By Mike Templeman
It’s the age of the digital entrepreneur. Today, anyone with a computer, an internet connection, a great idea, and a heck of a lot of drive can start their own company and become a success. I’ve personally started a few successful online companies, and every time I do, I rely on a set of tools to help me hit the market with a splash. Now, most of the tools I use started out as free trials, because let’s be honest, new entrepreneurs don’t usually have a lot of cash to burn. But what’s nice is that most of these tools have grown with my company and are still in use today, albeit in a paid capacity.
But whether you’re penny pinching or you have a budget to use, these online tools will help you be prepared for any situation as an entrepreneur.
WordPress is a popular platform for creating a blog or website. It is free and very easy to use, requiring only the most basic computer skills to create and maintain. Plus, it allows you to add pictures, photos and content to make your website look like you hired an expensive webmaster.
Have you always wanted to tell people that your company is “in the cloud” but you weren’t really even sure what that means? Great news! Now you can have your own little place in the cloud with Dropbox a platform that allows you to store information on the Internet rather than on your own computer. By doing so, you can transfer and backup large files in one place and allow certain employees, associates or clients to access them. Dropbox is free (for a fixed storage level), so you can save a bundle on data storage and transfers.
- Google Analytics
Google Analytics tracks the traffic to your website or blog for free You can learn where traffic is coming from, what keywords they used to find you, demographics and other interesting information you can use to provide a more personalized website experience or product.
Skype allows you to use your computer and Internet connection to talk to anyone in the world for as long as you want free of charge. Hook an inexpensive camera up to your computer and you can hold videoconferences with colleagues and clients..
- Bright Journey
Do you want insider information on how to succeed from some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs but never seem to run into them at the laundromat or grocery?
Bright Journey is the website for you. The platform warehouses a vast collection of startup knowledge from some of the most successful entrepreneurs you will never meet in real life. The website offers you a chance to post questions to a big group of top-notch business minds. Users vote for the best answers, which then appear at the top of the page.
- Microsoft Office
Regardless of the type of business you own, you need a good word processer and spreadsheet program. Microsoft Office is, by far, the most widely recognized suite of programs. Microsoft Office includes the word processor Word and the spreadsheet Excel, a mail program, task scheduling features and more.
If you need to save a buck or just cannot bring yourself to purchase another Microsoft product, you can use OpenOffice.org. The site lets you create documents, presentations and spreadsheets without having to shell out money.
- Facebook Ads
AdWords can be expensive. Plus, it can be a little bit daunting for someone who isn’t trained in using it. But Facebook‘s ad platform has a much lower learning curve. And because of its ability to target anyone you can dream of, it has quickly become my ad platform of choice. If you haven’t done anything more than boosted a few of your posts, you’re missing out. Take some time to read some Facebook ads tutorials and take the dive into a campaign of your own.
Grasshopper lets you get an 800 telephone number that gives your company a professional and legitimate image. You can forward as many phones and cell phones to the 800 number as you like, which will be great for your minions working in the office or on the road.
As an entrepreneur, you probably like money but hate the idea of figuring out the complicated code for adding a shopping cart to your website. Shopify is a secure shopping cart system that allows you to accept credit card and PayPal payments over an encrypted server.
As I’ve stated dozens of times before, you need to be aware of what your competitors are doing online. It allows you to borrow great ideas, react to changing trends, and always stay one step ahead of them. My tool of choice for doing this is Ahrefs. It provides me with a full view of any website’s SEO, AdWords, content, and other metrics. And it lets me dig deep into the granular details where I can really discover those hidden gems.
And these are just a few of the myriad of tools I use on a weekly basis. But it’s a great starting point for anyone looking to make their mark on the digital world.