Starting a business is not an easy feat. It requires, passion, hard work, positivity, knowledge, business know-how and, of course, a certain amount of skill. But we also need online tools that allow us to operate efficiently from both office and remote locations.
Below, I have listed what I feel are 20 of the best online tools on the market to help solo ventures grow and thrive.
This tool is a godsend for start-up businesses. I used it to write my own customised business plan and found it so easy to use. It allowed me to focus on key elements such as sales forecasts and product development while keeping everything looking extremely professional. You can start a trial for free and the best thing about it is how it gets the tedious ‘business plan’ task out of the way quicker so you can move onto the fun stuff!
If you’ve not heard of Evernote, where have you been? This intuitive note-taking tool helps me capture every idea I have, no matter where I have it! When you sign up for free, you can upload up to 60MB of data per month and sync this information across two devices – so when inspiration strikes, the application is at hand to record your ideas! There are some monthly paying plans which offer a bit more but I found that the free version suited my business needs just fine.
I have found Flickr, a Yahoo company, to be the best place to go when you are in need of high quality, free imagery. Using this app, I’m able to share pictures, access them online from anywhere in the world, organise them and edit them using my laptop, Mac or mobile phone.
If you haven’t already used Dropbox for file-sharing then I urge you to try it. It keeps files stored securely and allows sharing with other users and devices. I still use the application now to connect with my lead designer. I ‘drop’ ideas and screenshots into the filing system and she is able to view them within seconds and start working on the new products.
You may be looking for some assistance with running your business but aren’t in the position yet to hire a regular worker. To increase my productivity and take some of the workload off my shoulders, I set about hiring a freelancer to help with some of my admin and accounts before I was able to advertise any permanent roles. UpWork facilitated this because it’s a website dedicated to freelancers whereby jobs can be advertised and then completed remotely.
This online writing tool is dedicated to those in the business sector and offers samples of business emails. I found the material on this site invaluable as it helped me to familiarise myself with the appropriate tone and content for all the different types of emails I send out for my business.
Entrepreneurs should never underestimate the value of quality business writing. I trialled EssayRoo (a professional writing service) and found their work to be of a high-quality. All of the writers I came across were fully qualified in the subject and offered free amendments until I was 100% satisfied with the text.
This editorial app is a fantastic tool, in my opinion. While it picks up on spelling errors, it also identifies long or short sentences as well as a range of other issues. It’s colourful editing techniques make it incredibly easy for me to look at where I am going wrong and then make the necessary fixes.
The creators of this online piece of software understand the value of quality writing in business. They promise to ‘turn your good writing into great writing’ by improving the flow and removing any errors. I took them up on this and was pleasantly surprised. I also liked the way you could simply paste your text into its webpage without having to download anything.
Boom Essays is another tool designed to help with writing. This genuinely helpful site was a blessing for me as it played a huge part in putting together some of my marketing material.
WordPress is the platform of choice for over 75 millions websites the world over. Originally a blogging platform, it quickly evolved into one of the world’s favourite Content Management System platforms. With tens of thousands of themes (both free and paid) and a code structure that is made for great SEO – WordPress offers soloists the ability to build out their own professional quality sites at a fraction of what it would cost for a developer.
Wix is another free website builder that offers templates tailored to specific sectors. I will admit, I opted for this free service rather than WordPress and found the steps very easy to follow. I crafted my own website into what I feel is a professional-looking online space. So far, I’m confident that it has attracted the right kind of attention!
13. Google Analytics
Now your website is up and running, surely you want to know if it is drawing in those customers? Look no further – Google has developed some intelligent software which tracks the usage of your site. I use Google Analytics to examine how many views each of my pages receives a day/week/month, the countries in which those visitors are based and how they found my site. This information is incredibly useful when it comes to knowing how big my reach is and the areas I need to work on to increase traffic.
Like most people, I was familiar with Skype but didn’t know to what extent I exploit it until I researched it for my business. For instance, did you know you can purchase a business package and carry out meetings integrated with all of your Office applications? It’s perfect if you haven’t got a permanent base but want to conduct professional meetings or conference calls.
This is an electronic marketing tool which can initiate targeted campaigns and product follow-ups thanks to a range of integrated e-commerce settings. I connected it to my online store and was amazed to find that it could send emails to my clients when items they were interested in came back in stock.
Yelp is an international, online business directory. Its primary purpose is to provide user reviews and recommendations concerning top restaurants, shopping, nightlife, entertainment and other services. Positive listings about my store have been a real bonus in promoting my business.
Managing finances, whether personal or business-related, is a hassle and can cause quite a lot of stress (online banking, security codes, keeping on top of account activity… yikes!). With Paypal, I can manage my money much more easily by accepting payments online (via the website or on my mobile), sending electronic invoices to retailers, accepting cards and contactless payments and selling internationally.
I have always used LinkedIn to connect with industry experts and like-minded business owners. As a networking site for business men and women, it recommends relevant professional connections and is a place to advertise or search for jobs. I even found and contacted potential job candidates via LinkedIn and put together the perfect team for my online store.
Buffer professes to be a smarter way of sharing on social media sites, and it delivers! The simple-to-use tool can save you precious time (especially when you’re just starting up and involved in pretty much all aspects of the business!) by scheduling and publishing posts across a range of sites. I also found it useful that I could analyse the activity of all of my social networking mediums in one place.
No matter what field of work you are in, you are almost certainly going to need to spend some time on the road for business purposes. In my industry, I am always going to meet new clients and designers as well as attending seminars across the country. I often consult Airbnb to find properties and rooms to rent for my staff and me at cut down prices.
So there you have it – all my favourite online tools in one place. Have you got any favourites that are missing from my list? I’d love to hear about them in the comments 🙂