “great teamwork starts with a digital HQ”
- Zoom – “one platform to create”.
Social media marketing
Promoting one’s business no longer has to be a financial burden dependent on traditional advertising gatekeepers such as print, radio and television outlets. These days anyone can reach a broad and global customer base through the power of social media platforms that require little to no setup costs, which is the perfect recipe for start-ups and fledging SMEs. After all, studies have found 50% of people younger than 25 go to social media rather than search engines when researching brands4. To assist with setting up, creating and publishing regular content, the following tools will prove a blessing for entrepreneurs wanting to simplify their social media marketing processes and spend more time on creative and strategic pursuits in 2023.
- Hootsuite – “built to simplify your marketing, accelerate your sales and streamline your customer service”
- SproutSocial – “a powerful solution for social media management”
- Buffer – “grow your audience on social and beyond”.
If you are continuing to crunch numbers the old way, put down your pen and calculator and immediately Google ‘accounting software’. According to Fortune Business Insights, the market is set to expand to $416 million by 2024 and that is because it is arguably the most important tool on this list5. Digital accounting solutions have revolutionised the SME environment in recent years, with cutting-edge technology helping track expenditure, administer payroll, invoice customers and even provide insights into cash flow and profit forecasting. Faster data entry, reduced costs, fewer human errors, more time spent on more valuable tasks – what’s not to like about that?
- Wave – “manage your money like a boss”
- FreshBooks – “built for business owners and accountants”
- Sage Business Cloud Accounting – “easy cloud invoicing so you can get paid faster”.
How to get started
While every tool listed above could benefit your business, it is essential to find the product that works best for you. Do your research, ask the right questions, make use of free trials and then invest in the business tools that are going to make your life easier – and your business more profitable – in 2023.
Improving cash flow is crucial to business success. Discover how investing in an offshore resourcing strategy like outsourcing can positively impact your organisation and deliver a more reliable and sustainable bottom line.
1. Time Management: New Survey Reveals How Biz Owners Are Spending Their Time—And How They’d Rather Spend It - Agility PR Solutions
2. 101 Essential Project Management Software Statistics: 2023 Market Share & Data Analysis - Financesonline.com
3. 5th Edition Small and Medium Business Trends Report - Salesforce.com
4. Social Media Marketing and Management Tool - Hootsuite
5. Accounting Software Statistics and Trends - TrustRadius for Vendors