Successful entrepreneur Aaron Franklin provides a list of tools and resources to kickstart your small business and set it up for easy functioning and scale-up.
Starting a small business is difficult in many different ways. If you want your business to succeed, you’ll want to get as much help as you can. With this in mind, I decided to put together a list of the 12 tools and resources that I think are indispensable for any new business owner. Of course, not all of these tools will apply to every business. But if you’re an entrepreneur in any industry, you should be able to take advantage of several of these resources.
The reason I’m so excited about these tools is that I have used many of them myself to grow my own business. My business would not be where it is today if I hadn’t taken full advantage of these powerful resources. Try them for yourself and see what these tools can do for your company!
Table of Contents
1. Google Drive
This one might seem a bit obvious, because so many of us use Google Drive in our own personal lives every day. On the other hand, how did we ever get anything done before Google Drive? I haven’t found any better way to collaborate with my team, as Google Drive allows us to share files, work together on documents and spreadsheets, leave notes for each other, and much more.
There are tools that can probably handle individual elements of Drive better than Google does. For example, DropBox is a very valuable file-sharing tool that has some additional options that aren’t available with that aspect of Google Drive. Still, Google Drive combines so much functionality into one easy-to-use package that I can’t imagine trying to run my business without it.
Slack is the perfect compromise between email and texting. With email, important messages can be overlooked, and it’s not a format that lends itself particularly well to real-time communicating. As for text messages, they’re a great option for discussing things that need to happen right now, but it’s hard to look back through your texts to find a specific message from a few weeks ago.
The beauty of Slack is how it streamlines business communications, providing a real-time solution that’s also extremely simple to search. Email and texting both still have their place, but Slack makes communicating with my team so easy that I’ll never go back to the “tried and true” ways of interacting with them.
If you plan on doing any email marketing like sending drip campaigns to your customers, MailChimp is a valuable service. MailChimp helps you structure and compose email campaigns, social ads, and more, streamlining your company’s marketing efforts. Trust me when I say that once you try MailChimp, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.
4. Web design and hosting tools
Every business these days needs a good website. Even if you’re a strictly local company providing services in your region, a website is still vital because Google provides a point of first contact for many local customers. There are tons of web design and hosting tools out there. Depending on the nature of your business, what kind of website you need, and other factors, you may prefer different resources than I do. Still, for my money, it’s tough to top the usefulness of WordPress for design, and you can’t go wrong with GoDaddy or InMotion for hosting.
Out of all the tools and resources discussed in this article, QuickBooks might save me the most time and hassle (and it probably saves me quite a bit of money too!). I used to use spreadsheets to track my business finances, but QuickBooks makes budgeting and financial management so easy. I love the peace of mind I get from knowing each calculation was done correctly, and I don’t even have to keep track of tax laws because QuickBooks does it for me.
6. Google AdSense
The second Google product on this list is AdSense, which enables you to monetize any website. Even if you’re not actually selling anything on your site, AdSense helps you find ads that fit with your content and web design. Sure, it might not amount to much money when you’re starting out, but you might be surprised by how much AdSense revenue can pile up over a long period of time.
7. Business formation services
Why would you form your own business entity (such as an LLC or a corporation), when you can hire an experienced business formation service to do it for you? Whether you use an industry giant like LegalZoom or a value-packed niche provider like ZenBusiness, these companies provide incredible bang for your buck.
With a business formation service, you’ll get the peace of mind that your entity was correctly formed, and you’ll save a ton of time and hassle. It’s far less expensive than hiring a lawyer to form your business, and much easier than doing it yourself. Furthermore, many of the best providers will include registered agent service and other valuable features, as well as access to their customer support network.
Trello is a great resource for organizing your projects. Using their lists, cards, and boards, it’s easy to prioritize and plan your many responsibilities as a business owner. It’s also an excellent tool for coordinating multiple people who are all collaborating on projects together. It helps ensure there’s no wasted effort, and no one is doing the same work twice.
9. Ecommerce platforms
Are you going to sell products or services through your website? If so, you’ll need to connect with a company like Shopify or BigCommerce to power your ecommerce operations. These services are easy to set up, and they include many powerful integrations, business management tools, online checkout carts, enhanced SEO performance resources, and more.
When it comes to customer relationship management (CRM) tools, Salesforce is the most popular and the most powerful. This platform integrates many different aspects of your business — including sales, customer support, marketing, and more — to create streamlined client profiles for your customers. This helps you personalize your marketing and sales efforts to cater to what each individual client is really looking for.
11. Business plan services
Even if you have a great idea for a new business, sometimes it’s hard to put into words what you want your company to be. That’s where business plan services like Go Business Plans and LivePlan come in. With these companies, an experienced business plan writer will help you create a detailed business plan to help you attract investors. No matter what industry you’re in, a business plan service can be a great help.
I still remember the first time I ever encountered Square, which was at a farmers market. I was impressed by how easy it was for the vendor to take payments with her Square reader, swiping cards on her phone and completing credit transactions in mere seconds. If you sell physical products in small-scale, in-person environments like that, Square is an indispensable tool.
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