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5 Great (Underutilized) Tools for Small Businesses

Most small business owners understand how important it is to have resources upon which they can draw in order to remain competitive and be successful. Many, however, are not using all of the tools available to them and are therefore missing out on some valuable sources of support and leads. Here are five such resources that are too often overlooked by business owners.

Chamber of Commerce – With the age of the Internet, many business owners have forgotten about the value of good, old fashioned in-person networking. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce can provide an excellent way to make valuable connections to others in your community and generate leads. We’re all about cyber-networking but it’s important not to forget the value of personal connections when it comes to business. Check out the US Chamber of Commerce site to find info on your local chapter.

Free Online Resources – Most things in life aren’t free, but there are a surprising number of small business resources available online that are and can help you manage, build and grow your business. For instance:

  • Google Docs – Create, manage and share documents with your team, colleagues and customers online at the click of a button. Work with documents, spreadsheets and even online surveys. It’s, powerful, easy to use and secure.
  • Jing – Ever try to explain what you see on your computer screen to someone over the phone or in an email? It can be frustrating. Jing lets you instantly capture screenshots and share them so that everyone is on the same page. You can also create online training videos and tutorials that are stored online for easy sharing with anyone, anywhere.
  • Wordpress – Does your company have a blog? If not, you’re missing out. Blogs are excellent tools for connecting with your customers and potential customers and they also happen to be fantastic for SEO purposes (think getting your website to the top of the search engines). Wordpress is easy to use, completely customizable and free.
  • Mail Chimp – The costs associated with email marketing campaigns has scared away many a budget-conscious small business owner. It doesn’t have to anymore. Mail Chimp lets you design, share, and integrate professional email campaigns and easily track your results. Best of all, it’s completely free for lists with up to 2,000 subscribers.
  • Meetup – It’s not always simple to find other business owners in your area to connect with. The Meetup website provides a way for you to locate or organize events where you can engage with others in your area and hopefully come away with some valuable leads.

Local Colleges – Area universities are excellent resources to tap into for entry-level employees or even interns. Some college administrators will work directly with you to help connect you with good candidates. Community colleges are also great for existing employees that you may want to receive further training because they often offer low cost certification courses and other affordable educational programs.

Other Business Owners – Forging partnerships with other businesses in complimentary industries can be a great source of referrals. It’s the old “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” concept and it works. For instance, a local hardware store could easily partner with a handyman to whom they can refer their customers when they need help with a project. The handyman in turn recommends that store’s products to his customers. It’s one stop shopping and everyone benefits.

Small Business Association (SBA) – If you’re not yet familiar with this incredible resource, the time is now. SBA provides a number of tools to small business owners, from help with financing to entrepreneurial training and developmental to advocacy services and more.

These are just five of the many tools at your disposal as a business owner. If you’ve started you’ve own business, you’re obviously familiar with the concept of being creative. Apply that same theory of creativity and thinking outside the box to finding other valuable resources to tap into and the possibilities are endless.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 8:48 AM