When you start running your own business money is usually tight. So we have gathered up what we think are the best free and cheap resources to make your transition into a business owner as easy as possible:
We will start with the obvious ones. Googledocs has revolutionised document storage and sharing making it easier than ever to work on text documents, presentations, spreadsheets and more. It holds 15GB of data and being hosted in the cloud means it is accessible on any device and can be viewed and edited by multiple people at once. Perfect for collaborative projects with people from afar. Dropbox also provides a similar service if you’d rather not set up a Google account.
Googlehangouts and similar providers like Skype let you video or voice call for free. With up to 10 users at a time it is a great way to run meetings even when you cannot be in the same location and can be used as a way to build up a connection between yourself and clients before you get the chance to meet face to face.
Social media is pretty much a must have for any eCommerce business. It’s a way to listen to your customers and engage with them which in turn enhances your brand authority, loyalty and customer service in one fell swoop. It differs for every business as to what platform works best for you so do your research but the big players are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+. If you have a strong online presence across these platforms using their inbuilt analytics software you can see when your target audience are online as well as who they are meaning you can make the most of your marketing efforts. You can even step it up to paid marketing which is big business but more on that another time. That may all sound like a lot of work to manage especially when regular content needs to be posted (the only thing worse that not using social media is to have an account that isn’t used.) which leads us to our next resource…
This platform runs all your social presence in one easy to use dashboard meaning you only need to update your status once and assign it to all the social sites you wish to publish on instead of visiting them individually. It also enables you to schedule posts meaning you can enjoy your weekend knowing your twitter feed is still chirping and with Auto-scheduling Hootsuite will actually calculate when your audience is most likely to see your statuses and posts them then. Very handy!
Free 60 day trial then $20 (around £11.88) per month for basic package
Although a monthly subscription Basecamp is well known for it’s project management capabilities with over 285,000 companies using it last year alone. Use it to clearly track projects, assign to colleagues, added deadlines and sync with your calendars to keep upto date on all your operations. You can also upload files and notes meaning no more important emails getting lost as all conversations around the project are tracked within Basecamp.
With Mailchimp you can send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers a month for free and with relatively low costs for more. 6 million people use their service to send either templated campaigns or custom emails out their audience. Mailchimp can be integrated with a huge amount of services including WordPress, Gravity Forms, Facebook, Twitter, SurveyMonkey, FreshBooks, Etsy, Ebay, Paypal and plenty more meaning seamless integration across your multichannel offering and easy data capture.
The Chimpadeedoo app is a side service of Mailchimp which provides a simple, clean, customisable sign up form on your iPad which syncs to your mailing list. These are now hugely prominent at conventions and fayres and a great way to look professional and capture the data you may have lost if asked to write the details down themselves. It works offline and automatically syncs your data to your Mailchimp lists when you connect online again.
$14.95 (about £8.88) per month
Send an email to your client which contains a personal message and a link to EchoSign when they can quickly and easily sign your contracts on any device. You can track the progress of the document; whether it’s been opened, viewed, forwarded etc and all documents are stored for future reference. A great tool if you struggle with closing a project and lot of things get ‘lost in the post’.
This is a must of you have a website. SEO is such a priority these days that you need to know how you’re doing in the online world. It takes a bit of know-how but once installed correctly Google analytics tracks everything on your site. Review your customers clicks, journeys, locations, devices, gender, time on site an hundreds more stats about what is actually happening on your site day to day. This information is key to improving your website to enhance your conversions and reduce your bounce rate. If you don’t have it enabled yet we have a specialist team here at Exact that can get you on the road to website improvement with the use of Google Analytics. Give us a call.
30 day free trial and plans start at $9 (about £5.35) per month
In addition to Google Analytics Crazy Egg helps you get the most out of your website by seeing where your visitors are click, viewing and scrolling to using features like heatmaps. Where Analytics tracks a lot of the structure of your website Crazy Egg helps you find elements of your site design that may need tweaking. Maybe you’ll find people aren’t seeing your call to action when it’s blue or that the key information is too far down the page for your visitors to be bothered to scroll to. To improve your conversions you need to know key data like this to know what to change otherwise is just a guessing game.
Free for 30 days or plans starting at $20 (about £11.89) for 5 projects a month
Ever request some feedback whether it’s on a visual, a doodle, a document or anything and end up with 20+ emails from the different recipients all contradicting each other? Well Redpen is here to save the day. Instantly share, with the URL provided, and get all of your feedback in one place enabling full discussions over if the button should be orange and not red giving you a final decision instead or very confused colleagues.
by Jennifer McMillen on 11/07/2014