Online Business Tools For Small Businesses

The advent of the Internet has changed many things about business, and it has certainly made it easier for small companies to tap into best practice from around the world. Every small business owner now has the opportunity to use freely available online tools to augment their marketing, accounting, customer service, and much more.

Monitoring Your Online Presence

Businesses of all sizes must now pay attention to their online presence if they want to succeed. Increasingly, customers hear about even local companies through the Internet, and any prudent business owner will be monitoring both their own online presence, and that of their competitors. This is easy to do by using tools such as Google Analytics, and Google Alerts. The former allows a business to analyse visits to its website, including information about what keywords customers are using to find the business, and what sections of the website are most heavily used. The latter allows a business to monitor the online presence of its competition, by setting up email alerts when specific events occur which involve the relevant business sector. This is a fantastic way of keeping up to date with the latest developments in other companies, both around the world and in one’s own locale.

Improving Employee Communication

Small businesses are also now in a position to network their employees more effectively, allowing effective multi-tasking for those colleagues who are performing more than one role. Skype is a well known but still underused service which allows employees to stay in touch for free when out of the office, whilst DropBox creates a virtual hard drive which can be accessed from anywhere that has an internet connection. When combined with customer service applications such as the popular ZenDesk, even a small business becomes flexibly networked, allowing employees to get out to talk to customers while staying on top of their administrative tasks back in the office.

Financial Planning

There are also a host of tools to help small business owners with that most dreaded of business functions – accountancy. Whilst many small companies choose to stick with traditional applications such as Microsoft Excel, others are beginning to explore the alternatives which can be found online. Two great examples are PlanGuru and Quickbooks Online, both of which enable even the novice businessperson to create strategic plans, traditional budgets and cashflow forecasts with a few simple data inputs. With a little training, it is possible for each employee to enter their specific transactions as they are made, creating a real-time and rapidly updated snapshot of the business’ financial health. It is also worth checking out innovative applications such as InDinero and BodeTree, which transform traditional spreadsheets into graphs and other easy to understand visual representations of the state of any business.

Whatever your business requires in the way of online tools, it is likely that it already exists somewhere on the Internet. Even better, it is quite possible that it is available for free. There really is no reason not to get searching!

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