It’s a new year, time for new tools. It’s the best time to transition to new and improved processes and fade out legacy tools and practices.
Navigating the modern business world is difficult today. It is imperative that you have the proper tools at your disposal to ensure your small business, startup, or enterprise business succeeds. The right tools and partners ease the pressures of scaling your business. Growth = is a piece of cake.
Category of Essential Tools
There are a variety of different tools that every type of business should utilize.
Project Management and Task Delegation Tools
Security and Password Management
File Organization and Storage solutions
But let’s talk about some tools every modern-day business needs. Many of the tools listed here are ones we, Nexrage, use daily.
Free Everyday Tools Your Business be Using
One of the best ways to optimize your business is by leveraging a full suite of various tools that work well with your business. There are a variety of free tools every business should be using. Free dupes of popular (not so budget-friendly) tools are out there and provide tremendous value to your business operations.
Google Analytics is a free tool provided by the search engine itself to aid in monitoring and tracking your website’s analytics. Not using it would be a huge mistake. While it’s not the most straightforward tool since it’s free and specifically catered towards one of the largest search platforms on the internet you should definitely take advantage of it.
What used to be Universal Analytics is now Google Analytics 4. Beginning July 2023, GA4 will be the only analytic measurement option available on the platform. While all the data is still available, the look, navigation, and basic reports have changed.
For more information on the differences you’ll notice moving forward, Google laid out all the settings here.
LinkedIn is a free social media networking platform, specifically targeted toward businesses and entrepreneurs of different industries. Connect and engage with individuals from across the world.
While there are many benefits to a job seeker, businesses and business owners can increase exposure and reach by regularly posting updates. Whether you’re sharing highlights about your company, showing casing services, client testimonials, or pushing articles out; LinkedIn is a great way to share business-related information with peers and potential customers. Joining various groups regarding your industry or specific service alongside like-minded professionals can grant access to high-level decision-makers. Both assist your network providing value and proving your expertise.
Some argue that AngelList is more important to tech startups than LinkedIn. However, if reach and brand awareness are what you’re after, LinkedIn, a social networking platform, is your go-to website.
AngelList provides better access to capital and investment opportunities. AngelList’s goal is “to increase the number of successful startups in the world;” allowing startups, angel investors, and job seekers to collide online to cultivate an exuberant tomorrow. You can raise funds from angel investors for your startup free of charge on the website. Another tool businesses should leverage alongside AngelList, and LinkedIn is networking events. A setting where both websites collide in real life.
Networking events are a vital tool for increasing brand awareness and getting your business and reputation out into the startup and small business world. Meeting like-minded entrepreneurs and exchanging contact information lead to sales from your immediate contact as well as putting you within their network. Word-of-mouth referrals have the highest conversion rate. Make sure you have the right tools to ensure that your referrals successfully convert.
One such tool is Zoom. The ability to hop on video calls and host meetings with your network regardless of location increases sales efficiency. The addition of Zoom calls results in problems being solved quicker than waiting for an email. Difficult times call for unorthodox measures, while now, attending a Zoom call to take part in high-level transactions and business seems normal just over 2 years ago it wasn’t commonplace. Zoom helps businesses build meaningful connections and improves productivity in a world where the office and work life need to be more flexible. Besides hosting meetings, hold and attend webinars from across the globe, connect with your network or continue to build it further.
The Best Branding Tools
Branding is a quintessential part of your business. There are many components that support your branding, the most visible method is marketing. Whether it’s email marketing, social media, ads, or content; branding is how your clients and the world see you.
“Branding and marketing are two distinct activities that operate together to shape a company's success. While marketing focuses on the promotion and sale of products and services, branding is the process of creating an identity for a company that resonates with customers. Branding includes the development of a brand name as well as a logo, tagline, and other elements that create a cohesive image and messaging strategy. It also involves developing customer relationships and creating a sense of trust with customers. Ultimately, branding is all about creating an emotional connection with customers that will drive loyalty and long-term success. By focusing on branding, companies can create an identity that stands out and positions them for success in the long run.
Branding has a direct impact on a company's overall success, as it is the foundation upon which the company is built. A strong brand can help a company differentiate itself from competitors, build customer loyalty, and increase sales. Furthermore, a strong brand can help a company to attract new customers, increase its presence in the marketplace, and inspire customer loyalty. A company's brand also helps to shape customer perceptions and build relationships with customers. As such, investing in branding can help to ensure that a company's products and services are seen in the best possible light, and will help to ensure the company's long-term success."
-Solomon Wolf, Nexrage Studios, Content Innovator
Canva or Adobe Creative Cloud
While our team uses Adobe Creative Cloud and its massive suite of applications and cloud storage, Canva offers some amazing budget-friendly resources to small businesses.
Canva is a free-to-use (with subscriptions and premium resources available) design and collaboration tool. Simultaneously work on a design in the cloud. Schedule your designs to syndicate through your various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. Many of these features are available through a subscription but for free you have access to drag-and-drop editing, over 250,000 free design templates, over 1 million free photos and graphics to use, collaborate with your team, and a wide variety of printable products to design, as well as 5GB of cloud storage. From photo editing, vector creation, video editing, document creation, and much more, Adobe Creative Cloud is the champion of our marketing and branding teams. For branding work, apparel design, icons, etc. Illustrator is your one-stop shop for all things vectors. InDesign is perfect for multipage layouts and making client presentations. Adobe's stock marketplace is great for sourcing filler imagery and typefaces. Adobe Creative Cloud hosts our branding assets in a cloud-based library. Allowing our Branding and Marketing teams full access to logos, color hex values, and various other graphical assets wherever they’re working from.
This one may seem a little out of left field. However, there’s a high number of small businesses and startups that don’t have a branding guidelines toolkit available for their development team, marketing, or sales team. Keeping your branding consistent across your various avenues is important to your customers. Putting out a confusing message will not instill confidence in your company. As previously stated, branding is how your clients and the world see you.
Email Marketing is still one of the top dogs in terms of conversion rates and brand awareness. Repeated contact with our contacts keeps you in the front of their brain. If someone within their network reaches out to them asking for a referral, your company will be the first on their mind. MailChimp’s easy-to- use CRM allows businesses to organize customers, capture leads, automate messaging, and stay on top of the mind of audiences. Use the data from MailChimp to assess and properly pivot your teams toward meaningful marketing and relationships with your customers.
The Best Task Organization and Delegation Tools
Keeping your business organized can combat a multitude of issues that arise when upscaling. Lost documents, inefficient processes, uncategorized tasks, action items falling through the cracks, missing documentation, hectic projects, etc. Sound familiar? If so, your business is lacking proper task organization and delegation tools.
Most of our team’s work centers around Monday.com. Monday is a task management and productivity software to help keep businesses organized and working like a well-oiled machine. With different boards and functions, the entire team from sales to our developers, to our marketing team.
Todoist is a fantastic way to organize your tasks and to-do lists. Create different projects with different layouts, to easily organize tasks depending on the affiliated department that may be thrown your way. Change the due dates, priority, and add comments and attachments with an easy-to-use interface. In the fast-paced ecosystem of startups and small businesses, properly organizing tasks and action items with due dates and reminders can ease part of your day-to-day stress. Does the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” mean anything to you? The right tools will keep you on track.
Our Tried-and-True Tools
As a software development company, we pride ourselves on efficiency and transparency with our clients. All the tools we use on a daily basis fit the same mission. “Efficiency and Transparency.”
Slack is one of the foremost professional and enterprise messaging software on the market. Creating different channels, a variety of integrations, varying access levels for accounts (i.e guest accounts), custom emojis, and an intuitive search function to find past messages and receipts.
We add our clients as guests to our Slack and create special client-related channels to correspond and keep them up to date on their projects.
Zoom Info is a great tool to find potential contacts who can aid your business. This tool is better suited for B2B businesses. Whether it be to continue to grow your business or your network, Zoom Info is a great tool for small businesses and their sales departments. From emails, direct office lines, and cell numbers, there is very little it does not have. While the initial cost is a bit high, the ROI is through the roof. The business scoops feed is very valuable to see what your target audience and companies are looking for, find commonality in an industry, and then craft a solution for it.
It’s difficult to manage HR, onboarding, payroll, etc. when you’re a startup or small business owner wearing many hats and often running around frantically trying to accomplish all the tasks a whole team would be assigned. Luckily, there are a variety of tools ready and available at your disposal that can help manage those aspects of your business.
Gusto is an amazing resource for small business owners. Managing and simplifying, payroll, employee reviews, benefits, and much more all from a simple-to-use web-based interface. Directly integrate with Microsoft office to set up employee emails and office accounts.
Our marketing team uses SEMrush to track keyword positions, conduct competitive research, and run regular site audits to monitor our website’s health. There is a plethora of other SEO and marketing-related toolkits within their web platform. From their social media scheduler, and social analytics (tracker), to their advertising, content marketing, and trends tools, they have almost everything you could ever need to keep your website optimized. They also have a surplus of amazing resources and articles to familiarizeyourself with all things SEO.
Other amazing SEO tools include Moz, UberSuggest, and Ahrefs. There are an unlimited number of tools out there, and finding the one that suits your business and goals is vital.
SimpliLearnpoints out a major difference between SEMrush vs Moz is that Moz gives you ranking data based on Google, Bing, and Yahoo's search results, while SEMrush only gives access to Google data. Many of their features overlap and they both have different algorithms to determine things such as keyword difficulty (SEMrush) or priority (Moz). And while SEMrush has social media analysis and tools, Moz is sorely lacking. Ahrefs is another tool that offers similar solutions with varying algorithms to determine scores, however similar to Moz it lacks the social media tools as well as content marketing tools.
Another SEO tool is UberSuggest. It’s a free tool provided by Neil Patel who authors many blogs and shares videos explaining SEO strategies and trends on YouTube. Like many tools, there is a free-to-use version with limited capabilities and with a subscription gated tools and content become available. You can conduct keyword research on the Neil Patel website under “tools”. There’s even a chrome plugin.
A new trend amongst many businesses is custom tools. Whether you contact a development team to build a tool that turns into a SaaS (software as a service) licensed out by your business, or an internal tool specifically designed for your team, custom tools are the future. Think of an app or web app that you use daily. Airbnb was a custom tool at some point. A tool to consolidate a list of residents who wanted to rent out their homes to others, a search tool, or a database if you will.
Maybe your next business venture is a custom tool. Is there a tool your life would benefit from? Chances are you’re not the only one who would benefit from a tool dedicated to this purpose.
Client superstar, Artis IQ, came to us with the pain point: easy and compliant payment systems for cannabis. So, they set out on a mission to create their very own. Solving a massive issue for the whole industry.
Artis IQ is a fully custom contactless point-of-sale system with built-in Metrc and BioTrack compliance (depending on the US state) systems. Various merchants use Artis IQ, a custom tool for cannabis dispensaries to keep them compliant with federal and local laws and automatically report to their state. Read through our case study covering the ongoing project: Artis IQ
Custom Software or Apps
Custom software entails web apps, custom websites, mobile apps, desktop software apps, etc. the list goes on. There are a variety of tools and apps that can help any type of business. Every business is unique, with different needs. Not every tool will work for every company. Sometimes something a little more custom is needed to fill gaps.
Tools have a place in every business. They have massive positive outcomes for small businesses, startups, and enterprises alike.
With the new year upon us, it’s the perfect time to take inventory of your internal tools and processes to improve efficiency within your company. There is no better time than a new year to make some hard decisions and changes to your business.
Have an idea for a new custom tool other businesses can benefit from? Or have a specific need that needs to be filled within your businesses? Contact us for a free project estimate, let’s start building! Contact us to see how you can optimize your business.