Three Awesome Tools for Small Businesses and Startups Arielle Kimbarovsky | January 13th, 2016
It’s not easy to start and run a successful business. After all, business owners must manage many different things and wear different hats in operating their business. From developing products and services to hiring to payroll, owners have a lot on their plates!
Fortunately, there are some terrific mobile and web tools that entrepreneurs and business owners can use to run their businesses more efficiently. At crowdSPRING, we rely on a number of mobile and online tools to help us be more efficient and to reduce costs.
Managing Social Media Posts – BUFFER
One of the most time consuming tasks for an entrepreneur or small business owner is managing social media accounts. With numerous platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more, it’s a hassle to continuously update content and monitor customers and competitors. It’s easy to fall into a trap of dedicating someone’s time to only social media accounts. While this may work for large companies, small businesses and startups typically don’t have the resources to do this.
One of my favorite social media tools – and one I’ve used for more than a year – is Buffer. I have used Buffer to manage everything from my personal social media accounts to business accounts, and it has saved me a lot of time. Buffer allows users to schedule social media posts ahead of time across several popular platforms. With pricing tiers starting at $0/month (that’s not a misprint – they offer a free plan), Buffer offers different tools to help businesses manage their online presence. Buffer is also extremely accessible – there is a browser extension, website, and iOS/Android apps. Importantly, Buffer can help you find images to use in your posts, and can also suggest useful content that you can share. By using Buffer (or a similar tool), small business owners and entrepreneurs only have to devote a fraction of their time to gathering content and scheduling their posts. This frees up additional time for other employees to focus on other tasks.
Buffer also offers one other important benefit that you won’t get if you manually manage your social media accounts. Buffer provides daily and weekly reports on reach, clicks, time optimization, and other metrics. This helps you to identify the types of content you should be publishing and/or sharing, as well as the best times to publish and share. By leveraging Buffer, you can tailor your company’s social media marketing to your target audience.
Managing Customer Service – ZENDESK
Successful entrepreneurs and business owners know that customer service is incredibly important to their business. But customer services is often time consuming and tedious, especially if you try to use your email account to handle customer service. Customer service tickets, phone calls, and FAQs can take up large amounts of time and effort, often causing companies to hire more customer service people and spend more time on customer service than they can afford. And when customer service teams receive emails and phone calls at all hours of the day, it can be tough to keep up with all of the questions if they don’t have an effective way to organizing – no matter how large their team. Fortunately, there are a number of really good products that can help. We’ve used ZenDesk since their launch in 2007 and have continued to be impressed with the product and its evolution. We use it on the desktop and on our mobile tablets and smartphones. We integrate live chat, phone support, ticket management, and other important features to support our customers. Pricing starts as low as $5 per customer service agent per month – and it’s well worth the cost. It’s one reason why customers give us a 98 percent satisfaction rating (a perfect 100% over the past three weeks!).
Creating and Managing Legal Contracts – QUICKLY LEGAL
The third incredibly important tool that we use and recommend to small businesses and entrepreneurs is Quickly Legal. Quickly Legal is an online service that helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and freelancers create, send for electronic signature and manage legal contracts. Quickly Legal removes the pain from business contracts and helps entrepreneurs and small businesses create basic agreements such as employment agreements, non-disclosure agreements, sales representative agreements, and more. All without a lawyer, frustration, or costly legal fees. Quickly Legal costs either $10 or $20 per month for businesses (depending on the plan) and is free for freelancers. We love that the Quickly Legal contracts are easy to understand and the product is quick, painless and powerful. We also love that you can use the service from your computer, on a mobile tablet or a smartphone (iOS and Android apps are available).
Running your businesses just became a little bit easier, right? We are so lucky to live in a time where technology is expanding at a rapid rate and helping to make our lives easier. By taking advantage of tools such as those I discussed above, we can increase our productivity and narrow our focus on the parts of our businesses that can’t be automated. These tools allow us to prioritize in a way that can dramatically improve our efficiency and allow our companies to succeed. It’s when we work smarter, not harder that we get the results that we want.
image credit: Jason Howie