Starting a business can be an exciting time in your life, it can also be quite prosperous should you take the right steps to help ensure a successful outcome. Some of the necessary steps required are organizational in nature: organizational skills, time management, task management, client management and most importatly finance management… these are all crucial to your success.
Thankfully, there are online business tools available to make your life easier. We did some research into what you need andwhat the experts use to help manage their business lives and have compiled it into a list.
A Social Media Platform
Social media sites alone are tools, but now a days there seems to be too many to keep up with on daily basis. But don’t worry, there are tool that can streamline your social media efforts to make managing social media easier. There are a few online tools on the market to help, one of the most popular and easy to use is Hootsuite. Hootsuite will let you manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts easily through one service (instead of logging in and posting to each one individually).
Email marketing is crucial to both stay in touch with clients, send new updates, and to advertise or upsell to them. A popular and simple to use tool for email marketing is MailChimp. MailChimp allows you to manage your contact list, and allow opt-ins and opt-outs, taking the manual list management out of your hands. They also have a ton of cool email templates to choose from to customize your needs.
In case you have issues with emails going into spam, they have a sub-company to help you with that. MainDrill is the king or queen of making sure your emails get delivered and don’t end up in spam.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
As your client base grows it becomes harder and harder to remember the conversations you have with your clients, appointments and the tasks required to be completed for those clients. CRM platforms like SalesForce allow you to seamlessly manage client data and tasks all in one place. Their services help companies with global customer communication. The CRM products include cloud-based solutions and apps for sales, service, marketing, collaboration, analytics, and building custom apps and mobile apps.
Online Billing Management
Online invoicing (or billing) management is necessary for keeping track of your financials, and using it is not only essential for management, it will also makes tax-time a whole lot easier. BillGrid.com is a popular and very handy service that easily allows you to invoice online (making it super easy for clients to pay with a click of a button), track all revenue and expenses as well as time tracking for all work and budgets.
- An easy online billing solution
- Unlimited Invoices & Estimates
- Unlimited Expenses
- Unlimited Client and Project Accounts
- Time Tracking
- Budget Tacking
- Professional Custom Theme Design invoices
- Email reminders
- Recurring Subscription Invoices
- Payment Integration with Authorize.net, Stripe Google Wallet and PayPal
A toll-free number makes you business look professional, and makes it easy for your clients to contact you…some services even allow tracking for marketing purposes. There are many toll-free service out there, but one of the best by far is Dial800.com, Not only can your potential customers easily reach you, Dial800 allows you multiple numbers and integrated Analytics tracking so that you can isolate exactly how they came to learn about you, making your marketing dollars make sense.
Once your clients reach you, you may need to schedule meetings with them, or with other partners and employees within the company. Online business meetings can be easily handled with VOIP services such as Skype, but more elaborate meeting with extensive document and screen sharing can be best handled with a service such as Gotomeeting.com. GoToMeeting provides the VOIP experience, plus screen sharing, document sharing, white-boards, and video calling. It’s the closest to have a meeting in the same room as you can get.
File Sharing & Storage
Being able to seamlessly share and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets across multiple devices is essential to your business. The best solution for this is Google Drive / Google Docs. With Google Drive (including Docs, Spreadsheets, etc), you can share documents with coworkers or clients, set permission levels, and never have to actually send a file…simply add them as an authorized user to any individual file.
Need to meet like-minded people, investors, or source new clients? Then you need to network. There is an online tool for that, too. It’s called Meetup. Meetup makes it simple for business people like you to organize a local group or find one of the thousands of groups already set-up.
Sometimes, especially when business is good, you need a little help, outsourcing work online is a great way to get the work done, without committing to hire a long-term employee. Upwork.com is a well-known and easy to use resource with thousands and thousands of highly qualified freelancers across many different talent pools. Simply choose a qualified freelancer, set specific terms for the project, agree to a fee to be paid, then Upwork will hold those funds in trust until you are satisfied with the work. The freelancer does not receive payment until the payment is done.
These are just a few of many tools that you can use to make your start-up a little easier to manage. Keeping organized and streamlined is also a definite requirement to succeed in the business world. We hope these suggestions help you on your path to success, whatever your business may be.