All sorts of business software are now available to help small businesses operate smarter and faster while improving the customer experience. And research shows that adopting such solutions can pay off: A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey, for example, found that small businesses that leverage more business solutions outperform their peers—in terms of more sales and profits, as well as higher employment growth. 


Today, most business software is cloud-based and sold “as a service”—meaning you don’t have to worry about managing physical disks, downloading software onto your computers or keeping it updated. The software is automatically updated when a new version or upgrade becomes available and any bugs are fixed seamlessly, so you can just focus on running your business.


However, while software can transform your operations, the costs can also add up—especially for new and very small businesses. How can you save money on business software while also maximizing its value? And what is the best software for your small business? Here are four tips:


  1. Start with a free version


Certain business software providers offer a free version—usually with fewer features and geared to solo entrepreneurs or startup businesses. This can be a great way to access the main benefits of the software without having to pay for it. 


Examples of business software offering free versions include Wave (accounting software), Mailchimp (email marketing) and Zoho CRM (customer relationship management). Keep in mind that free versions are generally more limited in functionality, so you’ll probably need to upgrade once your business grows.


Also, know that free versions are different from free trials–which give you free access for only 30 or 90 days. You might want to think twice about signing up for a free trial unless you’re confident you’ll stick with that solution, so you’re not spending time adopting software you’re unlikely to keep.


  1. Look for software that can scale with you.


While free is great, also make sure to choose software that can scale up with your business. Otherwise, you could find yourself scrambling to switch providers right when you’re in growth mode and need to focus on managing that growth.


Look for software solutions with multiple tiers—including one that has all the features you’d want as a larger business with more customers and employees. For example, while Mailchimp has a free version that lets you send up to 1,000 emails per month, you can easily upgrade to a plan that lets you send far more emails (up to 150,000 per month) with more employee users and better customer support. And you don’t have to move your data to a new platform.


  1. Evaluate your software needs—and try not to “overbuy”


Every platform has different features and functionality—and, in turn, pricing—so try to avoid paying for a ton of features you’ll never use. Before you shop for a particular type of software, think about how you’ll be using it and create a “wish list” of features. This will make the comparison process easier and help ensure your plan is “right-sized” to your business needs.


You can research and compare various types of software solutions and read reviews on sites like G2 and Capterra.


  1. Avoid duplicating, and consider bundling 


Many business software providers have expanded their services to make themselves more of a “one-stop” business solutions platform. For example, Square, which started as a payment processor, now offers a broad array of other business services, such as a website-building tool, search-engine optimization and an online booking tool. So if you choose Square for payments, you may be able to use it for other services as well.


Also consider how bundling types of software can save you money. For example, Spectrum Business Connect, an all-in-one communications tool for businesses, includes voice and phone services, instant messaging, customer texting and video conferencing in one easy-to-use platform. Not only can it save you money by bundling these services together for one monthly fee, but it can also increase your business productivity because your employees don’t have to juggle multiple programs.


Finding the right fit


At the end of the day, it’s important to choose the right software for your business needs with the tools that will help you achieve your goals—whether that’s increasing employee productivity or enhancing customer service. So make sure to spend some time researching and comparing options.


To find out more about Spectrum Business Connect and see if it’s a good fit for your business needs, contact us at 855-299-9353.

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