Thanks to technology more and more businesses are now shifting base to the virtual platform. Setting up an e-store online expands your audience base. However, the task of setting up a business online is not an easy one, especially for a first-timer. You need tools, and a lot of them, from a website builder for a small business website, to free software for account keeping, email marketing, and much more. We bring to you the most comprehensive free resources for starting an online business found on the Internet. But, before we get to those resources, this article has 11 ways to get traffic to your website plus ways to help you climb in the SERPs. We think it’s a great addition to the following resources.
THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE FREE RESOURCES FOR STARTING AN ONLINE BUSINESS
Want a website and don’t have the budget for a professional? Don’t worry you can get by for a while without hiring a professional. You can build something in a jiffy, using a free business website builder. Try Wix, one of the 15 best free website builders for creating different types of websites. The intuitive interface incorporates the advanced ADI framework that designs a web page for you based on your preferences. Free perks include free web hosting, domain registration services, cloud storage facilities, SEO tools, and professional e-commerce support, all of which make it one of the best free website builders in the market. You can create attractive web stores with multiple product catalogs, discount coupons, and payment gateway integrations to generate more leads and sales.
A good advertising campaign can make or break your business. We recommend the tried and trusted platforms like Google My Business, Yellow Pages, and Yelp for first-time businessmen. Using Google My Business enhances your SEO ranking and web visibility. Yellow Pages is another useful free tool that gives you the space to reach out to clients and get their feedback and also respond to them. At Yelp you can see the latest trends, figure our customer reactions and generate more traffic via posting pictures of your business.
ANALYTIC TOOLS FOR ONLINE BUSINESSES
Boosting e-commerce online is no piece of cake. It takes meticulous planning, effort, and investment to monitor the information you post and how the audience reacts to it. Tools like Google Analytics, Ubounce and Hubspot are great platforms for beginners. The analytic tools by Google enable users to monitor their web store’s performance and get regular feedback on the latest trends circulating in the market. With Hubspot’s market grading tool, you get valuable insights into the web traffic to see how well you fare up with all the competition. Bounce, with its 30-day free trial offer, is great for enhancing the design of landing pages and optimizing it.
Blogging is an integral part of any e-commerce store, it gives you the space to add additional information about the products, your contribution in the industry and also share your opinion about the latest trends prevailing among customers. WordPress is a smart option for amateurs, we recommend the shared hosting option, that takes care of domain registration and web hosting. Plus, the free templates and tempting plugins are an added bonus. CoSchedule is great for planning content, setting deadlines, collaborating with other writers, etc.
Graphics designing is a lot easier now thanks to cloud-powered tools and their free features. Platforms like Pablo, Canva, and Piktochart help you create stunning designs from scratch and add that extra oomph to your store. Piktochart comes with eye-catching templates for creating professional quality infographics. Canva is suited for building social media banners and promotional message. Pablo helps you edit images and create attractive graphic designs in minutes.
EMAIL MARKETING SOLUTIONS
Email marketing is a tried and tested strategy prevalent in most e-commerce platforms. From Gmail to Mailchimp and Boomerang, there are several e-marketing tools that you can avail free of charge and manage your subscribers. MailChimp helps you manage your newsletters, create subscriber listings, send out emails in bulk and more. Gmail is great for personal and professional emailing and is synced with other Google Apps. Boomerang allows users to schedule emails, set reminders and send out unlimited messages.
Collaborating and communicating with employees or clients can be a daunting task indeed. With communication tools like Skype, Slack and Sococo users can stay in touch with sponsors, investors, and clients without spending any extra money. Skype is ideal for video conferencing and gives you an opportunity to establish personal relations with someone who might be geographically far away. Slack is a platform where you can manage all your messages, send out important notes to team members and also switch between multiple devices and not lose track of the conversation. Sococo is a virtual space that offers real-time and realistic connections between employers and employees
An e-store also requires a solid and credible legal support system that would defend the company in case of a lawsuit or other legal problem. Docracyis a reliable app that gives you access to pretty much all the detailed legal documents and regulations regarding business and finance. From service agreements to employment contracts, you can get it all online now. This not only empowers you with the legal knowledge but also saves you the trouble of finding a lawyer and spending a fortune for his services. Although, we do recommend that you get the digital documents on Docracy reviewed by a professional before acting upon them.
MONEY MANAGEMENT OPTIONS
the internet these days. Apps like PayPal, Expensify, TSheets, and ZenPayroll help you with managing the money in your organization. PayPal is an online payment gateway using which customers can pay you via debit or credit cards. The platform comes with SSL certification and is encrypted. The Expensify app allows for quick and easy reimbursement of receipts and tracking expenses. TSheets and ZenPayroll are ideal for tracking salaries and work shifts.
Owning a business is all about shuffling between the needs of your clients and the demands of your employees. Holding meetings, scheduling events, arranging for brainstorming sessions and sudden gatherings are part and parcel of the game. Apps like Doodle, WhenIWork, and YouCanBookMe help you with scheduling conferences and meetings easily. Doodle is a great platform for coordinating events and communicating among multiple parties. Here you can send out a poll and get reports just as quickly. With WhenIWork, users can keep track of employee availability and rearrange schedules and shifts. YouCanBook.me is effective for scheduling clients and comes with Google Calendars integration.
Most e-commerce platforms use storage applications like Dropbox and Google Cloud to store their information and share it across other platforms. Dropbox, for instance, allows users to share files with employees and work on documents together. From saving all your files to accessing them on the go, Dropbox allows you to connect with your clients, business partners, and other visitors. Google Cloud is a great choice for people who want to keep a backup of their business files and integrate it with other Google apps.
Business planning and financing are important for generating enough revenues and monitoring the cash flow of your company. From small scale vendors to established enterprises, every business model runs on some capital investment. Generating enough funds for the business can be quite difficult, considering the strict bank policies and high-interest rates. Lucky for you, there are some free resources online where you can find sponsors and investors to finance your business. Some of these platforms are Bplans.com, Enloop, Kickstarter, Fundera, and StreetShare.
Fundera, Kickstarter, StreetShare, among other tools connect you with potential investors and recruit micro-donors to fund your enterprise. With StreetShare, you can avail a loan solely on the credibility of the business idea, no credit history or equity is required. Platforms like Bplans and Enloop help you draft a business plan and manage the finances. Here you can also consult professionals at an additional cost to give your business plan a much-needed boost.
PRODUCTION AND MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Website development, financing, and marketing solutions can only get your e-commerce enterprise so far. For the day to day operations, you need a swift and smart production plan. Evernote, Google Drive, and Producteev are some of the best applications out there to boost the productivity of your store. With Evernote, users can store all their business ideas, plans, and layouts in one place. You can also add clipping from the web, insert personalized notes, comment on other documents and share them with friends. Google Drive, on the other hand, is the perfect tool for people who love sharing and working on documents together online. The platform is optimized for all operating systems and seamlessly integrates spreadsheets, text files and compressed documents across multiple devices.
Producteev lets you keep track of all your activities and scheduled events in one place. Here, you can also create to-do lists, extensive project layouts, monitor large and small-scale operations of the business and even assign new tasks to employees in the organization.
SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS
Social media plays a huge role in establishing a solid reputation for your business. Simply creating a web store is not enough, you also have to promote it on various social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to gain more followers and eventually expand your customer base. Tools like Hootsuite, ManageFlitter, and Instasize come in very handy for first-timer developers who want to take over social media. Hootsuite allows you to manage your profiles from a single place, schedule events, track comments, engage your customers and monitor your social presence online. ManageFlitter is great for managing your Twitter account, weeding out unresponsive followers, generating performance reports, etc. Instasize is a platform where you can customize images and videos for YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms. With Instasize you can even add text, resize images, add filters and do other interesting things.
The right tools can make your business management tasks easier, quicker, and more effective. Every store or business model has its own specific requirements; understand yours and try out the tools mentioned in this guide. Share these comprehensive free resources for starting an online business with anyone you think might need the help.