Business Toolkit: 5 Business Tools Every Small Business Should Have
Assemble Your Business Toolkit
Starting your own business is not just about the service you provide and marketing. I think that’s where everyone’s mind immediately goes.
I’ll do my thing - like law, coaching, writing - and then I’ll market my thing. Poof! That’s business.
But what’s easy to forget is that you’re not just offering a service - you’re running an…entity. An organization, even if you’re flying solo.
In my capacity as a business coach, I see this realization bite people in the butt all the time.
So I want to take a few minutes today to talk about business tools. Because I feel like some of you are making your job waaaaay harder than it needs to be.
Let’s assemble a business toolkit for your service that can make management, selling, and living a lot more pleasant and profitable - before you go one step further.
Your business toolkit should include things and people that help you:
Build an audience
Store and integrate information
In this blog, we’re going to go over some - just some - of the business tools that will support you as you grow your business. Really, I can think of 10 or 11 that are good ideas at the beginning stages. But that was too long of a blog.
We’ll just go over 5 today. We can swing back for Part 2 of the toolkit blog later.
The point I want you to take today is that it’s not enough just to do your thing.
You need to attend to business. So…let’s get started.
We all think we know what’s going on for our customers. But analytics tells us the truth about what they do.
Analytics is one of the most useful business tools you can get your hands on, and it doesn’t have to cost a dime.
You can collect data -from search engines like Google Analytics or your web host - to get insights on browser behavior. From that, you can refine your messaging, measure responses, and make informed predictions.
Forbes.com says it’s the tool that makes consumer behavior intelligible. “[Analytics] alone can provide you with better insight into customer needs and the updates or changes that should be made in order for your company’s products/services to best serve your customers.”
Small businesses that proactively use analytics are the ones that get bigger. Good data analytics confines you to facts and allows you a window into your clients’ minds and hearts.
It’s an opportunity to create according to your clients’ needs.
Email Marketing Platform
If you’re not collecting emails on your site, now’s a good time to start. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to create a sustainable, profitable business.
It’s hands down the best marketing investment. The return for email marketing is said to be $36 for every $1 spent. That’s higher than any other sales channel.
When you’re starting a small business, you want to lean on business tools that provide big impact for a relatively low investment.
An email marketing platform - like Mailchimp, Convertkit, Constant Contact, or AWeber if you have a low subscriber account - is going to make it possible to launch email campaigns, create stronger relationships with qualified leads, and build a flow of touchpoints for clients who are slow movers. It’s also going to help you create email marketing that’s compliant with commerce laws.
It’s hard, really impossible, to make a scalable business without using business tools that connect you to clients - over and over again. Spend a little bit of time on this one thing, and you’ll get a lot back in return.
Unless you are a freelance accountant, this - of all the business tools mentioned - might sound the most like paint drying. Booooo-ring.
But here’s the thing, if that’s the case, if you find accounting boring, why are you making this such an issue? A time suck? A black hole? Get a handle on it, easy-peasy, and then get on with your day.
There are so many quality accounting options that will store, tabulate, track, and report on your earnings and budget, it’s madness not to use them.
With all the business tools in this category - Quickbooks, Xero, FreshBooks, Wave to name a few - it takes such a small investment, both in terms of time and money.
“Once you’ve connected your accounts and set everything up in your accounting software,” encourages Next Advisor/Time Magazine, “you shouldn’t need to spend more than a few minutes each month managing transactions.”
A few minutes…a month!
All you need are business tools that take the overwhelm out of essential business actions. So you don’t need any advanced features on these platforms.
Too many of my clients get freaked out by tracking expenses and profits. In a healthy business, ignoring your accounting is not an option. Embrace a solution and you’ll be amazed how much easier life (and business) gets.
Your business tools are there to make you function better and look better. To help you be the best version of yourself you can be.
Even if you think you’re a good speller - and I thought I was one too until I started checking - you still need to make use of a good grammar check software.
Things like Grammarly or the Hemingway Editor are great business tools that you can download or use right in Google Docs. I beg you to make use of them.
Look, there’s no way around it. Now that you own the business, communicating is a major part of what you do. To clients, to leads, to the world. A grammar check software is going to help you be clear, accurate, and not look like a dork when you send out copy.
Digital.com cites grammar check software as having extensive use of dictionaries and suburb AI built into it to safeguard you from mistakes. “[M]isspelled words, subject-verb agreement, commonly confused words, repeated words, passive voice” are just some of the things it’s going to catch for you.
It can make suggestions about clarity, syntax, and lean language. You might not always take the suggestions - for instance, it often tells me not to use the word “bejeezus” - but they’re still good to know.
If you’re going to write - and you are - you can’t do it without some kind of tool to help.
And this might sound like an obvious point, but it’s worth making. You need a deep and wide support system.
Maybe you don’t like seeing your friends, colleagues, and family listed as “business tools.” Good for you. That’s a good sign.
But if we’re defining business tools as “essentials that make thriving possible” your support system really fits this definition.
Look, we’re all walking our own road. But when you start a business, after the first flush of enthusiasm, it can be really lonely. And even the highs are just better when they’re shared.
So don’t…I repeat DON’T try to do this all alone. Gather a support system to navigate this journey.
Business is a consistent diet of challenges, especially when you’re trying to get things off the ground. When faced alone it can start to feel less like business and more like the universe is picking on you.
“After a while, these attacks can break down your motivation and your will to continue building,” Healthcare Consultant Chris Pfund told Thrive Global. “That’s where community and a support system come into play.”
I deal with a lot of great people who think that once they get their business in shape, then they’ll reach out to mentors, friends, colleagues, accountability partners, therapists, loved ones. Then they’ll be ready to include their people.
Yeah, don’t do that.
Now is when you need them.
People are standing by waiting to hold you up, help you brainstorm, or just sit on a deck and laugh with you.
Remember the point of your business is to live better. Don’t think you can defer that idea to a later date. You need it now more than ever.
Like I said, there are waaaaay more business tools than these. But the main takeaway for today is that these things apply to you.
Not someone else, you.
If I can use a little tough love here - the time to start acting like a business is before you build your business. Not after. If you’re not willing to invest in yourself now, there won’t be an after.
Use the business tools available to you. They’re not luxuries. (If they were I’d call them “business luxuries.”)
If you want to be a business owner, now is the time to start acting like one.
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Forbes.com, 11 Tech Experts On How Small Businesses Can Effectively Leverage Machine Learning, Forbes Technology Council
Litmus Resource Center, Email Marketing ROI: What leads to better returns?
Time/NextAdvisor, Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses: 5 Online Options Recommended by Both Entrepreneurs and Experts, Allison Martin
Thrive Global, Why Support Systems are Vital for Entrepreneurship Success, Chris Pfund