Although SMEs contribute immensely to Nigeria’s economy and also account for 48% of the country’s national GDP, as well as 96% of businesses and 84% of employment in the country, it is still difficult to run a startup in Nigeria.
However, there are some SME-friendly tools and solutions that can ease a bit of that burden for the young entrepreneur.
Here are seven apps and features helping small business owners manage their operations better.
Wave is an all-in-one toolkit for small businesses to create invoices, track transactions, and log in customer/vendor accounting details. It also assists in tracking income and expenses, receiving payments and setting up automatic payments reminders — so you can manage your business fairly well without an accounting degree.
The app is free for users — although it charges a sizable fee for some of its premium-tier services — so you have access to accounting solutions at the tips of your fingers.
2. WhatsApp for Business
WhatsApp for Business is the bread and butter of thousands of small businesses springing up in Nigeria. It works like the regular WhatsApp Messenger app but has unique features targeted at small sellers.
You can set up your business profile on WhatsApp and display key details: opening hours, contact information, website, and physical address. Create catalogues to show customers your inventory — add prices, product information, and images as you see fit.
The app also makes it easier to interact with customers. For example, the app can send automatic responses to customers who contact you during your offline hours. These automatic responses may include a list of FAQs or a greeting to welcome new customers.
DocuSign helps with signing documents electronically and removes the headache associated with paperwork.
You can embed required digital signatures on everything from employee contracts to supplier agreements, so you don’t have to meet with anyone to sign documents.
DocuSign eSignatures are rated safe by most industry watchdogs. Besides, the app asks for verification before granting access to the document, preventing unauthorised individuals from tampering with it.
SurveyMonkey can help gather feedback from customers, suppliers, vendors, and employees through an online survey. Businesses can measure customer loyalty, monitor employee commitment, and conduct market research to better improve their product offering or services to drive sales.
5. ALAT for Business
ALAT for Business assists small-scale businesses and corporate clients in managing their finances, ensures seamless accounting operations and helps the company have proper financial records to access funds for its growth. With the app, businesses can open a corporate bank account without visiting a bank and can get a corporate debit card as well.
It also allows SMEs to have multiple beneficiaries allowing for easy approval of transactions and transparency in respect of the use of company funds. For businesses that need to regularly pay multiple vendors, it automates the payment procedure seamlessly. Don’t worry about transfer limits — the app allows transfers up to ₦100 million per day.
ALAT for Business also has a Quick Loan feature that allows all users to borrow up to ₦10 million using the mobile app and without the stress of having to experience long bank queues.
ALAT for business also gives its users direct access to financial advice from financial professionals or a direct account manager on the financial state of the user’s business, projections and industry growth opportunities. These professionals also give advice on short and long-term financing options.
QuickBooks has remained a favourite of small businesses for years for good reasons. The application offers a robust platform for owners to handle accounting and monitor the financial health of their businesses.
A basic QuickBooks Online subscription, can generate invoices, pay bills, and create financial reports. It also helps businesses track inventory, scan receipts, analyze financial data, and accept online payments. A more advanced version (QuickBooks for PC) is popular among retail outlets in Nigeria as it can be paired with POS devices for quick receipts and inventory monitoring.
FreshBooks powers millions of small to medium-sized businesses around the world through its simple accounting system.
FreshBooks offers a clean, beginner-friendly interface from where you can manage invoices, business expenditures, and account for pending client payments. Although it is similar to QuickBooks, it is more simple.
FreshBooks is freelancer-friendly. The app lets you track time spent on projects and generate invoices off of those hours. Plus, you can set automatic reminders for unpaid invoices.
Plaqad is a marketing technology platform with robust tracking analytics to help businesses (small and large) run end-to-end social and web campaigns.
Businesses can use its SocialCred tool to calculate influence and scientifically rank social media credibility. The tool promotes transparency in influencer marketing and helps counter influencer fraud. It also assists businesses in knowing which influencer or creator is more suited for their business. Other products include PlaqadIQ, an analytics tool that helps businesses effectively measure the performance of their PR and marketing activities and PlaqadM which lets users connect with publishers, influencers and other content creators across the world.
Other than hiring people on Plaqad, businesses can also register and be hired on the platform.
Really Worthy Mentions
Asana and Trello are excellent apps for managing projects and coordinating team members. Zoom and Slack remain favourites for employee communication, while Google Drive and Dropbox provide simple solutions for storing and sharing files.
InShot and FilmoraGo are two excellent tools for creating cutting-edge videos for your marketing campaigns. Finally, Canva and Adobe Spark can be used to create 2D posters, logos, flyers, and graphic assets to aid your content marketing objectives as you promote your business.