As a self-employed person working out of my home, I’ve bought a ton of software applications. Most proved unnecessary while a few applications proved to be invaluable.
The following is a list of my 5 favorite business software applications for running my home business:
1. Microsoft Office
I know I’ll take some heat for this one, but I like Microsoft office. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, there are free alternatives such as Google Docs and Open Office. However, I’m accustomed to MS Office, especially Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. I use all 4 daily and like them.
2. Web-Based Back-Up Software
About 2 years ago my laptop crashed and burned. The data was not recoverable. I lost a ton of information. And no, I had not backed up my data.
As soon as I bought my new laptop, I signed up for an online web-based data backup service. I knew from experience that I would not take the time to manually back up my files onto a CD, hard drive or DVD. Therefore, a web-based back-up service is ideal.
The service I use backs up my data automatically every day. All my data is stored on their server which means I don’t have to worry about it. If my current laptop crashes and burns, I just have to download all my data on a new computer.
3. Anti-virus software
I’ve always used anti-virus software so I’m not sure what would happen to a computer without it. If you run a business, and much of your business is on your computer, anti-virus software is critically important.
4. Website Software
Some home-business operators rely on a website designer for the website. Not me. I build and run my own website using WordPress. I love WordPress, but it’s no the only game in town. The important thing, in my view, if you’re starting out and have limited resources and need new business, is to get website building software.
There’s very simple-to-use online website builders, WordPress, and Joomla – all three of which anyone can learn to use and build a great website fairly quickly.
I blog regularly for my business so having blogging-based website software is invaluable. Whether it’s a small brochure site or a large and dynamic site, most small businesses need a site and being able to add content and manage the site is a terrific thing for any small business owner to know.
Even if you don’t want the hassle of dealing with your own site, if you know what’s involved, it’s much easier hiring the right people to take care of it for you.
5. Fireworks or Photoshop by Adobe
If you do any work with images for marketing purposes, having Fireworks and/or Photoshop is a wonderful software asset. Almost every day I go into one or the other to tweak images used in my online marketing. They’re also terrific for creating free guide covers as informational give-aways which any business can do to generate leads.
Again, you can hire people to handle images for marketing, but once you know the basics, it’s easy to tweak your own images to come up with basic marketing images. It’s fast and costs nothing. I’m not saying not to hire pros for more complex work, but being able to deal with your own images for your own website and some marketing materials can save you a ton of time and money in the long run. Plus, it’s fun and can be used for personal images as well.
Other software suggestions
No business is the same; therefore each business may have unique software needs. Moreover, each business owner is unique and therefore software needs may vary.
For example, in some industries, there is industry-specific software to help manage businesses. There’s fitness center software, law firm management software, medical practice software, etc. If you’re in an industry that has specifically designed software, it may be worthwhile investing in a robust software application to run your business.
If you do your own books, you might want bookkeeping software to save time and money. I use spreadsheets to track my revenue and expenses and then provide that data to an accountant. Therefore I don’t use bookkeeping software, but I’m sure it could be handy for me if I were inclined to learn it.
I never took to Skype. I have an account, but don’t use it much (only when the other person needs to use Skype). However, more and more business owners are relying on Skype-type communications software to handle communications needs. If you spend a great deal of time communicating and your cell phone bills are huge, Skype could be a good solution.
Voice Recognition software
I’m fairly impressed with the voice recognition software that’s included with Windows 7. I’ve used it somewhat; although I prefer typing (I type fast and tend to think better typing out of habit). However, if you need to generate a lot of the written word and your typing isn’t up to speed, voice recognition software may be the answer. It takes time to learn and train the software, but many people these days are able to get a lot more done with it.
Why did I split up this article into 2 parts?
Because the first 5 suggested software applications for home-based businesses is the actual software I have and use. The following 4 suggestions may be worthwhile, but I don’t have any of it.
There’s certainly a lot more types of software out there. I’ve bought plenty of it. However, when resources are tight, it’s important to buy only that which actually moves your business forward. A lot of software is more a distraction than a productivity tool.
Therefore, assess each software before purchase with a mind toward whether it will actually make you and your business more productive or simply be a waste of time and money.
For more information on business software: