Free online resources. Many of my Business Coaching clients are start-ups, small business entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs. Having founded over 19 companies and partnerships over the course of my 35 year business career, I know the importance of building a business properly, right from the start. The very thing the participants in my Build Your Dream Business course like most is that I go through each business area systematically one-by-one, one session at a time (ie: formation, capitalization, finance, marketing, sales, product development, manufacturing, legal, etc). To quote my client Joe P, a new entrepreneur just getting his feet wet: “With Tom’s help, I was able to build my team, develop a product, and create a holding company…because of Tom’s coaching, I had a successful launch and now own a thriving business.”
Because I spend so much time researching and testing the many and varied products and services out there to start and grow your business, I have become quite a resource for my many Business Coaching clients. Here are 15 of my favorite FREE online resources:
Though a subscription marketing service offering so much more than CRM tools, Hub Spot has a vast library of tremendous FREE marketing resources and information. Sign up to receive every fricken’ eBook they put out and you will have more marketing information at your fingertips than if you had gotten that marketing degree you were contemplating. Here’s one from me giving you 8 more tools from Google just for grins.
The gold-standard of content management platforms is still free. WordPress is trusted by some of the world’s biggest and best brands and content distributors (and is this blog’s platform, as well). Simple enough to set up in minutes, but still robust enough to stay with you as your company becomes a mid-cap star. Use WordPress.org for the free version, and WordPress.com for your self-hosted website.
Optimizely makes A/B testing a snap. If you are starting an online business and you don’t know what A/B testing is, then you need to take my Build Your Dream Business course. When your young company is trying to figure out what messages customers are responding to best, use this tool to experiment with different options. There’s a reason A/B testing is one of the best marketing tools available.
Free for email lists containing up to 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp has become the go-to service for managing email campaigns. You can send emails to multiple lists and custom segments, schedule recurring emails and even wish customers a happy birthday. If you’re reading this blog post in your email, my team used MailChimp to get it there. ConstantContact is another such email service to check out.
If your business, either bricks and mortar or online, involves getting money from people (and let’s hope it does) Square is the tool of choice. The popular card reader is free and they only make their money when you make yours. Give your clients and customers and heads-up when they choose the convenience of paying you by credit or debit card and add the nominal Square transaction fee to the total.
Here’s a free logo building tool that works by putting in your business name and key words and viola, and custom logo without a lot of fussing around. Hire the professional graphic designer after you’ve been in business awhile and are making some money. Though not free, a low cost alternative is 99Designs.
If you’ve been a reader for any number of months, you have probably already heard me sing Evernote’s praises more than once. At the risk of being repetitive, if I could choose only one productivity tool to hand on to, this would be the one. Offering free, as well as premium, online subscriptions, Evernote helps you capture and share text, images, web clippings and other material valuable to your business.
Gone are the days of the word processor file sitting on your desktop. Documents today need to be shareable and accessible from anywhere and everywhere via the Cloud. Google built GoogleDocs to do just that. GoogleDocs is a suite of cloud-based apps including Docs (like Word for you Microsoft guys and gals, or Pages for you Apple folks), Sheets (Excel and Numbers), Slides (PowerPoint and Keynote) and Forms.
You’re going to need legal documents and, if your business is successful (and it will be utilizing these tools), then you’re going to need a lot of legal docs. Docracy provides free legal documents for all sorts of needs. Documents are submitted by attorneys and businesses from all industries to be privately customized to your State’s requirements. For paid documents, LegalZoom is my go-to.
Let’s not forget the free resources that your taxing paying dollar has already bought. The SBA, a branch of the federal government, offers tons of free resources and tools to start and grow a small business and information on local agencies in your area.
SlideShare is the YouTube for sharing slideshow presentations (ie: PowerPoint). Many businesses use SlideShare to host and share important presentations. You can promote your presentations to get visibility for your business and share information with your customers and team. You’ll find some of my presentations on there as well, like the Goals Achievement Workshop I presented to LuLuLemon Active Wear, and my Success Principles for the New Normal presented to Unified Title, a Fidelity National Title company.
You are what you measure. If you want a company culture of productivity, measure it, but embrace the benefits of a short break. The Pomodoro technique is a productivity technique utilizing short bursts of concentrated work (typically 25 minutes) followed by a short break (usually 3-5 minutes). I advocate its use to my business coaching clients and, many of us here at Success Series are using the Pomodoro technique to keep on task when we need to and not forget to take short breaks when we’re in the zone. Here’s an online version. You will also find many apps in the both the iTunes and GooglePlay app stores.
Perhaps you would like to take my Build Your Dream Business workshop? If you’re curious, click here for a course description and download a FREE Sample Shareholder’s Agreement for Venture Capital Investment.
Please let me know of your business dreams by commenting below or tweeting me with #businessdreams at @success_series or friend us and comment on our new Facebook page at Success.Series. Please let me know of your interest in this topic and I will expand on this topic in future posts, your feedback is greatly appreciated. Let me know whether you like, or dislike, the topic and of other topics you would like addressed in future posts.
One of my missions in life is to move and inspire people to take action in their own personal development and business building. It is my honor and privilege to serve you in this way. I make it an absolute MUST that I inspire each and every one of you to STEP UP and live the life of your dreams, NOW, and not settle for less than you can be, do, have, say or believe.
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