Let’s face it. As a small business owner, you’re constantly looking for ways to save time and money.
The problem is, you face the exact same challenges as your larger competitors face. Whether it’s IT, marketing, or accounting, your business needs these services to survive.
But finding someone full time (or even part time) for each of these critical business functions can suck the margins right out of your bottom line, leaving you with a lot less money at the end of the month.
Luckily, there are services that are designed for you, the small business owner, so that you can profitably grow your business without dramatically increasing overhead.
Let’s get started.
If you’re a small business owner reading this post, there is a really good chance that your website runs on WordPress.
And why not? There’s a lot to like about it. It’s flexible, customizable, and best of all, it’s free.
But, if you’re not a coder, and have absolutely no desire to be one, WordPress can present certain challenges to the average small business owner.
Whether that’s getting a plugin to work, removing a virus from your site, or making sure that your new landing page is set up correctly, there are a variety of issues that can come up.
That’s where WP Curve can come in.
This is a service that handles all of your WordPress issues without the actual cost of hiring a dedicated IT professional.
Starting at $69/ a month, you can get access to WordPress developers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for maintenance, support, and small jobs.
When it comes to maintaining my websites, I don’t need someone full-time. However, what I do need is someone I can trust. That means teaming up with a class act like WP Curve. I highly (& consistently!) recommend them to anyone needing WordPress support that they can rely on. – Chris Ducker
There are all kinds of software and apps to help you track your finances. Apps like inDinero, Freshbooks, and Quickbooks are all designed to help you manage your finances better.
However, as a small business owner, you have customers to service, employees to manage, deals to close, that managing your books can get away from you.
Even with all of the software available, it can still be a bit of a burden.
Enter Bench.co, a software company that not only gives you the tools to track your finances, but also pairs you with a professional accountant to help you manage your revenue and provide you with tax ready financial statements.
By securely connecting your bank account to a bookkeeper through the Bench app, you can ensure your financial records are up to date without having to do the manual work yourself.
The best way to envision Bench is like this: you’ve purchased one of the apps and hired a dedicated bookkeeper to manage your receipts, accounts payable, and accounts receivable.
However, instead of paying a large monthly fee for the bookkeeper and the app, you simply pay $100 a month and everything is included. An accounting team without the overhead.
When you’re running a small business, there’s tons of other things to be doing besides organizing receipts and reconciling expenses. – Jess Eddy
Part of your job as a small business owner is to make sure your website, social media, and marketing collateral look fresh.
Unfortunately, as small business owners, you can’t use your size as a reason to have an unprofessional looking website, business card, or even Facebook page.
The best way to show off your professionalism is to have your collateral professionally designed.
But hiring a graphic designer can be extremely expensive.
That’s where Swiftly comes in. Swiftly, the latest brain child from design marketplace 99Designs.com, offers to save clients time and money on small design projects.
For just $19, Swiftly will match your job with a skilled graphic designer and complete it in less than one hour. This includes everything from redoing your Facebook cover image, to updating your business card, to tweaking your logo.
Here’s how it works:
Swiftly has been a life saver for me! I love knowing that all of my small design jobs will be completed in one hour. Using Swiftly on a regular basis means that I can get my work done. – Abby Glassenberg
Have you ever wished you could use your mobile phone for your business without giving out your personal number?
Or have you ever wondered how companies like 1-800-got-junk got vanity networks?
Or maybe you’ve decided you want to set up a local number with multiple extensions, but don’t know how.
Grasshopper lets you run your business from your cell phone.
For starting at $12 a month, you can have your own toll free/local number, use multiple extensions if you have a small staff, have your calls forwarded to your mobile phone, and have your voice mails transcribed into an email.
This will give you the appearance of having a bigger business while allowing you to keep your private number, private.
One of the biggest reasons to like Grasshopper.com is they don’t lock you in to yearly plans, pre-paid plans, or long term contracts. It is 100% pay as you go.
Alan’s Factory Outlet sells Amish-style storage buildings to help protect your belongings. The company sells a variety of storage sheds as well as metal carports, horse barns, and garages.
Who heads up the business? Alan Bernau Jr and Julie Bernau, his wife! Alan began helping his dad when he was 12, so he has a long history in the storage business. Alan is also a Maryland State Trooper.
And guess what? Alan uses a Grasshopper toll free number. He loves having an auto-attendant so he doesn’t have to answer every call. He’s also a fan of voice mail transcription. “I don’t have to write down each message because it is transcribed and emailed to me,” Alan says.
I know that you just did a double take.
Honestly, I can’t believe I’m giving a shout out to Google support. So what’s the all about?
Here’s the deal. We all know that Adwords is an effective way to drive highly targeted traffic to your website.
The “theory” goes like this: People searching for your type of product or service will see your ad, click on it, and then you’ll be able to convert them into either a lead or customer and your business runs on auto-pilot.
It sounds good, in theory.
But have you ever tried to set up an Adwords account and know without a shadow of a doubt that you were doing it right?
Creating your first Adwords campaign is tricky. There is a huge learning curve that goes along with it. Do you use the content network? Do you just go with search ads? Or do you try remarketing? It’s enough to leave you confused and your brain overloaded.
There are three options to solve the Adwords “dilemma”.
First, you dedicate a lot of time that should be spent running your business trying to learn how to set up Adwords.
Second, you could spend a lot of money finding an agency to help you manage your campaign.
And third, you can call Google support and have them set up your first campaign for free. I personally like the third option.
Google won’t manage your ads for you, so you’ll still have to either hire an agency or do it yourself. However, with them setting it up for free, you can quickly and affordably determine whether or not Adwords is a viable marketing channel for your business.
The Julian Bakery started using the Content Display network for their Adwords campaign. Immediately, they saw conversions increase by 35% and impressions increase by 350%.
In the three years they have been advertising with Google, they have seen the number of employees go from 10 to 35, and revenue more than doubled last year. (source)
Smart marketers will tell you that email marketing is by far one of the most effective ways to convert leads into sales.
In fact, Neil Patel of Quicksprout ran an experiment and found that a majority of his blog’s revenue, 44% to be exact, came directly from his email list.
And in case you’re wondering, 35% of his revenue comes from search engines, 13% of his revenue comes from direct traffic, and only 8% of his revenue comes from social media.
That’s how much of an impact email can have on your business. The problem is, setting up an email auto-responder series can be a bit tricky.
Drip, an email service provider, offers small businesses a light weight marketing automation system that allows you to send just the right email to the right person at the right time.
Let’s say you have absolutely no idea what to write in the emails you send to prospects.
Professional marketers will compile a custom 5 day auto-responder course for you at no cost. So you don’t need to worry about what to send prospects when they sign up for your list.
Drip also gives you the optin form which helps reduce the time and energy it takes to set up your webform with your email service provider.
Adding the widget to my site literally took me less than 10 minutes, and has already captured 956 leads in 3 months! I love how easy you have made this, and it looks awesome on my site without annoying users. – Nate Grahek
All small business owners need support in order to make their customers happy, acquire new customers, and manage their finances.
And hiring people full time to accomplish these tasks may not always be a possibility.
However, with the services listed above, small business owners can reasonably expect to compete with larger competitors and profitably grow their companies without adding too much overhead.