Enterprise refers to a project or undertaking, especially a bold or complex one.
But the general definition of ‘enterprise’ tells only half the story. Enterprise’s business definition is a little more nuanced, and potentially more confusing. You may well be an enterprising business owner, but do you own an enterprise?
In this article we’ll look to answer exactly that. We’ll also be diving into the different forms of enterprise, as well as the spectrum of ‘enterprise software’ that keeps these organisations running.
But first we should answer a seemingly simple question: what is an enterprise business?
What is an enterprise?
‘Enterprise’ can be used as a general term for a business, company, or any other for-profit venture. If an organisation’s aim is to make money, it can be called an enterprise.
That said, the word ‘enterprise’ can also be used to refer to two more specific types of business:
Large businesses: Enterprises are often considered particularly large businesses. This can be seen in the marketing of ‘enterprise-level’ software that focuses on large multinationals.
Entrepreneur-led businesses: The root of the word ‘enterprise’ can be found in the word ‘entrepreneur’ (which, if we go back far enough, can itself be traced to the Latin phrase ‘inter prehendere’ – seize with the hand.) As such, any entrepreneur-led business, large or small, can be considered an enterprise.
What a specific person means by ‘enterprise’ must therefore be gleaned from context. If they’re talking generally, they might be referring to any business or company. If they’re talking about software, they could be exclusively referring to large companies. If they’re talking about angel investment, they might be referring to an entrepreneur-led venture.
No matter the definition you use, enterprises are generally established and run for one of the following five reasons:
To solve a problem
To offer a new product or service
To fill a gap in the market
To offer a product or service at a lower cost
To supply specialist knowledge and skills
The 4 types of Australian enterprise
Working from the general definition, an Australian enterprise can take four main forms:
Sole trader: This is an enterprise run by a single individual, generally for their own financial benefit, but that brings total liability on that individual for any issues that occur as a result of business operations.
Proprietary limited company: A ‘Pty Ltd’ company is an Australian business structure that can have between one and 50 shareholders, and that limits liability to the value of the shares held.
Unlimited proprietary company: A ‘Pty’ company is the same as above, but for the fact that liability is not limited.
Public company: Public companies don’t have limits on the number of shareholders they can have, can engage in public fundraising activities, and can be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
You’ll note that this last form of enterprise – a public company – fits one of our ‘enterprise’ definitions, but not the other. Public companies are generally large, but they are also less likely to be entrepreneur-led, as directors, boards, C-suites and other business leadership structures replace the omnipotent entrepreneur that is often seen in private companies.
What is enterprise software?
When technology companies talk about ‘enterprise software’, they tend to define an enterprise as a large company which might employ thousands of workers.
As such, enterprise-level software solutions are usually built for particularly large businesses who want a solution that works across their vast organisation, and who have the budget to pay for it. This form of software tends to be scalable, holistic, adaptable, knowledge-intensive, and will often be seen as best-in-class.
That said, you no longer have to be a multinational organisation to enjoy such top-shelf enterprise-level products. Cloud computing has changed the game over the last decade, offering a level of scalability that has enabled software companies to offer their products to small organisations too.
Case in point: Square’s range of business tools, which can prove every bit as valuable to a market stall holder as they do to a multinational retailer!
12 enterprise software examples
1. Customer relationship management (CRM) software
CRM software is built to allow organisations to nurture client relationships. It helps businesses better manage and access customer information, allowing them to use that data to inform a wealth of strategies, including sales, marketing, loyalty and communication.
2. Invoicing and billing
Invoicing enterprise software is designed to streamline the process of billing your customers for the products and services you supply to them. Square Invoices, for example, is built to:
Save you time by automating the billing process
Get you paid faster with integrated payment systems
Scale with your business
3. Accounting software
Enterprise accounting software is built to take care of all your business finances, no matter how complex they might be. It logs all incomings and outgoings, such as customer payments, taxes, power bills or payroll.
4. POS software
The point of sale (POS) is the most important part of a retail business because it’s where you get paid. The best enterprise POS solutions are those that allow you to sell wherever your customers are (in your store or elsewhere), that automatically sync payments with your accounting software, and that can grow organically with your business. Good news: Square POS can do all that and more!
5. Online payment processing
What if you have an eCommerce store that lacks a physical POS? Enterprise-level online payment processing software is designed to make taking payment over the internet every bit as easy as taking it in person, as seen in Square Online Payments.
6. Email marketing
Spreading the good word about your brand is made easy with enterprise email marketing software like Square Marketing, which automates much of the process, personalises each message and allows you to track the performance of each campaign!
7. Website platform
Hosting your own online store demands significant upfront and ongoing investment. Many eCommerce retailers – even some of the very biggest – choose to use the Square Online eCommerce website platform instead, ensuring a beautiful, smooth, innovative and consistent shopping experience for their customers.
Turn any business into an online business with a free eCommerce website.
8. Business intelligence software
The answer to almost any business question you care to ask can be found in the endless data that modern organisations now have access to, and business intelligence software is tasked with organising this information in a way that generates meaningful insights.
9. IT service management
Information technology service management (ITSM) covers the organisational activities performed in the design, construction, delivery, operation and management of any IT services offered to customers, a task that a range of enterprise software solutions are built to take care of.
10. Human resources management
People are any organisation’s most important asset, and human resource management software is built to ensure they are treated with the care they deserve.
11. Enterprise resource planning
The larger a business, the more assets, processes and resources it has to keep track of. Enterprise resource planning solutions aim to make sense of this endless complexity, helping an organisation to make the most of what it’s got.
12. Payroll management
Enterprise payroll management software is designed to manage all your employee financial records in a single place, and in a simple and largely automated way.
No matter whether you run an enterprise in the sense of a small entrepreneurial venture, or an enterprise in the sense of a large business, Square offers a suite of enterprise-grade tools that make managing and growing your business easy.
If you’re ready to get enterprising, Square is ready to help!