There is a reason that small and medium-size businesses tend to be among the early adopters of new business technology. Unlike big, slow-moving corporations, SMBs can switch to new tech as soon as its benefits are apparent. The incentive to do so is also higher. Reducing overhead and maintaining focus on core business objectives are matters of survival for small businesses. Here are 10 technologies now helping SMBs market, scale, organize, hire, and operate overall:
1. Company: Duda
Function: Website design
Duda may provide the easiest and most affordable platform for a business to get a website designed and running. The company started by offering a coding-free tool for making feature-rich mobile sites. Mobile sites are an important asset, but one that can be prohibitively expensive for SMBs. Now Duda's services include desktop sites, too. One of the best features is the ability to import content from an old site directly into a new, slicker one. Duda's model has resonated with SMBs. The company currently hosts five million sites and has raised $18.3 million in venture funding.
2. Company: Trinet
Function: HR outsourcing
If efficiency is the goal, outsourcing non-essential tasks is key. Trinet provides a way for SMBs to offload virtually all HR functions. The company handles payroll, benefits management, and compliance, and all the associated data. The services are comprehensive enough that many of Trinet's clients have no in-house HR staff at all. Trinet went public last year at a valuation of $1.09 billion. In the year from October 2014 to 2015, its shares were up 4.8 percent, more than doubling the performance of the S&P 500.
3. Company: WeWork
Function: Office space and networking
The biggest expense, after payroll, for many early-stage companies is office space. WeWork, the pioneer of co-working spaces, has thrived by offering small businesses--and "solopreneurs"--flexible office space solutions that are able to grow and contract with the ebbs and flows of business. WeWork also offers some ancillary benefits that most SMBs wouldn't be able to provide on their own. The offices themselves are designed to promote a sense of community--think pool tables and lounge-y common areas. And WeWork's one-year-old social network, WeWork Commons, is amplifying the benefits of water cooler networking. After pioneering its segment, WeWork has remained in a dominant position by expanding geographically. It currently has 55 locations in the U.S., Europe, and Israel.
4. Company: Todoist
Function: To-do lists
Todoist's mobile and web apps are smart to-do lists. They're stripped down in the sense that you only see what you need to--things like the details of a task, the due date, and relevant notes. But they're also fully featured, with functions including collaboration, email notifications, and the ability to divide projects into subtasks with separate timelines. The company has made a big push toward compatibility with the result that Todoist is likely to run on any device you own (or have ever seen, for that matter). Its latest major release was an updated Android app, which was brought up to the same level of functionality as Todoist's widely used iOS app.
5. Company: Dapulse
Function: Project management
A tool for companies that embrace internal transparency, Dapulse is a project management tool that lets everyone involved see what's going on. Managers create projects--with the end goal clearly stated--and delegate specific tasks to individual departments. Progress toward the goal is updated in real time, so no one has to chase anybody down for answers and intermediate tasks are less likely to fall through the cracks. Founded in 2012, Dapulse got off the ground with $1.5 million of seed money. It closed a series A round of financing in August, raising $2.6 million.
6. Company: Oomph
Function: Print to digital ad conversion
One the most cost-effective tools in advertising, Oomph converts print ads into digital ones. There's no need to hire an agency to create new ads (or to redesign an entire campaign). Oomph's in-house designers create rich media ad content for smartphones, tablets, and desktops that is ready for publication. While Oomph is particularly well suited to budget-minded SMBs, it is also robust enough for bigger corporations. The company counts News Corporation, Audi, and Reader's Digest among its clients.
7. Company: Concur
Function: Expenses management
If you stop and think about it, it's pretty amazing that many SMBs still manage expenses by asking their employees to collect receipts. Concur's software digitizes expense reporting--taking the paper out of it--and integrates it into a platform that allows for transparency and analytics. One of the biggest benefits is that financial departments can oversee and manage spending as it happens, rather than simply tally up money that's already out the door. As of 2014, Concur's software and services were producing $862 million in annual revenue. A hefty valuation followed. In September last year, SAP bought Concur for $8.3 billion.
8. Company: Modulus
Function: App hosting
SMBs today are launching an ever-increasing number of apps, yet few businesses have the in-house expertise to deploy, scale, and host them. Modulus is a flexible hosting platform that enables companies to host, scale, and instantly deploy apps with virtually no lead time. The platform offers seamless scaling as your application grows and impressive analytics to track activity and performance. Last year, Modulus was acquired by Progress, a Nasdaq-listed global software company focused on development, deployment, and management of data-driven apps.
9. Company: Tipalti
Function: Payments and compliance
Tipalti makes its living doing a task few companies want to do themselves: managing payments to suppliers and partners, across borders, and in compliance with tax and regulatory laws. Most of its customers are online businesses--ranging from e-commerce companies and digital marketplaces to ad and affiliate networks--making as many as thousands of small payments every day. If companies had to take on this work themselves, many would be buried in their own paperwork. As a leader in its market segment, Tipalti has been able to make a compelling pitch to investors, having raised a series B funding round totaling $13 million last year.
10. Company: Likeable Local
Function: Social media management
Despite my obvious bias on this one (since I'm one of the people who developed it), Likeable Local helps SMBs manage their social media presence by automating as much of the process as possible. The software monitors social media for conversations relevant to a customer's business in a listening platform. It suggests content to publish, plus you can schedule Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn postings at once. The software also has Turbopost advertising technology that boosts every Facebook post and unified analytics to measure reach across social media platforms.