Category Archives: Startups

6 Tools That Will Bring a Digital Transformation to Your Small Business

Photo by Maria Agudo López on Unsplash

When you started your small business, writing out your daily to-do list and using a simple spreadsheet for most tasks was probably fairly simple and expedient. As your business grew, however, and you added staff, it wasn’t enough anymore to do what was easiest for you. Now you had staff, contractors, vendors, clients and suppliers to think about. Customers are also living in a digital world and expect the ease and convenience of digital tools.

There is no doubt of the need for even the smallest of businesses to embrace digital tools, but making the switch is not quite so simple. Just using digital tools is not enough, you need to make sure you have the right tools for your business. Here are 6 digital tools that can help make your business’ digital transformation a smooth one.

1. Trello

Trello is a visual project management app that can help keep your entire team on the same page and allow you to see at a glance where different projects stand. With Trello, you can create lists and quickly move items from list to list. Trello allows you to quickly see where bottlenecks are happing and move tasks to get things moving again.

2. Slack

Slack is a robust team communication and collaboration app that allows you to quickly search for keywords or phrases, create different channels for different projects, teams or conversations. Individuals can be notified of important information on a different channel they may need to be aware of without being bogged down by a lot of details they don’t need. No matter how small or large your team, Slack can keep everyone in the loop.

3. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is one of the most robust programs you will find to handle all of your email marketing needs. From newsletters to campaigns, Mailchimp allows you to sort and filter lists to tweak, hone and fine tune your campaigns or set it up once and forget it. Mailchimp is one of the very best tools for busy small business owners.

4. SocialPilot

Social media may be one of the best things to ever happen to small businesses. Even the smallest of businesses can run effective social media marketing campaigns and use their social media accounts to create connection and build a loyal following. But keeping up on social media can be a challenge. Hootsuite is one of the most well-known social media management apps but it can also be prohibitively expensive. SocialPilot can do almost everything Hootsuite can do at a much more pocket friendly cost.

5. Office 365

Not all the best tools are new tools. Some of the best tools you may have been using for years, but don’t fully understand their full capacity. Most people are familiar with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, but Office has expanded to include an entire suite of business tools including OneDrive, Exchange and Microsoft Teams. With low monthly subscription Prices, today’s Office may have all the tools you need at a price you can afford.

6. Zipbooks

Quickbooks has, of course, become one of the biggest names in accounting software, but that doesn’t always make them the best. In fact, many small businesses do not need all the features that Quickbooks has to offer or the price tag that comes with it. Zipbooks is a free accounting program that gives you all the tools and analytics you need to take your business to the next level and it’s made just for small businesses. Not only will Zipbooks help you keep your books, but it will also automatically send invitations to clients to leave reviews and provide smart insights about your most loyal and profitable customers.

One of the challenges of digital transformation is creating a smooth streamlined system from all the many tools that are available. In many cases, there are multiple apps and programs you can use that will accomplish the same thing. The important thing is to find the right one for you. If you use Office 365, you might find it more convenient to use Yammer than Slack, but you may prefer MailChimp over Outlook. You will, of course have to choose between a number of paid and free programs, but ultimately the goal is to find the best solutions for you. In some cases, it might be better to pay a bit more for one program that can accomplish 3 or 4 tasks than to use three different programs to accomplish those same tasks.

BIO: Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about the latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters


Steps You Can Take to Start Your Own Company

Starting a company from scratch is not easy, but it is always worth pursuing if it is your dreams and aspirations in life. Many entrepreneurs will decide to take this leap of faith on their idea, but what are the exact steps that they follow in order to start the company?

This question will always be at the back of your mind if you are in the process of pursuing your business ventures. Having a good idea that sets the groundwork for the company is always the first step, but there are many other considerations to keep in mind.

Do you know what your business name will be? How will you fund your company? Who are the people that will be working with you? These questions, and more, should be asked.

Starting with the idea
If you don’t have a good business idea, you can’t start a company. For some inspiration, you can always take a look at what startup ideas are floating around the market, but you always need to find a way to be more unique and offer a competitive edge.

Otherwise, why would people choose to purchase your product or use your service, if another business that is more established is doing the exact same thing? Don’t rush this part of the process, and even if it takes a year or longer to finesse the details of your structure, then that is exactly what you should do. Consider even getting the opinion of your friends and family members, once you feel as if you are getting closer to the launch of the company.

Branding such as business name and logo
Once you have perfected your company idea, you will need to start taking steps in order to brand your business. What will you name it? Once you decide on this, you also have to register the name.

Moreover, what will the logo look like? What color schemes will dominate the website and product packaging? There are a number of branding concerns that you should determine.

You should consider getting the help of a designer that will make everything look visually appealing, as well as a copywriter that can help you with the written portion of your brand. After all, a catch phrase that leaves a lasting impression on people could be just what you need in order to steer your start-up towards success.

Find a means of funding it
Finding a way to fund your company is always important. The good news is that there are always a number of approaches you can take here!

For starters, finding an investor is one option. However, this also means that you must convince someone that your company will succeed, and they must see the value in it in order to provide you with the necessary money.

On the other hand, obtaining loans can be a much easier alternative. There are tons of financial institutions that provide small personal loans, which can also be delivered right into your bank account in only a matter of minutes, if not seconds. When you are just starting off, this can be exactly what you need to do in order to kick start your business into motion.

Keep in mind that the goal is always to become self-sufficient and learn how to make profit from your business product or service.

Growing your team
Although every single company has an entrepreneur that laid the groundwork for the business, there are countless other individuals that are responsible for the success of the enterprise. A leader is still necessary for the sake of direction, but every single employee that is hired will have an important role to play.

That is why you should hire the right people for the job, and moreover those who believe in your company values.

You can’t assume that you are an expert in every single field, and that is why you should also defer to other people that are working for you for their advice. After all, you did hire them for a reason.

Market it
Learning how to market your business is a key component of your brand awareness. If no one knows about who you are and what you do, how can you possibly expect to make any profit from your start-up?

Having a strong online presence is one step, but there are a number of campaigns you can run, and initiatives that you can invest in that will help you grow your audience. Some of these can include:

• Public relations
• Social and digital marketing
• Attending industry relevant events

Keep in mind that you should always target your specific audience members, in order to see the best results coming out of this as well. If you create gardening supplies yet are running campaigns directed at people who are interested in baking, you are simply losing money and will not achieve the results you want.

Set long-term goals
Every single company has certain goals that it is working towards, and you should thus determine yours. There is a difference between short and long-term goals, but both are important to lay out. Of course, profit will be one, but what do you want your relationship with your customers to be like, for example?

Be realistic about what you can achieve in a certain amount of time, and if you find that you aren’t hitting your benchmarks, it could be time to re-evaluate your business strategy.

Starting your own company is no walk in the park, but it is also a very doable endeavor. Simply take a look at the number of start-ups that pop up each year!

Of course, starting a business, and gearing it towards long-term success are two very different scenarios. Every single entrepreneur will want to achieve the latter, and that means they must think strategically about everything that they do. It’s better to take your time finessing your company idea, instead of rushing through anything. Moreover, don’t forget about the importance of finding hard-working employees that believe in you and the company idea. No organization can become successful with only one person running the entire show.


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