That is a huge number. And it represents the number of small businesses in the United States.
In Arlington, we have plenty of awesome small businesses that work hard to better themselves and our city. Thankfully, several local resources exist to help them be successful.
Along with local organizations, the advancement of technology gives small businesses access to a host of apps and tools that help with everything from improving productivity to tracking expenses for a nominal cost, if at all.
Deciding which are the best isn’t easy. There are thousands of apps out there vying for the attention of small business owners and many aren’t worth your time.
Here are 10 powerful apps that help you grow your small business.
WordPress – If you’re running a business, having a website that shares what your business is all about is no longer optional. Yet, many local business still go without a website. This is often because owners think it’s expensive and complicated to have a website. WordPress is the most robust, yet easy-to-use ways to power a website. You will find thousands of themes, plugins (which add functionality), and tools that work with WordPress. Best of all, WordPress is free and has a huge community of user helping each other. You do, however, have to pay for hosting, themes, and some plugins.
Themeforest – If you decide to use Wordpress to power your website, you’ll need a Wordpress theme to create the look and feel of your site. Themes include information about the general layout of the site, and other content such as graphics, headers, logos and footers. Themeforest has a huge collection of Wordpress themes created by expert designers to improve the look of your site. The best part is you can get a great looking WordPress theme from only $30-50 dollars on Themeforest.
Bluehost – A web hosting service allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible online. Bluehost is one of the best and most popular web hosting companies in the business with excellent customer services via phone, chat or email 24 hours a day. They offer a slick and easy way to get up and running with all types of sites, especially WordPress. Bluehost has free domain name registration, is amazingly affordable, and is the perfect place to start. Get your website up and running for only $6.95/mo.
Check out the two videos below if you want a step-by-step run down of how to start your own website using Bluehost.
AWeber – If you have customers, chances are you need the ability to communicate with them on a regular basis. AWeber is an email marketing software that allows you to contact your customers via email. You may want to send them a weekly newsletter, special discounts, or news and updates. You can preschedule emails that are delivered to subscribers at certain intervals (i.e. every 7 days, every 10 days, etc). AWeber also features analytics you can track like email open rates and link click-throughs. AWeber does a great job of making email communication very easy. Get a 30 day trial for only $1.
Hootsuite – Thousands of small businesses use HootSuite to manage their social media communications. Hootsuite is a web-based dashboard that lets you access dozens of social networks (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) in one place. You can set up streams to monitor keywords and specific followers, as well as access detailed analytics reports showing who’s reading and responding to your posts. HootSuite’s free plan allows tracking for up to 5 social profiles. The $8.99 per month pro plan offers tracking for up to 50 profiles and advanced analytics.
Google Drive – File-sharing is a critical part of a growing business. Google has made this simple with Google Drive. Multiple users can collaborate in real time, creating, editing, and commenting on documents in the cloud. Revisions are saved automatically and you can access your documents from any device. Gone are the days of attaching documents to emails and sending endless versions back and forth. Individual users get 15 GB of free storage. Monthly business plans start at $5 per user and include 30 GB of storage.
Freshbooks – Freshbooks is a simple, easy to use, invoicing tool designed specifically for small businesses. It allow businesses to track expenses and time working on projects, manage clients, receive online payments, setup recurring invoices, create reports and more. Try it free for 30 days.
Square – Create a point of sale where ever you are. Square is transforming the way we handle transactions by enabling anyone with a smartphone or tablet to easily accept credit card payments. There are no sign-up or monthly fees. The service takes 2.75 percent of each transaction. Square was founded by Jack Dorsey, the co-creator of Twitter, in 2010.
Evernote – Kiss sticky notes goodbye. Evernote is a powerful app that can hold all of the random data you encounter on the Internet and in your real life. Whether it’s excerpts from websites, photos, voice memos, documents, or handwritten scribbles, it all gets stored and organized in the cloud as individual “notes.” These notes can then be sorted, tagged, edited, and even shared with colleagues. All of this information is in turn accessible across all of your devices and automatically synced. Individual users can upload up to 60 MB of content per month for free. Evernote Business ($10 per user per month) offers 1 GB per month
Survey Monkey – There may be times when you want to get the pulse of your current or potential customers. Try Survey Monkey. Survey Monkey allows you to create online surveys with ease. You can create your own questions or select from their large questions database. The free version lets you create a survey with up to 10 questions. For $26, you get access to unlimited questions and 1000 responses.