Small businesses have their own unique set of challenges to overcome in order to survive, but that survival is largely based on good business management. With proper management, everything is organized, and everyone gets work done. Good business management helps an organization reach its goals, make the most of its limited resources, reduce cost, improve the lives of everyone involved, and motivates the team.
Small Business – What Is It?
There are a few defining characteristics of small businesses that differentiate them from bigger organizations. They are smaller in number in terms of employees, for instance. They are often made up of less than 100 employees, depending on the nature of their business. They also have lower revenue, with the maximum revenue allowance of $21.5 million per year, according to Chron. But this lower revenue allowance does not necessarily mean lower profitability, especially in the case of small businesses that have their own facilities and equipment. Small businesses also target smaller markets, such as a convenience store serving its town, since serving a larger area would be well beyond its regular business operations. Most of these businesses are also organized as sole proprietorship, limited liability companies, or partnerships and operate only from a single service outlet, office, or store.
Small business owners, just like the owners of larger businesses, should consider using certain tools to make managing their businesses easier. For instance, it would be more convenient for them to monitor their employees’ attendance with a free time clock software without it adding to their financial burden. Here are some important yet free tools that you need to help run your small business smoothly and push it to the right direction:
Pros and Cons of Free Time Clock Software
Most businesses consider the number of hours employees put into work to determine the right compensation for them, hence the need for a time tracking software. The good news is that you don’t have to shell out anything if you use a free time clock software. Why try it? Here are the following reasons:
- Time monitoring can help you keep track of how much work an employee has done within a certain amount of time and determine whether they are wasting precious company time or making the most out of it.
- Since time logged in is used as basis in the evaluation of an employee, it is indeed a more objective criterion than a review from the superiors.
- With a free time tracking software, the supervisors and even the employees themselves can see how they work and what more they can do to improve their performance, leading to a more productive and happier workplace.
- Time monitoring helps employees see if they are on track towards achieving their goals and beating deadlines.
- Based on the time tracking software data, it’ll be easier for you to calculate a project’s value and cost, workforce efficiency, and management effectiveness.
But the software also has its downside, including the following:
- Excessive time monitoring can make the workplace feel less welcoming, causing low employee morale and performance over time.
- Not all tasks can be measured based on the number of hours required to finish them. Aside from checking the time tracking software’s data, consider how employees completed their tasks, too.
- There is time monitoring software that can be manually manipulated, but you can protect yourself by hiring a reliable program. If you opt to use free time clock software, look for one that is protected against manipulation.
Pros and Cons of Free Inventory Management Software
Generating inventory reports is important in making informed decision for your small business. But getting these reports through manual inventory is not practical at all, which is why many small business owners count on free inventory management software to make managing this aspect easier. But just like with other things, it has some pros and cons.
Here is the upside to using an inventory management tool:
- The software cuts down on time that would have been spent on stock taking.
- Timely update. You can access inventory information anytime, anywhere. It will change with every completed transaction.
- Automated reports. You can set to have your documentation process automated, which includes automatically processing orders and invoices, as well as sales and financial reports.
A few downsides to using this software include the following:
- Some software may be a bit complex for your employees to understand, but proper training can resolve this issue. Since you can find free inventory management software in the market, the tool’s cost shouldn’t be a problem.
- Vulnerability to fraud. Like many other things that rely on technology, there is a risk of the software being open to fraudulent activities. But choose well and you’ll find software that can secure your inventory and business information.
Pros and Cons of Free Website Builder
In your first foray toward creating an online presence for your small business, you might want to see how things work. Getting a free website builder can help you do that. To decide whether it is good for your business, here are some of its pros:
- No coding or design skills required. You don’t need any programming or web design basics to create your own site.
- Website builders are perfect for those that are starting out with their first website. After an hour or so, you can have a site of your own.
- Open to getting exported. You can find website builders that will allow you to export your site to other platforms in the future.
But it also has a few cons that you should know about too, such as the following:
- Lack of customization. Your first website may look generic, but if you’re still testing the waters, this could work for you.
- Not as professional as you’d like. If you want to look credible, you might want to just stick with the free website temporarily and invest in a web designer once your business picks up.
- Some sites build by free website builders may be a little slow, but that’s what you pay for enjoying something for free. But you can improve your site as time goes by anyway.
- Limited features. This is something that you can expect for a free package. Once you see that it’s something worth investing in, you can go for the paid version.
Pros and Cons of Free Project Management Tools
Setting a goal is important in any organization, including a small business. You can accomplish that goal better if you monitor your progress toward that direction. That monitoring will be made easier with free project management software at hand. Here are some more of its benefits:
- Time tracking. You can monitor every team member’s progress and detect whether you’re on track or running a little behind.
- Task management. You can assign tasks more conveniently using this software, or even shift them from one member to another, depending on their performance.
- Increased productivity. The software makes it easier for team members to share information about the project and communicate better.
A few of its disadvantages include:
- Learning curve. It takes time to figure out the program’s complexity, but this is a given in any new program that you encounter.
- Mistakes in generating complex projects. This is a possibility at first, but over time, as your team members get used to the software, this mistake will likely be minimized.
Pros and Cons of Free Human Resources Management Software
Despite running a small business, it doesn’t take away the fact that you still have to manage your employees, and everything related to human resources. You can simplify this task, though, with the help of human resources management software, which can give you several other benefits:
- Increased productivity. You don’t have to do payroll and record keeping manually and focus on the more essential HR tasks instead, such as hiring and training.
- Enforce compliance. The software makes it easier to implement your business’ rules and procedures, preventing mistakes, conflicts, and other problems in the process.
- Boost morale. With your HR team freed from doing routine tasks, they can spend more time on supporting your employees and resolving the issues brought to them.
- Prevent mistakes. Since most HR tasks are automated, it reduces errors, which can be costly for the business in the end.
- Better security. You can assure your employees that their personal and employment information will be protected by the software, unlike with paper filing that has a risk of getting lost, stolen or destroyed.
There are a few disadvantages that you need to take into account, though, such as the following:
- Limited functionality. Most of the free HR management software programs you’ll find may offer limited features, but such features may already be enough to help you decide whether to get the paid version or not.
- Limited growth support. You may be starting as a small business now, but if you’re growing fast, a free HR program may no longer be able to support your needs. You can make use of some free business tools for startups as well.
The fact that you can find some free management tools in the market is amazing on its own, especially since these free tools can help you decide what tools you should invest in some more. Take note of the tools mentioned above and enjoy a smooth-running business operation in the years to come.