Having the right software programs can improve the productivity and professionalism of your small business. To avoid spending money on unnecessary software, take some time to determine what your software needs are and which products will make your life easier. The list below includes some of the most popular software programs that are proven performers for home-based businesses.
Microsoft Office is the most popular suite of business productivity software. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Although there are other applications available that perform the same functions, the Office applications are the de facto standard in the business world.
QuickBooks is the leader in accounting software. It is useful for invoicing, keeping customer records, and tracking your inventory. In addition, you can manage your business's finances in the same application. QuickBooks provides add-ons to handle business functions such as payroll and credit card processing.
Quicken is the ideal financial software for small home-based businesses that do not need the extra functionality of QuickBooks. You can track both personal and business expenses, and it is also helpful in preparing your taxes.
Stamps.com lets you print postage right from your computer so you do not have to run to the post office each time you need to ship a package. It integrates with QuickBooks and several other popular software packages.
RetailEdge offers an efficient way to manage your inventory and keep track of your customer sales. In addition, RetailEdge provides credit card point of sale functions.
WorkTime is project and time management software that will let you keep track of the hours that you spend on different tasks and help you manage your time more efficiently.
Adobe GoLive or Macromedia Dreamweaver are two popular software packages that can help you develop and design an effective business Web site. If you don't have a knack for computer applications, consider hiring a designer to handle your site for you.
Adobe InDesign is a desktop publishing package that is useful for designing promotional materials and newsletters for your business. However, the price tag for InDesign may be out of reach for some smaller companies, and there can be a bit of a learning curve. If you need an application that can design these materials and you do not want to spend a lot of money, Microsoft Publisher is a viable, low-cost alternative.
Adobe Acrobat is a useful software package if you need to create PDF documents. PDFs are documents that can be read by any computer using the free Adobe Reader application, making it the preferred document format for sharing files between colleagues or clients.
Whether you need a small accounting program or a full-fledged office suite, there are many different software packages on the market that are geared toward home business owners. If you are not sure which is the best software program for your business, try to find a company that offers a free trial period so that you can make an informed decision before spending your money. You can also take a look at CNET.com or at SmallBusinessComputing.com for reviews and comparisons of particular applications.
Also read "Technology and Equipment for Home-Based Businesses" for a discusson of things like printers, phone mail, and internet access for your small business.