Perhaps the toughest part about being a small business owner or working for a small company is having to wear so many hats. Sales, marketing, finance, human resources – all of these areas need attention and are crucial to the success of any business. Luckily, many online tools exist that can help small businesses streamline their communication and hopefully make their lives a bit less stressful. All of the tools provided below offer free versions so anyone can experience the benefits of these platforms without opening their wallet.
Simply put, Evernote is a note taking and archiving platform that can be used on both your desktop and smart phone. Evernote allows users to take “notes” which can be stored in categorized “notebooks”. Within these notes you can store text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, photos, voice memos, or even upload files, such as handwritten documents, to be stored and archived.
Evernote is essentially the perfect platform to archive all of your ideas and documents. It will keep you organized and offers a search feature so you can easily find a previously stored idea or document. You can also create lists, set reminders, sync the app to your desktop, and share your “notes” or “notebook” with colleagues. If you having trouble organizing your digital life, Evernote is your answer.
Building up and maintaining an email list of your customers and partners is a key marketing effort. All small business owners should make effort to create this habit from the early stages of their business. For many companies, a large percentage of their revenue is generated from repeat customers. Because of this, small business owners need to stay connected to those customers. MailChimp is an email marketing service that will allow you to manage your subscriber lists all in one place. It allows you to design templates, receive advanced analytics and reporting, schedule emails, and integrate with a CRM. Perhaps the best feature is that MailChimp allows you to do this for up 2,000 subscribers for free. If your business is just starting out, this platform is a must have to grow and maintain your email lists.
Maintaining a strong and up-to-date social media presence is a challenge for many small businesses. Creating content and then posting all of that content on a daily basis to separate platforms is very time consuming. One potential solution for this challenge is a platform called Hootsuite. The free version of this platform allows you to manage up to 3 social networks, schedule your messages, receive basic analytics, monitor the streams of your customers and competitors, and integrate your networks with with other social applications. Hootsuite supports over 35 of the most popular social networks. Building up your social media presence can be a tough task, but leveraging Hootsuite will help to keep you more organized.
Staying in constant communication with your team is a necessity. While almost everyone has easy access to their email or text messaging through their smartphone, another platform called Slack could transform the way you communicate within your team. Slack is a messaging platform for your desktop or smartphone that offers many features to help you communicate better with your colleagues. It allows you to create channels for teams, projects or topics. What makes Slack great is that all of your files, images, PDFs, documents and spreadsheets can be dropped into Slack and shared with others. Your conversations are also completely searchable so you can find previously shared documents or messages. Slack can also be connected to your Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box accounts. If you want to streamline your teams’ messaging and document sharing, Slack is your go-to.
Often times, business owners need to present documents to clients or team members from a distance. To solve this problem, join.me is a free screen sharing platform. This platform allows you to easily schedule a meeting and then send a link to your client or team members so they can join the video conference and see your screen. They also offer share control so other people in your video conference can easily share their screen. If you often times find yourself sharing documents accompanied by a lengthy explanation email, try join.me instead.