14 Tools/Resources That Every Small Business Owner Should Look Into
General Resources for Your Small Business
Where you turn for information, for help, for financial assistance, advertising assistance, technological help, all of it is critical to the success of your business. Especially if you are a newer company, you need all of the resources that you can get your hands on. Don't be afraid to seek out these vital tools as you work to get your company up and running and/or help it to thrive. Below are fourteen key toolsresources we've identified about which every small company should know.
Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the chamber of commerce in your local town/neighborhood is actually to help small businesses get noticed, get their names out there and get connected to local people. Not to mention, it is a great way to approach other entrepreneurs in your region. More of grassroots, old school route to networking and advertising, the Chamber of Commerce is still an incredible resource for any local company.
The Small Business Administration is a wonderful place to start especially if you're interested in getting financial help. They offer SBA backed loans which make it a bit easier for banks to qualify smaller companies. But that is certainly not all they offer; in fact, they have mentorship programs, business training, counseling among other helpful services to those especially who may be just starting out as an entrepreneur.
The more active you can be right within your community, the better. There are bound to be business related as well as industry-based associations that you can join and thus connect with your peers in meaningful ways. You can discuss the latest trends and practices, find out industry news and most importantly, network.
Did you know that more and more community colleges are offering adult programs geared toward helping business owners better navigate everything from their specific field, to technology, to the marketing arena? Seeing what your local community college has to offer and how subsequently this might help you in your business endeavors is never a bad move.
Resources to Help with Marketing
The one thing really every business needs in this day and age is a means of tracking customer patterns, buying behaviors and all of the other such data that contributes to a fuller understanding of your clients. Google analytics provides all of this and more. And while you may not be conversant with how to use it, you can always hire help by way of a Big Data specialist.
Are you having trouble keeping up with your social media calendar? There certainly are a lot of moving parts to it. And so rather than tear your hair out trying to keep up with your Twitter feed and Instagram posts, you can utilize a tool such as Buffer to pre-schedule all of your posts by the week or even month. It's quite affordable and ever so handy to have.
If you've wanted to create emails, newsletters, even event flyers that don't look as though they were homemade then this is the tool for you. Canva is a design tool that even amateurs can utilize with great results! They offer thousands of templates and graphics from which to choose to help your company put its most professional-looking foot forward.
A bit more complex to use than Canva, Pixlr is actually one step away from Photoshop, but a little more user-friendly. Not to mention, it's a lot less expensive than Photoshop. So if you don't have a ton of graphics or photo-based projects and would prefer a slightly simpler scaled down Photoshop substitute then this one is definitely worth checking out.
Learn how to read your customers' minds with SurveyMonkey—quite literally find out what they want, what they're thinking, their assessment of a given product and/or service. Feedback is everything in this digital day and age and with SurveyMonkey, you facilitate how and when you are able to gather said feedback from customers so that you can then respond and make changes accordingly.
When you need to send out a lot of emails, the task that lay ahead may seem rather tedious. This is where MailChimp comes into play—the email marketer's best friend. Their basic email plan is actually free with pro packages that are well worth it starting at only $199/month.
As far as customer relationship management platforms go—there really is none better than HubSpot. Take all of that otherwise random data lying around, floating about otherwise meaningless and consolidate; in other words, use it to your advantage with this platform. One of the best CRMs on the market today without question.
Human Resources Tools to Help You
Managing your employee data, payroll, onboarding protocol, benefits, and all other associated material can get dizzying. BambooHR compiles all such information and allows you to manage it quite effectively—not to mention easily. Plus there is an app version which makes keeping track of employee data even simpler and more convenient yet.
Finding new hires can seem impossible. Sifting through mountains of resumes, finding someone who is "not quite" what you're looking for…ZipRecruiter does the sifting for you. They do the heavy lifting leaving you with the best and brightest candidates available. This makes your job a whole lot easier and allows you to focus on really identifying the top applicants.
Gusto is all about simplifying your payroll. One of the very worst things you can do is run into issues with paying people on time and the right amount. This allows you to keep on top of things and easily add new contractors and/or employees as well.
Whether your business is completely online or you have a brick and mortar operation, you are going to need the right tools for the right jobs. This list is by no means exhaustive. There are tons of tools out there designed to make an entrepreneur's life much easier. And even as your business grows, you will have even more needs and require more extensive resources. It is always okay to look for help wherever you can! At First Union, we love helping businesses whether it's with advice or financial assistance. Call today to find out what we can do for you!