Being a small business owner is constantly juggling different tasks while making sure that you perform well at all of them. At the same time, you have the titans of your industry in the background always providing both competition and concern.
Because of these two facts, success in small business means that you need to be a great multi-tasker, but also great at delegation. This means using various tools to help take some of the burden out of various tasks. In addition, by adding efficiency to some of said tasks, your business’s operations may be improved overall.
Here are some standout options — and best of all, they’re free!
1. Courses with SCORE.
SCORE is a non-profit business organization that has been around for over 50 years, and mainly focuses on providing the education and mentoring that small business owners need to get their ideas to the next level. This is all sourced from the organization’s pool of volunteer mentors, who have years of experience in business experience and are ready to help. If you want custom personal information, you can schedule a meeting in person. If time is of the essence, there are several online courses you can take as well. Best of all, these are free services.
2. HootSuite (free version).
There’s a paid option for this platform also, but we’re going to stick strictly to the options on the free version for this conversation. Social media, in a lot of ways, is a game of volume. Yes, you need to have interesting content, but you also need to be putting out content regularly. If you’re juggling Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms all at once, keeping up the content can be a real headache. HootSuite is a management platform that makes this easier to handle. The free version allows you to manage different social networks, schedule posts for the future, as well as keep track of follower interactions, turning your social media pages into a proper marketing strategy.
3. Hubspot’s CRM.
Let’s say that you have an email campaign as part of your marketing efforts. This means that you’re most likely sending out thousands of emails daily to potential prospects, whether your purpose is to inform or to create a sales conversion. Can you keep track of every single person you reach out to—when they answer their email and what their click history is? It’s impossible on this scale, but not with a proper CRM (customer relationship management) tool. This helps store information on customers and prospects that your sales and marketing team can use to customize their efforts. Details can include contact information, their industry, location, and more. This means your marketing team can spend less time looking up info and more time getting customers and clients. You can also improve your marketing efforts by connecting Hubspot with other tools via an automation platform.
4. Google Analytics.
Many marketing experts out there will harp on the importance of data for your business, and this is well-deserved. Data is what transforms a hunch into an educated guess. But how on earth are you supposed to keep track of said data? This is where Google Analytics comes in. This helps to get insight into important things like your website’s traffic, landing pages, links, search queries, and more. This information is invaluable for putting together an SEO strategy.
For those in the starting stages of their company, funding is always in the back of your mind. Some try their luck with crowdfunding, while others appeal to investors, and others blend these different tactics. One common thing that many owners choose to do is get some sort of loan, and this is where Fundera kicks in. Fundera doesn’t actually provide loans itself, but works with over 25 lenders to help find you potential options with the best rates. Think of it like those sites that help you compare airfare across different airlines.
Where Do I Find More Tools?
The things we’ve discussed so far were chosen because they have a natural general reach. Any business looking to step up their marketing efforts can experiment with these to see if a new tactic will work. But what happens if your needs run a little more niche-specific?
A good place to start is keeping your ear to the ground, so to speak, by joining as many relevant professional groups and organizations as possible. This can be as simple as a LinkedIn group or complex as a formal organization. The goal here is to surround yourself with like-minded professionals. This allows you to benefit from their knowledge, including the tools that they use to improve their businesses. A similar, solo variant on this idea is being more active with following industry blogs and publications. These will report the latest trends and tools before anyone else, letting you pick and choose what works best for your business.
Elijah Masek-Kelly is the founder of PowerfulOutreach. Elijah has a wide range of entrepreneurial experience from founder of a magazine to a furniture design company to a business advisor for international development projects, but he is currently focused on building his own startup and helping others through PowerfulOutreach.