When you’re running a business from home, technology is your best friend. There are lots of apps, tools and online software available to help make your job easier as a small business owner. From accountancy and bookkeeping to marketing and HR, there’s a digital product or app to help.  

When you’re shopping around, try to avoid being lured in by expensive products that come with lots of features that you won’t use. Instead, start off with the free or more basic versions and upgrade later if you think you need to.  

Here, AXA rounds up the different business tools and software available*to small home businesses to help you decide what you might need.

Accounting software products to consider…

The QuickBooks basic plan lets you to calculate VAT and manage your bills and payments. As soon as you log in, you’ll see your businesses’ income, expenditure and profit on the user-friendly QuickBooks dashboard.

As a cloud-based software, XERO can be accessed from any device as long as you have internet access. With XERO, customisable dashboards, inventory management, bank account integration and unlimited users come as standard.

FreeAgent is available for sole traders, limited companies and those in a partnership. Each plan gives access to unlimited users, the option to customise invoices, expense management and the ability to track the time spent on each project.

Accounting software isn’t right for everyone. If you feel like you’re struggling to keep on top of your figures, it’s always a good idea to get professional advice; it could save you money in the long run.

For more information about accountancy software for small businesses, check out AXA’s guide here.

Website builders to consider…

Go Daddy
Perfect for beginners, Go Daddy offers everything you need to build a website quickly, including an easy drag-and-drop editing function. Small business owners can also take advantage of the useful SEO tools and marketing campaign functionality. However, as one of the more budget-friendly options on the market, GoDaddy offers less design flexibility than other website builders.

WordPress is a great option for small businesses who want a simple website with minimum maintenance. With excellent built-in blogging tools and features, WordPress is good option for small businesses who want to dip their toe into content marketing by starting a blog.  

Whether you’re completely new to creating websites or you’re already comfortable with customising your site, Wix is a great all-rounder and will suit a variety of small business owners. And, because they offer a range of price plans, you’ll only ever pay for the tools and features you actually need.

Check out AXA’s guide for more useful tips and advice to help get your small business online.

Communication tools to look out for…

Instant messenger can be a great to stay connected because it’s usually quicker and more informal than email. Even with the free version of Slack for small and medium-sized businesses, you can create private channels, start open group messages, share files and have 1-2-1 conversations.

When an email or phone call just won’t do, and you can’t meet face-to-face, video call is the next best thing. With the free version of Zoom, you have unlimited 40-minute video conference calls for groups of up to 100 people.

The free version of Skype lets you make free voice and video calls, share large files and chat with other users. You’ll need to pay for Skype for Business, but you’ll have access to additional features that allow you to call mobiles and landlines and have video conferences with more than three people.

Despite being relatively new to the market, CakeHR is growing in prominence thanks to its expanding list of functions and accessibility to businesses of any size. It’s also compatible with software you might already use in your small business such as Outlook and Google Calendar.

Zoho People
If you’re looking for a simple HR and employee management software, then Zoho might be for you. It covers basic HR functions like staff holidays, time sheets and attendance tracking. What’s more, it’s free to use for up to five employees!

Bamboo HR comes with an impressive list of HR features like hiring tools, employee reporting and workflow management. It may appear more expensive than other software on the market, however their pricing is determined on a bespoke basis so you’ll only ever pay for what you need. And, because it’s suitable for small and medium-sized companies, BambooHR will still be compatible as your business grows and you employ more people.

With lots of free and inexpensive tools that’ll grow your business’ digital footprint, Google is so important in the world of marketing. You’ll want to take advantage of these tools to get the most out of your search engine and social media marketing experience. Here are Google’s main marketing tools:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Ads
  • Google My Business
  • Google Digital Garage

As well as being one of the leading tools for businesses to consolidate their marketing activities into one central dashboard, HubSpot also offers professional training courses. So, if you’re interested in becoming certified in a particular marketing skill, HubSpot might be for you.

Email can be an integral part of reaching out to customers and prospects. With professionally-designed templates, MailChimp is one of the easiest ways to manage your email marketing campaigns. You can monitor the results and conduct A/B tests to find out what messaging works best and automate follow-up responses.  

Sprout Social
Sprout Social combines all your social media accounts, allowing you to schedule posts, reply to customers and monitor performance from the one place. Unlike other social media tools, Sprout also provides a customer relationship management (CRM) feature so you can build up profiles and develop better customer relationships.

For more marketing help, download AXA’s complete guide to creating your very own professional marketing plan.

Check out these organisation tools…

Trello is a project management software which uses a board, drag-and-drop cards and a list system for categorising and assigning tasks. Think of it as a digital whiteboard where you can clearly see what’s being worked and when. You can add files, attachments and all-important deadline dates so everything’s kept in one place. It’s especially useful for people working from home on shared projects or tasks.

With Any.do, you can organise your work and home life from one easy-to-use app. Accessible via mobile, laptop, desktop or tablet, Any.do automatically syncs your lists and tasks across any device. You can get started with a free trial, but if you’d like to continue using the app after that you’ll need to pay a small monthly fee.

For more help and advice on how to stay organised as a small business owner, read AXA’s article here.  

Take a look at these payment systems for small businesses…

As well as accepting card payments from your website, PayPal is compatible with online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy. Your customers can use the PayPal checkout by credit or debit card without having to set up a PayPal account. You can also process credit card payments over the phone, by fax, or by email.

With Square, you can set up an account for free and buy a card reader online or in-store. With this free account, you’ll then be able to take payments in person, over the phone, by invoice or online. It’s a great option for small businesses with infrequent sales who want to start up quickly.

SumUp gives you two card readers and a point of sale (POS) system, which explains why it’s commonly used by remote businesses. The fixed transaction rate is very competitive compared to similar products on the market and the onboarding process is done entirely online with no complicated paperwork.

With dedicated small business packages, you can choose from countertop and portable card machines as well as mobile machines and readers. It will your cost your business to use Worldpay, but you can choose from three payment plans; pay-as-you-go, fixed monthly or a customised plan.

For more help and advice on how to stay organised as a small business owner, read AXA’s article here.  

Having the right tools and apps at your fingertips can help your business stay on track and make your life that bit easier. Remember, you don’t need to jump in and invest lots of money in the latest and most expensive software. Most of the apps and tools we’ve looked in this article offer free trials and basic versions.  If you’re still not sure about the tools and digital products you need for your business, we asked some successful entrepreneurs to recommend the tools and tech they use every day to give you some inspiration. 

Work hard, insure simple

Running a business is hard work. That’s why we’re doing all we can to make your insurance a bit simpler. From working to pay claims quickly to taking the guesswork out of getting business insurance, find out what we’re doing to help small businesses.

* Products and tools listed are given as examples only. AXA is not affiliated with any third-party products or services mentioned and assumes no responsibility for their use.