Must-Have Online Tools to Grow Your Business
You’re starting a business and realizing there are many costs you weren’t anticipating. It seems everything comes with a fee or subscription price or is a large financial investment you can’t get around. Don't get discouraged, though; there are a number of free and cheap online tools that are outstanding resources to support your business's growth and success.
Cloud storage (as opposed to hard-drive storage) is one of the best means of backing up your important files. When you're choosing a cloud storage provider, keep in mind the security, manageability and UX design of the software and services. Specific features you want your cloud storage service provider to offer:
- File versioning, which is helpful if you find yourself constantly making adjustments to your files. File versioning allows you to edit without overwriting your old files, but rather saving multiple copies of the file as it undergoes changes.
- Automatic syncing, collaboration tools, security and file encryption, flexible storage capacity and reliable tech support.
Do your due diligence and compare cloud storage solutions to get the best deal without sacrificing the best features.
Hootsuite is a social media management system that helps you to track and manage your organization's social media profiles and activities. Hootsuite offers a single stream by which you can manage your company's Facebook, Googe+, LinkedIn and Twitter with ease. You can even view your various streams and post updates and responses to customer engagement, all from the Hootsuite user interface.
As a business, it is vital to your online presence that you have a contiguous online social media brand, and that you are always on top of your various social media profiles and responding to customers and fans. For those businesses that have an entire team managing their social media, Hootsuite makes it easy for everyone to work together and collaborate on posts — it can even manage multiple accounts from a single service, so if for example your company has multiple Twitter handles, Hootsuite can manage all of them at once.
Your website is the opportunity to provide potential customers and investors with an in-depth, detailed view of your company. Rather than paying a Web developer to create your website, you can utilize website builder services such as Squarespace. Squarespace, an SaaS-based content management system, offers clean and appealing templates that enhance the design element of your site. Squarespace is designed to support websites that feature a variety of content, including pages, galleries, blogs, e-commerce and calendars. The site allows for social connections with built-in link icons for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Dropbox, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Yelp, and it supports simultaneous posting. You can test it out with a free trial, and, if it works out, pay for a premium plan that starts at $8 per month.
Software costs can be sky high, but it is necessary to at least have basic Office Suite programs for your business. But instead of shelling out for Microsoft's latest offering, get word processing, spreadsheets and presentation documents for free through the cloud with Google Docs. Google's budget-friendly answer to Microsoft's flagship product provides you with all the templates you need to create polished business materials and charts, linking them to your Google account. They’re easy to share because you can grant access to view or edit the documents to your colleagues via email. You can collaborate and all work on the same document together online, keeping one another updated to changes in the moment. It takes away the headache of keeping track of thumb drives or uploading and sending files via email. The programs are quick, user-friendly and effective, which makes it a fantastic tool for any business owner.
Time tracking can be one of the most difficult aspects of running a small business, especially when you're first experiencing growth and new employees are hired. Harvest offers an online time-tracking system with one-click entry that can be accessed from anywhere, making telecommuting and remote work easier than ever. For management, Harvest makes viewing and approving timesheets easy, and it can also automatically remind employees to submit their timesheets to you. Harvest gives you the ability to analyze your timesheets and see exactly how your organization is spending time — simply turn on filters to sort hours by billable, non-billable, employee or contractor, and you'll see in percentages exactly where your payroll budget is going. Finally, Harvest can even handle invoicing clients for your staff's billable hours on projects, making billing easy and quick for you.
What are some of your favorite tools? Tell us in the comments below!