Software

Five apps to help you start a business

From building a solid plan to managing inventory to tracking ad campaigns, these tools will help you launch and grow your business.

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Starting a new business is challenging, but technology can make this daunting process just a little bit easier. The internet is filled with apps to help entrepreneurs get their new business up and running. Here are a few helpful tools to check out.

Note: This article is also available as a screenshot gallery.

1: Small Business Inventory Control Pro

Small Business Inventory Control Pro (Figure A) is a handy tool for product-based businesses. It allows companies to keep track of things like product inventories and payments to vendors. It can also report on inventory cost, the retail value of the inventory, and the 30-day turnover ratio.

Figure A

Figure A

A couple of the tool's more notable features are its ability to create purchase orders and invoices and its capacity for dealing with bundles, not just individual products.

Small Business Inventory Control Pro sells for $259, but a free trial is available for download.

2: KBilling

KBilling (Figure B) is the invoicing system I've been using for the last few years. I evaluated numerous invoicing tools and chose KBilling because it was highly customizable and modestly priced. The software allows you to build a customer database, issue quotes, and manage invoices. In addition, invoices can be billed to credit cards, and it's easy to add late fees to overdue invoices. The software can even handle shipping costs.

Figure B

Figure B

As if that weren't enough, KBilling contains dozens of built-in reports that can help you to better understand your organization's cash flow.

KBilling sells for $149, but a free trial version is available for download.

SEE: Five versatile apps for the one-person IT shop

3: Publish-iT

Publish-iT (Figure C) can help your organization create its own advertisements, brochures, and other printed media. It has many of the same features found in high-end desktop publishing applications but at a fraction of the cost. For instance, it includes drawing tools, photo editing tools, and the ability to interact with TWAIN scanners.

Figure C

Figure C

Publish-iT also includes countless text and image formatting options. This tool probably won't meet the needs of professional graphic designers, but it will work fine for most other people.

Publish-iT sells for $24, but a free trial is available for download.

4: Advertising Manager

Advertising Manager (Figure D) is designed to help businesses make the most of their advertising budget. The tool reminds me a lot of a business plan template because of some of the questions it asks. Advertising Manager requires you to enter some basic information about your business and then helps you brainstorm by asking you questions about things like market share and public perception.

Figure D

Figure D

Advertising Manager also lets you follow ad campaigns by attaching media files and tracking the campaign's duration, dates, and price.

Advertising Manager sells for $199, but a free trial version is available for download.

5: Ultimate Business Plan Starter

Ultimate Business Plan Starter (Figure E) is a free tool that can help you create a business plan. It's structured similarly to Advertising Manager, guiding you through the process of entering various types of information. For example, you can enter information about your competitive advantage, pricing, and promotional plan.

Figure E

Figure E

Ultimate Business Plan Starter uses a tree-like interface that makes it easy to move between parts of the plan. The plan's elements are cleanly organized into categories, such as Executive Summary, Operating Plan, and Financial Assumptions.

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Other tools for startups?

What kinds of software have you found most useful in launching your business ventures? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

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