Being your own boss can be a great side-hustle or an alternative to the corporate world for those that don’t find it a good fit. Since time management in either scenario can be challenging, the more help and tools the better! Whether it’s outsourcing the aspects of your business you don’t like or lack the skills to execute (design, accounting, content creation for example), or managing the daily tasks involved, the following online tools can be useful to take the fear and uncertainty out of becoming the business owner you’ve always dreamed of being.
Online Tools to Start Your Business
To get your business on its feet, centralized online business tools and apps are great assets to get in the habit of using. They can even help effectively manage all communication and daily operations of existing businesses. For example, project management tools like Proofhub or the task management tool Asana can help track time, assign tasks and mark them as complete on a personalized dashboard. I also like Trello, which is a free tool and quite visual, making it very easy to use and collaborate with your team.
Pro tip: While it’s easy to add business management tools to your mobile devices, know where to draw the line between your professional and personal time for a healthy work-life balance. Reading leadership books or listening to podcasts is a great way to unplug from your business but still feel productive.
If you’re considering financing by using a personal loan to cover the opening expenses and operating costs for your new business, there are several online personal loan options that offer direct deposit in a matter of hours or a few short business days to help cover any large or small business expenses.
Online Tools to Grow Your Business
The customer has become your marketer, so social media and micro-influencers are an essential part of growing and promoting a business. While paid advertising on these platforms can be expensive, micro-influencers can create authentic, genuine connections with real users at a lower cost. Do your research though. Start by looking at their profile and about sections so you can discover what initiatives or values they support and if your brand could be a like-minded connection for your customer base. Be sure to review best practices on working with an influencer before engaging in any promotions with them.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and tell your story on your social platforms. By sharing the challenges and adversity you had to overcome, you allow your audience and customer base to empathize with you!
Online Tools to Market Your Business
Pro tip: Be sure to include a link to sign up for your emails on your website and follow all can-spam laws. These tools include the ability to create custom landing pages for your campaigns too if the goal is collecting email addresses.
Online invoicing tools like Wave Accounting are free, and a great way to create polished-looking invoices. Most have a built-in payment system for your customers to pay by credit card too. There will be fees involved, but it is worth it.
No graphic design skills? No problem! Try Canva, an easy-to-use design program that keeps getting better and better! Their latest enhancement is a voice-over tool for making branded videos with your voice and/or video running on top of the presentation. Canva is free, but there’s a paid version that gives you access to more options. If you want a sneak peek, check out my blog on how to make animated videos using Canva, and here’s an example!
Online Tools to Develop your Expertise
Online business certificates are a great way to help you personally advance in your field, ultimately positively impacting your business. Universities and colleges around the country offer programs in as short as two months, or others that are completely self-paced. These certificate programs such as eCornell and Wharton Online are beneficial as they expose you to industry trends and insight from professionals in the field on topics such as leadership, digital marketing, accounting, and portfolio management. Displaying these certifications on your website and social media can also build trust with your customers, giving them the confidence that you are an expert in your field.
Online Tools to Build Business Relationships
Online and in-person mentorship programs are a good way to make sure you’re maintaining your business as a thought leader in your industry. By talking to others, sharing ideas, and getting feedback on your current practices, others can provide useful ideas for your business. For example, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women was founded to close gender gaps for female entrepreneurs through education. The program’s alumni community, which has served over 100,000 women entrepreneurs, even provides post-graduation coaching.
Pro Tip: Use social media to create your own connections! Facebook groups allow you to connect with dozens of people on topics such as travel or volunteering. Or, use the message feature on LinkedIn to create a personal connection with another entrepreneur with a similar job title, work experience or skills/endorsements. As always, be careful of scams. Look for genuine connections here, not someone trying to take advantage of you and sell you something.
Online networking events are another way to build your global support system of ambitious entrepreneurs. There are a range of both free and paid online networking groups in the United States for business owners that hold professional development opportunities and training sessions with speakers. This is also a great solution for entrepreneurs who want to connect but are uncertain about the state of the global pandemic and travel restrictions.
The potential for both you and your business is limitless. With some strategic methods to start, grow and maintain your business, along with the confidence you need, your future as an entrepreneur is brighter than ever.