• Wed, Jul 08, 2020
  • Tools To Help You Manage And Market Your Small Business.
  • Article by Moe Ghani, published in Forbes on June 30, 2020.

    Whether you’ve been in business for a while or you are just getting ready to open a new venture, running a business is expensive. For brick-and-mortar businesses, this is especially true when you factor in the cost of building space, equipment, inventory and employees.

    If you plan to expand your business, you’ll need to raise the necessary capital or apply for small-business funding, and for that, you’ll need a solid business plan to show how you will sustain and grow the business.

    Let’s not forget the day-to-day operations of running a business. It can all quickly become overwhelming. The good news is, there are a lot of free or low-cost tools available to help small-business owners. In this article, I’ll discuss a few budget-friendly tools to help manage your operations, accounting and marketing.

    Project And Team Management

    Team management tools are a good fit for businesses in any industry, but they can be especially useful in businesses with high turnover, such as the hospitality industry and retail. When new employees come on board, they can easily see what the person in the role before them was doing. They will see how the entire team works together and supports each other. Most importantly, they can be brought up to speed quickly.

    Asana is a feature-rich platform that allows managers or business owners to create projects, assign roles and tasks, and more. This platform allows managers to assign tasks via email or the smartphone app and send attachments via both of those methods. Other project management tools for business owners on a tight budget include Trello and Airtable.

    These kinds of platforms give your projects direction and also store project history. When choosing a team management tool, make sure it can integrate with any other business apps you may already be using.

    Accounting And Bookkeeping

    For startup businesses and small businesses, hiring a full-time accountant to manage invoicing, payments and other accounting tasks might not be practical. However, doing all these tasks on your own as the business owner isn’t practical, either. If you try to tackle too many administrative tasks on your own, you spend more time working in your business instead of on your business.

    Platforms like FreshBooks and Wave offer affordable cloud-based accounting services including financial reporting. For service industry businesses and solo practitioners, FreshBooks’ time tracking tool is especially effective. The feature allows you to track every second you are at work, so you get a clear picture on how much time you are spending on each client’s project. Use this data when preparing proposals for new prospective clients so that you charge enough for your services.

    Graphic Design And Marketing Creation

    When it comes to creating eye-catching, branded marketing collateral, free and low-cost websites and platforms are a small-business owner’s best friend. For example, platforms like Canva can be used to create event flyers, direct mail pieces, social media graphics and brochures.

    As you are creating your marketing masterpieces, you can also turn to Pixabay.com for royalty-free images to use with your designs. The website has 1.8 million images available and offers video footage and illustrations, too. 

    Email Campaigns, List-Building And Landing Pages

    Whether your business is online or is a brick-and-mortar store, email marketing is crucial for generating revenue. While social media channels help you connect with the community and prospective buyers, building an email list gives you control over your database of prospects and allows you to send them information when you need to. Most social media platforms will only share your posts based on algorithms the platform uses, so not all your followers will see your news and information. Mailchimp is free to get started with up to 500 emails in your database. When you pass 500 emails, the pricing increases based on the number of emails. Other affordable email marketing options include Sendinblue and Moosend.

    To grow your email list quickly, look at your entire buyer journey and find places where it is logical to ask your prospect for their email, such as to download a discount or educational information, or to sign up for updates.

    Don’t get bogged down in the day-to-day operations of running your business. Using the types of tools above can help you stay in touch with your customers, plan your operations and manage your expenses.

    Steve Niehaus, MBA, CBI
    [email protected]