If you have ever considered starting up a small business, chances are that you have probably already heard that somewhat dire forecasts for your future. Nonetheless, it´s probably worth repeating one more time. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), one third of all small businesses fail within the first two years. Making it through the first years doesn’t mean that you´re on to smooth sailing, however, as half will fail in five years and two thirds of all entrepreneurial activities eventually close their doors within a decade of having opened.
There are dozens of reasons for small businesses shutting down, but one of the most common causes is the lack of time that owners face to get the job done right. While it might make sense to hire an accountant, a bookkeeper, and a qualified workforce that represents the top employee talent on the market, most small business owners know that the limitations associated with beginning budgets probably mean that you will be under-staffed and over-burdened with a seemingly endless list of tasks.
If you are a small business owner that engages in the daily hustle of dividing your time between finances, customer satisfaction, marketing schemes, and janitorial duties, there are a number of project management tools that can help you maintain your sanity. Project management software tools can allow you to digitalize essential business tasks in order to free up your time for the more important aspects of running and growing a small business.
What to Look for in the Most Effective Project Management Tools?
Project management software companies will attempt to convince you that your small business is doomed to become another statistical failure unless they purchase whatever they have to offer. The truth of the matter, however, is that every company is different and the tools they use for managing their projects and workflow will always be contextual. That having been said, there are certain criteria and benchmarks that can help your business filter through the vast array of project management tools on the market to find the best option for your particular needs.
- Prioritize Products with Free Versions: The idea of project management tools is to help small business owners save time and money. However, spending several hundred dollars on a program that isn’t useful for your specific business model or needs is obviously a waste of money. Finding project management software options that offer extended and free trial versions will help you determine if the product could be valuable for your specific uses. Extended trial periods will allow small business owners to test out the product before committing time and money to the product.
- Task Management Capabilities: Project management software tools come with dozens of different capabilities and implements, and the ideal option will depend on your specific business needs. However, at the very minimum you should search for software programs that offer task management capabilities with the ability to modify dates, responsibilities, and team members to help you stay on top of deadlines and take a step beyond post-it notes covering every corner of your desk.
- Collaboration and Sharing Capacities: Project management requires several people working together towards a common goal. In today´s tech-dominated and globalized workplace, it´s common for “teams” to be composed of people working from every corner of the planet. Your project management software, then, should include in-app collaboration opportunities that can be accessed anywhere a Wi-Fi signal is available. Alternatively, the software could also integrate with other online tools such as Slack or Trello to facilitate global collaboration and teamwork.
- Integration Possibilities for Your Business: There is nothing worse than having a project management software that doesn’t integrate with other tech tools that are at the core of your digitalization strategy. Integration is key for workplaces to benefit from digitalization strategies. If your small company already relies on some tech elements such as employee time and attendance software, your project management software should definitely be compatible with these tools.
- Mobile Apps: In today´s competitive global economy, having the ability to respond at a moment´s notice can give you a leg up on the competition. The problem, of course, is that most of us don’t enjoy sleeping in the office or carrying around our office laptop wherever we go. Project management software that also include a dedicated mobile app can allow team members to quickly comment on a project from their smartphones, even if they´re on vacation on the other side of the world.
Best Project Management Tools for the Small Business
Following from the criteria listed above, below we offer a few of the best project management tools that come with a free trial period, offer task management capabilities, have collaboration capabilities, can integrate with other tech tools used by your business and come with a mobile app.
- Active Collab: This simple yet powerful project management tool allows small business owners to delegate tasks to a team and maintain an overview of overall team activities in a detailed format. To make sure your workers are staying on task, Active Collab also allows the administrators to track the amount of time spent on individual tasks. It comes with a 30 day free trial period so you can experiment with its effectiveness.
- Trello: We mentioned Trello above, but we´ll go ahead and put in here in our list as well. As a completely free online tool, there is no reason why this simple task organizer shouldn’t be in the toolbox of every small business owner struggling to stay on top of tasks. With Trello, business owners can create boards that include lists that can be shared with a team. Everyone in the team can drag and drop items between lists to show progress and make sure that everyone is on the same board regarding progress. While this website is free, small business owners can upgrade to Business Class for just $8.33 per user/month and this allows for app integrations, team overviews and more security for sensitive projects.
- Basecamp: This project management software is a bit more expensive at $29 per month, but it has several innovative features including interactive message boards, the ability to set deadlines and milestones, and tools to organize key documents for the business. Furthermore, you will never be charged for adding another team member, which can be important for teams that are either growing or constantly shifting.
These are just a few of the project management tools that can be used by small businesses to increase productivity, improve collaboration and communication strategies, and offer enhanced teamwork alliances to help your business grow.