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When it comes to small business lifehacks, finding bomb accounting or management software is at the top of the list. But once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of QuickBooks vs. Wave and software vs. the Cloud, where do you go from there?
Purchasing and implementing software and online applications that truly meet your needs is super important. But so is what happens next. Once you’ve decided on a product, here are some simple lifehacks that will show you how to get the most out of it.
1. Play Around
Many small business entrepreneurs are so stoked to begin using their new software, they dive right in without having a clue as to what the program or app can actually do. Before you log any expenses or start linking bank accounts, spend at least an hour just playing around. Think of it as if it’s your first time surfing the web – you don’t know what’s out there, and you’re not sure how to get there, but you’re sure if you keep searching you’re going to find something great.
Playing around allows you to explore your new tool without the pressure of trying to make it perform. By scheduling some get-to-know-you time with your new software, you’re sure to stumble upon some twists and turns within the application that will turn out to be vital to your new organizational paradigm.
2. What’s it For?
Many accounting and management software programs offer multiple functionalities. Is your new software going to serve as your accounting platform and your Customer Relationship Management software? Will it be used to create expense reports, process payments, or both?
By deciding beforehand how you’re going to use the software, you’ll be able to plan how to transition between the old and the new (even if the old was pretty much you writing down what you spent on a coffee-stained napkin).
3. Who’s it For?
Who is going to have access to and be using the software on a regular basis? How many people does the software affect? For example, if you’re using new accounting software, is it compatible with what your accountant uses?
If you’ve chosen new CRM software, how many of your employees need to be trained to use it? Don’t just think in terms of who will be using it on a daily basis; what happens if someone is out sick, or away on business? It’s a great idea to cross train as many of your employees as possible on multiple platforms, so everyone is speaking the same language. Consider bringing a company representative in to do an employee-wide training so everyone has a chance to ask questions and practice. Which leads us to…
4. Read the Manual
Ok, so maybe we don’t mean this literally. But most web-based software comes with tons of online video tutorials, customer support via webchat or phone, testimonials and forums, and troubleshooting tips and lifehacks. Take advantage of it! You may even want to make sure the Help section of your software’s website is navigable and thorough before making a purchase.
Tutorials and FAQs aren’t just for troubleshooting, though. They can be a great way to learn the application, and discover shortcuts you never would have found on your own. If your software program offers any kind of live assistance – whether that’s an in-store class like those available at Apple, or a live webinar with the company’s tech support experts – take advantage! Many common frustrations and baffled expressions can be easily resolved by simply using what’s been put there to help you.
Accounting and managerial software can be an enormous help to any small business, but it’s not a magical elixir that eliminates all effort on your part (If only, right?) Make your software work for you by putting in some extra effort in the beginning to learn the program inside and out. Doing so save you time and money (and headaches!) in the long run.