As an entrepreneur and leader within your company, you’ve got plenty of hats to wear. But just as important as keeping a tight grip over your day-to-day operations and goings on is knowing when – and how – to reduce your workload through free and paid tools to help influence your company’s growth and future prosperity. There’s no shortage of productivity, finance, organization, and communication tools and services available online in this modern era, so knowing where to begin with easy-to-implement solutions to keep your operations running smoothly should be your top priority. Here are 7 killer small business software programs that could make your business run a little easier.
The premiere automated email marketing solution for organizations large and small, Mailchimp provides next-level analytics, tracking, and A/B split testing for gorgeous email campaigns. It’s simple, straightforward, and incredibly powerful, making it a dream tool for busy business owners.
Another strong advantage of using Mailchimp to deliver email updates and marketing materials is the number of e-commerce and social media plug-ins that automatically tie in with your email list, instantly populating the list with new sign-ups and sending automated responses welcoming new customers.
Even if you don’t yet have an email marketing list, you should absolutely implement Mailchimp to collect incoming email addresses and keep your current customer contact information in a safe, central location. You never know – your loyal customers may become very important to your marketing efforts as your company changes and grows.
Just because your new company has its social media accounts locked down doesn’t mean you’ve got a blank check to grow and attract customers through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Hootsuite brings social media engagement, analytics, content publishing, and insights all under one roof.
By bringing all of your social media accounts into Hootsuite, you and your team can divide and conquer on all fronts of social engagement. You can monitor and track mentions for your brand or specific keywords across nearly every platform, assign the instances to individuals for follow-up, and schedule pertinent posts all at once. It’s free to get started and can expand in features and functionality as your company gets larger and its needs become more complex.
The saying “the customer is always right” is something you have to learn as a business owner. Fortunately, you’ll be able to easily communicate and manage your customer interactions with a quick trip to Zendesk.
By bringing in all of your company’s public-facing emails and service requests under one roof, you and your team can organize and more effectively manage all customer service tickets and issues as they arrive. You’re also able to chat in real time, providing feedback and insights when they’re needed most. Finally, Zendesk integrates with plenty of other services, helping your customer data pool grow organically and effectively.
Starting a business – especially your first – can be a complex financial web that blurs the lines between personal expenditures and business-related purchases. Of course, keeping that organized and segmented is an essential step to getting any company off the ground. Outside of the standard Quickbooks/Excel tools your accountants know and love, using globalVCard to manage and maintain your business’ expenses and spending in real time can provide a distinct edge over check and invoice methods of billing and payment processing. Plus, you’ll be able to authorize multiple users for a single account, meaning you’ll never have to worry about who has the company credit card at any given time. It’s powerful and concise – the perfect combination for the busy entrepreneur.
Azure Machine Learning – Cortana Analytics Suite
Machine learning and data science are still relatively new concepts to small business owners, but the potential upsides are huge. Only recently has Microsoft released the Cortana Analytics Suite, which combines best-in-class data analytics tools with user-friendly interfaces that don’t require a computer science degree to manipulate. By using your company’s existing customer, sales, and marketing data, you’ll be able to build and modify models to better prepare your company for those major decisions that will come with business growth and development.
Business intelligence that’s not only fast and flexible, but adapts to your customers’ changing needs and desires is essential for success in any market – Azure Machine Learning just makes it accessible to companies of any size for the very first time.
A website is useless unless it works for you. Your business’ website is the digital extension of your services, aiding customers during their research process and guiding them to the best information about your company, but unless you know where they’re coming from, how they’re using your site, and most importantly, what’s stopping them from converting, it might as well be a glowing neon sign among a sea of lights.
Google Analytics is a free tool, but it’s also incredibly powerful. Tracking user acquisitions, analyzing real-time traffic, and creating conversion funnels will help your team better understand and react to how customers are using your site and help you make decisions to improve their experience – and your bottom line.
The ultimate Swiss Army Knife solution for team communication, Slack brings an ultra-flexible approach to standard chat apps, allowing users to customize not only their workspace and frequency of notifications, but they can take advantage of easy-to-use integrations with existing services and platforms they’re already using at work.
The end result is Slack resembles a modern-day switchboard operator, providing access to messages, notifications, and alerts across hundreds of services and modes of communication. Even email, SMS messages, and video calling via Skype or Google Hangouts can be used within Slack’s always improving Mac, PC, and mobile apps. Not only does Slack work nicely for communicating with team members, it can also serve as a central hub for marketing materials, stylesheets, logos, and documents as your company adds staff. Try it – you’ll love it.
What does your business use to succeed despite financial restrictions and logistics shortcomings?
Randy Pennington is a business performance expert, award-winning author and speaker, and leading authority on leadership, culture, and change. Through his engaging articles, books, and presentations, Randy teaches companies and associations how to make change work within their organization; achieve positive results; effectively lead through transformation efforts; and build a strong organizational culture to safeguard success.