When you’re ready to start your business, the entire process can seem a bit overwhelming. With so many details to pay attention to, it can be hard to know where to start.
Fortunately, it’s easier to start and run a business today than in the past, thanks to tons of digital tools and programs. If you know where to look, you can find all kinds of software to run various aspects of your company.
To make your life simpler, we’ve compiled a list of the top six tools you should pay attention to when building your new enterprise. Let’s dive in and see how they work.
These days, all businesses need a website. Since customers are much savvier than in years past, they research brands before buying from them. So, if you don’t have a website, you’ll likely lose sales to your competitors. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar storefront or an online brand, your website will act as the digital foundation for your company.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be an expert web developer to build a high-quality website. Website builders like WordPress or Web.com allow you to create all the pages and functionality necessary to make your site as interactive and engaging as necessary.
Before diving into one of these builders, though, keep these elements in mind:
- Determine Which Pages are Necessary – If you’re selling products online, you need product listings and a shopping cart. If you’re running a brick-and-mortar business, you should have pages that outline the different items or services you offer. Start with the basics and work your way from there. Also, remember that you can launch your site with essential pages and add more later if need be.
- Get Professional Help – While these platforms enable you to build a website yourself, you’ll likely be busy with other aspects of your business. So, it pays to have professional designers take over and handle elements like page copy and image sourcing. This way, you can get a higher-quality website without taking time away from other business tasks.
- Don’t Forget to Optimize – Search engine optimization will likely generate the most leads. Before building your site, you should figure out which keywords you want to rank the most. Then, determine which words should be on each page. SEO includes everything from the page URL to image tags and anchor text. So, don’t skimp on the details.
Marketing is an essential component of building any business, and the foundation of your marketing strategy is a compelling logo. Fortunately, you don’t have to hire an expensive designer or learn to use programs like Photoshop or Procreate.
Instead, online logo makers like Tailor Brands allow you to customize your logo and get polished designs in minutes.
These tools use artificial intelligence to compile a logo from different components. When crafting your logo, you just need to pick a few fonts and some graphic elements and determine whether you want a text-based or graphic-based logo.
The software will handle the rest. Best of all, you can get tons of designs and then just pay for the one you want. When designing a logo, follow these guidelines:
- Keep it Simple – Think about the logos for the top brands like Apple, Coca-Cola, and Mercedes. Each one is sleek, simple, and instantly recognizable. If your logo is too busy or cluttered, it’s hard for customers to read and digest it.
- Make it Memorable – Before using a logo maker, you should do some research and look at the logos of your top competitors. Write down the elements you like most and see how you can improve upon them. Then, develop a logo that stands out from the crowd. Simply slapping an icon over a generic font won’t cut it.
- Align Your Logo to Your Brand Identity – If you want your company to be an authority, you shouldn’t have a fun and whacky logo. Similarly, if you’re trying to be family-friendly, a minimalist logo likely won’t resonate. Pick elements (i.e., fonts and icons) that fit your brand image.
One of the best marketing channels is email. While other options like social media or PPC ads companies such as Wordstream might seem more exciting, email marketing still has one of the best ROIs available.
That said, managing subscriber lists yourself is next to impossible, especially when growing your business. Once you reach more than 10 subscribers, it’s time to upgrade to a professional email tool. Fortunately, there are quite a few options, so it’s easy to find the one that works best for your needs.
For example, MailChimp is one of the top tools for small businesses because it’s so easy to use.
Some features to pay attention to when choosing a program include:
- Customization Options – Consumers want personalized attention, so it’s crucial to segment your lists as much as possible. High-quality tools will also allow you to add other personal elements and develop email campaigns based on a user’s activity. This way, users feel more appreciated and are more willing to buy from you.
- Automation Tools – Email marketing can quickly become a full-time job if you try to handle everything yourself. Instead, it’s much better to use automation tools to segment your lists and send emails based on specific triggers. For example, you can send automatic emails to users with an abandoned shopping cart to help complete the sale.
- A/B Testing – The best way to determine which marketing elements work the most is to test different options and see what gets the most traction. So, you want a tool that allows you to conduct A/B testing on your subscriber lists. Over time, you can refine your messaging to increase your open and click-through rates.
These days, customers are used to paying for products and services in multiple ways. While checks and credit cards are still the preferred payment methods, you need to be able to accommodate your clients as much as possible.
For example, you can use a portable credit card terminal to handle transactions in the field rather than relying on a cumbersome POS system.
Payment gateways like Square or Stripe also allow you to sell products online. Even if you’re running a brick-and-mortar business, there’s no reason not to use your website as a revenue channel. If nothing else, you can always sell swag and branded products. Here are some elements to look at when picking a payment gateway:
- Fees – These tools make money by taking a small percentage from each transaction. However, since this fee can cut into your bottom line, you want it to be as small as possible. Compare rates from different gateways and see if there are any ways to save on these fees.
- Payment Flow – No matter what, customers will have to enter personal information when paying for products online. High-quality payment gateways allow users to process transactions without navigating through tons of pages or creating an account. However, if someone wants to save their information for future purchases, they should be able to as well.
- Security – Check the security credentials of your payment gateway and look at what other companies have to say about it. What built-in protections does the software offer, and can you customize your security system to fit your needs?
Social Media Scheduling
Along with email marketing, social media posting will become a fundamental part of your advertising strategy. However, it’s easy to spend countless hours on these platforms creating, sharing, and managing all of your posts. Since you don’t have endless time to spend on marketing, it helps to use scheduling tools like Hootsuite.
These programs allow you to schedule posts ahead of time and view all your profiles at once. This way, it’s much easier to get a “bird’s-eye view” of your social media and see what’s working most.
The best social media scheduling tools also enable you to connect with followers directly through the platform. Otherwise, you’d still have to spend lots of time on each site engaging with users. Overall, these programs can help you maintain marketing momentum without taking too much time out of your day.
Graphic Design Tools
If you want your business to stand out, you need high-quality graphic elements, including your logo, website, and other marketing materials. Fortunately, online visual design tools like Canva allow you to generate polished pieces without complicated processes or learning curves.
You don’t even need to be a professional designer to use these tools, making them even more accessible.
Something as simple as a social media post can be much more engaging when using graphic design elements to make it pop. In addition, by using self-serve programs, you can streamline your marketing strategy and save money on hiring designers.
Overall, building your business from the ground up can seem overwhelming, but it’s much easier and more manageable when you have the right tools.
Now that you know which programs to use, you can tackle any problem, enabling you to focus on better products and high-quality customer service. From there, growth is inevitable.