If you have been in business for any time, you know that there are countless finance tools for small businesses available. From bookkeeping to task management, they are designed to make your life easier and keep you organized and efficient. While some are great, others are gimmicky and a waste of time and money. Today, we want to share our favorite finance tools for small businesses so that you can avoid the headache of choosing the wrong products, and hit the ground running with the best options available.
Of course, bookkeeping is our top priority! Keeping track of your finances starts with a great bookkeeping system. The most well-known program is QuickBooks. Quickbooks is an amazing accounting/finance tool for small to medium-sized businesses in the USA. It is intuitive enough to be used by the DIY business owner but also contains plenty of tools and reports to satisfy your best savvy accountant. The interface is easy to navigate and Intuit provides a variety of training tools for those that want to dig deeper. Quickbooks also allows for a significant amount of automation that makes time-consuming tasks easier. Invoicing, financial reports, and overdue payment reminders are just a few automations you can create within Quickbooks. We firmly believe that automation and delegation are key to growing a successful and sustainable business…so kudos to QuickBooks on this front.
We also love that Quickbooks is not a one size fits all program. They have versions and options for various levels of business along with ready-to-use templates. This allows you to choose what’s best for your current situation and adjust the program to grow with your business.
Outside of the United States, Xero has become a well-known finance tool for small to medium-sized businesses and we have heard great things about it. Xero started in New Zealand, it is a cloud-based bookkeeping system meant for small to medium-sized companies, and is now available worldwide. While they offer many of the same features as QuickBooks, the consensus among financial gurus is that Xero provides a slightly lower cost option that’s great if you want to have more than five users. It is especially noted for having a lower cost option than Quickbooks for those that need to manage inventory.
In our opinion, QuickBooks still wins the day as the best bookkeeping finance tool for small businesses. Our clients want software that will scale with them, and we know QuickBooks has the tools they need. However, either software is powerful and the decision comes down to how you will utilize the program.
Microsoft Excel continues to be an essential finance tool for small businesses. Whether you are just starting out or an established business owner, Excel has so many capabilities that are used daily. Some of our favorite ways to use Excel for small businesses include:
- Formula driven automation can save hours, if not days, per month. Accounting for things like payroll and benefits begin to get more complicated as a business grows. Using VLookup, IF, and other formulas can locate the necessary numbers quickly while also removing the risk for typos.
- Pivot tables are a quick way to summarize large amounts of raw data and sort it into categories. For example, a pivot table can be created to filter through your accounting data and summarize expenses by category.
- A what-if analysis helps to forecast results by changing data sets in your formula. For example, if you need to create a cash flow forecast or a budget, a what-if analysis is a simple Excel feature you can use.
- Forecast sheets allow you to predict data trends based on historical data. Instead of changing data in the cell, it creates a graphical format. If you have been in business for several years and have historical data, you can use this feature to forecast future cash flow.
Excel isn’t just a tool for accounting information., it can be used in a variety of areas of your business. You can track time, expenses, and results of a new marketing campaign with a simple template. Knowing how to use Excel well, or having someone on your team that does, is a high priority for any business. It is a powerful tool that will serve you in more than just financial tracking. If you do not have access to Microsoft Office and Excel, Google Sheets can perform similar functions.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A sound CRM system helps businesses build and maintain relationships with their leads, customers, and referral partners to achieve better client retention. Think of a CRM as a high-tech address book. The difference is that your CRM can contain and sometimes even automate all the essential contact details for clients and leads.
A good CRM doesn’t just keep track of name and email address but where you met them or how they found your business. Do you spend a lot of time at networking events? What about speaking on podcasts or webinars? With the right CRM, you can indicate where you met a lead. You can see how many contacts from a specific event turn into paying clients or bring you paying clients (for my referral-based friends). Imagine how useful it would be to see that an activity you spent a significant amount of time on did not yield any new clients? That type of information is vital to efficiently putting more profit in your pocket.
Keeping track of lead sources and conversion rates is just one example of the key performance indicators (KPI’s) CRM tools measure. Another aspect of CRM tools that we love is the ability to create workflows for onboarding, client management, and payment management. You can also find programs with calendar scheduling and endless automation options.
Right now, our favorite CRM (because it’s the one we use) is Keap. It is an all-in-one application that allows us to manage both our client and referral partner journeys, from initial contact to continued long-term support. If you decide to join Keap, feel free to use our affiliate link and mention Danielle Hendon sent you! If you are referred by someone there are many perks and discounts such as lower-cost membership fees and additional contact limits.
A good CRM should save you time and make for a seamless experience for your clients. Other popular CRM options we have heard good things about are 17 Hats and Honeybook. Many of my attorney clients also rave about Clio.
Whether you are a solopreneur or building a team, a good task management tool will help you stay organized and ensure that all the tasks are completed for each client. Programs like Karbon and ClickUp are great options to manage workload and delegate tasks to employees, contractors, and VA’s. If you do have employees who need to track their time, a task management tool will have that capability within the application.
We love Karbon as it is specifically designed for accountants and finance professionals. If you are in the financial space, or have a team that helps with your accounting, we recommend looking into this as it is extremely useful. If your business is outside the financial space, something like ClickUp may be perfect.
While there are countless finance tools for small businesses, there are a few things we want you to ask yourself when making your decisions:
- Will this program help me know my numbers and make better decisions in my business?
- Is the application mobile-friendly? Being able to access your data from anywhere is essential.
- Will this program make my business more efficient? If something is going to cost money then it needs to save time or lead to making more money.
- Will it help me serve my clients at a higher level and make their journey easier? Happy clients drive revenue.
If you would like to chat more about how 4 Corners CFO can use these tools to be your Virtual CFO, book your complimentary discovery call today! We look forward to chatting about your business and how we can work together to take your business to the next level.