Small businesses have access to mountains of resources to help you get started and make your business a success. Due to space limitations, this article addresses a small number of software programs, websites and books for you to consider. It’s for information purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement by the author or publisher.
Every business is unique, so you should carefully select the software that fits your needs. It’s a good idea to buy software that’s more robust than what you think you need at the beginning. Otherwise, you’ll probably outgrow it and be forced to spend more time and money replacing it.
Wave Accounting is a free, cloud-based accounting system that handles accounting, payroll, invoicing and payments. It’s specifically designed for very small businesses.
FreshBooks is a cloud-based system that handles accounting, expenses, time tracking, financial reporting, invoicing and payments.
QuickBooks is a more complex system available in both online and desktop versions. Some training may be needed to fully utilize its broad functionality. It’s capable of supporting all the accounting and finance needs of most small businesses. Many accountants have experience with QuickBooks which makes analyzing and transitioning data a seamless operation.
Booker is an integrated management platform that provides inventory management, data reporting, point-of-sale system, payment processing, appointment scheduling and reminders, social media networking, email marketing, loyalty program integration and customer feedback surveys.
Genbook provides an array of features to help manage your business including email notifications, schedule reminders, appointment history, customizable calendar, customer contacts, social media marketing tools, promotion publishing and sharing, customer review posting and business performance charts.
There are hundreds of websites that provide valuable information for entrepreneurs and businesses. With far too many to list in this article, these websites represent a diverse sampling of some of the more popular resources.
The Small Business Administration
) contains information on starting, financing and running your own business. It’s also a great resource for the laws and regulations that apply to establishing a business.
The Better Business Bureau
) will help you find other businesses and brands you can trust. When you’re looking for suppliers or companies to carry or promote your products, this is just one resource you should check.
The National Association for the Self-Employed
) provides education, training and other support for self-employed members.
The Business Owner's Tool Kit
) has thousands of pages loaded with tips for cost-cutting, problem-solving and organizing your business. It also includes practical tools such as detailed checklists, data templates and case studies of actual businesses.
The Direct Marketing Association
) provides a variety of information and resources for businesses that use data-driven marketing, including direct and interactive marketing. It specializes in education, innovation and advocacy that advance the state-of-the-art marketing techniques.
The National Association of Women Business Owners
) is a strong advocate and supporter of women-owned businesses. This is an excellent resource for small businesses that are interested in securing government contracts.
While the Microsoft Small Business Center
) sells various branded products, it’s also an excellent source of free, expert advice and information.
The Survey Monkey
) gives you the customer-driven data you need to make smart decisions. You can use the basic free survey or create custom surveys that produce detailed analytics, statistics and reports.
The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
) provides support for a multitude of small businesses. It especially targets Historically Underutilized Business Zones and businesses owned by women, disadvantaged persons and disabled veterans. Entrepreneur.com
lives up to its name by publishing thousands of articles on a wide variety of topics. You’ll receive access to expert tips and advice, as well as links to other online resources.
The number of excellent books related to small businesses dwarfs the space available here, and selecting them for review is extremely subjective. Depending on the size and type of business you’re running, some will benefit you more than others. Here are just a few to consider, in no particular order.
Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to transform a personal obsession into an online business. He focuses on the importance of branding and personal relationships.
Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles is all about customer service and what it takes to create a booming business. In order to get beyond merely satisfied customers, you need to put yourself in their place and do whatever it takes to keep them coming back.
Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras identifies critical things that companies do right and wrong, and how the best traits made them successful. You can benefit by applying the lessons many of these companies learned the hard way.
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is a simple guide to automating your work, simplifying your life and using your time effectively. It’s loaded with street-smart advice for changing your entire approach to accomplishing things without wasting precious time.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is a comprehensive guide to solving problems and achieving goals with a principle-centered approach. He believes that integrity and fairness provide the security to adapt to and capitalize on evolutionary change.
Don’t limit yourself to the resources mentioned in this article. It’s a tiny sampling of what’s out there, and much of what you’ll find on the internet is free. Do a search and you’ll find information on every small business topic you can imagine.