Whether you are a new startup or an established business, you are undoubtedly harnessing the power of the Internet to operate, manage and market your business. By simplifying and streamlining certain aspects, it allows you to focus more of your time and energy on growth.
Here are six free tools that you should consider using that can help you grow your business online.
Poor customer support can typically be attributed to a business being unorganized. Letting a single support email slip through the cracks can lead to upset customers and even unfavorable online reviews. Groove is free help desk software that is extremely simple to use and has all the features you need to stay on top of your customer service tickets.
You can easily morph your existing email into a professional customer service help desk. This not only keeps you organized, but also makes your business look more professional. Additional features include social media, live chat, phone and SMS integration, allowing you to handle everything customer service related in one easy to manage tool.
One thing is certain -- your business needs to be active on social media. It simply isn’t an option any longer, so wouldn’t it be wise to make your social media management as simple as possible? After all, entrepreneurs wear several hats and need to allocate their time to multiple tasks daily.
Hootsuite is one of the more popular social media management tools and their free plan is packed with features, allowing you to engage with and monitor all of your social accounts in one dashboard. You can also use the auto-scheduling feature to plan all of your social media posts far in advance, freeing up more time for your urgent day-to-day responsibilities. The tool’s insights also provide you with the data necessary to evaluate social growth and identify the content that your audience loves the most.
Due is a free tool for entrepreneurs, providing an end-to-end solution for billing and payments. Helping to speed payment and increase cash flow, Due’s suite of features includes time tracking and an overview of projects, clients and staff, which helps to create a better understanding of productivity and identify areas for improvement.
Due also offers customized and branded online invoicing templates and tools to provide a fast, accurate and convenient way to send and receive bills and payment options that include PayPal integration, ACH, eCash transactions, a digital wallet and domestic and international credit card processing.
I absolutely love Slack -- I am constantly recommending it to fellow founders and I have nothing bad to say about it. My company uses it and I consider it to be a must-have tool. In my opinion, there isn’t a better team communication tool available.
There are plenty of team chat solutions, but where Slack really stands out is its ability to sort and store conversations in separate channels -- this allows you to quickly find them at a later date without having to sort though chat logs. What’s the best way to really understand how awesome Slack is? Try it. You really need to dive in and experience it for yourself to see how it can greatly improve your productivity and team communication.
5. ZOHO Projects
Projects is just one of the many cloud-based tools offered by ZOHO. It allows teams to easily collaborate and create a more efficient working environment, resulting in tasks being completed faster.
The free option is feature packed, allowing you to organize projects, assign tasks and set priority levels to specific tasks. The reporting feature is on par with most project management tools and there are plenty of integration options, including Dropbox and Google Apps. While the free plan will satisfy most needs, there are premium upgrades for users that demand a bit more.
Dropbox allows you (and/or your team) to access files on any device -- desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet, etc. -- from any location and share them with anyone you choose.
When you are able to make even the smallest tasks as simple as possible, such as accessing documents and files, it eliminates a lot of wasted time. If you aren’t already taking advantage of Dropbox’s free plan, which gives you 2GB of storage space, you are missing out. For those that require additional storage, there are two paid options available: Dropbox Pro and Dropbox Business.
What other free tools do you use? Connect with me on social media -- Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn -- and let me know. Also, make sure to join the free online business forum I created for entrepreneurs.