An interesting survey of small companies in professional services industries highlights some of the most useful software tools available to contractors and freelancers – often for a minimal outlay
The ‘Best Vendor’ poll (conducted in 2011) asked 550 people working in a variety of business sectors what software they use in their business. The majority of these businesses employ under 10 people.
Some of the results are unsurprising – such as Google dominating company email (Apps), site traffic measurement (Analytics), and collaboration (Docs). Paypal is the most popular destination for payment processing (used by 27%), Quickbooks dominates accounting, and Dropbox is the most in-demand storage service.
In terms of productivity tools, Evernote is a popular service for note taking and reminders, and Basecamp is the most popular project management tool (used by 29% of respondents).
Many of the finance and accounting tools cited by the study are US-based, although a number of homegrown software packages such as FreeAgent and KashFlow are increasingly used by business owners who value the benefits of online accounting.
Other software titles highlighted by the survey, which could be useful pointers to Company Bug readers, include MailChimp (an intuitive and inexpensive newsletter tool), a variety of Adobe titles for web design, photo editing (Adobe Photoshop and Adobe CS5).
Most of the tools mentioned in the survey are low-cost, or even free to use – enabling fledgling businesses to get off the ground without being burdened by the cumbersome, expensive software of the pre-Internet era.
For more suggestions, and in-depth survey results, read the survey results.
This article refers to a 2011 survey (the results are still very relevant in 2012). You can also read Best Vendor’s list of the Top 25 tools used by freelancers here.