Today, I’m speaking at a local community college. It’s the Entrepreneurs club that invited me.
The topic I’ve been asked to speak about is a simple one… share my experience starting and growing a small business. No problem! This is a topic I can talk about for hours.
The funny thing is… I don’t think these students give two nickels about my experience.
What I think they care about more is their business. They’re looking for information I can pass along to help them grow even more quickly.
Heck, I don’t want to listen to some old guy talk about the past… I want someone to give me a leg up on the future, and what I should do next.
So, today, instead of discussing the past, or sharing war stories… I’m going to hand out some practical advice… I’m going to share…
Seven Small Business Tools For A Million Dollar Business
When I run my business, I’m using a bunch of tools to help me manage and keep tabs on everything.
All of these tools I use daily… sometimes hourly.
And, most are very low cost. (More on that in a moment.)
Each tool provides a particular purpose. Each small business tool helps me remain as efficient as possible… and still keep my day sane!
While I use these tools, keep in mind there are hundreds of different options out there.
For example, the accounting software I use works great for me… but I also know it’s one of about 100 different tools a small business can pick.
I’m not saying these are the best, the most cutting edge, or the easiest to use.
But these are the ones I use.
Now a quick note on cost.
Most of these tools charge a small monthly fee… Some have “freemium” options… some don’t. All I’ve got to say is pony up for the low priced option and start using the tools.
You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on “platinum” versions… start small. Test the software. You may hate it… or realize it doesn’t fit your needs.
In that case, shift gears and try something else.
Also, for some programs that offer a free trial… try it, and use it… but as soon as you find your time being sucked up by the software… upgrade. Seriously, spend the few dollars a month and get the better package.
It will save you tons of time in the long run… Remember… time is money!
After each small business tool, I’ll give you a link to where you can learn more… and in case you’re curious, NONE of the links are affiliate links… so click away.
Here are the tools I use to run my million dollar business.
Small Business Tools #1 Google Docs
Honestly, I don’t know how I functioned before google docs existed.
I now use google docs, google spreadsheets, and google presentations almost every day. Heck, I’m typing this article in google docs right now.
One cool feature with google docs… you can share a document (like a spreadsheet) with other people… and you can edit the document together… at the same time!
Just yesterday I was working with a colleague on a marketing spreadsheet. Despite being miles apart, we were able to use the same document, make modifications, and share changes.
Best of all, the files are stored in the cloud, so you can access them from virtually anywhere.
In my opinion, you should forget that word and excel crap from Microsoft and start using the Google doc versions!
Learn more about google docs here: https://www.google.com/docs/about/
Here’s another tool I use almost every day…
Small Business Tools #2 Facebook
Yep, Facebook. I use it every day… but not like you think.
You won’t find my smiling face on the site. You won’t be able to Facebook stalk me or find random family photos. You won’t see a single status update from me.
Because other than the bare minimum of details, there’s nothing on my Facebook page… and that’s how I like it.
You see, I don’t go to Facebook to share life events, or stalk old girlfriends… nope. I use Facebook for advertising.
For all the good and bad you might hear about Facebook, their advertising engine is one of the most powerful online.
And if you’re able to crack the Facebook marketing code… you can drive leads at insanely cheap prices!
How do I know? I’m constantly tweaking, changing, and monitoring Facebook ads… and I’ve been able to drop lead costs by over 80%. (Think about that cost savings!)
If you’re a small business owner and you’re not advertising on Facebook, get started today… heck… start right now!
Use this link to start with Facebook advertising: https://www.facebook.com/business/
The next tool I use daily is…
Small Business Tools #3 LinkedIn
I’m a convert. I shunned LinkedIn for years. Only recently did I join, and now I see the power of the platform.
How do I use LinkedIn?
I use it for marketing to potential partners. You won’t find me hitting people up to become customers… (That’s what my Facebook advertising does!)
On LinkedIn, I’m targeting very different groups of people. I target other businesses that might be perfect JP partners.
I’m looking for partners already working with my target customer. Then I reach out. I try to connect, and find ways to partner together. I try to make connections I never would be able to otherwise.
LinkedIn is the tool I’m using for exponential growth for my business.
There is one problem with LinkedIn… It’s not fast… and it’s not easy to create real connections… but when you do, they are solid.
Oh, one other thing… LinkedIn is also a great place to follow your competition. Don’t be afraid to reach out to competitors… you never know what type of deal might come from these engagements.
To learn more about LinkedIn check this out: https://press.linkedin.com/about-linkedin
Connecting with people is one thing… Marketing tools are another ball of wax… here are a few to use…
Small Business Tools #4 Icontact
I’ve been using Icontact for email marketing for years… and years… and years…
To be honest, there are hundreds of e-mail service providers out there. Some are more complicated… some are more costly… some are cheaper…
But I’ve used Icontact for so long, that I’ve got no need to look elsewhere.
I contact is great. They make it easy to collect email addresses from your email capture forms on your website (or in your ads). List segmentation is easy to setup and control.
Auto responders are easy to use…
And email sends are simple to push out.
How do I use Icontact?
Well, first off, any time we get an email sign-up we send them a welcome email, and a 5 day autoresponder… just to tell them more about our business and how we operate.
We segment users by type… prospects, current customers, expired customers…
This allows us to send different information and messages to the different groups.
We don’t do much beyond that… Why?
Because it works… and I like to keep it simple.
Here’s more information about Icontact and email marketing: https://www.icontact.com/blog
As you know email marketing can be tough… open rates are low 10% to 15% if you’re lucky… so most messages go unread.
When I really want to boost customer engagement I use…
Small Business Tools #5 BETWEXT.COM
I use Betwext every day. What is Betwext?
It’s mobile marketing software for small businesses. Betwext is a system, that allows me to text message thousands of prospects, customers, and users all at once!
You know how to send an email blast… this is a text message blast!
The power of text message marketing in undeniable.
According to those in the industry some 90% of messages are read within 10 minutes of hitting a customer’s phone!
True story, a few weeks ago I sent out a message and 30% of my list RESPONDED!
And I’ve got thousands on my list… when was the last time you got that kind of response rate from an email?
Since this mobile marketing is so powerful, it needs to be handled with care. So, I only send one message a week… and I always make sure it’s important news, information, or a special offer!
I also use the system to individually message with clients… one on one communication is critical.
To learn more about text message marketing check out this information: https://www.betwext.com/start/
Full disclosure, Betwext is my company… so, are you really surprised I use it every day?
The next tool I use is important…
Small Business Tools #6 Quickbooks
Quickbooks is an accounting software.
If you’re running a million dollar business, you need to get on some kind of accounting software. It’s a critical small business tool for making big business decisions.
I like Quickbooks because they have an online version I can access from anywhere in the world! Plus, my team can access the system too. And it’s not very expensive…
Now, a word of warning… there are thousands of accounting packages, software and apps out there… pick one you like and will use… but here’s the warning…
Make sure your tax accountant uses that same software.
When I first set up Quickbooks, I spent a few hours setting up my system in my accountant’s office. The cost was a few hundred dollars to get it right the first time… the headaches it prevented were priceless!
Because of Quickbooks, I’m able to settle up my financials in just a few days… which is critical when making business decisions. You want to have the most recent information… and Quickbooks is my resource!
To learn more about Quickbooks, use this link: https://quickbooks.intuit.com/
Finally, we come to the last tool I use daily…
Small Business Tools #7 Pandora
Seriously, Small business tool number seven is the music streaming service.
I spend most of my day sitting in an office. The music in the background has a huge impact on productivity, tempo, and overall mood.
For the last few years I’ve been streaming Pandora music and it helps me work.
I’ve got a number of stations preset and mix them up throughout the week. I even have a Christmas station that I play non-stop throughout December… and an Irish music station to play during St. Paddy’s day!
I’ve got a dance station to get the beat going when I need to ramp up… and a classical station when I’m doing serious writing and thinking!
I use the free option, which subjects me to occasional commercials… but I don’t mind.
Consider using Pandora or some other music system to fill in as background noise… you’ll be surprised at how much more productive you become. Learn more about Pandora here: https://www.pandora.com/about
So there you have it… 7 small business tools to run a million dollar business.
Are those the only small business tools I use? Not by a long shot. There are about a dozen more that play critical roles in my business…
I’ll probably touch on those in another article!
How Small Business Thrive With Mobile Marketing…
If you’re thinking of getting started with text message marketing, I wrote a special report just for you… “The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Marketing”
You can download it free – right here: http://text.betwext.us/ebook-mobile-marketing/
Remember text message marketing is much more powerful than email marketing… and it’s a tool that anyone can use to grow their business! Try text message marketing today with Betwext.com.