Running a small or medium-sized company is rough. Thankfully, we live in an age where technology can save our businesses from being among the 400,000 that close shop every year in Kenya.
And turning to online applications to streamline operations would put you in good company.
According to research from World Wide Worx, 98 per cent of Kenyan companies surveyed said they would be increasing their spend on cloud computing this year.
Using the right digital tools can boost your productivity, help you expand your market and save you money.
In the US, a survey conducted by Deloitte found that connected small businesses that use advanced digital tools earn twice as much per employee, and were three times as likely to be creating jobs than businesses with basic digital engagement.
These are some of the tools that exist to help your company run smoother.
1. G Suite for file sharing
G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work) is a set of tools that allows businesses to communicate with teams, store files and collaborate.
Combining domain management, user management, cloud storage, business emails, a shared calendar and instant messaging, G Suite makes teamwork more seamless and enables faster decision-making across the business.
It costs between $5 (Sh500) and $25 (Sh2,500) per user per month, depending on the needs of the business and the features bundled in.
2. Google Analytics to track web activity
Google Analytics allows you to track and measure your marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts.
The programme provides detailed metrics, including how you acquired visitors, their path throughout your site, site loading speed and which devices are being used to view it.
The free version is more than adequate for most small and medium-sized businesses.
3. Evernote to organise notes
Declutter your desk by using Evernote to store your notes in one place. You can capture, organise, and share notes and ideas from anywhere, rather than jotting them on sticky notes or scrap paper. You can also share PDF files and images, as well as record voice memos.
The free version limits Evernote to two devices and caps the size of files you can upload per month to 60MB.
The paid versions cost between $7.99 (Sh800) and $14.99 (Sh1,500), and lump in larger uploads and more business-specific features.
4. Slack for collaboration
Slack is a communications tool available on web and mobile, and is designed to streamline internal communications and help your team collaborate more efficiently.
Conversations are organised into ‘channels’ by project, client or team, while private channels can be set up to pass on more sensitive information.
You can create a workspace for free for a small team, and view a maximum of the last 10,000 messages sent, as well as access 5GB file storage.
For heavier interactions, Slack charges between $8 (Sh800) and $15 (Sh1,500) per month per active user.
5. Buffer for social media
Buffer is a web and mobile-based social media automation app that allows you to schedule posts across the main social networks. It also boosts engagements with customers online and analyses the performance of your social media marketing.
The free version allows you to manage three accounts, while the paid versions cover between eight and 150 social accounts at a cost of $15 (Sh1,500) to $399 (Sh39,900) per month.
6. Trello for project management
Trello is a project management tool that gives an overview of the projects you have going on in your business. It’s a simple and visual way to show the status of various projects, from initial interactions to writing proposals and pending launches.
The free version offers Trello’s core features, while the paid versions – which cost $9.99 (Sh1,000) or $20.83 (Sh2,100) per user per month when paid annually – offer additional support for larger teams, larger file transfers and more security.
7. MailChimp for email marketing
MailChimp makes it simple to design email newsletters and automate email marketing. It also throws in analytics that can help you track your success in engaging with and converting customers via emails.
You can use it for free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, or pay a monthly fee of $10 (Sh1,000) or $209 (Sh20,900) for unlimited emails and custom branding.
8. Sage Business Cloud Accounting and Sage Business Cloud Payroll
Sage Business Cloud Accounting helps you track sales, purchases and expenses to boost cash flow and reporting. The software also helps you see what you’re owed and calculates what you owe in taxes and when. Pricing starts at Sh1,435 per month.
With Sage Business Cloud Payroll, you can create legally compliant payslips in just a few clicks, manage payments and deductions, and generate leave reports. Pricing starts at Sh198 per month.