Merchant Maverick’s Awards for Best Small Business Software

Best small business software

For most small business owners, it’s a jungle out there. Danger lurks around every corner, predators seem to be silently stalking your every movement, and – in the immortal words of Jethro Tull – the rivers are full of crocodile nasties. Let’s face it, when it comes to start-ups and small businesses the statistics are grim. According to one recent study, the failure rate of retail establishments after four years is over 50%, and businesses in the service industry usually meet the same fate. Sadly, restaurants tend to do even worse, and the majority are forced to close their doors before a decade has passed.

There are many reasons why businesses eventually fail – bad locations, limited staff, a poor economic climate, etc. But experts are beginning to agree that most failed businesses (no matter what industry they belong to) have one, very important factor in common: inexperience on the part of the owners/managers. It’s all very well to follow your dreams, but man does not live on dreams alone. For most of us, a little thing called money is required if we want to eat, access our electricity, wash our clothes, keep our children shod, etc. That’s right, money. It’s what you get when you run a business that brings in more revenue than it puts out. That sounds so simple: spend less than you make. But the reality is that pulling in a profit takes knowledge, skill, and access to the proper tools. Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve opened up a cat-grooming boutique or finally launched that grilled-cheese food truck you’ve always wanted – if you don’t know what you’re doing when you set out, and/or don’t bother to learn as you go, you might as well throw your seed money down the storm drain.

Fortunately, at Merchant Maverick (MM), we understand how hard it can be to start a business – let alone to keep one going for more than a year or two. You shouldn’t have to do everything by yourself – keeping up with inventory, payment processing, invoicing, shipping, point of sale, website design and the like is nearly impossible without the right equipment (good ol’ pen and paper just doesn’t cut it anymore). The good news? Advances in software and cloud technology have resulted in some pretty impressive small business tools. Even better news? The writers and reviewers at MM have invested thousands of hours researching, testing, and rating small business services/software. In other words, we know our stuff. Running a business is a tremendous burden, but the heavy lifting has already been done – we’ve done if for you – and all you need do is benefit from our years of experience.

Each company below has undergone a rigorous evaluation by an experienced MM reviewer. We scoured websites, read help articles, and browsed through user forums. We talked to customer service and saw for ourselves how responsive they were. And most importantly, we tested the actual software or service ourselves. The following are our reviewers’ top small business software picks for merchant services/payment processing as well as for mobile payments, shopping carts, point of sale, accounting, inventory management, invoicing, booking, email marketing, CRM, project management, loyalty rewards, and website building.

So, without further ado, let the awards ceremony for the best small business software begin!

Merchant Account Providers

Winner: Dharma Merchant Services

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Dharma Merchant Services is one of our all-time favorite companies, period, here at Merchant Maverick. Defined by exceptional customer support, low-cost hardware, excellent industry connection, and reasonable negotiation-free rates and fees, Dharma is an ideal option for small businesses with in-person sales. It distinguishes itself from the competition by using only interchange-plus pricing and charging no early termination fees or monthly minimums. There are no annual fees, no application fees, and no pesky PCI compliance fees to deal with either. In addition, this company dedicates 50% of its net profits to charity. Dharma is basically a paragon of integrity, honesty, and respect, and it’s worth its weight in gold in this sometimes unscrupulous industry,

There is one small catch: businesses must process at least $10K per month to use Dharma Merchant Services. Businesses with smaller revenue streams are directed instead to Flint Mobile (see review below).

Dharma offers amazing in-house customer support during business hours (8:00am – 5:00pm Pacific Time). If you need support outside this time frame, you will be directed elsewhere, depending on the severity of your issue and what processor you’re using.

To read more about Dharma Merchant Services, see our full review here.

Runner-Up: CDGcommerce

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Boasting a great reputation and a low monthly base fee (which includes access to Quantum gateway), CDG Commerce is a budget friendly alternative to Dharma Merchant Services, especially for low-volume merchants or web-based businesses. CDG was established in 1998, and has had plenty of time to cultivate a reputation for honesty and excellence. In fact, customer complaints are nearly non-existent, which is a miracle in itself after nearly 20 years in business. Like Dharma, CDG offers interchange-plus pricing, does not charge an early termination fee, and has no gateway setup fees or PCI compliance fees.

CDG Commerce charges only $10 per month in base fees; beyond that, you can pick and choose which additional services you want to pay for. This is a great system, as it ensures that you won’t be stuck buying things you neither want, nor need.

CDG offers live chat, email, and phone support 24/7. In our experience, support staff is helpful, knowledgeable, and scrupulously honest.

Click here to read our full review of CDGcommerce.

Mobile Payments

Winner: Flint Mobile

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Flint Mobile is our overall top pick for mobile, based primarily on its speed, ease of use, reliability, and price point. To start off, it doesn’t offer a swiper – not a free one, not a paid one, just no reader whatsoever. You can either key in card numbers or simply use your phone’s camera to scan numbers instead. That in and of itself significantly reduces the cost for setting up your account. Flint therefore has the ability to offer lower rates, which is exactly what they do. And with a ridiculously low rate for processing debit alongside a very fair credit rate, they’re nearly impossible to beat.

Flint has only two rates:

  • Debit transactions: 1.95%
  • Credit transactions: 2.95%

Yep, that’s it. It doesn’t get more complicated than that at any point: there are no per transaction fees, no non-qualified fees, and no surcharges of any kind. Flint Mobile runs transactions at a much faster speed than other similar apps, and while it might take a couple tries to get your scanning settings set up the way you like, Flint makes customization an easy and intuitive process. Our one complaint is that they do not provide any means for printing a paper receipt.

One very important thing to mention about Flint Mobile is that, even with the EMV liability shift (effective October 1st, 2015), users have no need to upgrade hardware. The camera scan will continue to work as it always has, with no change to liability. Currently it’s the only mobile processor we’re aware of that will securely process chip cards with no hardware upgrade.

This app can’t replace a full-feature tablet POS, but it comes with a number of amazing features (integrated QR coupons, invoicing, customizable receipts, etc.) and executes service flawlessly. If you’re looking for a sensible, surefire way to accept payments and grow your clientele, you can’t go wrong with Flint Mobile.

If you’d like more information about Flint Mobile, check out our full review.

Runner-Up: Payline Data

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Payline Data is mostly a standard merchant account provider, but it has a good mobile solution and low-volume fee structure. Extra services are offered as-needed, so you only have to pay for what you need. There are two pricing models (to accommodate both low and high volume merchants):

Simple (Under $5,000 per month)

  • $5 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.50%
  • $0.10 per transaction

Pro (Over $5,000 per month)

  • $20 monthly fee
  • Interchange + 0.20%
  • $0.10 per transaction

We really appreciate the number of customer service and support outlets Payline provides, and it has an extensive knowledge base and FAQ for self-service support, which is quite nice.

Payline Data delivers on any businesses essential needs, and has managed to maintain positive reviews and a spotless reputation since 2009 – which is no small task in the credit card processing industry. In general, it’s a great pick for mobile processing for small businesses everywhere.

Find out more about Payline Data by reading our full review here.

Shopping Carts

Winner: Shopify

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Shopify is unique in that it can be used as a physical POS or an online shopping cart or both at once. This inherent flexibility gives it a clear edge over other shopping carts, and its low price point make it well within the reach for small businesses, even those with strained budgets. Shopify is the industry standard for shopping cart software, and for good reason. There are never any limits to the number of products you can sell, which is nice, though there aren’t many limits to the software in general.

All Shopify plans come with a full 14-day (no credit card required) trial. There are no setup or cancellation fees. Plans range from $14/month to $179/month with rates ranging from 2.9% + 30¢ to 2.4% + 30¢. You can pay on a month-to-month basis, but you’ll receive a 10% discount if you choose to pay for one year up front (a 20% discount is offered for those who sign a two-year contract). We’re not terribly fond of Shopify’s transaction fees, unfortunately, although they do get waived if you use Shopify as your credit card processor.

Shopify is eminently user friendly, and the cart is easy to set up and easy to manage. In our experience, the software works flawlessly from the point of view of both the customer and the merchant, and it is one of the most feature-rich carts available. It is accessible for online mavens, but it is also well within the reach of newcomers and amateurs. Shopify offers a number of apps, some of which are free and some of which may cost a small fee. You can check out Shopify’s App Store to browse offerings.

Customer support is available via phone, email, and live chat, but there are other great self-help resources as well, including a support center, Knowledge Base, a discussion forum, and a Shopify “Experts” page where you can find experienced professionals in design, marketing, development, and photography.

For more information, click here to read our full review of Shopify.

Runner-Up: Ecwid

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Ecwid, the “go anywhere, sell anything, no manual required” shopping cart, is designed for small eCommerce businesses, as well as for individual sellers and start-ups. We’re big fans of Ecwid, and there are two main reasons why. Firstly, it is extremely ubiquitous, and capable of integrating with nearly every existing website, from social media platforms to blogs. Secondly, it is so reasonably priced, compared to its competitors, that you would be foolish not to take it out for spin. Unlike most shopping carts, there is no typical “free trial period” for Ecwid. Instead, you can simply try out the Free Plan (the obvious advantage to doing this is that your services won’t be cancelled after your trial period ends).

Ecwid offers unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, and no transaction fees on every subscription level, even the free plan. Paid plans range from $15/month to $99/month. Personal support by email and online chat are only available at higher subscription levels.

Like Shopify, Ecwid gives you the option to use the software as a physical POS. However, this function is really best suited for online-only business owners who want the option of having a mobile or “pop up shop” operation, but aren’t trying to maintain a physical storefront at all times.

In general, Ecwid is a solid product with great, user-friendly elements. It’s not the best solution for high-volume sales, but most companies out there (especially startups and very small businesses) will be fully satisfied with its features and ease of use.

Read our full review of Ecwid to learn more.

POS Software

Winner: ShopKeep

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ShopKeep is one of the best software solutions we’ve ever encountered at Merchant Maverick. This simple, elegant, and visually-appealing cloud-based POS has carved out a solid niche catering to small-business food and beverage sellers. For a very low monthly cost, ShopKeep can help you manage your inventory, customers, employees, as well as record transactions and offer a variety of reporting options (for analyzing all this data).

ShopKeep does not require you to sign a contract. It is a pay-as-you-go, monthly subscription service. There are no extra maintenance fees, and what’s more impressive, tech support is 100% included in the monthly charge. The actual pricing system is beautifully simple as well: $49/month/register.

Other than it’s extremely reasonable price point, ShopKeep’s biggest selling point is its ease-of-use. There is very little learning curve involved, and even the most technologically deficient should have no problem learning the ins and outs of this software in a matter of days (or hours, more likely).

Customer support is fantastic, and unlimited email, live chat, or phone is included in the monthly price. The support page on the company website is also fantastic, and offers comprehensive articles and video tutorials on every aspect of the software.

Read our full review of ShopKeep if you’d like more details.

Runner-Up: SalesVu

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SalesVu is a perfect POS for the average small business, offering a robust feature set at a competitive price. eCommerce options are built right into the software, so you can design your own site from the back office without ever having to pay for (and integrate) Shopify or hire an expensive third party designer. Integrated eCommerce also ensures that communications between the web store and the brick and mortar store are smooth and seamless.

Prices range from $25/month to $150/month, depending on how many features you need (things like time tracking, accounting, etc. are a bit extra). Basically, SalesVu can be as affordable as you need it to be. Additionally, when you open an account with SalesVu you get a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit (for some small business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need).

Customer service is good, but the primary strengths of this software are found in its intuitive interface and broad flexibility. It is so much more than just a mobile cash register. With SalesVu, you can monitor inventory, create detailed reports, design custom discounts and promotions, maintain an active customer database, and manage employees – and you can do all these things anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Opening an account with SalesVu gets you a free credit card reader, which is a nice benefit. For some business owners, an iPad and a credit card reader may be all you need.

SalesVu integrates with SalesVu Easy Accounting, Quickbooks, Facebook, and Zapper.

You can check out our full review of SalesVu for more information.

Accounting Software

Winner: Xero

best small business accounting software

It’s not hard to see why Xero takes the prize for best small business accounting software. It is mobile, cloud-based, easy-to-use, and extremely comprehensible for the small business owner who is handling finances on his/her own (click here for a full list of features). While it can be more expensive long-term than something like QuickBooks Pro, small business owners – especially those who aren’t accountants by nature or profession – are more likely to enjoy using a simple, intuitive program like Xero.

There are multiple pricing plans available, ranging from $9/month to $70/month (these prices include updates as they are released, usually every 3-6 weeks). Small companies with limited invoicing needs would have to look far and wide for a similarly robust accounting/payroll package that trumps Xero’s $9/month price tag. And happily, you don’t have to sign a contract with Xero; plans are paid by the month and you can basically cancel the service at any time. Xero offers a 25% discount for non-profits and a 15% discount on your total bill if you subscribe for multiple businesses. If you do feel comfortable making a commitment and signing up for a 6 month subscription, you’ll get a 30% discount.

There are only a few minor problems with Xero, one of which is slow customer support response times. Customer service is offered 24/7, year-round, but some customers have complained of long response times, cut-and-paste answers to questions, and reps who don’t seem to actually know how to use the software. This would be a much bigger deal if Xero was complex or had a steep learning, curve, but it’s not as alarming considering the software’s general simplicity and ease of use. Furthermore, many customers praise Xero’s level of customer service, and the wait times are comparable to those of other accounting software programs.

One real perk of using Xero is that it integrates with over 400 other applications which can facilitate nearly every aspect of business operation, including inventory management, CRM, and POS (some of these are only available to certain countries; in the U.S., there are about 350 Xero integrations available). 

Read our full review of Xero here.

Runner-Up: QuickBooks Pro

Best small business accounting software

Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro is a robust, feature-rich accounting solution, perfect in many ways for small business (to see a full list of features, click here). It is locally installed software, which results in lower per-year costs and more features than your typical cloud-based software, so if you’re willing to deal with a pretty steep learning curve at the beginning (especially difficult for people who have no previous accounting background), then QB Pro can be an excellent way to save money in your accounting budget. Though it lacks the convenience of a cloud based solution – you don’t get automatic, routine updates or instant access to new features – it is a very viable accounting solution for companies with complex bookkeeping needs.

QuickBooks Pro’s list price is $299.95. This might seem a bit high compared to something like Xero, but keep in mind that QB Pro requires a one-time purchase and does not use a subscription model — and it is nearly always available at a discount. While there’s no free trial available, Intuit does back QB Pro with a 60-day guarantee; if you return the program for any reason within 60 days, you can get a full refund. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the purchase price does not include updates, nor do you get full tech support or bank feeds. It’s also worth noting that customer service tends to be slow.

One comment we’ve noticed often on user reviews is that, while people aren’t particularly enthusiastic about QB Pro, it works and does what it’s supposed to do; many claim that it’s the best accounting program available. While that’s far from a resounding recommendation, it’s also true that despite its drawbacks, for many businesses, QB Pro is more than adequate. And whether you love it or hate it, QuickBooks Pro is often the best option for the money.

Read our full review of QB Pro here.

Inventory Management Software

Winner: Stitch Labs

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Stitch, the flagship product of Stitch Labs, is a cloud-based inventory management solution with tons of functionality, myriad useful integrations, and fantastic customer service. Designed to combine inventory, billing, accounting, shipping, and eCommerce features with your choice of 3rd party integrations, Stitch is the do-it-all, full service inventory solution. As the name would suggest, it is intended to be the thread that holds the backend of your company firmly together. Really, its only flaw is that is designed exclusively for American companies. International businesses will have to look elsewhere. 

Price plans range from $29/month to $449/month, not bad considering how many features this software brings to the table. What’s more, Stitch is easy to use, even for the uninitiated. The UI is clean, understated, and intuitive. Within a few minutes of signing up, you should feel like a pro, able to create products and customer contacts and generate sales orders with ease. It’s easy to pick up on your own just by experimentation, but if you’re queasy about finding your own way around, you can reference one of the many tutorials on each page that take you step-by-step through all the basic tasks.

In general, the customer service department is responsive and helpful. Our questions were promptly answered (never longer than 24 hours, even on the weekend), and ticket creation happened immediately, so we always had a case number to reference and never felt lost in the shuffle. Not surprisingly, the Stitch Labs support team is highly praised all over the web.

Stitch integrates with a large number of other programs and applications, including Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, Magento, Shopify, and Square, to name just a few. And when you combine an excellent selection of integrations with powerful suite of tools,you’ve got inventory management software that is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.

You can read more about Stitch Labs in our full review.

Runner-Up: TradeGecko

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TradeGecko, a cloud-based inventory application for small to medium sized businesses, is comparable to Stitch Labs in functionality and number of integrations, but is more geared toward international companies (it still works well for American companies, if you don’t mind a time difference with the support staff).

The design of this software emphasizes collaboration, group workflows, and activity feeds. This means that you can reference sales information, purchase orders, and stock levels at once, and they will all update in real time. TradeGecko is intuitive and easy to use, and has a clean – if spartan – UI which is perfect for a bookkeeping system.

TradeGecko offers a free 14-day trial, no credit card required. Plans range from $49/month to $399/month, though you can get a monthly discount if you commit to paying for a year up-front. The company provides a detailed knowledge base, with step-by-step instructions for performing many tasks, and it also offers 24 hour customer support. On the whole, our support experience was positive, though a few of our tickets took longer than we would have liked to resolve.

Integrations include Shopify, Salesforce, Xero, Magento, Quickbooks Online, Amazon, and WooCommerce (to name a few). All in all, TradeGecko isn’t the cheapest product on the market (which is why it’s the runner up for this category) but it is so intuitive and feature rich that small to medium-sized businesses with a budget to kick around should give it a look.

For more information about TradeGecko, read our full review here.

Invoicing Software

Winner: Freshbooks

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Officially, Freshbooks is a web-based accounting solution, though it is fair to say that it’s best utilized for its incredible invoicing features. This software is tailor made for independent contractors and small, service-based businesses; it is easy to use, has lots of interesting features (including time tracking, reporting, and expenses), and integrates with a huge variety of 3rd party applications.

Pricing, unfortunately, is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), though there is a free plan which allows you to manage a single client. Paid plan range from $19.95/month to $39.95/month. Customer support is available Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm EST. In our experience, representatives are remarkably quick to respond to emails (usually within 20 minutes during business hours) and are courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable.

As mentioned above, FreshBooks offers more than 60 integrations and add-ons including  PayPal, Shopify, Basecamp, and Stripe. It is as comprehensive an invoicing solution as you could hope for, especially since it does offer other perks, like reporting.

You can read our full review of FreshBooks here.

Runner-Up: Invoiceable

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Invoiceable is simple, easy to use software that allows you to create professional looking invoices. It’s actually free to all, with no feature limits, though you can opt to pay a one-time fee to remove the company’s branding from your invoices: this is a perk that no other free invoicing program offers. Additionally, unlike many of the other major free invoicing programs, Invoiceable isn’t just a wimpy, scaled-back version of a paid service. You can have as many clients and send as many invoices as you like.

Of course, with a completely free service you’re going to miss certain features that come with a paid subscription. Support, for example, is unreliable and sporadic. Response times can vary between 1-12 days, and sometimes you may not get any response at all. There is also limited sales tax functionality, which means that the software really only works for businesses that charge a single, across the board tax rate, or don’t charge tax at all.

That said, if you are a freelancer or own a very small business with relatively low sales volume, this may be all you need for now. It’s leaps and bounds better than simply typing out your invoices into MS Word or Excel, and it is one of the best free options out there that both allow you to have unlimited clients and actually works in the United States! The interface is basic and intuitive, and while customer service is slow, you probably won’t need it most of the time. If this sounds like a good match for you, we suggest you try it out. You’ve got nothing to lose – after all, it’s free.

Read our full review of Invoiceable here.

CRM Software

Winner: Zoho CRM

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User-friendly, reasonably-priced, and full of useful features, Zoho CRM is our favorite customer relations management software, hands down. It’s not hard to see why we’re such big fans. The “building blocks” which make up the Zoho CRM logo are not there for design purposes alone; these blocks allude to the fact that the Zoho team has developed many other business applications, all capable of working together seamlessly (much like Google Apps). In addition, Zoho has an well-deserved reputation for integrating nicely with a number of 3rd party add-ons, including MailChimp, Unbounce, Google Apps, MS Office, and Quickbooks (see a full list of add-ons and integrations here). In short, Zoho CRM software can adjust to any size business, be whatever you need it to be, and grow with you as your business expands.

You can try Zoho CRM for free with a 15-day trial of their Professional package. After that, pricing breaks down as follows:

  • Entrepreneur: Free, up to 3 users
  • Standard: $12/user/month
  • Professional: $20/user/month
  • Enterprise: $35/user/month

24-hour Mon-Fri telephone support is available to paying customers, though those using their free edition are limited to email support. However, your email questions can be flagged according to urgency, so that important queries do not fall to the wayside.

You would be hard pressed to find a CRM that provides more functionality at a lower cost. Zoho CRM is, without a doubt, the most bang for your buck.

Read our full review of Zoho CRM here.

Runner-Up: CleverTim

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Clevertim is a cloud-based CRM system with a firm mission: to cater specifically to small businesses. With a surprisingly reasonable price point, a clean, user-friendly UI, and the ability to integrate with 3rd party developers (via an open API), Clevertim may just be as clever as its name suggests. The only chink in Clevertim’s armor is the lack of a mobile app. As it is now, the app functions smoothly on a desktop, but is only so-so on a tablet and virtually nonexistent on a phone.

Clevertim offers a 30 day free trial. After that, plans range from absolutely free to $99/month. You can upgrade, downgrade, or cancel your subscription at any time. Unlike most other CRM systems, Clevertim does not charge on a per-user basis. Instead, each plan has a user limit. There is also  customized pricing available, which allows you to upgrade the number of users allowed in your plan.

Clevertim is relatively new and does not yet have its own dedicated Technical Support team. However, queries can be sent to the company either via web tickets or through the sales email address.

Read our review of Clevertim here.

Booking Software

Winner: BookingBug

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BookingBug can do just about anything you would expect from scheduling software, but still manages to be accessible and intuitive. Many companies claim to be versatile, but this software actually is designed for a wide variety of industries, making it one of the only options out there for B&Bs or bike rental shops, and a better option than most for medium-sized spas and salons. It is a perfect tool for businesses that want to offer combination services while managing limited resources and limited staff (see a full list of features here). It is distinct from other appointment booking software other ways as well: first, it’s designed for serious scalability – which again validates its claim to be “the only real-time distributed booking and reservation system that works for all business types” –  and second, it integrates with a vast number of 3rd-party apps all over the world. This is a company that prides itself on innovation and flexibility.

Plans run from $19.95/month to $69.95/month, or you can scale up to an Enterprise plan, which are priced on an individual basis. Customer service comes free with your account. Like most companies, BookingBug relies heavily on email support, but phone support is available for some of the more expensive plans. We received helpful responses to our email inquiries within hours – always a great sign.

One terrific thing about BookingBug is that it offers your customers the option to make online payments (full or partial, including pre-payment and bulk payments); you can also issue full or partial refunds directly through the site via one of the software’s numerous payment integrations. BookingBug integrates with programs like MailChimp, WordPress, Facebook, and Dropbox as well.

There isn’t much negative feedback about the company online or in user reviews. Granted, some people have complained about issues with their mobile apps, but BookingBug’s receptivity and responsiveness to these issues speaks well about the company’s commitment to customer service.

To read our full review of BookingBug, click here.

Runner Up: Bookeo

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Bookeo is cloud-based booking software with a lot to offer. Not only does it include important booking features, but it provides a surprising variety of marketing solutions, integrates with many payment platforms and third party applications, and boasts excellent security features. This is innovative software as it is, and Bookeo continues to improve with age; significant new feature releases occur every few months, and updates are frequent. The only consistent complaint disappointed reviewers have is with its lack of phone support. (Bookeo relies on email and a store of 300 tutorials for its customer support.)

Bookeo’s pricing differs by product (in other words, by whether you want to book appointments, classes, or tours), but each version offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee on the first paid month of subscription. Bookeo accounts do not require set-up or processing fees and you don’t have to sign a contract – always a good sign.

One of the best things about Bookeo is that it is user-friendly. Action items and information are intuitive and clearly distinguishable, and the software in general is organized neatly, in a very manageable way. There isn’t much setup support, unfortunately, but the self-help tutorials available are precise, and sufficient enough to help you circumvent most major problems.

Customer service centers on the Bookeo Help Portal, which consists of 300 tutorials and an email support form. There is no phone support, however, and this is the only consistent complaint from disappointed reviewers. You can receive some support via a live chat option on Bookeo’s promotional website.

Read more about Bookeo here, in our full review.

Email Marketing Software

Winner: MailChimp

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At Merchant Maverick, we’re all in agreement that MailChimp is the boss when it comes to email marketing. It’s a mature, time-tested software with reasonable pricing plans, a great selection of features, and tons of integration, and it scales well to just about any size campaign. Better yet, for users with modest needs, MailChimp offers a robust, flat-out generous free plan which lets you have up to 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. There’s only one real catch: if you do your email marketing with the free plan, there will be a small MailChimp badge at the bottom of every email you send out. 

Paid plans come in two basic varieties: send-based (pay as you go) and list-based (monthly). These plans are fairly specific and complex, so if you’d like more details about pricing you should navigate here.

MailChimp is generally very easy to use, and signing up for a MailChimp account is simple; enter a name and email address and you’re on your way. The customer support system is pretty extensive as well, though it lacks telephone support, which is slightly disappointing. However, our experience with them has been good; representatives were courteous and well-informed, and inquiries were answered in anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 hours, depending on urgency. MailChimp’s biggest selling point, however, is that it offers over 500 integrations and add-ons. (These include Google Analytics, Zendesk, SHopify, Magento, and Salesforce).

Check out our full review of MailChimp here.

Runner-Up: AWeber

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AWeber appeals to a smaller niche than MailChimp, but it’s still incredibly easy to use and quite affordable. It comes with some very nice features, especially for businesses which want to send all new subscribers the same series of messages: the autoresponder setup in particular is easy, intuitive, and well explained within the program, and users have a lot of options. 

AWeber offers a free 30-day trial for lists of up to 500 subscribers. After that first month, there is a single list-based pricing plan available. It’s reasonably priced for the most part, but so robust that very small companies may find they are paying for lots of extra features they may not even require. If you don’t need much from your email marketing tool, you might be better off with MailChimp’s generous free plan.

In general, AWeber finds a healthy balance between ease of use and high functionality. Navigation is remarkably intuitive, considering the number of features available. The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor has some quite impressive characteristics, and recent updates to the software have have managed to significantly improve the email design experience. Additionally, the analytics and reporting capabilities are well above par for an email marketing tool of this type, as are AWeber’s investment in numerous 3rd-party integrations.

Our experiences with customer support have been positive overall. As a rule, we’ve found AWeber’s representatives to be friendly, helpful, and prompt in responding to queries. Response times to our inquiries varied in time between 20 minutes and 6 business hours.

Read our full review of AWeber here.

Project Management Software

Winner: Trello

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Trello is a visually-oriented, Kanban-based project management tool that works by allowing users to see and manage their tasks and projects via detailed ‘cards’ which are then pinned onto ‘boards.’ At its most basic level, Trello is an ingenious way to create and organize a set of virtual 3×5 cards without the risk of misplacing them, but it also can also work as a simple task management tool, offering features like file storage and automatic email notifications.

The standard, free version of Trello allows for unlimited boards, users, and attachments (with a 10 MB max per file upload). However, for a fee, Trello also offers two upgraded versions of the software: $3.75/user or $5/user

Trello’s simple, visually-appealing UI makes it incredibly easy to use; there is almost no learning curve involved. A mere five minutes after I signed up I was able to navigate the software quickly, creating cards and boards like a pro. It may be integrated with several 3rd party apps, including Zapier, Google Drive, Box. Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Trello provides email support (via support@trello.com) to all users during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST).

Not only is this software reasonably priced, but it is characterized by elegance, simplicity, and user-friendliness. It would be difficult to find a basic project management solution with a more intuitive, visually-appealing design. And in terms of sheer adoptability – of getting your employees to actually use a software-based task management tool – Trello scores extremely high.

You can check out our full review of Trello if you’d like more information.

Runner Up: Basecamp

basecamp-logo

With over 9,000,000 current users, Basecamp is considered the most popular cloud-based project management software system of all time. It is, without doubt, one of the most user-friendly project management programs out there. When it comes down to brass tacks, simplicity is an enormously valuable characteristic, and Basecamp is just that – simple. This is project management software at its most basic and effortless level.

This software is celebrated for its no-frills, no-fuss pricing system. There are no hidden fees and no per-user costs. Plans range from $20/month to $150/month. Features include task tracking, a calendar, email notifications and a daily recap of activities, text documents (basically giant legal pads), and very simple reporting.

Basecamp is known for fast, reliable service. While they don’t provide the level of immediate personal support that you can get from other software companies (read: no phone or live chat support), the folks at Basecamp respond quickly to email requests and offer a large variety of ready-made aids and live training tools.

Basecamp itself is a pretty basic program, but there are a huge number of optional 3rd party applications available if you want or need to increase software’s functionality. You can see a complete list of Basecamp integrations on the official product website

If you have plain, bread-and-butter management requirements, we think you’ll find that Basecamp is a suitable, extremely affordable way to go. One of the best things about Basecamp is the fact that it is designed, updated, and supported by an established parent company. It is a sure bet, in other words.

Read more about Basecamp in our full review.

Shipping Software

Winner: ShipStation

shipstation-logo

ShipStation is a reasonably-priced, web-based shipping solution for eCommerce retailers. Designed to streamline the fulfillment process as much as possible, this software has invested in a huge number of integrations that make it possible for you to sync up your business with the most popular sales channels, shopping carts, payment gateways, and mail carriers.

Pricing plans range from $25/month to $145/month. There’s a free 30-day trial that includes access to all features, with no credit card required. If you’re not satisfied with the product within 90 days, ShipStation offers a full refund, no questions asked.

The user interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, as there multiple options, menus, and sub-menus displayed on most pages. A bit of patience is definitely required when you start out, though you can take advantage of a number of video tutorials, a large knowledge base, and a pretty robust community forum if you run into trouble. Actually, you can have your own personal account manager if you want, and this person will help guide you through the setup phase of your account. Some of the higher paid plans can receive chat support as well. In general, customer support is slightly disappointing, and the responses we received to queries were somewhat boilerplate and indifferent.

One of ShipStation’s biggest selling points is that it integrates with an enormous number of carriers, marketplaces and shopping carts, especially when compared to the competition, including FedEx, UPS, USPS, and Fulfillment by Amazon, as well as Shopify, Etsy, Magento, Square, eBay, etc. The list goes on.

Check out our full review of ShipStation for more information.

Runner-Up: ShipWorks

shipworks-logo

ShipWorks is probably the best shipping software available, though unfortunately it’s a PC-only app (which removes about half of the world’s users) and the learning curve is extremely high. The good news is that this software, which is designed to streamline the order fulfillment process for small to large businesses, has many amazing features you can’t find in other shipping applications. With a few clicks, ShipWorks can download shipping information from an online sales channel, calculate and print postage, generate labels, packing slips, and more. Combine this functionality with integrations for over 40 different mail carriers and eCommerce platforms, and you’ve got a shipping solution that really packs a wallop. Additionally, ShipWorks scales well, in a way that its SaaS competitors don’t.

Cost per month is determined by two different factors: shipment volume and number of licenses. Shipment volume is divided into three tiers:

  • $14.95/month for 0-99 shipments/month
  • $29.95/month for 100-999 shipments/month
  • $49.95/month for 1,000+ shipments/month

The price for shipment volume is then added to your licensing fee to determine the monthly bill. How much you pay for licensing is based on the number of online sales channels you use with ShipWorks.

Our own experiences with ShipWorks support have been positive. Turnaround times on support tickets were 24 hours or less, and we never had trouble reaching anybody on the phone. The Knowledge Base is extensive, and covers everything from setup and configuration to online marketplaces and shipping providers. What’s more, the articles are clearly written and provide plenty of screenshots.

As I mentioned above, ShipWorks integrates with a huge variety of shipping carriers and online marketplaces (including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Magento, Etsy, Shopify, Volusion), but if you happen to use a store that isn’t directly supported by ShipWorks, you can always work with a developer and use the ShipWorks Generic API to create your own integrations.

Click here to read our full review of ShipWorks.

Loyalty Rewards Software

Winner: Sweet Tooth

sweet-tooth-rewards-logo

Sweet Tooth is a prolific loyalty rewards software that currently works with over 3500 merchants worldwide, including Delta, Universal, and Olympus. Sweet Tooth is dedicated to increasing customer engagement, and case studies from many of the clients mentioned above have demonstrated nearly 20% increases in customer lifetime values, sales and repeat purchases. It is complex software with a high learning curve, but in general, the benefits of using a robust loyalty rewards software outweigh the inconvenience of having to learn how to use it! Sweet Tooth is an ideal solution for both eCommerce merchants and merchants who use combined methods of commerce.

Sweet Tooth works best – and is most full featured – when it’s used through Magento, though you can use a lighter, simpler version of Sweet Tooth on BigCommerce or Shopify (this is free for up to 500 customers). Sweet Tooth subscription plans are offered monthly and automatically renew unless cancelled. Plans begin at $49/month, and are broken down by loyalty point transactions and annual revenue generated on Magento. If your activity exceeds the limitations of your plan you will be required to upgrade to the next available plan. You can view the full pricing details for Shopify, BigCommerce and Magento on the Sweet Tooth website.

Customer service is available Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST. Overall, our experience with Sweet Tooth has been positive. Everyone we’ve spoken to at the company has been knowledgeable and friendly, and most reviewers on Magento cite the technical support as an essential part of their loyalty program.

Read our full review of Sweet Tooth if you’re interested in learning more.

Runner-Up: Belly

belly-logo

Belly provides a more hassle-free loyalty rewards program than Sweet Tooth, and is ideal for smaller businesses with brick and mortar store fronts (such as bakeries, cafes, grocers, bars, spas, fitness clubs and boutiques). What’s really unique about Belly, though, are its customizeable rewards offerings and “all in one box” setup, which includes an iPad (with stand and combination lock), data reports, a personal support representative, social media integrations, and email marketing tools. Even more significantly, Belly customers get a mobile page for their business on the Belly app, where potential customers can look to find Belly-compatible businesses.

Monthly subscription costs range from $99 – $199, and all contracts run for 12 months. The cost of the iPad, iPad stand, application software, and unlimited rewards cards are included in the subscription costs for the highest plan, but an additional $150 installation fee is charged for lower plans.

Right now there are only a few drawbacks to Belly, most important of which is its steep price. Customer service can be a bit spotty as well, and unfortunately, not enough other businesses currently use it, which doesn’t provide much incentive to customers to get in the Belly network. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for an easy, no-worries loyalty program, you can’t go far wrong with Belly.

Read our full review of Belly for more details and information.

Website Building Software

Winner: Wix

 

wix

Wix is our number one choice for web building software, and it’s not difficult to understand why. With its sleek editing interface and multiple selection of apps and integrations, it is an extremely effective do-it-yourself website designer. In addition to being easy to use, Wix provides a great selection of unique and visually appealing templates (there are hundreds to choose from).

The free version of Wix is provided to anyone who signs up, though any website you create under the free plan will be branded with the Wix logo. Paid plans range from $4.08/month to $24.90/month. Wix’s store offers payment processing through a handful of vendors, including PayPal, WebMoney, Skrill, and PayU.

All in all, Wix is intuitive and user-friendly. Within a few hours, you should be able to take a template, mess around for a bit with the editing tools, and build yourself an incredibly fine looking website.

Because Wix allows developers to create and share their own add-ons, other users are given the opportunity to expand and diversify their websites as well. Some of the most popular integrations available include online shop expansions (like the Etsy app), the Wix Hotels premium booking system, live Instagram feeds, website profile systems, and a variety of other site boosting applications

There is one downside to the software: unlike most other website-building services, Wix does not offer 24/7 live-chat or provide an email response system. There is a toll-free number you can call for help with technical issues, but be aware that you could possibly be put on hold for an unspecified amount of time.

Click here to read our full review of Wix.

Runner-Up: Jimdo

Jimdo-Logo

With its reasonable price points and clever, yet simplistic editor, Jimdo has made a mark on the website building industry. Managing to be both straightforward and comprehensive, Jimdo allows users to make custom, professional looking websites. Templates are provided, of course, but you’re not bound to the confines of the template you choose; you have total freedom to edit and can essentially be as hands-on about the design process as you want.

Jimdo plans range from free to $20/month, and all plans come with an HTML5 WYSIWYG web editor, usage of professional-grade templates, social media tools, a mobile device editing view, blogging tools, photo galleries, Google Maps, contact forms, direct video embedding, widget integration, optimized mobile websites, and unlimited bandwidth.

While the only online payment processor currently supported by Jimdo is PayPal, a selection of various real-world payment methods can be activated in a website’s store, including invoicing, payment-in-advance, collection-upon-delivery, local pickup, and local delivery.

This is an easy-to-use service that somehow still manages to astound with the depth of its overall functionality. Some things may be a bit too simple, and Jimdo isn’t sophisticated enough to work as a tool for a professional web designer, but it is perfectly suited – price-wise and in ease-of-use – for small businesses who would otherwise have to hire out their web design services.

Read our full review of Jimdo here.

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3 Methods To Increase Productivity At The Office (Hint: You Might Be Surprised)

Ah, work productivity. The topic of numerous blogs, bestsellers, motivational speeches, and kitten-based posters. Everything that may be stated about productivity was already stated, millions of various ways, using thousands of cliches and axioms. There’s not new on the planet, right? The sad factor is, you are able to&#8217t even talk about work productivity cliches without needing cliches. It&#8217s impossible, like pushing water uphill having a rake. D&#8217oh! I am talking about, you may as well squeeze bloodstream from the turnip. Arg! No way. Speaking about productivity without using tired similes is really as useless as herding cats. It may&#8217t be achieved.

But, here i am, speaking about this anyway. It might not appear like there&#8217s anything worth saying at this time, however in the immortal words of Alexandar the truly amazing, &#8220There is certainly not impossible to him who’ll try.&#8221 As well as in the much more immortal words of Gob Bluth (preserved on Netflix for those eternity, world without finish, amen), &#8220my brother wasn&#8217t positive it may be done, however i didn&#8217t take &#8216wasn&#8217t positive it may be done&#8217 to have an answer!&#8221

I&#8217m going to speak about work productivity. I&#8217m likely to depend on cliches to get it done. And in some way, I&#8217m likely to wring something fresh from it. I said within the title want to know , which you may be amazed through the tips contained within. I lied. Mea culpa. (But shame for you for falling for clickbait.) Here&#8217s the plain truth: you won&#8217t be amazed. However if you simply can dig through the piles of apparent chestnuts, my hope is you may find something helpful.

Consider all caution tossed towards the wind. We&#8217re getting started, mind first. And, when i might as well be hung for any sheep like a lamb, let&#8217s start in the beginning. It&#8217s an excellent starting point.

1) Think of a Good System For Managing Email

Email. Could it be among the finest innovations in our time, or even the scourge from the modern workplace? The treatment depends about how your perception (how&#8217s that for any cliche?). Email is definitely an very helpful tool when used correctly. However if you simply&#8217re not careful, it will take over your existence, like a lot kudzu on the plantation wall. A current survey through the Alternative Board (TAB) discovered that, some business proprietors spend huge swaths of time studying, sorting, and answering emails, only 9% of individuals surveyed felt enjoy it was an essential use of time. Quite simply, for most people, email is just about the pinnacle of busy work.

The Terrible Trivium, among the scariest demons in Norton Juster&#8217s &#8216The Phantom Tollbooth&#8217

They dedicate their lives for this Terrible Trivium, moving pebbles in one pile to a different, always working, never really accomplishing anything.

Managing email&#8212apart from being psychologically exhausting&#8212is difficult on the body. It&#8217s harmful to your eyesight. It&#8217s murder in your wrists and forearms. Sitting, oh-so sedentarily in a monitor for just about any period of time can lead to headaches, nervous fatigue, as well as elevated weight. But regrettably, unless of course you need to be referred to as an eccentric, it&#8217s improper, or reasonable, to consider yourself from the email grid.

Just how is a to cope with this unfortunate requirement? Really, it&#8217s less hard as you may think. Lately, I observed that among the women who works for me personally had possessed a significant stall in work productivity. The issue? She’d been trying to cope with emails because they arrived, an exercise which left her constantly associated with her inbox, not able to invest any significant time on more essential projects. After brainstorming some time, we determined a great way to solve her problem. Rather of answering emails because they made an appearance, a Sisyphean task basically ever saw one, she started to commit some time every day exclusively to tackle email responses. Now, as well as that dedicated hour approximately every morning, she simply ignores her inbox. For seven hrs of her workday, individuals email correspondents are dead to her. Even though it&#8217s not quite a situation of &#8220good riddance to bad rubbish,&#8221 it’s a situation where absence helps make the heart grow fonder. By permitting herself to focus on her email&#8212and little else&#8212for a tiny bit of time, she will provide better, more clearly worded responses. And she or he can treat the remainder of her day with increased focused attention.

This isn&#8217t an authentic solution, obviously. Dedicating a quantity of your time to accomplishing one task is Work Productivity 101. But while everyone understands that the idea is seem, very couple of people really think that fact enough to change their lifestyle. It requires an action of will to rid yourself from email-related bondage. Jodie Shaw, the CMO of The Alternative Board, states that the little meticulous planning will go a lengthy way. Based on Shaw:

“Planning is the easiest method to reduce hrs allocated to necessary, yet time-consuming tasks for example email and conferences,” adds Shaw. “Set aside a precise block of your time every day for answering your email and make up a thorough agenda/timeline for conferences. These tactics can help eliminate the additional minutes that equal to extra hrs every day.”

Organize an approach to cope with your email. After which&#8230follow that plan. It&#8217s as easy as that. Should you don&#8217t trust yourself to steer clear of your inbox during non-email-sanctioned hrs, obtain a sponsor. Ask a coworker or perhaps your boss to aid you inside your endeavor. The direction to hell is paved with higher intentions. You need to do not only agree that managing email throughout a finite window is a great idea&#8212if you want to modify your work existence inside a significant way, you have to add some accountability.  It might be embarrassing to inquire about help, however when you be productive, everybody active in the business wins.

2) Dump the Sticky Notes and Wear Some Project Management Software Software, STAT

There&#8217s a typical misperception available that project management software software programs are just for those who, well, manage projects. But while these power tools possess a definite devote traditional office environments, they’ve a multitude of uses in other industries too. Anybody that has to handle an assorted workload&#8212from restaurant proprietors to plumbers to freelance authors&#8212can benefit in solid ways from project management software software.

Okay, cliche time! I&#8217m sure you&#8217ve heard that many hands make light work. Hands, within this situation, don&#8217t need to are available in human form. The best answer to productivity is applying all of the help you will get, in whatever form which help takes. Your performed-out organization techniques could possibly get a lift from modern, software-based project management software tools. That oversized desktop calendar you&#8217re using at this time? Dispose of it. (Or utilize it in order to save the office from coffee rings.) Rather, obtain a cloud-based, task management service. I promise you&#8217ll be amazed at just how well things fall under place.

Project management software programs, even quite simple ones&#8212like Basecamp or Trello&#8212can operate similar to personal assistants. They keep an eye on your calendar help remind you when you have to be places (where you have to go) arrange your entire day in digestible chunks. And also you don&#8217t have to purchase them flowers, come Secretary&#8217s Day! These power tools are affordable, and perhaps, totally free for just one user.

People have a tendency to fall lower probably the most once they&#8217re attempting to juggle multiple to-dos within their heads. Even though Publish-It Notes and hastily scribbled reminders get their place, nowadays it&#8217s a lot simpler to operate your existence with software. Project management software apps give a way to rapidly record and monitor task progress, track time allocated to activities, cope with email demands, manage contact details (addresses, phone figures, etc.) store documents and files for future reference, and&#8212in certain cases&#8212communicate together with your co-workers better.

That TAB survey I pointed out earlier found the average business proprietor reports getting &#8220only 1.5 hrs of uninterrupted, high productive time every day.&#8221 With project management software software, you’ve got a fighting possibility of raising time, a minimum of by a couple of hours. The a shorter period spent shuffling around the office, searching for your napkin together with your coworker&#8217s telephone number onto it, or futilely combing using your email for your one PDF you’ll need, the greater time you need to really work.

Its not all project management software system is identical, obviously. What is employed by a software team of developers won&#8217t suit you perfectly for any food truck owner, and the other way around. Read our comprehensive project management software reviews to locate specific solutions that may help organize your projects day, or read this comparison chart for any good bird&#8217s eye look at the marketplace generally.

3) Stop Multitasking!

Let&#8217s be obvious right from the start. Research implies that multitasking is an awful idea. No, that&#8217s a misleading statement. In fact, studies have shown that multitasking doesn’t seem possible. The mind cannot perform numerous tasks concurrently. The very best it can do is rapidly shift in one activity to a different, an exercise that is a) exhausting and b) pretty ineffectual. Based on the American Mental Association, &#8220[d]oing several task at any given time, especially several complex task, requires a toll on productivity.&#8221 If you feel to nibble on lunch, check Twitter, and return emails while concurrently having to pay focus on a gathering, you’re delusional. Oh, your sandwich can get eaten. Your tweets can get read. But there&#8217s not a way you&#8217re likely to recall all of the salient points of this meeting. Can&#8217t be achieved. Cheap all of us keep trying, day in and day trip, to &#8216have everything&#8217 is simply plain hubris.

Sadly, American society continues to be trained to worship in the altar of busyness. We&#8217ve all bought in to the lie at some point: the busier we’re, the greater chainsaws we’re juggling at any time, the greater important our existence is. Which can be why a lot of us feel constantly really stressed out by our workload&#8212and why a massive 84% people spend more money than 40 hrs at the office every week. That&#8217s not normal, incidentally. A French citizen would call that cruel and weird punishment. And guess what happens? They’d be absolutely right. The evidence of the pudding is within the eating. Americans may go a lot of hrs, but we&#8217re not always getting anything done. And multitasking is basically responsible.

Should you wish to improve productivity, you&#8217ll have to do some serious deprogramming. Begin every day by searching within the mirror and saying &#8220multitasking doesn&#8217t work&#8221 twenty occasions. Brush the teeth. Floss. Then express it twenty more occasions. Your roommates or partner will think you&#8217re crazy, and you’ll be. Crazy just like a fox! In most significance, it will likely be a tough paradigm to dump. We&#8217re deeply in love with the idea of multitasking. It provides us the sensation that people might have everything. But allow me to be blunt: we&#8217re all walking sacks of meat. Through which I am talking about, we’ve physical limitations. We don&#8217t be prepared to be all pervading&#8212to physically occupy all spaces at the same time&#8212so how come we so convinced we are able to do everything?

As soon as you stop multitasking, you&#8217ll start being more lucrative. The good thing is that you simply don&#8217t have to lower a go of Adderol so that you can concentrate on one factor at any given time. Mindfulness isn&#8217t just new-agey philosophy it&#8217s the best secret weapon to success at work. Simply slow lower and concentrate on which you&#8217re doing, whether that’s coming back an e-mail, writing a study, or eating a dang sandwich. Take notice of the moment have to it.

This can be very hard initially, however if you simply apply some fundamental mindfulness techniques, you&#8217ll discover that it will get simpler as time passes. The easiest method to start your multitasking cleanse would be to employ 5 various senses. Next time you&#8217re coming back emails or writing up a task outline, stop and center yourself. Consider that which you&#8217re searching at exactly what the room has the aroma of the way the lighting affects you what noises you’re hearing without anyone’s knowledge. Should you become distracted or end up once more attempting to tackle several factor, believe that understanding&#8212without judgment&#8212and lightly bring yourself to the job at hands. When you treat employment with intentionality, you’ll be amazed at how rapidly (and just how well) it will get done.

The Takeaway

I guaranteed you three, heavily cliched guidelines to help you increase productivity at the office, by George, I&#8217ve delivered with that promise. You&#8217ve now heard, for that umpteenth time, it&#8217s smart to designate a period for coping with email, purchase technology that may organize your existence for you personally, and discontinue the unhealthy practice of multitasking. But my fondest hope is you&#8217ve learned something fresh too.

To go all the way and use the concepts above, you have to take concrete steps&#8212and that may be new information. Typical business culture is heavy on jargon, but light on action. You are aware how to speak to talk&#8212now it&#8217s time for you to walk the walk. First, consult with a friend and obtain a sponsor that will help you break your inbox addiction. Second, perform some homework after which place your money where the mouth area is really subscribe inside a project management software tool. Lastly, don&#8217t just stop multitasking&#8212replace your frenzied tries to do and become everything having a deliberate, conscious concentrate on finding yourself in as soon as.

This is the time to improve productivity at the office! A stitch over time saves nine, so start it already! Remember, a moving stone gathers no moss.

The publish 3 Methods To Increase Productivity At The Office (Hint: You Might Be Surprised) made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Creating and looking after an online business for the Business

small business website design software

Regardless of how small your small business’s finances are, you can’t afford not with an presence online. Thinking about that many people search on the internet to locate local companies (we may as well, since we’re looking at our smartphones for any third of times we&#8217re awake), your company may as well be invisible if it’s not online.

What’s an online business? I figured you’d never ask! At most fundamental level, your web presence, sometimes known as your “webspace” or “web presence,” includes your company website as well as your social networking accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Catster… ok, not Catster unless of course you’ve got a cat-related business, but there are several really cute kitties on the website). However, similar to the web itself, your web presence is really a altering, living factor, as opposed to a one-time investment you may make after which ignore.

Search engine optimization, mobile website design, and content marketing are only a couple of of the things that you have to consider with regards to establishing and looking after your professional online presence. Fortunately, web-based software, including small company web site design software along with other cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS), might help simplify or perhaps eliminate many of these internet marketing tasks. By doing this, you’ll convey more time for you to devote you to ultimately the primary job of running your company.

Below is really a brief help guide to creating and looking after an online business for the business (cat-related or else).

Come Up With Your Web Team

project management software

With respect to the size and scope of the business, you may want to hire many people that will help you construct your website and advertise your online businesses. These people may be outsourced (for instance, for an internet marketing or Search engine optimization agency), or meet your needs in-house. One multi-gifted person might handle all your online stuff, or you will use software that will the heavy-lifting with many or many of these roles. Anyway, listed here are the primary peeps you’ll need:

  • Website designer
  • Social networking manager
  • Search engine optimization/internet marketing expert
  • Content author

If you have multiple people caring for your online presence, project management software software like Working together or LiquidPlanner could be useful in coordinating your team and keeping them focused, particularly if you have employees working remotely.

Produce a Great Website

web design software

Whether your company is strictly online or else you operate brick-and-mortar premises, you’ll need a quality web site to attract new clients. Some companies hire a graphic designer to produce their website, while some favor a more affordable DIY approach using website builder software. However you decide to assemble it, your website must have the next elements, which supports your site succeed searching engines, and eventually generate more customers.

  • Fast-loading page speed — Test out your website speed here.
  • A frequently updated blog — Required for content marketing place your content author/Search engine optimization person to operate about this one.
  • Prominent contact details — Allows results in locate and phone you.
  • Search-engine friendly design — Includes behind-the-scenes things like HTML/CSS code, meta data, sitemaps, along with other things your site designer ought to know about.
  • Mobile-friendly design — Test out your website’s mobile-ambiance here.
  • Integrated social networking presence — For instance, include icons associated with your social networking accounts in your website, and publish links for your website’s blogs on social networking.
  • eCommerce features (if you wish to sell in your website) — You should use shopping cart software software to integrate a web-based store together with your existing website, in order to develop a new eCommerce website on your own.
  • Online appointment scheduling (if you possess the kind of business that can take appointments) — You should use booking software with this.

Observe that if you are using an internet site builder software (e.g., Wix), most or all the design and behind-the-scenes aspects of your site are handled for you personally. Obviously, you’ll still need perform some work, like write the information for the site and select the appearance for the website, but pre-built tools as an integrated blog editor along with a web templates make these tasks easy-peasy. For those who have some developer experience, website builder programs like DudaOne yet others provide you with the choice to adjust the HTML/CSS code.

Perform Some Offpage Search engine optimization

Email marketing software

So, since you’ve come up with a sweet website, you will find the platform which to construct out all of your presence online. While your site itself offers the “onsite SEO” (Search engine optimization, obviously, meaning “search engine optimization”), you should also advertise your business other areas online. The next jobs are all considered “offpage SEO”:

  • Social networking outreach — Social networking is essential for engaging together with your customer-base, and for internet sales. Some POS software for example Shopify POS includes integrations that will help you sell on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
  • Maintaining business directory profiles — What this means is claiming and optimizing your web listings on the internet +, Yelp, etc.
  • E-mail marketing — E-mail marketing software like MailChimp can help you with this particular.
  • Networking and community occasions — You are able to sometimes get quality local inbound links by taking part in local company associations, or perhaps community pursuits like sponsoring a nearby 5K or kids’ team.

Monitor and Adjust As Necessary

website analytics software

Now, it’s here we are at the maintenance part. Additionally to routine website maintenance tasks, you need to use web analytics tools for example Google Analytics, Search Console, and/or any other online tools to watch your website’s performance. You are able to measure such things as what kinds of website content attract probably the most visitors, how good your social networking attempts are working, which pages are the very best at converting people to having to pay customers, along with other metrics.

You cant ever fail with keeping the website fresh with new content, and remaining on the top of important Google updates to make certain your internet site is while using latest guidelines. You should use marketing software services like Hubspot if you wish to go really in-depth together with your inbound marketing efforts, or perhaps try proper pay-per-click campaigns if you introduce something new or service, or else you just feel your web presence can use just a little boost.

Let’s Get Began!

Internet marketing is not optional for companies, and lots of effort adopts creating and looking after a great business website. Fortunately, companies have numerous choices to achieve these goals — you are able to employ a dedicated team or individual to deal with your web presence, or delegate the work for an Search engine optimization/website design agency. Easy-to-use cloud-based software programs also allow business proprietors with little technical know-how or startup funds to produce and keep their very own online presence. For instance, use a website builder like Squarespace to produce your company website or use Shopify (or one of the numerous Shopify alternatives) to setup a web-based store.

If you want help selecting software to obtain your presence online off the floor, please call us and we’ll assist you. Complete this short form and our software experts will achieve to you with a few suggestions according to your particular needs. We’re just nice like this. 🙂

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Team Bio Series: Julie Titterington (The Mystery Bookworm)

Round a couple of we bio series highlights our wonderful Managing Editor (and queen from the poultry leg emoji) Julie! This native Oregonian spends her time &#8220reading early 20th-century mystery novels, looking blankly at her iPhone, and continuing to keep her kids given, dressed, and comparatively uninjured.&#8221 She certainly keeps the Merchant Mav team on the toes, never missing a grammar mistake and try to ensure that is stays light having a witty remark. Pointless to state, we like her so we know you’ll too!

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Name: Julie Titterington

Title: Managing Editor

Hometown: Tualatin, OR

Current City: Canby, OR

Education and background: I’ve got a BA on paper and Literature from George Fox College, where I minored in Nursing too. I additionally went to highschool, junior high school, grade school, and Sunday School, so yeah…I’m the entire package. You can ‘t be more educated than I’m. (Unless of course you’re a physician, lawyer, professor, social worker, teacher, or virtually other people within my immediate family in individuals cases, you certainly could).

Merchant Mav department/niche: I oversee all the software review groups, together with loans and merchant payday loans. I began out existence at MM within the project management software department, however, and that’s my first love. I personally use the word ‘love’ loosely here.

How have you uncover Merchant Mav?: To not be too Zen about this all, however i didn’t uncover Merchant Mav it discovered me.  Four years back I had been being employed as an independent copywriter, content creator, and jack-of-all-trades, writing BS for products I despised to place food up for grabs. I really generated copy for any vaping company. True story. Amad Ebrahimi (the website founder and my good fairy) dug me from obscurity on the freelancing platform, also it was goodbye to covering watermelon-flavored tobacco. I’ve never looked back.

Proudest professional moment: My proudest professional moment was the very first time a task management company altered their product according to comments within my review. It helped me seem like I had been writing (and doing) something useful.

Favorite Merchant Maverick publish/moment/chance: My personal favorite MM post…that’s a great question. I really like writing posts, because they allow us a way of measuring creativeness which i can’t always access with reviews. I most likely had probably the most fun writing a publish about negativity bias, which&#8212in a cruel although not unusual coincidence&#8212is certainly one of my least trafficked bits of content.

Where do you turn when you’re no longer working for Merchant Mav?: The majority of time outdoors of labor is spent getting up my two kids, Penelope (5) and Malcolm (2). By getting up, I am talking about “feeding, snuggling, loving, sometimes cleaning, and usually stopping dying by exposure or injuries.” I’m rubbish at crafts, and don’t choose to read books aloud which were not compiled by Dr. Seuss, so they’re virtually by themselves next. I additionally spend a substantial amount of time studying and rereading…dun da da da (!)…British mystery novels written between 1920 and 1970. I own each and every Agatha Christie book every written. Ditto for Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Ellis Peters…I may go on.

Favorite summer time pastime?: I enjoy continue walks within the summer time. My concept of an ideal summer time morning is always to hike 2 or 3 miles with the forest and in some way finish up in a woodland Starbucks for any Strawberry-Acai Refresher.

Favorite 90s movie: Tricky! I began that decade by 50 percentnd grade and ended it as being a higher school senior, so my style of 90s movies is fairly eclectic. If we’re speaking early 90s, it’s The Small Mermaid, hands lower. Late 90s…? I’m likely to call an audible and repeat the Royal Tenenbaums, which arrived on the scene in 2001 (close enough, right?) Apparently, I love movies that start with “The.”

Favorite superhero: I’ve always loved the non-super superheroes, like Ironman and Batman.

When you switch lives having a celebrity, who’d you choose and why?: I have not desired to really be someone apart from I’m. I’d certainly enjoy being more gifted, more appealing, more potent, etc., but because myself. But when I possibly could pick characteristics I admire in other people, I’d pick the finely-honed writing skill of Dorothy Sayers, the fast wit of Michael J. Nelson, and also the general lovability of Weird Al.

When you pick your theme song, what will it be?: There’s an audio lesson within the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta the Mikado known as “The Sun Whose Sun rays.” I really like the lyrics and also the music. Look up.

Mac or Home windows?: Good question! My husband’s household is firmly within the PC camp (my FIL began employed by IBM if this was still being a typewriter company.) My very own group of origin is Mac-centric. I span the 2 worlds, alone, using both an apple iphone along with a PC laptop.

Hidden talent?: Guessing the finish of films. You don’t want me around if you’re watching a film having a twist.

We&#8217ll never visit the movies with Julie, but we&#8217ll always ask her for book recommendations! For additional from Julie, make sure to check her on Twitter and LinkedIn!

Should you missed the very first team bio series publish, take a look to understand more about our founder, Amad Ebrahimi!

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What’s SaaS?


what is SaaS

Definition

SaaS means Software like a Service, a way to license and operate software entirely in “the cloud.” In a nutshell, which means that any software offered ‘as a service’ doesn’t need to be installed on your pc to become used. You just on line around the software vendor’s website, sign in, and employ the program entirely from the window inside your internet browser. SaaS programs will also be sometimes known as “on demand software,” but mercifully, that isn’t in usage as the second acronym. (However if you simply begin to see the term floating online, just realize that it’s talking about SaaS.)

The prevalence and near-predominance of SaaS piques the eye of first-time entrepreneurs and Enterprise-sized companies alike. Actually, deploying software in this sort of online-only platform results in a rare win-win scenario for companies and consumers alike. SaaS isn’t a flash within the pan it’s a milestone in technology that will become a fundamental element of our future.

Using Software like a Services are usually accomplished through simply a internet browser with an internet connected computer. However in more complicated or high-bandwidth cases, some SaaS usage is much better accessed through a little client downloaded for your computer. These clients act like a easier interface towards the same online software. (These include installing mobile clients in your phone or tablet for CRM apps or using desktop clients to gain access to gaming systems.)

In the following paragraphs, we’ll cover a little more than simply the fundamentals. Continue reading to obtain the full picture, and find out how SaaS might benefit your company.

Advantages of SaaS

I’ve damaged lower the main advantages of SaaS in the perspectives of both software vendor and also the finish user, but in the two cases, software of the type might be summarized as “faster, cheaper, simpler, smarter.” Investors and early adopters don’t hear individuals words, though rather, they simply hear “cha-ching.”

For Software Vendors:

For that vendor, SaaS deployment is about reducing costs and growing BI (Business Intelligence):

  • No media to buy (physical CD or DVD which to load the program to market like a physical product)
  • No media encoding (dedicated disc burners, location to accommodate production equipment, etc)
  • No packaging (disc inserts, jewel cases, boxes, cellophane, etc)
  • No shipping associated with a physical product to the distributor. (Just like Netflix put Blockbuster bankrupt, there’s no software on the CD to distribute to retailers).
  • No retail space needed (no contracts or partnerships to bother with, which further reduces costs for that finish-user and increases profits for that vendor).
  • A lot more accurate metrics on usage, which guides product.

For Users:

  • No exorbitant one-time license, but an infinitely more manageable recurring subscription.
  • No (or couple of) technical needs to satisfy.
  • No IT department needed in-house.
  • Near immediate deployment (zero local installation and minimal configuration).
  • New upgrades and security patches are carried out instantly and without anyone’s knowledge
  • Wide selection of technical support is generally incorporated, from extensive documentation to reside talk to powerful telephone calls (in some instances)..
  • Scalability. Forget about positive over-achieve. Sign up for exactly the thing you need, and upgrade whenever you&#8217re ready.
  • Compatibility. Remember when Ms Word documents couldn’t be opened up when the other user were built with a different form of Word installed? Or once the other user were built with a different platform altogether (Mac versus PC)? With SaaS, all users access the very same software. Compatibility issues basically disappear.
  • Ubiquity. Have to access your software admin whenever you&#8217re outside? As lengthy you may already know your username and password, you’ve full use of your software subscription from the internet connected computer. Should you&#8217re traveling, go to your hotel&#8217s data center or perhaps a library and sign in to obtain some impromptu work done. Many SaaS developers also support access from cellular devices, so that your tablet will be your go-anywhere workstation.

When the budget-friendly perks of SaaS were its only benefit, that will be monumental. SaaS enables you to definitely lease something outside your normal budget limits, greatly extending your purchasing power. If a bit of software costs a 1-time $1500, however, you sign up for its service for $30/mo, you&#8217ll have compensated for that software entirely in 50 several weeks (just a little over four years). However that&#8217s four years to do business which you may not have access to had the ability to accomplish otherwise.

Hold on! There’s more! See also &#8220Extensibility&#8221 below, like a single perk worthy of its very own subheading.

Drawbacks of SaaS

It’s not every sunshine and rainbows, but nearly. Here are the trade-offs.

For Software Vendors:

  • Data security becomes (almost) the only responsibility from the vendor. One exception to this is where users are needed to buy an SSL certificate to secure the bond using the vendor. Normally, this is only needed by retailers who require to keep PCI compliance.
  • New software vendors possess a harder time entering the, because a lot of technical burden falls on their own shoulders the program mustn’t simply be created, but located on the server, and also the UI (interface) should be entirely accomplished via a internet browser window. The complications with delivering software entirely within the cloud keep snowballing into bigger and much more intricacies, however i think you begin to see what i mean.

For Users:

  • Reliable high-speed internet access is essential. And also, since just when was any ISP noted for its reliability? In instances where the SaaS implementation processes orders and financial transactions, any downtime is particularly difficult. Some SaaS vendors particularly affected by downtime are beginning to provide &#8220offline modes,&#8221 which sync up all offline transactions towards the server once the connection is restored. But this isn’t a typical feature yet.
  • Should you ever choose to migrate to a different software solution, you’ll possess the arduous task of transferring vast amounts of information exclusively over the internet. No ethernet or firewire transfer or CDs to endlessly copy your backed-up files. Not a chance, you’ll depend on good ol’ internet-governed progress bars. And don’t forget, upload speeds are generally 1/10 the rate of downloads.
  • All of your business processes offered through the software vendor are in risk when the vendor should close shop or else discontinue the program.
  • Arguments over data possession can ensue. Look at your SLA (service level agreement) prior to signing up and investing in something.

Selection of Vendors

SaaS is really a revolutionary milestone for the way clients are conducted, on componen with email, mobile phones, and fax machines and copiers (technologies which within their time redefined and reprocessed the company landscape). The prevalent utilization of SaaS has already been prevalent, and also the technologies are well from its infancy. Actually, you’ve probably used it for a long time, regardless of whether you were conscious of it or otherwise. Ever encountered Facebook? Netflix? Both are Software like a Service. They’re not just handy, although complex, websites are all a web-based program, which needs only a internet browser to gain access to.

Here’s only a small mix portion of the industries already using SaaS, in addition to a couple of specific examples that you recognize:

  • eCommerce software (website builders like WordPress and Wix, and shopping carts like Shopify and Bigcommerce, etc)
  • Group messaging software (Slack, Asana)
  • Crm (CRM)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Keeper
  • CAD software
  • Development software
  • Games and Entertainment
  • Accounting software
  • Invoicing software
  • Hr Management (HRM)
  • Service Desk Management (i.e., Help-desk Software)

CRM apps have especially dominated the SaaS model. Salespeople who generally focus on-the-go can access all the data they’d have at work: full contact details for each lead (including contact history, notes, and relevant documentation), sales pipeline tracking, chance management, as well as sales forecasting, from their phone or tablet. Yet, though this “on-demand” sales data in the users hand of the hands is impressive, it’s not even close to the entire scope of the items SaaS can facilitate.

You don’t need to be a higher-tech sales rep to utilize SaaS applications. We’ve already pointed out Facebook, which is often used by individuals of every age group. But whether you’re someone or an entrepreneur, SaaS opens lots of doorways.

Selection of Customers

Who can usually benefit from SaaS? It might be sufficient, and succinct, to merely say “umm, everybody.” Speculate we enjoy being thorough at Merchant Maverick, I’ll elaborate.

  • Retailers
    • B2C (Business to Consumer) Most retail eCommerce has already been offered by a mix of SaaS solutions.
    • Business to business (B2b) These kinds of companies can leverage SaaS to sync up calendars, task managers, CRM and ERP suites, as well as inventory, invoicing, shipping, etc…
    • Internal use. Employees have to collaborate more proficiently compared to what they can by standing round the water cooler. Sometimes workers are divided by cubicles, floors in an office, or hemispheres from the planet. Using SaaS, internal communication platforms like Slack enables for immediate, secure, global communication.
  • Personal use. Many of the aforementioned-pointed out software groups also provide apps created for individual use. Some SaaS CRM apps simply help remind the consumer of people’s birthdays, as well as an growing most of games are created to be performed along with other gamers all over the world.

Common Charges Connected with SaaS 

Even though the SaaS subscription model is a lot more affordable than purchasing the same software outright, you will find charges which could accumulate rapidly if you’re unaware of them in advance. But don’t worry- we’ve got the back. Listed here are the most typical charges connected with SaaS. Not every charges is going to be relevant or enforced by all kinds of software, so research your options prior to signing up.

  • Recurring subscription, (monthly or yearly) at whatever tier and services information you select.
  • Transactions charges, designed for individuals services which offer commerce functionality to retailers.
  • Online storage. When the software for use is located within the cloud, then most (if not completely) from the data that every user builds up can also be kept in the cloud, File storage isn’t minor, which price is sometimes forwarded to the consumer. However the rate of development in software technologies have required commensurate development in data storage technology, which reduces the price of those storage drives basic demand and supply.
  • Bandwidth overages. Also called Customer Quota, as well as other similar name. Bandwidth charges seem uncomfortable, and lots of consumers vociferously complain about these charges. However the vendors that decide to impose bandwidth caps and overage charges achieve this to safeguard the shoppers around the lower finish of the prices structure. Think about this if your software vendor includes a wide spectrum of bandwidth usage among its users, then bandwidth limits avoid the smaller sized merchant from having to pay for that greater bandwidth use of the bigger retailers. &#8220Pay that which you use&#8221 logic. However, very effective software companies have sufficient infrastructure to soak up many of the bandwidth-related costs, and can promote &#8220unlimited bandwidth&#8221 which provides every merchant one less factor to bother with. And that’s the core tenet of SaaS to begin with.
  • SSL certificates. Again, they are mostly required to ensure PCI compliance. Most vendors who must make sure safe transmission of sensitive data ensure their very own guaranteed connection.
  • Supplemental technical support. This is extremely circumstantial – it might be mandatory for many users, and irrelevant for other people.
  • Extensions. That leads us to&#8230

Extensibility

This might be listed under &#8220Benefits,&#8221 however it deserves enough explanation to warrant its very own heading.

The &#8220cloud sourced&#8221 deployment of software applies perfectly to enabling 3rd party integrations. Solo developers, in addition to firms that particularly concentrate on creating plugins, possess a built-in audience once they list their add-ons on an SaaS vendor&#8217s website. Most SaaS vendors promote their very own &#8220app marketplaces&#8221 where organizations may submit add-ons which extend the functionality of the software.

This really is another win-win-win scenario. The seller is benefited just because a large assortment of compatible add-ons will make sure more customers find their software useful new developers are benefited because they may be a lot more easily promoted, and customers are benefited simply because they can basically pick whichever add-ons they require to create a wonderfully tailored software solution.

The way forward for SaaS

It’s unlikely that SaaS usage will decline in the near future. It’s also unlikely that in your area installed software is going to be totally eclipsed. This leaves us having a hybrid deployment structure mandated on the personal computers, and most importantly, on the cellular devices. If SaaS were ever to totally edge out local installs, our mobile technology would start to see (much more) rapid advancement because the needs for local storage, local processing power, and copious electric batteries could be minimal. However that&#8217s an aspiration for that distant future.

Meanwhile, many software companies have fully dedicated to SaaS deployment. Because these companies expand and offer several categories of software, a brand new layer of SaaS ensues: SaaS Integrated Platforms (SIP). If &#8220normal&#8221 SaaS is really a entrance right into a single store, SIP is really a entrance right into a shopping center. You might be surprised to listen to that you’re most likely utilizing a SIP already. For those who have their email having a major provider like Google, it most likely operates like a SIP, supplying email functionality, text document and spreadsheet support, calendar features, video chat, online storage, and so on. All of these are SaaS applications residing under one umbrella (one entrance, consistent with our previous metaphor). These types of SIPs are growing in number as well as in potential. You might have heard about a couple of: Google, Yahoo, Salesforce, Zoho, and Oracle happen to be within this arena of software development.

Between your impressive listing of benefits, the narrow your search of drawbacks, and also the growing reliance on the web during out lives, the effectiveness of Software like a Services are only starting to present itself. As internet speeds increase and our devices become much more interactive, SaaS will rapidly end up being the new norm within our lives. And That I&#8217ll function as the some guy who remembers the era when mobile phones could only call someone.

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Selecting Project Management Software Software: 3 Major Factors

best project management softwareYou will find many project management software software systems presently flooding the current market, and new systems continue being developed in a steady rate. With your an array of available alternatives, it can be hard to look for the best project management software software your business. Generally, however, there’s a couple of key things to consider taking a look at moving to a different project management software program: cost, simplicity of use, and customer care.

Cost

The relative cost-effectiveness of recent software programs are considered for the biggest corporation, but it’s really a make-or-break issue to smaller sized companies or start-ups. The cost associated with a new project management software solution, however potentially advantageous, should be considered from the actual monthly costs of licensing and support. Ideally, to maximise profit, smaller sized operations need to look for software that doesn’t charge through the individual user. There are many programs that charge a set rate per month and permit for limitless collaborators other individuals charge group rates (one rate for approximately 5 users, another rate for 10-20 users, etc.). Either of those prices systems is a good selection along with a good option to more costly per/user/month charges. Before investing in assembling your shed management solution, it’s also always smart to see whether it will likely be reducing costs elsewhere in the industry, either by replacing other software, growing efficiency, or reducing labor. Carefully research any third party integrations that exist &#8211 without charge, many software companies provide valuable integrations with programs you might be using.

Simplicity of use

User-ambiance is possibly the most crucial sign of any software, but it’s a particularly critical facet of project management software software. Veteran managers realize that the sleekest, most feature-wealthy software product is useless if nobody around the team would like for doing things. When selecting a brand new system for the business, it’s important to consider the level of skill and computer proficiency of an average joe who definitely are dealing with it every day. There are numerous very brilliant, well-designed project management software programs that also might not be appropriate for several companies. Consider whether your team has got the time, persistence, or fundamental ability to master an elaborate interface before registering to an application having a steep learning curve. Most programs become intuitive after a preliminary investment of time and effort, however, many companies don&#8217t possess the luxury of waiting that lengthy and can’t afford a de-motivated and demoralized workforce. First and foremost, it’s imperative to check out the way in which your team really will get work done. Evaluate the methods that you simply presently communicate and collaborate, and look for a project management software system that plays for your strengths.

Customer Care

Each project management software software company features its own method of customer support. Some go so far as assigning each organization its very own support representative and offering on-site classes. Others pocket the monthly subscription, give the merchandise, and switch their customers loose to look after themselves. Most fall somewhere in the centre. When choosing a brand new project management software system, it behooves you to definitely figure out how important good customer support would be to your particular business. Consider regardless of whether you need or want 24/7 use of an assistance network. Some companies offer only email support and wish people to complete service tickets online. If you like to have interaction with flesh-and-bloodstream humans or don&#8217t can wait a couple of days any time you possess a question, you might want to select a program that enables you to definitely speak immediately having a service repetition. Make certain that the organization you select offers educational material and private support inside your language.

Selecting project management software software doesn&#8217t need to be a challenging task. Because of so many excellent programs presently available, you’ll probably look for a project management software solution that’s ideally suitable for your company needs. As lengthy while you give consideration towards the cost, ease-of-use, and customer care offered, it’s difficult to go far wrong. Happy hunting!

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The Most Crucial Purpose of Project Management Software Software

advantages of project management softwareThere&#8217s without doubt that project management software software programs are a helpful commodity. The other tool do you need to concurrently track the progress of ongoing tasks, monitor worker workload, create complex schedules, plan for projects, and securely store documents and pictures? The fanciest project management software program, however, is mainly helpful since it performs one, big, all-important function for the business: streamlining communication.

Resource management is becoming more and more difficult during the last couple of decades. Running a competent business was much easier prior to the creation of laptops, mobile phones which pervasive, game-altering phenomenon that’s the world-wide web. Nowadays, people can literally work anytime of day, from all over the world. Vital details are now communicated less through one-on-one interactions and much more through emails, phone demands, and interactive video. With no proper tool to arrange and manage the fundamental aspects of daily work, many companies flounder, lost inside a pile of unreturned emails and forgotten service demands. Good-quality project management software software consolidates information and communiqués in a single convenient location, which makes it tougher for employees (and managers) to decrease the ball.

Because of this, PM software programs like Trello now boast up to 17 million users. Countless users also depend on other quality project management software solutions like Basecamp, Asana, LiquidPlanner, and Working together.

To facilitate smooth and constant communication, many modern SaaS programs, like individuals pointed out above, eliminate the requirement for email altogether most allow users to thoroughly incorporate standard email communications while project planning and execution. Email integration effectively eliminates the necessity to waste energy sifting with an endless inbox to retrieve information. Attachments, instructions, along with other communiqués are stored inside a proper context and connected towards the appropriate task or project.

Project management software software also streamlines communication by getting clients along with other stakeholders in to the lifecycle of the projects. When given use of project management software software, clients can positively take part in planning and don’t need to be chased lower for approvals and feedback. Some programs have built-in interactive video abilities (or integrate seamlessly with apps like Go-to-Meeting) where you can schedule and conduct client consultations and day-to-day staff conferences. Participants are instantly notified of approaching conferences, supplied with an idea when appropriate, and enabled to publish detailed minutes in the organization take into account others to see.

Obvious, reliable communication has not been so fundamental to the and success of companies because it is now. With no dependable system, a lot of things can fall with the cracks. Applying new project management software software programs are a smart and positive method to organize files, messages, and concepts in a manner that is definitely available to everybody involved. The many other standard project management software features – issue tracking, reporting, etc. – are just icing around the cake!

Now you know of the main benefits of project management software software, it&#8217s time to get began. Compare the very best project management software software packages instantly, or shoot us an email to request our help with selecting project management software software for the organization.

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Applying New Project Management Software Software: Four Methods to Engage Your Team


project-management

Exactly why is Team Engagement Important?

Couple of things strike more fear in to the heart of an entrepreneur or executive than the possibilities of applying a brand new software system. In the end, potential disasters lurk around every corner: security issues, system crashes, client pushback, worker resistance, and various other logistical nightmares. Pulling the trigger on the completely new project management software solution &#8211 basically altering the way in which the company operates on its most fundamental level &#8211 could be particularly frightening. Obviously, you are able to do something to lessen the natural chance of adopting new project management software software. Security risks and system crashes could be mitigated by selecting a trustworthy provider, for instance. But the safest, best-designed software available can’t guarantee full worker and client engagement. If nobody is prepared to really make use of the software, you&#8217re at a complete loss. Fortunately, you will find four guaranteed methods to boost team engagement and be sure that the most persistent of the employees will jump in: selecting user-appropriate software, taking out the temptation to select from old habits, purchasing courses, and designating someone within the organization to supervise implementation.

Choose Appropriate Software

You will find countless different project management software systems currently available. Programs like Basecamp and Trello do nothing more than manage simple tasks and store files. Others, for example LiquidPlanner, have multiple features and complex scheduling mechanisms, while the likes of Redbooth focus attention on interactive video, collaborative tools, and social aspects of work. Selecting the best software out of this ocean of options may become overwhelming, and when you go searching for something excessively simple or too complex, you be in danger that the team won’t ever utilize it. Businesses might not need a project management software system that runs risk evaluations or creates multi-step workflows. What&#8217s more, features like that may be very intimidating to individuals with limited computer skills. However, your tech-savvy team might balk at what appears like unnecessary busywork if made to enter information right into a simplistic task manager.

It is vital to spend some time when choosing project management software software for the business. Evaluate your requirements carefully, and take realistic stock of the employees&#8217 abilities. Find your Goldilocks zone &#8211 that perfect mixture of functionality, user-ambiance, and effective features. Quite simply, don&#8217t waste your hard earned money on interactive video should you have only one office. Don&#8217t purchase robust resource management tools for the casual, family-run operation. By selecting project management software software that matches your company, you drastically boost the chances that the employees will jump in.

Remove Temptations

Generally, companies implement new project management software software as their old systems aren&#8217t working any longer. Nowadays email is really prolific that individuals possess a inclination to get behind, forget important attachments, and end up forgetting which email threads they have to continue. Countless emails compare in in-boxes, unread or unmarked for future reference &#8211 not the best method to operate. Email overload isn&#8217t the only issue companies face. It’s all too simple for the chain of command to get confused by sticky notes, random telephone calls, and casual conversations in a co-worker&#8217s desk. Tasks are assigned in face-to-face encounters and there’s no paper trail to follow along with, no magic formula to understand who’s doing what, who assigned the job initially, and just what the timeline should be.

The reply to these complaints, obviously, is software that promotes a much better system of project management software and enables you to definitely keep all files, emails, notes, and messages in one location, inside the context of the specific task or project. This sort of software helps make the workplace more transparent and enables managers to determine why you have delays or who’s shedding the ball. But for it to operate &#8211 to really streamline communication and boost productivity &#8211 people need to use it, and employ it for everything. You are able to&#8217t have stragglers clinging for their email communications, refusing to upload files towards the software or place demands with the new system. Even a few resistant employees can throw a wrench in to the works. It&#8217s impossible to watch tasks that aren&#8217t formally recorded, or hold people responsible for work you don&#8217t learn about. Should you&#8217re not careful about implementation, much of your co-workers will slip back to their old ways inside a couple of days. It&#8217s human instinct. People stick to the things they know, with &#8220how it&#8217s been done.&#8221 The employees might be able to understand the need for a brand new project management software system, but moving from intellectual comprehension to action is tough.

Getting everybody in your team to make use of new software programs are possible, however it does require some effort and dedication. Through the years, companies which have been probably the most effective at applying project management software systems have adopted one common guideline. These businesses give employees a compelling incentive to make use of the program. The motivation could be bad or good. A great incentive, this type of financial reward, positive recognition, or longer lunch breaks for individuals who comply, is effective in certain situations, but punitive measures are usually the very best. Again, human instinct plays a job. Individuals are more motivated by uncomfortable effects than potential rewards. The effects don&#8217t need to be too drastic, obviously. Unwillingness to make use of the program regularly could cause official reprimand or lack of certain rights/responsibilities &#8211 whatever appears appropriate and provides employees a reasonable need to jump in using the new system.

If the idea of enforcing cooperation enables you to squeamish, you will find less direct ways of showing that non-compliance won’t be tolerated. Some managers discover that the very best tactic would be to announce that standard email communiques only will be overlooked. Others produce a new company-wide policy: files, messages, along with other work products don’t exist unless of course they’ve been joined within the system. That transmits a fairly obvious message to basically probably the most persistent employees.

Purchase Training Material and Professional Coaches

Sometimes, the worker engagement issue is due more to ignorance and trepidation than unwillingness to make use of the program. Most project management software software providers offer premium training services, also it may be beneficial to benefit from them. Getting constant use of a passionate support representative could be very reassuring and take away lots of anxiety from learning a brand new system, for managers and employees alike. Should you&#8217re looking to get confident with an especially complex and have-wealthy software, like Comindware Project or Smartsheet, it’s especially nice to possess someone hold your hands through every stage from the process. Professional coaches can respond to questions, give assistance with guidelines, as well as assist you to design templates and workflows. These types of services could be given over the telephone or via video conference, however it&#8217s best if you’re able to get somebody to arrived at your location and experience your specific work situation.

Some providers offer personalized webinars and classes, designed to ensure that all employees can discover the software together inside a no-pressure atmosphere. Others distribute whole teams to assist your organization with initial implementation and setup from the new system. Many of these services cost more money and could be quite costly, but they’re frequently worth the investment. Something that helps make the software readily available to employees will help you over time, and then chances are you&#8217ll earn that cash in elevated productivity.

Appoint a delegated Expert

Its not all business are able to afford to employ a passionate service representative. But whether special training is affordable or otherwise, you should think about designating someone in your company is the &#8216resident expert.&#8217 It doesn&#8217t take lengthy to understand the intricacies of the project management software solution. After only a couple of days dedicated to watching video lessons and webinars, studying with the provider&#8217s knowledgebase and blog, and troubleshooting with customer support, anybody may become a professional.

Getting a homeowner expert may be beneficial, even though you have obtained 24/7 customer care in the provider. It’s faster, cheaper, and much more efficient to make use of your own employees, and odds are the expert&#8217s coworkers will feel more happy about talking to him/her than talking to a complete stranger, or waiting a few days to have an email response. Since several individuals will be relying on him/her, it’s imperative the designated expert understand all the primary aspects of the program: how projects are organized, how you can create/assign tasks, ways to use the reporting tools. This individual ought to know how to personalize email notifications and hang user permissions.

It&#8217s also wise to place expert, or any other worker, responsible for overseeing software use. They must be checking along with other employees every single day, ensuring everybody understands the things they&#8217re doing and what’s expected, and making certain that you’re obtaining a good Return on investment from the software.

The Takeaway

Applying a brand new project management software product is not for that average person, but by using the rules outlined above, you are able to drastically boost the odds that the workers is going to be engaged (and remain engaged) using the software as lengthy since you need. Obtaining the whole team aboard is the most significant priority, especially throughout the initial transition period. When you&#8217ve accomplished that, the fight is almost won, and you may just relax watching individuals projects being managed. Best of luck!

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What’s Agile Project Management Software?

agile-project-managementAgile is really a specific project management software methodology, used most frequently by engineers and software developers. Unlike classical project management software techniques, which concentrate on achieving identifiable milestones using complex scheduling tools like Gantt charts, Agile management is definitely an iterative, incremental process.

The Agile methodology is ideally suitable for client-initiated projects which involve multiple, concrete deliverables. As each task or subtask is posted for client approval or feedback, the work itself improves and develops. Every element of an Agile project relies upon a continuing cycle of approvals, comments, and reactions, making certain an end result that’s been completely tested and perfected.

This excellent method of project management software is accomplished by dividing workloads into specific chunks of your time (usually one or two days but from time to time longer), known within the Agile world as iterations. After identifying all the tasks which have to be completed, companies prioritize these tasks into achievable sections and concentrate on finishing one iteration at any given time. Velocity, another essential and ubiquitous Agile term, refers back to the work load that may be reasonably accomplished per iteration. Project managers have a careful eye on velocity it is vital for realistic planning from the next couple of iterations helping to keep accountability with clients and shareholders.

Agile management isn’t the best option for each industry, especially individuals involving lengthy-term, complex decision-making processes. However, because Agile enables team people and managers to create quick tweaks and adjustments, it’s really a very valuable financial asset. Catching issues before they progress too much or affect other parts of a task saves a lot of some time and helps companies stay faithfully within budget.

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6 Tools Every E-Tailer Should Use

best ecommerce apps

You’ve had a kick butt product. You’ve had a clever website. You’ve eliminate a spot for yourself on the market. It’s time for you to kick it into high gear now, and also you&#8217re searching to find the best eCommerce apps for sale to assist you to refine your workflow.

If this describes you, then to begin with, congratulations! You most likely already understand the need for getting a proven method, the best personnel, and also the winning attitude. I can’t help greatly using the latter, but the first is yet another story.

A few of the tools listed below are industry standards, other medication is rising stars, but still other medication is up-and-comers. I’ve become very acquainted with the next apps, and would recommend these to just about any client.

Asana

best ecommerce apps

Visit Asana&#8217s Website

  • Free version, for teams as high as 15.
  • Premium version, $8.33 per user monthly, for groups of 15 or even more.

Thinking about the general value Asana has, the Premium version is really a mere pittance, and also the Free version is really a steal. There&#8217s really pointless to pass through on adding Asana for your eCommerce tool belt, unless of course you hate achieving your objectives.

It might be accurate to explain Asana like a task manager, however that doesn&#8217t quite tell the entire story. For any guy much like me (that has big plans, but will get bogged lower and distracted mid-trip) Asana isn’t just an activity manager it’s a lifeboat with jet packs.

Asana is about clearly mapping your projects into bite-size bits and keeping progress progressing. Unlike most technology, which depreciate the 2nd you pay it off, Asana appreciates in value the greater it’s used. Your team will invariably get sound advice, who to collaborate with, and just how the work they do fits to the main issue.

Bootstrappers, freelancers, and small entrepreneurial teams may need to begin with the disposable version, that is great- they&#8217ll make the most bang for his or her buck (more precisely, a large bang without buck) with limitless tasks, projects, and conversations. Their dashboards is going to be simplified, but which may be much more of a good thing than the usual liability, since users within this category most likely don&#8217t require the much deeper configuration from the Premium dashboards to begin with.

The greatest drawback I see using the Free version is the fact that tasks can&#8217t be delineated with task dependencies.

When it comes to Premium version, really the only issue is that prices dwindle-minor while you approach (and exceed) 40 team people. You&#8217ll be having to pay near $400 monthly at that time. Whether Asana remains something for big teams is entirely subjective. Read our full overview of Asana to find out if it might be a great fit for the business.

Get Began With Asana

Slack

best ecommerce apps

Visit Slack&#8217s Website

  • Free &#8211 Includes searchable message archives, 10 API integrations, 5GB file storage
  • $8 per user, monthly &#8211 Upgrades include limitless message retrieval, limitless API integrations 10GB file storage, and much more,
  • $15 per user, monthly &#8211 Upgrades include SSO, user provisioning, 20GB file storage, much more.
  • Custom Enterprise prices &#8211 Most Enterprise features are presently in development.

Not just is Slack within my own tool belt, it is among the tools I personally use most often. Slack is really a (nay, the) team communication platform.

Consider it as being your personal corporate intranet. Your network could be over the room, over the building, or around the world, but it’s all yours. Group channels, private messages, team directories, file handling, and URL snippets are built-into one smooth, simple bundle. So that as for simplicity of use, the training curve is actually zero things are intuitive, and also the couple of features which are hidden aren’t difficult to find.

There’s a large, beautiful desktop version, along with a sleek (but believe it or not functional) mobile application for tablets and phones.

It’s required for business proprietors and employees so that you can communicate what they desire to, when they have to. Small hiccups can remain small with quick solutions, and collaboration on projects can help you save invaluable time. So when it’s time for you to unplug, there’s a sweet, sweet Don’t Disturb setting which will save all of your messages alone until morning.

A Venn Diagram of Slack and Asana would should just a little crossover, but the two helps make the other obsolete. Both tools major on efficiency, but where Asana concentrates on the job, Slack concentrates on they.

Get Began With Slack

DandyLoop

best ecommerce apps

Visit DandyLoop&#8217s Website

  • $9.99 monthly like a Shopify add-on

Since your in-house systems are running easily with Slack and Asana, it&#8217s time for you to look outward. Getting customers to the doorstep may be the task from the next item on the must-have list. DandyLoop are operating in a sphere beyond normal human function or ability diving in to the nameless depths underneath the world&#8217s internet users, it funnels website traffic in &#8220shopping mode&#8221 to any or all the places your products shows up. By putting your products within the type of sight of individuals already intent to purchase, you receive the creme from the crop in prospecting.

DandyLoop may be the king of referral traffic. It’s a simple widget for the site that re-engages noncommittal users by encouraging them to talk to your affiliate websites. Let’s say you sell eco-friendly cleaning utility caddy, your shoppers might be inclined to remain &#8220in the loop&#8221 by starting with visit a joint venture partner who sells eco-friendly soaps. And also you&#8217ll obtain a kickback for your referral. Since one good turn deserves another, this sort of internet affiliate marketing brings new prospective customers for your door too, if their reason for entry was elsewhere inside your affiliate loop.

Worried about cluttering your website with advertisements for another person&#8217s products? That&#8217s reasonable. A clear, distraction-free website is the dream. But take into account that DandyLoop accomplishes two difficult tasks for that small cost of the little ad’ space. The very first task is obtaining these referral traffic, that is absolutely nothing to scoff at. The 2nd struggle DandyLoop accomplishes may be the ever-elusive Backlink Generation. Should you&#8217ve been wrestling together with your Search engine optimization, you are aware how critical this really is. For that uninitiated, backlinks are among the major factors engines like google and Bing use to position your site greater searching results. Getting lots of high-quality backlinks could be a huge boost for your online visibility, which matches hands-in-glove together with your conversation rate.

The caveat: DandyLoop is within its infancy. Presently there are just around 1000 online retailers within the DandyLoop network, which isn&#8217t a great deal, considering that many of individuals shops aren&#8217t same-niche/non-competing. Your own personal network will begin small. And your company is growing, same with DandyLoop. More stores will join the network.

Entirely disclosure, I actually do question how DandyLoop determines which clients are non-purchasing, and which affiliates are generally relevant but non-competing. It begets the issue of whether customers could be distracted away out of your store before they purchase by seeing an advertisement for an additional product.

Nonetheless, I believe DandyLoop is really a rising star. It&#8217s too soon to inform whether they’ll be a game title-changer, however the apparent benefits broadly eclipse the possibility drawbacks. My advice: don&#8217t miss DandyLoop. Early adoption can provide the brand new business a definite edge that just well-established companies can typically achieve.

Get Began With DandyLoop

MailChimp

best ecommerce apps

Visit MailChimp&#8217s Website

  • Free &#8211  As much as 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails monthly. Fundamental set of features.
  • &#8220Free plus $10/month&#8221 &#8211 Same usage stats because the free plan, along with a couple of select premium features.
  • $20 to $35 monthly, according to quantity of subscribers &#8211 Limitless emails. Premium features and priority customer care.

If &#8220MailChimp Expert&#8221 isn&#8217t a typical job title yet, that is certainly shaping as much as be. That&#8217s how effective MailChimp is — with any iteration of the software, in the Free version completely to the $200 Pro add-on (that is admittedly replete with the trendiest eCommerce buzzwords), most Marketing professionals could spend nearly all a full day optimizing, tweaking, testing, and otherwise kicking butt inside your email strategies. You won’t ever understood email could achieve this much, right?

In a nutshell, and in their own individual words, MailChimp will &#8220get the best message while watching right customer in the proper time.&#8221

For instance, using MailChimp your marketers can determine the precise parameters for email promotions which will have maximum effect together with your customers. MailChimp has best-in-class customer segmentation, and that means you can instantly formulate emails which are incredibly fine-tuned for everybody customer. Which&#8217s just scratching the top of MailChimp&#8217s abilities read our full overview of MailChimp to determine what else it may provide.

Get Began With MailChimp

PayPal

best ecommerce apps

Visit PayPal&#8217s Website

  • 2.9% + $.30 per transaction*

You will find three primary categories of PayPal people: individuals who like it, late adopters who haven&#8217t tried on the extender yet, and my grandmother, who hasn&#8217t heard about it.

Okay, maybe that&#8217s a small exaggeration. There’s a couple of niches where PayPal hasn&#8217t quite walked up. A couple of business models (service industries and work-for-hire freelancers, for instance) have a problem with getting PayPal terms that fit their demands. PayPal is famous for freezing funds that appear fraudulent or are otherwise from the norm this really is tough for any narrow mix portion of business types, but it’s really good news for many companies (because you will know PayPal is Onto It to maintain your transactions secure.)

Where, exactly, does PayPal stand out? Nearly otherwise.

PayPal is the industry standard for online payment solutions, both for private use as well as for business.

PayPal offers a merchant account, invoicing, physical reason for purchase systems, mobile card readers, an internet-based checkout buttons. But among the finest advantages of PayPal is its ubiquity. You are able to redesign your site, and PayPal will integrate. You are able to switch eCommerce shopping carts, and PayPal will transition seamlessly. You are able to move from close to global sales, and PayPal will scale along with you. There’s security in understanding that whatever changes exist in your retail landscape, PayPal has already been there.

I won&#8217t get into lots of depth here, because we&#8217ve already completely covered PayPal within this awesome review. For the time being, it&#8217s enough to state that the business is going to be greatly benefited by including PayPal like a payment option.

*The speed right here is perfect for standard swiped charge card transactions. There are various rates at a lower price-common kinds of transactions

Get Began With PayPal

Xero

xero

Visit Xero&#8217s Website

  • $9/ month,
  • $30/ month,
  • $70/ month,

&#8220Beautiful accounting software.&#8221 Oxymoron? It had been, until Xero arrived.

Regardless of the slightly hyperbolic nature from the tagline, it’s not a clear idea. Xero follows through greatly. Xero is definitely an elegant means to fix a convoluted problem, connecting the dots between accounting, payroll, taxes, inventory, live bank feeds, and all sorts of disparate users who may need use of this data. A variety of employees and accountants could be given login credentials to see and manage your books, with any amount of read/write permissions.

Online, Xero is presently headlined as “an option to Quickbooks.” But here’s the interior scoop: that’s just an approach to attracting website traffic. It won’t be lengthy before Xero can stand by itself status as top-notch accounting software, with no need to mention big names like Quickbooks. It’s a tad too late to become an earlier adopter of Xero, but you may still be considered a quasi-hipster in eCommerce accounting, since Xero isn’t mainstream at this time.

This really is another tool that Merchant Maverick has completely researched and tested. It earned an ideal 5/five star rating, landing it firmly within our #1 place for accounting software. Observe that review here.

Get Began With Xero

Conclusion

To summarize:

  • Asana explains your big plans into small steps.
  • Slack will get your team linked up.
  • DandyLoop brings fringe people to you.
  • MailChimp keeps your clients engaged together with your brand.
  • PayPal manages profits transactions.
  • Xero keeps your ledger squeaky clean.

Regardless of whether you start fresh from the gate using these apps, or acquire them on the way, you’re doing yourself a massive favor. Should you have had a nickel for each headache you&#8217ll avoid with these tools inside your workflow, well, you’d invest straight back to these digital painkillers.

These aren’t the only real tools you’ll need, and not one of them are totally irreplaceable. However they are the best tools available, and they’re darn proficient at the things they’re doing.

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