In this guest post, entrepreneur Gloria Koop reveals the pick of online tools that can give any business – large or small – a badly needed kick along…
Being an entrepreneur is definitely not an easy undertaking – and, when I finally took the leap and started my own business a few years ago, I felt terrified, stressed and alone. I really had no idea what I was doing, and there was a lot of trial and error – A LOT. If I only knew then what I know now, I’m sure I would have found success much sooner, with the help of this fabulous thing we call the Internet, and all of the amazing – and sometimes FREE! – tools you can find online.
Here are some of the hidden treasures I like to turn to, even now.
You don’t have to spend a ton on marketing your business, especially if you’ve got happy customers who are willing to do the advertising for you. Let your customers do the talking, telling others about their experiences with you. It’s also a great way to respond to your critics or anyone who’s had a not-so-great experience with your business – politely and professionally, of course. The best part, besides being free, is that, because they’re real customers, they lend a certain level of legitimacy to their reviews.
- Google My Business
Let the world’s biggest search engine help you connect with your customers through your business profile, outlining your hours, location and other information. The more complete your profile on here is, the higher you’ll also rank on Google searches. And, you guessed it, it’s free, free, free!
In recent years, blogging has become vital to the success of a small business. You can easily increase your brand awareness and reach, simply by providing useful information to people. You don’t have to be a professional writer or web designer to create a fancy schmancy blog through WordPress. It’s simple, looks great and is – my favorite word – FREE!
Starting and growing a business involves so many moving parts – and things that you may not have even realized or considered. What I wouldn’t have done to have known about this incredible resource when I first started out. SCORE gives small businesses the helping hand they sometimes need to get off the ground, by providing free confidential, business advice, mentorship and no- or low-cost business training and education.
I’m no professional when it comes to writing. I mean, I know a lot about my business and what I can offer, but sometimes I just can’t get my ideas down into words. That’s where a little help from this business writing tool will come in handy. When I want everything to sound perfect, I rely on the pros over at EssayRoo to give me exactly what I need. For quality, reliability and professionally written work, they’re simply amazing.
Whether you’re a newbie to the entrepreneurial world, or a seasoned veteran, you can search for and find straightforward, agenda-free, business education and advice on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. Get advice on writing business plans, tips for entrepreneurs, and reliable information about financing your business.
Chances are, you don’t have access to unlimited funds, so you will more than likely need to get the money to finance your business from somewhere or someone. There are a few tools to help you make that happen. Crowdfunding has become huge recently. It’s a great way to bring together people who support your business endeavors and involve them in the process. Free to set up, Kickstarter takes a small percentage of what you raise, but only if your campaign is fully funded.
Investors and job seekers alike can search through startups using AngelList. And, when your business is in need of capital to grow, this online resource can help match you with an angel investor.
You’ve got to have a great product or service to offer your customers, but you’ve got to attract them to you in the first place. That’s where incredible design comes in… and you don’t need to hire or be a professional to create some dazzling designs. Infographics are all the rage, and I always thought they must have taken a real pro tons of painstaking hours in front of a computer screen to create. But I was so wrong because, with Piktochart, even the most un-designy person can put together an awesome infographic. Free templates make it quick and easy.
- Boom Essays
If putting together something in writing is stressing you out, leave it to the professionals at Boom Essays. They’ll assign someone to your project who is an expert in the field, so they know what they’re talking about.
Out of sight, out of mind – this old adage could not be truer in the world of small business. You’ve got to always stay at the forefront of your customer’s mind. Email tools make it easy for you to communicate with your customer base and stay in front of their eyes. Templates, analytics and easy personalization make MailChimp one of the best email tools around. Even better because it’s free, MailChimp lets you send up to 12,000 personalized emails to 2,000 subscribers with a few clicks.
Is your mailbox getting completely bombarded by junk mail? Unroll me bundles up your email subscriptions into daily summaries, so you can quickly sort through and keep your inbox clutter-free.
You can’t be everywhere at once – or can you? Handy communication tools help you stay in touch, no matter where you are. The pioneering internet calling service, it is still the standard for video conferencing. Whether you prefer simple voice calls or more personal video calling, Skype is free and easy to use.
One thing that nearly everyone knows, almost from birth it seems, is that lawyers are expensive. When legal costs are too much of a burden for your new business, you can look online for a little relief. Basic agreements and other legal documents are available through Docracy’s open source collection. Once you can afford to, you will want to get them professionally looked at, but for the time being, any contract is better than no contract for your business.
Now that you’ve got customers willing to buy from you, how do you make that transaction happen? There are some money management resources who will let you try out their services for free. Probably the most recognized name in online transactions, Paypal opens up a whole new world of online sales opportunities for your business. And, my new customers online feel a lot more comfortable buying from me when they see the Paypal name they trust and recognize.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things so differently. But that’s what learning is all about, isn’t it? And, now I can pass on the lessons that I’ve learned to you, to hopefully make your leap into the world of entrepreneurship that much easier.
Gloria Kopp is a web content writer and an e-learning consultant from Manville City. She graduated from University of Wyoming and started a career of a creative writer. She has recently launched her Studydemic educational website and is currently working as a part-time content writer and an editor at Essayroo Australian writing service.