My Must-Haves for Running Your Small Buisness
Running a small business can be an absolute pain in the ass if you don't know about some of these amazing digital tools that were MADE for business owners like us. Full disclosure: the following endorsements are my own because I use all of these tools to run my own business. While I would like to pretend I am being paid to say these products are awesome, alas, I am not that cool yet.
So, without further ado, here are my top picks for running a small business in 2018.
Your first must-have as a business owner is your website. This isn’t news, or – at least – it shouldn’t be. Regardless of your industry, your customers are going to immediately look for you online for credibility, and your website gives them a first glance at your company and culture. And, you have three seconds to reel them in. Three. And yes, to clear the human versus goldfish attention span debate, it’s true – digitally. If your site is unorganized and clunky, or if there is no clear way to sign up for your newsletter or blog, you should ~seriously~ consider a make-over. If you’ve been following me, you’ve heard this before. Your call-to-action (call now, buy now, shop now, read NOW, [example] now) needs to be in the top right hand corner. Whatever it is that you want your end-user to do, you have to tell them to do it.
Having a website is a no-brainer, but there is ZERO point in investing that much time and energy into a website that doesn’t tell you anything. Hooking up Google Analytics to the backend of your site will help you better understand the types of users that are visiting your site, and their behavior while visiting. Did they fill out a form? Did they call you? Tracking these interactions will create the story of your users journey; and, if you don’t like their behavior (if they aren’t buying, or signing up, etc.) then you know you can control it by testing a new layout OR attracting a new audience. Either way, all of your hypotheses will result from the data you find in Google Analytics. And the best part? It’s Free.
Again with the freebies! Stripe is a transaction software that integrates with your Squarespace (and other website providers) that is free to sign up, and they charge a standard processing fee with each purchase on your site. Even if you aren’t an e-commerce site, your customers will love being able to log in and pay you directly online rather than sending you a physical check each month. Remember, the user experience is all about ease; the less steps you provide them in completing a transaction, the more likely they’ll be to give you their business.
As the owner of a creative company, there should be no question that accounting is NOT my strength. Xero has been life-changing since the moment I signed up, and I am actually looking forward to tax season (says no one ever!?!) because I know I’ll be ready. I’m able to connect my bank and credit card accounts and reconcile all charges right there, including the ability to code them to the right “department” of my business. From marketing to flights, all of my charges are organized down to the penny. And that, my friends, is a WILD feeling.
You’re now visible to your audience with a website, are able to understand what they do when they get there, you’re able to complete transactions and track them alongside your expenses, and NOW, you’ll have a way to communicate seamlessly with your website visitors, whether or not they are customers. Using a platform like Mailchimp allows you to automate your message to your audience, which alleviates a LOT of stress for the business owner. Once someone signs up for your mailing list, you’ll be able to send them automated messages reminding them of your services and promotions.
Of course, navigating the digital playing field is a lot easier said than done. It takes dedication, practice, and patience with the changes (as they come fast and often). Always surround yourself with resources and peers who will lift you up when you feel overwhelmed; which is exactly why some of my clients are joining my LinkedIn Group, The Wine Down. Involving yourself in a community of like-minded businesspeople who are eager to learn about and implement digital marketing strategies will greatly benefit your business.