As an aspiring business owner, you probably wish there were more hours in the day to get your work done. Your day is probably full of client meetings and team management responsibilities, in addition to handling various administrative tasks across your desk. It’s a never-ending work cycle!
To avoid exhaustion from juggling the many elements that go into starting a business, having the right tools at your disposal can help boost productivity and make navigating new industry challenges less daunting. From customer management software to automate some of your company’s day-to-day tasks, this list contains business tool suggestions that are a must-have for new owners.
#1. Prepare Your Endeavor for Success with a Business Plan
When you think about a business plan, you may not realize it’s just a document with company information. But it’s a road map to help your organization achieve success and convince lenders to invest. If you haven’t already created one, you should do that before anything else (view website). It will make the startup process much smoother and set the foundation for businesses’ operations.
Not sure what you need to include within the plan? The Small Business Administration recommends that the following sections be included:
- Company description
- Financial forecasts
- Organizational structure
- Executive summary
- Market analysis
- Your services or products descriptions
- Funding expectations
- Marketing and sales
When creating your business plan, commercial insurance should be part of your risk management strategy. Every industry has its own set of risks and liabilities that companies face. For example, if you’re a self-employed electrician, workplace injuries, property damage, business interruptions, and more can create significant challenges and impede your success. Take a moment to list out all of the potential threats to your facilities, team, and customers and how your company can withstand financial losses from these events.
A business insurance policy shields you from the fallout of these situations. Uninsured events can be financially devastating for any business. All it takes is a single injury claim or customer lawsuit alleging your company caused damage to their property to trigger a costly legal situation that could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As a business, you’ll likely need a combination of coverages to maximize protection against lawsuits brought by clients, employees, vendors, and stakeholders. Depending on your industry, you may need some or all of the below policies:
- General Liability
- Commercial Auto
- Business Interruption
- Workers’ Compensation
- Commercial Property
A Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) is an economical approach to insuring your company. Carriers will bundle together several coverage options at a lower rate, often allowing you to customize which coverages are in these package deals. When researching your potential insurance cost, keep in mind the savings you’ll gain should you ever need to use it versus paying for a claim on your own.
#2. Keep Your Finances Organized with a Business Checking Account
As a business owner, you will need to create various financial accounts to manage client payments and your banking. Using your current personal checking account if you’re a new start-up may be tempting, but this can be a costly mistake. Imagine the chaos if you get audited by the Internal Revenue Service and have your everyday grocery purchases and company equipment rental fees all coming out of the same account.
Get a separate business checking and only deposit and spend fund related to your company with it. This will ensure your money trail is easier to track and won’t jeopardize the tax protections you get as a business.
#3. Raise Brand Awareness with Digital Marketing
Without a doubt, we live in an age of technological advantages. Everything is online, from shopping and entertainment to healthcare. So it’s crucial you position your brand effectively use the many digital resources available to your new business.
Believe it or not, one of the most undervalued tools in a business’s arsenal is its website! You don’t need a lot of money to set up your online page and will enjoy the benefit of establishing an online presence and point-of-contact for prospective and existing clientele.
There are many low-cost and even free business site options, such as Wix, SquareSpace, and WordPress. These platforms offer a wealth of free tools and tutorials, making it a breeze to construct a beautiful site to drive online traffic.
Widgets include helpful integrations like web notifications so you can easily keep track of your site’s performance and ensure you can engage with your visitors. In addition, adding value-added content like informative short videos and articles can keep prospects surfing your pages longer and increase the likelihood of earning their business.
In addition to opening your company website, you need to consider how you plan to have it hosted. For example, will you go with a larger platform like GoDaddy or HostGator, which host multiple sites off of the same server, or do you expect heavy site traffic and want a personalized hosting package? These are important considerations to also plan for to ensure our visitors enjoy a smooth web experience with your company.
Don’t forget you’ll need effective social media marketing strategies to communicate your brand vision and services to your target audience. Instead of individually logging into multiple accounts, consider subscribing to management tools like Hootsuite and Hubspot to post and respond to your online communities.
You could also consider hiring a marketing specialist to manage this aspect of your business. This will save you time and ensure these accounts aren’t neglected and lose their benefit to your company.
Like many businesses, most of your communications will be online via email or SMS. Companies like MailChimp and Weave can help your company keep up with reminders, appointment bookings, and text messages to your clients. These affordable tools offer easily customized templates, so sending out important communications is a breeze. Just upload your contact list and go!
#4. Hire a Customer Relations Manager
Often referred to as a CRM, a customer relations manager is a database system that keeps track of your clients, records sales history, helps with business process development, and even offers customer service features. Platforms like Salesforce and Hubspot are affordable options and have integrations to work with your existing system. This digital tool is a must for any modern business to operate efficiently and provide better customer experiences.
When you first open your business, you may be unable to afford to hire any staff. Fortunately, you can outsource some of your operations without the additional cost of onboarding an employee. You’ll also avoid the liabilities of being an employer, as well!
Sites like Upwork and Fiver offer a large database of freelancers who will make bids on any projects you post for hire. This is a great way to build business relationships and permanently keep your overhead costs to a minimum.
Whether you decide to first start out in your home or rent an office or storefront, the tools you have at your disposal will directly impact the flow and efficiency of your new business. They also play a crucial role in retaining employees and creating brand loyalty.
Deciding which tools you need first can be difficult. Think about your goals, liabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Then, for many new entrepreneurs, first, invest in elements that will help their business get off the ground and thrive during their first few vulnerable years. This means purchasing business insurance to guard against unexpected challenges that could devastate their livelihood and having a comprehensive business plan in place to guide them.
As time goes on, you’ll be glad you have some of these options at your disposal and probably ask yourself how you got along so far without them.