I’ve put together this list of four tools I think are essential for anyone running their own business. I’m fairly certain you won’t have come across of most of them before, so you’ll hopefully find something new and interesting that’s worth a try. And as I use most of them myself, I can vouch first-hand for how useful they are.
I’ve tried to pick things that cover different aspects of running a small business, be it your website, press and PR, sales, and most important of all, getting paid.
According to latest research, more people now own a mobile phone than a toothbrush. Along with the death of the High Street and this huge surge in the use of smartphones, your company website is now a vital part of your business’ success.
But how do you ensure your website has the kind of content your visitors want? And, more importantly, content that turns these visitors into paying customers?
A good starting point is Google Analytics. It will give you a comprehensive overview of where your visitors come from and what they do on your site. But I’d also thoroughly recommend taking a look at CRAZY EGG (bit of an odd name, but a really handy tool).
With Crazy Egg’s heatmap you can see exactly what people click on when they’re on your site (and also what they don’t). You can see how far people scroll down your pages, and where they stop. Simply put, it’s the best tool available for understanding exactly what users do on your site and how they interact with you content.
And with prices from as little as £6 a month it’s definitely worth taking a closer look.
It can be notoriously hard for small businesses to grab a spot in the limelight. And along with everything else that a small business owner has to do, PR isn’t always top of the list. Which is where JustReachOut comes in.
I came across this tool a few months ago whilst listening to a podcast on growth hacking. The man behind it managed to grow his own company from 0 to over 40 million page views, before selling it to Google. So it’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about PR.
In a nutshell JustReachOut is a search engine for finding journalists. All you need to do is enter a keyword relevant to your business and this tool will comb the web and find all the articles, media outlets and journalists that are writing about it.
You’ll also get all their contact details (email, Twitter handle, etc). And if that isn’t enough to sway your vote, the tool even provides a ready-made template for getting in touch with these journalists too.
Although the pricing is a little steep (starting from £45 a month), it’s definitely worth checking out the 7 day free trial to see if this is something for you.
PIPEDRIVE is a one stop shop for managing everything sales related in your business. It’s incredibly quick and easy to create a sales pipeline and forecast for the months ahead. Plus with the iOS and Android apps you can work from anywhere.
You can also categorise deals based on the different stages they’re at, including “idea”, “meeting arranged”, “needs discovered”, “proposal delivered”, or “offer accepted”. If none of these suit you can customise things and add your own ones.
Using the software’s filters you can see pipelines for individuals, specific products or specific timelines (eg. “new deals added this week”).
The drag and drop interface makes it dead simple to move deals along your pipeline, and you can integrate the tool with Google Apps and Google Docs.
Prices start from under £10 a month, but there’s also a free 30 day trial available.
Having done all of the above, the last thing you want to have to spend your precious time and effort on is getting paid.
Using an Excel template is fine, but it’s inefficient and requires a lot of manual input (filling out the invoice, printing it, attaching it to an email…). It may not sound like much, but small business owners currently spend up to 28 hours a week on these sorts of admin tasks.
With ZERVANT you can create and send invoices in under 30 seconds. Following up on late payments and managing all your expenses is also a breeze. And as it’s cloud-based you can manage your business finances from anywhere.
Sign up for a free trial and you’ll get 30 days of unlimited invoicing. If you find it’s a good fit for your business, prices start from as little as £5 a month.
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