ESSENTIAL START UP BUSINESS TOOLS

As you take the journey into business its important you have the right toos and processes.

Business management tools are all the systems, applications, controls, calculating solutions and methodologies used by organizations to be able to cope with changing markets, ensure a competitive position in them and improve business performance.

A startup is a newly formed business with particular momentum behind it, based on perceived demand for its product or service. The intention of a startup is to grow rapidly as a result of offering something that addresses a particular market gap. It is the early stage in the life cycle of an enterprise where the entrepreneur moves from the idea stage to securing financing, laying down the basic structure of the business, and initiating operations or trading.

Knowing the best business tools to use and making the decision to choose a tool when there is a multiple choice is always a challenge for every startup.  Some of the tools can help one get started, others will make one more efficient, and others still will help one communicate with the ever-growing team.

The instruments are classified below into the following subheadings:

  1. EMAIL MANAGEMENT MARKETING Management

Email marketing is a form of direct marketing that uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial messages to an audience. All emails sent to current or potential customers are regarded as email marketing. Email marketing enhances business communications, targets precise markets; it is cost efficient and environmentally friendly.

Email marketing helps one to quickly target markets without the need for large quantities of print advertising, television or radio time or high production time and expenses. With efficient email marketing programs, you can keep up or maintain an email list that has been sorted based on several factors including how long an address has been active on your list, your customers’ preferamces, spending habits and many other factors. Emails are then created and sent out to members of the email list, providing them with a personalized message or offer. This allows you to detail information that they are interested in or have requested, allowing a much better conversion rate. This also helps promote trust and loyalty towards a company while also increasing sales.

Email management has to do with the precise control of the quantity and quality of electronic messages that are sent from or received by an organization. Email archiving is one of the most common methods of email management.

The tools for email management and marketing are as follows:

  1. MailChimp

Newsletters are sent through MailChimp. It is an email marketing platform which provides options to design, send and monitor email campaigns. MailChimp lets users track analytics and A/B test different email designs, allowing users to optimize campaigns for better open rates. For small volume, MailChimp’s free option is an excellent way to get started.

  1. Mixmax

Mixmax can be used to arrange a meeting with customers. It enables one to organize calendar availability directly from the Google inbox without stress. It also shows when and who saw or open your email.

  1. Customer.io

This is a comportment marketing rostrum for automating personalized customer communication. It is perfect for an e-commerce podium which is interested in engagement with clients by their transaction behavior. One can send up to 400 messages to 200 customers a month with its free tier.

  1. Surveymonkey

SurveyMonkey is used to embed survey within the MailChimp. It is an alternative tool to Typeform but requires more learning for usage because of more features.

  1. Typeform

Typeform allows one to create an excellent survey. Compared with online forms, it is more customizable and sentimental. It has collaborative and analytics options. Typeform has a free version which is a good option for start-ups.

  1. Rapportive

Rapportive is a Chrome or Firefox browser plug-in which substitutes Gmail ads for a better overview. This sends one an email by cross-examining the email of the sender with different social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype, etc., and then replacing advertisements with the personal information of the sender found from those social networking sites.

Rapportive is used to get more information about a sender, save notes and connect to social networking sites

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  1. INVOICING, PAYROLL, AND PAYMENT Processing
  2. Paystack

The best way for any African Start-ups to get payment online from across the world is through pay stack. The pricing of paystack is moderate as they have no free tier. They charge 1.9%of the current payment + N100 (about 25 cents) on local cards. The N100 (25 cents) fee is waived on transactions less than N2,500 (about $8).

  1. Wave Accounting

This is a free accounting tool for startups, which is very easy to use for non-accountants. With wave accounting software, one can customize and send an invoice as well as create recurring invoice profiles. It allows for linking in of multiple accounts to the same login. It easily connects to all bank accounts, and it allows sharing of your account with an account professional. It incorporates directly with Google applications, so sending invoices via Gmail with Wave is great as it does not get caught in any spam.

 

  1. BRANDING AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
  2. NameMesh

NameMesh is used when trying to figure out a name for one’s business. Two to three words that describe what one’s business does is typed in, and this brings out name suggestions for you to pick of. This software also checks if the domain name is available.

  1. Swipe.to

Swipe is similar to power point but a lot more than that. It gives room for the creation of responsive decks with real time sync for playback and enhanced audience participation. The audience can follow the presentation on their smart phones.  The free tier fits needs of most start-ups with unlimited decks, unlimited collaborators, private decks and basic statistics.

  1. Squarespace logo designer

Squarespace Logo is incredibly easy to use. One will finish the logo design in less than five minutes.Type in the name of your company, your tagline, choose colors and fonts, add icons, and you are done. It is a very basic drag-and-drop online logo creation tool.

  1. Customer Discovery Questions

The easiest way to perform a customer discovery is through this ultimate list of questions curated by Mike Fishbein. Everybody needs to do this before they expend time, energy and emotion on a business idea. These questions are:

* Customer segmentation: Here, depending on how much information you have about the person, you may need to understand more about their demographic. Questions like, what they do professionally, their roles, time spent and if they are married or have kids will enhance your knowledge about your customers.

* Problem Discovery: Questions to validate one’s hypothesis about a problem, or to learn about problems are; what is the hardest part of your day, what task take up most of your day, what are your most important professional and personal goals?

* Problem Validation: The following questions can be used to validate or invalidate that one’s customers have the problem you think they have. if they did not talk about the issue you wanted to address; do you find it hard to process this, how important is this to you, how motivated are you to solving this problem.

* Product Discovery: Questions to help generate ideas or to validate ideas are; what do you think could be done to assist you with the problem, How would your ideal solution to this issue look?

* Product Validation: Questions to validate/invalidate one’s idea are; what do you think of this product? Would this product solve your problem? How likely are you/would you be able to tell your friends about this product? Would you ever use this product, what might prevent you from using this product?

* Product Optimization: Questions to help you improve your idea or product; what could be done to improve this product, what is most appealing to you about this product, what might improve your experience using the product, what motivates you to continue using this product, what features do you wish the product had?

* Ending Interviews: Questions to ask at the end of an interview; so based on the conversation, it sounds like x is hard for you, but y is not. How accurate is that? Is there anything else you think I should know about that I didn’t ask? Do I have the opportunity to follow up with you for questions?

  1. WEBSITE AND CONTENT MANAGEMENT
  2. WordPress

WordPress is one of the best content management system. It is easy to set up and have open-source templates, widgets, and plugins that make life easier.

  1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most popular web analytics service on the Internet. It is a web analytics service offered by Google which tracks, analyzes and reports website traffic. It is free and fairly easy to familiarize oneself with the interface. Analytics tools tell you where visitors come from. You can see if you’re getting search engine traffic or if more of your visitors come from social media sites.

 

  1. SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
  2. Buffer

The buffer is used for scheduling content across different social platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. The Individual Plan is free, but one can also grab any of their paid plans. These paid services range from $102 to $2,550 per annual term.

  1. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is an excellent social media tool. It covers most major social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Foursquare, and Google+. It saves time by managing all of one’s social media marketing efforts from a single dashboard. Hootsuite is also used to measure social media return on investment, and also protects one’s brand on social media platforms by guarding against hackers and external threats.

  1. Dropbox

Dropbox is a popular and stable cloud-storage tool that let’s one store files on the computer, have access to them anywhere, and share them with your team members. It has 2G free space for file transfers.

  1. Google Drive and Google Collaborate Tools

Google Drive helps to save one’s files in the cloud, access them on any device and share them.

The Google collaborate apps: Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Presentation allow you create spreadsheets, documents, and presentations in your browser and have your team contribute.  All one have to do is share a link to them which will enable everyone to contribute their suggestions or ideas.

What do you do once you’ve made the leap into Entrepreneurialism?

First off, that’s awesome! Congratulations on the new venture. Buckle up for the ride, lol.

Hopefully you have given some deep thought into your specialty and have found a support system and mentor to help you through your journey. As we mention in our last post a mentor is essential and one in the same industry would be even more beneficial, so make sure to find someone.

Alright so the journey begins, you have your business plan in place the proper licensing in place and your off to the races!

Assuming you’re a master of your craft, or well on the way to becoming one. Your clients should be happy with your work and will likely refer you over to a friend if the need ever arises. But, you cannot sit around and wait for work to come to you, you should be everywhere at once so when anyone is looking for service in your specialty, they find you.  This may seem daunting but below are a few marketing tips that can help drive business.

A little disclaimer, these tips were brought to us by a service based plumbing company, and pertain mostly to a service business. If you are launching a new product or have a retail type business, some of the same concepts apply so read on and pick up what’s useful.

  1. Industry Partners- Make sure to build good relationships with partners in your industry. As an example, we built partnerships with a disaster restoration companies, as their local plumber of choice. Most industries are supported by others, think about what that might be for yours and stop by and shake the hand of every local business owner you can find.
  2. Local Chamber- Every city has a Chamber of Commerce, go join! We have joined not only our local chamber but Boise as well. Being a larger city which neighbors ours. Chamber memberships can help with the above, as most business owners are members so great for making those contacts. Also the network you’ll build with other members is invaluable. When they need, a service provided they always try to use a member.
  3. Marketing Budget- Set a budget in every avenue of your marketing. You may want to market in the phone book, depending on your location and service. Most likely you’ll want an online presence of some sort or another. Maybe run a radio commercial or even a TV spot. This all adds up and is very expensive. Test the waters and see where the best ROI comes from. If you’re getting a positive ROI stick with it maybe make a minor adjustment but positive is good! Some of these methods can take time to see the results so do your research and talk with an industry professional to help you understand exactly what to expect with their service.

These are just a couple quick things to help you get on your way. We want to thank R.K. for sending those tips in to us the other day. If you ever need plumbing Boise, ID call these guys, Plumbing Solutions of Idaho.

Entrepreneurialism, is a very fun adventure and one that best be taught through living in it. However, I hope some of the things we’ve brought up in this blog will help you get going and become a successful entrepreneur.

If you have some areas of interest or suggested blog topics feel free to send them in with a comment.

Thanks again!

Success and Goals

Success,

What does that mean to you? How will you achieve it? And how will you monitor your path?

These are all great questions to ask yourself and ultimately define. After all if you don’t know what your reaching for you will never get there.

As we mentioned in the last post success can be defined in several ways, monetarily or through accomplishments and ultimate happiness. Your idea of success may be to make a million dollars per year, that’s a great goal and would help with a number of things in life. Consider though that you made that amount per year, yet had o time to enjoy it. No that wouldn’t be a very successful life in the opinion of some. Some value relationships and the ability to build stronger and more meaningful relationships, which takes time. Don’t get me wrong having an abundance of money can give you the free time needed to foster these types of relationships.

Take just these two examples and you can see how “grey” the definition of success can be.

The first thing everyone should do as they start on their entrepreneurial journey is define what their idea of success is. Define what they want to gain from their journey and how that will look 1 year, 2 years and even 3 years down the road. Now where starting to make a roadmap that can lead you to your defined destination.

I suggest looking 5 years down the road and setting each year up to the fifth as a milestone. During the first two years, you may break them up as this part of the journey is crucial, so maybe 6mo, 1yr 18mo and 2 years. For instance, if your monetary goal is to have 250,000 in sales by year two how will that look on month 6? Maybe it’s only 50K, then at 1 year its 125k and so on. Each milestone gives you something to gauge your journey against.

In this example if your 5-year goal is 1,000,000 in revenue you can easily plot out the milestones that will lead you to your destination.

This is fairly basic goal setting techniques but we highly suggest writing this stuff out and holding yourself accountable to it.

You can and should go a little more micro with your planning as you develop your product or service. It might look something like this if you sell a widget. Knowing you make $5 profit per widget and your 6-month goal is $50,000 you know you need to sell 10,000 widgets. If your average order size is 100 then you will need 100 orders. On a weekly basis, you would need to make 4 sales and each sale takes 100 phone calls to get a “yes”, then you had better plan on calling 400 prospects per week or more.

You can see how easy this process is once you know a few variables and you can literally plan down to the hour how many phone calls you need to make.

So, as you begin your entrepreneurial journey be sure to set your goals and plan accordingly. As a wise man once told me “Plan your day and work your Plan”, it’s that simple. My mentor is now one of the Boise area’s top towing companies, Tow Boise, and has ran many successful businesses and sales teams.

Another key element in my success and that of any other business owner is they had mentors. Someone willing to help answer questions and teach them the “ropes” if you will. I would highly recommend finding a mentor. It can be someone you know or possibly another business owner in compatible industries.

Thanks for checking out this post and we will be posting again shortly….

Success, Entrepreneurship & Development

Welcome back.

As we get this website kicked off I wanted to discuss and define Success, Entrepreneurship & Development. Each plays an independent role but are also very closely intertwined.

Success- this is a relative term as some think success is piles of money, while others feel success is more than money to include a happy healthy life style. Money is a factor in the second but not the ultimate judge of your level success.

This is best defined by each individual and should be one of the first steps in planning your journey. Is it a million dollars that will make you feel like you “made it”? or is it a work/ life balance that lets you enjoy your family and your work, while giving you the money not to stress?

Entrepreneurship- As defined by: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entrepreneurship

“Traditionally, an entrepreneur has been defined as “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk””.

I think a big thing most people forget or neglect to recognize is the risk involved in starting any business. One must research and develop a market analysis before jumping into a specific market. Failure to do so may be the recipe for disaster.

It takes hard work and numerous hours to run your own business. Many people who are employees think they have a valuable skill, which they might, and so they can start their own business and make tons of money. However it takes more than a skill set to make it as a business owner.

It takes a certain business acumen or mindset. One that realizes there are numerous aspects to business. From acquiring new clients all the way through retaining those clients. On top of the fun stuff like acquiring new clients a business owner has to comply with numerous regulations and taxation.

Entrepreneurship can be very rewarding if approached in the correct way. At the same time it can be very daunting and overwhelming if you simply just jump in without proper planning and due diligence.

Ultimately we want to help each and everyone of you achieve a successful entrepreneurial venture. in order to do so we will be posting some of the fundamental steps you should take. Each industry is bit different, but the foundation, for the most part, remains the same.

Development- Lets face it if we’re not learning we stay fairly stagnant in life and the same goes for business. You must develop your skill set to become a professional and have people pay you for a service or product. In the same way you should constantly seek to develop your business acumen.

Development can come in the form of administrative tasks such as bookkeeping and staying on top of your numbers. Another important skill is the ability to communicate your value to potential customers, also known as sales. Sales is arguably the most important thing in any business because without a continuous flow of new customers your business becomes at the best stagnant and at the worst it collapses since you cant pay the bills.

We will cover some key training programs and books we have used and recommend every business owner consider. After all if you don’t continue to develop your competition will. Assuming you have an advantage today, they will soon catch up and ultimately pass you in the competitive race of business.

Thanks again for jumping on and checking us out and we look forward to posting again soon. If you know of any successful small business owners who you think we should Spotlight, visit our about page and submit a bio.

Thanks again

Welcome

Welcome to the Ultimate Mens Club for Success, Entrepreneurship and Development, UMCSED.

We are excited to have this blog to help men young and old develop into the future leaders in their communities. We will be discussing some of the things the successful have dome to develop into the entrepreneurs they are today. We will have various spotlight articles on different business owners and the unique ways they have found to enjoy what they do and make a great income at the same time.

We hope you gain great insight into what it takes to be successful. As well as some useful tools to help you along your path.

W.