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10 Online Tools That Will Help Your Small Business Dominate in 2015

By Jason Ganz on November 12, 2014
Tags: Productivity

Don’t you just love finding new software and services into your business?

No? Fair enough – it can be a bit of a chore sometimes. But in today’s lightning quick business environment, it’s crucial to find and adopt the best solutions for you. And I’ve collected the best of the best here for you today so that you don’t have to go out and try a million different solutions. They won’t all work for you, but I can guarantee at least one of these products can help your business.

Ten years ago, small businesses could get away with using manual processes. Not anymore. Sure, it can seem impossible to keep up with everything: building a website, connecting with your customers and learning new systems.

But you can be sure your competitors are doing it. And unfortunately, business as usual just doesn’t cut it anymore.

dinosaur, Z. robustus, business status quo turns into a dinosaur. genus of dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous. Iguanodont.

These guys were used to doing business as usual too...

The last several years have seen an explosion in the number of awesome tools that can help you manage your business. Everything from your website to your email list can be built up through these services.

These tools can help you modernize your business in 1/10th the time while costing 1/10th the money it would have taken even five years ago.

That’s the good news.

The bad news – finding the right tools for you will take some time and effort. You’ll have to set up accounts, try out new services and decide what works for your company. You might get frustrated trying to get these services up and running.

Don’t give up!

We’ve found the best of the best services for you. If you want to get a start on improving your business processes, give these a try – they’re a great entry into the world of digital business tools.

1. 99 Designs

A good logo can do wonders for your business and brand. It sticks in peoples mind, giving them a much clearer idea of your business.

But graphic designers are expensive. And sometimes it’s tempting to just use that clip art logo. Especially since Logos, can be pricey, with some costing millions of dollars.

For some reason my proposed GoCanvas logo redesign got turned down.

Luckily, there is a better way. 99 Designs is a crowdsourced graphic design site. It’s simple – you post a description of a logo or image you’d like created, along with the price you’d be willing to pay for that image.

Then, 99 Designs’ horde of graphic designers get to work. Within seven days, you’ll have a ton of different options to choose from. Then, you pick the winner and pay them. 

P.S. GoCanvas has apps for graphic designers, too. Take a look, customize them to streamline your processes or build your own from scratch!

For just $314, Tim Ferriss got the cover art for a New York Times Best Seller.

It’s not just logos. You can use 99 Designs for everything from tee shirts to posters. So whether it’s time for a logo upgrade or a new company T-Shirt, think about using 99 Designs.

2. Mailchimp

Even with all of the buzz around social media, your mailing list remains one of your absolute best tools for keeping in touch with your customer base. Your mailing list can be used to promote special offers, spread news about your business and request feedback.

Too many small businesses try to rely on Excel spreadsheets of their customer emails. Not only is this a huge hassle, it’s extremely insecure. You don’t want to be the next story of business data leaks.

But mailing list management tools can be difficult to use and expensive.

Not Mailchimp. They help you quickly and easily build up your mailing list and start sending out gorgeous emails.

The best part – Mailchimp is free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers on your mailing list. With a hugely compelling product and no barrier to entry, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.

3. SquareSpace

Go to your company website right now. Take a look at it. Then tell me the truth – does it look like it’s from 1998? Does it look like this?

Maybe that’s what you’re going for.

But I’m betting it’s probably not. You want to update your site. But programmers are expensive and you aren’t even sure what you want your site to look like.

Luckily, Squarespace has your back.

Squarespace is an awesome drag and drop platform that lets you build your own beautiful websites. You just take one of their awesome templates and adapt it to fit your business.

The websites look great and they’ll work on desktop, tablets & mobile. Not only that, Squarespace integrates with Mailchimp. So you can have people fill in information on your website, then automatically get added to your mailing list.

That’s the great thing about these services – the more of them you use, the easier your life will become.

If you want to modernize your website without a huge amount of hassle, Squarespace is the way to go.

4. Elance 

Have you ever wished your website had a blog? Or that you had time to set up Google & Facebook ads for your business.

But maybe you don’t have time to write that blog. And dealing with online ads can be a hassle.

While all these online services are awesome, sometimes you just need a real person to get a job done.

Elance is a marketplace for online contractors where you can find people from around the world to do just about any kind of contract work, from online marketing to coding. It’s an incredible resource that literally opens up a world of opportunities for you.

5. Insightly

Nothing is more important to your business than your customers. Keeping track of all of your interactions can seem like a chore sometimes.

  • When was the last time you met with a customer?
  • What work was performed?
  • What’s their mailing address?

If you want to provide top tier service to your customers, you have to keep track of this information.

It’s tempting to think that you store your customer info in an Excel file – don’t!! It will quickly get unwieldy and you’ll find yourself struggling to find the correct info.

Insightly is a great customer relationship management system designed to allow you to easily store and retrieve information about your customers.  If you want to be a customer relationship master, Insightly is for you.

6. Insperity

Dealing with HR can be the full time job for an employee, or even a whole department. Lots of businesses just don’t have the bandwidth to hire someone to deal with things like payroll, health insurance & 401ks.

Insperity allows you to outsource HR tasks to a team who have years of experience in HR. Instead of spending all of your time dealing with filling payroll requests and updating healtchcare information, you’ll be able to do what you do best – building your business.

7. Slack 

Communicating with colleagues can be tough. Not to mention sending files and arranging group channels for speaking with each other. Slack is a team collaboration platform that is taking the world by storm for one simple reason: it’s awesome.

Most offices use a random assortment of email, texting, instant messaging and file hosting services. Trying to get in contact with someone can be tough, let alone sorting through your backlog of communication.

Slack allows you to bring all of those separate functions together under one awesome integrated service. It’s a team collaboration platform which allows teams to communicate and share information incredibly easily.

Slack is even replacing internal email at a lot of offices. Check it out and see what all the hype is about. You won’t be disappointed.

8. Survey Monkey 

Every business should check in with their customers occasionally in order to see how they are doing. Why wonder about your business’s performance when you can know for you?

Surveys are a great way to do this and Survey Monkey is one of the best tools on the web for making surveys and analyzing the results.

Just create a short survey and send it out to your customers. Survey Monkey automatically tally the results for you and serve up some awesome graphs.

9. Box

Trying to send share files with your colleagues can be a huge pain. A lot of times email will suffice – but then you’ll find yourself digging through your inbox months later trying to find that old product. Not to mention the file size limits that make it impossible to share larger files with your coworkers.

Box eliminates these worries by providing a shared online drive in which you can store and share files. Files can be separated into folders and organized just the way they would on a normal computer hard drive.

It’s crucial that you are able to share information with your colleagues and not worry about the hassles of file transfers. Thankfully, Box will make this a breeze so you can focus on your business.

10. Canvas

I have to admit I’m a little biased on this one, as a GoCanvas employee. Nevertheless, the facts speak for themselves. If you want to take your business to the next level, it’s time to kill the paper form.

Businesses spend thousands of dollars per year and uncountable hours filling out, filing and searching for paper forms. Not to mention the cost of manual data entry and the hassles of trying to find a missing paper form when you need it.

Why bother?

GoCanvas lets you get rid of all that hassle by replacing your paper forms with easy to use mobile apps.

But it goes way beyond that. With features like built in calculations, image capture and even dispatch, GoCanvas allows you to collect and harness your business data like never before.

Conclusion

There you have it – the ten services which will revolutionize the way you do business. From saving you time and money to creating new and unique ways for you to work with your teammates, this list contains an incredible variety of products which will help you take your business to the next level.

Don’t try to adopt all ten at once – you’ll get overwhelmed and end up not using any. Instead, pick a couple that fit your business. Then commit. Spend a few months getting up to speed.

Soon, you won’t remember how you were able to survive before. Once you’re at that point – pick another service and start over. Because the great thing about these services is the more of them you use, the more you’ll save time and bring in business.

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