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10 Essential Tools For Entrepreneurs and Startups

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Ideas can strike anytime. An idea may wander in your thoughts waiting for the best time when it can be implemented. A process of thought in your mind can be worth millions. In the present era idea and innovation is they key for a successful business. Addition of new game changing ideas, thoughts and young entrepreneurs are making the business world more dynamic and human life simpler and easier. If you can earn money from your hobby, then what can be a better and more satisfying job than that? You are your own boss, you manage your own money and you have more time for your friends and family!

When a group of colleagues or students think of a startup they are initially not much organized. Often people start with a hobby and when they observe that they have started making good money or money equivalent to their salary they plan to make it bigger and take it to another level, taking it to a complete professional platform. At this one needs to be professional and should create a professional environment that keeps the team motivated and give them the feeling of working on a big change. To help with this we are going to list some ten tools which will definitely help you in managing and running your startup.

1. Dedicated Contact Numbers

A visible complete office address, professional website and a dedicated line number can make your business look more professional and established. For examples having a toll free easy to remember number or 0845 numbers in case you are in UK can help your customers to connect with you without spending much. While having a toll free number will help your customers to connect with you for free, a 0845 number will help your customer to connect with you by paying only for a local call no matter wherever you are. A number of companies are available to provide you dedicated numbers hosted on their telecoms network making it sit on  top of your existing numbers. Thus, avoiding any need to install additional lines. You will also get additional features like call statistics, disaster recovery and online call management.

2. Wave

Wave is a very famous free tool that helps you be your own boss. Wave can help you with invoicing your clients and get paid by them, Accounting, managing Payroll and receipts and personal money management. Wave provides everything for free, only the Payroll feature is paid where they charge $1 per employee. You can connect your banks directly with Wave and it will help you keep a track of your transaction, your earnings, and will tell you where you stand financially and how you can manage it. All the features of Wave are inter-connectable, i.e any money earned through invoicing will automatically be updated in the accounting tool, similarly any bank transaction you make will be updated there. No need for manual entry, although Wave provide manual entry feature for those who are uncomfortable connecting their bank with the tool.

3. Skype

Skype has proven its supremacy when it comes to VoIP. It is quick, free and connects you with your team members around the world whether they are on computer or mobile. After the recent purchase of Skype by the Microsoft it has been nicely embedded in latest Windows OS and Windows Phone devices. Skype is available for almost any platform, not just Windows. There are a number of apps supported by Skype that can enhance its ability to be used as official communicator for your company. There are apps that provides complete PBX (Private Branch Exchange) solution. With Skype you can record your calls, divert your incoming calls to another number or voicemail, call people on their mobile or telephone for a very low price, etc.

4. Cloud Storage

Today with improvement in mobility and degree of freedom we need our data where ever we go. It will cost a lot of space if we start copying everything from our computers to tablet and mobiles and then a lot of effort to keep them on sync. Here comes cloud storage in picture. You can store your file on the online servers and access them, make changes and do whatever on any device. You can also share your documents with your team members and can give them authority to make changes as well. Dropbox is a famous cloud storage provider. With its free 2 GB space and desktop apps you can keep your systems at sync and upload files on the server so that you can access on other devices. Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive are one step ahead as they provide essential Google Docs apps and Microsoft Office web apps respectively for creating and editing documents, spreadsheets and notes. When it comes to storage and costs, Skydrive is slightly better as it provides 7 GB of free space when compared to Google Drive’s 5 GB and Dropbox’s 2 GB. Also when it comes to extending your storage, Skydrive with its yearly plans comes to be cheaper. You can extend your storage capacity by 500 MB for free in Dropbox by inviting your friends to use it.

5. CrowdFunding

Often you have great ideas that when implemented can bring a good change and generate a large amount of revenue, but to implement such an idea and convert it into a startup requires some investment. If you do not have money to invest and if bank is unavailable to provide you loan, then crowdfunding is the solution for you. As the term suggests it is a platform where crowd (individual people, investors or companies) can fund your idea (can be anonymously) if they really like it. In return you can either give them momentos or gifts or a part of your profit when your business will be a success. There are a number of online services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo which can provide you robust platform to get started and raise money for your idea or cause.

6. Mailchimp

Often you disregard communication and service mails from websites and uncheck “send me communication and promotional mails” while signing up for a service, but there are people who do select it. Interested people want to hear what is new with your company, or when can they expect a new exciting announcement from you, or may be you will provide discounts and offers directly to their inbox to keep them engaged. Never undermine the power of emails. Even if you are not sending any such mails at present, it is a good idea to at least have contact information of your regular readers/viewers/customers as anytime in future you might require to send them a communication mail. For this reason Mailchimp is there to help you out. It can build a list of your customers for you and can help you to contact them with appealing email templates. This service is free up to 2000 customers and sending 12000 mails per month.

7. Website/Blogging Tool

It is very important to have your online presence whether your business require direct online involvement (like e-commerce, online journalism) or not. Having your company online connects you with your potential customers who may be out of your reach in the real world. Customers can find you and easily contact you online. Wix is a platform that can help you create free and beautiful website for you quickly without any requirement of coding. When it comes to online customer engagement, you need to have an updated blog about your company, containing updates, offers, communication etc and anything that is official. WordPress and Blogger are two most popular and powerful blogging platform. Whatever you write is available for everyone and can generate even more potential customers as blogs are indexed by search engines and they can be shared on social media websites generating more views and expanding your reach.

8. Domain name and Professional Email

When you have created a website and blogs for yourself, you need domain name and professional email. Just like point number one that we discussed, having a professional domain name www.somecompany.com and then directing it to your website and having professional email [email protected] can make your business look more professional and established. Godaddy is one such popular service that can provide you domain name and email Id for your company. You can even chose Google apps and that can buy you a domain via Godaddy or any other service and provide you its premium email features on Gmail.

9. Personal Productivity

You have a lot of ideas and things in mind but you forget one thing while doing the other thing? You note down at your desk or on papers creating a lot of mess and clutter. Often startups do not exactly start with an office space you might have your own private space and your team members might have their own. So if you are at any other location you will not be able to access or refer to your notes that you had pointed down on the papers or on the desk. There comes Evernote to help you. Again it is a multi-platform application and you can use it on your mobile, tablet, and computer no matter what operating system you are using. It can capture anything from your ideas, your thoughts, and anything that you think might need to be referred later. When you need to refer to your notes you do not have to search in the clutter of paper, but all you have to do is type some search keywords and Evernote will present you your notes. You can even share your notes, ideas and collaborate on project with your teammates. A similar service exclusively for Mac and Apple products is Omnifocus. If you are already using Skype and Skydrive, then you can use Microsoft Office OneNote, another service by Microsoft like Evernote.

10. Hootsuite

It is the time when almost every company is trying to make their presence on social media bigger. It not only keeps you connected with your followers and customers but also extends your reach to potential customers. Social media is not about time pass and killing time when moms used to scold their kids for wasting a lot of time on Facebook. Today it is a virtual market and with the help of customized Facebook pages you can even sell your products. Hootsuite is an application that can help you manage all your social network profile at ones. In a free account you can add up to five social media profiles. You can not only post, track each posts, respond to notification, view analytic, but also schedule posts. Scheduling a post at night can help you target the people on the other side of the globe even when you are asleep. keeping your social media pages active 24X7.

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Editor | The World Reporter. An economist, IT specialist and a post graduate student from Romania.

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How To Improve Your Relationship With Your Customers

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As a company owner, you should always be aiming to improve your business by whatever means necessary. After all, when your business evolves over time, it means that you are adapting to consumer habits and staying on top of current trends – giving your business the longevity it deserves. Thankfully, there are also various ways in which you can go about improving your business. For example, this could include: 

  • Hiring new staff with innovative ideas.
  • Retaining staff who make a real difference in the workplace, reducing employee turnover rates.
  • Investing in new employees by offering unique training programs or giving them a chance to develop new skills. 
  • Developing new products or services that cannot be purchased elsewhere. 
  • Moving from working from within your home and opening up a store or office space. 
  • Updating your business plan regularly to account for your growth. 
  • Brushing up on your finances, ensuring that you stay within budget and spend your money wisely.
  • Reaching out to investors who can help you take your brand to the next level.
  • Introducing a new marketing campaign to increase your brand’s visibility. 
  • Developing a better relationship with your customers. 

While any of the above suggestions are a great way to go about growing your business, the most important is developing the relationship you have with your customers. After all, a business without customers will struggle to stay afloat for more than a few weeks.

With that in mind, here are some ways in which you can begin to develop a better relationship with your customers. 

Know who your customers are. This is perhaps the most obvious ways to improve your relationship with your customers – and it doesn’t mean that you have to memorise every name or face that comes into your store. Instead, you should ensure that you have a clear understanding of your target audience and demographic. For example, while you may have a vision of your typical customer in your head – you need to ensure that this is reflected in the people that actually purchase or use your products/services. There are various ways in which you can achieve this goal. For example, you could: 

  • Monitor consumer habits
  • Host focus groups 
  • Ask for customer information when making a purchase
  • Studying analytics on social media. 

Remember, your target audience may be defined by the following characteristics: 

  • An age group.
  • A gender.
  • A geographical location.
  • Special hobbies.
  • Skills and Interests. 
  • Careers.
  • Lifestyles.

Once you have a better understanding of your target audience, it will be easier to ensure that you are providing them with everything they need. As a result, they will develop a closer affinity to your brand as they feel as though it was made just for them!

Make them feel important. Studies suggest that customers are happiest when they feel important. Therefore, you can improve your relationship with your customers by simply ensuring that you make them feel special. For example, you could attach a note to each order that thanks them for their purchase. Alternatively, you could put a loyalty scheme in place or offer discounts to returning customers – which can help you win over new customers while retaining your old ones. 

Make it easier for them to communicate with you. The key to any relationship is being able to communicate freely with each other. Therefore, you can improve your relationship with your customers by making it easier for them to reach you should they have any questions. For example, in addition to a telephone line, you should give your customers plenty of different ways to contact you. This could include: 

  • A postal address.
  • A customer service specific email.
  • An online chat function.

However, managing multiple different channels like this can prove to be a challenge if you don’t have the right technology at your side. For example, you could use dashboard software, such as those provided by Click4Assistance, to monitor different chats and calls simultaneously. For more information, visit this website

Furthemore, you can also improve the way in which you communicate with your customers by being active on social media. Not only does this mean that your customers can contact you through direct messaging or comments, but it also puts your brand on the map by making you visible to a much wider audience. When curating your social media presence – you should ensure that your content reflects your brand. Don’t focus on overly professional language – instead, try to be as approachable and friendly as possible – as this will help customers relate to your brand. When customers find you approachable, they are more likely to make a purchase. 

Another way in which you can better communicate with your customers is by setting up a mailing list. While they may seem outdated in the world of social media, they are a great way to keep your customers in the loop and let them know about any upcoming product releases. 

Admit your mistakes. As a business owner, how others perceive your brand will likely be incredibly important to you. As a result, this means that you may be keen to bury any mistakes you make so that they cannot tarnish your reputation. However, this is not the right attitude to take on if you want to develop a relationship with your customers – as simply ignoring complaints or negative reviews will only drive them away. Therefore, you should ensure that you respond quickly to any negative complaints and reviews – and work with the customer to resolve this issue sooner rather than later. This also means that you need to be honest about any mistakes that you may have made in the past. Holding yourself accountable will actually make yourself more attractive to potential customers. 

Focus on innovation. If you want to retain customers, you need to ensure that you continue to provide them with new goods or services. After all, it’s unlikely that they will continue to buy the same product over and over again. Therefore, you should work hard to ensure that you remain on top of your game – introducing new and innovative products to the market as often as possible. While this doesn’t mean you should rush to launch a new product or service every month, you should always have a new plan or idea in the pipeline. Furthemore, you should also ensure that the products/services you are working on align with current consumer trends. 

Get online. Another way in which you can develop your relationship with your customers is by making your business more accessible. For example, while many customers may visit your store to make a purchase – others may prefer to shop online. In this case, you need to make sure that your website is up to scratch and easy to navigate. The easiest way to draw in new customers online is by improving the user experience of your website.  For example, a broken link or malfunctioning site does not necessarily make your brand appear trustworthy – while a seamless and functional website will demonstrate your professionalism and help you connect with a global audience. 

Furthemore, you should also ensure that your website is as accessible as possible. For example, you could add audio descriptions of products or text so that those who may be deaf or hard of hearing can navigate your site freely. You should also ensure that you caption any videos or add alternative descriptions underneath images. 

Be great at what you do. Perhaps the simplest way in which you can improve your relationship with your customers by being great at what you do – and providing them with the consistency they require. For example, you should ensure that every aspect of your business is always up to scratch – from product development to administration.  Being great at what you do means that your customers will always stick around and invest their money into your brand. 

Similarly, you should never underestimate the importance of good customer service skills – and you must ensure that every employee is trained within the area. For example, they should be bright, friendly and ready to answer any questions that come their way. This means that they need to develop excellent skills in communication alongside a lot of patience and intuition. This is particularly important when dealing with difficult customers who always complain -but will also allow them to develop lasting relationships with friendly customers too. 

In short, there are various steps you can take to ensure that you improve your relationship with your customers – many of which simply revolve around adopting a ‘customer-centric mindset. By making important decisions regarding your business with the customer in mind, you’ll be able to emphasise the fact that they are at the core of everything you do – thus making your brand appear more attractive and improving retention rates. Furthemore, you can improve your relationship with your customers by making it abundantly clear that you care about them and want to provide them with only the best. Doing so will make it easier for customers to trust you and purchase your products or services.

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What Is Cryptocurrency And Why Is It So Volatile?

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Cryptocurrency has recently made headlines, exploding into the spotlight with the same relentless intensity that characterises its value and demand.

However, as they become more mainstream, they may become confusing. It’s money, but there’s no bank looking after it or controlling it; it’s an asset, but it’s not backed up by anything tangible.

Here is a brief overview of cryptocurrency and a quick look at why it is so volatile.

What is it?

In a nutshell, it is the digital equivalent of money. It is designed to function in almost the same way: users have wallets in which they can keep money, which is used to symbolize value in the economy and can be exchanged for goods or services with others.

Cryptocurrency, like much money in today’s traditional banking system, does not exist tangibly; instead, it is recorded as figures in a database that signify how much of a particular cryptocurrency a certain person has.

However, in contrast to today’s banking system, is decentralised. Rather, it is recorded in the blockchain, which is distributed throughout the network and records transactions in a transparent and verifiable manner that belongs to no one individual or organization in particular.

The first of them was bitcoin, which was developed in 2009 by an unknown individual known only as Satoshi Nakamoto. Since then, a slew of new cryptocurrencies has sprouted up. These include ethereum and dogecoin. It is interesting to look into the background of these, and ask yourself who created Dogecoin?

Why are there so many?

A cryptocurrency can hypothetically be created by anyone; at their foundation, they are just software, therefore anyone can create one. There is no authoritative body that decides what is and isn’t a cryptocurrency.

As a result, dozens of new cryptocurrencies, known as altcoins, have emerged. Some of them have grown into consistent performers, leading to predictions that they could turn bitcoin on its head and become the most valuable cryptocurrency.

Some of these altcoins aim to provide innovative answers to problems that exist with large players like bitcoin, such as making transactions easier or more efficient. Others, such as Dogecoin, which originated as a joke, are developed solely as alternatives.

They sometimes move in sync, with the entire cryptocurrency market fluctuating in response to certain pieces of news. However, traders occasionally switch between currencies, as when the price of dogecoin soared thanks to the support of figures such as Elon Musk.

What makes cryptocurrency so volatile?

Unlike traditional financial assets like stocks and commodities, cryptocurrencies are not valued in terms of what they can be used for; in theory, they are a bet on a company’s future profits or the usefulness of a given material, but cryptocurrencies are primarily a bet on how interested people are in them.

Cryptocurrencies, unlike traditional fiat currencies, do not have a central bank entrusted with employing monetary policy to keep their value from fluctuating too much.

As a result, the value of cryptocurrencies varies dramatically, frequently and without warning, and without always being linked to evident world events.

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Marketing Practices That Could Remain After The Pandemic

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The global pandemic has changed businesses in many ways, and marketing, in particular, has seen a lot of developments over the last year. Businesses have had to adapt to digital practices quickly, which has changed the way they promote their activities. It has also changed consumer behavior, meaning tactics need to change to reach them in new and innovative ways.

While businesses are beginning to revert to some sort of normality, there are some practices that will continue even after the pandemic is over. Discover some of the marketing practices that could be here to stay.

A greater focus on retaining existing customers

The global pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s shopping behaviors. It’s no secret that brand loyalty has been in decline over the years, largely due to consumers’ preference for convenience – especially in the digital age. But the pandemic has made this even more apparent, with many consumers switching brands as a result of supply chain issues and more. For businesses, putting your energy into retaining your existing customers could yield better results than trying to win over existing customers. 

The resurgence of the QR code

Just over a year ago, people might have turned their nose up at the idea of using a QR code in a marketing campaign. Did people know what they were? What did they achieve? Well, thanks to the pandemic, QR codes have had something of a resurgence. Exploring QR code APIs can help you work out how they can be used in your marketing campaigns effectively to bring the best results for your business. QR codes are capable of generating some great data, helping you measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

Localized marketing

The pandemic has shifted a lot of people away from busy cities and urban areas, and into more rural neighborhoods. This has meant that businesses are having to change their marketing tactics to provide a more personalized, local feel that better aligns with changing behaviors. People are choosing to shop locally and choose local-based businesses, and you’ll need to think carefully about how you can form better engagement with those audiences to help spread the word about your business.

Bigger budgets for social media advertising

With people spending more time at home, they are more active online watching box sets, shopping, gaming and more. This means they might be less likely to see more traditional advertising such as billboards and subway signs. Social media advertising can help you reach those audiences, providing a great ROI compared to other forms of advertising. Ensuring social media is a firm part of your marketing strategy can help you reach your audiences where they are, and even save money compared to your spend on more traditional advertising. 
Change is nothing new for the marketing world. The pandemic has seen some major developments, and as we enter the ‘new normal,’ it will be interesting to see what comes next. Staying up to date on current marketing trends can keep your business relevant, and help secure the best results for your business – no matter what’s happening in the rest of the world.

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