2nd May, 2023

4 software solutions to start your business with and when to ditch them

These days, the wealth of free and cheap online tools available has made it easier than ever to start a profitable business with just a laptop and an internet connection. 

Though this is great in those initial stages, many entrepreneurs can become too comfortable in using those quick-fix tools, and not know when it’s time to move on.

Here’s 4 affordable and accessible software tools, and some tips on how to know when you’ve outgrown them.

Accounting: Google Sheets

When Google Sheets launched in the 2000s, it revolutionised the way bootstrapped entrepreneurs thought about their dreams of running a business. 

Image Credit: Rubaitul Azad

Free, intuitive, and accessible to everyone, this program has made it easy for businesses of any size to produce functional financial records and keep on top of their cash flow.

With its silky-smooth compatibility with the rest of the Google Suite, Sheets also boasts countless B2B applications that make it easy to communicate and collaborate with your clients.

When to ditch: When your business is just starting out, the time spent entering figures and checking formulas is going to be negligible.

However, when you find yourself carrying out manual, repetitive tasks that eat into more pressing matters, it’s time to drop spreadsheets for a tool that automates this work and frees up your time.

Payment processing: PayPal

If, like many new businesses, you’re working with a diverse spread of international clients or customers, then PayPal is one of the best options on the market for a low-cost and accessible way of processing payments.

Image Credit: Muhammad Asyfaul

PayPal prides itself on its intuitiveness, and anyone can set it up and start using it in just a few moments.

You won’t need to create a business account while you’re still building momentum, and many of your customers will already be familiar with its interface.

When to ditch: PayPal can be a great payment processing solution when you’ve only got a couple of customer accounts, but as your business begins to expand, keeping on top of who owes what and what you’re charging each customer for can become a real challenge. 

When you find yourself using PayPal in conjunction with your online banking app, your accounting sheets, and other resources, it’s time to move onto a tool that can consolidate these touchpoints and let you manage your cashflow from one intuitive dashboard.

Building customer relationships: Gmail

For most people, Gmail is just another free email client. However, when it’s in the right hands, your humble Gmail account can be transformed into a powerful sales tool for optimising your relationships with leads and prospects.

Image Credit: Solen Feyissa

By using labels and sub-labels, building tabs that relate to the state of your customer relationships, utilising markers to tie contacts to campaigns and more, you can turn Gmail into a mini-CRM that’s ideal for the early stages of your business.

When to ditch: Gmail might be great for those small-fry clients you’re going to be targeting when your business first gets off the ground.

However, as you start broadening your horizons and attracting bigger accounts, an enterprise-level CRM will quickly become essential for keeping a competitive advantage. 

With a modern CRM tool, you’ll be able to enjoy AI-powered sales suggestions, spread yourself efficiently over multiple conversations, and use smarter marketing to attract more traffic from the higher class of clients you’re targeting.

Creating graphics: Canva

A picture is worth a thousand words, but when you’re building a business on a shoestring budget, making things prettier will be understandably low on your list. 

Canva is an affordable tool that enables you to create high-quality graphics from templates, perfect for whipping up assets for ad banners, social media posts, and more.

When to ditch: Though highly economical, Canva makes it hard to create anything that’s truly unique, and you should be aiming to switch to a professional graphic designer as soon as your cash flow allows for it. 

Even if your offering, expertise, standard of marketing, and whatever else is up to speed, your visual assets can drag behind and tarnish your brand’s value.

Invest in assets that are high quality and 100% unique to you, and soon you’ll have a visual profile that’s up to scratch with the higher-calibre customers you’re targeting. 

In summary …

Being savvy with your limited funds is an important part of getting a business off the ground, but knowing when to upgrade is just as essential for your success.

We hope this quick guide has helped you optimise your current tech stack, and strategies for a more efficient future!