Whether your business is personal, retail or online, there is no question that you can save time and money, and be much more productive, by using online tools.
These tools have opened access to enterprise for many more people. In the past to keep track of customers, accounts and communications you’d probably have needed to employ people. Now, with a relatively small budget, and a little investment of time upfront, you can do most of those tasks yourself in your downtime on a smartphone.
Here are our top tips for the 6 essential online tools to consider for your new business. Most have free or low cost versions you can try out to get started.
Every business needs a website. Even if you’re not selling online, potential customers may want to check you out before committing. Your own website is the place where you can control your public face. As a minimum, outline your services and team, include some testimonials or reviews, and have a contact form.
These days you can easily put together a smart-looking site yourself with a DIY website builder like Wix. Those website builders are click and drag, so you do not need any coding skills.
If your business is primarily online, then effective SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is essential. A blog, updated with regular new content, integrated into your website is one of the best ways to improve SEO. You’d also be advised to use WordPress as your website builder, as it is known to rank better on Google search.
Customer contacts CRM
Customer relationship management tools like Hubspot are invaluable to your new business. You learn your customer’s name, address, phone number, social media profiles, and so much more. All of this information is stored, along with any contact you have with your customers, and neatly analysed. It gives you a clear overview of how to engage with your customers and keep them coming back for more of your product, service, or content.
Newsletters are still a hugely popular way for customers to learn more about a particular subject and business. Many of them enjoy getting these newsletters and voluntarily sign up with a lot of enthusiasm. Tools like Get Response are ideal for managing your newsletter campaigns, in a way that responds to what customers are interested in.
Online accounting software
All businesses, even side-businesses, need to keep financial records and report profits to the tax authorities (HMRC in the UK). Accounting software for startups, such as Botkeeper, streamlines everything so that you can have all of your accounting records in one place. Botkeeper even lets you integrate its own program with other programs so that you can get the most out of both. They use advanced human-assisted AI to give you a combination of a professional accountant with powerful software tools to analyse your books and maximise your profitability.
Project management and team working
Project management is another term for the bundle of tasks involved in moving your business forward. Whether that’s a solo endeavour or something you are doing with others, a project management tool is going to help enormously. Trello is a popular tool for startups. Trello helps you break down all the tasks and put them into a practical flow chart, that you can review and update. If you have a team, it’s a fantastic platform for collaboration and communication around your plans.
Social media management
Today’s businesses need to have a strong social media presence. A service like Hootsuite can integrate all of your social media channels together into one easy to manage platform. They have professional and enterprise level solutions that do as little or as much as you want to create successful social media campaigns. And we all know just how important social media is to today’s mobile and web users.
These 6 essential tools will get your business off to a solid start. They will help you to reach out to customers, handle your accounting in a responsible way that shows you areas you need to work on, and manage business development and growth in real time.
It’s hard to imagine starting a business without online tools these days. These are our top tips to get started. There are many more tools in each of the 6 categories we’ve outlined, with bespoke versions often available for particular types of business. Do your research, try out free versions first, find the best tools for your business and get your business off to the best start that you possibly can.