6 Essential Online Business Tools: A Toolbox for Small Business [Getting Started]
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These tools will help get your small business up and running and assist you in managing your time and schedule.
1. Online Accounting Software
By investing in online accounting software you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle when it comes to doing your tax.
Your accountant will also appreciate it!
Xero is a great start out option for small business because it simplifies accounting and gives you clear visibility on your finances.
The Xero website has plenty of resources to show you how to use the software and explains various financial aspects to running a business for example: creating your first export invoice or setting up payroll. There are guides for all types of businesses.
They often run deals for new customers and you can sign up for a 30-day free trial to see if it works for you.
Xero can help with tasks such as:
Prepare and send invoices
Reconcile transactions against your linked bank account
View reports such as profit and loss
Track stock and inventory
2. Content Management System
A Content Management System (CMS) allows you to easily add pages to your website, change the order of pages and edit your web pages.
WordPress is one of the most popular CMS and it’s clear to see why:
It’s easy to use
There are plenty of online instruction manuals on how to achieve your goals with WordPress
You can build your own website with WordPress
There is a huge choice of plugins, to optimise your website
You can hire someone to create a WordPress website for you and customise it to your needs, or you can do it yourself.
Google Analytics enables you to see how many visitors are coming to your website, where the visitors have come from, which pages they are visiting, whether they are a new or returning visitor and much more.
It is a free analytics tool that you can install on your website, by adding a small snippet of code.
Any technical issues with your website which may prevent your site from being indexed
Clicks to your website from particular keywords
Impressions (how many times your web page appears in search)
The average position of a ranking keyword in Google
Links from other websites pointing to your site
You can also use it to perform actions such as:
Submitting a sitemap
Hiding a page from Google
Bing has a similar offering: Bing Webmaster Tools which can also offer you plenty of insights on any website issues and search within the Bing search engine.
5. Google Suite
You can sign up to the business suite, or use the free versions of Google Drive, Sheet, Docs, Gmail and Calendar.
All these tools will be useful to help you communicate, manage your time and document your work.
Google Drive is a file storage system, which allows you to access your files anywhere: on any computer or mobile device. You can share files and folders so that you can collaborate on documents.
Your first 15GB is free and you can upgrade to Google One for extra storage when necessary.
Google Sheets allows you to create spreadsheets for reports, creating lists, graphs and more. Real-time editing allows you to see when someone makes changes to a document that you are working on. Any edits you make to the sheets are automatically saved.
You can download add-ons for Google Sheets to allow for richer functionality including workflow and formatting.
Google Docs allows you to write, edit and collaborate, including chat and commenting, on documents in real time.
Use powerful editing tools to style your documents or choose from the selection of pre-styled templates on offer.
Google Docs allows you to easily export files to pdf or convert to Word (or vice-versa).
There are a series of add-ons you can download for additional functionality from writing help to translating your content to another language.
Organise your Google Docs by placing them into folders, this can be done through Google Drive.
Gmail allows you to send and receive emails with 15 GB free storage.
You can customise the tabs to organise your email, change the theme, access Gmail on any device and RSVP to events directly from your inbox.
Connect it to your business email address so that you maintain a professional presence with your customers.
You can do this by going to ‘settings’ on the top right-hand corner of the screen, then click on the Accounts and Import Tab.
From here you can set up your email to send and receive email through Gmail under the “send mail as'” and “check mail from other accounts” sections.
Refer to details from your email hosting provider for the correct settings.
The calendar can be used to manage your time, arrange meetings and set reminders.
You can easily navigate from one of these Google applications to another via the menu on the top right-hand corner of the screen.
Navigate between applications
6. Project Management Software
Project management software such as Trello can help you keep organised and plan your to-do list.
Trello allows you to
Create boards for each project or area of your business – you decide how to set it up.
Create Lists within the board
Create ‘cards’ or tasks within a list
For example, you may have a board for each client.
Within each board, you might have a few lists such as: ‘To Do’, ‘In Progress’ and ‘Complete’.
Then you set up cards under the ‘To Do’ list and drag them to ‘In Progress’ when you start to work on them, then to the ‘Complete’ list once finished.
Sign up to a free account or upgrade to Gold for extra functionality.
Trello has a free App you can download so even if you are on the go you can look at your to-do list and mark off tasks via mobile or tablet.
Bonus: Chatbot Software
Chatbots are all the rage these days, but do you really need one?
If you want to improve your efficiency in the way you connect with your clients online across multiple channels then you might want to consider using a Chatbot solution. Chatbots can also save you time, answering your customers queries whilst you are busy doing other things.
MobileMonkey is a chatbot platform which is also a great productivity/social media/sms messaging/automation/chatbot tool.
Multi channel Q&A such as Facebook Messenger and website Chatbot
Alerts for high quality leads
Ability to live chat
Drag and Drop Chatbot builder
Templates ready for you to use
Take a look at the MobileMonkey website to learn about all the other features and ways you might want to use it.
The basic plan is free, with two additional paid plans on offer.
What tools have you found useful for your business?