A guest post by Dustin Ray, Business Development at Incfile. 

If you’ve taken the leap to start your own business, now is the time to dive right into the fine details of managing your new business. One of the first steps that pays off in dividends is to research and decide what tools you are going to use to help you manage your business. Everything from how you’ll pay your bills to how you’re going to communicate with prospects and customers… these tools can save you a ton of time and money as a new small business owner.

Since you are a new business, finances and resources may be strapped while you’re getting started. You might think that choosing and implementing new products is exhausting, costly and time-consuming. But, choosing the right platforms, products and software will streamline your business, alleviate some of the more tedious tasks and set your business up for success. You should not have to manage every task on your own — these tools will take some work off of your already full plate as a new business owner.

So, with hundreds of small business tools flooding the market, which do you choose?

To save you some time and much frustration, we’ve done the initial heavy lifting for you. Here are the tools we think small business owners should use when starting their business:

1. Accounting Software

Every thriving business has bills and employees to pay. You’ll also likely have a ton of business expenses that need categorization when tax time comes. Accounting software will assist you in managing your finances and ensure you meet important payment deadlines. It will also allow you keep track of all that revenue flowing into your business so you can understand cash flow patterns and gaps.

Having a tool that keeps you on track, manages every financial aspect, and is easy to use is what you should be looking for in a software. In addition, it should be within your monthly operating costs budget. A great software will also collect your financial data and turn it into tidy reports, as well as crunch all those numbers so you do not have to. Some even offer payroll services. The less time you have to spend wearing the bookkeeping hat, the more time you’ll have to work on your business.

Best-in-Class Solutions: Bench (includes a monthly accountant), Freshbooks, QuickBooks, Xero

2. Productivity and Project Management

If it feels impossible to achieve “inbox zero,” finish client work on time, or track the status of projects, productivity and project management software will affect how productive and financially successful your business is. There are better ways to be managing your business and your work, and you should be using them. These essential productivity and project management tools allow you to assign tasks, schedule deadlines, review work, and see the status of a project in an instant. These tools will hold you, your employees, and your clients accountable for their share of the work.

Best-in-Class Solutions: Trello, Basecamp, Asana

3. Online Business Formation

Do you know every legal aspect of owning and operating a business? Did you even incorporate your new business yet? It’s important to understand how forming your new business into an LLC or Corporation can offer you tax breaks, personal liability protection and more.

This is where an online business formation company can assist you in forming your limited liability company (LLC), educate you about legal- and tax-related business topics, and provide you with helpful documents and forms you will need.

Whether you require assistance with operating agreements, LLC state information, filing business taxes, or understanding the difference between an LLC and Corporation, online formation companies will be there every step of the way. You cannot afford to fail to complete the necessary legal business operations because it could cost you your business and your personal assets.

Best-in-Class Solutions: Incfile, Quickcorps.com

4. Cloud Storage

Think of cloud storage as a home for all your important documents you use to run your business: forms, pictures, videos, contracts, spreadsheets, PowerPoints, etc. Any piece of content you, your employees, and your clients use to conduct business should be housed in your designated spot. This will prevent documents from being lost if a computer hard drive crashes or your computer gets lost/stolen.

Cloud storage tools can be accessed and managed by multiple people at once. They keep track of everything in one place and keep versions of the document up-to-date. For example, a big presentation can be worked on by multiple people at the same time, edited in real-time, and saved automatically. This increases productivity, creative thinking, and eliminates the constant back-and-forth feedback chains. You won’t be waiting for feedback on a document that you already made changes to and then wondering how to merge the two together.

Best-in-Class Solutions: Google Docs, Box, Dropbox

5. Marketing Automation Software

Let your business rely on a full-stack marketing software that can assist you in email marketing, sales lead management, customer relationship management, and so much more.

Marketing automation software is a small business owner’s goldmine — managing your engagement, sending out content, and measuring analytics and data. Sales and marketing team members are going to use this software daily for tasks such as communicating with potential customers, closing deals, analyzing customer data, tracking leads, and logging activity automatically. The tool you choose should automate time-consuming tasks and truly make your work and life much easier.

Best-in-Class Solutions: Hatchbuck, Pardot

6. Website Hosting and Design

To land new business, generate new leads, showcase your company’s points of pride, and tell the world who you are and what your company does, you will need a website. It’s simply impossible to own a business in 2017 and not have a web presence.

You also need to consider what you want and need your website to do for you — if you want to host a blog on the site or if you want a design that is really interactive. This will depend on your business model, your brand and your vision for your company. Find a tool that offers you the opportunity to use your website in whatever capacity your business needs. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much time sorting through features you don’t want or need.

Best-in-Class Solutions: SquareSpace, WordPress, Wix

Author Bio

tools small businessDustin Ray leads business development and growth initiatives at Incfile, a national document filing service company specializing in the formation of business entities. Founded in 2004, Incfile had assisted in the formation of more than 100,000 Corporations and LLCs. Incfile can help you easily and quickly form your LLC and start your business. ​