Running a small business isn’t for the faint hearted.

As a business owner myself, I am constantly amazed just how many small issues come up on a daily basis that need my attention. From equipment maintenance, staff, customers, suppliers, landlords, marketing and financial issues...the list is endless and relentless.

And, if you’re like me, this never ending merry-go-round of annoying little tasks can, at times, seem super overwhelming as you try keep your head above water and do your best to survive the horrid to-do-list.

Perhaps the worst part is, much of your week, is therefore taken up with tasks that probably won’t grow your business. They are just necessary evils.

So what's the answer?

Eliminate, Delegate or Automate.

I am a big believer that, at least once a month, business owners should sit down and review all the tasks that have taken up their time, with the view of finding new efficiencies.

Simply find a quiet place and reflect on all the time sapping tasks that have happened over the last few weeks. Then, try and put as many as possible into one of three categories - Eliminate, Automate or Delegate.


Some tasks may be taking time and offering no value. These could include unnecessary meetings, reports or processes that add nothing to the business but have just been happening for a long time without question. Put them in the “Eliminate” box and say goodbye forever. Chances are, the sky won’t fall in once they are eliminated and you will simply free up a heap of time.


Next, look at all your tasks and also the skills and aspirations of your employees. Normally you will find, after review, some of your tasks can be handed over to competent employees with a bit of training and early supervision. There is a double benefit here. Not only will you free up some valuable personal time, but your employees will likely cherish the extra responsibilities and the opportunity to grow and learn.


Finally, look at what is left. Can these tasks it be automated, at least partially?

More and more affordable software solutions are available to automate a range of manual business tasks and you may be surprised just how much time and money they can save you.

So with so many online software tools on the market, how do you find the best ones? Well after a decade of using a number of small business online tools, below we outline, in our view, the best online business tools in terms of functionality, simplicity and cost.

Best Online Tools for Small Business 2018.

CRM - Base

Think your too small for a CRM? Not so. For any business, attracting a new customer is ALWAYS so much harder and more expensive than keeping an existing one. A basic CRM tool can help you monitor your customers and provide an organised way of segmenting and communicating with them. All you need to do is find a way to capture their data via online forms, competitions or simply a business card drop.

Whilst there are a heap of options out there, most are way too complex and expensive for needs of the average business.

At RosterElf, we have been using Base for 5 years as our CRM and we love it. It is super simple to setup and use, and provides powerful reporting insights and communication tools.

Price - Starts at $45 per month.

Email Marketing - Mail Chimp

Email marketing is a must for small businesses. Did you know a recent survey found that email marketing generated new customers at a rate of roughly 7%, while social media had a conversion rate for new buyers of less than 1%?

RosterElf has been using Mail Chimp since the beginning. It’s super simple to setup and create campaigns and newsletters to keep your customers engaged. Send newsletters, updates and competitions to your customer base in minutes.

Price - FREE for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month!

Online Remarketing - Ad Roll

This is a new one for us which we have been using for a number of months. It provides a great way to 'retarget' customers online by tracking visitors and serving ads across the web and social media, both desktop and mobile.

You don't need to be a marketing guru to setup your campaigns as Ad Roll has a clever little algorithm which captures website visitors for you. They even design a few free ads for your first campaign to give it a go.

Price - Pay-as-you-go solution with cost per click on your ad of around $2-$3 on average.

Social Media Management - Hootsuite

We all know that regular social media content is a must for most businesses. But with so many platforms such Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube etc, managing regular content can be a time zapping task.

This is where Hootsuite is awesome. Basically, you can connect all your social media platforms into the Hootsuite dashboard and create and manage content in a single place. It also gives you great reporting to see what content is achieving results and how others can be improved.

Price - Starts as $25/month.

Rostering/Time and Attendance - RosterElf

Ok, I may be a little bias here, but we believe RosterElf is the best rostering, time and attendance and payroll solution on the market. It handles staff availability, rostering, communications, shift swaps, clock-in-out and award interpretation which integrates with all major payroll and accounting systems. Save hours and dollars every week whilst getting rid of paper rosters and timesheets.

Price - PAYG starting at just $0.50 per employee per week

Accounting - Xero

We love Xero. Its clean, simple and powerful. In fact RosterElf loves it so much we developed an API so Xero and RosterElf customers can use the two together, seamlessly.

RosterElf customers can review and approve timesheet hours and send directly into their Xero account at a click, including full award interpretation. Xero has functionality that is perfect for just about every type of small business and presents data in way that is easy to understand without an accounting degree.

Price - Starts as $25/month.

Reporting - Fathom

This is another cool Xero add-on. Fathom is an easy to use management reporting and financial analysis tool, which helps you to assess business performance, monitor trends and identify improvement opportunities. It connects to Xero easily and will give you amazing value.

Price - Starts as $49/month.

So there you go, 7 awesome and afforable online tools for your small business for 2018 to automate some of those small, annoying yet time consuming tasks so you can focus on the things that matter.


Simon Ingleson

Founder/CEO @ RosterElf

Magically Simple Rostering Software