Fortunately, there are a number of inexpensive (even free) products on the web that can assist entrepreneurs in various tasks. From streamlining your financials to making you a better social media marketer, the following tools and products are a godsend for entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level:
Social media and relationships
Social Media Marketer – Founded by social media expert Laura Roeder, Social Media Marketer is an online classroom and community that teaches small businesses how to do social media right. It’s packed with courses and tutorials that instruct entrepreneurs on how to build a following and get more customers using various social tools. Best of all, Social Media Marketer is also a community made up of other entrepreneurs and experts who are always happy to offer guidance and answer questions.
Buffer – Buffer is a great tool for the busy entrepreneur who still wants to get stay on top of social media. It lets you schedule posts with one click, right from your browser window, saving you time and effort. Buffer also offers simple analytics that tell you which of your tweets are getting the most clicks and interactions.
MailChimp – More and more businesses are seeing the value in mailing lists. They allow you to keep in touch with shoppers, provide updates, send coupons, and just stay in the radar of customers. If you’re thinking about email marketing for your business, MailChimp is a great option because not only does it offer a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers, it’s also very user friendly and allows you to create forms with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Small Business Bodyguard – As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to deal with a lot of legal issues. You need to pay taxes, implement contracts, obtain licenses or permits, put disclaimers and policies, and generally just cover your butt so you don’t get sued or get slapped with a huge fine. Unfortunately, getting a lawyer to help you do all those things can cost you an arm and a leg. That’s where Small Business Bodyguard comes in. It’s an incredible resource that offers lawyer-drafted and peer reviewed sample agreements, legal templates, sample disclaimers and policies, checklists, and more. Best of all, it’s presented in a fun, easy-to-understand manner, so you won’t fall asleep or get lost in all that legalese.
DocuSign – Getting documents signed and ready can be a pain when the parties involved are miles away from each other. Fortunately, DocuSign’s electronic signature solution makes things a whole lot easier. Just email the documents to your recipients, have them sign electronically, and you’re set. Signatures made through the service comply with the ESIGN act, and DocuSign has been tested and certified by a number of trusted entities, including TRUSTe and the US Department of Commerce Safe Harbor.
Vend – Looking to level-up your retail store? Consider swapping your cash register for Vend, an iPad-based point-of-sale software that lets you accept various forms of payments (cash, credit cards, PayPal), strengthen customer relationships, and manage inventory. It even links to your eCommerce site. Vend’s POS hardware and software solution is easy to set up and you can always get assistance from the company’s experts and consultants to help you get started.
Freshbooks – Aside from offering a simple invoicing tool, Freshbooks has some great time and expense management features that enable you to log how much time or money you spent on a job, making it easier to generate reports and invoices. It even has a mobile app that lets you manage your accounting on the go. Plus, if you’re getting paid via PayPal, you can send your invoices via Freshbooks and only pay 50 cents regardless of the amount, instead of PayPal’s usual cut of 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee.
Shoeboxed – Organizing receipts, business cards, and other paper documents isn’t fun. Good thing there’s Shoeboxed, a service that can digitize, categorize, and archive your paperwork, making it easier for you to find and store your documents. It’s an essential service, especially during tax season when you have to stay on top of your paperwork, deductions, and filings.
LiveChat – Boost the customer service in your business with live chat. According to recent data, “Live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.” One of the leading companies offering it is LiveChat, a service that lets you add a customizable chat box to your website, so you can assist visitors while they’re browsing your store. It even lets you have a LiveChat tab to your Facebook Page so you can further engage your fans.
Rapportive – Add more personal touches to your client emails with Rapportive, a plug-in that displays descriptions and social media information about your Gmail contacts in your email interface, allowing you to further personalize your messages. For example, if you’re typing an email to John Smith, Rapportive will show links to his social accounts, websites, and posts, so you can find information to reference to and customize your messages even more.