One of the most common issues small business owners run into once they become established is creating a financial management strategy— sticking to a budget, in particular. Fortunately, budgeting and accounting software is no longer the costly, arduous world it once was; there are plenty of affordable online software options.
Here are some key considerations for keeping your business on a budget with online software.
Highlight Existing Pain Points
Before you invest in any online tools, free or otherwise (dedicating time to research and learning is also an investment of resources), it’s integral to run an audit on existing pain points. In other words, clarify what problems exist with your current structure that needs solving.
The value of this exercise is ensuring you have a fully fleshed-out list of problems to consider when looking for a solution. Remembering another issue after choosing a solution is a terrible waste of resources.
Have key team members go through existing processes and take notes on problems they encounter. It’s also valuable to engage in time tracking and highlight issues with other tools in your business ecosystem.
Clarify Business Goals
The next step is to clarify business goals beyond the basic “stick to a budget.” What will that budget look like? Where do the numbers come from? What KPIs will you monitor to ensure you’re on track? What processes will be put in place to address your budgeting needs?
Clarifying the business goals will help you create structure as you transition into using online software and sticking to your plans.
Look for Integrations
As you start to evaluate the tools, look beyond the core features to consider integrations— this is where assessing adjacent tools during your internal audit comes in handy.
For example, you may highlight inefficiencies in the invoicing process as an issue that impacts cash flow. Those delays make less cash available, forcing your company to rely on credit to pay bills, incurring costly interest. As you look at the process, you’ll be able to identify where the opportunities for improvement lie, like being able to send an invoice fax from Gmail for clients who aren’t using paperless transactions. You may determine that you need an integrated CRM app to automate reminders when your accounting software notices overdue invoices.
Integrations and process improvements go hand-in-hand. Consider what other tools would work well with your budgeting software.
In addition to evaluating adjacent tools, consider what existing tools can be replaced with a centralized system. For example, rather than having separate budgeting, payroll, and invoicing programs, it’s worth looking at a consolidated online solution.
Centralization improves processes, which enhances productivity. These improvements help your company become more profitable while sticking to a budget.
Scalability is another essential consideration. Once your business becomes more streamlined, it will be easier to grow. Additionally, the solutions you need now may not reflect what you need when the business does grow.
Choosing online software that has scaling potential (i.e., a tiered service with options for more users, etc.) will prevent you from rethinking your software choice in a few years.
Evaluate Support and Customer Experience
Finally, it doesn’t matter how great the software solution is if the support team is subpar. The software you choose should be user-friendly, with a knowledgeable, accessible support team to guide you through. Look for a software provider that offers training and a proactive customer service strategy.
With these focal points, you can choose excellent online software to help your company stay on budget.