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Shortening The Small Business Software Selection Process


by Tim Handorf, Co-Founder and President of G2 Crowd


When launching a new business, every second and every penny count towards the bottom line. Wasted time and money can mean the difference between a business becoming successful and profitable, and one that fails.

According to the 2013 OfficeMax Small Business Efficiency Index, small business owners lose four billion hours each year managing time-consuming tasks. Many of these tasks – accounting, billing/invoicing, marketing – can be streamlined and, in many cases, automated with the right software.

Not all tools are designed for all businesses, however, and there are plenty of considerations to keep in mind. These include implementation effort, budgets, ease of use, security, integration with existing platforms and much more. In fact, selecting and integrating a piece of software can take months to do; even years, depending on the size of the company, the complexity of the software and the technical skill level of the person implementing it.

At G2 Crowd, we automate as many of our processes as possible so we can focus on growing the business. This means it’s critical for us to select or build the right tools for the job the first time around. We practice what we preach by leveraging our own business software review platform for valuable research and customer testimonials and it has saved us time and money.

We’re a small business ourselves, with about 20 employees, and our business is likely very different from yours. While we have many company-specific needs, there are some types of software that most small businesses could use to address core needs, such as CRM, invoice management, marketing automation, sales intelligence, or even HR functions, for larger businesses. This got us thinking.

Of the several thousand products listed and nearly 16,000 validated reviews posted on the site, we took a deeper look into our data and identified a handful of products that seemed to resonate with all site users that are either small businesses owners or employees.

For the purposes of this post, we wanted to look at products that have 20 or more reviews written by real users who work at companies that have 50 or fewer employees. From here, we were able to compile a list of the top ten products listed on our site, ranked on customer satisfaction, by small business owners and employees.

One thing to note: The list, as of September 8, 2014, features products that are in different categories (e.g. CRM and e-Signature software), and is not an “apples to apples” comparison.

The top ten vendors rated by small business owners and employees (fewer than 50 employees) is as follows:

– DiscoverOrg: Sales and marketing intelligence tool

– Evernote: Note-taking and work-tracking app across your desktop and mobile devices

– Freshdesk: Invoicing, accounting and billing software

– Nimble: Social CRM tool

– RightSignature: Electronic signature software

– HubSpot: Provider of inbound marketing software

– Act-On: Cloud-based integrated marketing platform

– dotmailer: Email marketing software

– Harvest: Time tracking and invoicing

– Google Analytics: Web analytics tool for your website

Some of these platforms are free (e.g. Google Analytics), while others are low cost (e.g. Evernote and Nimble), and others are growing quickly. (For instance, HubSpot just filed for an I.P.O.) Regardless, all of these vendors seem to have customers that are happy enough to share their thoughts on the web.

The next time you’re looking for the best small business software for your needs, look to others who have been in your shoes before. Search your personal and professional networks, go to industry forums and check out G2 Crowd.  Existing user advice will prove invaluable in the long run.


Tim Handorf

Tim Handorf is Co-Founder and President of G2 Crowd, a crowdsourced business software review site.