The search is on—rather, it has been on for quite some time—for cost-efficient business solutions fit for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). These fledgling but ambitious companies now account for a good chunk of labor in the world’s emerging markets. A study conducted by the World Bank in 2017 gauged the number of micro-, small, and medium enterprises around the globe to be from 365 to 445 million.
But, in the face of quickening technological advancement and stiff competition, some of these SMEs don’t make it past their 6- to 12-month period of growing pains. There are the small business that invest too much of their limited resources on costly business solutions; on the flipside, there are those that fail because they don’t invest in any infrastructure at all.
So, where does one draw the line if they want their SME to succeed? How much upgrading must a small business owner do to preserve the efficiency of their operations, all without breaking the bank? We feel the answer lies in using certain technologies to one’s advantage and taking on a practical mindset about purchasing decisions—that means, knowing exactly how much will be spent, what range of features will be included, and how much any one solution could up one’s chances of profits.
If you’re currently part of this demographic, and you have a lot of decisions on your plate—learning new content management software, automating business processes, or relying on a trusted SAP partner — here’s a list of business solutions we feel will benefit just about any small-to-medium business. These range from affordably-priced to completely free.
1. LibreOffice. As its name implies, LibreOffice is a free open-source office software suite. To its advantage, it has a substantial range of office suite features, such as Writer for word processing and Calc for spreadsheets, as well as a number of useful software extensions. Using LibreOffice will cut down on the hefty installation fees that come with branded software, without sacrificing the basics for your employees.
2. SimplyBook.Me. SimplyBook.Me constitutes free software that you can use to make your business’s own booking website, or integrate with an existing site for a part to manage all your business’s incoming business appointments. This solution can keep you on top of bookings, cancellations, and reschedules of business activities, all without consuming the valuable time and energy of your in-house office staff.
3. Trello. Initial signup for Trello, one of the most beloved and user-friendly project management tools on the web, is also free. The most notable feature on Trello is its productivity boards, which offer a creative and visual touch to project planning. Thus, with Trello, it’ll be easy for you and your employees to manage each aspect of your individual projects, and it’ll also be fun to do so.
4. Canva. Design platform Canva is what you can use to create eye-catching and unique promo materials for your business. Good design makes a huge difference in properly advertising a business’s products and services. If your business doesn’t have as substantial a budget for graphic design services, but team members who are willing to tinker with Canva’s creative features, then you can opt to engage with this popular platform.
5. SAP Business One. Coming from the world’s most trusted brand of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is SAP Business One. Using SAP Business One for SMEs guarantees them access to a lean, but unified centralized database system that integrates data for sales, finances, customer relationship management, inventory, warehousing, and operations all at once. SAP Business One has proved popular amongst smaller-scale retailers, distributors, and manufacturers—all with good reason.
In the end, it will be about learning to adapt the technology to the unique circumstances of your business. Though these business solutions will no doubt make things faster and easier, it will be up to you and your employees to test everything out, manage purchasing and renewal arrangements, and measure each solution’s impact on your productivity.
But rest assured that these solutions, as well as a slew of others, are available in the pipeline—and they’ll afford a big boost to the growth and the survival of your business.