The internet is huge. It’s a goldmine of opportunity for businesses that can reach people like never before. With cell phones and computers becoming ubiquitous, anyone can buy anything anywhere. No longer do you have to have an established “brick and mortar” store to do business. These days even physical stores need a website to be taken seriously. You’re going to need to be able to provide your services to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Luckily for those looking to start a business, getting online up and running is simpler than ever. There are hundreds of online based tools that allow you to create and maintain a beautiful website without a complicated coding knowledge or previous experience. You’re going to need to establish your brand, cultivate relationships with your customers, and create a social profile of your company to give your organization a “face.” Here’s a list of a few of the tools needed to make your business run smoothly:
Web Hosting and Design
No matter how you look at it, you’re going to need a website to start your online business. There are plenty of hosting sites out there. There are quite a few that are free, but they tend to not be suited for business as they are restrictive and tend to force your site to have watermarks on them. If you want to monetize your site, you’re going to have to spend a bit to get the server capacity to handle customers visiting your site and buying things.
In this climate of mobile this and tablet that, where it’s projected that 80% of people will access the internet on mobile devices, It is imperative for your site to be able to be viewed on any size screen. Search engines (a huge source of traffic and revenue) have begun to look more favorably upon sites that are mobile friendly. Luckily, responsive web design has been an easy fix for this problem, and many hosting services provide responsive themes.
A few helpful tools include:
- Wordpress – a service that runs 18.9% of all websites, WordPress is the jack of all trades, as you can customize a site to fulfill virtually any need you may have.
- Squarespace – boasts an easy to use interface that has a “drag and drop” approach to design. Much like Wordpress, Squarespace is fully customizable with responsive design web themes.
- YourMembership – a tool that helps you monitor your customer base for trends and other analytics based on spending, they also provide web hosting as well as a web design tool that will help you attract customers, even manage your social media accounts. Sort of a “one-stop shop” for businesses if you will.
Nothing better than free advertising and exposure, right? With social media, businesses are reaching more people than ever with accounts on various platforms that people can follow and get updates on events and special deals. Plus the people that follow you on social media can get the word out about your company, sharing your content with their audience which is essential to any SEO strategy.
The best part of it is that people are already interested if they’re following you, and thus are far more likely to convert. Not every platform is the same though, and you need to be careful what kinds of posts you put up on which media. Here are a few tools to help get the most out of your social media accounts:
Edgar – software that allows you to design a social media posting schedule that also adapts and gives you suggestions on what to post and where. Never run out of updates!
Mention – monitors content in real -time in 42 languages, connects to Twitter, Facebook, and Buffer. It can be used to share and assign tasks to your team.
Bit.ly– a free link shortener that also tracks how many people visit the link and from where they’re accessing it (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc). It also provides advanced demographics.
Actionly – a social media monitoring tool that integrates with Google Analytics so that you can track your revenue stream. It uses keywords across social networks and other channels to monitor brand identity and campaign tracking.
The purpose of communication is to convey your message without any distortions in meaning. This type of communication is not only important personal communication among friends or relatives but even more so in business situations where you would be communicating with co-worker crucial instructions.
Every business needs good communication, as being in the loop is essential. Keeping on top of client calls and updated meeting times is essential to make a business run smoothly. Here’s a list of good communications apps you can find on the web:
- Slack – supports group conversations, file sharing, and even has an app for iOS and Android so you can keep in touch all the time. You can create a Google Hangout from inside a chat room
- Campfire – features password-protected group chats, people can use it from other chat networks. Has add-ons and extras to customize the experience.
- Redbooth – is a task tracking application that has a robust built-in chat. You can assign tasks and organize things, even video conference. The ability to monitor the chats can keep them focused on business and improve productivity.
- OfficeChat – is a communications app that has versions on iOS, Android and Windows. You can do one-on-ones, hold virtual meetings and share files. The basic app is free, though more feature-rich plans are available for a price.
Database, File Storage & Information Management
There is always a need to keep things organized and secure, yet accessible when and where you need it. There are data and file management options out there that keep your business running smoothly. There are so many options for you that the sky’s the limit. You can really keep your stuff how you want.
Here’s a few tools to get you started:
- BackupAssist– a file backup and recovery service that provides security through encryption. BackupAssist also has cloud support and has SQL server and Hyper-V protection among others.
- Thinkfree – features cloud access to files, so you can work on any mobile device or computer. It also allows collaboration with your team, and the ability to edit documents and post to blogs with a Web-based editor.
- JustCloud – a secure online storage provider. It automatically backs up your files from your computer to the cloud so you can access files anytime. You can also sync your computers and mobile devices.
- Hightail – another secure file storage service. You can send files of up to 10 GB of data and control who sees them. You can also share project folders with others and decide who can edit. It has unlimited storage space and is on both mobile and desktop apps.
- OpenDrive – is an online cloud storage service that creates a virtual file system on your computer or mobile device, enabling you to work with their files in the cloud. It also provides online storage, and backup services.
As stated before there are hundreds of online tools out there, and this is not an exhaustive list. If you know of any other tools that are useful, let us know in the comments.
Sawaram Suthar is head of marketing at Acquire, and also a founder of Jagat Media, a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions and page optimization, along with research and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune. Anyone can find him on @sawarams.