Best Free and Low Cost Resources for Small Business Owners

May 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm 25 comments

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:

http://quickbooksonline.intuit.com/

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:

www.Freshbooks.com

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.

Connect with Grade A Marketing

Email Amanda  

Grade A Marketing  website

Facebook

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.

Related links:

Follow NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation on Twitter

Follow NFIB on Twitter

Follow blog author Kathy Korman Frey on Twitter


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Tricia Reville, Green Entrepreneur Via Her Business Greenfinity Coleton Lunt: Artist, Hiking Guide, Showcases Diversity of Entrepreneurship

25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Eric G  |  May 19, 2011 at 12:34 am

    For a focused lead management CRM, please take a look at http://www.leadzep.com

    It can be used for customer CRM, but really geared towards lead and deal conversion.

    Reply
  • 2. Magic Beans Inc  |  May 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Great recommendations! Magic Beans uses many of these resources already but, we could switch the rest over to match this list!

    Reply
  • 3. uscisform  |  July 28, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Great recommendations and I will used this as my resources

    Reply
  • 4. Kathy Korman Frey (@ChiefHotMomma)  |  August 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Great and practical. Thank you!

    Reply
  • 5. John Smith  |  September 2, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    hi. how are you. thanks for the post!

    Reply
  • 6. quickbook point of sale  |  September 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    This will surely help small businesses. I just want to say thank you for sharing the list of websites which are really helpful. Many people will get a lot of information here. Do you mind if I share this page to other people?

    Reply
  • 7. debt collections agency  |  September 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Great source! I wonder how’d you know all of these stuffs there but I absolutely admire your vast knowledge on business resources. I made a short review on those materials and I am so impress with the current users of it. Thanks for sharing those tips.

    Reply
  • 8. helpmefaq.it (@helpmefaqit)  |  November 14, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Another great resource is: helpmefaq.it, it will allow you to create great-looking online FAQs, with customer-centric metrics to optimize their content and a simple contact-us flow — with many more features including social integration. Your help content is at the center of your site, it needs to be crystal clear so that customers spend time buying or interacting with your service, and not figuring it out.

    Join the beta now: signup.helpmefaqit.com

    Reply
  • 9. Pat Huston  |  November 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    what about Nimble? They were not around when you wrote this…have you had a chance to check them out?

    Reply
  • 10. hotmommas  |  February 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Reblogged this on Building A Million Dollar Business Part Time and commented:
    Good one – Low cost biz resources for entrepreneurs on @NFIByef c/o @GradeAFresh

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    If you are looking for an alternative to LegalZoom, I highly recommend http://www.BusinessRocket.net they are very affortable and quick on all processing.

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