Find the right small business tools to boost your profits
Big businesses have IT budgets that enable them to blow their competition out of the water. As a small business with little to no money to spare, you may think that the productivity benefits of top-notch software are out of your reach. However, you have a surprise in store. Read through this list of small business tools to discover that there are plenty of IT packages suited to small businesses and many of them are free.
1) Google Analytics
If you have a website for your business, you may be wondering why it isn’t bringing you all the business success you read about other small businesses enjoying. Businesses that get their webpages on the first page of search engine results are more likely to win customers, because most search engine users rarely look beyond the first page of results. Google is the most widely used search engine in the world, so tuning your site to rank highly on that search engine will get you noticed by your target market. The secret to the success for any website hoping to get on page one lies in modifying the characteristics of the site, and you can get an analysis of your webpages for free by signing up for Google Analytics. Your competitors may already be using the small business tools provided by Google Analytics, so sign up, and get back in the race.
An email campaign is a great way to convert interested visitors to your site into buyers. You can build customer loyalty by sending regular newsletters by email to highlight special offers and events at your company. All the big businesses use email campaigns to improve their sales, and small businesses can harness this technique at little to no cost. MailChimp is a free email management system that enables you to include graphics and special fonts in your emails. These email-related small business tools help you manage your mailing lists and sequence your sales campaigns. The service includes paid high-volume versions, but the free version gives sufficient capacity for any small business.
Skype is an online telephone company that also offers video calling and chat messaging. You can sign up for free and then print your Skype username on your business stationery. If you keep Skype running on your computer in your store or office, potential customers can contact you for free. If you subscribe, you can make calls to landlines and cell phones, and you can even buy a Skype handset, so the process of making a Skype call is the same as any regular call.
Jira is an online project management environment. It is organized as a collection of small business tools that enable you to pull together a disparate or peripatetic team. You can assign tasks, set deadlines, and hold your project documents in a central store. There is a subscription fee for the tool, but you can also have a go with the free version.
This package of small business tools is mainly designed to help you keep all your research notes for a project in one place. You can also derive presentations from the data you gather or the designs you create in Evernote. This tool would be especially useful for a sole consultant or for artisans such as furniture makers, shop fitters, plumbers, and electricians.
LastPass is a simple small business tool to keep track of your passwords. You download the program onto your computer, and it logs your usernames and passwords as you go about your daily business. The program maintains a vault of this information and autofills login details when you return to the sites for which it has recorded details. You can use the paid version to generate passwords and enforce security on shared documents that have to be accessed by a team.
Big businesses use Enterprise Resource Planning to tie their invoicing, bill payments, and expenditures into their bookkeeping system. FreshBooks provides small business tools that cover the invoicing and expenses part of that same concept at a fraction of the cost. You can tie the program into QuickBooks to close the loop and feed your invoicing and expense reports directly into your accounts.
Like FreshBooks, Expensify provides small business tools that cover the process of logging expenses. Expensify doesn’t have the invoicing capabilities of FreshBooks, but it has something that every consultant and freelancer would love—a receipt scanning tool. Anyone who has had a job that includes the payment of expenses knows what a pain it is keeping track of all those little bits of paper. With Expensify, you can scan the receipt the minute you get it.
9) Get Satisfaction
If you have a website for your business, you probably have a “Contact Us” page, and you may even have a Web form where customers can enter a message. Get Satisfaction takes customer contact functions one stage further. You set up a community page, which is a little bit like a Facebook profile, but on your own website. Through this, you can allow customers of your products to give each other tips, and you can also put your customer service team on the system to answer questions raised by potential and seasoned buyers. This concept helps sales conversion and encourages repeat business.
Any small business sometimes needs to do background checks on employees and associates. Intelius is an online people finder, but the website also includes a number of small business tools. You can do background checks on potential employees to see whether they have a criminal record or whether they have created trouble with customers at their previous place of employment. The company also offers identity theft protection, which can help protect your customers’ details and prevent fraudsters from damaging your business.