Whoever came up with the adage that “There are no shortcuts to success, only hard work” didn’t have access to an Internet connection.
As a small business owner, it’s not your job to reinvent the wheel. In fact, shortcuts allow you to focus on tasks that are truly central to your company’s core product or service.
And shortcuts are everywhere, if you know how where to look. Start here, with these three tools your company should have been using yesterday.
If you’re not selling your company’s offerings online — and I mean processing orders, taking payments and making shipments via an online store — than you’re missing out on the millions of consumers who do their shopping on the web.
Sure, maybe a few years ago the sales you could have generated online didn’t justify the cost of hiring a coder to design and build a flashy site capable of taking payments and handling logistics. But these days, you don’t need a coder, or a big budget for customized web development, thanks to do-it-yourself ecommerce tools like Squarespace.
Squarespace is an inexpensive drag-and-drop website builder that allows you to create an online store, manage its inventory, process orders, print packing slips and customize emails, all in one easy-to-use tool.
Face it: If you can operate a mouse and keyboard, than you’re equipped to offer your products or services online.
Now that you have a proper site up and running, you need an easy way to chat with the people who visit the site, much like you would chat with folks in the real world who walk into your place of business off the street.
Enter Olark, an easily embeddable chat window for your site that prompts visitors to ask questions or immediately chat with someone in your support or sales department. Here’s the cool part: The messages get pushed to your phone in real-time, like a text message, and allow you or someone on your team to respond via text message. Or, if you don’t want to be that available, you can have the messages automatically land in your email inbox, where you can reply at your convenience.
Olark is free and can be easily placed on your site by following this instructional video. (If the instructions are over your head, just ask whoever built your site to handle it, and they should be able to get Olark working on your site in less than 15 minutes.)
Google AdWords. Two words that send chills down nearly every small-business owner’s back. Setting up and monitoring an effective campaign on Google — to ensure that people see your site when they search for products and services similar to those offered by your company — can be mind-numbingly difficult and time-consuming. Businesses hire people whose sole job it is to oversee such campaigns or outsource AdWords management to costly agencies.
Kudu can help. For a fraction of what it normally costs to employ an AdWords specialist, Kudu will set you up with an on-demand Google AdWords expert who will handle everything from keyword research and market analysis, to ad copy creation and on-going optimizsations.
You get weekly updates from your experts, along with digestible reports, so you can focus on your business, rather than your AdWords.
Next Up: Not sure if you’re using the most budget-friendly CRM system? Don’t know if you’re using the latest tools for managing your day, paying your employees, and billing your customers? We’ve got you covered with the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter. Sign up today and start receiving the weekly email chock full of the latest tools and resources to help you run a successful business.