The Definitive 2014 Small Business Toolkit
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Can you believe that we’re already more than halfway through January? Seems just like yesterday we were talking about the holidays and New Year’s resolutions. Speaking of, are you sticking with them so far? I hope so, but if you need some encouragement, let me know! :)
Free time is hard to come by as a small business owner. Things are only going to continue picking up speed this year. With tax season right around the corner, it’s more important than ever to rely on specialized tools that save you time and make your workday more productive.
That’s why I’ve prepared the definitive 2014 small business toolkit for you. Try using these tools this year, and you’ll be able to grow your business and find more free time in the process.
If you’ve got a business, that means you have customers, and you have to stay in touch with your customers on a regular basis.
One of the best ways to do that is with email. Think about it. How many times do you check your email every day? It’s often the first thing people do when they wake up and the last thing they do before going to bed.
This habitual checking makes email marketing of the easiest and most effective ways to alert your customers of company news, specials, promotions, events and other items, all at once.
Constant Contact offers an awesome email marketing software tool that allows you to easily build beautiful email newsletters. They have thousands of templates for you to choose from. They also have some powerful social media integration, analytics and survey features that keep your finger on the pulse of your dedicated customer base without taking up too much of your time.
With more and more people actively reading and posting on social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it makes sense that the need for social media marketing in the B2B and B2C spaces is growing rapidly.
You may already be active on social media. That’s great! If you’ve never used a tool like Hootsuite, you probably know from experience that you’re always having to switch from one account to the next, just to post the same info. This means your efforts can quickly become disorganized, disjointed, time-consuming and ineffective.
That’s no way to run a social media marketing campaign.
Hootsuite allows you to plug all of your social media accounts into one aggregated area, and easily post and monitor social activity across them all. You can even save time by scheduling posts in advance during the times you know your target market is most active.
Social media marketing with Hootsuite is a great way to engage and collaborate with your prospects, customers and other people interested in your company!
If you have a website, an email newsletter and social media accounts, you have to constantly publish content and promote said content to build awareness and drum up new business. This is called content marketing. And yes, you guessed it, it takes a lot of time and effort to be effective.
To make things harder, you usually have to work on your marketing all by yourself: a tactic that just doesn’t work.
Luckily for you, there’s BoostSuite.
Besides actually writing your articles, newsletters, social media posts and other nuggets of knowledge, one of the toughest things about content marketing is figuring out what topics to write about.
BoostSuite analyzes your website’s marketing strategy, identifies your most valuable keywords, helps you fix on-page SEO errors, optimizes your conversion funnel, and allows you to collaborate with 13,000+ other small business marketers to collectively build your authority.
These benefits are all extremely important for small businesses that need to streamline their marketing and generate real results.
Bonus: BoostSuite integrates easily with Bigcommerce e-commerce websites allowing you to easily promote and sell your products!
I’m sure as a small business owner you’re constantly fighting a war of attrition for deskspace with mounds of paper and receipts. Oh, and tax season is here, so now you’ve got THAT to deal with too!
With Shoeboxed, you can fight the paper clutter battle and win the deskspace war. Their service helps you go paperless, allowing you to generate and send expense reports with receipt images right from your computer or mobile device.
You can also virtually manage your contact list without having to keep that unsightly Skechers box full of business cards on your desk. Just send them in with their prepaid envelopes and they’ll take care of the rest.
Don’t stress over taxes either. Their tool organizes your receipt data making it ready for export in case of an IRS audit. Need some extra financial help? Shoeboxed gives you access to unlimited tax advice through 1800Accountant (select plans).
Bonus: Shoeboxed has an awesome Evernote integration!
You probably wear a lot of hats as a small business owner, but let’s face it, you can’t wear them all. You don’t have the time to fulfill every business responsibility, especially if you plan on maintaining a high-quality product or service.
That’s why if you ever need to outsource any work, you can find some first-class freelancers on a site like oDesk. You can get developers to build cool apps for your website, find copywriters to produce powerful marketing content, and procure the right help for pretty much any odd job you need completed.
With their recent merger with Elance, they now have an enormous base of professionals for you to choose from.
Keep in mind that it’s usually more cost-effective to hire a freelancer to make changes to your website than an agency. Plus the agency may try to upsell you or make you pay a retainer for their services.
You don’t have to deal with all that fluff with freelancers. They get in, do their job to your specifications, get paid, get out, and get started looking for the next job. They build their business through word of mouth and referral, so quality and performance usually isn’t an issue.
Do you have any other must-have tools you would add to my small business toolkit? I know there are a bunch I didn’t mention, so feel free to share your favorite tools that save you time and money to this list.
I hope you utilize all of these tools and have an organized, productive year!
About the Author
Ryan Kettler is Director of Communications for BoostSuite. Ryan is an internet marketing zealot, sports fanatic, devoted runner, avid golfer, beer connoisseur, and live music enthusiast. When he’s not helping BoostSuite customers he can be found running 5ks, sampling IPAs, and cheering on his North Carolina State Wolfpack.