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5 Small Business Tools You Can Get for Cheap

5 Small Business Tools You Can Get for Cheap

For small businesses all around the country, saving money is a huge deal. Monthly budgets often come down to just a few hundred dollars of leeway, which means one step in the right or wrong direction can mean the difference between staying afloat and crashing down. Thus, affordable tools can be a huge asset.

Here are some small business tools that you’ll want to try.

1. Website Builders

If you don’t have any experience or background in web development and design, then building a website from scratch can seem like an unrealistic proposition. Where do you even start?

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The good news is that there are lots of website builders available online. According to an expert review site, the three top website builders for small businesses are Weebly, Wix, and Webs. Each has their own pros and cons, but they’re all cost-effective and highly intuitive.

2. Social Media Automation

Social media is a critically important component of many small businesses, but it’s also highly time-consuming and frustrating. There simply aren’t enough resources to successfully manage all of the responsibilities that come with social media. This is where automation tools come into play.

With free social media automation tools, you can put some of your responsibilities on auto pilot while tending to the tasks that need your full attention. Some of the top time-saving tools include Socialoomph, Post Planner, and Buffer.

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These tools do things like help you schedule social media posts ahead of time, track keywords, automate following, identify social influencers, and more. When properly optimized, you can achieve the same results as manual social media management with much less time.

3. Business Planning

Trying to conduct business planning without a formal department dedicated to the tasks and responsibilities can seem impossible. However, if you have the right tools at your disposal, it can instantly become easier.

The first tool you need to know about is Bplans. With Bplans, you can download free business plan templates, pitch presentation templates, SWOT analysis forms, and other related guides on starting, funding, and scaling businesses. The second tool is Enloop, which allows you to write detailed business plans without much knowledge of the process. It also gives you a three-year financial forecasting report and free business plan grade.

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4. Graphic Design

Not a graphic designer? Don’t worry. There are a ton of free graphic design tools online, but there are two you really need to know about: Canva and Piktochart.

Canva is a free tool that lets you use preformatted templates to create a variety of marketing materials that look like they came straight from a professional designer. Whether it’s brochures, marketing flyers, social media banners, or anything in between, Canva has you covered.

Piktochart lets you design immersive infographics with no knowledge of the design process. Simply use beautiful templates and drag and drop various elements to create a shareable piece of artwork that draws people back to your business.

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5. File Storage

What do you do with all those pesky files? Well, there’s no longer any reason to e-mail files to yourself or to use an inconvenient floppy disk or USB drive. All you need is the right cloud file storage solution. According to one review site, the best options include Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box. Each has its own storage limits and requirements, so find one that works for you.

Arm Yourself with the Right Tools

Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to spend thousands of dollars on small business tools in order to be competitive. All it takes is some patience and a willingness to search for the right solution. There are plenty of opportunities to find free tools, and you should use as many of them as possible. Once you find a handful that you really like, you may even be able to spend a few dollars per month to unlock premium features. Not only does it help you make better decisions in choosing business tools, it also allows you to control your expenses.

Featured photo credit: Pexels.com via static.pexels.com

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Anna Johansson

Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends.

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Published on November 20, 2018

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

Stop manually tracking your spending.

Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

  1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
  2. Only buy nice things after saving
  3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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