There are so many valuable free tools, templates and trials “out there” for small businesses it’s easy to become overwhelmed. As a small business owner whose mission is to help other small businesses grow, I’m constantly on the lookout for these kinds of resources, not just for my clients but for my own business as well. I’ve bookmarked so many over the past year that I thought I’d share them by creating one master directory. Therefore, for the next 4 blog posts I will highlight 10 powerful resources/tools that can help grow your small business (below are the first 10 of 40). To make your life easier, if you subscribe to my blog you’ll automatically be notified when the next 10 are posted (just a thought). And as you go through these, if you have any questions…I’m always happy to help!
1. ONLINE STORAGE: Dropbox – This powerful product ends the challenge of storing and syncing files and documents on different devices and computers. And, with the ability to share all of your important stuff with others, Dropbox is a cloud-based productivity tool that entrepreneurs love. The free offering comes with 2GB of space, with paid plans for a fee.
2. FREE SCORE templates and tools – A nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and helping entrepreneurs with over 13,000 volunteers and 370 offices around the U.S., SCORE also has a section on its website with free templates and tools. This trove includes business plan forms, financial templates, contract samples/templates and more. You can even ask a question to a local, volunteer mentor right through the website.
3. PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Trello – A virtual post-it-note board system. It allows you to share selectively among team members, attach Google Docs and discussions to projects, and more.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKET RESEARCH: Social Mention – Curious to know what the social media world thinks about your company/brand or your competitor’s? Find out through Social Mention, which aggregates user-generated content in real time. The search engine and analysis platform monitors more than 100 social network sites including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Digg. To use the service, enter a search term or phrase. Social Mention then offers measurements of the buzz around the query, like the ratio of positive mentions to negative ones. It also provides daily social media alerts and updated data on trending topics.
5. EMAIL NEWSLETTER CAMPAIGNS: MailChimp – The service lets you design e-mail newsletters and share them on social networks. Then, you can log on to your MailChimp dashboard to see who’s opening your newsletters, clicking on content, and more. Cost: Free for fewer than 2,000 subscribers across all lists and up to 12,000 e-mails per month
6. ONLINE DOCUMENT SIGNING APP: HelloSign – It includes tools to facilitate document signing, tracking and management. Notifications keep you apprised of the signer’s activity. Signed documents are securely stored and always accessible. Sign a limited number of documents free per month. HelloSign has mobile apps and a Gmail extension.
7. SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT: HootSuite – Simplify everything by managing up to 3 social networks from a single easy-to-use Dashboard. Customize your streams and tabs in a way that makes sense to the way you work. Message Scheduling – tell Hootsuite when you want to publish your message and it takes care of the rest. Social Listening – Know what your customers, competition, and industry influencers are talking about on social media with search streams that you can monitor within the Dashboard. Apps – Expand Dashboard functionality by connecting popular and useful social apps like Instagram, YouTube, Marketo, and Reddit. Most are free and you can add as many as you want.
8. COMMUNICATION & MEETINGS: Join.me – For those meetings or web conferences on the fly, Join.me is a simple-to-use teleconferencing application that allows you to review documents and designs, train staff, do product demonstrations – basically to get everyone apprised of company updates. You can do transatlantic web conferences and presentations, too. There are certain limitations with the trial version.
9. CONTENT CREATION: PicMonkey – Free online image editing tool. Another one that’s new to me. PicMonkey is very easy to use & helps make fun, shareable graphics for blog posts & social media.
10. FILE SHARING & STORAGE: Google Drive – Powerful web-based office software & file sharing. Google Drive is Google’s cloud-based file storage system, and it integrates seamlessly with the file sharing & collaboration tools inside Google Docs. Drive is free for up to 15 GB of storage.
Danielle Foley, President ~ Foley Marketing Advisors ~ firstname.lastname@example.org ~ www.foleymarketingadvisors.com ~ (973) 632-9170