Small businesses are booming, to the tune of 543,000 new startups each month, but about half of all small business fail within their first five years of launching. The reasons for a business not finding success are many, but one of the big ones is not taking advantage of tools and services that can boost you over the hump. The following are just a few of the many tools and services that can help your small business find its footing for the long haul.
Whether you’re new to the business world or a seasoned pro, the financial side of your business can be a little tricky. There are a lot of numbers to keep up with, and one wrong calculation could send everyone into a tizzy, including the IRS. To start, simplify payments and move away from outdated payment methods by investing in a credit card machine. An all-in-one machine enables you to take all forms of payment and print receipts.
All those receipts can easily get lost in the shuffle, which is where accounting software like QuickBooks or Wave comes in. QuickBooks makes all those complicated accounting processes simple by creating invoices, billing statements, profit and loss sheets, and custom reports all for a low monthly payment. Wave is a completely free program, touting accounting, invoicing, and expense monitoring. Take your streamlining a step further by implementing a financial dashboard, such as SiSense or BIME, to help you connect all the dots, analyze data, and get a clear picture of how your business is doing.
While steady cash flow is surely a sign of business success, without satisfied customers, that flow will become nothing more than a trickle. So, how can you keep customers satisfied? Start by making it easier to reach you. Rather than have their inquiries greeted by an automated email response, make it easier with a live chat feature on your website such as Pure Chat. In today’s world, texting is the preferred method of communication, so customers will be more likely to reach out. Plus, you increase efficiency by being able to instantly answer questions, troubleshoot, and take a potential customer from interested to sold.
Another way to get the customer feedback you need is with Typeform, a service that makes creating surveys, quizzes, and polls easier. This can be a risk-free way to test out ideas before you put time and money into it, not to mention a fun way to engage customers, attract new ones, and build your brand.
Chat features and surveys can improve customer satisfaction, but you need to actively engage with them online to keep them coming back. Regardless of whether you have a brick-and-mortar establishment, most customers will find you online, meaning your website needs to be attractive and user-friendly to hold their interest. Luckily, you don’t have to know anything about coding to create a website using website builders like Wix and Wordpress, both of which offer themes, templates, and plugins at a reasonable price to set your site apart from the rest.
SquareSpace is worth looking into as well. Though it is a little pricier, even its basic plan starts you out with a 20-page website, and you can add on helpful features such as web analytics and eCommerce. Once you’ve got your website up and running, it’s time to dig a little deeper into social media. Go beyond Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter, and see what people are saying about your company using free monitoring tools like Google Alerts, Hootsuite, and Social Mention. Take it a step further and create your own content, such as a collage or infographic with tools like Canva or Piktochart.
Starting your own business is no small feat, but there are plenty of tools and services to help. When you are starting out, take advantage of any help you can get, both free and paid services. Business success will happen, and you’ll have your business intuition to thank for it.