Tools All Small Business Owners Should Know About

Photo by Damian Zaleski

The one thing I did learn in University, is that if I didn’t know how to do something, I couldn’t go to my professors for clarification. I had to figure it out on my own. I was thrown into classes where I had to make videos, design a whole magazine, or create a website. All of which did not require any videography, graphic design or HTML prerequisites. It became very apparent, that a major part of these assignments was finding the right people to help me or the right resources to learn how to do it on my own.

Now that I have successfully survived undergrad life, the one big lesson I learned is that the key to survival is being resourceful and staying current. As a marketing professional, brand management is essential. I have to create a strong brand for myself and the company I am going to work for. Unlike huge corporations, my budget is fairly minimal, I have found tools that are cost effective to help me design my own personal branding. 

I know there is a lot of talk about how social media is taking over and it is the new influential way marketing. I do feel that social media is essential for most brands and it is important to be active on social media and respond to customer concerns. However, I do think that direct mailing is still a very effective method of communicating with consumers. 

Before you start freaking out at me, hear me out. Everyone has an address, and while there are ways to gain access to customers e-mail addresses, how many e-mails do you get a day? I get roughly 100 or so, because I join every single mailing list of the stores I like to shop at, plus personal e-mails, plus newsletters that I subscribe to, as well as plus travel deal alerts. I delete the majority of these without even opening them. 

Physical mail has a longer shelf life. I will probably bring it into my home and leave it on the counter before tossing it in the bin. Sometimes I will even skim through it if I am waiting for my dinner to cook. Canada Post is handy because they give access to so much information, they have psychographics profiles, so reaching a target demographic is easy. 


Fiverr is everything for $5! I love a good bargain, It is a huge database of users, all in the creative field. They offer website design, SEO optimization reports, graphic design, copywriting, video editing, you name it. 

I spent the majority of my early career working for a realtor, who hates spending money on advertising. A lot of our marketing material is very outdated, but doing a re-brand is very pricey. Fiverr was a good way for me to try new things, without it costing a bundle of money. I would get $20 out of our marketing budget and give five dollars to a few vendors to see what they come up with. I also used Fiverr to create a few items for my personal branding as well. Each user as a portfolio of their work, so I assessed who’s style would fit best with what I am trying to create. 
Hootsuite enables users to load there social media channels and pre-schedule social media posts. There are a lot of dashboard programs out there, but I do tend to lean towards using  Hootsuite. They offer a free basic version, but there are still a lot of features. The online support for the program is amazing, they run regular webinars and they have wonderful online resources. I also set up saved stream searches with geotags and trending hashtags. Hootsuite also offers report to monitor social media influence, as well as the ability to filter followers by Klout rating. The features are endless. I haven’t even touched the surface of how useful this program is. As I mentioned earlier social media is important, and this tool is perfect for minimizing time spent on monitoring social media channels. 
In this modern day and age everyone needs a website. Absence of an online presence means that you don’t exist. I do know a little bit about HTML and coding, but anything I would create would not be nearly as professional or pretty as a wix.com website. Wix has hundreds of templates. It is very user friendly. No matter your background, after an hour or so I am sure majority of people could figure it out. I made my own personal website on Wix and bought my domain through Wix. It cost a little extra to exclude wix from your domain, but it really does make your site more professional.

I have gone to quite a few interviews where they have commented on my website or mentioned going through my portfolio. I have even sent e-mails to make reservations at a restaurant or schedule a travel tour and they will ask my about my personal website. It really is a good way to get my name out there. 
IFTTT claims they put the internet to work for you. This is basically exactly what they do. IFTTT has different recipes you can set up. There is the option to automatically post your Instagram photos to Twitter and have them show up as a photo not a link or set alerts for items on Craigslist. I like to browse through and think of new ideas on how to use it almost weekly. I set up price drop alerts, so if I find an item that I want, I will get a notification when it goes on sale. Depending on your business I am sure there are ways that putting the internet at work for you will in turn help you generate more revenue. 
Facebook posts with images get more shares than Facebook posts with text alone. As human beings we prefer visuals, so images are very important. I do love photography, but I don’t always have an image in my personal library that is fitting. Unsplash does. All the pictures are amazing and they are FREE! If you are trying to grow your business Unsplash is a good place to look for images to use. 

Hopefully these are of some use to you. The internet has been very powerful in enabling people to start their own businesses without leaving their living rooms. There is now more flexible work options. These tools have made it easier for me to keep up with the technological advances and help build me a career for myself. 

Vancouver based lifestyle blogger. Visit my blog and discover travel guides, fashion tips and recipes.

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