From Microsoft Office to best CRM tools for small businesses

You knew in your bones you could make it on your own as a solopreneur, coach, consultant, or freelancer. You were tired of using your skills as someone else’s employee, so you decided to start your own business. Now you have mixed feelings. You’re relieved because you get to be your own boss. But you may also be overwhelmed with the number of tasks you need to manage on your own. You might have scared yourself, thinking: How am I going to do this? Help!

Is this you? Well, you’re lucky! Until just a few years ago, small business owners had to get everything done using Microsoft Office and QuickBooks. Now, because of the cloud, every kind of app exists to help you handle your business processes. Some of these apps are available for free, and others for a low cost.

I believe small business owners should use software applications that can talk to each other. Having one centralized database, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM), where you can see all the details of your interactions with your clients is a great way to manage your business. Helping small business owners achieve this is why I became a Small Business CRM Coach! Here are five of the best CRM tools for small business to get you running efficiently:

  1. Build Your List

    Small businesses are community-based. It is essential that you start tracking the people you meet at each stage of the customer relationship-building process from day one. Start by building an email list of the people you met while out networking and talking about your business. How do you do that? Enter their contact information and details about your conversation into one of many CRM systems.

    Insightly CRM is a great option for consultants and solopreneurs. Why? Because Insightly allows you to manage your contacts, create a sales pipeline to track your potential clients and track your projects and tasks. And you can get started for free. You can’t beat that!

  2. Engage Your Contacts

    After you build your list, you need to spread the word about the services you provide. Start sending out email newsletters to people in the list you created. The best way to do that is to use an email marketing tool. There are many different products, but we recommend you get started with MailChimp. It has a free subscription option for your first 2000 subscribers, and it integrates well with Insightly CRM.

  3. Write Your Proposals

    You’ve made some progress, and now people are asking about your services. So you start writing proposals to describe services and costs that potential clients can read and compare with competitors in your space. How do you know if they’re reading your proposals? Are they even opening them? We recommend using PandaDoc to create templates for your proposals quickly and collect an e-signature online to save even more time. It looks professional and also integrates with Insightly CRM. It’s very reasonably priced.

  4. Collect Your Money

    Your first client accepted your proposal. Great! Before you get started on their project, you need to collect a retainer or deposit. It is time to send out your first invoice. An accounting or invoicing software makes it easy for your clients to make a payment. But you want to make sure you are not being charged high processing fees. QuickBooks Invoicing app has a subscription option for independent contractors that allows you to accept bank transfers for free. QuickBooks Online happens to integrate with Insightly CRM too! As your business grows, you can upgrade to a more robust subscription level of QuickBooks Online.

  5. Track Your Expenses

    If you are driving around to networking events and meetings with potential clients, make sure you track your miles. You also need to keep receipts for your business expenses, such as office supplies, coffee or meals with potential clients, and software subscriptions. Unless you are a glutton for punishment, don’t accumulate receipts in a shoebox. Use Expensify instead. Expensify integrates with QuickBooks Online. Your CPA will be amazed when you show up with your expenses tracked in easy to read digital reports!

These five best CRM tools for small businesses will get you off to a great start, with very low monthly subscription fees. All these apps provide great documentation on how to get started. If you need help integrating them, reach out! That’s why we’re here. We coach you through the steps to get started and have these apps work together to make you look like a real professional! The better you look, the higher your quality of clientele.

How are you tracking your clients and potential sales? Is your business growing? Do you need a better system, or are you having a hard time figuring out how to use all your current CRM features? Contact us for Small Business CRM Coaching and Consulting to help you choose between desktop applications or cloud-based solutions with more data storage options and access across digital devices. 

Get the most out of CRM systems by reaching out for a Discovery Session to assess your situation.