Google “tools for small business” and you’re faced with 614,000,000 pages worth of results. This amount of information is, quite frankly, a little overwhelming. So we’ve done some of the legwork for you and put together a more concise list of essential tools every SME needs to be using. Each point deals with a specific problem small businesses might face, and suggests a tool to help you solve it.
1. Social media
Before looking at any tools, let’s quickly recap the state of play with social media in 2016. Here’s a few facts and figures:
90% of all companies now use social media for business.
Social media currently drives over 31% of all traffic to websites.
84% of marketing professionals think social media can enhance relationships with existing customers.
Or to put these numbers into words, as Erik Qualman says, “we don’t have a choice on whether we do social… the choice is how well we do it”. Indeed, not doing social media is definitely NOT an option. It’s more a case of how much time and effort you decide to spend on it.
But of course, the problem here is that when you work in a small business you wear many hats. If you’re already struggling to fit 25 hours worth of work into a single day, adding social media into the mix could well be a straw to break the camel’s back.
Not to worry, BUFFER to the rescue! It’s the ideal tool for social media management, and is available on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.
You can use BUFFER to select which of your social accounts you want to post content to, either all with the same message or different, customised ones. You can also schedule when you want to post things, and create and edit images with their Pablo extension.
Social media. Sorted.
2. Content curation
Now, it’s one thing having your sharing strategy taken care of but quite another coming up with valuable, unique content that people want to engage with. Research shows that original written content is the most important form of social content, followed by original visual content.
Long story short you need some killer articles and visuals that will set your business apart. Something that will make you stand out from the crowd. But the problem is that this crowd is growing. Exponentially.
Each and every minute there are almost 2.5 million Facebook shares, 280,000 tweets, 216,000 photos uploaded to Instagram and more than 4,000,000 search queries on Google (you can get more on these stats from this cool infographic).
How do you tap into this wealth of information? FLOCKLER has the solution. It is a platform that allows your business to collect interesting, engaging content from all relevant outlets to a social hub. Be it your own business, your employees, your customers, or even potential customers within your target market.
There’s a WordPress plugin, and you can even use the platform to help you create a website.
3. Customers and sales
A good site full of useful content, shared in each and every corner of the web, hopefully means you’re now driving high volumes of quality traffic to your site. And if you’ve targeted correctly, then this traffic is full of potential leads.
But the problem is that it’s often difficult (not to mention time-consuming) to bridge the gap between promising site visitor and sales lead (particularly for smaller businesses without a dedicated team working on this 24/7). According to Search Engine Land the average landing page conversion rate is under 3%. Which means that over 97% of potential customers browsing your site vanish without a trace. So what can you do?
Cue LEADFORENSICS (aka “the Google Analytics of sales”). It’s a simple, straightforward tool that will give detailed insight into exactly who has visited your site and what they’re interested in.
4. Getting paid
You’ve now got the tools to ensure you’re using the right channels, to share interesting, valuable content, which in turn will drive relevant traffic to your site that you can convert into customers. But after all this hard work comes the really important part - getting paid!
Which is where problem number four comes in. In the world of small business “finance department” is yet another one of those endless hats that you, as the owner, have to wear from time to time. And it’s a pain because all the paperwork that comes with running your own business can take up to 20 hours out of your working week.
This includes creating an invoice (more often than not an Excel template), sending it, then following it up. And once it gets paid you need to manage all your business expenses. It takes time and effort that is much better spent elsewhere.
If any of this is sounding even remotely familiar then it’s high time you took a look at ZERVANT. Created by small business owners, for small business owners, this online invoicing software will make creating and sending invoices a breeze.