10 Affordable Tools to Help Online Entrepreneurs Succeed
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
An entrepreneur naturally has a lot on his or her shoulders -- as in the entire success or failure of their business. Those with online-based businesses have several tools available to chose from that help improve productivity and streamline certain aspects of the business.
There are so many choices available that it can almost be overwhelming, so which ones are truly helpful? I’ve put together a list of 10 tools that are affordable that can help increase the productivity of an online business.
If your business wastes valuable time waiting to receive executed contracts, then DocuSign may be a lifesaver. It allows you to digitally send, sign and manage documents securely in the cloud. You can manage all of your document-signing needs on any device, as DocuSign allows full access and management via desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
Starts at $10/month (free 14-day trial)
Cash flow is crucial for the success of a business. You want to make it as easy as possible for your business to send invoices, and you want to make it simple for your customers to pay you. FreshBooks is an invoicing platform that allows you to create professional-looking invoices, send payment reminders and accept payments. It also gives you the ability to create and send invoices from your mobile device.
Starts at $19.95/month (or send unlimited invoices to 1 customer for free)
You need to be able to accept payments, and WePay is a payment-gateway solution that is quick to set up and allows you to have the checkout process on your website. The company handles all of the compliance issues. No monthly fees and next-day payments are drawing a lot of online businesses to this payment gateway.
Starts at 2.9 percent + $0.30 per transaction (special pricing for businesses doing over $1 million annually)
Internal communication is key, and Basecamp is a very simple to use feature-rich project-management tool to help your team members work together. Accessible from anywhere, even from mobile devices, it allows you to update projects, share files, have group discussions and assign project tasks.
Starts at $20/month (no-obligation, 60-day unlimited-use free trial)
Collecting leads, building an email marketing list, setting up auto-responder messages and mailing your prospects is an important part of every online-marketing effort, as is remaining compliant, and MailChimp has you covered. This email marketing tool allows you to collect opt-in email addresses, deploy emails to your list and track the performance -- all while remaining CAN-SPAM compliant. My company uses MailChimp for our newsletter, and we absolutely love it.
Starts at $10/month (if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers you can send up to 12,000 emails per month for free)
6. Ring Central
There is a good chance that you aren’t tied to your desk all day, so you need a business-phone solution that gives you and your team flexibility and mobility. Ring Central’s cloud PBX makes it easy for you to be taking calls in your office on your IP desk phone to conducting a HD video call via your mobile device on the go. Simple to use and jam packed with features, there isn’t a bigger bang for the buck when it comes to office-phone solutions.
Starts at $24.99/month (30-day free trial)
We live in a digital business world, so why not make it easy to store, access and share important files and documents from anywhere? Arrived at a meeting and forgot to send over an important document? If you have it stored on Dropbox you can access your account from your phone and send it over instantly. This is a great tool for businesses with several remote workers, allowing them to all share and access important documents and information.
Starts at $9.99/month (store up to 2GB for free)
If you want to increase your online sales, interact with your website visitors, and understand your customers better, then consider adding Olark live chat to your site. This tool allows you to see who is on your website, where they are from, what pages they are currently on, what pages they previously visited and how long they have been on your website. You can wait for them to initiate a chat session or you can set it to only target visitors that visit a particular page or perform a specific action, such as leaving your shopping cart.
Starts at $15/month (14-day free trial)
Customer support is vital, but it can be difficult to manage with customers contacting you from so many different channels. ZenDesk allows you to create an inbound customer-support ticket system that manages all requests, whether they come from phone calls, email, chat or social media. Staying on top of customer support helps combat any potential problems before they turn into fires.
Starts at $1/month (30-day free trial)
10. Sales Force
If you have a sales team, then give this customer-relationship-management system on steroids a look. It is a tool that can benefit sales teams of all sizes and help increase productivity, while allowing you to track progress in real time from any device. Your sales team can manage their contacts individually, or you can set up a team-selling environment, allowing everyone to monitor and check the status of a particular deal at any time.
Starts at $25/month (free 30-day trial)
What tools do you currently use that contribute to the success of your business? If you have some suggestions please share them in the comments section below.