It dawned on me recently that I have actually racked up more hours working for myself than I’ve spent employed by someone else.
It’s quite a scary actually to think back now to all the curve balls that get thrown our way, but I wouldn’t change a thing!
The one thing that has made it easier though is never being stuck in my ways. I knew that running a business would be HARD (but worthwhile), and so I’ve always tried to stay on top any new and cool tools that can make our business run smoother.
I’ve tried everything! I like to be experimental. And I’ll admit that there is some rubbish out there… BUT… there is also a lot of good.
What follows are my handpicked ‘small business software’ award winners; software applications, tools and programs that not only make running a small business bearable, but fun too (FUN?! who woulda thunk it!).
And the winner of the ‘Small Business Hero Award’ for making it…
Easier to respond to your prospect sooner…
… goes to ClickDesk! ClickDesk is a fairly recent addition to our website (you might see it on the bottom right of the screen right now). It’s a pretty affordable Live Chat application that makes it easier to respond to your website visitors when they need to talk to a human being.
And I can tell you, it goes a long way to increase sales. Some days we’ll have 10-20 different chats with people on our site and the majority of them are prospects shopping around for a website.
No matter how convincing and compelling your copy is, sometimes your visitors just wants to ask a quick question, and with a Live Chat tool installed they can. This is fantastic bit of small business software that can lead to more enquiries and sales, just by responding to a simple hello.
Easier to advertise your banners…
… goes to BuySellAds! If you want to promote your business via banners (and you should as it’s a proven way to get leads), you will typically need to invest hours upon hours of research to find the exact website who is right for you to advertise on.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t start my own business to spend hours dissecting Google search results. BuySellAds make it easier to find the perfect advertising partner by detailing their costs, audience and available advertising option in one central location. Perfect!
Easier to automate your marketing…
… goes to Infusionsoft! When Web123 started to really hit its strides, we needed to work smarter. One way you can do this is by automating part of your business, especially your marketing and sales processes. Infusionsoft is a powerful small business Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that’s housed in the cloud.
Amongst the million other things it can do, it lets you to create automated email journeys (auto-responders), so that when someone signs up to your mailing list or contacts you, you can setup triggers to send out the most relevant information to them based on their interraction with you, and then automatically nurture them along your sales process until they’re ready to buy.
The more relevant your communication is with your web visitors, the more likely they are to become one of your future customers.
Easier to get your clients to sign on the dotted line…
… goes to EchoSign! No I’m only going to say this once… until your customer physically pays you or puts their name to a dotted line, a sale is not a sale. Boy have I been burnt in the past expecting a “YES” over to phone to mean something. 🙁
Well this little tool can help speed along that agreement process. If you need a signature on something, you can use this program to effortlessly send your customers a PDF contract and allow them to sign it just by wiggling their mouse and hitting “send”.
Remember… the easier you make it for your customer to buy from you, the more likely they are to do so. This tool is great.
Easier to create new landing pages quickly…
… goes to Unbounce! If you’re a small business worth their salt, then you should be creating Google Pay Per Click, banners ads, Facebook adverts, etc, that are designed to collect email addresses from your prospects. Then you’re one step closer to getting them to become your customers.
However what happens if you don’t have a web designer available to hand to help you create a unique page to do this? Well you do it yourself! Unbounce will allow you to quickly create high converting web pages simply by choosing one of their proven templates, and then you just fill in the blanks.
Nice, quick and easy. Perfect if you want to start collecting more email addresses from your customers.
Easier to organise your team…
… goes to Asana! Do you find that no matter how organised you are, sometimes jobs still slip through the gaps? Are your team members and employees confused as to who’s doing what? Well no more.
I signed up to Asana here at Web123 to make us a more effective team, and it’s certainly paid off. It’s an easy to use project management tool that can make even the most independent of employees great team members, and in make the running of your business smoother.
It’s kind of like an advanced notepad so that whenever I get an idea, for ANYTHING, even in the middle of the night, I’ll jot it down in Asana so I can come back to it later. I find it’s a great way to make all those thoughts, into tasks, then actionable items your team can help you implement to grow and get better.
Easier to collaborate and share document…
… goes to Google Drive! Ah good old Google! Is there anything the Googles can’t do? Clearly not. Google Drive is the perfect central location for all your staff to create, share and work together on a wide range of documents.
As well as being super handy because everything you work on is stored in the cloud, the real advantage is all about collaboration. Multiple people can work from the same document regardless of where they are. Perfect if you use freelancers who aren’t necessarily working from your office, or if you’re someone who likes to check in on documents from time to time when on holiday (I know I’m guilty of that one!!).
Easier to manage your social media…
… goes to Sprout Social! An old friend to me. Trusty and reliable, Sprout Social allows you to plan out and prepare your Facebook, Twitter and Google + accounts in advance. Basically it is the small business software king for social media!
Sprout Social does two things very very well… firstly it allows you to easily plan out and publish your social media posts weeks in advance, but more importantly, it gives you all your important social media stats from ALL of your social media accounts.
This includes: how many new Facebooks fans you have, how active your social media followers are, how many re-tweets your Twitter posts got, etc. Never before has it been easier to accurately and quantifiably measure your social media success, all in one place.
What did you think of my awards? Any other nominations or worthy mentions you want to contribute?
Maybe you know an awesome program a ‘small business software award’ should go to? Share your thought with the world below! I always want to try new things.