Running a small business or entrepreneurial venture has always been a pretty tricky — albeit rewarding — job. Certain obligations are constant — such as the need to produce marketing materials, maintain an effective and attractive web presence, nurturing client relationships, and so on.
Some other obligations are job specific — for example, determining the best production, storage and shipping facilities for a product you aim to sell to the general public.
In some ways the digital age has meant there’s more work to do than ever, but in other ways, the internet is a lifesaver which can streamline processes that were once extremely tedious and time-consuming.
So, if your business could use a bit of streamlining, take a look at the following list of ways that web-based services can help.
Global testing and market research
Market research used to be a major pain — and often still is. Think of the uplifting experience of wandering the streets with a clipboard and surveying random passers-by on their favorite vegetables or phone features — and then consider how fun it would be to do that all day, for days at a time.
On the other hand, you could hire a focus group or pay volunteers to test your product and give you some feedback, in which case you’d have to worry about finding a space to get everyone together and perform the survey, figuring out the best time so as to draw maximum attendance, and maybe even work out how many sandwiches to bring with you.
And, of course, all of that is only just scratching the surface. What about preparing for a global launch? How would you go about conducting viable research in other countries?
With the internet, many of these things are now immensely easier to carry out — and never so much so as when your product is digital.
Thanks to global app testing services, you can get thousands of data points on your web and app-based services, from around the world, in as little as a day or two.
Invoicing clients is a major part of many self-employed or entrepreneurial career paths, and forgetting to send an invoice, or sending one late, could either mean that you get paid a month or two later than you would have wanted, or even that you just don’t get paid at all.
In addition to the importance of sending out the invoices in the first place, there’s also the need to easily follow-up with late-paying clients, and to keep your invoices together in one central and easily accessible location, for accounting and reference purposes down the line.
Sure, you could draft up your own invoices in Word or Excel and email them over to your clients, but that’s often a path to losing track. It also tends not to be the most streamlined and professional way of doing things.
Services such as Freshbooks smooth out the whole process immensely, allowing you to send invoices pain-free, as well as storing all your previously sent invoices in one central location, alerting you when your client has viewed the invoice, and even offering you the option to request client testimonials with the push of a button.
Powerful mailing lists
Mailing lists are one of the most powerful tools in any businesses arsenal, and if you’ve been keeping up to date on your “how to be a master marketer” book and article reading, you’ll see that many senior professionals in the marketing game see mailing lists as a secret weapon for converting prospects into clients
To highlight the importance of mailing lists, consider the following point: when a prospect sees a paid ad on the internet, receives a cold email, or even gets your flyer or business card in the post, they are given a one-off, split-second pitch to use your services.
In almost all cases they will either commit to using your services then and there, or they will forget about you within the next few seconds.
If you can get them to sign up to your mailing list, on the other hand — generally by enticing them with a valuable special report or white paper — you could pitch your services to them on a monthly, or even weekly, basis.
In addition to that, you’re able to expand upon the value your company can offer and begin building rapport with them over time.
Maintaining a physical mailing list before the internet age was a real mission. Even with the internet at hand, maintaining a list of mailing list subscribers and reaching out to them all on a regular basis can be an extremely laborious task.
With web-based mailing list services such as AWeber and MailChimp, on the other hand, you can automate the entire process, with your only investment of energy being to write and schedule the latest edition of your newsletter.
Easily accessible prospect info
If you’re actively marketing your business — which almost everyone should be doing, particularly in the early days of a new startup — you’ll have to preoccupy yourself with identifying your prospective clients, reaching out to them, and doing your best to convince them to use your services. Getting them on your mailing list is, of course, a plus, too.
If you were going to create your own list of prospects from scratch, you would be in for a lot of intensive research. The process would normally involve days or weeks of Googling different industry-related keywords for different areas, identifying prospects who might have a reason to use your services, and then scouring the internet to find the contact details of the right member of the company to reach out to.
If you were going to buy pre-made prospect “lists” on the other hand, you might pay a premium for largely outdated and irrelevant information.
Modern web-based services such as Limeleads, on the other hand, allow you to specify the parameters you’re interested in, and pay for tailor-made and up-to-date lists of prospects relevant to your needs.
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