As business owners, it’s crucial that we understand how to utilize our resources to the fullest. Fortunately, the technology and tools that are available to entrepreneurs today has really leveled out the business playing field in so many ways. We now have access to simple, cost effective ways of reaching our target markets and communicate through multiple mediums with our customers. However, if you are one that finds using technology – let alone finding what types of technology to use – overwhelming, you are not alone! There are so many web resources out there – free or low cost – that it can be a daunting task to know what you’re looking for.
I have profiled The Top 5 Free Web Resources that are a must have for all entrepreneur’s. These are not social networking sites, but sites and services that provide free or cost-effective ways of doing things that used to be out of reach for many entrepreneurs on a low budget.
Elance.com provides a way for any business owner to access talent and services from the convenience of their home office. You can search thousands of freelancers from all over the world and find a virtual employee who meets your needs. Services range from web development, copy writing, billing, virtual assistants and more. You can review, communicate and pay for your services directly through Elance.com. Elance allows you to expand your business without the costs and management needed to bring on full-time employees.
I’m currently using Elance to work with a web developer in India. We communicate via Skype – generally I see changes to my website within 1 day of my request. It’s fun, cost effective and I get results fast.
A published book can be a great way to become known as an expert in your industry. To many, the idea of publishing a book can feel like an intimidating task. However, thanks to Lulu.com, anyone can become a published author!
Lulu.com is a do-it-yourself publishing service that allows for you to print one or thousands of copies of your book. They also provide you a Free ISBN so that you can be listed and sell your book on amazon.com. The process is simple to do with their book templates and book cover wizard. Click to see a demo of their services.
One tip – don’t let having the “perfect” book stop you from publishing. You have all the time in the world to perfect and write about your unique methodology or idea. But if you’re interested in getting a book written quickly, consider doing a compilation of success stories from your clients or writing your own success story. It could be as short as 20 – 50 pages! Let the creative juices flow and don’t let perfection stop you from becoming published and known as an expert in your industry. The whole point is to get published and get known. Your more developed books can come over time.
Hootsuite.com is a must-have tool to manage your social networking. We all know that social networking is an extremely powerful way to communicate and build relationship with our clients. Yet managing five or six different social media sites can be so time consuming that we tend under utilize this powerful tool. Hootsuite.com is a web service that allows you to update multiple social media sites in one click! They even have a free application for your smart phone so that you can easily update all of your sites on the go. You can upgrade to their Pro account and for $5.99/month utilize tools that track and report on user activity, etc. I love to login to one place and see posts and updates from all of my social media sites. I also love that they have an embedded tool to shrink long URLs – making it easy to post “tiny” URLs to your Twitter and other page updates.
So many business owners make the mistake of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a “fancy” website, yet they aren’t getting the traffic and results they’re looking for. WordPress.com is the resource to build a professional, cost-effective site. If you have even limited technology background, then WordPress is the perfect way for great results with a do-it-yourself approach. However, if you’re like most of us and creating a website alone is an overhemling task, I recommend hiring a web developer (check out elance.com) and having them create the template and design for you. Then, it’s easy to update content whenever you have changes!
Constant Contact is an amazing resource to communicate with your clients or potential clients. While it’s the only resource listed here that has a monthly fee, I highly recommend it as a way to grow your outreach, and quickly. Constant Contact is a tool that supports regular communication with your clients and potential clients. Their email marketing software is easy to use and gives you the ability for regular communication with your email list. Their event marketing software allows you to track and market events you’re hosting. Through their event marketing tools, you can create a webpage that looks like part of your website. From this page you can track how many people view the page, what the response is to your event, etc.
I leverage this tool in many ways and really like the way that I can track how many people open, view and respond to my newsletter articles. If you haven’t already tried email or event marketing online – get started now and start to see real results in your business.
Taking advantage of the vast amount of resources on the web is a must-do for any small business owner. The trick is knowing which tools to use, and how much time and money to invest in them. If you’re just getting started with your online business, I highly recommend taking the time to investigate my Top 5 to start seeing results quickly!
Julie is a business coach and consultant devoted to helping organizations create sustainable, successful businesses. She works with clients who are ready to take their business to the next level through her coaching and consulting methodologies.
“One of my unique gifts is the ability to see what’s going on in an organization at a root cause or systemic level and work with my clients to create a very solid strategy to address the issue.”
Julie has a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Bentley University in Waltham, MA. She brings 10 years of business experience to her work. Prior to running her own business, Julie was responsible for a successful global team at a high-profile Fortune 500 company. Her work focused on corporate sustainability, where she served as a catalyst for change and saved her company hundreds of thousands of dollars by finding inefficiencies and implementing cost-effective solutions.
In addition, Julie is a student of the world renowned Barbara Brennan School of Healing. Her in-depth study of human energy consciousness gives her tools to listen to her clients at deep levels. This unique gift gives her the ability to very easily assess what’s going on with her clients and coach them to success.
“I’ve helped CEO’s, corporate executives, small to medium sized business owners, and entrepreneurs in finding sustainable solutions to real problems in their organization. I’d love to help you too!”