Businesses have more software available now than ever before, and even a small business can streamline its operations with the right software applications. Cost and efficiency are important factors to weigh, as some expensive applications fall short of the features filled by many inexpensive packages. Here is a list of the Top 5 Business Software Applications for small businesses.
5 Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting
One of the best accounting software packages, Sage Peachtree will give you all the tools you need for a complete accounting solution. Job costing, banking, and inventory are easy to track. They have a wide array of charting and graphics capabilities, which are easy to use and beautiful to see. Watching your business figures open in a colorful series of charts can be helpful to get a quick overview of your situation. Information is power, but you also need it presented in a way that you quickly understand.
They often offer $100 rebates or promotions on their $299 Complete package (or the $499 Premium), so consider it $199. That makes it the best accounting solution, and the Complete package level is the one I recommend.
4 Active Desktop Calendar
Every business needs to manage its contacts and activities, and Active Desktop Calendar is a full package to do just that. It integrates with Outlook to include your contacts and also works with Google calendar. You can choose calendars for different countries’ holidays. If you do a lot of business with the UK or Japan, you might need to know their holidays at a glance. World time, and lots of smaller features are a bonus. The calendars can be shares across multiple PC’s within the office. At $29 it’s not a huge investment.
3 Omnistar Mailer
It’s called spam when you get it, but it’s called marketing when you send it. Potato / Potahto? Well, spam is annoying when its for unrelated and unsolicited information. Personally I live in the city and I do not own a car, so I delete all the junk emails I get about car insurance. However, someone else who is in the market for insurance may welcome your email. It’s all about targeting properly. In any case, if you decide to do email marketing, then Omnistar Mailer will help you. It’s a full package and service that can manage your mass mailing. It is an auto-responder software, and it can tell if someone has responded to your email. It can time additional emails and track the success rate. The application can be used for multiple websites from one package interface. You can send mailings to your site or forum members at specific intervals for various promotions. Starting at $287, and going up into $800 from there, this is not a cheap investment. However, it can help you to market your product to a target audience.
The best open source software for website design is Joomla (Joomla.org), and small businesses should consider its use. You can build and edit your website right online, meaning you can work on updates from your notebook even while traveling. Keeping your business website updated and fresh is key to any business, and Joomla makes this easier than most applications. It is module based, meaning you can plug in various pre-made components. Even if you have a web designer on staff, having Joomla means you can also dabble into the site. It’s intuitive and easy to use. Best of all, it is free.
One of the best solution for all your writing and editing needs, OpenOffice (openoffice.org) is the most complete. It’s interface and tools surpass the expensive Microsoft Office Suite, and all of its functions are fully compatible with MS. This means you can still exchange and edit documents and spreadsheets with MS Word and Excel users. The multiple functions of OpenOffice include a word editor, a spreadsheet, graphic designer, and math processor. I have used these for more than a year now, and I find them easier and more functional that their competition. There is even a plug-in that emulates Trados/Wordfast for translators. Since OO is a free open source program, updates come quick and easy. This allows you to stay current without affecting your wallet. OpenOffice is a must-have for small businesses, even if you already use other word programs.
Regardless of the software you choose, make sure it fits your own business model. Weigh the cost and performance. It doesn’t make sense for a small office to spend $3000 on software. Try to choose just a few programs that fill all or most of your needs, rather than a dozen spread all over the place. It will be easier to train your staff on 3 or 4 really good applications.