Starting a new business can be overwhelming. So can operating one, even after you feel like you can breathe again. 2020 has seen a whole lot of upsets, setbacks, and challenges for all small business owners. As we start to navigate our new “normal,” we thought we’d offer some insight into tools and resources that can help you get back on top. Some will seem obvious and some might be new to you, but hopefully you’ll be inspired to renew (or start) your business.
1. The Small Business Association (SBA). The SBA exists specifically to help small businesses. Many of you may be familiar with SBA from hearing about the COVID-19 relief package implemented by the federal government or from securing funding for your new enterprise, but they are much more than that. The SBA’s suite of tools can help small businesses in any stage of growth.
2. Analytics. Every business owner knows it’s important to track and understand statistics. How many people are visiting the website? Who is ordering the product? When are you seeing the biggest surge in interest? Options like Google’s statistics tool, Google Analytics, and others like Open Web Analytics and Clicky are options to help you understand your information in order to be as successful as possible.
3. Cloud Storage. This tool falls into the category of being so fundamental these days we just don’t think about it. Cloud storage allows for digital storage and organization of large amounts of data that can be available at the click of your mouse. The increasing need for secure digital storage is also being addressed by some of the biggest names in computer technology. From free to paid subscriptions, there is a cloud solution perfect for you. Now is a great time to reassess your cloud storage provider.
4. Website and Blog Creators. Have you been wanting to create or revamp your website? Are you interested in starting a blog related to your business? Not a “code” person? No worries. Easy website and blog creators such as Wix or Medium exist just for you. Want a more human touch? Consider reaching out to your local college or university. They probably have web design or computer science majors who would love to help for free or for a very reasonable wage in order to gain experience and/or your recommendation. Don’t forget you can always contact Powerhouse and we can help too!
5. Video Conference Options. Since the arrival of COVID-19, we’re all pretty savvy about video conference options these days. Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Slack—it seems like there are a plethora of options out there. As we return to work, in-person meetings are probably going to be one of those things that fall under the “new” in “new normal.” Take some time to figure out which video conference options will work best for your new normal because they may not be quite the same as the ones that worked best when we were all at home.
6. Digital Document Signers. As we move more and more into the technological age and further and further away from the traditional pen-and-paper business models, digital document signers are becoming more prevalent. Options such as HelloSign and DocuSign provide ways to sign documents digitally and will save you time and money. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can update any contract and have it signed and filed away.
7. LinkedIn. This definitely falls into the “well, duh” column. However, small business expert and entrepreneur Nick Loper of SideHustleNation.com admits to being surprised by the results of a study showing LinkedIn to be the “most recommended social media resource.” Besides exceling at professional networking, LinkedIn offers talent searching and can match companies with individuals seeking positions. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile lately, now is a perfect time to do so.
8. Facebook. Similarly, Facebook for Business has several free resources to offer small businesses. From help in creating ads to perfecting video content to managing appointments, Facebook has free resources to help you bring your business to the next level marketing-wise. Their resources are very Facebook-specific, so keep that in mind as you check out what they have to offer.
9. Document Scanning Apps. Feeling the need to go greener? Consider installing a document scanning app on your smartphone. Scannable and Evernote are both free apps that can help keep track of everything from business cards to meeting notes, not to mention any kind of document you can imagine. Never worry about losing a business card again with one of these apps. Evernote even connects with LinkedIn for your convenience. Just type “document scanning” into your app store of choice and be amazed at the choices you have.
10. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tools. The technology age is definitely here to stay. Everyone jumps on their favorite search engine to find just about anything. Tools like Yoast SEO, Sumo, and Moz Pro can help you make your online presence attractive and easily found. So once you’ve used one of our previously mentioned resources to help you build your online presence, use one of these SEO tools to ensure the right people see it.
11. Virtual Private Network (VPN). Speaking of your online digital presence, security is a growing concern among businesses worldwide. Many VPNs cost money, but there are some that will offer minimum protection for free. So even if you’re not at a point yet where you can afford to ensure security with monthly subscription fees, you can find options like CyberGhost that will offer some protection for free or for a modest fee, such as $3 per month.
12. Chrome Add-Ons. Simple. Free. Easy to install. Perfect for any small business, right? Chrome offers things like TextExpander, which allows you to create custom keyboard shortcuts to optimize your time and efficiency, as well as Awesome Screenshot, an add-on that allows you to take and edit screenshots.
13. Scheduling Apps. Apps such as ScheduleOnce allow you to create a personalized calendar URL that synchs with Google Calendar. Perfect for start-ups and small businesses that need to keep track of meetings, deadlines, etc., but don’t necessarily have space or money to hire an assistant or office manager. For a modest $5 per month, you can grab additional premium features. Need a different format? Your favorite app store will have you covered.
14. Spreading the Word. It’s all about who you know, right? Or who you know and when you know them. Companies like Web FX and Ignite Visibility offer one-step marketing shops to help small businesses get off the ground and/or get recognized. They know the markets you’re hoping to reach and operate with the best possible technology. These comprehensive marketing strategists will cost you, but they deliver proven results.
15. Social Media Tracking. This has been incredibly important in 2020, as we’ve had to rely fairly heavily on online opportunities. Hootsuite and others offer free versions of their products that will help you manage all your social networks as well as allow you to schedule posts and interact with followers. Need more? They offer upgraded versions with premium features for a reasonable monthly fee.
16. Project Management Programs. Trello, Wrike, and others offer free versions of their project management programs as well as premium, paid versions. Easily track projects across your business and have a handy tool that everyone in your company can use to track and update progress. This resource is especially helpful for project-based businesses that manage multiple clients.
17. Gratitude Journal. This tool might be one you haven’t thought of before. Whether you choose a digital option or a traditional pen-and-paper route, consider starting a gratitude journal. Not only will it help you focus on the positives in everything that’s happened this year, but studies show that the happier you are the more productive you are as well. Happiness starts with gratitude. So find a way to reflect on the things that go right in your day.
18. Inspiration. Need some help with finding your happiness and success? Consider subscribing to inspirational websites, blogs, and podcasts that speak to you. Set reminders on your calendar assistant to schedule time to indulge your inspirational needs. Whether you take your lunch break or have time you can build into your day, feed your need for inspiration, kind words, or just whimsy that allows you to forget what’s stressing you. You never know what might help you past that stumbling block, and you just might be inspired to create your next Big Idea.
19. Website Freebies. Many websites exist solely to provide free resources, tips, and interactive guides to help you no matter where you are in your business journey. A great one for those just starting out or in need of a refresher is Visme. It’s a one-stop shop for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
20. Powerhouse Resources. Not only do we have free resources to help you in business and life, but we also have that human touch that can be lacking in an increasingly digital world. Maybe you don’t want to outsource everything to a digital option, but you aren’t in a place where you can afford to hire more people. Powerhouse exists just for you. Get the high-quality, human-inspired options you want at a significantly lower rate than if you had to hire someone part- or full-time. We offer a wide variety of services to help you grow your business and meet your goals.