The 10 small business tools you didn’t know you needed

It’s a secret every business owner knows: having the right small business tools to stay organized is key to saving time and money. 

As a business owner, you’ve got a lot on the go. Team meetings, onboarding, time sheets, payroll, coordinating your manager’s sick leave. Not to mention promoting your summer sale on social media. How does one manage it all? Simple: having the right small business tools. And a lot of coffee, of course.

The advantages of running a small business.

There are plenty of advantages to running a small business. Along with the flexibility to make your own schedule, you’re able to create the life that you want. We won’t get all mushy about it, but the satisfaction you can get by running your own business is pretty big. 

As a business owner, you get to make a lot of decisions. Maybe you’ll only serve vegan-friendly food options, or maybe you want to exclusively play female artists as your in-store music. When you’re the business owner, you get to make all the decisions around decor, the team you hire, and what you sell. While you might involve your team in a lot of the decisions, one thing is for sure: using small business tools specifically designed for your small business needs can make a world of difference.

Pitfalls that can happen when growing a small business.

There are a plethora of perks that can come from being your own boss. Unfortunately, there are also a few pitfalls that can happen when growing a small business—let’s call them growing pains. 

As a business owner, you’ve already been through a lot to get your company up and running. That means you’ve probably noticed a few areas that could be improved. Things like coordinating communications, hiring and onboarding staff, managing payroll, plus organizing shift work and time off can cause a lot of stress. And not just for you, but for your employees, customers, and business partners, too.

According to research from the University of California, ​​entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to suffer from mental health conditions. Financial stress and feeling overwhelmed are part of the reasoning behind this statistic. Thankfully, as technology advances, so do the ways to stay organized and take back control.

What are small business tools?

Small business tools come in all shapes and forms. This includes software to help with areas that you might not be staffed for, like organizing payroll, efficient and transparent employee communications, and easy-to-use design apps that help you create eye-catching promotions for your business. Even social media apps that support your marketing department—or lack thereof—count. Some of these tools, or versions of them, can be free, and some come with a range of pricing options.

Small business tools can also help with day-to-day activities, letting you focus on the bigger and better things, like growing your business. When used, they can better both the staff and customer experience by streamlining processes of things like customer support, online ordering, time tracking, and timesheets.

3 advantages of using small business tools to keep your business organized.

Just like the perks that come from being your own boss, the small business tools you use to get the job done also come with advantages. Here are just three that you might want to consider if you’re feeling like you want a bit more control in how you work. 

1. Less stress

We mentioned that entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to suffer from mental health conditions. Stress can be a big factor in this. Depending on the time of year and if small business owners are dealing with things like staff issues, shortages, or financial worries, stress can creep in, causing physical and mental health issues, and potentially, communication breakdowns in the workplace.

If your business is struggling from a lack of organization, the stress might be piling up faster than the paperwork. This is especially true if you don’t have the support you need to stay on top of things, or the tools or training to do them right.

Think about payroll. With state and federal requirements, time tracking, deductions and withdrawals, the process can be complicated, especially if you’re already busy running other aspects of your business, like onboarding new employees, figuring out your next product launch, or making a plan to promote it.

Adding on the time and energy of completing your bi-weekly payroll for your business’s shift workers can tack on an immense amount of stress, especially if you’re uncertain of the process or wondering how your part-time hire clocked in 44 hours last week.

Smart tools to avoid the stress

This is where small business tools can play a big part in reducing stress. They keep you and your entire team organized, and can help your business thrive. It takes care of the mundane tasks, the time-intensive activities, or the ones who just don’t know how to do it, leaving you with the time and energy to focus on what makes you happy. 

Add a payroll-specific app that can handle overtime, vacation pay, and is specifically created for hourly and shift workers. Not only will you save hours, you’ll know that everything is -compliant and accurate (and we bet you can’t say the same for your napkin math).

2. More opportunities for growth

Speaking of focusing on what makes you happy, let’s talk about business growth. By using the right small business tools to support you and your company, you can identify areas that need some TLC and still have time to work on them.

For example, a small business tool that indicates when employees are clocking-in late can save you from trying to understand why you’re getting negative reviews that correlate with the morning shift. With the proper small business tools, you can be informed of clock ins-and-outs, and also message staff directly in the app to see what the hold up is.

On the flip side, you can also use the messenger tool to give shout outs to staff who are showing up on time, or even early, to create some positive reinforcement amongst your team. 

3. Employee morale

Employees aren’t just your number one highest expense: they’re your biggest asset. And by looking out for your employees and providing small business tools that they didn’t know they needed, you’re not just providing a morale boost, you’re helping them do their job more efficiently.

Think about your keyholder who has problems with the rusty lock but can never get a hold of a team member to get the help they need. With a tool like team messenger versus a text message to the only employee whose number they have, they can reach any number of co-workers who can lend a hand, or remind them about the turn-left-than-right-super-quick trick. 

10 best tools to keep your small business organized

Looking for tools to keep your small business organized? We’ve got 10 must-have small business tools that are sure to help. 

1. Scheduling apps

Shift work isn’t easy. And we’re not just talking about on-the-job duties, but scheduling, too. Coordinating staff, shift swaps, sick time, and busy periods can be a lot of work, especially if you’re doing it all manually. That’s where scheduling software can help.

Scheduling software automates the process and allows you to switch from a paper system to online. It keeps the staff schedules you build for your business stored on the Internet, and with cloud-based software like Homebase, schedules can be accessible by your staff from any device when they use our scheduling app.

Certain software features, like Homebase’s monthly schedule maker, can even send your hourly workers calendar reminders about their work schedule and email reminders when their shift is coming up.

Online scheduling also means that managers can build and update the schedule from anywhere, which is great for on-the-go staff or workers who don’t have a traditional office set-up.

2. Time clocks

How do your employees clock in and clock out? Manually with paper? What about tapping their badge, then hopefully remembering to tap it on the way out? If any of these are the case, an online time clock, also known as a punch clock app or time tracker, might be easier. 

Think of it as a modern, digital way for employees to clock in and out of their shifts. The time clock then connects with your online timesheet or time-tracking software to calculate hours and create payroll reports and wages for each team member. 

Online time clocks can be specifically designed for hourly teams and small businesses. They can support your business needs by tracking hours, breaks, overtime, and paid time off, so you can stay on top of labor costs, and remain compliant with break and overtime laws.

They can be secure, effective, and easy. At Homebase, our time clock app is secure and accurate and offers the ideal employee experience. What’s even cooler is the addition of geofencing time-tracking for employees who need to clock in, meaning your employees can only clock in when they’re physically within a certain distance of your location. No buddy punching, and no taking advantage.

And it’s much easier than dealing with paper time cards or cumbersome spreadsheets. 

3. Online team messaging

Want to work on your team’s communication skills? Start with an app.

Over the past few years, employees have flocked to messaging apps like Microsoft Teams, Google Chat, Slack, and even SMS. Unfortunately, these apps aren’t always the most efficient or effective way for small business owners to communicate with their employees.

Team chat apps make it easier to communicate because they let you see who’s working, plus allow you send messages as a group. This can be super helpful when you need to reach everyone at the same time and get a prompt response from the staff working.

Certain apps, like Homebase’s team communication app, also let you create custom chat rooms based on roles, tiers, locations, and projects, so you can keep up with everything that’s happening at your business without having to stay there around the clock.

Having a team messaging app gives your employees a way to contact you whenever it’s needed. For example, if an employee is having trouble cashing out at the end of their shift, they have a way to reach out to you, their boss or another team member that can provide support. 

4. Video conferencing

Video conferencing is one of the many small business tools that you might need to explore if phone calls aren’t quite cutting it. It’s a cost-effective way to communicate, especially if you’re dealing with people who would be typically commuting in to work with you.

Video conferencing is also great for virtual sign offs. For example, as an interior design firm, you need to provide immediate approval of a ceramic tile for a client, but you’re onsite at another project. Do you drop what you’re doing to commute to another city? With video conferencing, you don’t have to.

Zoom and Google Meets are two popular video conferencing apps for small businesses, and both are free to use with some timing limitations. For instance, if you’re having multi-hour conferences, you might want to consider paying for a Zoom Pro account.

5. Payroll management software

Small business payroll can be a headache for managers and owners who are doing it manually. That’s because there are a lot of factors on the federal and state level you need to remember when preparing everything for both hourly payroll and salaried employees every pay period.

In addition, there can be a tremendous amount of paperwork to keep organized, especially without the support from helpful online tools, like the employee time clocks, mentioned above.

Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier, organized and automated. Enter payroll management software, where you can pay your team in just a matter of clicks and without the hours spent tracking hours worked, social security numbers, and voluntary deductions.

Apps like Homebase keep it all organized by instantly converting timesheets into hours and wages in Payroll. It can also free up your time by calculating wages and taxes, then sending the correct payments to employees, the state, and the IRS. It can even automatically process your tax filings and issue 1099s and W-2s.

So, what will you do with all your spare time? 

6. Human resourcing help

Looking for small business tools for HR to help with the people side of your business? There are a few out there that can support your needs.

Human resources, which is like the employee-relations department of your business, is made up of many different tasks: managing employee information, such as emergency contacts, and payroll details, and duties like employee performance reviews and policy decisions for the business.

These are all important roles, but take a lot of time and energy to do, and most small businesses can’t afford to hire a full-time HR person. And since HR is an ongoing need for many businesses, it also requires a lot of organization. Here’s where small business tools, like HR support, can come in handy.

An HR service for small businesses takes the difficulty out of your business operations in terms of handling employee aspects such as job descriptions, hiring, applicant tracking, onboarding, performance reviews, performance management, and more. 

Homebase provides a great HR solution that you can access online or directly from your phone when you have our mobile app.

HR support might also be needed in tricky or sensitive situations. For those times, look for a small business tool that offers you the opportunity to talk live with a certified HR advisor, or have an HR expert review your policies. Your tool should also give you access to a HR resources library with templates, guides, and training documents.

7. AI assistance 

If you’re reading or watching the news, you might be hearing a lot about something called AI, or ChatGPT. Who knows—the article you read about it in might have been written by AI. 

While artificial intelligence can sometimes be positioned as futuristic, dystopian, or just downright scary, it can actually be quite helpful as one of your small business tools.

Just think about the times you may have struggled with coming up with the perfect social media caption or description for your new dessert on your menu. With AI, you can prompt it to get some help.

Here’s an example of a response we’ve pulled from ChatGPT just to show you how good it can be: “My bakery has a new flakey croissant, stuffed with Nutella and baked to perfection. Can you come up with a fun and French-sounding name for it?” 

Here’s the response we received: “Sure, how about “Nutellissant”? It’s a playful combination of “Nutella” and “Croissant” that’s easy to remember and fun to say.”

But AI isn’t just for cute names and captions. Software that integrates AI can be used to keep your small business organized, too. Tools like Intercom, for example, can help with customer inquiries, while other tools can support other parts of your business like inventory management and analytics and reporting. 

8. Easy-to-use design software

Promoting your small business and everything it has to offer can be tough. Without a graphic designer or marketing team on your side, you might find yourself spending time using complicated systems to illustrate posters, social carousels or invitations. Or worse—resort to using Microsoft Paint.

First, put down the clip art. Next, make a free account on Canva or any of the internet’s easy-to-use design software.

Basic accounts are free to use and designed to be simple, intuitive, and quick. They provide templates for you to use, design inspiration, and you can even upload your brand colors to keep your digital asset library organized.

9. Employee satisfaction compass

Keeping your staff happy is an important role in a small business. Afterall, your employees keep you growing and strong. This is why keeping track of their progress, milestones, achievements and overall feelings is necessary.

But forget feedback boxes, quick chats, and hallway high-fives. Small business owners need a way to efficiently organize what’s happening with their staff in a way that’s transparent, measured and monitored.

Small business tools like Homebase’s employee happiness feature can help you recognize your team for their contributions, and let them give each other shout outs for a job well done. To keep you organized and on-top of the congratulations, we track performance metrics like on-time arrivals, plus employee birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones are all stored in your team roster.

Get that cake ready. 

10. Hiring, onboarding and training help

So, you have a small business that’s ready for a few new employees. First off, congrats on the growth! Second, do you have all of your job descriptions ready and online? What about the training manuals and welcoming packets? Tax information for your new employees?

Don’t worry. There are tools to help.

For example, Homebase offers Hiring and Recruitment Software, which lets you post jobs easily.  You’ll be able to find great new employees to help your business grow, and find them fast.

No matter which posting website or job aggregator your applicants are coming from, you’ll see it all in one place, and no, not in stacks of paper scattered on your desk. You can view it all on your hiring dashboard, then screen the applicants who’ve applied and easily schedule their interviews, too.

Found your next hire? We had a feeling you might. Use a small business tool like Homebase to add them to your business’s schedule and timesheets. No complicated paperwork required.

When it comes time for onboarding, online tools can help you organize the process. Send your new staff their welcome packs online, then provide them with a place to provide all the info you need. They can complete everything online to get paid, like direct deposit, W-4, W-9, and I-9 forms.

Once you have those in hand—and by in-hand we mean in-app—you can keep all signed documents organized and secure right in Homebase.

No more outdated file folders, sticky notes, or forms hidden under the health and safety binder. You’re too organized for that. 

Small business tools FAQS 

Why should I use these tools for my small business?

Small business owners should focus on growing their business. To do that, they need all the help they can get. Small business tools like the ones listed above provide the support you need. Even better: you don’t have to hire extra staff like HR coordinators or accountants to take on any admin duties that may be sucking up your time and energy.

Which small business tasks can be organized utilizing these tools?

There are a lot of small business tasks that can be organized using the tools mentioned above. Some include time tracking, payroll management, HR support, onboarding and training, and team messaging.

How much time can I save by organizing my small business tasks?

Depending on what  small business tools you use, you can save hours by organizing your tasks. For instance, think about the time spent managing your payroll. With software, you can ditch the hours of data entry and worry of inaccuracies and use a tool to calculate hours, breaks, overtime, and PTO—plus sync it all to Payroll, saving you time and the mistakes.

What’s the cost of using these tools?

Small business tools come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. Some are even free. Others have a tiered approach, where as you level up and get more access, you’re required to pay more.

A Basic account with Homebase is free. That includes 1 location, up to 20 employees, and basic scheduling, basic time tracking, employee management and POS integration. As you add more features and employees, the price can increase.

For small business tools like Zoom, you have to have at least a Zoom Pro account for meetings that are longer than 40 minutes, but team chat in the Zoom, whiteboard and up to 100 guests are free.

When deciding how much you want to invest in any small business tool, it’s important to outline your needs, objectives and make sure any costs fit into your budget.

How much will my small business save by using these tools?

Wondering how much money you’ll save by using these small business tools? That depends on how much you utilize, the time saved, and what you’re doing with the time you reclaim.

For example, if you were spending 10 hours a month on payroll, but that’s been reduced to one hour, you can start to get a sense of what you’ve saved.

We use the term “start” for a reason. Small business tools offer you a lot of potential to save money, and not just in the time they cut from your daily tasks. They can offer your business expertise that you may have had to get—and pay for—elsewhere that could be a lot pricier than a $48/month package.

For example, if you were looking to hire a new employee who would manage time tracking, timesheets and taxes, but instead decided to utilize one of these small business tools, like the HR and onboarding support, you might be saving a salary.

Small business tools exist for a reason. Actually, many. They make your life easier, as well as your entire team. They help reduce stress, provide opportunities for growth and can even boost your employee morale.

With so many tools to choose from, we recommend outlining your wants, needs, budget and objectives. Once that’s figured out, we’re here and happy to help.

If you’ve already done that work and know you need help getting your business organized in the areas of scheduling, communication, time sheets, HR, and all that fun stuff, well—you came to the right place.

Is your business struggling to stay organized? Get Homebase for easy scheduling, time clocks, payroll, messaging, HR, compliance, and more—all in one app. Get started for free.

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