September 27th, 2017

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Understanding the ins and outs of on-demand software can be daunting for those just starting a home-based business or solopreneur venture. In fact, there are hundreds of tools at your disposal, and knowing which ones are essential can initially be difficult to identify. However, do know you’ll wind up paying for a handful of essential subscription-based services within a few months of building your business.

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Because some of these software as a service platforms will be the lifeblood of your business, you’ll no doubt access them every day and become completely fluent with this technology. Meantime, your other SaaS-based apps will die a slow death: You’ll forget your login, dislike the interface, and get hassled by support reps when you try to cancel your subscription.

While these scenarios may be impossible to avoid, your best bet is to focus on the tools that will help support and leverage various aspects of your business. Here are some of the best SaaS solutions that moms who work from home can utilize to achieve better productivity, automation and financial success.

Productivity and Automation

  1. Pomodoro Technique apps: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that uses a timer to break down work into more productive time intervals, typically 25 minutes at a time. Despite its intuitive benefits, using the Pomodoro Technique isn’t a common practice in most workplaces. But there are plenty of apps to get you started, including:
    • Focus Booster – This simple timer app is easy to use and customize for any work-related task.
    • PomoDonePomoDone – This popular app can connect with other tools like Trello, Asana and Slack.
    • Pomodoro Keeper – This app features a useful mobile timer option for iPhone users.
    • Marinara Timer – This app provides a unique URL after each use, creating more seamless workflows.
  2. IFTT: You’re likely familiar with the concept, “If this, then that.” Similarly, this free, web-based service allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called applets, which are triggered by the actions you take on other websites, including Gmail, Facebook and Twitter. By using this service on the following platforms, you can
    • LinkedIn – Automatically send welcome messages and meeting invitations to any new connection request
    • Twitter – Automatically send thank you tweets to those who retweet or mention you
    • Facebook – Automatically share Facebook posts on other social networks, or “like” content that meets certain requirements
  3. Zapier: If you master IFTT and want to create a more customized connection, Zapier is your go-to tool. This tool connects you with more than 750 apps, allowing you to create an easy customized workflow, as opposed to IFTT which has a limited bank of apps from which to choose. The tasks that take up the most time, but have the least financial value, should be automated whenever possible.
  4. Use case: If you use software to take calls via a cloud contact center, you can create what’s referred to as a “zap” that can transcribe your voicemails. That’s particularly useful when important and/or sensitive information is shared via voicemail and you don’t have the time or resources to jot it down.
  5. Email marketing – Your desire to have a better sense of your customers’ needs and wants can be achieved through this type of customized messaging. Whether your email marketing strategy has you sending two or more emails per week or simply the occasional newsletter, the ball is truly in your court regarding the frequency of your messaging. Of course, there are dozens of platforms from which to choose. Your best bet might be conducting a Google search or asking fellow work-from-home professionals about their experiences.

Financial Management

All the productivity and focus in the world won’t mean anything if you’re not managing your finances correctly. There are two main components of financial management for small and home businesses.

Accounting and Taxes - Software tools like Quickbooks, Freshbooks and Xero have exploded during the past decade, thanks in large part to the fact that more people are working for themselves. As such, they need basic accounting software to remain in business. Similar to email marketing, there are a core set of features — in addition to price and support — to keep in mind.

  • Reporting and analysis - All accounting software has its own spin on why it has the best reporting features. Make sure you understand the “how” and “why” behind the reporting and that there are visual breakdowns of everything.
  • Customization - Again, all accounting tools will offer customization, but making sure you understand how these features will apply to your business is the more critical element in all this.
  • Automation - The elimination of paperwork and human error is the basis for investing in new accounting software, so make sure to adopt a SaaS tool that requires very little in the way of manual entry.
  • Integrations - For successful automation, your software will need to integrate with your business tool set, such as tracking or calendar features.
  • Scalability and expandability - Switching software is tedious, so make sure your accounting system is ready to grow and scale with your business.
  • Security - Whenever financial data is involved, security is vital. With that in mind, look for certifications from the TRUSTe Privacy Program and VeriSign.
  • Invoicing and payment processing - Depending on your business, this category may require a separate tool. For instance, Stripe and Recurly are SaaS apps meant for business owners who offer a recurring payment option. There’s also a full market of invoicing tools depending on the complexity needed.

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