Small businesses play an enormous role in the American economy, making up more than 99 percent of all American employers. And since the mid-2000s, small businesses have led the U.S. comeback from the economic downturn. No doubt, if you’re reading this, you’re part of the 543,000 new businesses that start each month. Maybe you’ve transitioned from a big company or simply just wanted to be in the driver’s seat.
Being a small business definitely has its upsides. You're fast and pretty agile, and generally don’t have layers of processes or bureaucracy as roadblocks. But sometimes, your small company can sometimes feel just that—small. And naturally, you want to be able to leave a satisfying impression on all your customers. That can be a real challenge, especially when you’re trying to manage everything yourself or with a limited amount of resources.
Trust us, we’ve been there. A lot. So, in the spirit of sharing, here are a few of our favorite entrepreneurial tools that you can employ to get many of the benefits associated with a larger organization.
No—you don’t have to be a big company to worry about a CRM tool. The reality is that sticky notes and spreadsheets can only do so much. If you and your team interact with customers on a daily basis, you want to know who they are and what products that have so that you can service them beyond expectations. But translating your requirements and configuring them correctly into the CRM takes experience, and if you’re time or resource-strapped, outsourcing is the ideal option. You’ll also benefit from the business process expertise an external provider has acquired through their previous client engagements.
Juggling several projects, deadlines and work streams is a part of the small business experience. Decisions get made during hallway conversations or in your car on the way to the next client meeting. But this ‘process’ can only take you so far. That’s why we suggest productivity tools for task management. Most are absolutely free. From inside the easy-to-navigate dashboard, you can create new tasks, assign them to specific teammates and monitor the progress of multiple projects. (We like and use Asana.)
Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. LinkedIn. Blogs. Social engagement is inevitable, so if you’re not already on the social media bandwagon, it’s time to jump on board. It’s a highly effective yet relatively inexpensive marketing tool that should be in every small businessperson’s arsenal. Doing it well does take time, but there a few great social media management tools that are easy to use and manage. Most offer ‘Freemiums,’ so they are also extremely cost-effective.
Alex Quilici has been a successful entrepreneur in the telephony space for the past 15 years, and is now the CEO of YouMail, which replaces traditional voicemail with unique call management services.