Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at September 24, 2017
For every small business owner, you need to look bigger than you really are. Plus you often need to try to save time and leverage every free moment that you’ve got, particularly when you are looking for where to establish business credit. Here are 10 important tools every business owner should have which can do one or the other, or both. And – bonus! – Many of these are free.
Zendesk works as a customer relations tool. You can answer comments on social media platforms like Facebook, and also use it as a help desk. Zendesk keeps track of these customer communications with information on when they came in and who answered them, so that nothing slips through the cracks. It also allows for chat with customers and the building of a knowledge base for self-service. Keep small problems from escalating to bigger ones!
Easy to implement, particularly on WordPress sites, Google Analytics is the premier method for tracking visitors to your site, where they came from, where they went on your site, and what they did when they were there.
Determine your desired outcomes before you get started. Do you want your customers to sign up for a mailing list, join a group, take care of their own help desk problems, buy something, or something else? Paint a picture of what success looks like to you. Five per week? Five hundred? Five thousand? Once you have a benchmark, you can start to determine whether you are succeeding, or not. All goals should be from MARS:
Google Analytics takes care of the first and the last of these requirements. It’s up to you to determine whether what you want to have happen can be improved or changed, and whether your expectations are at all realistic.
With DropBox, you can create, collaborate on, and share documents easily. Take care of version control issues by just having the one copy of a document rather than everyone having their own person (and dissimilar) copy. DropBox is also useful for distributing files which are too large for an email program to handle. Because DropBox is its own storage system, your files will be fine even if your laptop is struck by lightning. And you can even recover files which have been deleted.
Got too much email? Slack understands.
Got email chains which become convoluted, split off, and out of sync? Slack understands that, too.
For remote work, Slack can’t be beat. It’s a smart group chat-style system which lets everyone see the same files and the same conversations at the same time. Keep everyone on track, and in contact, even if half of your team is on the other side of the planet. And, at the same time, tame the dreaded inbox beast.
If you’ve got projects, then you need Asana. Projects can be complicated affairs, with multiple moving parts and dependencies. With Asana, you can track when you got started, how far along you are, and see which tasks remain undone. Just like with Slack, you’ll get fewer emails, too.
For marketing campaigns using email, or newsletters, MailChimp is a great solution. With MailChimp, you can add automation to marketing while still making your customers feel like they are getting your personal, undivided attention. MailChimp also keeps track of helpful metrics, such as your subscribe/unsubscribe rates.
Get an online Human Resources Department with Gusto. Run payroll and benefits, keep track of taxes, and time off calculations. Set up direct deposit and assure ACA compliance as well.
When your team is halfway across the globe or just working from home for the day, there’s nothing like a face to face meeting to get everyone fired up and on the same page. But flying everyone to Tampa or Omaha is too rich for your blood. No problem with both of these services. Skype also has a handy chat feature which can be used for fast communications which don’t require a call. Google Hangouts are better for larger teams (more than about five or six team members). Neither Google Hangouts nor Skype charges you for long distance.
Hootsuite is a social media management dashboard. It allows you to schedule tweets, Facebook posts (even to pages), and posts to Google Plus or LinkedIn. Hootsuite also provides two free reports on engagement. Bulk scheduling allows for multiple tweets and other messages to be uploaded at any time (for the free plan, there are some limitations on this).
It’s not just for blogging anymore. WordPress is a great way to make a website or blog really shine. With numerous plugins and widgets, WordPress allows for nearly infinite customization options. And with well thought-out themes, you won’t have to worry about design, color choices, or whether your site will look good on mobile. WordPress has the means for creating graphics, adding a shopping cart, and a slideshow, too.
Keep your small business running like a top with these smart solutions.