10 Commonly Must-Haves For Small Business owners and startup founders have a lot on their plate. While you might be starting, say, a photography business because you’re an experienced photographer, or running a dog wash business because you love animals, that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily a master at every facet of your business. From accounting and billing to operations and marketing, there are a number of small business must-haves that, well, many don’t have.
So, we put together a list of the most small business must-haves, which many unknowingly lack, to help you put your business on good footing and on the map. With these simple, yet commonly overlooked tips and tools you can improve your process, increase efficiency and turn a higher profit.
Here are 10 small business must-haves in 2023:
1. Verified Online Listings
Every business has an online presence, including listings in business directories whether they set them up or not. Oftentimes, if your business has been around for a bit, someone might have already set up accounts on your behalf, from Google Business Profile to Yelp and any other relevant directories to your business and its industry. While it might sound like a good thing that the work has been done for you, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything left for you to do.
To start, check the leading online directories, such as Google Business Profile, to see if there is a live listing for your business. If so, claim the listing so that you obtain control of the listing. This lets you verify the listing and ensure that it provides accurate information as well as enables you to reply to reviews.
If your business doesn’t yet have a listing, create your listing—your business can take advantage of the free marketing it provides so that you can get found online and get more customers.
2. The Right Legal Formation
Over 70% of businesses in the U.S. are registered as sole proprietorships. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this type of business formation, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right legal formation for your small business. Many small businesses start as a sole proprietorship only to later outgrow it. And yet many small business owners keep their business structured as a sole proprietorship—complete with the personal liability that comes along with it.
Generally, small businesses are advised to register as a limited liability corporation, or LLC, in order to help protect their personal assets and separate their business interests. To get started, learn how to set up an LLC.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in registering as an LLC but not sure how to go about it, there are a number of LLC formation services available. To find one that’s right for you, check out the best LLC services.
3. A Well-Designed Website
It’s one thing to have a website and it’s another to have a well-designed website that looks professional, upholds your brand and gives your visitors what it is they came to your site for. For example, those checking out a restaurant’s website are likely interested in seeing a menu, checking hours and making reservations. Whereas visitors to a spa might want to see a list of services and book an appointment.
The good news is that it’s easier—and more affordable—than ever to build your own website that looks great and functions properly without any web design experience or coding knowledge. With the help of an all-in-one site builder, such as Squarespace or Wix, just about anyone can build a professional business website in hours and for around $15 per month. Learn more about the best website builders for small businesses.
4. Custom Business Email
It’s not uncommon to see businesses that use personal email for business use. And no, using your business name at gmail.com doesn’t count as a business email address. Instead, be sure to use an address that uses your own business’s domain name, such as [email protected]. Not only does it appear far more professional, but it also lends to your credibility and reputation.
Taking it a step further, be sure to use a generic email inbox on your website. For example, use [email protected] for your contact page or [email protected] for sales assistance. Again, it lends to your credibility, and it also helps your inboxes stay organized while reducing the number of emails you receive to your direct inbox. Set yours up in minutes by learning how to create a business email address.
5. Business Phone
Not to be confused with a personal number, many startups and small businesses don’t actually have a separate business number. Many also fail to have different phone lines for different uses, and those that do, often pay through the nose for it. Instead of using your personal number, which inherently will become plastered across the internet, making it greatly susceptible to spam, use a virtual phone number. This way, you can still use your personal phone, but with a separate phone number so that your personal number isn’t publicly available to the world.
If you are paying for a business phone and want to save money, consider switching to a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) system, which allows you to make calls with your phone or computer using the internet. Not only are the leading providers very affordable, but they also offer other money-saving features such as auto attendants and 24/7 virtual receptionists and call centers. Get more information about the best VoIP services.
7. CRM System
Customer relationship management (CRM) software may sound fancy, if not expensive. But if your business deals with clients and leads, then it might cost you not to have a CRM system. This is because, in reality, a CRM simply helps you organize your contacts, clients or customers and foster your leads. It’s what enables, say, a landscaping company to keep track of customers, with a log of services rendered, incoming requests, invoices due and bills paid.
Not only are many of the best customer relationship management tools easy to use, but many are available for free. So, not only can a CRM help you operate your business more efficiently, saving you time, but it also doesn’t have to cost you anything to use.
8. Billing and Invoicing Software
Save time and get pai faster without a CRM by using a billing and invoicing software solution. There are many on the market that enable you to easily create quotes, send invoices and get paid without having to mail a bill or wait for a check. This is particularly helpful for service-based businesses, such as a property management business or a tutoring business.
What’s more, many are available for free, so you only pay for the credit card processing fees. Learn more about what you can do with the best free invoicing software.
9. Mobile Card Readers
Take billing and invoicing a step further with a mobile credit card reader. This is what enables you to accept payments on the go and as you do a job. For example, a towing business, a mobile dog grooming or a bakery intereste in selling at its local farmer’s market would be well suite to use a mobile card reader.
As straightforward as it sounds, mobile card readers are game-changers for many small businesses as they open up more opportunities to sell and save you time by eliminating the need to invoice customers. Instead, collect payment as services are rendere. For any unpaid invoices, you can set it up so that it automatically sends payment reminders. To get yours, check out the best mobile credit card readers.
10. Financial Tools
Whether it’s starting your small business or making strategic investments to boost your business, you need capital for your company to thrive. Fortunately, plenty of financial tools are available to help you get the money you need. One particularly easy and popular tool is using a credit card. Most of these cards offer rewards programs that work in a similar way to the travel and cash points you may use for your personal cards. In this case, you can use your reward points and invest them into things your business needs.
You can also take advantage of a small business loan from a reputable lender. These loans can offer you thousands of dollars quickly with fair terms of repayment. While these typically require a strong credit score, they can be a lifesaver in raising funds to cover emergencies, renovations and other upgrades.