Tools Any Small Business Needs to have! Part 1
Tools Any Small Business Needs to have, as starting out on you own as a Freelancer, Small Company or as an Entrepreneur can be a hard-enough task. You may have started out with great intentions but then have become bogged down in the daily grind of business tasks, the ongoing administrative activities required to run the business on a consistent basis. You are running the business rather than ‘doing’ your business.
As a Virtual Assistant, I fulfil the role of Manager, Accountant, Marketeer, PR, Designer, Sales and everything in between, to help me in this day to day management of multiple of hats, I use an array of software tools to manage every aspect of my VA business. In this first half of a 2-part blog series, I introduce a list of some business tools that will help you and your organisations to improve on efficiencies and create organisation.
To have a business you need customers, and to keep track of all the relevant details; contact, email, phone, contracts, documents etc. using a customer relationship management system is essential. Below is a range of varying different CRM systems, with varying degrees of usability. Capsule offers a free basic level which is a good way to dip your business toe in the CRM waters.
Social Media Management
We all know the use of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Linked In, Twitter and others, is of increasing importance to businesses, however keeping on top of all your relevant platforms, is time consuming and repetitive. So, using a manager to create your posts for all accounts and schedule exactly when and how often your message or advert goes out, can easily be completed in one sitting.
o Meet Edgar
Communication is key. Whether it be with your customers, suppliers, employees or virtual assistants and wherever they are, local, national or international, using the vast array of online tools can greatly aid in time savings. It is always better to converse in person rather than having your message ‘Lost in Translation’, so video conferencing tools are the halfway house, when a trip to your supplier or customer is just not a viable option. Tools such as:
o Skype (for Business)
o Google Hangouts
o Instant Messenger (FB)
No matter what business you’re in, you need to know your customers, their contact details and their email address (all of which are stored in your CRM system). So, armed with customer data on preferences, previous sales, engagement, you will be able to target them for more products and services. Using an email list to send out content marketing in your business area, establishes you as an expert and the go to place for your customers, this enables further sales, up-selling and even first-time sales. Below are some of the most popular software offering this service and are simple to get started on.
o Mail Chimp
All these tools can be so useful in keeping the details you need to stay on top of, altogether in one place. They can also automate a lot of your operations, so you can go and forget about it (well for a while at least). The one that you will also need for all social media tracking is analytics (Google, Bing, all social media accounts), but that’s a blog another day.
Lastly besides organisation tools, it’s important to join groups and gain a network. By doing this you gain an unofficial board where you can ask for advice, bounce ideas off, gain leads and access a wealth of knowledge and advice.
Hire a VA
However, if you, like most small businesses are constrained by time, money and resources, hiring a Virtual Assistant might be the answer to this conundrum, making time saving efficiencies for your business.
VAs specialise in many different areas, tools, processes and systems previously mentioned. They can save you time and expense required to up-skill staff in the ever-growing list of new software and technology your business might require. Think about project work and what skills maybe required on a one-time basis and maybe isn’t worth the investment in training, hiring a VA for this type of situation is ideal. We are Skills for hire.
If you are unsure of what or how a VA can do read this great article by Debbie Hannan on ‘How can a VA help your business?’, detailing exactly what a Virtual assistant does and how they can help you grow your business by undertaking necessary business tasks that pull you away from ‘doing’ your business.
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Gayle Alexander is the VA behind AVA Alexander Virtual Assistance, started in 2017 from a growing passion in Marketing, Social Media and Branding to accommodate Start-ups, Small businesses and Entrepreneurs. Gayle worked in the geographic industry for over 15 years before moving to working freelance as a VA offering support to several small businesses and entrepreneurs.
When not working, Gayle loves to travel, is a complete map geek, sewing or trying to and believes in continually learning new skills to not only enhance your skills portfolio but for your own personal growth, hence the tiffany glass and metal work classes.
Disclaimer: This is a small sample list of the array of tools available and some of the abovementioned I use myself and others I do not at present but may in the future. I do not profit in any way from the promotion of above mentioned sites.