Compared to established companies or large corporations, a common struggle that small businesses often contend with is the fact that their pockets aren’t deep enough.
Not only would they lack the funds for product research and development, but they’d also lack the resources to acquire the tools that can help them streamline their business.
Are you struggling with the same issue?
Have you been itching to streamline your small business’ operations yet you don’t have the money to acquire the right tools?
If you answered with a “yes,” then allow me to share with you three affordable powerful tools that you can use to optimize the way your small business runs.
Let’s get right to it.
1. Use Social Listening Tools
Unlikely large brands who have an established reputation that can “cushion” them from a PR disaster, small businesses are often obliterated beyond repair when faced with the same level of problem.
In such situations, the small business owners are forced to close their stores and are often left with a monstrous debt — let alone an irreparable damage to their personal brand.
And so the question becomes, how do you keep your company from experiencing such a PR disaster?
That’s where social listening comes in.
While it is true that the digital universe is a vast frontier that’s littered with hundreds of millions of websites, you’ll be amazed to know that monitoring your brand mentions isn’t as complicated and time-consuming as you might think.
With the use of social listening tools, you can get notifications straight in your inbox the moment others mention your brand.
Let’s take the SentiOne social listening tool for example.
Once you’ve created a free account and create a new project, you can then enter your brand name or the keyword that you’d like to monitor for mentions all over the internet.
Here’s how the platform looks from the inside.As you can see, the platform will be the ones to scour the web to look for the keywords that you’re monitoring. Of course, if your brand was mentioned in a negative light, then you’d be able to address the problem immediately before everything blows up into something that can wreck your business.
What makes the platform even more remarkable is the level of customization that it offers to its users. When setting up your project, you can add several filters to ensure that you’re getting relevant mentions.
You’ll also be amazed at the amount of data that SentiOne can fetch in a matter of minutes.
With this tool in your arsenal, you’d be able to streamline the way you run your reputation management efforts.
You no longer need to hire several people to do manual searches on Facebook or the other platforms where your audience might be hanging out.
You can just set-up your project once at SentiOne, and be able to sit back and relax, knowing that there’s a powerful tool constantly monitoring the web for mentions about your brand.
The best part is, you can use the platform for as low as 39.20 EUR (net per month). When you consider the level of protection and productivity that the platform can bring to your business, I’m sure you’ll agree that their price is more than reasonable.
2. Use a powerful Point of Sale (POS) system.
With a “good enough” POS, you’d be able to process payments and complete transactions without a hitch. However, with a robust and powerful one, you’d be able to achieve far more.
For example, small business owners using cloud-based POS systems can monitor their operations better — compared to those whose POS systems aren’t cloud-based.
After all, even if they aren’t in their stores, they’d still be able to check their sales and other pertinent data about their business through the internet.
Mobile POS solutions can also do wonders for small businesses. In situations where there is a power outage, the small business owners would still be able to process payments through their mobile devices.
Another advantage of mobile POS solutions that merchants can enjoy is the fact that they can process payments even in informal environments — as long as they have their mobile device and access to the internet.
What’s even better news is there are several POS systems that are free despite having a plethora of features that can help small business streamline their business.
To learn more about what other POS providers are offering and the kind of features that their products have, you may want to read MerchantMaverick’s comprehensive POS software reviews.
3. Use Project Collaboration Tools
One of the things that make running a business challenging is the fact that there are several facets to it that you need to manage.
For one thing, you need to make sure that your product delivery and order fulfillment runs smoothly. There are also clerical and regulatory compliance tasks that you need to contend with. And if that isn’t enough, you also need to monitor how your marketing campaigns are running (among other things).
When you consider all of these, small business owners can’t help but feel overwhelmed when addressing their list of to-dos.
Assign your list of to-dos to your team and use a project collaboration tool to monitor the progress of each team member or project.
While there are several project collaboration tools on the internet, we will look into Trello since it is one of the best tools used by businesses online.
Trello is a free project collaboration platform that uses the Kanban relay system where the users can create “Cards” for their tasks and also create several “Lists” where they can pin their cards depending on the status of their tasks.
In the example below, there are four lists: “To Do,” “Doing,” “Done,” and “Suggestions.”
You can also assign a team member/s to work on a task by clicking “Members,” then selecting the account of the user whom you want to work on the task.
Because the platform is highly visual, the small business owners won’t have a hard time understanding the status of their business. They’d know the status of each task, who is working on a task, even view the roadblocks if there are any, and whether or not the task is within the deadline (among others).
While Trello’s free subscription is good enough for several of its users, you can sign up for a paid account to have access to their paid features.