Best Free and Low Cost Resources for Small Business Owners
Here are the top free and low-cost online resources for small business courtesy of our young entrepreneur profile from April, Grade A Marketing founder Amanda Fischer. If you don’t read on, you’ll be missing out.
“How to” Resource for Small Business: www.Web20blog.org
The Web 2.0 Blog focuses on sales and marketing tools and topics that are useful for small business owners and marketing managers. This blog is very much a “how to” and “how we’ve done it” source of information. I have to admit that I, along with a few of my strategic partners, sponsor and contribute to this blog.
Preferred CRM: www.Batchbook.com
Batchbook, a robust customer relationship management (CRM) software with small business prices, is a good alternative to the incumbent Salesforce.com. This solution is best for a sole-proprietor, consulting business. This product is marketed as “the social CRM”, but unfortunately, it does not live up to its potential in that arena.
Best Social CRM: www.Gist.com
Gist provides you with the latest news, blog posts, and tweets for anyone in your network delivered where you want it, when you want it. Gist is better than Batchbook for this purpose because it instantly aggregates all your contacts’ posts on Twitter, Facebook, etc. instead of having to be painfully entered in and uploaded one by one.
Best Microsoft Email Plug-In: www.Xobni.com
Similar to Gist, the Xobni plug-in works automatically following download. The program allows you to view all correspondence with each of your contacts on one panel. If connected to the internet, the contact will also be instantly linked with their picture through a Facebook or Linked-In account. Xobni is less buggy than Gist and integrates well with your normal processes if you use Outlook as your email platform….and there’s a free version.
Preferred CRM with Project Management: www.Solve360.com
Best know your prospects and clients by keeping their all their information integrated in the same program as you manage their projects. Solve360 is a Norada product helping businesses stay organized when multiple people are working on each client project.
Preferred Marketing Manager: www.MailChimp.com
Mailchimp is the most cost-effective, user-friendly marketing manager. I have experience using iContact, Constant Contact and Vertical Response.
Preferred Web Monitoring: http://www.google.com/analytics/
Google Analytics is a free program allowing for site owners and web-professionals to monitor site statistics including visits, clicks, referral links, traffic sources and time spent on the site.
Best Accounting Software for working with accountants:
There are many accounting programs and not all accountants are well-versed in each, but they all know Quickbooks.
Best Accounting Software for tracking time and invoicing clients:
The program is most appropriate when multiple employees or contractors are working on a single project and billing for time. Otherwise, use Quickbooks because accountants like it.
Preferred Social Media Manager: www.Hootsuite.com
Hootsuite allows you to manage multiple social media accounts simultaneously. It also allows you to schedule posts in advance.
Cool Real-Time Search Engine for FB and Twitter: www.Kurrently.com
Search any topic of interest and find out what people are saying on Facebook and Twitter. It’s fun and can help you find quality articles (and lots of junk) on any given topic.
Forming a Legal Entity: www.Legalzoom.com
Do not waste time or money hiring an attorney to assist you in forming some of the more simple legal entities. Legal Zoom guides you through the business conception process, leaving very little chance for error. Sadly, Legal Zoom will try to up-sell you at every turn. Don’t be fooled by the GoDaddy.com –like attempts, prompting you to add services to your cart. Just form your LLC, or your corp., or whatever, and seek advice from a real professional with regards to the other stuff.
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NFIB YEF more information
Know a Young Entrepreneur? Nominate them here.
The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization promoting the importance of small business and free enterprise to the nation’s youth. More information is available at www.NFIB.com/YEF. The Foundation is associated with the National Federation of Independent Business; NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals.
Entrepreneur In The Classroom. The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom (EITC) supplemental curriculum exposes students to entrepreneurship and the necessary steps to take an idea and turn it into a business. The free curriculum can be integrated into classes teaching a variety of subjects including music, art, fashion, business and many more. You must be registered to view the full Entrepreneur-in-the-Classroom curriculum.
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