Running a small business means more than simply stocking your store’s shelves and turning on the “Open” sign. Between ordering inventory, tracking communications with customers and suppliers, organizing client files, payroll and more, being the boss is more than just a 24/7 responsibility.
Why not then turn to the Information Superhighway for useful online tools designed to organize your every business need.
According to Tom Murzenski, technologist with TechKnowSys, a New Jersey web design firm, a nearly unimaginable number of web sites can help business owners manage their companies. Even better, many offer free versions.
While not endorsing any particular site, there are some business management tools Murzenski uses, sometimes even when creating projects for clients.
For example, two email marketing sites he likes are Mail Chimp (http://mailchimp.com) and Mad Mimi (https://madmimi.com), Murzenski says email marketing web sites are best used when businesses want to email their company’s contact list about specials, updates or news. Their ability to send an email to a large list of contacts saves a great deal of time and helps the business owner keep their message uniform.
An excellent tool for tracking client needs or opinions are online surveys. Recently, Murzenski used Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com) for a legal publishing client seeking to refine its marketing strategy.
“We surveyed their audience over the course of several months. We asked demographic questions as well as questions about products and positioning. While many results came in as expected, some were surprising, such as the very high bias towards civil litigation in their audience,” he says.
When several people are collaborating on the same project, it can be difficult to track who edited what and who was the last person to review the document. That’s where file sharing and collaboration tools like Google Drive (www.drive.google.com) come in. Because it’s a cloud-based program, Google Drive allows users to access files from anywhere, offering the ultimate in flexibility and collaboration.
Other web sites offering similar services include Evernote (www.evernote.com) and Dropbox (www.dropbox.com). Skitch (www.evernote.com.skitch) allows users to easily create sketches to compliment any verbiage included in a communication, says Murzenski.
In addition to these specialized web sites, online offerings exist that support project management. According to Murzenski, they are extremely helpful for “centralizing communications, files, presentations, notes, to-dos, etc.”
Popular examples include Basecamp (www.basecamp.com), Active.collab (www.activecollab.com) and Workamajig (www.workamajig.com).
Tapping into the countless resources available online are sure-fire ways for a business owner to improve their customer relations since they improve efficiency, accuracy and communications.