Running a small business is good fun! Not always, of course, I won’t lie. But help is on the way! We’ve put together a list of free or affordable tools that internet offers to alleviate the pain so we can focus on the fun. These tools help us to communicate, to bill or to analyse our business reinforcing our brand.
1. Wix, Squarespace or WordPress
Nowadays, you must have a website. Even if it’s just a basic page for your customers to find all your details. Understandably when you are a small business or starting, a website is a cost that you want to keep low. There are a lot of tools in the cyberspace that can help you, whether you are tech savvy or not.
We use WordPress, which is a website software that you upload to your hosting and through endless themes, already designed, you can create awesome websites. The good thing of WordPress is that it’s scalable and has a lot of plugins that can help you do what you don’t know how to code. The downside of WordPress is that you need to be a little bit knowledgeable, but you can follow tutorials on YouTube to help you set it up. But there is easier tools that have user-friendly interfaces and they don’t require buying hosting, a couple of examples are Wix or Squarespace.
2. MailChimp or Benchmark
Having a newsletter is a great idea. Why? Because you have a list of people that have given you permission to communicate with them. It’s important not to spam them, give them relevant and interesting information to drive them back to your website. For example your latest blog post. Having traffic back to your website will help your ranking higher on google and obviously, there will be a chance for you to close a sale. We use Benchmark, but Mailchimp is another great tool. They both very easy to use, with drag and drop content and free to start with. But there are hundreds of email marketing tools out there.
One of the tasks that used to take more time when we started was invoicing and adding expenses at the end of the month. We used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the numbers and Word to create the actual invoice. Then we discovered Wave, it is a great tool and it’s free with the possibility to add payroll and other add-ons for a reasonable fee. You can brand your documents, so they look very professional and with just couple of clicks you can create your invoice and PDF it or even send it straight from Wave.
Everybody wants to be in social media, but it can take a lot of time. We manage our social networks with Buffer. It’s a very simple website application that allows you to schedule your posts and tweets, to queue them up and be sent to a predefined time. So once a week we schedule the following week and then it’s just a matter of once a day to reply messages and posts.
5. Skype and Google Hangouts
Travelling to meetings can end up being quite expensive, and more if those meetings are just prospects that might or not end up been clients. We use Skype and Google Hangouts for video conference. This will reinforce how modern your brand is and will save to travel time and you can expand your customer base internationally.
6. Google Analytics
Google analytics… What to say? It is a good tool to measure your website performance and your marketing efforts.
7. Google apps
Google apps is a great tool for small businesses. You can have email, documents, calendar and drive sync in one tool. We use it for stuff that need to be shared.
Insightly is a ‘start for free’ CRM (Customer Relationship Management) that includes a project management tool. Using a CRM is great to keep track of your prospects and automate communications before and after they convert into clients.
9. DropBox or Box
10. Moo or Vistaprint
As a small business, you may need business cards, but you think the details might change when you get a new office space. We’ll we always recommend our customers to use Moo or Vistaprint as you can order small runs of printed items. We think Moo’s quality is better and they offer really lovely finishes, however Vistaprint is a bit cheaper and they offer a lot more.
What tools do you use?
If you use any interesting tools that we’ve not listed we would love to hear about them. Leave a comment below!