Most business owners are so focused on the day-to-day that they often forget to seek out tools and resources that will help them grow. Then they wonder why they aren’t growing! From software to human resources, here are my 10 favorite resources for entrepreneurs.
1. Good CRM
The busier you are, the harder it becomes to keep track of conversations you’ve had with clients, to dos, and projects. That’s where customer relationship management software comes in handy. Today, many CRM platforms, like Insightly, also incorporate a few project management features that help you keep notes on clients and assign and track related tasks to your employees.
2. Dead-Simple Email Marketing
If you’ve been in business a while, you can remember when sending an email newsletter out required HTML coding and a bit of a technical mind. Yet, so many entrepreneurs don’t have these skills. Fortunately, these days, email marketing is much simpler to use. MailChimp (which offers a comprehensive free level of service) and other platforms offer professional-looking templates that just need a few paragraphs of copy from you, an image or two, and emails to send to.
3. Social Media Management
If social media is on your list of major headaches (the constant updating! not knowing what to post where!), take comfort in the fact that there are tools designed to make it easier to market through social. HootSuite lets you manage multiple profiles (think: Twitter, Facebook, Google +) and schedule your updates when you want them. That way, you don’t have to be on social sites all day, and your updates can be spread out.
4. Ebook Readers
Not everything on my list is software. I find that having the ability to carry potentially thousands of books in something that’s nearly paper-thin is a tremendous asset when I’m traveling. I can keep up on magazines and books while on the road, without the bulk.
This is rather a broad category — and certainly not a new one — but many businesses don’t realize how helpful freelancers can be. Whether you need a logo designed, a blog post written, or someone to manage your social media, there’s no reason you have to do it all yourself. You pay freelancers based on output: if you need 3 blog posts written, that’s what you pay for, without the overhead of a full-time employee.
If you’re one of those business owners who works in your business rather than on it, I challenge you: this year, find a conference or workshop in your area that you can learn from. Maybe it’s a marketing conference that can provide you with skills that will grow your business. Or maybe it’s an industry conference that will connect you with the big players in your field. Either way, you come out smarter.
You can only operate in a bubble for so long. It’s important to get out there and meet others in your field. You never know what they can teach you, or what potential business opportunities they will lead you to.
Keeping abreast of industry trends is vital, no matter what field you work in. Blogs are some of the best resources to keep you informed. Read industry blogs, but also read blogs that your customers read, so you can stay tapped into what they care about.
9. Feedback from Your Employees
If you have employees, listen to them. They have ideas about your business, and many of them are likely fantastic suggestions. Remember: you don’t have to be the only source of inspiration for your brand.
Seems silly to end this list by saying that taking time off will make you smarter, but it will. Studies show that entrepreneurs who take more vacations tend to be happier overall. Take even a day off, and you’ll come back refreshed and ready to tackle whatever problems await you.
Don’t forget to add CorpNet’s Business Information Zone to your list of smart business resources! With this free tool, you can stay compliant and never miss a filing deadline.