About 99% of all businesses in the US use at least one piece of software on a daily basis. With a dependence on the internet and the convenience of commercial software options, it’s near impossible to conduct business in the 21st century without any digital tools.
Even if your business is hands-on, and isn’t digital in nature, like a pottery shop, a baker, or a plumber, the software is crucial for connecting with customers, accepting payments, handling expenses and taxes, and much more.
If you’re starting a new business, you may be wondering how to select commercial software. It can be difficult to narrow your choices down to a single commercial software provider, as there are far too many great options out there.
We’ve highlighted the most important commercial software features below to help you select the perfect options for your business, to save time, money, and headaches daily.
Free to Start
Many great software options offer either a free trial to test out the software, or they offer a free tier of service. Being able to try out a commercial application for free is a big plus, as you get to test how user-friendly it is before committing.
When comparing software costs, always try going with a free option until you can justify the expense of a paid version.
Grows With Your Business
The best SaaS applications are those that can grow with your business. In the beginning, you might get by just fine using a free or low-paid version.
On a tiered software payment plan, you get to choose which features you want to pay for, and which ones you don’t. As your business grows, as your revenue grows, and as your needs grow, it’s helpful to use commercial software that allows you to upgrade your plan at any time.
Many digital tools are industry-agnostic; they serve everyone. And it’s fine to use such useful tools as Dropbox for storage. But depending on your industry, there may be specific tools built for businesses just like yours, that offer maximum convenience and time savings.
Think of an auto shop. They could piece together a string of software applications like scheduling software, bookkeeping software, inventory management, and customer communication.
But having so many different tools would be messy and costly. So there exists new, industry-specific solutions like shop management software. In one application, and from one dashboard, you can manage all of these processes and more.
There are certain applications designed for your industry and business that will serve you much more effectively than general software solutions.
Software companies need to have a high level of customer support in order to remain competitive. Software is technical in nature, and not all business owners and employees are tech-savvy.
You need to choose software from companies that make it easy to reach customer support representatives. A phone number is ideal. If not that, then live chat should be available.
If you’re limited to just email support, you should keep looking for a better software provider.
Best Software Options for Today’s Small Business
Ready to start testing commercial software to try out some of these features for yourself? Here are some of the most common types of commercial software to start with.
You aren’t going to make any sales if you can’t connect with your customers. You need to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to connect with you all day long.
Your website should have a live chat software widget, that offers to answer any questions your visitors have. Depending on your software application, you can have this chat route as a text message to your cellphone, making it easy for you to make sales without being at your computer.
You can also use a business phone application, that creates a separate business number for your business. But you can set up a schedule that routes business calls to your cell phone, which is much better than sharing your personal cell phone number.
You need ways to communicate with employees, partners, and independent contractors on an hourly basis. But text messages can be messy, and email can be cumbersome.
That’s why millions of businesses, large and small, use tools like Slack. With Slack, you set up a channel for your business, and you can create “rooms” for different teams or different types of discussions.
It’s as easy as sending a text message and tracks all of your communication to make it easier to reference back to.
Make it easy for customers to schedule appointments for service by adding scheduling software to your website. Then, nobody has to spend time on the phone manually adding in appointments.
Quality Assurance and Testing
Most small businesses don’t actually test out their website, their workflows, and the digital tools that they develop for their business or their customers. So they aren’t aware of the flaws, bugs, and inconsistencies that exist, which can ruin the customer experience.
Software tools like Quality Logic provide custom quality assurance, as it will test your website, online store, mobile app, and much more to ensure everything is running smoothly and is free from bugs.
You want to get paid, right? It needs to be as easy as possible for customers to give you their money. That means accepting credit cards and alternative payment forms like Paypal.
Choosing a payment processor means accepting payments online, over the phone, or in person with ease.
Make tax season a breeze by using modern bookkeeping software to automatically track and categorize your expenses. This will help you stay on top of your finances, and give you the information you need for easy tax filing.
Select Commercial Software the Right Way
There are tons of other options available when you go to select commercial software. THere’s no limit to the number of tools at your disposal.
But before going software crazy, downloading every app you can, make a list of the most important functions in your business. Before getting bogged down by too many software applications, choose tools that will solve your most important needs first.
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