Starting a small business is expensive. Sometimes you need to find creative ways to help you stretch your dollars. Luckily there are a number of free or inexpensive resources available to help you grow your business. We highlight some of the best ones below.
Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has resources available to give guidance to prospective business owners to help them create and build a business plan, show them how to get the proper licenses and permits, and walk them through the ins and outs of getting their business financed. When you’re getting started, you should take advantage of all the services and business resources available from the SBA to help you get off on the right foot.
Online Business Directories
One of the first things you should do when embarking on a new business is to get listed on all of the online directories that are relevant to your business. There is a seemingly endless supply of them available, so it’s important you take the time to identify which sites are right for your business. Below are the top-20 directories according to HubSpot. You can access the complete list of 50 here.
|1. Google||11. Whitepages|
|2. Bing||12. Superpages.com|
|3. Yahoo!||13. Yellowbook|
|4. Yelp||14. CitySearch|
|5. Facebook||15. MapQuest/Yext|
|6. Better Business Bureau||16. Local.com|
|7. Angie’s List||17. Foursquare|
|8. Merchant Circle||18. CitySlick|
|9. LinkedIn||19. USDirectory.com|
|10. YP.com||20. Dex Media|
Once you’ve identified which directories you want to use, it’s important to claim and optimize your listings. The process is fairly straightforward for most if them:
- Navigate to directory site
- Log in/create an account
- Search for your business by name and address
- Claim and verify
WYSIWYG Website Builders
Your business’ website acts as the virtual storefront for your brand. Luckily for you, there are plenty of free or inexpensive website builders available to help you create an attractive, easy-to-navigate website. One thing to consider when selecting which website builder is best for your business is whether or not you can create a mobile-friendly version of your site.
This is important because mobile device usage has skyrocketed in recent years, and many consumers are conducting research about your business from their phones or tablets. PCMag.com compiled a list of the best website builders to help you get started on your search. Before we move on to the next item, there is one caveat. Because your website is so important to your business, it might make sense to invest in a professionally built site if you have the money.
Now that you’ve got your website created, it’s important to monitor the performance and adjust accordingly. Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to do just that. With Google Analytics you can analyze traffic to your site. See where it is coming from and what visitors are doing while they are on your site. Armed with this data, you can confirm what is working and identify areas for improvement, with the ultimate goal of increasing conversions and sales for your business.
You’ll also want to have the ability to get in contact with customers and potential customers with relevant messages and offers. You don’t have to break the bank buying enterprise-grade marketing automation tools. Solutions like MailChimp or Campaigner make it possible to create and track campaigns to promote your business and drive leads. For a full list of inexpensive options, check out this list from PCMag.com.
The final small business resource to be discussed are online reviews. Many of the online business directories mentioned previously allow businesses to collect and display reviews from customers. Online reviews provide many benefits, including improved local search ranking, increased consumer confidence, and actionable insights that will help you make the business better.
The best way to manage the online review process is to implement an online review management platform. While this might require a little bit of an investment, the dividends will be well worth it.
Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help you use text messages to invite all of your customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business build a strong online presence on the sites that matter most. This will, in turn, improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.