An online business is relatively easy to set up, right? You don’t have any expenses for store maintenance, and the target customers are right there in the online world… you just have to attract them. Wrong! People may imagine online business owners staying in their pajamas all they, checking how their website is going now and then… but, that’s not the case. You have a huge competition to beat. The online audience has great expectations. You have to find a way to get into their heads, so you can offer something they need in their lives.
Maintaining an online business is a journey that requires great commitment and persistence. Luckily, you can use apps and tools that can support the process and minimize the need for manual tasks. With the right selection of apps, you can build and maintain a successful online business without losing your mind somewhere along the way. We have 7 such tools to suggest.
When you maintain a website that sells products or services, you have to keep track of everything: your ideas, the ideas your audience suggests, the insights you get from your competitors… everything! You can’t do that in a notebook, can you? You’ll have different types of documents, presentations, and charts, so you need to find a way to organize them well.
Dropbox is a great tool to use for that purpose. It’s a storage system that saves your work in the cloud. You can save any type of document in it, and then you’ll access it from any device. Dropbox does use space on your computer, but the good news is that all your work will be saved in the cloud, so you won’t be afraid of losing it.
The collaborative aspect of the tool is also important to mention. You can share folders and files with your team, so you’ll keep everyone in track with the business maintenance. Your workers can edit the documents and drop them back in the appropriate folder, so there will be no need for sending email messages back and forth. If you’re sharing and storing large files and important presentations, Dropbox is the perfect app to use.
How much does an accountant in your area charge per month? An accountant in the US typically charges $150-$400 per hour, so the costs can add up, depending on the amount of work your online business imposes. Here is a really affordable alternative for you: Intuit QuickBooks online accounting plans cost $15, $30, or $40 per month, depending on the features you need. The good news is that these plans are discounted when you buy them for six months, so you’ll save 30% of the price. There’s something even better: you can use a free 30-day trial with no credit card needed.
This software will help you maintain a financially healthy online business. You can use it to track the unpaid invoices, sales and expenses, profit-and-loss reports and other financial statements, process payments to employees and contractors, and much more. Your business taxes will also become less overwhelming when you start using QuickBooks.
You can access the app on your iPad, iPhone, Android tablet, or Android phone, so you’ll be on track with the finances of your business at all times. The apps are free as long as you have a subscription for a plan.
People love shopping online, but they are still reserved towards new websites. When a first-time user decides to make a purchase, the first thing they will check is the support system. They will search for online reviews to see how you manage the payments and what level of support you offer to the customers. They will love to see a live chat, and they will demand to get an immediate response to their questions. In other words – the success of your online business basically depends on the support you provide.
That’s where Zendesk comes in. This customer service software and support ticket system helps you maintain well-functioning relationships with your buyers. The tool features a multi-channel support center, live chat software, integrated call center software, shared team inbox, social messaging apps, and more. Moreover, you’ll also get reports that show how your customer support system performs on an ongoing basis. When you measure and understand the customer experience, you’ll be able to improve it.
The live chat is an especially useful feature. When you enable your customers to reach you and get answers in real time, your website will look way more professional and reliable in their eyes.
When you own a small online business, you are likely the one who takes care of sales, human resources, marketing, taxes, and many other processes. If you organize your time well, you can achieve all those things, at least until you notice substantial growth that will demand more working force.
Gusto is a valuable app in your toolkit. It makes the entire payroll, tax and benefit process much more efficient. You’ll save time because the tool will automate taxes, and it will enable you to access all your employee files into a very organized platform. You can also use Gusto to enroll in affordable health benefits plans with the help of professional advisors.
The tool will automatically reports new hires to the authorities. It will take care of all federal, state, and local tax filings. Plus, it will email digital pay stubs to your employees.
Now that you’re aware of all benefits, you’re probably interested in the prices, too. The base price is $39 per month, plus a monthly charge of $6 per employee. If your company has 11 employees, for example, Gusto will cost you $105 per month. That’s much less than the pay you would have to invest in a new hire, who would take care of all these responsibilities.
How do you attract more customers towards your site? How do you convince them to fall for your offer? How do you explain how your products or services will improve the quality of their lives? There’s a one-word answer to those questions: content. Through content, you attract the search engines to drive users to your website. You promote your offer via social media, blogs, forums, and other online sources. In addition, you need to have on-page content, which will be clean and convincing.
It doesn’t matter whether you write your own content or you’ve hired writers to take care of that part for you; you have to take care of the editing process. Don’t even think about publishing a piece without making sure it’s flawless. Hemingway is the golden standard of editing apps. When you paste your text in the app, it will mark the sentences that are hard to read, and it will suggest simple alternatives for complex phrases. Basically, it will make your content more suitable for the taste of the online audience.
When you’re focused on growing your online business, you have to reach out to the target audience in every possible way. Email marketing is a very successful marketing method that can help you build a base of loyal buyers.
MailChimp is one of the most effective online tools for email marketing. It helps you build and manage mailing lists, so you can keep track of the results your campaign achieves. Moreover, you can use the customizable templates to create beautiful newsletters, and the tool will automatically send them at the right time. There’s no need for any coding experience; the tool is very easy to use.
You’ll get regular reports on the performance of your emails, so you can use that information to improve the campaign.
If your online business is still new, you probably don’t have many subscribers. That’s actually a good thing, since you can start using MailChimp for free. As your campaign grows and needs refinement, you can make progress to the Growing Business and Pro Marketer plans, which cost from $10 and $199 per month, respectively.
This web-based app will make team management easy for you. You can create four lists for your team: to-do, do today, in progress, and done. Schedule the tasks in the to-do section, and then move them throughout the other lists as your team makes progress. The best thing about the app is that you can assign each task to a specific team member. There won’t be any need for sending email reminders and looking for feedback on the progress; everything will be right there in the app.
The basic version is free, and the premium plan is very cheap – only $5 per month. If you opt for the premium version, you’ll get extra features such as file attachments, flow diagram, revision history, task count report, time estimate report, calendar, and more.
An online business is not a simple endeavor. You have to make a huge commitment. Still, there are always ways to make your work easier. The 7 apps suggested above will support different processes of your business, so the aspects of accounting, documentation, customer support, human resources, and content strategy will work in synergy.
Lisa Wheatly graduated from University of Queensland, Australia with a degree in Business. She believes analytical thinking and an enquiring mind are her strongest points, and she does her best to put them to good use. Lisa is a consultant of young entrepreneurs, and she believes her knowledge of the human mind allows her to accurately assess the abilities of the young businessmen. In her spare time, Lisa works for Top Aussie Writers, where she creates unbiased essay service reviews.